One of my favorite summer activities is sitting in the garden watching the fireflies' nightly show. It commences in June, and by July 4th is at its apex. Hundreds of fireflies hover near the tree line at the edge of our neighbor's hay field, dancing atop the treetops in our yard, and, when we are very lucky, flitting about at eye level, only a foot or two away.
The firefly has an abdomen similar to that of a wasp, though thinner, and, of course, sans stinger. The last three sections of its abdomen are where the firefly's fire is located. Its wings are long - longer than its abdomen - and have the look of that faux mahogany wood paneling that was so in vogue during the 1970s. The firefly is no looker, is what I'm saying, and even its light is an unappealing neon green close-up.
Fava beans remind me of the firefly. Their season is fleeting, their packaging isn't terribly attractive, and yet, once one gets past the pods, the blanching, and the peeling of skin, there is something very special and summery about them.
Fava Bean Crostini
makes 4 crostini:
1 pound of fava beans in the shell (this will yield approximately 1/2 cup of shelled, peeled fava beans)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium shallot, finely diced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano
freshly ground black pepper
4 (1/2-inch) slices good quality bakery bread, such Clear Flour Bread’s Rustic Italian, toasted or lightly grilled
It is advisable to take a very Zen approach to fava bean preparation. First, shell the beans. Then, blanch them in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Transfer the blanched beans to a bowl of ice water. Allow to cool, then slip the beans from their skins.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fava beans and cook until they are softened and easily mashed with a fork, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl if mashing by hand, or to a food processor or - my preference - a mini-food processor, and process to your desired consistency. I prefer a bit of texture to my fava bean concoction, so I stop short of a smooth puree.
Add the grated Pecorino-Romano to the fava bean mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Top the toasted bread with the fava bean puree, drizzle with some good-quality olive oil and perhaps a ribbon or two of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sit back, enjoy the snack, and the show.
Copyright 2009, Amy McCoy/Poor Girl Gourmet. All Rights Reserved.