SEASONAL RECIPES: NO 1

IT SEEMED APT TO INVITE SALLY UHLMANN, AUTHOR OF JUST COOK WITH SALLY, TO SHARE SOME EASY SEASONAL RECIPES...

Bring on the Favas! Italian Springs are glorious between the wild poppies and yellow flowers dotting the meadows, trees leafing out, longer sun-filled days, and the bounty of produce suddenly available in the markets. Fava beans are a harbinger of Spring, making their appearance mid-March into May. They are one of the most ancient cultivated plants, with evidence of their culinary use dating back to 6000 BC. I love their sublime flavor and emerald green color. Yes, they require work, between removing the beans from their sturdy pods and then shucking the thick outer shell. But, trust me, it is worth it. Here are two fava bean recipes that I hope you enjoy.
Count on 2 pounds (a slight kilo) of fava bean pods yielding 1 cup (250ml) of the edible tender inner beans. This is sufficient for 4 servings.
Prepare the beans for either recipe the same way:
            1. Use a sharp knife and cut along the outer ridge of the bean pod. I do a batch of them at one time.
            2. Use your hands to open the pods and pop the beans out, placing them in a bowl.
            3. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and salt well. Add beans and blanch for 2 minutes then drain in a colander under cold water until no longer warm.
            4. Remove the inedible outer shell by picking up a bean and holding over a small bowl while your finger pinches open one end of the bean, then gently squeeze so the inner green bean pops out into a small bowl.
Fava Bean Humus
Serves 4-6 depending on how many other appetizers you offer
1 cup (250ml) prepared fava beans
1 clove peeled garlic
2 teaspoons (10ml) fresh mint leaves
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons (30ml) tahini
Salt to taste
Crackers to serve
            Place all ingredients in a small blender and puree. Taste for seasonings and salt. If the dip is too thick, thin by adding olive oil while the blender is running. Can be made 6 hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Fava Bean and Asparagus Risotto
Serves 6 as a first course, 4 as a main course
12 spears asparagus, trimmed
1 cup (250ml) prepared fava beans
½ cup (125ml) green onions, quartered lengthwise then chopped to fava bean size
2 tablespoon (30ml) butter, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups (750ml) or more chicken or vegetable stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup (250ml) Carnaroli or Arborio rice
2 teaspoons (10ml) fresh mint, minced
2 teaspoons (10ml) Italian parsley, mince
Zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
            1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Salt it, add asparagus, and blanch until al dente, about 1 ½ minutes. Drain under cold water until all heat is gone. Dry in a paper towel, then chop into small pieces and place in a small bowl.
            2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add fava beans, green onions and garlic. Sauté over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit.
            3. Place stock and thyme in a saucepan and bring to a low simmer on your range close to where you cook your risotto.
            4. While stock is heating, melt remaining butter in a heavy saucepan. Add rice, sauté for 2 minutes, and stir a few times with a wooden spoon. Adjust heat to medium high and add about ½ cup (125 ml) of the stock. Stir with the wooden spoon in one direction only until the liquid is completely absorbed. Add ¼ cup (60 ml) additional stock, keep stirring, letting all the liquid absorb before adding more stock. Continue this process until rice is al dente, about 15-18 minutes. Add reserved asparagus and fava beans. Heat through, add mint, parsley, lemon zest and half the parmesan cheese. Taste the rice to be certain it is perfectly al dente. Add more stock if needed. Taste for salt and pepper. Immediately serve on plates or shallow bowls, sprinkling with remaining cheese.
Sally Uhlmann, 12/04/2022 09:41:12
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