June 24th, 2012
This post is also available in: French
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that the shorter the season of a certain food, the more magical it appears. It’s true for figs, cherries, summer tomatoes, and most other jewels of the earth, really. It’s certainly the case with fava beans, those brilliantly green peas of the giants.
Seeing them in stores here in Florida is such a rare occasion, that when I recently ran across favas, I wanted to come up with a fun and bright salad to properly celebrate them.
I’ve heard about the surprising combination of vanilla bean and balsamic before, and finally decided to try it out in the dressing for this timbale. The two make for a very interesting vinaigrette – slightly sweet and incredibly fragrant. If you are a balsamic lover, increase the amount of it in the dressing, as I tried to keep it light.
I also thought it would be fun to present the salad in the form of timbale, it definitely makes the eating experience more special.
We just got back from San Francisco – talk about falling in love all over again. Plenty of fresh fava beans at the markets there, along with the sweetest of cherries, peaches, apricots, and a myriad of the most otherworldly greens. We’ll have a Travel Notes post up next week. Meanwhile, enjoy the favas.
Fava Bean Timbale
1 cup fresh fava beans – shelled and peeled
1 cup fresh corn kernels
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
2 medium cucumbers – peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup purple cabbage – finely shredded
8-10 radishes – cubed
handful cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons chives – finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds – unhulled and optionally toasted
zest of 1 orange – optional
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
I used raw fava beans in this recipe, but you can also blanch the shelled beans in boiling water for a minute before peeling them. Corn can also be boiled, as opposed to raw, for 4 minutes and then rinsed under cold water before cutting kernels off the corn ear. Chop fava beans into 2-3 pieces each. Mix them with corn kernels, tarragon, and a generous pinch of coarse sea salt, leave to soften.
Place the cucumbers in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to release juices. Mix cabbage with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice, massage for a couple minutes with your hands and set aside.
Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon each balsamic and apple cider vinegar
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
drop of sesame oil (optional)
sea salt and pepper
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
In a bowl, combine all the vegetables with the cubed radishes and the rest of the timbale ingredients. Pour in about one third of the vinaigrette, mix to incorporate. If making a timbale, place the ring mold of the size you like (I used 2 1/4-inch in height and 3 3/4 in diameter) on a plate and pack the salad inside the mold. Place a jar filled with liquid on top and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the mold and repeat the process to make more timbale. Drizzle with remaining dressing, garnish with chives and sesame seeds. Serve with microgreens or any fresh salad greens.
Optionally, you can also serve timbale as a salad, without molding it. In this case, simply slice the cucumbers and radishes and leave fava beans whole. The rest of the recipe stays the same. Serve in a purple cabbage leaf for a nice presentation if you like.