I must admit that although I had never tasted a fava bean for most of my life, once I did I fell in love with it’s subtle flavor and bright green color. Here in Umbria, when in season, fava beans are used in a variety of different ways, and once the short growing season passes, they are dried to be used throughout the colder months. I like fava beans in pastas, soups, stews, or lightly blanched as an appetizer or in salads such as this one. This is an easy salad I call my Umbrian Bread Salad. Tuscany has the famous Panzanella salad, which mixes stale bread, tomatoes, and onions, so I decided to create my own version for Umbria. Instead of wetting the bread with water as the Tuscan’s do, I grilled bread slices and then piled my salad ingredients on top, allowing the dressing to moisten the bread. We love this salad, and is great for lunch, or for a light dinner.
You can add or substitute any ingredients you prefer, but basically in this version I used tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, sweet peppers, fried pancetta pieces, and of course blanched fava beans. Other ingredients to consider with be capers, black olives, and marinated artichokes. I kept the dressing simple, just a basic red wine vinaigrette but you could also change the flavor by using balsamic vinegar, or by adding a teaspoon of dijon mustard. If your fava beans are very young, you might get away without skinning them, but ours were end of the season larger fava beans so I had to blanch them and skin them before adding them to my salad.
Deborah Mele 2011
Umbrian Fava Bean Bread Salad
A non-traditional “panzanella” type of salad featuring fresh fava beans.
- 2 Medium Cucumbers, Peeled And Coarsely Chopped
- 4 Large Tomatoes, Cored And Coarsely Chopped
- 1 Red Onion, Peeled And Thinly Slices
- 2 Small Red Peppers, Cored, Seeded And Coarsely Chopped
- 1 Cup Cooked Diced Pancetta Pieces
- 2 to 3 Cups Blanched Fava Beans
- 4 Slices Stale Country Style Italian Bread
- 1 Large Garlic Clove, Peeled
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Dressing: (Makes 1 Cup ~ Reserve Extra For Other Use)
- 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Herbs (I Used Basil And Thyme)
- Grill or broil your bread slices, and while still hot rub the surface with the garlic clove. (Easiest way to do this is to pierce the garlic with a fork and use the fork to rub the garlic onto the grilled bread.)
- Brush the bread with olive oil.
- In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- In a larger bowl, combine the vegetables and mix well.
- Pour on just enough dressing to lightly coat the vegetables.
- Place a bread slice onto four individual plates and spoon the vegetables on top.
- Drizzle another tablespoon of the dressing over the salad and let sit 10 minutes before serving to moisten the bread.