The outer shell of baby favas is tender enough to eat, and naturally loaded with fiber. When combined with pasta and tossed with a creamy lemon sauce you have a filling weeknight meal. Add Creamy Lemon and Fava Bean Pasta to your Meatless Monday menu.
The first time I had fava beans was in upstate New York. My first husband and I had taken my baby daughter to visit her great-grandparents. Poppop showed me how to squeeze the soft inner fava bean out of the tough shell and then dip it into a little olive oil and lemon juice. We sat and watched a Mets game while eating them.
Here in Spain they’re called habas and they’re sold fresh during the Spring and in jars or frozen the rest of the year. On a whim I picked up a bag and searched Pinterest for a suitable recipe and found Donna Hay’s Broad Bean and Lemon Pasta.
I didn’t have to make a lot of changes to her recipe other than using a different shape of pasta. I went to three stores to find orecchiette and ended up with a tricolored shape called margaritas. Life’s too short to worry so much about pasta.
While we enjoyed the flavor of the baby fava beans, it may be worth your time to peel the tough shells to reveal the bright green buttery bean inside.
- 1 pound pasta like orecchiette or farfalle; cook according to directions and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch of red pepper flake
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- zest and juice of a large lemon (3 - 4 tablespoons juice)
- ½ cup cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound frozen baby fava beans, cooked as directed and shelled if desired
- 1 cup grated parmesan or other hard cheese, plus more for the table
- a handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
- Cook and prep the fava beans according to the package and set aside.
- Cook the pasta and drain, making sure to reserve a cup of the cooking liquid.
- Heat the oil and a pinch of red pepper flake in a large skillet or dutch oven. Saute the garlic for a minute or so.
- Add the lemon juice and zest, the cream and the reserved cooking liquid. Adjust the heat so the liquid is just below a boil. Let thicken slightly then add the favas and pasta.
- Allow to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Just before serving stir in the grated cheese and basil.
The lemony sauce really brings out the flavor of the fava beans and the fresh basil ties everything together. As a variation try chopped fresh asparagus or peas.
Have you had fava beans before? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?