Easy Italian Recipes
Shake off any flashbacks of the mooshy lima beans your mom made you eat as a kid — fresh fava beans, with their nutty flavor and creamy texture, are something completely different! The Italians love them and so should you. Also called broad beans, they are the oldest known beans in the world and are extremely nutritious.
Fava beans grow in a pod like peas, although they are much bigger, and the pod is soft and fuzzy. In some countries it is customary to peel the transparent skin off the bean, but in Italy fava beans are often just shucked from the pod and cooked. Even the cooking is optional: in Rome, on the May 1st holiday celebrating Labor Day, Roman families traditionally eat fresh fava beans with Pecorino Romano cheese during a picnic in the countryside.
A popular Italian saying is prendere due piccioni con una fava — in English, we say to “kill two birds with one stone” – and that’s just what you can do with the ingredients used in this simple spring dish: eat them raw for one meal and then make Malloreddus with Fresh Fava Beans and Pecorino for another. The recipe is compliments of “The Sardinian Cookbook: The Cooking and Culture of a Mediterranean Island” and the type of pasta called for comes from Sardinia, too (if you can’t find malloreddus, any good quality short pasta will do). Use young pecorino in the dish, as it melts well, and pair it with a fresh white wine such as Vermentino di Sardegna.
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Recipe for Malloreddus with Fresh Fava Beans and Pecorino
Ingredients for 4 servings
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups fresh fava beans, shelled
- 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 gallon water
- 3 cups Malloreddus or other short pasta such as shells or bowties
- 3/4 cup freshly-grated pecorino cheese, for sprinkling
In a large 6- to 7-quart sauté pan, warm the oil and add the fava beans. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the beans start to soften. Add a pinch of salt and remove from the heat. Set aside.
In a medium 8- to 12-quart stockpot, bring the water and 1 tablespoon Kosher salt to a boil. Add the Malloreddus and cook, following the package instructions, until the pasta is almost al dente. Remove from the heat.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
Toss the pasta with the fava beans and stir well, adding 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to create a sauce. Cook for 1 minute or so, until the flavors blend.
Transfer the Malloreddus and fava to a serving bowl. Serve hot, sprinkled with the pecorino.
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