Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fava Bean, Radish and Feta Salad

Every once in a while, life throws you a curve ball.  Question is- what do you do about it?

Do you let it throw you off your game?  Allow the unexpected (and perhaps unwanted) occurrence to make you doubt yourself and the path you were on?  Or do you look at it as an opportunity to go in a direction you hadn't planned on?  A direction which might just lead to bigger and better things?
I usually fall into that first category- I'm a big time self-doubter.  I can self-doubt myself right out of all sorts of things.  Things I desperately want to try or that I think could be good at.  By the time I've realized what I've done, it's usually too late.  The opportunity has passed me by.  And the self-doubt cycle starts all over again.

Recently though, I've decided that I'm going to try to embrace that other side of me.  The one that sees the opportunities and wants to go for it.  At 35 years old, I feel that it's time for a change.  Time to start getting what I really want out of life instead of accepting what has been offered me.  Sometimes, if you're open to it, those life curveballs can offer clarity instead of doubt.  So hit me with it, Life.  I'm ready.  I'm open.

Perhaps I will enroll in that professional pastry course after all...
Here's the part where I make the transition from the philosophical and meaningful to the food.  I find that my food tends to reflect my mood and this salad sure does.  I found a big pile of fava beans in my CSA box this week and had no idea of what to do with them.  Really, the only thing I know about fava beans is from Anthony Hopkins' famous line in "Silence of the Lambs".  And I didn't have any Chianti in the house.  So I just decided to wing it.  It's a spring veggie, right?  So pair it with some other spring veggies and a light dressing and perhaps it will result in a nice salad.

I found that I LOVE the nutty flavor of the fava beans and couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome of my little culinary experiment.  And I'm loving this new, adventurous me.  Because, really, what's the worst that could happen?  And what you learn about yourself in the process makes it completely worth it.  You might just find out that you love fava beans too.

Fava Bean, Radish and Feta Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
For a printable version, click here.

I didn't really measure my ingredients here, so I'm giving approximate amounts.  I just used up the favas that I had in my box and added the other ingredients until it seemed right.  In the interest of time (and because others have done it better), I'm not including the method for shelling the fava beans.  If you'd like a well photographed illustration, check out this link

2 cups blanched and shelled fava beans (from about 1 1/2 lbs unshelled pods)
1 cup thinly sliced french breakfast radishes
1 1/2 tbs chopped chives
3 oz crumbled feta cheese (the fresher the better, preferably made from sheep's milk)
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch dried red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

In a medium bowl, toss together the fava beans, radishes, chives and feta.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, black and red pepper and salt.  Pour the dressing over the salad and serve immediately.  The salad is a lovely accompaniment to grilled chicken or pork.

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