Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fennel, Feta and Fava Salad with Prosciutto

This is adapted from a recipe in A Platter of Figs. Looking it over, I felt like feta belonged in the recipe (which it probably doesn't, but I really like feta). So I tweaked it a bit, and was happy with it. This salad is best right about now, before fava beans start getting big and starchy. I would expect that lima beans or other very green-tasting shell beans might work as a substitute, if you can't get your hands on fresh favas, but dried beans just won't. Peas... maybe. But maybe not.

3 slices prosciutto or serrano, sliced into strips

2 fennel bulbs

about 3 lbs of fresh fava beans (weight is with the pod)

olive oil

about 12 mint leaves, julienned

1 lemon

feta, crumbled in to taste

salt


1. clean the fennel bulbs and discard the thickest, coarsest outer layer of the bulb. Cut it in half vertically, and slice into paper-thin slices (a mandolin will apparently work fine for this, but I am mandolin-phobic). Take a small portion of the feathery greens and slice those, as well. Don't take a ton- this is an herbal-ish addition to the salad, not a way to use all of the fennel greens.

2. shuck the fava beans. If the bean skin is a whitish-green instead of a vivid spring green (usually the case with larger beans), use your fingernail to dig in a little to the bean skin, and slide the bean out. If the bean is a bright, spring green, skip it. Skinning every bean is a real pain, and I try to avoid it if possible. Toss the beans in with the fennel and the chopped fennel greens.

3. Add the prosciutto and mint, and dress with olive oil, lemon and salt. Add some feta, toss, and taste. Adjust feta, lemon juice and salt accordingly.

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