Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fava beans and pasta

My friend Donna warned me about those fava beans last week when she got them in her box...you have to peel them twice. They come in a long pod that you pop open on one end, pull out the string along the center and split the pod open to get the beans out. But they need another step, because the real bean is hidden inside a tough outer layer, so you have to blanche them and then slip the tender bean out of the skin. I figured it's my day off, so I have time, so why not?
I prepped the beans by shucking them out of their long green pods. The fava beans are pictured here on the far left of the photo. You can see how big the pods are in comparison to the almonds and the green onions near them. I think I got about 4 or 5 beans out of each pod. This whole baggie of beans netted me about 2 cups of beans, shucked. I put them in the frig until it was time to prepare dinner. 
I brought a pot of water to a boil, then added the beans. I let them boil for just a couple of minutes, then drained off the water and dumped the beans into another container of iced cold water. Now to slip off the outer skin. 
Actually, Lee came along at just the right time to rope him into it. I said, "Hey check out these beans, see how the skins come off and there is another little bright green bean there?" So he checks it out. Then I asked if he thought he could skin the rest of them. "Sure", he said, knowing he got sucker into this one. 
After all, I had a sauce to make and pasta to cook. I had added the spaghetti to boiling water and attempted to follow the directions from the SLO Veg recipe for "Fettucine with Fava Beans".
Lee was reading me off the recipe as I was cooking some bacon and trying not to burn it all up. I didn't have any heavy cream, so I substituted buttermilk. It immediately curdled. I see now I was just supposed to add it to the spaghetti along a bit of pasta water, but I still had the heat on when I mixed it with the water without the noodles in there. I stirred it like crazy, then added some Parmesan cheese, which clumps together in a gooey mess. Oh well, its cheese balls now. I sauteed some of the beet greens I still had in the frig and added some onion and garlic, then the fava beans. It all cooked for a couple of minutes with a scoop of pasta water, then I drained the pasta and mixed it all together. Well, it tasted fine even if I did mess up the sauce. I swear next time I will just use a jar of Alfredo...
I had also cook some Italian sausages, so the pasta was served with sliced sausage and a glass of Chardonnay. The fava beans were sweet, buttery-like morsels in the dish, an accent really. They were a bit of work, and next time I think I will just boil them and serve them as a side with a little cheese on top.

Recipes through SLO Veg

Fettuccine with Fresh Fava Beans and Pancetta (Fava Beans) 

Servings: 4-6   Level: Easy   Cook Time: 15 Minutes.

2 pounds fresh fava beans, in their shells 
1 pound dried fettuccine 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 head escarole, torn into bite-size pieces 
2 tablespoons heavy cream 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for 
passing if desired
Directions: Shell the fava beans and blanch in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, slip off the tough outer skin of the beans. Discard skins and reserve beans on the side. Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the fettuccine, stirring often, until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and pancetta and cook until the onion is soft and the pancetta begins to crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the favas and escarole to the pancetta and cook until the beans are tender, about 5 minutes. When the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta, reserved cooking liquid, and heavy cream to the fava mixture and cook, tossing to mix thoroughly, until everything is heated through. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano and serve immediately. Pass the extra grated cheese at the table.  

*****I had to google some information on Fava beans, since I saw a note one one of the recipes warning about a sometimes fatal food allergy reaction people of Mediterranean descent have had to raw fava beans. Since I basically cook the beans twice, I guess I needn't worry about it. There is a lot of information here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment