Fava beans are a bit of a pain to cook, but there's nothing quite like eating a fresh shelled bean—a completely different experience from the dried or canned varieties we eat most of the year. They're best cooked simply, such as in a pasta without much else, or as part of a simple salad like this one. The recipe comes from Lucid Food by Louisa Shafia; I've been having very good luck with this cookbook over the last few weeks and this recipe is no exception.
The combination of flavors and textures in this salad keeps it interesting: just-soft grilled zucchini, al dente fava beans, the garlicky crunch of homemade croutons, and the salty crumble of Parmesan cheese. It's not the easiest salad I've ever constructed--everything (the zucchini, beans, and croutons) has to be cooked on its own—but it all comes together with a bright lemon and olive oil dressing. The homemade croutons, for me, really make it: They're both crisp and chewy and definitely worth making.
And best of all, you can have a huge portion and not think twice about it.
- 1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans, about 1 pound fava bean pods
- 5 tablespoons good olive oil, more as needed
- 1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 few slices stale baguette or other crusty bread, cut into pieces
- 2 zucchini or yellow summer squash
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the fava beans uncovered until the beans are just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to an bowl full of ice water to cool them quickly and set the color, then slip the beans from their skins and set aside.
In the meantime, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 clove of the minced garlic, the thyme, and a teaspoon of salt. Add the bread and toss to coat, then bake for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them into strips, then drizzle with olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Heat a ridged grill pan (or a regular skillet will work) over high heat and grille or cook the zucchini for about 2 minutes/side, until cooked but not mushy. Allow to cool, then cut into bite-sized pieces.
Toss the zucchini, fava beans, and mint with the remaining garlic, lemon juice, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to bowls and top with croutons and Parmesan cheese. Serve.