Although real spring weather has yet to really hit California this year, we have been lucky enough to get a few lovely, 70+ degree days in the midst of all the rain & gloom. In these beautiful days beautiful produce has burst forth, and there have been all sorts of incredible fruits & vegetables popping up at farmer’s markets & grocery stores alike. Right now the popular ones are cherries, strawberries, fava beans and the last bits of tender asparagus. As I’m very familiar with cooking all but the favas, I figured it was high time I started playing around with them in my own kitchen instead of just enjoying what was made at some of my favorite restaurants.
I truly love fava beans (and not because they make a sorta cameo appearance in The Silence of the Lambs, one of my 2 favorite movies of all time), but as I mentioned before, I’ve never really worked with them. My recent Follow the Chef Tour with Chef Michael Tuohy of Grange Restaurant gave me a boost of confidence to start working with them, particularly because he taught us that the easiest way to get around that arduous shelling process was to simply blanch the beans before working with them. As I expected, it worked like a charm and I had no trouble at all working with these legumes.
Because they’re so light, green and flavorful, I thought they’d play off the last batches of tender asparagus that our area had to offer. And a beautiful complement to the whole dish turned out to be some perfectly pink shrimp; no muss, no fuss, just beautiful crustaceans cooked to simple perfection. I had also recently scored some lovely blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil from Florio’s Fine Foods in Grass Valley, so I decided to make a simple dressing using this lovely oil and Meyer lemons. A couple scrapes of Meyer lemon zest and I was on my way to a delightful late spring dish that is certain to please for several months on end.
No Meyer lemons? No worries! Regular lemons also work, though they may lack a bit of that sweet fragrance that most of us love about Meyer lemons. If all else fails, use a bit of freshly squeezed OJ to balance out the sweet aroma, and you’ll have a lovely dish.
Shrimp, Fava Beans & Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Dressing (serves 3; total cost per serving: $3.60)
20-25 medium frozen cooked shrimp, thawed
10 asparagus spears, sliced diagonally into 1″ pieces
1/4 c chopped scallions
Juice of 2 large Meyer lemons
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 T Meyer lemon zest
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
16 c salted water, divided
12 c iced water, divided
Prepare the dressing by combining the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisking together until completely combined.
Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil and add the fava beans. Blanch for about 90 seconds and immediately place them in 6 cups of ice water. When beans have cooled, shell and place the beans into a small bowl. Repeat the blanching process with the asparagus; plunge into ice water when cooked, drain and slice into 1″ pieces.
Combine the thawed shrimp, shelled fava beans and sliced asparagus in a medium bowl. Add the dressing and toss together until all veggies & shrimp are completely coated. Marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes; serve on small plates, garnish with extra lemon zest, and enjoy!