Faves a la Catalana

faves a la catalana

Faves a la Catalana (habas a la catalana – Spanish – Catalan Broad Beans) is a classic dish from Catalunya, “One of the gastronomic pillars of the nation. The hegemony of this supreme triad is indisputable” – Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, author and gastronome.


The dish contains fresh faves (broad beans), pork belly or bacon and blood pudding.
The fact that Faves a la Catalana (also known as faves ofegades – smothered beans) is made solely with old world ingredients, suggests that it is, at the very least, Mediaeval in origin, if not considerably older. Broad Beans are the original European bean, having first been cultivated in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago. Earlier this year, I bought the first of the season faves from one of the local farm stalls outside the Boqueria. When I told the lady serving me that broad beans were my abuela’s favourite vegetable (mine too), she picked out all the biggest ones for me! It just goes to show how much the Catalans (and Spanish) love their grandmothers. I have eaten this dish many times in Barcelona, the best of which were served at Gelida and La Palmera.

Recepta per Faves a la Catalana (serves 2):

3 slices pork belly (sliced thin)
1 medium morcilla (sliced)
1 kg broad beans (shelled)
3 spring onions (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 glass dry white wine
a squirt anchovy paste (to taste)
1 bay leaf
a sprig of mint (chopped)
a sprig of mint (to serve)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
extra virgin olive oil

botifarra negre

Slice the botifarra negra (Catalan, morcilla in Spanish) and brown it in extra virgin olive oil. Don’t cook it for too long to it will fall apart. Reserve to a plate.


Slice the pork belly and brown it in the same oil as the morcilla. Do this in two batches or it will poach instead of brown. You could also use a piece of smoked bacon (cut similarly) instead. Just to confuse you, pork belly is called panceta, as is cansalada (tocino in Spanish), meaning bacon. This is because bacon is made by curing pork belly. A Catalan pork butcher’s shop is called a cansaladeria (tocinería in Spanish). You will, perhaps, notice that the Spanish word panceta is very close to the Italian pancetta which comes from the word pancia meaning stomach or belly.

cebes tendres

Return all the panceta to the pan and the chopped spring onions (cebollas tiernas).


Cook for a minute or two before adding the garlic.


Mix in the broad beans and pour on a glass of dry white wine. Some recipes call for aniseed liquor or vi ranci.

vi i menta

Season with salt and pepper, then sink a bay leaf into the liquid. Sprinkle on a small sprig of chopped mint (menta). Don’t use too much or it will overwhelm the other flavours. I don’t think it’s necessary, but Catalans often add a pinch sugar. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes, until the beans are tender.


Check the seasoning, add more salt and pepper if necessary, or even a squirt of anchovy paste for an extra savoury kick.


Return the morcilla to the cazuela for 2 minutes.

habas a la catalana

Serve with a sprig of mint on top along with crusty bread, or better still, pa amb tomàquet (pan con tomate). I recommend drinking a glass or two of Honeymoon wine, from Parés Baltà in the Penedès, Catalunya.

About Mad Dog

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5 Responses to Faves a la Catalana

  1. This looks delicious, MD! I had heard of this dish but didn’t realize it included blood sausage. Interesting touch! I do like blood sausage although I’ve only had boudin noir, wonder whether Spanish morcilla would be very different?

    Anyway, this dish will need to wait until next Spring. For whatever reason, you only find fresh fava beans in the markets around here during a very brief period, a few weeks at most. But then I suppose frozen would also work?

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Frank – Spanish black pudding and Irish Clonakilty are the very best (IMHO). There are many Spanish versions, some have onions and pine nuts, while others (like Morcilla de Burgos) contain rice and have a distinct Moorish flavour. There are also smoked black puddings and cured Bull Negre.

      I’m sorry you can’t get fresh fava beans often, but I’m sure frozen would be nearly as good. The Catalans often over cook these beans and one can buy large dried ones for stews, so you wouldn’t be far off with frozen 😉

  2. Love the little squirt of anchovy paste. Anchovies are one of those tastes people either love or hate. I love pork belly too!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Cecilia – it’s a magic ingredient that adds a little bit more than just salt alone …and it only contains salted anchovies and olive oil – no additives 😉

  3. Pingback: Sopa de Habas | Mad Dog TV Dinners

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