Asparagus Salad with Fava Bean Sauce

Notes: This salad was inspired by Loretta Keller of Bizou Restaurant & Bar in San Francisco. If fresh favas aren't available, use 1 cup shelled cooked favas (8 oz.; sold refrigerated in some supermarkets) or frozen baby lima beans. Fresh pecorino cheese, which has a creamy texture similar to that of jack, is available in specialty food stores; don't confuse it with dry pecorino romano. You can make the bean paste (step 3) up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Reheat to use.

Yield: Makes 8 servings
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Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 199
  • Calories from fat: 77%
  • Protein: 9.7g
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated fat: 4.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 6.3g
  • Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sodium: 183mg
  • Cholesterol: 14mg


  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 quart bite-size pieces rinsed and crisped red leaf lettuce (3 1/2 oz.)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (optional), rinsed, stemmed, and halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound young fava beans in pods, shelled (see notes)
  • 1 cup shredded fresh pecorino (pecorino fresca; see notes) or jack cheese (4 oz.)


  1. 1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse asparagus; snap off and discard tough stem ends. Add asparagus to boiling water and cook until barely tender when pierced, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and arrange on a platter or plates.
  2. 2. In a large bowl, mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and the vinegar. Add lettuce and tomatoes; mix gently to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Arrange salad alongside asparagus.
  3. 3. In the pan, over medium heat, stir garlic in remaining 6 tablespoons oil until limp, about 30 seconds. Add shelled beans and 2/3 cup water; cover and simmer over low heat until beans are very soft when pressed, 7 to 12 minutes. Mash with a potato masher. Remove from heat and push mixture through a wire strainer; discard skins.
  4. 4. Return bean paste to pan over low heat and stir until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add cheese, and stir until melted. Sauce should be thin enough to spoon over asparagus. If necessary, add a little hot water (2 to 4 tablespoons) to thin; do not return sauce to heat or cheese will become grainy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. 5. Spoon warm sauce over warm or room-temperature asparagus.
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