Favas: Protein in a Pinch

Favas and fusilli
Sweet, tender fava beans are worth the trouble (and they are trouble).

I know, I know. This looks like last week’s post. Some kind of legume, some kind of pasta, maybe some kind of cheese.

But when you don’t get home from work until 8:45, and when it’s one of your designated meatless days (I shoot for three a week), a couple handfuls of a protein-packed beans or peas and a scoop of pasta is a way to hit both buttons: Expedient and Tasty.

Even factoring in the required shell-blanch-shock-peel of the fava beans that were in Monday’s share-box, Wednesday night’s meal still took less than 20 minutes to throw together. The amount here will serve 2-3. I made too much, but I wanted to use the favas while they were at peak sweetness. The season’s first tomatoes plucked from my garden were a nice bonus.

First tomatoes
First harvest (June 26, 2013)
Fusilli with Favas, Fresh Tomatoes, and Ricotta
  • 1/2 pound dried fusilli (or any short-form pasta that will hold a sauce)
  • as many fava beans as you want (I used my entire CSA portion)
  • chopped fresh tomatoes (I used about a dozen Sungold cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
  • cracked black pepper
  • olive oil

Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta, and start a second pot of water to blanch the favas. Fill a large bowl with ice water, too. Go ahead and get the pasta working while you prep the beans.

Fuzzy favas
Un-zip, pop, blanch, shock, pinch
Prepare the Fava Beans
  1. Snap off one end, pull the “string” down to create a workable seam, splay the pod open, and free the beans. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  2. Blanch them in boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Fish them out with a spider or drain them in a colander, then put them immediately into the ice-water bath.
  4. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel the outer skin from each bean by piercing  it with your fingernail. Pinch the inner bean from the skin. Don’t be worried if the bean splits down the middle; that’s normal. Do, however, be careful not to tiddlywink the beans all over your kitchen. You’re best off doing this part in a bowl set in your sink until you get the hang of it.
Toss it All Together

When your pasta is just short of al dente, dip out a measuring or coffee cupful of the starchy water, then drain the pasta. Put about half that cup back in the pot and crank up the heat to thicken the liquid a little.

Add the cooled beans, the hot pasta, the tomatoes, and the ricotta. Crank in some coarsely ground black pepper. Toss well. If it seems dry, add more of the pasta water.

Dress with a little olive oil. If you’re serving it to someone besides yourself (or serving it somewhere other than your couch while you watch a giddy Rachel Maddow), you might add a little grated Romano and maybe some chives or parsley to garnish.

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