Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fava Bean Spread with Crostini

Yes, it’s that time of year. Late spring, early summer marks the short, but sweet fava bean season around here. Fava bean plants are sometimes used solely as a cover crop because their roots fix nitrogen, and are often tilled into the ground before they flower and produce pods. But if they are allowed to set fruit, they form these huge bean pods that house a bright green bean about the size of a lima bean. You can find them at farmer’s markets and they’re usually the cheapest thing on the stands…which seems like a great deal until you start shelling them! Not only are the pods fat and padded, but there’s also a second casing around the beans that has to be removed. By the time you finish shelling and skinning the beans your huge pile of dirt cheap fava beans has turned into a small mound of not-so-dirt cheap edible beans. That’s not to say it’s not worth it though, and the cost is actually still pretty reasonable compared to a lot of other organic produce. And besides, it’s kinda fun to sit on the porch, shelling beans on a warm spring day like a little old lady in the country!

This bright green, garlicky spread goes great on freshly toasted crostini, and if you have any ripe cherry tomatoes around, they’re a tasty addition to this easy little appetizer. The spread is also good tossed with some warm pasta and sun-dried tomatoes for a light dinner. Preparing the beans takes a little bit of time, but once that step is done the spread can be whipped up pretty quickly.

Fava Bean Spread:
Makes about 2 ½-3 cups.
2 ½ - 3 lbs Fava Beans, unshelled
1 Scant Tbl Garlic, finely minced
4 Tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
¾ tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbl Fresh Chives, chopped
2/3 Cup Olive Oil
Fresh Ground Pepper

1 long, Sweet French Baguette
Olive Oil

Preparing the Beans;
Shell the beans, removing them from the thick pods. Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil and add the shelled fava beans. Return to a low boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain the beans and immediately shock in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. At this point, the outer skin covering the beans should look pale and slightly wrinkled. With your thumb nail, pierce the skin and then pop the bean out of the casing into a bowl. Discard the skins and repeat with the remaining beans. What you’re left with is the edible part of fava beans.

The fava pods, skins, and edible bean.

The Crostini;
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the baguette into 1/3-1/2 inch rounds. With a pastry brush, coat each side of the baguette slices lightly with olive oil. Lay out on a baking sheep in a single layer.

Bake the crostini for about 8 minutes, until they just begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the crostini to a plate to stop any further cooking.

The Spread;
In a food processor, add the shelled beans, minced garlic, salt, and about 1/3 cup of olive oil. Process until a coarse spread begins to form. Slowly add the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil, pulsing the food processor until incorporated. Add the chopped chives, fresh ground pepper to taste, and remaining olive oil and process until a smooth, even paste is formed.

The spread can be served in a bowl with the crostini and other fresh vegetables on the side to dip, or as a more formal appetizer with the crostini topped with fava bean spread, a few cherry tomato halves and some more freshly chopped chives, served on a platter.


Molly said...

That looks really good! You should bring me a little sample at the party tonight. :)

Molly said...

Those fava beans look reeeeal niiice, but when are you going to post another yummy treat?

Richxxx said...

put something new up.