Spring and summer propel me toward urgency. Everything at the market is fleeting, here for only an instant before disappearing for another year. Shelling peas, fava beans, sour cherries, rhubarb, figs: these are the worst offenders. So too with balmy weather and vacation and those weekends that are just made for camping. Look at it another way, and it’s rare and precious, sure. But I must admit that it stresses me out.
I lie in bed thinking about how there are only so many days to make the recipe floating about in my imagination, test it, perfect it and share it with you with enough time that you also can snatch up the produce in question to replicate it in your kitchen. And as soon as I manage to do all of that, I know there will be another gorgeous specimen in the market to consider.
Also common for me is wondering whether or not I sufficiently appreciated, say, the asparagus this year. I’m not sure if I did! I think, alarmed. I fill a bag with the newest arrival to the market—cherries, this time—my anxiety renewed. I want to gobble up the ruby red fruits by the handful, and my head is filled with favorites from seasons past, new ideas, inspiration found in cookbooks, on blogs and out on the town. How to fit it all in?
Yet all of this is exactly the opposite of the other thing that summer suggests, namely, living in the moment—forgoing responsibilities on a sunny Sunday afternoon, lying in the grass for hours, drinking one more cocktail because, why not? I’d rather fill my life with lighthearted delight than with stress. There’s enough in the world encouraging us to be anxious, and I don’t need to make it worse.
And so, I do my best. Exhibit A: this recipe involving fava beans, which you may or may not have time to make, what with the lateness in the season. It’s simple, if that helps, less a recipe than an idea. It also happens to be exactly what I want to be eating these days: light, easy and absolutely scrumptious, the sort of thing that leaving us with plenty of time to lounge around in the summer sun.
Marinated Favas with Ricotta & Toast
There are endless variations one could try with this recipe: use another herb if you like, add some parmesan to the marinade or swap the lemon for red wine vinegar. As for the cheese, my current favorite is this one, from Bellwether Farms.
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds favas, shelled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 small bunch of mint, leaves plucked and coarsely chopped
Sheep’s milk ricotta, for serving
Toasted bread or crackers, for serving
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Toss in the fava beans and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water and allow to cool slightly. Remove the outer skins by pressing each bean, one by one, between your thumb and forefinger. Discard the skins.
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, red pepper flakes and a generous amount of pepper. Toss with the beans and mint, reserving some mint for garnish. Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Serve the marinated fava beans topped with more mint and alongside sheep’s milk ricotta and toast or crackers. You can assemble the toasts for serving, or put out all of the ingredients for folks to build crostini—or just scoop away!—on their own. Make sure to mop up any marinade left in the bowl with a crusty piece of bread.