This salad scream Spring! to me like no other, even though it's so perfect for those hot hot hot summer days when you don't feel like eating anything warm or heavy (for us Bostonians, that's like the last two weeks!). I love this salad because it has such a diverse yet rich mix of flavors. Fragrant fennel root slices, fresh mint, zingy scallions, and nutty fava beans come together beautifully when tossed with a bit of Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
This was my first time preparing fava beans, though, and it's surprisingly more tedious than you might think! I didn't have this luxury, but if you can get a bunch of friends to come over and help shell these beans (twice!), it'll make the experience a lot more fun.
Yes, you heard me right. These beans need to be de-shelled TWICE. First, you need to remove the outer pod. The easiest way to do this is to grab the pointy end of the bean (the part that used to be attached to the plant), and try to pull off the stringy bit that separates the two halves of the pod. Crack open the pod and remove the inner pods.
Blanch the pods in boiling water briefly (like 1 minute), and then shock them in ice cold water. This keeps them nice and bright green. Next, take each little pod and remove the outer covering to reveal the beautiful, bright green fava bean! The lower right picture shows the progressions of all three steps.
Fava Fennel Mint Salad
Adapted from Simply Recipes
2-3 lbs fresh fava beans, (1 ½ to 2 cups shelled)
1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved
10 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced (I used purplette onions)
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice (I used lime juice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare fava beans as described above. Toss together fava beans, fennel, and scallions. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, add salt and pepper, and mix. Squeeze in lemon juice to taste (I squeezed half a small lime). Mix in Parmesan cheese and mint leaves and toss to combine.
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