Fava bean (vicia fava) may be served in a frittata or in garlic sauce. When dried, roasted and blessed, it becomes the very popular "lucky bean." Legend has it that you will never be broke as long as you carry one. Some people believe that if you keep one in the pantry, there will always be food in the kitchen.
The legend of the fava bean began during the famine in Sicily, where the bean was used as fodder for cattle. To survive, the farmers prepared them for the table. Hence, they considered themselves lucky to have them. The bean is also a symbol of fertility, since it grows well even in poor, rocky soil. Italians would carry a bean from a good crop to ensure a good crop the following year.
The blessed dried beans are distributed at altars along with pieces of blessed bread
Excerpted from Viva San Giuseppe, A Guide for Saint Joseph Altars
published by the St. Joseph Guild, New Orleans, Louisiana 1985 -- out of print