Monday, April 23, 2012

One Great . . . bright green spring salad

When everything fresh and green starts pouring into the farmers markets, it's hard to resist an impulse buy. My bags were already full Saturday morning at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market when I spotted a pile of fava bean pods.

Favas aren't all that common around here, so when you see them, you better grab them. I filled a bag with several big handfuls and then started thinking about what to do with them.

I know to set aside time for favas. They're a strange bean and they take a little more work. First, you have to open the big pods, which can be as long as a wooden ruler, and free the fat beans. They'll have a strange, white-ish appearance. That's the outer skin in the bean. The real bean, as bright green as fresh grass, is inside that skin. To get to it, you drop the shelled beans in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water. Then you squeeze the white casing and the bright bean pops out.

With that much work, it's good to find a way to stretch your favas. I pulled cookbooks off the shelf and finally hit on this one: A very bright, very green salad from "The Food Matters Cookbook," by Mark Bittman.

As it turned out, I also had picked up asparagus and a couple of long stalks of garlic scapes that were so crisp and fresh, I could dice the stalks and use them like asparagus, too. The recipe didn't call for them, but sometimes you have to improvise. Spring is like that.

Fava Bean, Asparagus and Lemon Salad

2 lemons, well-washed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound fresh fava beans
1 pound asparagus, bottoms of stalks peeled or broken off, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped, fresh mint

CHOP 1 whole lemon, peel and all (discard seeds and pointed ends). Place in a serving bowl with juice of 2nd lemon, salt and pepper and olive oil. Let stand while you prepare the vegetables.

SHELL the fava beans. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the favas and cook about 2 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze each bean to remove from the skin. Add to the lemon and oil mixture.

RETURN water to boil and add asparagus. Cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse, then add to bowl with the favas. Add the mint and toss well to mix. Refrigerate about 2 hours before serving.

YIELD: 4 servings.


@acca said...
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