There’s nothing quite like the simple joy of hosting a backyard summer gathering. With the table set with relaxed linens and timeless dinnerware, the playlist queued, and all the details accounted for, there comes the most important element: the menu. In a quest for the best summer recipes for a crowd, Jenni Kayne enlisted my help to create a menu for easy-going gatherings.

So much of my inspiration comes from my family’s restaurants, this menu highlights early summer flavors. The Fava Bean salad is a classic, Italian dish in spring/summer and a recipe from a former restaurant of my family’s, Gusto, in New York City. The nutty, earthy fava beans are complemented by the salty, pecorino cheese and the cooling mint and zesty lemon are perfect on a warm day. 



  • 2-3 pounds fava beans shelled should yield about 1.5-2 cups
  • 2 oz pecorino romano cheese
  • 10-15 whole mint leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon zest reserved


Shell the fava beans from the outer pod, they will need to be shelled twice because they have a waxy shell on the bean.

Prepare an ice bath in a medium-sized bowl with water and a handful of ice, and set aside.

Boil the beans in 2 quarts of water salted with 1 tbsp of sea salt. Boil until just fork tender, otherwise they will get mushy. Immediately after straining the beans out, add them to the ice bath.

Using a pairing knife, cut a small slit on the side of the beans' waxy shell, and squeeze the bean out. Toss the beans with the mint leaves oil, salt, squeeze 1/2 lemon juice over the beans. Place in a serving bowl and crumble the pecorino cheese over the beans and lemon zest.

Images by Kate Berry for Jenni Kayne