Braised Fennel with Whole Fava Beans

Braised Fennel with Whole Fava Beans

by Josiah Meldrum

This recipe from Vicky Jones, which features in her book Beans, Peas and Everything In Between, works wonderfully with our whole fava beans - the earthy meatiness of the beans combining perfectly with the fennel and red wine.

This dish was one of the stars of our Bean Store pulse feast, a celebration to mark the start of the UN International Year of Pulses. I'd love to say I came up with the recipe but I didn't, I borrowed it from Vicky Jones, author of Out of the Pod, and followed her instructions to the letter but for the substitution of our whole fava beans for borlotti. 

Out  of the Pod is packed full of easy to make recipes for simple, healthy comfort food. And, of course, beans peas and lentil play a central role. The book also has pulse buying and storing tips as well as nutritional information - there's even a handy guide to bean festivals around the world! (I quite fancy a trip to Italy for the Festa della Cicerchia di Serra dè Conti this November.)

Here's what Vicky says about this particular recipe:

"The use of fennel reminds me of Sicily, where the wild herb grows everywhere, and the leaves are used to flavour pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines) as well as sausages and cured meats. Fennel calms flatulence - fennel oil is used in the manufacture of babies' gripe water - so its digestive properties make it the ideal companion for beans. This comforting stew works perfectly as a vegetarian dish, but could equally well be cooked with the addition of some cubed pork shoulder or bacon, rubbed with crushed fennel seeds, which should be browned in the pan with the onion and fennel wedges."

Try it, and once you have you'll want to try Vicky's other recipes! (Fortunately we can help out with that, you can buy the book here: Out of the Pod


  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150g small onion or large shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves of galic, crushed
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 can of fava beans, drained or 250g dried whole fava beans soaked and cooked
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 or 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Bread rolls, to serve


  1. Trim the fennel, making sure to keep any green feathery fronds for strewing later. Cut it into wedges leaving the base intact so that it holds together while they cook.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan/skillet, and gently brown the onion or shallot and fennel, then add crushed garlic cloves and cook for another 1 or 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine, beans, fennel seeds, sage and bay leaf. Cover the pan and cook for about 40 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds and serve with bread rolls.

Josiah Meldrum
Josiah Meldrum


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