Fava beans and pecorino cheese. There is nothing simpler or better as a snack or appetizer.  Fava beans were new to me before I went Italy.  If you have never seen fava beans, they are large, long pods, inside of which are beans with a buttery flavor.  There are lots of recipes using them but I honestly prefer them raw straight from the pod with big shards of aged pecorino cheese.   This is a May Day tradition in Italy.  Italians head out to the country on this national holiday, enjoy the outdoors and the beautiful spring weather.  After a walk or bike ride, there is a picnic that features the bounty of springtime: artichokes, asparagus, strawberries, and of course fava beans. Sometimes Italians place a small bowl of salt alongside for dipping the beans but if fresh, they really don’t need it – the saltiness of the pecorino is a perfect compliment.  As with anything, the success of this dish depends on the freshness of the ingredients. If there are only two items in which to depend, I recommend getting the highest quality of each.

 

 

Fava beans can sometimes be difficult to find in the US. I found them in the Italian neighborhood of Hartford at D&D Market on Franklin Avenue (a true, fabulous Italian market without the trendy,inflated prices). I placed several pods of beans in my basket  and headed to the cheese counter where I was helped by a lovely Italian signora.  I asked her for pecorino and she inquired about the recipe I had in mind.  When I told her that I was having a May Day dinner with fava beans and pecorino, she immediately began to speak to me in Italian as she knew I must have learned this tradition in Italy and therefore have some knowledge of the language.  I was delighted of course and I giggle every time I have fava beans and pecorino as I remember our exchange.   Happy May everyone & Happy Spring!

Tastefully Yours,

Ashley

 

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