Rigatoni with Fava Beans and Pecorino

This is the beginning of fava bean season and many people are not sure how to prepare this spring vegetable.  They are becoming increasingly popular and you can find them at farmer's markets and even some grocery stores.  Some people call them broad beans, but most likely they will be labeled as fava beans.  These beans are very popular in Italy and many Italians like to eat them in the most simple manner - young favas, peeled and raw with a slice of pecorino. The flavor combination is perfect.

Preparing fava beans requires two steps.  First, you must remove them from their pod.  Then you must boil them in salted water for a minute or two and then peel the bean.  The skin is easily removed but it takes time.  Once the skin is removed, the bright green bean is revealed.  Then you can add it to anything  you like - salads, sauces, or eat them on their own.

This recipe combines that perfect flavor combination of favas and pecorino but adds plenty of black and red hot chili peppers. 

Rigatoni with Fava Beans and Pecorino

for a printer friendly recipe click here
adapted from Andrew Carmellini's Urban Italian
serves 4-6
3 pounds fresh fava beans, pods removed (about 2 cups with pods removed)
1 pound rigatoni
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup fresh basil (about 12 leaves), roughly chopped

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

Put another large pot of salted water on to boil to blanch the fava beans.

Place a large bowl of ice water next to your stovetop.

When the blanching water boils, throw the shelled fava beans into the pot and blanch them for about one minute.  Remove them with a strainer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Remove the translucent skin from the beans.  They should slip right out, easily.

Add the rigatoni to the pasta water to cook and start preparing your sauce.

In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter, the onion and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and cook until the onion starts to soften, about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and pine nuts and cook until both have begun to toast, about 2 minutes, stirring often to keep the garlic from burning.

Add the red pepper flakes, oregano and 3/4 cup of the pasta water and mix to combine.  Add the fava beans.

When the rigatoni is just al dente, remove with a strainer and add right to the skillet with the onion and fava bean mixture.  Stir until the pasta is coated with the sauce, about 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat.  Add the salt and pepper, the rest of the butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the grated pecorino cheese and the basil and mix everything together well.  Serve with pasta in individual serving bowls, sprinkled liberally with more pecorino and black pepper.
Links to more fava bean recipes:
Grilled Fava Beans from 101 Cookbooks
Spring Fava Bean Fennel Salad from Simply Recipes
Stumble Upon Toolbar Digg! Delicious Bookmark on Delicious


  1. What a vibrantly beautiful dish you created. I'm not even sure if I can get fava beans here, but I'm going to look after seeing your wonderful creation.

  2. I really get excited at the beginning of this season. I love seeing all the ways people use these wonderfully savory little beans, and this dish is by far a winner!

  3. I've never had fava beans. I bought preboiled ones from Trader Joe's and they are sitting in my fridge. Two Italian food bloggers said they didn't like them and gave a negative description of the taste. Hmm...maybe I should give them a shot? How would you describe the flavor?

  4. Fava beans require a little bit of work, but they are SO worth it! they're right up there with artichokes and pomegranates! This recipes looks delicious, Italians know how to enjoy simple flavours the best :)

  5. Oh my, you make me want to go out and get some Fava beans right now! Yummy recipe and thanks for the tips on how to prepare the beans. I hope you wouldn't mind having Foodista readers directed to your blog. It's easy, just add your choice of widget and you're all set!

  6. I love Urban Italian Elaine! This is such a beautiful dish and it screams spring!

  7. I love fava beans, but have never eaten them raw. This dish looks SO fresh and inviting!

  8. Anonymous5/19/2009

    looks so light and yummy. Love the fresh green color in your images. So beautiful!

  9. this looks so delicious... and healthy... and I just need to make it now! Love the pics!

  10. you KNOW how much i love this pasta... simple and well - perfect. but man do i hate peeling those suckers.

    i made a small pot of dried fava beans yesterday. i bought them in nyc. dried and split. and they were excellent. of course, a much different animal than fresh, but it was new to me and i loved them. i threw in a red onion, carrot, rosemary, thyme, garlic and a little piece of guanciale rind. so good. no picture so no blog post. but so good. and yes, with a poached egg. i mean, why not?

  11. Perfect combo and so healthy.Yum! I just planted my fava beans this morning. Enjoy your weekend.

  12. I've never had fava beans but I've been wanting to try them. Now I have a reason. thanks

  13. Anonymous5/28/2009

    I have loads of fava beans growing enough for an army. You can keep beans from year to year to replant. Fresh fava beans with Il Fiorello Atisan Olive Oil is the best dish in the world. I love spring and fava's

  14. Nice looking Spring pasta! I like the vibrant greens.