I seems like I’ve been preaching the ‘Spring vegetable gospel’ for the last few weeks. I can’t help it. That’s how excited I get about them. For this dish, I decided to incorporate one of those Spring gems– fava beans. They aren’t available for very long, so I grab them when I can. Preparing fava beans is a little out-of-the-ordinary. They need to first be shelled, then peeled. Once you’ve removed the shells, boil for a few minutes and place them in an ice bath. The light green peel then comes off easily. It’s a bit of a process, but it’s worth it. Fava beans are soft and delicious, and again, they’re versatile. They’re perfect mixed into sauces, tossed into salads, or mashed into a fantastic bruschetta topping.
Fava beans are a great addition to the typical meat sauce like this one. Here, they add an interesting texture, and pair wonderfully with the sweet Italian sausage and tomatoes. I buy a local sausage that has plenty of seasoning, so I didn’t add much. In fact, I didn’t use one grain of salt– the sausage and grana padano cheese added enough. Test your sauce as you go, add seasonings and salt as you see fit. I also didn’t have white wine on hand, but would have added a glug or two if I did. Even my freezer wine stock was empty. As an aside, you can freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and add them to sauces as you need them. Slick, huh? For the pasta, you can use dry pappardelle, or if you want that silkiness of fresh pasta, use this recipe. It’ll be more time-consuming, but the texture is amazing. If you make it fresh, note that you’ll need to cut the pasta a bit wider than shown in the recipe. Hope you give this pasta with fava beans a whirl.
The Recipe: Pappardelle with Italian Sausage and Fava Beans
1 pound fresh or dried pappardelle pasta (you can use this recipe for fresh pasta)
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans
1/2 medium white onion, chopped (about 3/4 scant cup)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
cracked black pepper
grated grana padano or parmesean-reggiano, for garnish
To begin, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the fava beans that have been shelled. Boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and immerse the beans into an ice bath (a bowl of cold water with ice in it). Let cool in the water for a couple of minutes. Next, remove the light green “peel” from the beans using your hands. The fava beans will be dark green in color. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, begin making the sauce. Heat a large skillet and add the Italian sausage to it. When it is cooked, drain and discard any grease. Add the onion and garlic to the pan of Italian sausage and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat until the onions start to become somewhat tender. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, and cracked black pepper. Cook for a few minutes until the flavors have combined a bit and the sauce has thickened. Add the fava beans and cook a few more minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.
Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water when the sauce is nearly done. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve a bit of the pasta water, in case you need to loosen your sauce with it. Drain pasta and combine with the sauce. Serve sprinkled with generous amounts of grana padano cheese! Enjoy!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend — do you have any big plans? I’m looking forward to having some fun with my family and hopefully getting a chance to do some relaxing and a little cooking/baking. See you next week!