Saturday, August 11, 2012
I was inspired to make this summer salad today at the farmer's market. First I bought 2 ears of corn; I was simply planning on either eating corn on the cob, or making a quick corn salad that I have been seeing all over the Internet (e.g here and here). But next I saw that fava beans were still being sold at one of the stands, and I wanted to make something with them again before their season is over for this year. So I decided to combine the fava beans and corn with a vinaigrette and mint. The salad I ended up making isn't actually quick, since shelling and deskinning the fava beans is really time consuming, however a quick version of this could be made by leaving out the fava beans.
I don't have exact amounts, since I put everything together to taste. I wanted to keep the salad fairly simple, with not to many ingredients, and I wanted all the vegetables to be just barely cooked, so that it emphasized the freshness of summer. I choose mint for the salad, since mint goes well with fava beans.
1 bag of fava beans
2 ears corn, they must be really fresh and sweet
small handful cherry tomatoes (optional, this is mostly just for color)
Meyer lemon olive oil
1/4 shallot, finely minced
ground white pepper
juice from 1/4 small Meyer lemon
small handful of mint
Remove the fava beans from the shells. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the fava beans for 3-4 minutes (as described here). Remove one of the beans after 3 minutes, and rinse it in cold water so its cool enough to hold. Remove skin and taste for doneness. Even though my fava beans were mature, mine only needed 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water or emerse in ice water to set the color until cool. When the beans are cool, peel off their papery skins and discard (or compost) the skins. This is time consuming, but it is essential because the skins don't taste very good.
I decided to not boil the ears of corn, because I read that salt tends to shrivel corn. If I had planned ahead I could have used just 1 pot and the same batch of boiling water, if I boiled the corn in unsalted first, and then salted it and used the same water to blanch the beans. In any case, I decided to steam the 2 ears of corn whole (some people recommend steaming corn over boiling). I wanted this salad to be very fresh, and summery and for the corn to be just barely cooked (almost raw even), so I only steamed my corn for 2 minutes. Immediately after steaming, I rinsed my corn in cold water until it was cool to stop the cooking. Next I cut the corn off the cob.
Next I mixed champagne vinegar, walnut oil, olive oil, Meyer lemon olive oil, finely minced 1/4 shallot (to give it a bit of bite and savoriness), a pinch of salt, and ground white pepper. I used approximately a 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil ratio (my vinegar didn't seem that strong, and I wanted the salad to have a noticeable tang), and had approximately equal quantities of all three oils (salad dressings made with only walnut oil can be cloying, so its better to use a combination of walnut and olive oil if you want to include walnut oil in your dressing). I let the dressing sit in a small container for 5-10 minutes to help the shallot to marinate and become less harsh.
Finally I mixed the fava beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, with the dressing, a small squeeze of lemon juice to give it additional zing, mint that I tore into small pieces by hand, and an extra sprinkle of Maldon salt. Mint tends to turn black on the edges if it is cut with a knife; tearing it by hand helps to keep it greener.