Week Night Yum Yum: Mozzarella, Fava Bean, Olive Salad with Marcona Almonds

Monday, August 13, 2012

So what happens when you have a bag of fava beans that need to be used, a bit of fresh mozzarella that's gonna expire soon if you don't use it, some cured black olives, and marcona almonds?

Magic happens.

I blanched fresh fava beans in less than 10 minutes, their hearty meatiness the perfect base for this little "salad." Fresh mozzarella add creaminess, pairing nicely against the crunchy almonds. A simple fresh garlic, olive oil, and white balsamic vinaigrette with good sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper round out the flavors. But the secret weapon here? Cured black olives -- their sweet, tender brine gives just the contrast the salad needs without being overly pompous or too extreme.

I originally conceived this dish as a side for some grilled chicken....

....it never made it that far.

Mozzarella, Fava Bean, Olive Salad with Marcona Almonds
1 lb fresh fava beans, shucked
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into very small bites (use the small balls if you can find them!)
1 large clove garlic, very finely minced
good sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
good imported olive oil
splash white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp pitted cured black olives, sliced in half*
2 Tbsp marcona almonds

Bring a small saucepan to a boil. Add the shucked fava beans and cook until bright green and they float up to the surface, about 5 minutes. Run under cold water until easy to handle, then gently peel away the tough outer shell of the bean exposing the meat. Add that fava bean "meat" into a small mixing bowl.

Add the mozzarella, garlic, salt and pepper, oil and vinegar (enough oil to coat the salad but not drench it), and toss to combine. Top with the olives and almonds and give a gentle mix to lightly combine. Serve.

It's lovely to serve with the cheese cold from the fridge and the beans still warm from just cooking.

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