This side dish is packed with everything that has sprung in spring—asparagus, fennel, fava beans and mint. The fava beans add great flavor to this salad and are good for you too.
- Fresh asparagus tips, from about 1 pound fresh asparagus, rinsed
- 1 fennel bulb, about 8 ounces, cored and finely sliced
- 1 cup fresh fava beans, shelled
- 8 plump dried apricots, roughly chopped
- ½ tablespoon lemon zest from about 1 medium lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from about 1 medium lemon, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of salt, optional
- Freshly cracked black pepper, optional
- ½ tablespoon fresh mint, chiffonade or finely chopped
- Handful of crumbled feta cheese to garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Put the asparagus tips, fennel, fava beans and apricots in a large roasting pan with deep sides.
Add the lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and the olive oil to the pan. Add a generous amount of salt and cracked black pepper to taste, if desired.
Thoroughly stir everything in the pan to ensure that the vegetables are well mixed and coated.
Bake for 30-32 minutes or until everything starts to brown and caramelize slightly. Don’t roast or overbrown.
Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice over the vegetables. Sprinkle the top with the fresh mint and feta cheese crumbles, if desired. Serve warm.
Cook’s tip: If you can’t find fava beans, substitute lima beans.
Cook’s tip: To get the freshest asparagus, take each spear and bend it in two. The part of the spear tip that snaps and breaks off is the freshest and should be used. Discard the bottom portion.
Jilly Lagasse began cooking as a child when her father, Chef Emeril Lagasse, gave her a set of chef’s whites and let her help in the pastry and dessert department in one of his restaurants. She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004 and has written two gluten-free cookbooks with her sister, Jessie Lagasse Swanson, as the duo The Lagasse Girls, www.lagassegirls.com. She splits her time between New Orleans and New York doing special cooking events and gluten-free pop-ups.