Monday, July 7, 2014

In Season: Fava Beans - Gemelli With Fava & Frisee

Meatless Monday is here again and we are using it as an excuse to check out a seasonal specialty, the delicious Fava Bean. Also known as Broad Beans, Favas are a favorite in many corners of the world, but they are notably well loved by my ancestral people, the Italians. Since we often enjoy Meatless Monday with the help of vegetarian pasta preparations, it only seemed right that these herby, firm, green beans be served atop our favorite starch. We were very happy with the result - a garlicky, spicy and lemony mix of flavors that play off the more delicate Fava flavor. Gemelli Is a fun pasta shape with great texture, but any short, curly pasta will do. 
Gemelli With Fava Beans, Frisee, Chili & Lemon, Photo: NK

Some folks describe prepping Favas as a labor of love. They aren't entirely wrong either. Favas are easy to handle but they definitely they take a little time and doing. Never seen a Fava before? Well they look like this when you buy them: 
Fava Beans, before preparation, Photo: NK 

To prepare, pop the Fava Beans out of their pods (as pictured below) and blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain Beans immediately
Shelled Favas with waxy skin still on, Photo: NK
under cold water. Taking each individual bean in your hand, carefully slit the waxy outer skin and pop the inside of it out, trying to keep the interior bright green bean whole. Discard the waxy layer. 

Alternately you can actually eat the waxy outer skin, as it doesn't taste badly at all, but when I have the time, I prefer to unsheath the bright green inside, time consuming though it may be! 

It's also worth it to note that this dish tastes fantastic at room temperature and would make a great, innovative pasta salad for your next summer get-together if you so choose. 

Let's get down to the business of building today's satisfying meatless meal. 

Gemelli With Fava Beans & Frisee
Serves 4 

1 Pound Fava Bean Pods, shelled and waxy skin optionally removed (read above)
1 Pound Gemelli or other short, textured pasta
1 medium-sized, moderately spicy Red Chili, (or hot pepper or your choice) minced. (*I like to leave the seeds in but you can omit if you are spice averse)
2 large Cloves of minced Garlic
Frisee, Photo: NK 

Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 small head of Frisee Lettuce, chopped
15 Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped 
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 Tablespoon Salted Butter
Black Pepper
Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese


1. Prep and chop all ingredients above. 

2. Meanwhile, set a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Once it is in the boiling water, begin step 3. 

3. In a large skillet over medium low flame, melt one Tablespoon of Butter with 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil. Add the Garlic and sauté 1 minute until fragrant. Add the Chili and sauté another minute. Add the chopped Frisee to the skillet and stir as it wilts a bit, just 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat. 

4. Season the Frisee with a few turns of Black Pepper and about 3 generous pinches of Salt. Stir. Add the Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice to the Frisee and stir. 

5. By this time, your pasta should be close to done. When it is finish, drain it through a colander and add the Gemelli to the skillet with the Frisee. Sprinkle with chopped Olives and toss Pasta together gently with the vegetables, add add the remaining Tablespoon of Olive Oil. Taste for seasoning and add about 1/4 teaspoon of Salt if you feel it is needed.

6. To serve, plate pasta and sprinkle with Fava Beans and optional Pecorino Romano Cheese. Enjoy! 

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