Today is St. Joseph’s Day. Saint Joseph is one of the most beloved saints among Italian-Americans. As the patron of workers and the protector of the family, he is honored with a feast on March 19.
According to legend, there was a famine in Sicily many centuries ago. The villagers prayed to St. Joseph and asked for help from God. Their prayers were answered. With the ending of the dreadful famine, a special feast of thanksgiving was held in his honor. Many churches, shelters, and homes in Italian/Sicilian neighborhoods to this day put out a St. Joseph Day table to share with the poor and needy. It is filled with Italian pastries, and non-meat dishes.
Fava beans are often used in cooking. This time of year is also the start of spring when fresh fava beans are available. This fresh fava bean appetizer is a wonderful way to celebrate both Spring and St. Joseph’s Day.
Here is a video that shows how to shell a fresh fava bean, and make this beautiful appetizer.
Fava Beans and Peas with Mint, Basil, Lemon Ricotta on Crostini for St. Joseph’s Day
- 1 cup shelled skinned, fresh fava beans
- 1 cup thawed frozen peas
- 2 TB of good olive oil
- ¼ cups each fresh mint and basil chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 lemon
- Salt red & black pepper
- 1 ½ cup fresh Ricotta cheese skim-milk or whole
- French baguette or Italian bread sliced
Shell the fresh fava beans. Boil them in a pot for 2 minutes on the stove, and then dunk in an ice bath to stop the cooking. You don’t want them mushy. Once cooled it is easy to pull off the outer skin to reveal the delicious bright green fava bean inside.
In a small bowl, grate lemon zest to the Ricotta cheese. Add juice of half lemon, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Mix and refrigerate to chill.
Saute the garlic, fava beans and peas in a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on the stove for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, red & black peppers, mint, and basil. Turn off the heat.
Brush olive oil on both sides of the sliced bread and toast in a grill pan.
To assemble, place a dollop of the lemon ricotta on a toasted bread slice, top with a tablespoon of fava beans. Garnish with fresh basil/mint.