10 e lode: Pat's "pasta con le fave"

In late spring and early summer fresh fava beans are plentiful and you can find them in most grocery stores that have a good produce selection. I think one of the best ways to enjoy these incredible, bright green beans is to eat them in a traditional roman pasta that has just a few, but very fresh ingredients. Some folks think that removing the fava beans from the pod and then removing the skins is too much work, but one of the great things about doing this dish is you can shell the beans with friends and family, which gives the final product even more impact. In fact a few of my really good friends got together for my birthday and prepared this wonderful sauce for me. Thank you Janice, Andrea and Pat.

(In the pics above, besides the incredible pasta, there's the b'day girl with Pat the "chef").

“Pasta con le fave” (Fava beans with pasta and pancetta)

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
¼ pound of pancetta, finely diced
1 onion finely minced (Vidalia onions- so sweet you can eat them raw- are also in season and make this dish even better, but yellow onions will do fine.)
2 pounds of fresh fava beans still in the pod
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Grated parmesan cheese to taste
1 pound of pasta (orechiette are great with fava beans)

To prepare the beans:
To peel the fava beans, you must first remove them from the large pod. Discard the pods and drop the beans in boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, drain and then put them in a bowl of ice water until they cool, which should only take a couple of minutes. Drain the beans. To take the beans out of the outer skin, pinch off one end and then pop the bean out. You can prepare them ahead of time and keep refrigerated in a covered bowl.

To prepare the sauce:
Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold the pasta. When the oil is hot, put in the diced pancetta and cook until is starting to turn golden. You don’t want the pancetta too crispy, but you want to be sure and render the fat out of it. When the pancetta is cooked, remove it from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Put the onion immediately in the pan, add a pinch of salt, and with a wooden spoon stir and sauté for a minute or two and then cover, reduce the heat to low and sweat the onions until they are still firm, but soft to the bite like al dente pasta.

When the onions are done, mix the pancetta back in and add the fava beans. Warm everything through.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add at least a tablespoon of salt and cook the orechiette according to the package directions, making sure not to over cook.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan containing the sauce. Mix and let stand for a minute or two. Add more olive oil if needed; the sauce should glisten. Serve and top with the cheese and pepper to taste.


Ste said...

Tanti cari auguri di Buon Compleanno in Super ritardo da tutti noi!!! Ste & Co.

Cinzia said...

you should have been here.