Here in the cool Northwest we’re still snapping snow peas from vines and pulling up the last overwintered fava beans. The Biscuit couldn’t be happier. She overgrazed the peas until a rationing program was put in place. She devours the favas warm and just skinned, can’t wait for a drizzle of olive oil or crunchy salt. She sits on the back porch and tears open the big spongy pods, samples the beans raw, says, “I want to eat them now — now — now!” Patience, grasshopper.
Because getting to those delicate, ethereally green favas is a process. There’s the shelling, the brief swim in boiling water, the fingers fumbling with pale, tough, hot skins. It’s meditative, yes. But you also feel it in your legs, planted for long minutes beside the kitchen table. Along the way, a generous pile of pods turns much smaller pile of beans. You worry there won’t be enough to feed your people. But it gets done and then dinner practically cooks itself: pasta tossed with ricotta, parm, a handful of beans.
This iteration incorporates wilted arugula, because ours was bolting. You can use spinach instead, or skip greens altogether. We found that cooked arugula delivers the mild, pleasing taste of spinach without the oxalic acid. Spring through and through, no matter that it’s June.
Recipe: Fusilli with Fava Beans, Ricotta, and Wilted Arugula
1 lb fava bean pods, for approximately ½ c shelled and skinned fresh fava beans / ½ lb fusilli / olive oil / 1 clove garlic, minced / ½ lb overgrown arugula or spinach / 2 tbls toasted walnuts, chopped / ¼ cup ricotta cheese / Parmesan cheese to taste / salt & pepper
Remove fava beans from their pods, drop the beans in boiling salted water, then slip off skins while still hot. Toss the beans with olive oil and salt to taste. Rinse the arugula or spinach. Leave some water clinging to the leaves and chop leaves coarsely.
Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain. Meantime warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan. Add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds over medium heat, until just fragrant. Add arugula or spinach and saute until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in walnuts, ricotta, Parmesan, and favas. Toss with pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Feeds 2-plus.