This is the beginning of fava bean season and many people are not sure how to prepare this spring vegetable. They are becoming increasingly popular and you can find them at farmer's markets and even some grocery stores. Some people call them broad beans, but most likely they will be labeled as fava beans. These beans are very popular in Italy and many Italians like to eat them in the most simple manner - young favas, peeled and raw with a slice of pecorino. The flavor combination is perfect.
Preparing fava beans requires two steps. First, you must remove them from their pod. Then you must boil them in salted water for a minute or two and then peel the bean. The skin is easily removed but it takes time. Once the skin is removed, the bright green bean is revealed. Then you can add it to anything you like - salads, sauces, or eat them on their own.
This recipe combines that perfect flavor combination of favas and pecorino but adds plenty of black and red hot chili peppers.
- 3 pounds fresh fava beans, pods removed (about 2 cups with pods removed)
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 cup fresh basil (about 12 leaves), roughly chopped
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Put another large pot of salted water on to boil to blanch the fava beans.
Place a large bowl of ice water next to your stovetop.
When the blanching water boils, throw the shelled fava beans into the pot and blanch them for about one minute. Remove them with a strainer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Remove the translucent skin from the beans. They should slip right out, easily.
In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter, the onion and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and cook until the onion starts to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and pine nuts and cook until both have begun to toast, about 2 minutes, stirring often to keep the garlic from burning.
Add the red pepper flakes, oregano and 3/4 cup of the pasta water and mix to combine. Add the fava beans.
When the rigatoni is just al dente, remove with a strainer and add right to the skillet with the onion and fava bean mixture. Stir until the pasta is coated with the sauce, about 1 minute.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the salt and pepper, the rest of the butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the grated pecorino cheese and the basil and mix everything together well. Serve with pasta in individual serving bowls, sprinkled liberally with more pecorino and black pepper.
Links to more fava bean recipes:
Grilled Fava Beans from 101 Cookbooks