Fava beans show up in Spring and I was psyched to see them for the first time at our farmers’ market last week. Their pods are about 7 inches long, containing 3 to 5 beans, and are padded with a fluffy, cottony lining. Prepping fava beans is time-consuming and monotonous… but those aren’t necessarily bad things in the kitchen. If you have a second pair of hands and a glass of wine it’s enjoyable.
They take a lot of work because they need to be shelled twice. After you remove the beans from the pods, blanch them in salted water for 1 1/2 minutes to soften the waxy outer skin. Immediately place in ice bath. Shell them again. Here is a great how-to.
In Italy, fava beans are traditionally paired with Pecorino, a hard and salty cheese made from sheep’s milk. I made this simple salad yesterday for Easter and it was lip-smacking delicious and the color was a vibrant grassy green. There are only 5 ingredients, and they all work to elevate the flavor of the dish. After making the salad, I came across a great NPR article and realized I should have added some red pepper flakes.
Fava Bean Salad with Parsley Pecorino and Lemon
serves 2 as a side or appetizer
1 lb fresh unshelled fava beans (yields about 1 cup cooked beans)
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tblsp finely chopped Italian parsley
2 oz Pecorino cheese, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
coarse salt and pepper
1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil and salt it generously. Prepare an ice bath next to the stove. Follow the tutorial above to remove the beans from their pods. Blanch them for 1 1/2 minutes and use a slotted spoon to immediately transfer them to the ice water. Once cool, pop the beans out of the waxy casing. Rinse them in cool water and dry on paper towels.
2. In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. In a slow, steady stream whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the chopped parsley. Add the fava beans and Pecorino and toss gently.