Friday, November 20, 2009

Pasta with Fava Beans and Ricotta Salata

Fava beans, vicia faba, are one of the oldest plants in cultivation.   This popularity is attributable to the fact that they are easy to grow in temperate climates, and an excellent source of protein, minerals, fiber and folate.  While snap and lima beans are native to the Americas and thrive in warm weather, broad beans originated in the Old World and require cool temperatures.  This means broad beans are a fall crop in our sub-tropical climate.  Super Aguadulce seedlings, an Italian heirloom variety, are in the ground now, but a harvest is still months away.  

Luckily, dried favas are readily available and combine well with the fresh tomatoes and basil that are abundant in our garden right now.   If you've never cooked with dried favas before, get ready for a workout removing the outer skins.  When you see the amount of labor involved, you will also understand why European explorers were thrilled to discover and later cultivate the beans of the New World.  But when you have the time, favas have a unique and wonderful flavor that no other bean can equal.  So turn on the tv and get to work.

Tagliatelle with Fava Beans and Ricotta Salata
based on a recipe in The Il Fornaio Pasta Book by Maurizio Mazzon
serves 6-8


3                      garlic cloves
1       Tbs         sea salt, plus more to taste
1       lb            dry fava beans, soaked in water overnight,
                        skins removed
3/4    cup         olive oil (used in 3 different steps)
1                      shallot, minced
6                      basil leaves, torn into pieces
1/2    cup         dry white wine
                        black pepper to taste
1       lb            dried tagliatelle pasta
1                      large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2    cup         grated Pecorino Romano
1/2    cup         shaved Ricotta Salata
                       (use vegetable peeler when cheese is very cold)

  1. Place beans in large pot and cover with water 1" above beans.  Add 1 Tbs sea salt, bring to a boil and cook until soft, about one hour.  Remove beans with a skimmer but SAVE THE COOKING WATER.
  2. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium and saute shallot and 2 smashed garlic cloves until soft.  Add half the basil and half the beans and cook 2 minutes.  Add wine and cook until completely evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Add 2 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil.  Cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes, and then puree in a food processor.
  3. Return bean cooking water to a boil and add dry pasta.  Cook until ready, then drain.
  4. Meanwhile, over medium high for 1 minute, saute 1 garlic glove, minced, and rest of basil in 1/3 cup olive oil.  Add remaining beans and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook 2 minutes.  Add pureed beans and mix well.   
  5. Add cooked pasta to fava bean sauce, then add 1/3 cup olive oil, tomatoes and pecorino.  Mix well.  Plate up and then top with shaved ricotta salata.

Pasta with Fava Beans and Ricotta Salata made the Foodbuzz Top 9 today! The Foodbuzz Top 9 is a photo-driven collection of top-buzzed posts within the Foodbuzz community.  Congratulations again, and thanks for being a part of Foodbuzz!  Cheers, The Foodbuzz Editorial Team.


    1. What a beautiful plate!!!! I just found some fresh fava beans at the market the other day so I am definitely trying this recipe -- it looks light and delicious, can't wait to try this!

    2. this will be dinner! resonates with me to the core in this chill weather- thanks!

    3. What a beautiful dish! Ricotta salata is one of my favorite cheese to use in pasta. It has a great texture with just the right amount of salt.

    4. Gorgeous photo! I love fava beans, so this recipe is surely going to be made soon.

    5. I love Tagliatelle Pasta! I think the fava beans must have it some really great earthy flavor - perfect for fall!

    6. you don't even know how much i love fava beans. don't tell poppa trix, but i would marry them if i could. sigh.

    7. I love fava beans and we only have them dried and I'm willing to remove the outer skin. The dish looks fabulous.

    8. Oh this sounds absolutely delicious!

    9. I have never used these beans - sounds amazing. i will try! thanks!

    10. This reminds me of my time spent in Florence, what wonderful flavors with fresh pasta. I can't wait to recreate this dish, it looks deliciously good.

    11. I have never had a fava bean in my life, but I am willing to try! How easy/difficult are they to grow in general, would they grow well here in Missouri? I have fresh tomato envy. . .

    12. I'm the last to point out how beautiful this is. But it is!

      Love this site you know. I get so many ideas. We just had a H-U-G-E roast and need something to give us a health kick for dinner tomorrow. Fava beans might be a contender! Although I still want to try out your salsa, so it might be fajitas for us...

    13. This looks like a fabulous recipe with beans and stunning cheeses!

    14. Whenever I hear "fava beans" I can't help thinking of Hannibal Lecter.
      But I'd still like to try them, especially after hearing all these commenters give such rave reviews of them!


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