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Crostini with Fava Bean Spread and Mint

Fresh fava beans are prized for their meaty, earthy taste, not dissimilar to that of lima beans. The larger, more mature beans make an exceptional spread and combine well with fresh herbs. Here, fresh mint is used, but chives or tarragon can be used in its place.

Ingredients:

  • 30 baguette slices, each 1/4 inch thick (about 1 large baguette)
  • 2 lb. fava beans
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 6 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh mint
  • 30 small fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, turning once halfway through baking, until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Remove the fava beans from their pods and discard the pods. Bring a pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the fava beans and cook until the beans are tender and the skins slip easily from the beans, 10 to 25 minutes; the timing depends on the age of the beans. Drain the beans in a colander and, when cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and discard them.

In a food processor or blender, combine the beans, the 3 Tbs. olive oil, 3 Tbs. of the cream, the salt, pepper and minced mint and process until a creamy puree forms. If the mixture seems too dry, add up to 3 Tbs. more cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The puree may be made up to 2 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before spreading on the baguette slices.)

Spread the puree on the baguette slices and arrange on a platter. Garnish the crostini with the mint sprigs and then drizzle them with olive oil. Serve immediately. Serves 10 to 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Entertaining with the Seasons (Free Press, 2010).