Spring is just about over, and here in Umbria fava beans are not quite so plentiful as they were a month ago. I figure we will probably be able to find them in our local markets for a few more weeks until their season is officially over. Because both my husband and myself love fresh fava beans, when they are in season we buy them frequently and are constantly on the lookout for new ways to prepare them. We were recently up in Collazzone, at Da Leone, our local trattoria, and one of the specials of the day listed as a secondo, or main course was Scafata di Fave, or fava bean stew. Intrigued, we ordered one stew, and one pork dish and shared. The stew was quite thick with diced vegetables, tomatoes and fava beans and was very filling and certainly delicious. Armed with a new dish that included fava beans a few days later I bought more fresh fava beans and made my own version of Scafata di Fave.
Although I normally skin my fava beans after shelling and blanching them, they were left with their skins in this dish. Rather than being overly chewy, the skins tenderized enough not to distract from the tender bean inside but added additional texture that was very pleasant.If you prefer to skin your fava beans, blanch them first separately, and then add them to the stew just a few minutes before you serve the dish. If you cook the skinned beans too long they will disintegrate. To make this a vegetarian dish, simply leave out the pancetta. The dish is served with a drizzle of really young extra virgin olive oil and it really pays to buy the best olive oil you can afford for this dish as it does finish it off beautifully. I serve this stew with toasted garlic bread to sop up all the delicious juices.
Deborah Mele 2011
Scafata di Fave ~ Umbrian Fava Bean Stew
This rich fava bean stew is hearty enough to be a main course entree.
- 2 Kilos (About 4 Pounds) of Fava Beans In Their Pods
- 1 Large Carrot, Peeled And Diced
- 1 Small Onion, Peeled And Diced
- 2 Celery Stalks, Diced
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Smoked Pancetta
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Peeled And Minced
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- 2 (14 Ounce) Cans Chopped Tomatoes
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Parsley Divided In Half
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Toasted Garlic Bread
- Remove the fava beans from the pods.
- In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the pancetta, carrots, onions and celery until the vegetables have softened and the pancetta has begun to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and continue to cook another minute or two, then add the chopped tomatoes and fava beans and mix well.
- Season with the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and half the fresh parsley.
- Cook for about 30 minutes or until the fava beans are tender to the teeth.( If the stew is too thick you can thin it with a bit of broth or water.)
- Once cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining parsley.
- Serve warm in individual bowls with a drizzle of the extra virgin olive oil and the warm toasted garlic bread.