Fresh, simple bruschetta makes a fantastic appetizer or light meal. In spring, look beyond the traditional tomato topping and try a seasonal version, such as this lively mixture of tender fava beans, peppery radishes, lemon, and herbs.
Preparing fava beans is one of our favorite springtime rituals. It takes some time to shell and blanch the beans but their buttery texture and fresh, green flavor is well worth the effort. Thin strips of radish provide flecks of color and bite.
1 pound fresh fava beans, shelled
2-3 medium radishes, julienned (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds (optional)
Fleur del sel or other salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 (1/2-inch-thick, 3-to-4-inch-long) baguette slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook fava beans for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer beans to a large bowl of ice water. Let cool and then drain. Slip the outer skin off each bean and discard the skin. Place the beans in a large bowl and coarsely mash with a fork leaving some beans whole or in chunks.
Combine the beans, radishes, lemon zest, lemon juice, mint leaves, and fennel fronds (optional). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Brush olive oil over both sides of the baguette slices and grill or broil. Rub toasts with garlic and then spoon the fava bean mixture on top. Sprinkle a little extra salt on top and serve.
Variation: Spread a layer of fresh ricotta cheese on the toasts before adding the fava bean topping.
(Images: Emily Ho)