I miss a lot of things. Epic YouTube videos that everyone saw six years ago. Anchorman references. Jokes. Despite loving food more than videos, for the last several years, I’ve also missed favas, peas, and fiddleheads. Too busy eating ramps, I guess. Those I never miss.
This year is different. I ate all my spring produce at once, on these cheesy toasts. If there was a quota, I’ve filled it.
Around here, a lot of the produce is fleeting. We check the farmers’ market bins for ramps week in and week out, only for them to appear once or twice, then disappear again. Do we like them more because they’re so transitory? Maybe. I do also like radishes and asparagus, though, both of which appear for longer stretches.
Anyway, I filled my quota by cheating. See, I wound up with this yield after a photoshoot for work. I don’t know if any of these have been sighted at local vendors yet, but at least I got a jump on the vegetables and am getting this chance to show you what I do when I cook with fleeting, tender, spring-like veggies: not much. My go-to prep is a flash in the pan with some sautéed onion (or shallot) and garlic. None of the vegetables need much cooking time, and a sauté allows you to monitor cooking so you don’t go overboard and turned the prized veggies into mush. Often, I’ll pair the simple spring veggie sauté with eggs, scrambled or fried. But this year, I opted for open-faced grilled cheesy toasts as the vehicle to convey spring’s finest yield to my mouth.
Crazy Spring Veggie Cheesy Toasts
Serves 2 to 4
8 whole fava bean pods
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh marjoram (about 10 leaves), finely shredded
1 small bunch skinny asparagus
1/2 cup shelled English peas
10 fiddlehead ferns, ends trimmed
4 teaspoons salted softened butter
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
4 slices good country bread
Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Shell the fava. Throw the beans into the boiling water and blanch them for 1 minute. Drain, then place in a bowl of ice water to shock them. Remove the inner shell from each bean, then set aside.
Film a medium skillet with olive oil and set over over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic, cook another two minutes. Add marjoram and salt and pepper, then put in the asparagus, peas, and fiddleheads, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the fava, cook 1 more minute, then remove from the heat. Add a few pinches of salt, to taste.
Meanwhile, place the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 2 minutes. Spread one side of each piece with butter, then flip so that the buttery part is on the bottom. Scatter the mozzarella on the top, then bake for 5 minutes. Top with the spring veggie mixture and return to the oven for 2 minutes, so that the cheese will glue the veggies to the toast. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little extra salt, and serve.