I realized the other day that it’s been over a year since I participated in a food blogging event. The last one was the Great Mac-N-Cheese-Off of January ’07. What have I been doing with myself all this time? Being a giant party pooper, I guess.
So, I’m easing back into the party with Ilva’s Paper Chef event being hosted this month by Hank of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. If you’re not familiar, Paper Chef is sort of like Iron Chef for us non-celebrity Internet folk, in which you come up with a dish using the four featured ingredients. But unlike Iron Chef, there aren’t any cameras in your face and, since Google is only a click away, it’s really easy to cheat. Sounds good to me.
I was glad to see this month’s ingredients were fennel, prosciutto, honey, and fava beans. Not too crazy, right? Past combinations have struck me as a bit challenging for someone of my particular talents. Anyway, here’s the simple lunch I came up with. It was good.
Fava Bean Bruschetta with Prosciutto and Honey with Shaved Fennel Salad
2 lbs. fava beans, shelled to yield about 2 cups of beans
3-4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2-3 Tbsp. more for dressing
1 fennel bulb, white part only, trimmed
1 shallot lobe, minced (meaning ½ shallot)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice, plus more for purée
½ baguette, sliced
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp. honey
3 slices prosciutto (di Parma or San Daniele)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fava beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and submerge in ice water until cool. Drain again. Pop the beans out of their skins (I do this by tearing a hole in the side and squeezing them out with my fingers). Place beans in bowl of food processor and purée, adding olive oil until it reaches your preferred consistency (I would have liked mine to have been a little chunkier). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Cut the fennel bulb down the middle, and lay cut side down. Cut slices as thinly as possible. Set aside in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine minced shallot and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
Toast baguette slices until golden. Cut garlic clove in half and rub on one side of each of the toasts. Drizzle very lightly with honey. Top with a spoonful of fava bean purée, prosciutto, and another light drizzle of honey, if desired. Pour dressing over fennel and serve. Makes 4 appetizer servings.