Fresh Pasta with Braised Artichokes, Fava Beans, and Peas

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Visiting Sicily in late April, at the height of the season for artichokes and fava beans, my husband, Doug, and I encountered frittella at every turn. A spring stew of artichokes, fava beans, and peas, it appears on restaurant and family tables as a first course, a light lunch dish, or a contorno (side dish). We often had it over pasta, both fresh and dried. It keeps well for a day or two, so you might want to double the sauce and enjoy half of it over pasta one day and the other half for lunch with bread the next. Frittella is typically cooked well beyond al dente, until the flavors merge and deepen. Don’t expect a spring-green appearance.

Serves4 to 6

Cooking Methodbraising


Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date

Recipe Courseappetizer, main course, side dish

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealbrunch, dinner, lunch

Taste and Textureherby, juicy, light, savory

Type of Dishdry pasta, fresh pasta, pasta


  • 1 lemon
  • 16 to 20 baby artichokes, about 1½ ounces each
  • 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Pinch of hot pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled but not peeled
  • 1 pound English peas, shelled (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 pound Fresh Egg Pasta cut as fettucini, or dried orecchiette or tubetti


  1. Fill a large bowl with water and add the juice of the lemon. To trim the artichokes, peel back the outer leaves until they break off at the base. Keep removing leaves until you reach the pale green heart. Cut across the top of the heart to remove the pointed leaf tips. If the stem is still attached, cut it down to ½ inch, then trim the stem and base to remove any dark green or brown parts. Cut each heart into 6 or 8 wedges, then immediately place in the lemon water to prevent browning.

  2. Heat 6 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over moderately low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and hot pepper flakes and cook until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the artichokes and add them to the skillet. Season with salt to taste and add 1 cup water. Cover and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook 10 minutes, then add the fava beans, peas, and 1 cup additional water. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes longer. Stir in the basil and cook for another minute or two. At the end of the cooking time, the liquid should have reduced to a few tablespoons of flavorful pan juices. If not, uncover and simmer until reduced. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until about 1 minute shy of al dente. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot over moderately low heat. Add the sauce and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook for about 1 minute to allow the pasta to absorb some of the flavor of the sauce. Moisten with some of the reserved pasta water as needed. Divide among warm bowls and serve immediately.

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