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na•tiv /náytiv/
Native means born or produced in a specific region or country, but it can also apply to persons or things that were introduced from elsewhere some time ago...
Excerpt from The Pocket Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus
By Elizabeth Jewell




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Favas and Pecorino

Welcomed as a sign of spring in Tuscany fava beans start to pop up everywhere in the month of March. They are commonly enjoyed with fresh, young sheep’s milk cheese known as pecorino. The most common cheese in Tuscany, pecorino, is available fresh and unaged only in the springtime. Because the sheep have no fresh grass to eat in the winter they are not milked. Once February arrives grasses emerge and the sheep are well-fed, milking commences and the early sping cheese is sold fresh. 1-2 months past March aged pecorino will be available, the beans will also be bigger and tougher, and this salad will taste completely different.

Preparing favas are a bit time consuming since you must shell them and then peel them  — except in the early springtime when the beans are young and tender, there is no need to peel their inner skins. In Italy the work is regarded as an opportunity to talk with a friend.

If you can’t locate fresh pecorino substitute semi-firm goat’s milk cheese.  

3 pounds (1.3 kilograms) fresh fava beans
10 ounces (300 grams) fresh pecorino, chopped into small squares 
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt & pepper
Italian bread (optional)

Pull the strings on the sides of the pods and remove the beans. If the beans are young and fresh there won’t be a string yet so just run your fingernail along the seam to open.

Boil in water for about 45 seconds then drain and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. If they are tender, springtime beans there is no need to peel the skins. Taste one and see if it is tough. If it is then you’ll need to peel the thin skin from the beans.

Add all ingredients except bread to a large bowl and toss gently. Season with salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste.

The salad is often served with bread as an antipasti. Read more about Tuscan cheese here.

Serves 8
Printable version (.pdf)


Reader Comments (6)

Yum - love fresh fava beans. We like to make a bit of a mash with garlic, olive oil, and sea salt and smear it over good crusty bread our version of a spring bruschetta - oh and a bit of lemon does wonders!
Monday, 5 April 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOysterCulture
love both of these the combo sounds delightful.
Monday, 5 April 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkathy gori
These are gorgeous. You definitely have access to great ingredients in Italy.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDivina
Such a welcoming springtime meal. Turn on a CD and peel the beans! Love to look forward to new fods with the seasons.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia
YUMMMY! I will post this recipe on my website. I just love Fava's in the Spring.
Mary Ellen
Tuesday, 6 April 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary Ellen Murphy
For a substitute cheese try ricotta salata.. works real well with fava beans!!

-- Thanks Paul - that is a great idea. I think those flavors would work great.
Friday, 9 April 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Bacino
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