Sunday, May 2, 2010

Homemade Ricotta and the Return of Fava Beans

I decided to take a chance on happiness this weekend and bring a bag of fresh fava beans home with me. I know it's not quite time for them, but I've been waiting so long since the end of last fava bean season crushed my spirit. I just couldn't wait any longer. To make the occasion extra-special, I decided to try my hand at homemade ricotta as well. It's apparently super-simple: just milk, cream, salt, and lemon juice (or just milk and buttermilk, depending on who you ask...).
Bring dairy and salt to a simmer, add lemon juice and stir gently as curdling begins...
Strain for an hour at room temperature, then into the fridge to chill, and you have ricotta.
My fava beans went through the usual ritual... Peeling off the outer husk...
then removing the thinner shell before blanching, just like Thomas Keller would want me to...
The favas are blanched in a big pot of salted water just briefly and become part of my Fava Bean Crostini-Making platter. The fresh ricotta turned out a little denser than I wanted, but was absolutely delicious. I'll definitely play with this a bit more until I achieve perfection... which I guess means I'll have to keep bringing home fava beans to enjoy with it.
The rest of the Fava Bean Crostini-Making platter consists of those heavenly fava beans, some grilled baguette slices, lemon wedges, and a bit of sea salt.
This all comes together to be one of my very favorite appetizers (or odd dinner choices, depending on my mood):
Really, nothing says happiness and summer to me like fava beans, and this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them. A simple combination of high-quality ingredients that makes me far more content than it has any right to... So very, very good.

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