Broad beans, also referred to as fava beans or Windsor beans, are actually not a bean at all, but are instead related to vetch. Removed from their pods, the broad, flat beans resemble Lima beans. They are used fresh in cooked dishes and in salads, often as a replacement for Lima beans or peas. Because they grow encased in a pod and sheathed in a protective, translucent skin, you must shell broad beans and skin them after harvesting before using them in recipes.
Locate the string or small stem on one end of the broad bean pod. Pull the string, which will open one side of the pod.
Push your thumb into the opening, taking care not to smash the beans inside. Pull open the pod and slip the beans out.
Place beans in a pot and add enough water to cover the broad beans at a 2- to 3-inch depth. Boil for three to five minutes.
Remove from the heat and pour the beans into a colander to drain. Rinse under cool water until they are cool enough to touch.
Slit the nearly clear skin covering each bean with the tip of a paring knife. Peel this skin off and discard. Repeat for each bean until they are all skinned, then serve them as desired.