Wednesday, August 12, 2009

fava bean and pecorino salad

My meals alone tend to be cold, ascetic affairs. It’s not that I don’t appreciate myself. But half the pleasure of cooking and eating seems to come from doing it with and for other people.

When it comes to fava beans, however, that kind of attitude will get you nowhere. Between their narrow window of availability and their woefully low yield, fava beans demand a more selfish approach. Faced with a plate of freshly shelled favas, I bristle with Gollum-esque avarice, shielding the beans from tricksy passersby.

This salad could serve four selfless individuals. But I would happily eat it all by myself.

Fava Bean Salad with Pecorino
Adapted from Saveur

Some fava purists argue that even a quick blanch adulterates the beans’ texture, opting instead to remove the skins with a small knife. To my mind, favas are already labor intensive enough. I blanch them.

2 pounds shelled fresh fava beans
6 ounces young Tuscan pecorino cheese
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
3-4 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lemon juice

1. Blanch the shelled fava beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain the beans and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, gently peel the skins from the beans.

2. Place the fava beans in a medium bowl with the chopped walnuts. Break pecorino into small chunks into the bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to taste. Gently toss salad, then divide among plates. Serve with toasted baguette, if desired.

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