Pasta with Fava Beans and Asparagus

UGH I’m swooning over all this spring produce! I’ve never cooked with fava beans before, and while they take a little effort, they’re TOTALLY worth it. First, you blanch them in boiling water for about a minute, then dump them into a bowl with ice water. When cool enough to handle, you have to pop the beans themselves out of their inner membranes; I would nick the membrane with my nail, then just pinch the other side of the bean til it popped out! Fava beans are good in anything, but I tend to include them in Italian recipes like spring risottos or pastas, like this NYT recipe. [I just substituted asparagus for English peas.]

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  • ½ pound English pea pods, shucked (about 2/3 cup peas)
  • 1 ¼ pounds fava bean pods, shucked (about ½ cup peeled favas)
  • ½ pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ tablespoon very coarsely ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup shredded pecorino Romano, more for serving
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • Coarse kosher sea salt, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Freshly snipped chives, preferably with blossoms, for garnish [optional!]
  1. Bring a medium saucepot of salted water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with water and ice and set a fine mesh strainer in the bowl. (Be sure to keep ice out of strainer.) Blanch peas for 30 seconds and use a slotted spoon to transfer peas to strainer in ice bath. Let sit for 5 minutes and pull up strainer to drain peas. Repeat process with fava beans, cooking for 1 minute. (You can use same pot of boiling water that you used for peas.) When fava beans have been blanched and cooled, slip off peels. [If you substitute asparagus, as I did, just cut off the woody ends and cut into 2 inch pieces, then cook in the skillet in step three with the butter and pepper until bright green, just 2-3 minutes. Then continue with the recipe as written.]
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water.
  3. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add pepper and sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add ¼ cup of the cooking water and the remaining butter to pan. Stir until butter is melted and sauce begins to thicken, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add cooked pasta, pecorino and Parmesan and toss until cheese melts, about 30 seconds. Add peas and fava beans. Toss very well to coat, adding more pasta water if pan seems dry. Season with salt to taste. To serve, sprinkle each portion with more pecorino and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with chives.

[Popping the beans out of their membranes!]

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