vetri’s fava bean salad with shaved red onion

April 11, 2012

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and home of the famed Liberty Bell, counts Marc Vetri as one of its most prominent chefs. Vetri, who trained in Bergamo, Italy and received the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” in 2005, opened his eponymous, fine-dining restaurant in a charming Philadelphia townhouse in 1998. Since, he has opened three more restaurants – Osteria, Amis, and Alla Spina – and has written two cookbooks – Il Viaggio di Vetri and Rustic Italian Food – making him an important force in the Philadelphia restaurant scene.

Personally, I am a huge fan of Vetri’s restaurants, where the traditional Italian fare recalls the simple, rustic dishes of northern Italy while still being fresh and innovative. I have had many a meal at his restaurants and, though I do not own his first cookbook, I do own his most recent one, Rustic Italian Food. After flipping through the cookbook’s mouthwatering pages on a number of occasions, I thought it was about time I cook a recipe or two.

Now that it’s April, and spring produce is on its way, I was eager to choose a recipe that embodied the beauty and bounty of spring. I instantly gravitated towards the lima bean salad with shaved red onion. However, given that I love fava beans (and happened upon them at Eataly), I decided to substitute fava beans for lima beans. Apart from shelling, blanching, and re-shelling the fava beans (it’s worth it, I promise!), the recipe took little time to toss together. The flavors are fresh, the colors are vibrant, and the salad is perfect by itself or served over a thick, crusty slice of bread. It turned out beautifully and left me craving more.

Fava Bean Salad with Shaved Red Onion (from Rustic Italian Food)

2 1/2 cups shelled fava beans (about 2 1/2 pounds in the pod)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, sliced as thinly as possible
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
2 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup shaved or grated pecorino cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the fava beans and blanch for 1 minute, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. When cool, pinch open the pale green skin and pop out the deep green inner fava beans. You should have about 2 cups.

Put the vinegar in a medium serving bowl and gradually whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream until incorporated. Add the fava beans, onion, mint, parsley, and pepper flakes and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, top with shaved pecorino.

Note: you can blanch and peel the fava beans 1 day in advance and keep them covered in the refrigerator. 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Brune April 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm

The photo is beautiful. My mouth is watering for this fava bean salad!


gourmettenyc April 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

Thank you!


Eileen April 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm

That looks amazing–so simple, yet so green and springy and obviously exactly right. I never know what to do with fava beans, but I guess I will now!


gourmettenyc April 18, 2012 at 9:02 am

Thank you! There are many wonderful ways to eat fava beans. Unfortunately, their season is just very short. But, if you get a chance, try Suzanne Goin’s fava bean puree from her cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques.


meatballs & milkshakes April 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I make a similar fava bean and pecorino salad and it’s one of my favorites. Lovely post!


gourmettenyc April 18, 2012 at 9:04 am

Thank you! I’d love to know how your fava bean and pecorino salad is made.


erin @ yummy supper April 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Laura, Favas are one of my favorite things about spring. In fact, we have a fava forest in our backyard. In a few weeks I won’t know what to do with all the bounty. Actually, maybe I will now… thanks for the yummy fava recipe!


gourmettenyc April 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

A fava forest? That sounds like my dream! If only I could come to California right now.


2sisters2cities May 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm

This recipe looks fantastic! I am actually hosting a fava bean linky party at as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series. I would love if you submitted this recipe!



gourmettenyc May 18, 2012 at 8:33 am

Thanks, M. What a fun idea!


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