Fava bean, pickled fennel, and goat cheese crostini

Fresh, silky representations of springtime

Fava bean, pickled fennel, and goat cheese crostini

I am always pleasantly surprised when fava beans pop up at the farmers’ market each spring - not only because they’re even more delicious at the beginning of the season, but because it proves that California actually has seasons (go us!) 

Alternatively, you can actually skip the entire process of shelling by roasting the whole pod with some olive oil and sea salt, and eat every bit of the beans and surrounding pod. This is also quite delicious, but a different, richer flavor with less of the springtime freshness in just the beans.

Fava beans are fresh, silky representations of springtime, but they can be a pain to process. Not only do most recipes call for removing the beans from the larger pod, but also for removing the beans from their thin surrounding shell. One of those tasks that’s fun at first, but increasingly painful as time moves on and pod after pod is processed. 

You don’t know fava - or maybe you do?

Fortunately, the favas at the beginning of the season are so tender that you don’t have to cook the beans after removing them from the shell and they’re still oh-so-tender, which is what is called for in this recipe.

  • Fava beans, removed from pod and surrounding shells peeled away
  • Pickled* or fresh, thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • Lemon zest
  • Cumin powder
  • Olive oil
  • Toasted, thinly sliced baguette
  • Chèvre
  • Good quality sea salt

Toss 2 parts fava beans with 1 part fennel and lemon zest, and cumin to taste. Drizzle in enough olive oil to make glossy, but not too oily. 

Spread chèvre on baguette slices, top with fava mixture, and sprinkle with sea salt.

* To Pickle Fennel:

  1. Slice 1 fennel bulb into thin slivers and pack tightly into a pint jar.
  2. Heat 1 cup white wine vinegar with 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and herbs or spices of choosing (such as caraway and orange zest) and bring to a boil.
  3. Allow brine to cool for 2 minutes, then pour into jar with fennel to cover completely. Cool to room temperature, seal with lid, and store in the refrigerator. Fennel can be eaten immediately and will keep well for up to 2 weeks.