I love making recipes I remember from growing up. My Sicilian nana used to make this easy Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans recipe when we were kids and I absolutely loved it – and still do! I make it occasionally when I can find fresh fava beans at the local farmers market. But growing them in our backyard vegetable garden is even better – and that’s exactly what we need this year. Regardless of where you get the fava beans, now is the right time of year for this fresh and delicious dish.
My Nana’s Sicilian Kitchen
My grandparents immigrated to the US from Sicily in the early 1900s (wow does that seem like a LONG time ago!) She brought this special Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans recipe from her mother, who lived her entire life in Castelvetrano, Sicily. It was by far my favorite pasta dish for my entire childhood. In the Sicilian dialect, this childhood favorite is called Pasta Cu Fave (pasta coo fah-veh) which literally means Pasta with fava beans.
I would sit in her love-filled kitchen, perched on a booster seat on top of one of her yellow naugahyde chairs. She would bring me a delicious bowl of soupy Pasta cu Fave and I would tuck in for a feast. When I make it now, I feel her love and it takes me right back to that kitchen in Sacramento long ago.
Fresh fava beans are in season only for a few weeks in early summer, and now’s the time to find them at your local farmer’s market. We’re fortunate to live near San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood, where the Little Italy Mercato takes over several blocks every Saturday morning. Strolling through the Mercato is always a treat for the senses, and I typically come home with some delicious ingredients. During certain times of the year I can find fresh fava beans.
This year, I wanted to extend the amount of time we could enjoy fava beans. I planted the beans in our vegetable garden in March, and started harvesting in June. There were so many pods on the fava plants I had to shell beans and freeze them to use at a later time! Who knew they grew so tall and were so prolific.
Fava beans take a little bit of preparation before they can be cooked. After removing the beans from their shells, they have to then be peeled. They the beans are plunged in a pot of boiling water to blanche them for just one minute. From there, they go in an ice bath to stop the cooking and prep them for peeling. Once the outer casing is removed, the tender green meat inside is sweet, delicious and slightly nutty in flavor. Believe me, it’s worth the work.
Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe
This recipe is really quite easy – I hope you like this dish as much as I always have.
Ingredients for Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups shelled and peeled fava beans
- 1/2 cup olive oil (divided)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb fresh pasta (my nana always used orecchiette or shell pasta)
- 2 tbs chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- lots of grated romano cheese (lots)
- Set a pot of water to boil for cooking the pasta noodles.
- In a pan over medium heat, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the diced onion and cook until tender. Add garlic, salt, pepper and chicken stock, heating until just beginning to bubble.
- Cook pasta al dente. Drain and put back into the pot, adding the other 1/4 cup of olive. Stir and set aside.
- Add fava beans to bubbling pan, cooking for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Do not overcook or you will get mush!
- Combine fava bean mixture with pasta, stirring well. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle generously with cheese and add a bit of parsley for garnish. Serve and enjoy!
Other Sicilian Pasta Recipes
If you like this pasta recipe, you will probably like these others from my family recipe vaults: