Fava beans are another of my very favorite Spring ingredients and I always peruse the Farmer's Markets for them in April and May. I hit the jackpot this past week and found some Favas that were so beautiful and fresh that I knew I wouldn't want to boil them, sauté them or otherwise cook for very long. Thus, these babies called to be eaten just the other side of raw, barely blanched and in a simple manner to show off their freshest taste. Here is my resulting "Fava Bean and Tomato Salad."
This dish was so wonderful but it's not going to work if you don't have incredibly tender and fresh beans. Two great ways to recognize them are that the pods should not contain any black spots and should not feel flimsy or mushy if you gently squeeze them. Should you find good ones, they'll turn anyone into a lover of this healthy legume. Another very important part of this dish was the green garlic stalks. You should also be able to find this at any good Farmer's Market in the Spring months and I chose to use them because they taste of garlic but are much milder and softer, perfect because you can eat it raw, like I did with this salad. I think this is a scrumptious little side salad for all those summer barbeques and is similar to a typical Mediterranean meze or Spanish tapas.
I only had a small amount and they're a bit intensive to shuck, blanch and shell so this is just a recipe that feeds two people as a small little nibble. In case you've seen them at the markets but aren't sure how to get the beans out of the funny-looking pod, here's the basic plan. Snap off the top stem and pull the long string along the seam, exactly like you do with fresh snap peas. Pull out the bean inside and put them in a bowl. The beans are covered in a soft, waxy casing that you will remove before eating. So, in essence, you have to shell them twice. Blanch them inside the casing and when done, put them in an ice bath. One at a time, pinch the end of the casing and slice it open with your thumbnail. Push the opposite end of the casing and the inner bean should slide right out. I'm sorry I didn't take photos of the process but there are some very illustrative photos here.
On with the recipe!
1 cup fresh fava beans, blanched and shelled (about 1.5 lbs. fresh in their pods)
1 small very ripe tomato
2-3 fresh basil leaves, minced
1/2 tsp. fresh marjoram, minced
1/4 tsp. spring green garlic stalk, minced
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice, squeezed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 T. very good extra virgin olive oil
1. String, shell, blanch in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and then cool fava beans in an ice bath. One at a time, shuck the fava beans and put them in a bowl. Add the chopped tomato, basil, marjoram and green garlic. Toss gently with a spoon to mix.
2. In another small bowl add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Whisk to mix. Slowly stream in the olive oil, about one tablespoon at a time, making an emulsified vinaigrette.
3. Pour the vinaigrette over the fava, tomatoes and herbs in the first bowl. Mix thoroughly and taste, adding a pinch more salt and pepper if desired. Serve either as is, or placed atop a very fresh bed of arugula.
Have a great time with this one and believe me, it's worth the effort with the beans and the rest of the preparation is very quick and simple!