Arugula and Fava Bean Crostini

What is it about bright green foods that drives me absolutely crazy?  They are just so beautiful and, typically, the taste measures up.  So many good things turn a gorgeous, vibrant shade of green when cooked… peas, broccoli, fresh herbs… and apparently, fava beans.

Confessional time: I’ve never before prepared fava beans.  Truth be told, I’ve never even eaten a fava bean.  But as I was strolling around the produce section the other day, what did my wondering eyes behold, but fava beans- still in their pods.  They are sufficiently strange-looking and intriguing enough to make the cut for me, so I grabbed them.  Then I got home and realized I literally had NO clue what to do with them.  They look like giant pea pods, which initially made me giggle, but then proceeded to make me confused. 

A quick search turned up with winner, and I began, only a little fearfully, to tackle the fava bean.  Turns out, it was incredibly anti-climactic, because there isn’t actually too much to preparing these.  You just crack open the pods, take out the beans, then throw the little guys into some hot water for a few minutes and slip the skins off.  Once you’re done, you’re left with a bright green wonder… something that looks like a soy bean, only brighter green, which, in my book, equates with BETTER.

Oh, so you want to know how it tasted?  Pretty great, actually.  Fava beans are different than I thought they’d be.  They  are kind of… rich.  Rich in an earthy, almost mushroom-like way.  In other words, awesome.  The peppery arugula goes a long way to brighten it up, as does the lemon zest.  Don’t skip the lemon zest, it really adds balance the earthy complexity of the favas.  This would make an awesome cocktail party appetizer (there I go again), or more likely a summer dinner, eaten on the patio with a glass of wine.  {Everyone please note my restraint in not suggesting Chianti.  Oh wait… d’oh!}


Arugula and Fava Bean Crostini

adapted from Gourmet

If you can’t find fava beans anywhere, you could substitute soybeans, or edamame, in which case, you wouldn’t have to shell them. 

1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (1 1/4 pounds in pods) 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus additional for drizzling

1 1/2 cups packed baby arugula (1 1/2 ounces), divided

3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Toscano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 baguette

1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

16 mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Remove individual beans from the larger pods.  Cook fava beans in boiling water, uncovered, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Gently peel off skins. (If you squeeze the beans between your thumb and forefinger, the inner bean kind of pops out of the skin.) 

Pulse fava beans in a food processor until very coarsely chopped, then transfer half of mixture to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup arugula, cheese, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to favas in processor and purée until smooth. Add to bowl. Coarsely chop remaining cup arugula and gently fold into fava bean mixture.

Cut 16 diagonal slices (1/3 inch thick) from baguette and put in a 4-sided sheet pan. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil. Bake until pale golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Rub with cut side of garlic.

Spoon fava-bean mixture onto baguette toasts, then drizzle with oil and top with mint.


1 Comment

Filed under Appetizers

One response to “Arugula and Fava Bean Crostini

  1. clueless cook

    What’s next, brains, perhaps?

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