Gourmet (May 2009)
Before we get to these crostini, a little digression: So Zach sings in a choir. Well, he sang in a choir. The Master Chorale of Washington, a 42-year-old choral group, ceased operations at the end of this season, after the faltering economy decimated the choir's finances. (If you're interested, you can read more about the choir's dissolution and the group's final concert this past Sunday.) Zach sang in the choir for six seasons, so the final concert was a poignant and emotional event.
It was a bittersweet day. Bitter, for the obvious reasons. But sweet, too, because so many of Zach's family members and our friends gathered at the Kennedy Center for the final concert.
In fact, so many of our friends ended up coming that we had decided to invite everyone back to our apartment after the concert for a glass of wine and some snacks.
It was a semi-last minute decision, and with family in town and not a lot of time to cook, we wanted some simple party food that could come together in advance but still impress guests.
What to make?
In planning our post-concert event, we wanted to have food that would be substantial but not take the place of an entire meal. We started with a trip to Trader Joe's for some prepared foods: cheeses, crackers, grapes, smoked almonds, some cured meats, and olives. This could all easily be thrown onto platters right after the concert and served.
But we also wanted some slightly more substantial dishes that we could make ourselves -- and that we could prepare (at least partially) in advance.
This Arugula and Fava-Bean Crostini -- from Gourmet's May "Cucina Paradiso" feature about Tuscan-inspired meals -- was just the ticket.
But we couldn't find any fresh fava beans. So we went with the recipe's suggested substitution of frozen, shelled edamame (also from Trader Joe's). We always keep a bag or two on hand anyway.
We made the the bread for the crostini on Sunday morning, toasting and cooling it and then sealing it an airtight container.
We also made the topping (except for the arugula) ahead of time. Then, when we returned home from the concert, pulling this appetizer together was as simple as adding the arugula to mixture, spooning the mash onto crostini and sprinkling with mint.
The result is a vibrant and fresh crostini -- bright flavors on crusty bread -- and just perfect for a summer get-together.
yield: Makes 8 servings
active time: 30 min
total time: 30 min
* 1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (1 1/4 pounds in pods) or shelled fresh or frozen edamame (soybeans; 3/4 pounds in pods)
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus additional for drizzling
* 1 1/2 cups packed baby arugula (1 1/2 ounces), divided
* 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Toscano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
* 1 baguette
* 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
* 16 mint leaves
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Cook fava beans in boiling water, uncovered, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Gently peel off skins (if using edamame, don't peel).
Pulse fava beans in a food processor until very coarsely chopped, then transfer half of mixture to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup arugula, cheese, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper to favas in processor and purée until smooth. Add to bowl. Coarsely chop remaining cup arugula and gently fold into fava-bean mixture.
Cut 16 diagonal slices (1/3 inch thick) from baguette and put in a 4-sided sheet pan. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil. Bake until pale golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Rub with cut side of garlic.
Spoon fava-bean mixture onto baguette toasts, then drizzle with oil and top with mint.
•Topping, without chopped arugula, can be made 8 hours ahead and chilled. Fold in arugula before using.
•Toasts can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.