One thing I don’t like about fava beans is all the waste. The actual beans are only about 20-25% of the gross weight, and that is even before double-shelling them (i.e. remove the light-colored bitter membrane around the green tender inside). Thanks to Simona of Grembiule da Cucina I realised that you can also eat the pods, which make out 70-75% of the weight. It makes sense that traditionally, nothing was discarded and so also the fava pods were eaten.
Since the pods don’t have much flavor (their flavor is similar to that of French beans, but less pronounced), I decided to turn them into a pasta dish with pancetta, pecorino and fresh chilli pepper. The result was very nice, and a great way to use up fava bean pods. The actual fava beans will be used in tomorrow’s recipe. Here’s what I did with the pods…
For 2 servings
450 grams (1 lb) fava beans
150 grams (1/3 lb) penne pasta
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
60 grams (2 oz) pancetta, diced
1 chilli pepper, minced
freshly grated pecorino
Cut both ends off each fava bean, and remove the strings along the sides.
Open up the pods, and take out the beans that are inside. Reserve both beans and pods.
Reserve the beans for another use. Cut the pods into 5 cm (2″) pieces.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, add the pods.
Parcook the pods for 5 minutes. This helps to make them tender as well as keep their green color.
Reserve about 120 ml (1/2 cup) of the cooking water. Drain the pods and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the diced pancetta and garlic clove (left whole).
Cook over medium heat until the pancetta is starting to crisp. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Lift the pancetta out of the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve. Discard the garlic.
Add the fava pods, season with salt, and stir for a minute.
Add the minced chilli pepper. It is up to you whether to include the seeds or not. (Richard, feel free to add more than a single chilli pepper if you like…)
When the water boils, add the pasta as well as salt and cook al dente according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, add the reserved fava pod cooking water…
…bring to a boil…
…cover, and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes, only a bit of the liquid should remain.
After those 10 minutes, add the reserved pancetta to the pods.
Drain the pasta when it is al dente, and add it to the pods as well.
Add a handful of freshly grated pecorino cheese.
Toss to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve at once on preheated plates.
About two years ago I posted another recipe to use up discards: pasta with chard stems ragù.