Broad beans (aka fava beans) are finally in season in Melbourne so it’s time to share with you this quintessential ‘cucina povera’ dish. The basis of this style of cooking is that you only need to use a handful of inexpensive ingredients to create something wonderful. The cooking techniques are often simple with the emphasis being on the ingredients themselves; usually whatever you have growing in your garden at the time. Try to eat seasonal foods wherever possible- they tend to be tastier, fresher and a lot cheaper to buy. If you’re lucky enough to have space for a veggie patch I’d strongly recommend planting some food for yourself. Broad beans are fairly easy to grow (though you’ll have to wait until next year to plant some) and bringing food from your garden to the table is quite satisfying.
Anyway, back to this dish. When it’s early in the season you only have to remove the broad beans from their large pod (see photo below).
Later on in the season as their skins become harder it’s best to remove the next layer of skin (see photo below).
Removing the second layer reveals the tender, sweet inner part of the broad bean which I personally prefer. If you do this they’ll be quicker to cook and they’ll be more appealing to some. Please note however that you’ll probably lose some nutrients by doing this, but I think it’s necessary later in the season.
In regards to the pasta I personally prefer to use wholegrain pasta. The pasta that I buy is more than half wholegrain flour and the rest is regular durum wheat flour, semolina and oat fiber. You can however use any type of spaghetti that you like (just bear in mind differing cooking times- this recipe is for pasta which cooks in 7 minutes). I break the spaghetti up into 6 or more even sized pieces so that you can eat this using a spoon (see photo below). Do this by taking a small handful of spaghetti, hold it with your left hand and snap off small pieces with your right hand.
It’s important to use lots of parsley in this dish and black pepper. The tomatoes add a little colour and flavour. Broad beans take a while to cook but the wait is well worth it. Give this dish a go whilst they’re in season!
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups broad beans removed from their pods and rinsed
1 bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2.5 teaspoons salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
6 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1.5 litres water
250 grams wholegrain spaghetti, snapped into 6 or more even lengths (see description above)
1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil and add the onion. Saute until the onion is translucent, taking care not to burn it.
2. Add the broad beans, 1 teaspoon of salt, the chopped parsley and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.
3. Stir using a wooden spoon to coat the broad beans in the oil and seasoning, then lower the gas to a gentle heat and allow to cook slowly, for about 10 minutes.
4. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes and give it all another stir.
5. In a separate saucepan, add the water, cover with a lid and heat it up. Turn it off just before the water comes to the boil.
6. Once the water is ready, add it to the broad beans. Add 1.5 teaspoons of salt to the pan, give it a stir then cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook gently over a low heat.
7. Once the broad beans are almost cooked (after approximately 25-30 minutes), throw in the spaghetti. Taste the cooking water and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Ensure that the pasta is submerged in the water by stirring and pushing it down with a wooden spoon. Raise the heat a little and cover with the lid again.
8. After 7 minutes, taste the pasta to see if it’s al dente. If it is, turn off the heat and spoon it into 4 bowls. Serve immediately.
*If you’d like to use this recipe, please reference this blog- thank you!