Recipe: Creamy Fava Bean Pasta

The inspiration behind this dish was to treat the fava beans as a creamy sauce, and replicate a carbonara-style pasta with no eggs.  This pasta has a little bit of bacon for that savory, meaty note every other bite, and the beans made a nice, velvety sauce without the need for excess butter or cream.  I still added plenty of parmesan for flavor, because I can’t have pasta without the parm.  The result was a creamy, satisfying meal that was perfect for spring.

If you are not familiar with fava beans, they are traditionally beans that are grown over the winter and produce large pods of beans in the spring.  They tolerate cold weather pretty well, and you often see them emerge in farmer’s markets along with the spring onions and asparagus as a sign of the warming weather.  We grow these in our garden every winter, and this year we were graced with a very large harvest that we’ve been enjoying this week.  I’ll post a thorough how-to guide for the best way to clean and prep fresh fava beans here on the blog soon!

Fava beans are best eaten fresh, and are similar in taste and texture to lima beans or edamame.  They have a beautiful light green color, which is perfect for spring dishes.  If you are unable to find fava beans for this recipe, feel free to sub in some lima beans or edamame.  This would also work well with canned cannellini or Great Northern beans, which would produce a creamy white sauce opposed to the springtime green, but will still be delicious!

If you want to make this meal completely vegan, feel free to skip the bacon and the parmesan cheese, or add your favorite vegan replacements to these items for similar results.  I think they both add a delicious savory element to this meal, and makes the pasta dish feel hearty and filling.  Everything is customizable here, so use the sauce as a base for a vegan carbonara and run with it!

Recipe down below, photo up top!  This makes enough for 2 big portions plus leftovers.

Creamy Fava Bean Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of pasta, dry
  • 2 strips bacon, thick cut
  • 1 cup fava beans
    • If starting from fresh beans, blanch the beans in boiling water for 5-7 minutes prior to starting this recipe.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground rosemary
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Method:

  1. In a large pot, put 1-2 quarts of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once the water is fully boiling, season the water with a big pinch of salt, and add the pasta to cook.
  2. Slice the bacon into thin strips, crosswise, making small strips of bacon.  In a separate large sauté pan, place the bacon in the pan and cook over medium low heat until the fat has fully rendered and the bacon becomes crispy, about 10 minutes.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, place the fava beans, garlic, olive oil, salt, ground rosemary, and black pepper into a blender or food processor with about 1 cup of the boiling pasta water.  Pulse to combine until the fava beans become creamy and a loose, hummus-like sauce was formed.  Puree to your desired level of creaminess and smoothness (I left some chunks of fava beans, but that’s my preference).
  4. Once the bacon is fully cooked and the pasta is fully cooked, it’s time to assemble the dish.  Drain the fully cooked pasta when it is ready.  In the pan with the cooked bacon, add the fava bean puree and increase the heat to medium-high, stir to fully combine and allow to cook for about 2 minutes to warm up the sauce and allow the flavors to meld together.
  5. Add the pasta to the fava beans and bacon, and stir to fully combine.  Allow to cook together on the stove for about 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently, until the sauce becomes creamy and fully coats all of the pasta.
  6. Remove from the heat, and add the parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine to achieve a very creamy, cheesy sauce.
  7. Serve immediately, while hot.  Top with some extra parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper before enjoying.

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