A classic Tuscan aperitivo05 February, 2016
In Tuscany, fava beans and Pecorino Toscano cheese are a classic springtime combination! A savory break that will tickle your appetite and please your taste buds.
The slight bitterness of the fava beans is balanced out by the sweetness of the cheese and it's the perfect paring during this time of the year, when the fava beans are in season!
But be careful: “Pecorino” as a label can be a source of confusion for foreign consumers, since they are most likely to identify the word only with Pecorino Romano, the hard, snowy-white grating cheese easily found in supermarkets and delis. While equally majestic for its own qualities, Pecorino Romano is an entirely different cheese: firmer, dryer, saltier, made with a unique process and given its own separate DOP status.
A first encounter with Pecorino Toscano as a table cheese is a revelation; depending on the age it can be bright and grassy or buttery and nutty, but always rich, concentrated and ultimately unforgettable.
Serve the fava beans in the pod heaped on a platter. The idea is to sit around drinking a glass of Chianti wine, shelling the beans, sprinkling them with sea salt and popping them into your mouth. Alternate with bites of pecorino. That sharp saltiness against the slightly bitter grassiness of the beans can be also wonderful with a cool white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc.
If you like to serve the fava beans and pecorino in different ways you can serve them in a salad or or make a crostino. Here the recipes and buon appetito!
Tuscan fava beans and Pecorino Salad
- 200 g fresh Pecorino Toscano cheese
- 500 g podded fava beans
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Put the fava beans s into a medium bowl. Break Pecorino into small chunks into the bowl with favas. Drizzle olive oil over favas and cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Gently toss salad, then divide among plates.
This salad can be made with raw fava beans, as long as they're especially fresh. But blanching them quickly makes them much easier to peel if the skin is thick.
Tuscan fava beans and Pecorino crostini
- 400 g podded fava beans
- 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Toscano
- 200 g aged Pecorino Toscano cheese, shaved with a peeler
- 1/2 teaspoon very finely chopped garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
- juice 1 lemon
- 6 fresh mint leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Crusty white boule or artisanal loaf
Cook the fava beans in boiling water for 2 mins. Drain, refresh under cold water, drain again, then peel from their skins.
Put all the ingredients (not the shaved Pecorino) into a food processor and process to a creamy consistency.
Place thick slices on an ungreased grill or grill pan. Toast each side for 5 minutes over medium heat.
Top each toast with chopped favas, and garnish with a thin shaving of Pecorino Romano. Drizzle with a few drops of olive oil and grind a little black pepper over each. Serve immediately.