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Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila on the first fava beans of the season

May 11, 2011 |  6:00 am

FAVA BEANS (1 of 1) I just picked my first fava bean harvest: four pounds. Beautiful, aren’t they? But for those who aren't growing any, fava beans are just coming in at the farmers market, where I saw them for anywhere from $2 to $4 a pound.

I ate a few handfuls raw, and then with the rest I made a fava bean salad with mountain ham and mint, a recipe I’d been wanting to try from Chez Panisse chef David Tanis’ first book, “A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes” (Artisan Books, 2008, $35).

Basically, you remove the beans from FAVA SALAD (1 of 1) the pods, blanch blanch the beans, then take off the tough outer skin. Slice fennel on a mandoline and toss with the fava beans, some thinly slivered scallions and sea salt. Drizzle olive oil over and the juice of half a lemon. Garnish with mint leaves and tear fine slices of jamon serrano or prosciutto into strips and scatter over the salad. (The recipe has more detail, but you get the idea.)

I have little tabs stuck all over this book. Most cookbooks yield a handful of recipes you’d like to try. This one, and the sequel “Heart of the Artichoke,” has many more. 

With the fava bean salad, I served a Mas de Daumas Gassac rosé from the Languedoc, which Silverlake Wine had just put on the shelf. 


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 — S. Irene Virbila

Photo: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times