I do confess to being a bit daunted by the fava beans. The idea of peeling them each (after shelling them from the hulls) sounded very time-consuming -- more than I felt I could tackle after long days in the office. So I’ve been procrastinating.
Luckily, the season for fava beans in California is not so brief as in Umbria, so the beans were still at the Berkeley Bowl Market this week. With the help of my trusty assistant (still a little gun-shy after her duty peeling so many cherry tomatoes for the July 5 feast) we took the plunge. What fun!
It did take a while to peel the individual fava beans, in part because the skins didn’t pop open the way they were supposed to, but I can see why doing so makes quite a difference. The skins of the beans are much tougher than those of lima beans - and the meat of the bean inside is sweet and flavorful.
I followed Letizia’s recipe as carefully as I could.
I substituted trenette for the tagliolini, because that’s what I had on hand. Though trenette is thicker than tagliolini, I found it was a lovely substitution and preparing it al dente gave a nice texture to the dish.
I’ll admit I found it a bit challenging to prepare such a small amount of pesto with a stick blender. Some of the pine nuts wanted to just nestle up out of the way of the blades & I lost some of the bright green color to oxidation as I tried again and again to shake them out and make it work. I finally abandoned my efforts and opted to allow for some chunky bits of basil and whole pine nuts in the mix. I’m chalking it up to lack of practice with the immersion blender & wasn’t sorry at all to have a “pesto alla rustica.”
If you’re lucky enough to find fava beans in a market near you, I’d encourage you to try the dish. It made a lovely dinner with a glass of dry rosé wine.