June 9, 2014
Bucatini with Fava Beans, Red Cabbage and Crispy Prosciutto
I'm not sure why my local supermarket does not carry all the seasonal vegetables that I see around the blogosphere. I found ramps but only when I went to a Whole Foods (which is almost 30 minutes away) and garlic scapes but the one thing I wish I would see stocked is fava beans.
If you are not familiar with favas, they look like large, dark green lima beans, or broad beans.
I recently won a cookbook called The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook. A wonderful book filled with local, sustainable, delicious foods and chef's recipes that use them. I want to make every dish in that cookbook but it seems some of the sustainable products are not always available.
I was going to have to make substitutions but I consider that a challenge and I can do that.
The recipe for this dish used guanciale and summer favas. Now, I could use pancetta for the guanciale but I recently viewed a TV chef crisp up prosciutto in the oven for her pasta dish and immediately thought that crispy prosciutto would make a nice counter-texture for the creamy favas. Crispy prosciutto it was going to be and frozen favas would have to do.
Next is the pasta. For diabetics and those on WW, it is recommended that they eat no more than 2 oz of dried pasta per serving but if you use Dreamfield's spaghetti, you could up that to 3 ounces and even better yet, whole wheat angel hair would be the best choice. I like Bucatini, which is an unruly, non-swirly, stiffer but fun pasta. Italians love fun foods and The Nudge won't eat hay pasta.
I always like to bump up the vegetable quota, so I julienned red cabbage. Goes well with the green, don't you think?
My work here was done.
Bucatini with Fava Beans, Red Cabbage and Crisp Prosciutto
Makes: 4-6 servings
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 5 pounds large, starchy fava beans, shucked (about 2 cups)
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more for garnish
* 1/2 cup diced guanchiale or pancetta (I baked 4 slices of prosciutto)
* 1/2 cup julienned red cabbage (optional)
* 2 cloves garlic, smashed
* 2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus leaves for garnish
* 1 pound fresh or high-quality dried bucatini
* 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* Pecorino Romano, for grating at the table
Bring a large pan of generously salted water to a boil over medium-high heat and blanch the shucked fava beans for 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to a bowl filled with ice and cold water to stop the cooking. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the beans, removing the outer skin.
Refill the pot with water, generously salt, and bring back to a boil. Warm the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan, add the diced guanciale and cook slowly over low heat until the fat is rendered and the guanciale is crispy and golden brown (bake the prosciutto at 350° until crispy, break into pieces).
Add the cabbage (optional), garlic and 1 teaspoon of the parsley, continuing to cook and stir for about 3 minutes. Add the shelled fava beans and 1 cup water. Season with a pinch each of salt and black pepper, increase the heat, and cook until the water begins to evaporate and the starchy beans begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Add more water to the pan if it starts to dry out.
Drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook until almost al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain and transfer the pasta to the pan with the fava bean sauce. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and the remaining teaspoon of parsley and continue cooking the pasta in the sauce until it is al dente and the sauce clings to the pasta. Add the Parmigiana and a drizzle of olive oil and transfer to serving plates.
Grate the Pecorino Romano over the pasta at the table, and finish with a few grinds of black pepper and a scattering of parsley leaves.
Review: What I liked the most was the crispy prosciutto. It was a nice crunch to the tender fava beans, the soft cabbage and the toothsome bite of the pasta. I probably will not make this combination again because even The Nudge, when asked, declined a lunch container, but I do see many more slices of crispy prosciutto garnish in my future. Can't you just see it on eggs, a quiche, even a hot dog, and maybe sometime in the future, and I urge you to join me, on a bowl of Pasta Carbonara.