Smashed Peas and Fava Beans with Fresh Mozzarella
Boy that title was a mouthful. Mouthful title for a short post. I'm going to dinner tonight! It's okay, we don't all need an essay extolling the raptures of spring EVERY post, right (especially if it isn't quite spring where you are)?
Besides, I think this dish does plenty of extolling for itself. Here is a lovely spring appetizer or side dish for you. Light, but indulgent all at once (that is about as close as I ever get to light cooking, really). Sophisticated, too. I mean, I thought so.
Pretty colors. Soft, white, French bread. Sweet, springy green topping.
An unusual mix of flavors too - the earthy green vegetables, a splash of lemon, all lightened by mint. And then balanced with olive oil.
Then make it!
Then tell me about it.
Smashed Peas and Fava Beans with Fresh Mozzarella (I believe the original of this recipe is from Jamie Oliver, but I found it on The Cilantropist, who I just had to plug here based on their blog title alone)
1 pound of peas in their pods, or about 5 ounces shelled
1 1/2 pounds of fava beans in their pods, or about 9 ounces shelled
Small bunch of fresh mint leaves (I used about 20 leaves)
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil (at least 2 tbsp)
Hearty bread, sliced
Boccocini, buffalo mozzarella, or other fresh whey-packed mozzarella
Shell the peas and fava beans, and remove some of the fava bean skins if they are thick. If you prefer, blanch the fava beans in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, and slip off the skins.
Add the peas, fava beans, mint, and lemon juice to a food processor. Blend until the peas and beans are in small bits, then add the parmesan cheese and about 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Blend well, and then check for texture. You will probably need to add at least 1-3 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to get a smoother, richer texture - this will really depend on the size/texture of your peas and fava beans. You want the richness of the oil and the cheese to balance the peas and beans, and the texture should be spreadable yet still grainy.
To serve, top sliced bread with some of the pea and fava bean puree, then tear off some of the fresh mozzarella to top the puree. If you like, add a bit more pea and fava puree on top and garnish with fresh peas, mint sprigs, or a sprinkle of parmesan. Serve immediately. Puree is best made the day of serving (color and flavor are brightest), but will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days more.