Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Seasonal Greens

There's something about the color green that just shouts spring to me. It happens when I see the first tentative tendrils of my white bleeding heart popping out of the ground, followed by the hostas and anemonies, and then the farmers' markets start up with garlic shoots and tender baby lettuces.

And, my obsession with rhubarb notwithstanding, there's that very short, very special moment when fava beans can be found at the markets and on the menus of many restaurants. The trick seems to be finding very fresh pods with firm, round beans inside rather than faded, floppy things that have lost their luster to too much time in transit.

Yes, there is that notorious three-step prep, but, hey, the season is short and the agony doesn't last long. Just remove the beans from the pods, boil them for a minute or two in plenty of water, then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Terrific in salads or tossed with pasta, they also make a vivid seasonal risotto. I like them as a fava bean spread on fresh slices of baguette or on crostini brushed with olive oil and garlic and topped with a tiny mint leaf.

So steel yourself and get in while the getting's good. You won't regret it!

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