WRITTEN ON April 24th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Soups, Vegetarian

I saw it once. And that was one time too many. It was bad enough that I made my mom sleep in my room for a week afterwards. But it totally turned me off of fava beans for like, a decade. The moment Hannibal Lector professed a craving for fava beans (and Jodie Foster), I thought to myself, well if he’s gonna eat ’em, then I sure ain’t. Many years later, when I moved to New York and started frequenting my local Greenmarket however, I figured, why not. Might as well give them a try. It’s only a movie, right? It was a good decision. They’ve since become a springtime staple. They are nutty and buttery and have a slight bitterness that is perfect with mint. Try this salad and see what you think. Serve with slices of grilled sourdough and a nice glass of…Chianti. Agh! I just freaked myself out.

Minty fresh

Minty fresh

Fava Bean and Mint Salad
2 lbs fresh fava beans
1 handful mint, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Ricotta Salata for grating

Technically, this salad is super easy. It’s just that the fava beans require some work. Put on a large pot of salted water to boil. While you are waiting, shuck the beans from their casings. When the water is boiling and the beans are all loose, put them into the pot and blanch for about 1 minute. Have a bowl of ice water ready. After a minute, remove beans directly into the ice water to stop the cooking. This is called shocking. It ensures that the beans don’t over cook, it keeps them nice and green, and it also cools them down so you can deal with the next task: peeling. The actual edible part of the fava bean is within the waxy outer pod. Just use your fingernail and make a little slit on one end, and then squeeze the bean out. It should pop out green fresh and lovely, right there in front of you! Repeat with all of the beans.

Once the beans are free, toss with the mint, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Using a vegetable peeler, shave pieces of the ricotta salata over top and serve.

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