We spent this past Easter in Umbria, Italy at our farmhouse, and since it was just the two of us, we decided to go out to eat rather than dine alone at home. Our local trattoria had a special brunch menu, and since it is close and one of our favorite places to eat out, we booked our Easter meal there. The meal was as delicious as expected with a menu full of local Umbrian specialties and dishes that used seasonal ingredients. One of the unique pasta dishes we enjoyed was one that paired fresh fava beans with diced guanciale.
We grow fava beans in our garden in Umbria, and I was patiently waiting for them to be ready to pick so I could make this dish, but unfortunately, they were not ready to harvest until after we left this year. I gave up trying to make this pasta dish until I recently found fresh fava beans at a local Italian market. The sauce I made is a basic one that cooks down the fava beans and guanciale in white wine until they create a thickened sauce that coats the pasta. All you need to serve is some cracked black pepper and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
Guanciale is an unsmoked pork product similar to pancetta, but it is made with different parts of the pig. You can use pancetta in place of the guanciale, and if you are really stuck, you could use bacon. I order my guanciale online and always have some in my refrigerator as it lasts a long time. (See linki below recipe to order) If fresh fava beans are not available to you, you can use frozen ones in place of the fresh ones. I used an artisan pasta shape but any short pasta would work in this dish including rigatoni and penne.
Debrah Mele 2019
- 5 Pounds Fava Beans, About 2 Cups Shucked
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Cup Diced Guanciale (Or Pancetta - See Notes Above)
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 1 Pound Dried Pasta of Choice (See Notes Above)
- 1/3 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil over medium-high heat and blanch the shucked fava beans for 30 seconds.
- Drain and transfer to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process.
- When they are cool enough to handle, peel the beans, removing the outer skin.
- Fill a pasta pot with water, generously salt, and bring to a boil.
- While the water is heating, heat the olive oil in a pan, add the diced guanciale and cook slowly over low heat until the fat is rendered and the guanciale is crispy and golden brown.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the shelled fava beans and white wine.
- Season with a pinch each of salt and black pepper, increase the heat, and cook until the wine begins to evaporate and the beans begin to break down, about 10 minutes.
- Add a little water to the pan if it starts to dry out.
- Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is "al dente".
- Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot along with the fava bean mixture and half the pasta water.
- Add the parsley and mix.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese, then serve in individual bowls.
- Pass additional grated cheese at the table.
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