July 7, 2011

I don’t usually plan for them to, but my summers often end up having themes.

There was the Tennessee Williams summer, which followed my sophomore year of high school.  I had become fixated on him in my American lit class when we read his The Glass Menagerie; I spent the summer reading everything else he had ever written.

Then there was the summer I truly fell in love with cooking, the summer of 2006, when I filled my parents’ and my friends’ kitchens with all kinds of dinner experiments.  Another summer, my mom and I tackled a list of classic films—The Sting, Cinema Paradiso, Lawrence of Arabia—the latter of which she still harangues me for forcing her to watch ALL of.

I’m not sure yet what the Summer of 2011 will go down as.  There’s been a lot of reading, a fair amount of writing, plus lots of list-making, planning, organizing (like putting every. single. one. of my Chrome bookmarks into a folder), budgeting, researching, and scheming.  Shall we call it the Summer of Getting My Shit Together?

But there has also been precious time with beloved friends and family, time together just the two of us, pausing in so many moments to be grateful that we are hanging out at home and not in the hospital.  Time to look ahead and be excited about the future.  Time to make smoothies and write letters and sit on the swing in the backyard.  Time to prioritize and pare down and focus in.

A time for every purpose, indeed.

from the Tartine Bread cookbook

I used to be scared of fava beans.  This can be blamed, of course, on the summer I fell in love with Jodie Foster, watched every movie she’d ever made, and then spent sleepless nights terrified that Hannibal Lector was going to come after me and eat my liver with fava beans & a nice Chianti.

Nothing scary about this bread salad, though.  It’s satisfying and comes together easily, the most time-consuming part being shelling the beans themselves.  The dressing is so bright and lovely that I’ve used it to dress other summer salads since.

Finally, the pictures here show the salad made according to the original recipe, we did toss in some lovely heirloom tomatoes after, and enjoyed the addition.



2 ½ lb fresh fava beans, shelled (about 1 cup of beans)
half a red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1-2 cups bread croutons*
a handful of fresh mint, torn into pieces


grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp. sugar
½ cup olive oil
pinch salt

Place the slices of onion in a bowl and pour the vinegar over them.  Let stand for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions will soften slightly and take on a pink hue.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil.  Fill a bowl with ice water and place near the stove.  Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute.  Drain and transfer to the ice water to cook.  Peel the opaque outer layer from each bean.

In a serving bowl, combine beans, croutons, and basil.  Remove onions from vinegar and add to the bowl as well

Make the vinaigrette.  In a small bowl, stir together the lemon zest and juice, sugar and olive oil until combined well.  Season to taste with salt.  Pour vinaigrette over the salad and toss.  Let sit for about a minute before serving to allow the croutons to absorb some of the vinaigrette.

*for the croutons

3 to 5 slices day-old bread, sliced 1-inch thick & torn into 1½ inch chunks
2-3 T olive oil
½ tsp. herbes de Provence (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Toss the torn bread with olive oil and a pinch of salt.  If you are using the herbs, add them too.  Spread the bread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.  Midway through baking time, redistribute the croutons if they are coloring unevenly.


1 Comment »

  1. “Summer of Getting My Shit Together” – hey, that’s my 2011 summer theme, too! Also, fava beans: They came in our farm share box yesterday and my sister, who’s visiting from Ohio, shucked and blanched and peeled them, and we weren’t sure what to do with them, so we just ate them straight, right out of the bowl. Now I have a recipe for next time. Thank you! xo.

    Comment by Jess — July 8, 2011 @ 7:19 am

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