I love constraining myself by making meals solely from the Farmers Market. Where I live, the Napa Farmers Market is absolutely delightful! It showcases the bounty we have in our farms in Northern California and is a nice community event where you see your neighbors, 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 Farmers Market!
Frico with Farmers Market Pesto
These appetizers start with savory parmesan cheese crisps that 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 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.
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 a few weeks ago at the Napa Valley Farmers Market, I squealed and got a few sideways glances. But I did not care because I was reunited with my beloved fava beans!
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 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 eating the best meal of my life.
The beauty of this pesto, however, is that you are not limited to fava beans. If they aren’t in season or you can’t get them where you live, you can use peas or arugula. 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.
If you’ve never made fava beans before, there are a few steps. After you remove the bean 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)
- Step 1 For the pesto: Remove beans from pod.
- Step 2 Boil for 2 minutes and transfer to ice bath.
- Step 3 Remove skin as shown on video.
- Step 4 Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor and blend.
- Step 5 Once the mixture is chunky, begin adding the olive oil until smooth.
- Step 6 Top pesto on frico and garnish with julienned mint, basil leaves or roasted red pepper.
- Step 7 For the frico: Use a sheet pan with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
- Step 8 Sprinkle one tablespoon of cheese onto mat to form a circle.
- Step 9 Continue with the rest of the cheese, leaving 2 inches between rounds.
- Step 10 Bake 5-8 minutes on 375 degrees until golden color. Do not brown or the cheese will taste bitter.
- Step 11 Let set for 2 minutes and then carefully remove with spatula onto 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 Fruili 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!