Today’s recipe for grana padano cheese crisps with fava bean hummus and prosciutto roses are a mouthful — literally and figuratively. I made these little crisps one afternoon when I was looking for a fancy snack to serve before dinner. Also, we needed to use up a gigantic crop of broad beans (also known as fava beans) that we’d picked from Parkside Farm outside of the city. I spent what seemed like an eternity shelling endless piles of beans. Apparently what looks like just a few beans in the field turns out to be wayyyy too many when they’re actually in your tiny London kitchen.
To make thesecheese crisps with fava bean hummus and prosciutto, I suggest using Grana Padano PDO for the crisps. Grana Padano is the lesser-known cousin of the king of cheeses, Parmigiana Reggiano. Like Parmigiana, Grana Padano hails from the same Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and is a hard cow’s milk cheese. Unlike Parmigiana, Grana Padano is made only from skim milk (whereas Parmigiana is made from a combination of whole and skim milk). This makes Grana Padano lighter and slightly fruitier in flavor than the saltier Parmigiana.
Like I mentioned earlier this week in my post about the Taste of London and why you need to go, Grana Padano is also less expensive, which makes it a far more economical choice, especially when you need a lot to make a large quantity of cheese crisps. The best part about this appetizer is that you can make the fava bean hummus, the cheese crisps and the prosciutto roses ahead of time and just store everything separately until just before you serve. Then, assembling these little snacks is as easy as slathering on a thick layer of hummus on the crisp and popping the prosciutto rose on top.
For the prosciutto, I used Prosciutto di San Daniele, a silky prosciutto that also bears the “PDO” (Protected Designation of Origin) mark to highlight its authenticity and origin. Prosciutto di San Daniele is cured only with salt (no other additive or preservatives) and is made with pigs raised in the hills around the northern Italian town of San Daniele. The prosciutto is cured for at least 13 months, and the end result is a creamy, translucent prosiutto with a mild flavor.
When I made my cheese crisps with fava bean hummus and prosciutto, I had lots of little pieces of crisps that either clung awkwardly to my otherwise round crisps. No worries — I just saved these shards and used them as additional decoration. Fava bean hummus is a pretty dense substance — it’s stiff enough that you can “pose” some of the cheese crisps vertically, “Vogue” style.
I arranged my assembled cheese crisps on a platter and left them on the dinner table for my family to snack on before dinner. These types of snacks are an offering to the hunger monsters that roll into my kitchen every 30 seconds while I’m trying to make dinner. Sometimes the littlest ones are the meanest — they tell me they’re going to “die of hunger” and collapse onto the kitchen rug in the most dramatic fashion. I usually turn the music up and try to ignore it. No one in my family has ever died of starvation in the thirty minutes before dinner is served. At least not yet.
When I emerged from the kitchen with dinner, all that was left were shreds of crisps and random dollops of fava bean hummus. My hunger monsters were nowhere to be seen, and I didn’t see any casualties. I asked everyone what they thought of my pretty little snacks, expecting high praise for having put something so pretty on the table before dinner.
The kids blinked. “Oh, those cheese snacks?” Meimei asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Oh, there weren’t nearly enough of them.”
“But did you think they were pretty?”
“I didn’t notice.”
fancy cheese crisps with fava bean hummus and prosciutto
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
- 12 slices prosciutto preferably Prosciutto di San Daniele
- 1 cup fresh fava beans also called broad beans, double-shelled and rinsed
- 1/2 lemon -- juice and zest
- 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt plus more for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon pepper plus more for seasoning
- Note: if you're using fresh broad beans, you'll have to shell them, then blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes before draining them and plunking them into ice water. Then, remove the second "skin" from the fava bean, leaving only the bright green inside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (note: silicone works the best here).
- Heap grated Grana Padano into a tablespoon and drop it onto the baking sheet. Press down gently to make sure that the Grana Padano is slightly stuck together. Repeat with more tablespoons of Grana Padano, spacing each heaping tablespoonful about 2.5 inches apart.
- Slide the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 4-6 minutes until the grana padano is stretched out, melted and just slightly golden brown. Remove the crisps from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes. Remove the crisps from the baking sheet using a spatula and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Note: you can store these crisps in an airtight container for up to a week.
- To make the fava bean hummus, rinse the shelled fava beans in cold water and drain thoroughly. Place the beans in a food processor and pulse until they're broken down and not too chunky. Add the salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice and pulse again for 1-2 seconds to mix everything together. With the motor running on the food processor, drizzle in the olive oil to create a smooth paste. If the fava bean hummus is still chunky, add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. Note: you can store this fava bean hummus in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- Place the prosciutto on a cutting board and carefully slice the prosciutto lengthwise. Starting at one end, roll each prosciutto strip up, and then pinch one end of the roll while using your fingers fan out the "petals" on the other end of the roll. Place the "rose" on a tray lined with a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining slices of prosciutto until you've used all of the prosciutto "roses".
- To serve, spread about a tablespoon of fava bean hummus on a crisp, then top with a prosciutto rose.