Fresh Fava Bean Panzanella with Home Made Croutons

I just taught a class on how to cook from the Farmer’s Market recently. Since most of my students didn’t know how to cook a fava bean (or even what they were) we decided that we would have them for part of our meal.  Since I had help cleaning the fava beans, I got 8 pounds.  Then they realized what a pain in the butt they are to clean and cook, but they are SO darned good.     I know, I know, you think that is a LOT.  Nope, just enough with a small amount left over for me today.  We made a wonderful spread with the favas but I wanted something else.  This got me to thinking about Panzanella salads.

I’ve also been on a bread baking kick. Not just any bread baking, but the rustic loaves you get at the grower’s markets with the crusty, crispy exterior and the large holed interior that just melts into your mouth.   I made my starter and fed it for a few weeks.  My friend Jois told me that I should name my starter so I wouldn’t let it die.   I named it Henry.   When it gives me trouble I call him Hank, and when I attempt French Bread I’ll call him Henri.  Henry has helped me bake some amazing loaves and of course I started to have half loaves all over the house.

I made some croutons with olive oil, herbs de Provence and a pinch of salt. Then came the dressing. Using the juice from my quick pickle recipe and the oil from the Italian Olives in Lemon I made the vinaigrette. Sliced up some wild ramps (you guessed it, Farmer’s Market) and mixed this all together with a few leftover tomato pieces from David’s dinner the night before.

I have never eaten a salad where I was grunting and groaning over it and I was happy no one was close enough to hear me .  Sometimes the best meals are right in front of you while you stand at the open refrigerator door.  This was one of them.

Next time maybe I’ll share – then again, maybe not.  Grunt, grunt, grunt, ooooohhhhh.

Quick Pickles

  • 1 cup Reisling Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 small seedless cucumbers – cut in small pieces
  • 3 small ramps – sliced thin
  • 1 Tablespoon Harissa Paste
  • Mason Jar to store

Heat the vinegar until warm, add the sugar, harissa and the salt.  Stir until melted.  Pour over the cucumbers and ramps in the jar.  Allow to sit chilled for 2 hours or longer.  Use this as your vinegar for your vinaigrette.


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