Springtime Green Pasta
Published by Chronicle
Favas, peas, and artichokes come back each spring to the market, slowly at first and then in divine abundance. This dish is an ideal way to show off this stunning trio of green. You need to use a substantial pasta, such as orecchiette or penne—one that will hold its own alongside the vegetables. Use your best extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling over the finished pasta.
Serves4 to 6
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe CourseMain Course
Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Halal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian
Taste and TextureGarlicky, Light, Savory, Sweet, Winey
Type of DishDry Pasta, Pasta
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 stalks green garlic, white and tender green parts only, trimmed and minced
- 1 pound small artichokes, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 pound fava beans in the pod, shelled and peeled (see Notes)
- 1 pound English peas in the pod, shelled
- 1 pound orecchiette or penne
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or other grating cheese
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade (see Notes)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for cooking the pasta.
In a large skillet, heat the ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the artichoke slices and thyme and cook, stirring, until the artichokes start to brown. This should take a few minutes. Add the wine and season with salt and pepper, continuing to stir the contents. Turn the heat down to medium-low.
Once the white wine evaporates, begin adding the stock ¼ cup at a time, allowing the artichokes to absorb the stock before adding more. When the artichokes are tender, after 7 to 10 minutes, add the fava beans and peas and cook for a minute or so, just until tender.
About 10 minutes before the sauce is ready, add salt to the boiling water and then add the pasta and cook until al dente. Scoop out and reserve 2 ladles of the pasta water and then drain the pasta.
Pour the drained pasta into the skillet with the artichoke, fava, and pea mixture over medium heat. Season again with salt and pepper and turn the mixture gently to combine the sauce and pasta. If the mixture seems. A little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water (or stock if you have it).
Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving bowl. Sprinkle a little of the cheese on top along with the mint, and then drizzle with olive oil. Pass the rest of the cheese at the table.
To cut the leaves into a chiffonade, working in batches, stack the mint leaves, roll them up lengthwise, and cut thinly crosswise to create narrow feathery strips.
While fava beans, known as broad beans in England, call for considerable preparation, often requiring both shelling and peeling, they are worth it! Thanks to their availability in farmer’ markets across America, favas have become a springtime prize for passionate cooks, who scatter them over a fillet of salmon, toss them in a salad with bits of crisp pancetta, or puree them and spread them on toast. Such dishes showcase an ancient staple, and one of the few legumes, along with lentils and possibly chickpeas, native to the Mediterranean.
Pythagoras, the sixth-century B.C. Greek mathematician and philosopher, condemned favas as containing the souls of the dead, while most likely they were just the cause of a rumbling stomach. Oddly, some people of Mediterranean descent suffer from favism, a type of anemia brought on by eating the very bean that is native to their land.
Favas have adapted well to the Mediterranean climate of California. They provide a valuable nitrogen-producing ground cover that reinvigorates the soil, especially during winter when little water is required. At Eatwell Farm near Dixon, Nigel Walker, who grows some of the best fava beans at the market, does what all savvy fava farmers do: he inoculates the seeds with soil bacteria commonly known as Rhizobium before planting them, which helps enrich the soil with nitrogen, giving the next crop cultivated in the same ground a good nutrient boost.
Early spring through early summer.
Seek firm, bright green, plump, smooth, flexible pods without lots of brown spots. Feel the pods along their length to make sure they are filled with beans. Older beans are bigger and starchier (they are good for puréeing).
1 pound fava beans in the pod yields about 1 cup shelled and peeled beans.
The longer you keep fava beans, the more their sugars turn to starch, so it is best to eat them as soon as possible after purchase. Slip the pods into a plastic bag and keep in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator for no more than a few days.
Remove the beans from the pod as you do peas from a pod, stripping off the tough string and then prodding the pod open with your thumb. When you’ve amassed a pile, drop them into. A small pot of salted boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and plunge immediately into ice water to stop the cooking and to keep the beans bright green. Drain again and use your fingers to slip the skin off each bean. If the favas are very young, small, and tender, you can skip the peeling.
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