Open-Faced Focaccia with Fava Bean Spread and Tofu

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  • 3 pounds fava beans, shelled (1 pound of shelled beans) (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 sheet nori, toasted and crumbled (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil plus 2 or 3 fresh leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons high-heat oil
  • 1/2 pound firm tofu, pressed of water and sliced into 4 cutlets
  • 1 (6- by 4-inch) piece focaccia, sliced horizontally into 2 thinner pieces
  • A few thinly shaved slices of Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 4 to 6 fresh ripe tomato slices


Fill a bowl with ice water and set aside.

Cook shelled beans in a large saucepan of boiling water until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes; or 30 seconds to 1 minute if they are very small beans. Drain beans and plunge into the ice bath. Drain again, then immediately peel beans. Do this by pinching off a small piece of skin and popping the “naked” bean out.

In a food processor, purée beans, lemon juice, olive oil, nori, salt, pepper, garlic and 1 tablespoon chopped basil. Scrape down the sides a few times. Purée until very creamy. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Heat high-heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add tofu and quickly sear for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.

Spread half the fava bean purée over each cut side of focaccia. Layer on tofu, cheese, tomato slices and basil leaves, dividing evenly between the sandwiches. Season with a dusting of salt and pepper. Drizzle on additional extra virgin olive oil for an authentic touch.

Special notes:

If fresh fava beans are not in season, substitute 1 pound frozen broad, fava or lima beans. Run under warm water to thaw.

If nori is not already toasted, place the sheet in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, turning several times until the sheet turns a brighter green.

The tofu is very simple. Not all tofu needs to be marinated. In this recipe, a cast-iron skillet is recommended to quickly brown or blacken the tofu. You may also want to grill the tofu, as well as the focaccia, for even more flavor.

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