Favas with Pancetta and FriseeHere it is – the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  With this recipe from Fresh from the Farmers’ Market, we have officially posted each and every one of our culinary efforts over the past month.  This is the final recipe from our June Cookbook Challenge.

How fitting, then, that we end with a recipe from a cookbook that purports to offer “year-round recipes for the pick of the crop” as we transition from a month of concentrated cooking to a year-round relationship with the books we’re holding onto. 

We’ll post a recap with some of our biggest surprises and some final thoughts soon, but for now enjoy this recipe for a quick and easy salad that has a decidedly upscale feel.  It works great on its own (and it could easily support a poached egg if you wanted to make a real meal out of it), but it would certainly stand up as a tasty first course for a dinner party.

The first step for any dish that involves fava beans is to double-peel the beans by removing them from their outer shells and then boiling them briefly until their whitish skins can be pinched and slipped off.  Remember, these are the legumes Elizabeth refers to as “the beans of diminishing returns” so it takes a lot to get a decent volume of edible beans together.  In this case, you’ll need two pounds of fava beans still in their shells (or 1 to 1 1/2 cups shelled beans).

Meanwhile, chop up two ounces pancetta (bacon will do in a pinch) into 1/4″ pieces and sautee it in one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for five to ten minutes over moderately low heat.  This will allow some of the fat to melt away from the meat and the meat to crisp up a bit.  When that happens, add one minced shallot and sautee it for an additional minute or two until softened.

Pancetta Favas and FriseeTake 1/4 pound young frisee lettuce and tear it into small pieces in a serving bowl.  Pour the pancetta, oil and shallots over the lettuce and add two tablespoons minced fresh parsley and 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar.  Toss everything together until well mixed and then add in the shelled fava beans from before.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve while still warm.

The recipe was delicious (with these ingredients how could it be otherwise), but we’re still a bit torn on the future of the book.  One strike: it was surprisingly hard to find a recipe in this book that really jumped out at us, despite the abundance of produce at our local farmers’ markets.  Two strike: it’s written from a California perspective, so the growing seasons and the variety of available fruits and veggies are a bit different from ours.  As a result, the book is less and intuitive resource and more another trove of fresh recipes to be tried as the spirit moves us.  We’re just not sure if we think enough of this book to keep it around for just that purpose.