Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Fava Beans and Truffled Vinagrette

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I have been really digging spring, and all the produce it has to offer. While I was just away on a yoga and culinary adventure in Italy, I had the good fortune of fava beans fresh picked from the garden. This was my first experience of fresh fava beans right from the garden. I opened the pod, peeled away the outer covering of the bean inside and popped the bright green jewel underneath that layer, right in my mouth, raw. It was sweet and melted in my mouth. They’re a bit more labor intensive than edamame, but worth the effort if you’re not too hungry. I usually boil the beans for about 3 minutes, to use in salads or as a great bruschetta topping, but since these were so fresh they were perfect for snacking on raw. Fava beans are a labour of love to peel but a perfect task when there are a bunch of people around to enjoy each other’s company.

I recently made this salad with one of my cooking classes, it was perfect for the group of 10 or so, everyone got to peel a bunch and we had plenty to go around. I discovered that many people don’t really know how to prepare fava beans fresh from the pod and was happy to share one of life’s little pleasures.

When I first ever used them in a recipe, I made the mistake of leaving out the extra step to get to the inner green bean.  I thought they were a little tough and fibrous and didn’t make them again for some time after that. Fresh favas are special because when they’re small they’re great for eating out of the pod, once they reach a certain size they’re dried and used for soups and dips.

For this salad, pick up your favorite spring greens mix, I got mine from the Queen’s Farm Stand at Union Square on a Friday. The best type of cheese to use for this is a full fat, log style goat’s cheese, this way it will stay together more successfully in the pan. Most importantly, cool the goat cheese rounds in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before you saute them and only start sauteing once the pan is hot and the oil is almost at it’s smoking point. This will assure a nice browned crust with a perfectly warm center. If you don’t have truffle oil, your favorite olive oil is a perfect substitution, or another infused oil instead if you wish.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Favas, Radishes and Truffled Vinaigrette

Serves 6

Ingredients:

12 cups mixed baby greens

1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced

1 lb. fava beans

1-teaspoon olive oil

For the goat cheese:

½ lb. goat cheese, enough for 12 small rounds

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon chives, finely chopped

2 egg whites

1 Tablespoon water

2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter (for sautéing)

For the vinaigrette:

¼ cup Truffle oil

¼ cup Olive Oil

1 ½ Tablespoons Sherry vinegar

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

  1. Whisk the egg whites with 1 Tablespoon water and add the chives. Reserve in a bowl along with a separate bowl of breadcrumbs. Cut the goat cheese into 12-16 ½ inch rounds. Dip the rounds into the egg white mixture, followed by the breadcrumbs to coat entirely. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the favas from their pods and cook the beans 3-5 minutes in boiling water. Cool and remove the outer shell. Add 1-teaspoon olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and reserve.
  3. Combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Whisk until the dressing thickens.
  4. In a large bowl toss the salad greens and radishes with dressing to coat.
  5. In a medium skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter until hot just before smoking point. Sauté the goat cheese about 3 minutes each side, until browned on both sides but not completely melted through.
  6. Serve 2 cups salad greens with a sprinkling of fava beans and 2 goat cheese medallions on top. Enjoy warm.