Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe - 2 Dads with Baggage

Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe

Fava Beans are in season right now, and people are often stumped on how to cook them. Basically, fava beans are like a sweeter, creamier version of lima beans or peas. They are bright green when cooked, and taste buttery and slightly nutty.  My Sicilian nana used to make this easy Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans recipe when we were kids and I absolutely loved it.

I make this Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans recipe when I can find fresh fava beans at the local farmers market. Or better yet, sometimes I am able to grow them myself – like this year. I just harvested an enormous mess of fava beans, and knew exactly what I wanted to make. Regardless of where you get the fava beans, now is the right time of year for this fresh and delicious dish.

Pasta with fava beans is a delicious Sicilian dish.

Recipes From Nana’s Sicilian Kitchen

My grandparents immigrated to the US from Sicily in the early 1900s, coming through Ellis Island to settle in California. My nana 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 from my entire childhood. In the Sicilian dialect, this childhood favorite is called Pasta Cu Fave (“pasta coo fah-veh”). When I was a kid and she made it, I would get so excited.

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.

fava beans at Little Italy Mercato
Three baskets full of fava beans was just the right amount to bring home from the farmers market.

Fava Beans

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 February, and started harvesting in May. 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 being shelled in the kitchen
Preparing the fava beans for cooking is a bit of a chore, but entirely worth it.

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. Then the beans are put in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. When they come out,  the outer casing comes right off. The tender green meat inside is sweet, delicious and slightly nutty in flavor. Believe me, it’s worth the work.

shelled fava beans
Once shelled, the fava must still be peeled to reveal the sweet inner bean.

Sicilian Pasta with Fava Beans Recipe

This recipe is really quite easy – I hope you like this dish as much as I always have.

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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)


  1. Set a pot of water to boil for cooking the pasta noodles.
  2. 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.
  3. Cook pasta al dente. Drain and put back into the pot, adding the other 1/4 cup of olive. Stir and set aside.
  4. Add fava beans to bubbling pan, cooking for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Do not overcook or you will get mush!
  5. 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:

Pasta With Zucchini Flowers Recipe

Zucchini flowers are a delicious addition to this fresh vegetarian pasta dish.

Recipe for Pasta with Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

plate of pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe on red checkerboard tablecloth with tomato salad
Serve this recipe for Pasta with Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe hot with grated cheese on top.

Easy Pasta Carbonara Recipe

dish full of freshly made pasta carbonara
Pasta Carbonara is a family favorite that is easy to make at home.





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