Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fava Bean Crostini + Zucchini and Hazelnut Salad

I was in Victoria, BC this past week for a course in Digital Humanities editing--basically, making digital books for academic purposes. The course is taught at the University of Victoria, and while I'm there, I stay in an apartment-style residence. Every year, our apartment makes me both grateful and frustrated. I'm grateful, because the food choices at UVic are limited and expensive, but I'm always frustrated because there is so much fantastic produce available that I don't have the time or the equipment to take full advantage of. BC is at least three weeks ahead of us in terms of spring growth, and the lovely little gourmet grocery store down the hill from my room had lots to choose from, but I spent most of the week eating miso soup and oatmeal. It's a bit hard to get creative when you don't have a cheese grater, or a chef's knife, or a vegetable peeler. Me being me, one of the first things I did after getting off the plane was head to the grocery store, and I had it in my head that I was going to make something that required all of the equipment I'd been lacking in Victoria. After spying some fresh fava beans, I remembered that I had a package of zucchini still in the fridge, a bottle of roasted hazelnut oil in my suitcase, and a basil plant growing on the balcony. I threw a baguette and a couple of lemons in my cart, and I was ready to go--and I got to break out the food processor and the mandoline, both of which I missed desperately when I was away! What is it that gives away the fact that I'm a  food nerd--the craving for food processor-ing, or the fact that I travelled with hazelnut oil? Both, I'm sure!

Both of these recipes are largely raw, which is always a welcome recipe attribute as temperatures climb and humidity nears 100%. I don't have air conditioning, so there are going to be lots of cold recipes featured here in the coming months. The crostini are both crispy and chewy on the bottom from the toasted baguette, and sweetly and sharply grainy from the fava beans, lemon, and garlic. The zucchini salad is fresh and mild, but also a bit rich from the hazelnut oil and toasted nuts, and I love any recipe that involves zucchini that looks like pasta. It was actually the perfect dinner on a warm night, especially with a crisp glass of white wine, watching the sun go down over the city.

Fava Bean Crostini

2 cups shelled fava beans, edamame, or young peas (frozen are fine)
3 tbsp grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
Handful of fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

Combine all of the ingredients except for the bread in a food processor. Process until blended but still slightly chunky (or if you want a completely smooth puree, keep processing, and add a bit of water if necessary to loosen up the texture.) Spread on slices of baguette and eat.

Zucchini Cruda and Hazelnut Salad

3-5 small-medium zucchini, very thinly sliced (either with a mandoline or vegetable peeler)
Handful of hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Leaves from a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp roasted hazelnut oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Toss with zucchini, nuts and herbs. Serve immediately.

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