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Fava Bean and Ricotta Crostini with Fresh Mint

A creamy base of ricotta cheese makes a perfect foil for fava beans’ slightly “green” flavor in this creative crostini topping. Fresh mint is a classic partner to favas in a variety of Mediterranean cuisines. Its refreshing taste is set off here by sharp pecorino and fragrant lemon zest.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. fava beans in their pods 
  • 1 baguette 
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese 
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano cheese 
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint 
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste  

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Shell the fava beans. Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain into a colander and then rinse under cold running water until cool. Remove the outer skin from each bean by pinching open the end opposite where the fava bean attaches to the pod. You should have about 1 cup shelled and skinned beans. Finely chop the beans and put them into a medium bowl.

Cut the baguette into 16 slices, each 1⁄2 inch thick (reserve any remaining baguette for another use). Arrange the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp, turning once, about 5 minutes total. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Add the ricotta, pecorino, 1 tablespoon of the mint, the lemon zest and 2 Tbs. olive oil to the bowl with the fava beans. Using a fork, mash the ingredients together until well blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Heap a spoonful of the bean mixture onto each baguette toast. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining mint. Arrange the toasts on a platter and serve right away. Makes 16 crostini; serves 3 or 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers, by Amy Sherman (Oxmoor House, 2008).