Fresh spring produce has only barely begun to trickle into markets, and in these parts especially, the best that one can really hope for are a few slender stalks of green asparagus. Though a lovely pick to be sure, that isn’t saying much, since asparagus is season-less according to my local grocery store… And whoever wrote up that chart of seasonal produce should really get their head examined, by the way. Regardless, the mere idea of spring veggies has me captivated, and I’ve become quite smitten with frozen fava beans after a number of surprisingly successful preparations. Besides being available all year ’round, [Unlike asparagus, apparently. Yikes…] they’re already shelled, so it takes half as much work to get them on the table. With a quick thaw in hot water, the skins practically slide right off, and they’re every bit as tender and delicious as those straight from the fields.
Yes, I use frozen fava beans, and I’m not ashamed to say so. Besides, who could possibly turn their nose up at these edible emeralds when they clean up so nicely?
Writing a recipe for a salad seems rather silly- A bit contrived, really. Salads are meant to be a grab bag of what ever is fresh and available, so naturally, feel free to mix and match ingredients at will. The way the fava beans, greens, and bright, spicy lemon dressing melded was simply so divine, it would have been a shame not to record how it all came together.
Spring Fava Bean Salad
1 1/2 Cups Shelled and Skinned Fava Beans, Fresh and Blanched or Frozen and Thawed
1 Skinny Leek (1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced)
2 Tablespoons Toasted Pine Nuts, or Chopped Cashews
1 12-Ounce Bag Frozen Artichoke Hearts, Thawed
9 Ounces Fresh Baby Spinach
Spicy Lemon Dressing:
1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1 Teaspoon Nanami Togarashi, or a Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes, to Taste
1/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Although you can probably figure out what to do with the above ingredients, here’s how it all goes down: Prep all of your veggies and toss together, leaving only the spinach separate. Set aside.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, leaving the olive oil out until last, and slowly drizzle it in while continuously whisking to form a vinaigrette. Toss the bulk of the veggies with the dressing; You may have a little bit extra, depending on your tastes. Simply serve that on the side for guests to add as they desire. Pile the plain spinach into a large bowl, and place the dressed vegetables in a mound in the center. Serve, and toss at the table, if you like.
Makes 6 – 8 Servings