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Spring on Toast, Illustrated

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Grab your tote bag (and maybe your sketchbook) because, every other week, Sharon Hwang of My Cooking Diary is bringing us along for her adventures at her Northern California farmers market—and then back in her kitchen.

Today: When the first fava beans, spring onions, and radishes are at the market, make dips for your every crostini and tartine whim.

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If you love fava beans as much as I do, you know they’re worth the effort to pod and shell—and you’ll enjoy this fava bean purée recipe my friends Paul and Sandra taught me that puts the springtime beans in the spotlight: Shell the fava beans from their pods, immerse them in a small pot of boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then refresh in a bowl of iced water. Pinch off the skin of each bean. Then, make a broth with the tops from either spring onions or green garlic by poaching them in a shallow pan with enough water to cover them for about 15 minutes, then reducing until you have a more concentrated liquid.

Slice the white part of spring onions and cook in butter or olive oil—just super softly, not browning them. Add the shelled fava beans and cook them with the onions, again just gently, then add a little of the broth. Season with salt and pepper. Purée the mixture in a food processor or push it through a food mill. The fava bean purée has a brilliant bright green color, and tastes just like spring. I serve it with a piece of grilled or smoked fish on top, some thinly sliced radishes, and a sprinkle of micro greens.

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My other favorite fava bean recipe is from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable LiteracyShe makes a fava bean hummus with cumin. It’s so simple: Put cooked and skinned fava beans, a little ground cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt in a food processor. Pulse into a rough purée, adding more salt or lemon juice to taste. 

This hummus is really good spread on top of crostini—thinly sliced baguette brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, then baked until crispy golden brown in a 350° F oven for about 7 minutes. Lightly rub the crostini with the cut side of a garlic clove, let cool, then spread on a thick layer of the fava hummus, garnish with thin radish slices, freshly chopped herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. This as an appetizer that begs for a glass of rosé alongside. 


Above left: Fava bean purée with smoked trout, radishes, and micro greens. Above right: Fava bean hummus on crostini.

How are you cooking with fava beans this spring?

Illustrations and photos by Sharon Hwang

Tags: fava beans, spring, tartine, crostini, illustrations, spring onions, garlic