Spring declares itself in a floral flourish on my island. Wee birds return to our backyard to build nests under the eaves and in the large tree next to our deck. This year, a pair of Willy Wagtails formed a conical shaped nest of mud in the lower tree branches, allowing me to peer into the nest filled with chirping beaks awaiting a feed. Our maltese pup, Dara, is often swooped by the protective parent birds when she runs into the backyard to bark and run free. Yesterday, hubby confessed to teasing the baby birds, imitating their parent’s whistle, and causing them to bob their heads with beaks ajar.
In these last days of November, I’ve created a salad to celebrate spring’s fresh green produce with fava beans and asparagus. As it’s late in the season and fresh fava beans aren’t readily available, a packet of frozen beans will be almost as good. The salad has anise-flavoured fennel, which can usually be purchased as a leftover from winter produce. I’ve also included young crunchy radishes that seem to yield ahead of summer to provide a pop of colour. If you’d like to add some healthy fats to the salad, I’ve included a wee bit of avocado. An alternative to avocado could be slices of Daiya Swiss style vegan cheese. Yet exclude if you’d like it to be a refreshing light side salad.
· Fava beans are very high in protein, and energy like other beans and lentils. 100 grams of beans equals 340 calories. The beans are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
FAVA BEAN SALAD & VINAIGRETTE
Serves 6 small side salads
2 cups fava beans, about ¾ kilo (1½ pounds) unshelled fava beans
2 bundles green asparagus spears
2 small fennel bulbs
½ avocado (optional)
handful of parsley
salt and black pepper
Swiss style vegan cheese slices, optional
If using unshelled fava beans, remove beans from their pods, and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes (If using frozen fava beans, blanch in hot water for 2 minutes). Drain and plunge beans in ice water, drain. Remove the tough outer skins by pinching the outer skin between your thumb and forefinger to reveal the beautiful bright green beans; discard skins. Set aside in a bowl. Cut asparagus spears into 2 cm (¾ inch) lengths and discard the wooden ends. Blanch the asparagus spears in boiling water in a saucepan for 2 minutes, drain and plunge into ice water, drain and add to the bowl. Use a mandolin to finely slice the radishes and fennel bulbs, add the sliced radishes to the bowl, cut the fennel in half and add to the bowl. Slice the shallots finely and add to the bowl. Slice the lemon on the mandolin, cut in halves and add to the bowl. Add small sprigs of parsley to the bowl. Slice avocado finely and chop into small pieces, and add to the bowl. Mix the salad gently with your hands, adding salt and black pepper to taste. Place in a serving bowl or in individual salad bowls for guests, and serve with the vinaigrette in a separate pouring jug. If using vegan cheese slices, add a few strips to the top of the salad.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
salt and ground pepper to taste
Pour ingredients into a small jar and shake vigorously. Can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.