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Fresh Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad

Fava beans are a spring favorite in southern and central Italy. This salad, adapted from Patricia Wells' Trattoria (William Morrow 1993) is popular as a starter or as part of an antipasto spread. If you can only find a hard grating pecorino, use a soft goat cheese. If there are leftovers, saute the beans and cheese with a little oil in a small skillet. They are fragrant and delicious as a warm appetizer.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

2 pounds fresh unshelled fava beans (about 2 cups shelled beans)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano

3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, snipped with scissors

1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste

8 ounces soft sheep's milk cheese such as a pecorino or a soft fresh goat's milk cheese, cut in small cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, and toss to blend. Taste for seasoning.

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