Big Bean, Little Bean

One of my most favorite legumes is fava beans (a.k.a broad beans), and I just can’t get enough of these guys. Sautéed with garlic & olive oil or whizzed up into a hummus, they’re super tasty anyway you cook them. I happened to find some first-crops this past weekend, so this meant I could try my hand at a dish I had recently enjoyed at a new restaurant. The favas I picked up were not necessarily stunners on the outside, but on the inside– pristine, firm beans and good size for their pods. I’m growing favas in my garden this year (so excited!) which have sprouted to about 8 inches tall already. It will be a long while yet before they mature, but these local favas will tide me over just fine.
edamame & fava beans

Another favorite is edamame or soybeans. These little beans are packed with protein and are such a great snack to munch on. Throw on a little Citrus Salt, and there you go. Quick food that’s good for you. So when the menu featured a dish with both of these beans together, along with crispy pancetta tossed with a hint of lemon zest….well, no-brainer there. And it was amazing. The simplest of ingredients cooked to perfection…in pancetta drippings no less–TDF! This combination of flavors is satisfying and very moreish. Not going to lie, there may have been some finger-dipping into the bottom of the bowl going on before the bread arrived…..sshh, don’t tell anyone ;>). Here’s my attempt to recreate the recipe so you all can enjoy these bosom bean buddies any time the mood strikes.

fava beans and edamame
You can buy frozen fava beans, but when you can get fresh–there’s nothing like it. For those who have not cooked fresh favas before, there’s a little work involved to reach the prized creamy bean inside. None of the steps are hard, and the effort is well worth it. First, you’ll need to remove the large bean from the outer pod. Simply run your thumb down the length of the pod to spread it open. The beans can be pushed out with your fingers. Then put the beans into a large pot of boiling & salted water for about 30-45 seconds, or until all the beans have floated to the top. Drain the beans under cold water and allow to cool slightly before handling them. To remove the bean’s outer skin, simply pinch open the top of the outer layer and then squeeze the soft bean out with your thumb & fingers. It should just pop right out.

Edamame, Fava Bean & Crispy Pancetta Side
yields 2 servings | printable version

1/2 pound pancetta, thick cut piece
1/2 cup cooked & shelled edamame beans
1/2 cup cooked & shelled fava beans
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Start by dicing the pancetta into small pieces. Cook in a medium-size pan on low-medium heat to slowly render as much fat as possible, and so as not to burn the pancetta. Once they are golden and crispy, remove the pancetta pieces and set aside on a paper towel. Keep all the drippings in the pan and move to low heat. Shell the fava beans from the pod, boil in salted water, and shell again to get the inner bean. Add them to a bowl and mash with a fork until fairly smooth in texture. A potato masher works great here. Add in a few drops of lemon olive oil to keep the mash moist. Salt & pepper to taste. Add the fava bean mash back to the heated pan and warm through in the pancetta drippings. Next, add in the edamame beans, crispy pancetta, lemon zest and remaining lemon olive oil. The final mixture should be well-coated and not dry. Add more plain extra-virgin olive oil if you need to. Adjust salt & pepper to taste. Serve warm with a piece of crunchy bread to soak up all the deliciousness at the bottom of the bowl.
edamame & fava beans

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Meyer Lemon Biscotti

If you could have smelled my kitchen yesterday.
It was lemon central. And it was divine. I used not only the zest and the juice of meyer lemons, but also candied lemon peel in these pretty little Meyer Lemon Biscotti. The heady floral aroma of a meyer lemon is like no other. It has such a distinct scent. You know it’s a “meyer” when you smell it. The back door was open for a while since it was such a warm spring day, and the heat made the tree’s fragrance even more intense. I couldn’t help but pick a few and get to baking!

Good thing too, as I think my tree is just about done bearing fruit for a while. Figured I better enjoy them before it’s too late. But the good news is I see a ton of new buds on the tree, which hopefully means more deliciously sweet & tart lemons will be coming soon? Fingers crossed! Here in Northern California, we’re fortunate in many of the micro-climates to have citrus fruit year-round. And with this little guy, since it’s a dwarf variety, and in a pot near the house, it’s protected from the cooler nights….plus get loads of sunshine and warmth during the day.

So in honor of these gorgeous little gems…and because it’s Spring…..and because it’s Easter Sunday next week—you’re going to want a simple, make-ahead dessert so that your holiday entertaining is even sweeter. And these Meyer Lemon Biscotti  taste as good as they look!

Meyer Lemon Biscotti
yields 26-30 | printable version

To make these even more lemony,  I added candied lemon peel. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, just bump up the lemon zest and add 1/2 more tablespoon of lemon juice. And if you can’t find meyer lemons, substitute eureka lemons (the variety found in most grocery stores, they’ll work just fine.)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh meyer lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons candied lemon peel, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 large eggs

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons meyer lemon zest

To make the biscotti:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a standard baking sheet with non-stick liner. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add in zest, juice, candied peel, oil, and eggs.

Mix to combine. Dough will be loose and crumbly (and appear dry) but it will come together once you start kneading it. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for about 5-7 minutes, or until dough forms a nice ball. The dough will feel sticky, that’s ok, don’t add any more flour though. Just keep kneading on floured surface until you can easily shape it. Divide dough in half. Roll out each half with your hands to an 8-inch roll and approximately one-inch thick.  Place rolls on baking sheet a few inches apart from each other. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 or so half-inch slices. Place the slices cut side down back on the same baking sheet.

Reduce oven temperature to 325F and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Then turn biscotti over and bake one last time for another 10-12 minutes. The interior will still be a bit soft, but it will harden as the biscotti cools. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack and cool completely.

For the glaze:
Combine the confectioner’s sugar, zest and juice in a small bowl. Then drizzle over cooled biscotti. Or you can put the glaze in a pastry bag and pipe if you’re feeling fancy.
Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy, Happy Everything!!    (couldn’t resist!)

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