Spring on Toast, Illustrated

May  8, 2015

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.

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

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • mcs3000
  • lem monade
    lem monade
  • PRST
  • Ali Slagle
    Ali Slagle
  • Amanda Sims
    Amanda Sims
Living in Healdsburg, California. Designing on my computer, drawing with ink and watercolor, and cooking in my home kitchen.


mcs3000 May 12, 2015
YES! love Sharon's work! most awesome.
Sharon H. May 22, 2015
Aww thanks! You're the best! New article up today :)
lem M. May 12, 2015
Those illustrations are beautiful, looking forward to seeing more of them here!
I love fava beans on their own, in the most simple tuscan spring snack "baccelli e pecorino" where you just serve a heap of them and a chunk of pecorino on the table (preferably outside) and everyone peels some beans, cuts off bits of cheese and eat them together. The other night I made a slightly more dinner-worthy version of this by just warming peeled fava beans in a bit of olive oil and adding them to pasta cascio e pepe. Those crostini up there will be next …
Sharon H. May 22, 2015
I love your idea of serving fava beans with pecorino! So delicious. Thanks so much for your kind words about my illustrations. By the way, my second article has just gone up. Would love to hear what you think!
PRST May 8, 2015
Oh Sharon!!!!! I am so excited that you have a column on Food 52. I have so enjoyed your illustrations on FB. I'd love to share my favorite fava bean puree recipe with you. I'll make it for you next trip. I might have to bring the fava's from my MT farmer's market as I'm not sure how long the fava season lasts in Healdsburg. Bravo neighbor! PS: I can't wait to cook with you
Sharon H. May 8, 2015
How wonderful to hear from you, dear neighbor! Would absolutely love to cook with you, and can't wait to try your fava beans recipe.
Ali S. May 8, 2015
Inspiring illustrations and recipes -- makes me excited to see what's at my market. Thank you, Sharon!
Sharon H. May 8, 2015
Thanks Ali, for all your wonderful help on brainstorming and editing. You're the best! Looking forward to many more collaborations!
Amanda S. May 8, 2015
Lovely illustrations, Sharon!
Sharon H. May 8, 2015
Thanks so much, Amanda!
AntoniaJames May 8, 2015
Now, aren't those drawings infinitely more beautiful and enjoyable than the best-styled photos? Here's a prediction, or an idea at least for one way that Food52 can be a leader, and not a follower: look at how many dozens of contributors to Food52 can take a good photo. People are getting so skilled at it that even much better than average food photography has become somewhat ordinary. Think about the joy to be found in a well-executed drawing which, incidentally, will not age. More drawings, please! ;o)
Sharon H. May 8, 2015
So glad you like it!