Fresh fava beans are the prima donna of spring vegetables. They require double shelling and blanching, and by the time all is said and done you’ve reduced your yield from 1 lbs of pods to hopefully 1/2 cup of edible beans. It’s a small harvest for something so involved, but as we all know, they’re worth it. The beans are tender and delicately flavored with a buttery, sometimes nutty profile. Given how much time they demand, I prefer to serve them in a way that highlights the flavor and texture of this labor of love. This crostini delivers just that. It's light, simple and fresh.
I tossed the favas with a few glugs of olive oil, salt, pepper, a sliced green onion and a touch of lemon juice. Then I piled this fava mixture onto a bed of lemony ricotta slathered over thick slices of ciabatta. I crisped up prosciutto and spread the crumbles over the toasts for a salty crunch, which can easily be skipped if you’re a vegetarian or don’t have prosciutto on hand.
And if you’re wondering about a wine pairing with this spring aperitif, you’ve come to the right place! We enjoyed a light, fresh Grüner Veltliner from Austria. The wine is racy, peppery, and citrusy with mouthwatering acidity and a subtle herbaceous quality-- perfect for a spring afternoon with fresh favas.
fava bean ricotta toasts with crispy prosciutto
makes 12 toasts
1 loaf ciabatta (for 12, 1" slices)
olive oil for drizzling bread plus 1- 2 tbsp
freshly ground black pepper
5 pieces of prosciutto (bacon could also be used)
2 lbs fresh fava beans (to yield 1 cup of shelled beans)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1- 2 tbsp olive oil, to taste
1 cup + 2 tbsp ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the ciabatta into twelve 1" thick slices and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Save any remaining bread for another use. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Bake 5- 8 minutes, or until edges are crisp and golden but the center of the bread still has some softness and give. Transfer to cooling rack and set aside.
Place slices of prosciutto flat on same baking sheet and return to oven for 13 minutes, or until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Break the prosciutto into pieces and set aside.
Bring water to a boil for the fava beans, and fill a medium sized bowl with ice water for blanching. Break open the fava bean pods. Slide your finger along one side, opening the seam as you would a zipper. If a pod doesn't open easily, use a paring knife and slit the bean pod entirely open, exposing the spongy insides and the beans. Remove the beans and discard the pods.
Salt the boiling water and blanch the fava beans for 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove the beans from the hot water and immediately plunge into a bowl filled with iced water to stop the cooking. With your fingers or a paring knife, remove the top of the shell and squeeze the other end of the shell to pop out the fava bean. Discard the outer skin. Toss the fava beans with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add one tbsp olive oil, mix, taste and add more olive oil if desired. Set aside.
Combine ricotta, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Slather the ciabatta toasts with ricotta mixture, about 1 1/2 tbsp each. Divide fava bean mixture evenly across the ricotta toasts and garnish with prosciutto crumbles. Serve immediately.