Fusilli with Fava Bean and Saffron Ragù (Fusilli al ragù di fave allo zafferano)

My Italian blogging friend Paola has dedicated her food blog (in Italian) to recipes and tips to avoid wasting food. Her recipes are always simple and tasty, and I often take inspiration from her. Like in this case, when she posted a vegan recipe for a fava bean pasta sauce. I don’t do a lot of vegan cooking and I am not particularly fond of fava beans, but with the mint and pistachios this did look like I would enjoy it. I made some changes in the spirit of Paola, by using the fava bean pods as well to make the sauce. This must be one of the most politically correct recipes on this blog (which is funny because I’m everything but politically correct most of the time), as it is not only vegan but also does not waste anything. Note: as usual I sauce my pasta generously — Paola uses the same amount of ragù to serve 4 rather than 2.


For 2 servings

200 grams (.44 lbs) fusilli or other short pasta (I prefer fusilli for sauces like this, because it absorbs the sauce very well)

300 grams fava beans in their pods

2 Tbsp (20 grams) shelled pistachios

1 shallot, minced

0.2 grams saffron powder

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


1 Tbsp minced fresh mint


Clean the fava bean pods by trimming the ends and removing the ‘string’ along both sides of the pod along with the ends. Discard the strings and ends.

Open up the pods (with your fingers) and remove the beans that are inside. Reserve the beans as as well as the pods.

Put the pods in the pressure cooker with 250 ml (1 cup) of water. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a regular pot instead.

Bring to pressure and pressure cook for 10 minutes, or bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.

Lift out the pods using a strainer, and reserve the cooking water.

Add the beans to the same pot with the same water in which you cooked the pods. Bring to a boil, then cook for 2 minutes.

Lift the beans out with a strainer, again reserving the cooking water.

Plunge the beans in cold water to cool off.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the minced shallot and season with salt. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly…

…until the shallot is soft and golden.

In the meantime, toast the pistachios for 8 minutes at 180C/350F in the oven, bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta…

…and remove the outer skin from the fava beans (use your finger nails to open up the skin). Reserve both the inner green beans and the skins.

Combine the pods, the bean skins, and the reserved cooking water in a powerful blender.

Blend until completely smooth. If your blender is not powerful enough, sieve the mixture to remove any stringy bits.

When the water for the pasta boils, add salt and the fusilli. Cook the pasta for the time indicated on the package for al dente.

Add the puree to the shallots. (Again, don’t forget to sieve if there are still stringy bits in there.)

Add the saffron. (If you don’t have powdered saffron but saffron threads instead, first toast the threads briefly in a fying pan and then reduce them to powder using a mortar and pestle.)

Stir well to mix in the saffron, then add the inner fava beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened somewhat.

Meanwhile, chop the toasted pistachios.

When the thickness is to your liking, lower the heat and season the ragù to taste with salt. To mask the bitter notes of the fava bean skins, it helps to use a little extra salt.

When the pasta is done, add it to the ragù together with the minced mint.

Stir well, until the pasta has ‘absorbed’ the sauce.

Serve on preheated plates, garnished with the chopped pistachios and a drizzle of the highest quality extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tablespoon per serving). The olive oil should be fruity and fragrant, preferably from Liguria (made from taggiasca olives).

Wine pairing

We enjoyed this with a very nice white wine from Liguria, a Vermentino Colli di Luni DOC. Paola is originally from Liguria, so I thought this was an appropriate choice. It was very nice with the dish.



Bouillabaisse is a classic fish soup from Marseille in France.

6 thoughts on “Fusilli with Fava Bean and Saffron Ragù (Fusilli al ragù di fave allo zafferano)

  1. This is an amazing variation on fava bean shells. I love fava beans (let’s forget about the tedious shelling) but ‘ve always found the shells quite rustic to eat. I never throw them away, of course. This preparation sound promising. Unfortunately, they are not easily available und usually quite pricey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such an interesting idea for saucing pasta that I had to try it, a fresh bean version of pasta e fagioli! For those bemoaning the cost of Favas, I’d just purchased young Romano beans, so I used those instead of Favas. They did not have much in the way of formed beans, so I chopped up the youngest to add some textural interest. It was very good, I will be making sauces on this theme again.

    Liked by 1 person

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