I love constraining myself by making meals solely from the Farmer’s Market. Where I live, the Farmers Market is absolutely delightful! It showcases the bounty we have in our farms and is a nice community event where you see your neighbors and friends and meet the farmers who work so hard for our beautiful food choices.

At this time of year, we are often casually entertaining. Whether you invited friends for a dinner party or have last-minute guests, these appetizers are easy and delicious. Best of all, they are made with ingredients from the Farmer’s Market!

Frico with Farmer’s Market Pesto

These appetizers start with savory parmesan cheese crisps, which are super easy to make and can be used in a multitude of ways. I’ve made big fricos, formed them into cups, and served them with salad inside for a lovely first course. In this recipe, you can use a small, flat frico as the foundation for a beautiful appetizer topped with your Farmers Market pesto.

Farmers Market Pesto

Frico with Farmers Market Pesto

I love fava beans! Every spring when they start to appear in the farmers market, I go crazy with excitement. They are truly my favorite pea. When I saw them at the Napa Valley Farmers Market a few weeks ago, I squealed and got a few sideways glances. But I did not care because I was reunited with my beloved fava beans!

fava beans farmers market

Fava beans pesto

Italians eat fava beans with pecorino romano, surely a glass of wine and hopefully, seated underneath a tree. Fave e Pecorino is the traditional dish for a May 1st picnic. The first time that I had fava beans was in Sienna, and the presentation was so simple but one of the most memorable pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten. The homemade pasta was simply tossed with prosciutto, fava beans, and burrata cheese. I always make this when I have fava beans because it reminds me of sitting outside of that restaurant just off the main piazza in a busy alley and eating the best meal of my life.

The beauty of this pesto, however, is that you are not limited to fava beans. You can use peas or arugula if they aren’t in season or you can’t get them where you live. Feel free to substitute nuts and cheese as well. I’m using walnuts here because my Farmers Market has beautiful, fresh walnuts, but you could use pine nuts, almonds, or pistachios.

farmers market


There are a few steps if you’ve never made fava beans before. After you remove the beans from the pod, you have to boil the beans and remove the outer casing. While it may sound like work, it is really easy and a great job while sitting and enjoying a glass of wine (to keep up your strength, of course!). The video above walks you through each step of making fava bean pesto. You can simply substitute whatever you have for the fava beans in the quantities below.

Frico with Farmers Market Pesto

Pesto Ingredients
1 cup shelled fava beans, cooked english peas or 2 cups arugula
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds or pistachios)
1 tablespoon mint leaves, julienned
1 tablespoon basil leaves, julienned
1 garlic clove (great with spring garlic, if you have)
1/2 cup of pecorino romano or parmesan
1/2-1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

Frico ingredients (14 small fricos)
3 ounces Parmesan, Grana Padano or other hard, salty cheese
1/2 teaspoon thyme or freshly grated black pepper (optional)

For the pesto: Remove beans from the pod. Boil for 2 minutes and transfer to an ice bath. Remove skin, as shown in the video. Place all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor and blend. Once the mixture is chunky, begin adding the olive oil until smooth. Top pesto on frico and garnish with julienned mint, basil leaves, or roasted red pepper.

For the frico: Use a sheet pan with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Sprinkle one tablespoon of cheese onto the mat to form a circle. Continue with the rest of the cheese, leaving 2 inches between rounds. Bake 5-8 minutes on 375 degrees until golden color. Do not brown, or the cheese will taste bitter. Let set for 2 minutes, and then carefully remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack. Frico can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days but must be cooled completely beforehand. Note: You can also make these on the stovetop on medium-low heat, but it takes longer because you have to cook each frico one by one.

Watch my live demonstration of this recipe at the Napa Farmers Market.

This recipe is a great patio pleaser and goes well with so many different wines, such as Italian Gavi or Pinot Grigio from Friuli Venezia Giulia, Rose from Provence, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay from Napa, as long as they are unoaked and not left on their lees. You could also serve these with a light red, such as a fruity Pinot Noir. I hope you will try it and enjoy it every spring and early summer as much as I do – Bon Appetito!