Easiest Spring Ever: Fava Bean and Carrot Salad With Fresh Ricotta

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I know you get that feeling, because I get it, too. It's the feeling that comes on around 5:30 in the evening. You realize that dinnertime is rolling up, and you've been putting off deciding what to make all day. It's starting to get a little late to put real effort into anything, and you're panicking a bit. Maybe you poke at your favorite websites for some inspiration. Or maybe you try to get all tech-savvy and say, "Alexa, what should I make for dinner?"*

Her answer is always "Pizza is a good choice, but don't forget your vegetables" or "I suggest something healthy and delicious." Gee, thanks, Alexa.

It's nights like these that I'm particularly happy that springtime makes it so darn easy to be lazy. So much green spring produce is in the supermarket and farmers market, and, best of all, that spring produce actually benefits from lazy cooking. Generally, the less you do to it, the better.

For this simple, light supper, I barely do anything to the fava beans and carrots.

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For the favas, I start by popping them out of their pods, then I blanch them in boiling water for just about a minute before shocking them in ice water. (Check out my guide to blanching spring vegetables for more details.)

Fava beans have a skin around each bean that becomes far easier to remove after they've been blanched; a little squeeze should pop them right out of it. There's another good reason to blanch with the skin still on:

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The bright green bean on the right was blanched in the skin, while the pale bean on the left was blanched out of its skin. Not only does that emerald-green color look better, but beans blanched in the skin also taste better.

I thinly slice the carrots with a very sharp, thin knife (you can use a vegetable peeler or a mandoline if you'd like), dropping them straight into the same ice bath as the favas, which helps the uncooked carrots curl nicely and gives them a crisper texture. After draining, I toss both with some extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a thinly sliced shallot. If the carrots have attractive tender greens, you can add those, too.

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To turn this from a side salad into a light lunch or supper, I serve it all on top of a healthy dollop of good-quality ricotta cheese, along with some slices of hearty toast drizzled with olive oil.

Dinner's ready, and it's only 5:45. Now what am I going to do for the next hour?

"Alexa, play me some karaoke!"