I end up cooking pasta for dinner a fair amount.  And while I love to make the traditional pasta recipes, like spaghetti and meatballs, many of which I grew up on, those traditional recipes can take a long time to make.  And "a long to make" don't jive with a weeknight schedule.  So I love to have a few techniques in my back pocket that allow me to take fresh ingredients, treat them simply and come up with something special.  In this recipe video, I do just that with some thick spaghetti and some fava beans (no nice Chianti).  Fava’s are a great spring time vegetable, and although they take an extra 10 - 15 minutes to prep, you can get a great tasty pasta dish like this one in less than an hour.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients for Spaghetti with Fava Beans (for 2)

  • 1/3 lb of spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup of shelled blanched fava beans (8 – 10 pods if you’re buying in the store)
  • 1/8 chopped or slivered almonds
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 diced shallot
  • 3 – 4 basil leaves chopped
  • 1 – 2 slices of diced pancetta (or bacon)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Recipe Overview and Keys to Success

  1. I wouldn’t use canned/jarred fava beans for this recipe; you could give frozen a try if you can find them, but I really, really, really, think you should use fresh
  2. Don’t overcook the pasta; once you do your prep work, the sauce and pasta should take about the same time to cook.  If you need to hedge your bets, get your sauce done first and put it on low heat – then have it wait for the pasta, rather than the other way around
  3. I use almonds in this dish, because they have a great flavor and texture. Allergic? Remove them.  Don’t like almonds, use another nut
  4. Some of fava beans get crushed in the pan to form a paste; that paste combines with the chicken stock to make the “sauce”.  Remember it’s easy to crush a few more beans to thicken the sauce, so start off with 5 – 7; then crush more to get the consistency right if you feel the sauce is too thin       

Making the Spaghetti with Fava Beans

  • First you need to prep the fava beans - which come in a large pod shaped like a giant pea pod
  • Snap the top (stem) off the fava bean pod and remove the beans
  • Each individual bean has a shell we need to remove
  • Add the beans to a pot of boiling, salted water for about 2 minutes
  • Remove them, and shock them in cold water to stop the cooking process
  • Use your fingernail to make a small slit in each bean, and peal back to remove the shell – it should come off quite easily
  • Prep all your other ingredients and bring a pot of water to the boil for the pasta
  • In a sauté pan, cook the diced pancetta (or bacon) until crisp
  • Add the garlic and shallot, and sauté until soft
  • You're about 10 minutes away from having the sauce done, so drop your pasta in boiling water now
  • Add the fava beans to the garlic, shallot, and pancetta, and bring them up to temperature
  • After 3 – 4 minutes, crush 6 – 10 beans into a paste (I use a fork – use whatever works for you)
  • Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce by half
  • Add the chopped green onions and toss
  • Drain your spaghetti and add it to the sauce
  • Add the butter, the chopped almonds and the basil
  • Toss everything with the pasta to get it blended together
  • If needed, add a bit of reserved pasta water and/or butter if the pasta looks dry
  • Add the parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of lemon; again toss to combine
  • Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed

Pile the pasta high and enjoy!!  Hope you enjoy it, and leave me a comment to let me know how it goes.