When fava beans start arriving in farmers markets and gourmet grocery stores, you know that Spring is in full bloom. They’re bright green and look like giant green beans. When you tear them open, these neat lima-bean-looking beans emerge, with little yellow bits holding them onto their pods.
The fava bean is encased in a shell that is easily peeled away after about 3-5 minutes in boiling, salted water, and then plunged into a quick ice bath. The ice bath shrinks the gorgeous bean inside, making the shell separate away. A quick slit of your knife is all it takes. The best way to enjoy fresh fava beans is simply… and in this case taking a cue from Martha, I like to prepare them with some mint from the garden and freshly shaved pecorino cheese. A little salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil, and this beautiful puree emerges.
I serve the fava bean puree on freshly toasted crostini. The result is so fresh and cheerful. It will make you want to hold onto Spring as long as possible.
Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook
2 pounds fresh fava beans, in their pods
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
24 crostini (recipe to follow)
Wedge of Pecorino cheese for shaving on top of crostini
Directions: Remove the fava beans from their pods. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add the fava beans. Boil for 3-5 minutes, then drain, and rinse under cold water or plunge into an ice bath for a few minutes. Once the outer skin is nice and wrinkled, pierce the outer skin with a knife and, using your fingers, peel the outer skin off the beans and discard. Place the beans, oil, mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste in the bowl of a food processor and quickly pulse to create a thick, chunky paste. If mixture is too dry, add a few drops of water, and pulse again. Keep repeating this step until you have a nice, thick puree (similar to thick hummus). Transfer the bean mixture to a small bowl and taste for seasoning. Spread 1 tsp of paste onto each crostini. Garnish each crostini with some pecorino shavings. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
1 french baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
Salt & Pepper
Directions: Spread the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt & pepper. If using a toaster oven, set to “toast” and watch until starting to brown. If using an oven, use the “broil” setting until slightly brown. Remove from oven, flip toasts over, spray with cooking spray again and sprinkle salt & pepper. Toast or broil that side until slightly brown and remove from oven. Allow to cool until spreading with your topping of choice. Crostinis will keep in a sealed container for up to a few weeks.