Fresh beans bring verdant brightness to all things spring.
March 29, 2016
1 of 7Photo: Jennifer Causey
Fava Bean and Mushroom Crostini
Tender, sweet fava beans are the ultimate signal of the spring season. They take a little extra work to prep (pulling them from their big green pods and then peeling the individual beans). But they’re well worth the effort.
Nutty fava beans get the spotlight here in this festive spring appetizer. Lemon and goat cheese balance the deep umami notes from the mushrooms.
Braised Artichokes, Favas, and Carrots in Creamy Lemon Sauce with Fennel
This is a kind of springtime Greek ratatouille. We love the artichokes in this dish—they add their unique flavor and somehow make everything taste just a little sweeter. The olive oil emulsifies with the braising liquid to create a silky sauce that deliciously coats the bright spring veggies. Thin lemon slices, charred and caramelized in a cast-iron pan, make a nice garnish.
If you purchase whole fava bean pods, you'll need to shell them and then peel the beans: Blanch shelled beans in boiling water for a few seconds, remove to a bowl of ice water, drain, and slip off the opaque skins. You can also substitute shelled edamame.
Sprinkling favas into a salad is one of the simplest ways to showcase their nutty, slightly sweet flavor and tender, creamy texture. Favas are blanched very briefly for this salad. Cook time depends on how young the raw favas are—if they’re tender enough, they don’t need to be cooked at all. Here, we pair the beans in traditional Italian fashion with salty sheep’s-milk cheese and fresh lemon juice, adding a little more of spring’s bounty with peppery radish slices. Shaved fennel adds fragrant crunch, while the walnuts give the salad a little weightiness, making it that much more satisfying.
The vibrant colors of spring shine in this elegant, seasonal pasta dish. Choose firm, bright fava bean pods free of black marks—avoid pods on which the outline of the beans inside is pronounced, indicating older favas.