I can’t quite remember what I used to do for appetizers before I discovered crostini. They are just so versatile. The possibilities for toppings are endless. If you’ve read my blog at all, you know that I’m all about using what’s in season. I guess I should admit that lately I’ve been obsessed with fresh fava beans.
There’s a wonderful Italian couple who have a stand at my farmers’ market and for the past month or so they’ve had favas. I buy some every weekend and go through the trials of first peeling the outer shell and then having to peel each bean again to reveal the lovely bright green bean inside the little grey pod. It’s a lot of work, but definitely worth the trouble to be able to enjoy this bean in it’s rather short growing season. I’ve been toying with the idea of using pureed favas as a topping for crostini and after seeing a recipe in the May 2009 issue of Gourmet, I knew it was time to try it out.
Fava Bean and Arugula Crostini
1 cup shelled, fresh fava beans
1/4 cup extra-virign olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1-1/2 cups packed baby arugula
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
16 mint leaves
Crostini-prepared your favorite way (toasted in oven or grilled)
Cook fava beans in boiling water, uncovered until tender, about 4 minutes, then drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Gently peel off skins. Pulse beans in food processor until very coarsely chopped, then transfer half of mixture to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup arugula, cheese, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to favas in food processor and puree until smooth. Add to bowl. Coarsely chop remaining arugula and gently fold into fava bean mixture.
Spoon fava bean mixture onto crostini. Top with mint and a drizzle of olive oil. I also topped mine with a sliver of parmigiano. I always do my bread for crostini or bruschetta on the grill and rub with a clove of garlic while still warm. There’s just another layer of flavor when you do it this way that you don’t get with when the bread is done in the oven.