As clichéd as it may be to label anything as “East meets West,” this dish just may fit the bill. In it, buckwheat soba noodles -- a staple of Japanese cuisine -- meet asparagus and fava beans, both crops that originated around the Mediterranean.
Fava beans may intimidate you at first, but don’t let their large, spotted pods scare you off. Once you get the hang of it, they are easy to work with, and boast loads of protein, color, and texture.
To prepare fava beans, you split the pods open and remove the fat beans inside. This can be tough: the pods don’t always open easily, so you may need a paring knife to help the process along. Once you’ve shelled your fava beans, you’ll need to parboil them for at least 4 to 5 minutes in salted water. Plunge them in cold water and remove their waxy skins. At this point, you can steam, sautée, or cook them as you wish.
Fresh fava beans have a very short season. If you can’t find them, you can substitute a cup of shelled edamame in their place. They won’t have the hardiness of favas, but they’ll have the same brilliant green color and add a protein punch to this dish. I like to prepare the salad and allow it to marinate for a few hours at least; the more you allow the ingredients to mingle with the vinaigrette dressing, the better.
1 cup shelled fava beans, blanched in boiling water, and waxy coating removed
1 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
10 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
1 cup shredded carrot
2 scallions, sliced
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons avocado or walnut oil (substitute olive oil if you have neither)
1 clove finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
Photos by James Ransom