It’s a definite sign of Spring when the first fava beans start making an appearance at market stalls around Florence. Fava beans are known as "baccelli" in Tuscany and for a few weeks in the spring they are everywhere, traditionally presented at the table as they are – long, green, shiny pods which belie the little treasures tucked away inside – the beans are shelled and eaten raw with a nice, salty pecorino cheese or silky, melt in the mouth prosciutto to contrast with the fresh, slightly bitter bite of the raw beans.
These crostini are prepared with the simplest ingredients, inspired by the simple way they are traditionally eaten at a Spring time table in Tuscany - no need to shell the fava beans one by one, just pop them out their long pods and straight into a mortar! I prepare them à la Jamie Oliver (i.e. smashing stuff up with a pestle and mortar and leaving it quite rustic looking); a very good, fruity, peppery extra virgin olive oil with this is a must! - Emiko —Emiko
Test Kitchen Notes
The simplicity of this dish puts the fresh, green flavor of the fava beans at center stage. Lemon juice and pecorino add zest and a salty bite, and spring herbs lend an earthy, fresh taste. Feel free to chop your herbs so the crostini are easier to eat. - broccolirose —broccolirose
Start off by shelling the pods and collecting the beans in a bowl. Put aside some of the beans to use as garnish. In a mortar and pestle, smash up the rest of the fava beans with a few spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil and the lemon juice. Add the grated pecorino cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile grill the slices of ciabatta bread and (if you are using the garlic), when they are still hot, rub one side of the bread once with the clove of garlic. If you’re a garlic lover, you can rub more but try not to go overboard with the raw garlic as it tends to overpower!
Top each slice with a spoonful or two of the fava bean paste and decorate with some of the whole fava beans that you put aside at the beginning and a few leaves of your favourite fresh herbs. Tastes like Spring.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.