Fava beans are broad beans with a fresh, green flavor when made from young beans. Older fava beans have a richer, meatier taste, developed with age. Young fava beans are served raw or boiled. Older, dried fava beans are prepared by soaking and boiling like other dried beans. Both fresh and dried fava beans are available in supermarkets, but if you cannot find these, other legumes will substitute for favas in a pinch.
Lima beans resemble fava beans in more than just appearance. Use fresh or dried lima beans based on whether the recipe calls for fresh or dried favas. For instance, if the recipe calls for dried fava beans, use dried lima beans. The cooking time will be the same for lima beans as for the fava beans. Replace equal amounts of lima beans for the fava beans in your recipe. The finished result will have a milder flavor and starchier texture compared to using fava beans.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, mimic the meaty flavor of fava beans. These are rarely found fresh in markets, but canned or dried chickpeas are readily available in grocery stores with other beans. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas and substitute the cooked fava beans in your recipe for the same amount of canned. If you are using dried chickpeas, plan ahead. Dried chickpeas require soaking overnight, like other dried beans. Chickpeas require twice as much time and double the amount of water to yield the same cooked amount as fava beans. For instance, if your recipe calls for using 1 cup of dried fava beans, those beans will take two hours to cook in 2 cups of water to make 2 cups of cooked beans. Chickpeas require 4 cups of water per cup of dried chickpeas and three to four hours of cooking time to make the same 2 cups of cooked beans. Prepare the chickpeas the day before and add 2 cups of cooked chickpeas to your recipe for each 1 cup of dried fava beans at the end of cooking to save time.
Edamame are fresh soybeans which have a similar flavor profile to fresh fava beans. Look for edamame frozen in grocery stores or fresh in specialty international markets in the produce section. Like fresh fava beans, edamame must be shelled. The shelled edamame only need to be cooked in boiling water for 8 to 12 minutes. This is the same cooking time as fresh fava beans so the edamame can be added to the recipe in the same amount and at the same time as you would add the fresh, shelled fava beans.
Look for brown beans, also called Egyptian brown beans, dried in specialty international markets and well-stocked supermarkets. These beans are a close match to the flavors of dried fava beans after cooking. Both brown beans and fava beans have similar cooking times. Add the same amount of dried brown beans when your recipe requires you to add the dried fava beans.
References and ResourcesGourmet Sleuth: Fava Beans
Fine Cooking: Fava Beans
Food.com: Fava Bean
Cook's Thesaurus: Dried Beans
Cook's Thesaurus: Fresh Shell Beans