Every Wednesday, my CSA delivers a box with bushels of asparagus, artichokes, crisp heads of lollo lettuce, romanesco broccoli, striped zucchini topped with precious blossoms, free range chicken and eggs, cheese and fruit all hailing from nearby organic Lazio farms. In each box also comes a handful of recipes employing the ingredients of that week.
With the 2 kilos of fava beans that came in this week's haul, I celebrated the national holiday of April 25th, commemorating Italy's liberation from Nazi occupation in 1945. The patriotic fava beans are a common way to end a typical Roman spring meal, provided these be paired with sharp pecorino romano cheese. A match made in heaven.
With the leftover fava beans in my basket, I can either make Vignarola – a versatile miscellany of tender artichokes, fava beans, peas, romaine lettuce hearts, spring onions, lavish amounts of black pepper, and, yes, guanciale (I can actually see the smiles fading from your vegetarian faces) – or a pasta recipe I recently learned while shooting a web series in Capri... But that's another story.
Pasta con le Fave
Ingredients for 4
1 kg fresh fava beans (some call them broad beans), shelled and peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 peperoncino hot pepper (according to taste)
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
50 gr (1/4 cup) breadcrumbs, toasted
100 gr (1/2 cup) pecorino cheese, grated
400 gr (14 oz) pappardelle type pasta
Film-coat a large skillet with olive oil and lightly sauté the garlic with the bay leaf and the hot pepper.
In a separate small saucepan, do the same with the onion, sauteing it until translucent, about 10 minutes.
Boil the shelled and peeled fava beans in plenty unsalted water. Once tender, fish out the fava beans and save the water, you'll be boiling your pasta in it. Finish cooking the fava beans in the skillet and add the onions, adjust seasoning with a pinch of salt, while stirring with a wooden spoon until all flavors are well blended.
Cook the pasta al dente in the fava water, and drain 2 minutes before the time it says on the box. Toss in the skillet with the fava beans, simmer with a ladle of cooking water, blending over a vivacious flame.
Finish with two handfuls of toasted breadcrumbs, a thread of olive oil, and a generous dusting of grated pecorino cheese. Serve immediately, washed down with a sincere Frascati.
Top image ©E.Baldwin - bottom ©foodwolf.com