Sunday, May 23, 2010

Asparagus, Preserved Lemon Pizza at Pizza Antica

As I was looking up locally lunch eateries today, Pizza Antica at Strawberry Village in Mill Valley showed up in my search. As a lover of unique pizzas, I should really be more of a regular here. Great pizzas, friendly service, non-pizza options. And the place has style! Even the coffee service was elegant.

My uber-light pizza included shaved asparagus, preserved lemon, tarragon and parmesan. The crust was very thin and the combination of flavors was truly delicious. A pizza right off the menu (you can build your own), this was fresh tasting and wonderfully light.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pea & Fava Bean Salad with Feta, Green Garlic & Pine nuts

Last weekend, a happy gardener brought bags of fresh fava beans to our outdoor activity in Nicasio. Which spurred the question: what do you do with fava beans?

That question inspired this recipe - a very fresh and tasty salad of fava beans, fresh English peas (also in season), green garlic, feta cheese and pine nuts with the perfect lemony backdrop.

So, the most important thing to know about using fresh fava beans: you have to pod and peel them. It's fiddley and time-consuming, but the skins have a bitter taste that will probably put you off unless you cover them up with a heavy sauce. I use a small sharp knife and slice into the side and the peel comes off quite quickly. Here's a picture that shows the podded unpeeled fava, the partially peeled fava, and the peeled fava:

The peeled fava is tender and can be eaten raw. I sauteed them with lemon olive oil and butter and minced green garlic, along with the podded English peas. The garden-fresh favas were so tender they cooked faster than the larger English peas. I added a very light white wine to the mix and some fresh lemon juice (don't skip the lemon juice!) Sauteed in a pan for about 5 minutes, added a pinch of sea salt, then moved to a bowl and added finely crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Topped the mix with some freshly snipped chives and the result was completely satisfying and healthy. If you want a more substantial salad dish, some cooked farro would be a winner here.

OK, so what's your favorite way to enjoy fresh fava beans? Post your fav in the comments!