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Charred Fava Beans, Mint & Aioli

Chris Cosentino, chef at Incanto restaurant, has a love-hate relationship with fava beans. He loves it when the first pods of spring arrive in the kitchen, but he hates that it takes hours to shell them. So when some baby ones came in one day, he charred them in the pod and ate them whole. It was a great way to start the fava bean season.

Ingredients:

For the aioli:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup pure olive oil    
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1 lb. baby fava beans in the pod, pods no more than 3 to 4 inches long
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the aioli, in a mortar, combine the garlic and a pinch of salt and pound with a pestle until a paste forms. Add the egg yolk and mustard and stir with the pestle until combined. Slowly drizzle in 2 Tbs. of the pure olive oil while stirring vigorously with the pestle. Once the mixture begins to emulsify, transfer it to a bowl and slowly add the remaining pure olive oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly. After the pure olive oil has been incorporated, finish by whisking in a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and the lemon juice.

Alternatively, to make the aioli in a food processor, finely mince or mash the garlic and add it to the pure olive oil. Combine the egg yolk and mustard in the food processor and process until well blended. With the motor running, very slowly add the olive oil-garlic mixture in a fine stream until the mixture begins to emulsify. When all of the pure olive oil has been added, finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and the lemon juice.

The recipe makes about 1 cup aioli. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Snip the tip and tail of each fava bean pod, making sure to pull off the tough strings that run down the “seams” of the pods.

In a large sauté pan over high heat, warm the olive oil until ripples appear on the surface. Remove the pan from the heat and add the fava beans. Return the pan to high heat and cook the beans, turning as needed to heat evenly, until the pods are charred and golden in spots. Be careful they do not burn. When the pods deflate, they are ready. This should take about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint, season with salt and toss to coat evenly.

Transfer the beans to a warmed platter. Add a large spoonful of the aioli to the platter for dipping, sprinkle the aioli with pepper and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Beginnings, by Chris Cosentino (Olive Press, 2012).