Beet Fettuccine with Fava Beans, Mint, and Garlic

Beet Fettuccine with Fava Beans, Mint, and Garlic
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pasta with fava beans, mint, and garlic
Before this, we had no idea what to do with fava beans!

We didn’t know what to do with the fava beans we picked up at the CSA this past week. We’re not sure that we’ve ever even had fava beans before, so it was all new to us. The very next day, our paper printed a recipe for Spaghetti with Fava Beans, Mint, and Garlic, by Mario Batali. Talk about serendipity! We felt that the universe was looking out for us and this was a sign. We had to make it.

Now, we didn’t have the amount of beans that the recipe called for, but, that was okay, because the recipe served 4 to 6, so we could just scale everything back to fit the amount of beans that we had. We’ll list amounts for the original recipe, adjusted for our tastes (we cut the garlic in half; it was too much); just realize that the amounts you see in the pictures are less than if you make the full recipe. The other change we made was to use fresh Beet Pasta cut into fettuccine in place of the spaghetti.

Beet Fettuccine with Fava Beans, Mint, and Garlic

Yield: 4-6 servings

Beet Fettuccine with Fava Beans, Mint, and Garlic

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fava beans in the shell
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake
  • 16 ounces spaghetti (or two batches fresh pasta, cut into desired shape)
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves torn into pieces
  • Grated Pecorino Romano, for serving

Abbreviated Instructions

Shell beans, discarding pods. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Add beans and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and cool with cold water. Squeeze each bean between your fingers to remove skin. Discard skin. Set beans aside.

Heat oil, garlic, and red pepper flake over low heat until garlic is tender, but not browned, 5-7 minutes. Add beans and remove from heat.

Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute remains before the pasta is done.

Carefully scoop about 1/4 cup of pasta water and add to bean mixture.

Drain pasta thoroughly.

Place bean mixture over high heat. When the water starts to boil, add pasta and mint leaves and toss until everything is heated through and well-coated.

Divide among warmed bowls and top with grated Pecorino Romano.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2017/04/beet-fettuccine-with-fava-beans-mint-and-garlic/

Ingredient discussion:

No fava beans? Try using peas, instead. For the pasta, we used fresh because we love it, but store-bought will be good, too. Consider using a fun shape, such as gemelli (our favorite). You really don’t need to use extra-virgin olive oil in this recipe. You’ll be getting it pretty hot and it’ll lose it’s flavor. Any mild oil will work. We did use EVOO, though. Finally, Pecorino Romano is a sharp sheep’s cheese, but you can substitute another strong flavored hard cheese, if you wish.

Procedure in detail:

shelling fava beans
It’s all about preparing the fava beans, first you need to shell them.

Shell beans. It’s all about getting the beans ready for this dish. First, shell the beans. The easiest way is to snap the tip off the pod and pull downward, taking the tough strand along the edge with it and, in effect, unzipping the shell. Pop out the beans. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and you have to try the other end. Or even just splitting it open as you work. Every pod is individual.

blanching fava beans
Next, you need to blanch the beans to loosen up their skins.

Blanch beans. Bring a kettle of salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook for 3 minutes. This will blanch the beans and loosen up the tough skin that surrounds them.

skinning fava beans
After blanching, you can pop them out of their skins, They’re now ready to be used.

Skin beans. After three minutes, drain the beans and rinse with cold water to cool. Once cool, take each bean and squeeze between your finger and thumb. The bean should pop out of its skin. Sometimes we had to tear the skin a bit to get the popping action started. Discard the skins. Good thing we don’t have a lot of beans to process.

making fava beans
Once the garlic and red pepper are cooked, remove from heat and add the fava beans, letting everything sit until the pasta is ready.

Cook garlic and red pepper. Place the oil, garlic, and red pepper in a large skillet over low heat. After a few minutes, the oil will start to bubble just a bit around the garlic. Stir and continue to cook over low heat until the garlic is tender,  7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the prepared beans.

Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a full rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute remains before the pasta is cooked to perfection.

adding pasta water to beans
When the pasta is nearly done, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and add it to the beans.

Scoop pasta water. Scoop 1/4 cup of that magic pasta water from the boiling pasta and add it to the bean mixture in the skillet. Well, the water isn’t really magic, but it does have salt and starch in it, making it slightly flavorful and it’ll help thicken sauces.

Drain the pasta completely in a colander. What else can we say?

pasta with fava beans, mint, and garlic
Add the pasta and mint, toss, and heat through before serving.

Toss and serve. Place the bean mixture over high heat. When the pasta water starts to boil, add the pasta and the mint leaves and toss until everything is thoroughly heated and coated, about 45 seconds. Divide among warmed bowls and top with grated Pecorino Romano.

Since this recipe comes from a famous chef, we tried to follow it as closely as we could. But, we do have a few suggestions that will make it better. Both of these are reflected in the instructions above; that way, your dish will taste great.  We think this has too much garlic, so we cut it back somewhat (2-3 cloves instead of 6). Also, don’t cook the garlic until it’s slightly browned; that makes it taste slightly bitter and off. Not good. Go with a slow, light cooking to flavor the oil. Without the changes, this dish is merely average and we’d rate it three stars. Make it as we suggest and get four.

Worth the trouble?

2 Replies to “Beet Fettuccine with Fava Beans, Mint, and Garlic”

  1. I’m soo happy that I came across ‘Scratchin’ It’. I was ‘scratchin’ my head over what ‘fava’ beans were until I looked further. Here in Ballarat (in state of Victoria), Australia, they are known as broad beans. Ahh .. I remember the flavour of those my Dad grew when I was quite little. Thanks for your recipes. I have already printed some off and they have their own file that I know will grow. Yes I know I can just read them on line but I love recipes in print.
    Happy cooking .. I’ll be right here! .. Shey

    1. Thanks for your kind words about our blog. It is comments like yours that keep us going.
      You are right about fava beans and broad beans being one and the same; I’ve always thought it interesting how people in different parts of the world have completely different names for the same ingredient: eggplant/aubergine, courgette/zucchini, pepper/capsicum.
      Shawn

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