Umbrian Fava Bean Bread Salad

I must admit that although I had never tasted a fava bean for most of my life, once I did I fell in love with it’s subtle flavor and bright green color. Here in Umbria, when in season, fava beans are used in a variety of different ways, and once the short growing season passes, they are dried to be used throughout the colder months.

I like fava beans in pastas, soups, stews, or lightly blanched as an appetizer or in salads such as this one. This is an easy salad I call my Umbrian Bread Salad. Tuscany has the famous Panzanella salad, which mixes stale bread, tomatoes, and onions, so I decided to create my own version for Umbria.

Instead of wetting the bread with water as the Tuscan’s do, I grilled bread slices and then piled my salad ingredients on top, allowing the dressing to moisten the bread. We love this salad, and is great for lunch, or for a light dinner.

You can add or substitute any ingredients you prefer, but basically in this version I used tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, sweet peppers, fried pancetta pieces, and of course blanched fava beans. Other ingredients to consider with be capers, black olives, and marinated artichokes.

I kept the dressing simple, just a basic red wine vinaigrette but you could also change the flavor by using balsamic vinegar, or by adding a teaspoon of dijon mustard. If your fava beans are very young, you might get away without skinning them, but ours were end of the season larger fava beans so I had to blanch them and skin them before adding them to my salad.


Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Umbrian Fava Bean Bread Salad

Umbrian Fava Bean Bread Salad

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

A non-traditional "panzanella" type of salad featuring fresh fava beans.


  • 2 Medium Cucumbers, Peeled And Coarsely Chopped
  • 4 Large Tomatoes, Cored And Coarsely Chopped
  • 1 Red Onion, Peeled And Thinly Slices
  • 2 Small Red Peppers, Cored, Seeded And Coarsely Chopped
  • 1 Cup Cooked Diced Pancetta Pieces
  • 2 to 3 Cups Blanched Fava Beans
  • 4 Slices Stale Country Style Italian Bread
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, Peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Dressing: (Makes 1 Cup ~ Reserve Extra For Other Use)

  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Herbs (I Used Basil And Thyme)


  1. Grill or broil your bread slices, and while still hot rub the surface with the garlic clove. (Easiest way to do this is to pierce the garlic with a fork and use the fork to rub the garlic onto the grilled bread.)
  2. Brush the bread with olive oil.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  4. In a larger bowl, combine the vegetables and mix well.
  5. Pour on just enough dressing to lightly coat the vegetables.
  6. Place a bread slice onto four individual plates and spoon the vegetables on top.
  7. Drizzle another tablespoon of the dressing over the salad and let sit 10 minutes before serving to moisten the bread.
  8. Serve.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 835Total Fat: 68gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 51gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 435mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 11gSugar: 12gProtein: 17g

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