Sicilian Artichoke & Fava Bean Salad w/Saffron DressingA Change Of Appetite is a pleasant cookbook by Diana Henry, published in 2014, with recipes arranged by seasons, with extra ideas and riffs throughout, giving it a laid-back, easygoing approach.

I’ve admitted how I love shucking and handling fava beans. So, I made the “Sicilian Artichoke and Fava Bean Salad with Saffron Dressing” (recipe below) and enjoyed it for its complex layers of flavor.

Sicilian Artichoke and Fava Bean Salad with Saffron Dressing
A Change Of Appetite, Diana Henry
Serves 4 as a light lunch

1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
good pinch of saffron stamens
1 tsp. honey
salt and black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained
3 cups shelled fava beans
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes, to taste
2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
leaves from 1 bunch of mint, torn

Put the raisins to soak in boiling water for 30 minutes, then drain. Make the dressing by mixing the lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, and saffron in a small saucepan and gently heating; the saffron will color and flavor the liquid as it heats. Let cool, then whisk in the honey, salt and black pepper, and extra-virgin oil. Slice the artichoke hearts, put them in a serving dish, pour on the dressing, and gently turn to coat. It really helps the artichokes if they can sit in this for a while (an hour is great).

Put the fava beans in a saucepan with boiling water and cook until they are tender (about three minutes). Drain, run them under cold water, and then slip off the skins. Set aside.

Heat the regular olive oil and gently sauté the shallots until soft and pale gold, then add the garlic and chile and sauté for another minute. Scrape these into the dish with the artichokes. Add all the other ingredients to the dish and gently toss together. Taste for seasoning and sweet-savory balance, then serve.

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The saffron is distinct and powerful, and I’m always surprised by its intensity when I use it. The fava beans are creamy. The pine nuts are meaty. The recipe asks for a whole bunch of mint, but in my world, a whole bunch of mint would be a big bush and way too much. I used less mint. This too added a layer of tastiness to my salad.

Persian Spice BreadFrom this same cookbook, I also made the “Persian Spice Bread” (recipe below), where I was attracted to the graceless art of proofing yeast and kneading dough.

Persian Spice Bread
A Change Of Appetite,
Diana Henry

Makes 8 rolls

1 1/4 tsp. active dried yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 egg, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg yolk, to glaze
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra to oil
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust
1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/3 cup chopped pitted dates
2 1/2 Tbsp. butter, cut into 8 pats
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, lightly crushed

Put the yeast into a bowl with 1/4 tsp. of the sugar and 3 1/2 Tbsp. of the water and let stand in a warm place to froth (it will take about 15 minutes). Mix half the beaten egg (retain the other half) with the 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.

Mix together the flours, salt, remaining sugar, and the turmeric in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the frothy yeast followed by the egg and oil mixture. Add the remaining water. Gradually bring the dry ingredients into the middle, using a blunt knife, then start working the mixture with your hands.

Knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is shiny and feels elastic. Very lightly oil the ball of dough with your hands, then put it into a bowl and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place to rise for an hour (it should double in size). Punch down the dough, then return it to the bowl and let stand, covered with the plastic wrap, for another hour.

Divide the dough into eight equal balls. Roll each out on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 5 inches across. Divide the dates among these, putting them in the center, and put a little pat of butter on top of the dates. Pull the dough up over the dates and butter, pinch it, then smooth it over and turn what is now a ball of dough over so the seam is underneath. Set these on a nonstick baking sheet, cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the reserved half egg with the egg yolk. Brush the tops of each roll with it and sprinkle with the cumin seeds. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, by which time the rolls should be golden brown and cooked through. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

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Making bread will always involve pacing, and that’s what you must commit to and enjoy before you start the process. Smell the yeast as it froths and you’ll remember all the warm reasons for doing this.

That little bit of turmeric colors the dough just so. The dates and butter within are nice and the cumin makes an impact. My mouth, however, wanted to taste more salt.

Mind you: this roll is filling. You’ll make eight of them and they are a big deal to eat. Have fun.

Canned Artichoke Hearts = $2.56
Fava Beans (3.17 lbs.) = $7.07
Shallots (4) = $1.21
Pine Nuts (.08 lb.) = $3.39

PREP TIMES: shucking, boiling, and skinning fava beans takes time, but the rest is quicker; set aside at least four hours to assemble and raise and bake the rolls
all the right reasons for salad: canned artichoke hearts, fava beans, pine nuts, mint; bread rolls filled with a buttery treat of dried dates

Next time, I will indulge in the “Wood-Grilled Duck Breast,” from the June/July 2015 issue of Saveur. Come back to my site next week to witness this event.