What's cooking? You're probably thinking not much here at fine eats! It has come to my attention that over four(!) months have passed since I've posted anything. Although we've kept busy in the kitchen, there's just not many photos to prove it. However, I don't come to you empty handed. There is exciting news: At the end of October, E and I will welcome a tiny little member to our family, whose gender will remain a mystery until then.
Although summer is starting slowly, all of the local farmers markets are open and bustling. Spring's asparagus is still thriving as berries begin to cover market tables. The Broadway market sets up a few blocks from our building and many people take a walk through each week to see what the vendors have on display. After my trip today, I came to find that not everyone is familiar with fava beans and most had not cooked with these fleeting legumes. This was evidenced by people eating enormous raw beans popped from the pod, their skins intact. Clearly, they were not impressed by the favas' flavor or texture.
I first came across the use of fava beans in Middle Eastern and Italian cuisines. I know, they are a bit of work to prepare and, if I must come clean, I was cursing them last week when the tiny ones where slipping out of my fingers onto the tile floor. (I barely salvaged enough to make this spread.) However, if you have some time, and hold the promise of good meal, its not so bad to be deep in concentration with nothing more than your beans, plucking them out of the pod, blanching them and ultimately slipping them from their skins. I remind myself to cherish quiet moments like this, as I know shortly they'll be replaced with utter mayhem.
After learning of my co-workers' disgust for the favas, I begged they give them a fair shake. I quickly suggested the preparation below for a simple representation of the bean's grassy flavor and creamy texture. Plus, who doesn't like grilled bread and with toppings? If these people are out there, someone please prove they exist.
If the weather is nice and you're cooking out, put the bread on while the grill is heating, and if not, place the slices into the toaster or under the broiler to get some color. The fresh ricotta makes a difference in my opinion and can be found at some markets, but standard ricotta will do as long as the cheese is seasoned a bit. And if for some strange reason after trying the favas this way you don't absolutely adore them, I suppose you could swap them for some other vegetable. If you must.
Crostini with Fresh Ricotta and Favas
1/2 baguettte, cut into 1/4″ slices and grilled or toasted
3 ounces fresh ricotta
20 fava beans, shelled, blanched and skins removed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Divide ricotta evenly among toasts
Mix favas with olive oil, mint, salt and red pepper
Top toasts with fava mixture being sure to drizzle the oil over the toasts
Garnish with mint, if desired