Apr 27, 2013

Pasta con le fave ~ Pasta with fava beans

I love this season, it brings with it sunshine, allergies and all my favorite vegetables.
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.
Buon appetito.

Top image ©E.Baldwin - bottom ©foodwolf.com


  1. Fave and spring in Rome, such a lovely meeting in the pasta dish!

    My friend Silvia and I were notorious for shelling and eating a bagful of fave beans on the way home from the market. ;-)

  2. Interesting! I love fava beans and pecorino and, of course, la vignola, but it had never occurred to me to try them with pasta. Have got to try this!

  3. this sounds all so amazing: your Roman CSA box (with Italian recipes to go with!), la festa della liberazione, fresh fave, your trip to Capri... I am longing for my Italian summer, soon, July! I must try this pasta.

  4. It truly is a delicious time of year with all of the fresh vegetables and fruits available. Beautiful recipe and so healthy! So glad to have found your blog to follow along,

  5. Yum!!! I'm going to have to try this. I LOVE your food photos.
    They make me so hungry!!!

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  7. Love this. Realizing I'm a little late, but we still have favas galore, so no harm done. Hello dinner!

  8. Ours are large here now, maybe best for making a spread for crostini, but we're having this tonight anyway!

    I'm adding a little mint because I have A LOT of mint.

    I like your choice of adjectives.

  9. I haven't been here for a very very long time. Lovely to see you are still sharing your wonderful recipes. Best wishes x Robyn

  10. Thank you! I tried this with angel hair pasta and parmesan without bread crumbs because I only had those. Incredible!! I never thought of Fava beans and pasta together. But when I took my first bite, the creaminess of the beans and the pasta was AMAZING. Its now my go to comfort food. Tried this with broad beans too. Will follow recipe exactly once I refill my pantry.