This recipe is inspired by Thin Man Sandwich Shop in the Strip – if you haven’t already been there, I strongly encourage you to check it out. I’ve been there a few times, and each time it’s been amazing. They use high-quality ingredients to create inventive and hearty sandwiches. On my last trip, I tried their new “fava melt” and it was absolutely delicious. The ingredients were fontina cheese, fava bean purée, pea shoots, and black pepper on multi-grain bread. Perfect for spring! I’d recently read that April is “National Grilled Cheese Month” so I decided to create a grilled-cheese spin on this sandwich. Fava beans – which are sort of like a cross between peas and lima beans – can be tricky to find, but I was able to buy a bag of frozen fava beans at Reyna’s Grocery. I then headed to PennMac for some perfectly melty fontina cheese as well as pine nuts and olive oil, and down to Mancini’s Bakery for a loaf of their European multi-grain bread.
The amounts below will make about four sandwiches.
1 cup shelled fava beans (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus zest
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. fontina cheese
Multigrain bread, sliced
1. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the frozen favas and boil until the bean inside the outer skin is bright green and firm but not hard, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the favas and immediately place in the ice water bath until cool. Peel the light green skin from each bean to reveal the bright green inner bean, discard the skins, and set the beans aside.
4. Heat a bit of olive oil in a small pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook until the garlic is slightly golden.
5. Transfer the beans, pine nuts, garlic, and thyme to a food processor or blender. Add the lemon juice and zest, along with ¼ cup of olive oil. Puree until smooth.
6. Spread the fava bean puree onto half of the bread slices. Stack think slices of fontina cheese on the other half of the slices. Assemble the sandwiches, and spread the outside of the sandwiches with the softened butter.
7. Heat a bit of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot and bubbling, grill the sandwiches until the cheese is soft and melted, turning to brown both sides. Do this in batches if you don’t have enough room in the pan for all of the assembled sandwiches.
8. Carefully remove from the pan and enjoy! If you have any leftover fava bean puree, you can refrigerate it to make more sandwiches later, or use it as a dip for crunchy veggies or chips.
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