Monday, May 20, 2013

One Great . . . peas and beans salad

Fava beans are a rare sight in our local farmers markets. I spot them once or twice in the spring, and then they're gone. This time, when I found them on Saturday, I had already bought a bag of the first sugar snap peas of the season. Perfect timing for a crisp, green salad treatment. If you don't get that lucky, you can easily adapt this for green peas, snow peas and edamame.

If you've never worked with fava beans, here's a quick primer: First, you shell the giant pods, freeing the individual beans. Then bring a small pot of salted water to boil and place a bowl of ice water nearby. Cook the fava beans briefly, about 1 minute, then remove them from the boiling water and drop in ice water, to shock them and stop the cooking.

Now, you might notice that the beans are oddly white. That's because there's an skin on the beans that needs to be removed: Nick one end with your thumb nail or a small paring knife and squeeze; the bright green inner bean will pop out. Then you can use them in a salad, or reheat them, even cook and puree them. Some recent sources are suggesting you can leave the inner skin on, but personally, I think they work better (and they're brighter and prettier) if you take it up. But try it both ways and see what you think.

Peas and Fava Bean Salad
From Cooking Light.

About 1 cup fava beans (from about 1 pound of pods)
4 to 8 ounces fresh sugar snap peas
About 1 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup prosciutto, sliced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper

Shell the fava beans and set aside. Trim the stems from the sugar snaps. Bring a small pot of lightly salted water to boil and place a bowl of ice water nearby.

Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon to remove them and drop in the ice water. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the sugar snaps to the boiling water and cook 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop in the ice water. Drain and set aside. Remove the boiling water from the heat and cool for a minute or two. Add the frozen peas and let sit for a few minutes, until just thawed. Drain and set aside.

Nick the end of each fava beans and squeeze out the bright green bean (if it splits in half, make sure you get both halves). Place in a serving bowl. Blot the sugar snap peas dry with a paper towel and add to the favas. Drain the peas well and add to the bowl. Stir in the mint leaves and prosciutto.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, salt and pepper. Pour over the beans and peas and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve or serve immediately at room temperature.

NOTE: If you need to use edamame, snow peas and green peas, cook the shelled edamame and trimmed snow peas in the same way you cook the fava beans and sugar snaps, cooking briefly and blanching in ice water.

YIELD: 4 servings.