I can’t quite remember what I used to do for appetizers before I discovered crostini. They are just so versatile. The possibilities for toppings are endless. I’m all about cooking with the seasons and am excited with the changes that spring brings to the farmers’ market.
There’s a wonderful Italian couple who have a stand at my farmers’ market and for the past few weeks they’ve had fava beans. There’s a little bit of work involved with these beans and what seemed like a big bagful of beans in their pods, ends up being a small bowlful, but don’t let that stop you.
First you have to go through the trial of peeling the outer shell. Then you move onto removing the skin around each bean to reveal the lovely bright green bean inside the little grey pod. The first peeling goes rather quickly and to make easier work of peeling each individual bean, it’s best to drop them in a boiling water. Drain them and the skins will easily slip off. It’s a lot of work, but definitely worth the trouble to be able to enjoy this bean in it’s rather short growing season.
Fava Bean and Arugula Crostini
- 1 cup shelled, fresh fava beans
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1-1/2 cups packed baby arugula
- 3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 16 mint leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Shards of shaved Parmigaino-Reggiano for topping
Crostini-prepared your favorite way (toasted in oven or grilled)
Cook fava beans in boiling water, uncovered until tender, about 4 minutes, then drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Gently peel off skins. Pulse beans in 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 food processor and puree until smooth. Add to bowl. Coarsely chop remaining arugula and gently fold into fava bean mixture.
Spoon fava bean mixture onto crostini. Top with mint and a drizzle of olive oil. I also topped mine with a sliver of parmigiano. I always do my bread for crostini or bruschetta on the grill and rub with a clove of garlic while still warm. There’s just another layer of flavor when you do it this way that you don’t get with when the bread is done in the oven.