July 13, 2012

Sicilian Spring Vegetable Pasta

My mom was born in Sicily and would make this Sicilian Spring Vegetable Pasta for our family often.  It was one of my absolute favorites and still is.  When I was little, I was always the designated pea shucker, shucking every other pod into my mouth.  She always bought double the amount knowing my love of fresh peas.  Often recipes that call for fava beans require that you remove not only the pod, but also the outer skins of the beans which is not only incredibly tedious but also wasteful.  My mom never removes the skin of the beans and we love the chewy, hearty texture of them.  As long as the bean is fresh and no larger than a lima bean, they should be tender enough to eat with the skins on.  They should be easy to find in summer time at farmers markets and stores like Whole Foods, and sometimes you can even find them frozen.  I like to break the pasta in thirds before cooking as we used to do and I recommend that you use DeCecco or Barilla pasta because they’re the best of the top brands on the supermarket shelves.  Don’t let me catch you with any Ronzoni! 

Makes 2 servings

1 fresh artichoke heart, sliced very thinly (see How to Trim an Artichoke)
1/2 cup fresh fava beans, pods removed, skins left on (beans are usually 3 per pod, buy a lot)
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small servings dried linguine or spaghetti, broken in half or thirds
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for salting pasta cooking water
Freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Chop and prepare all your ingredients, having them close at hand and ready to go.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, add in onions, artichokes, fava beans and ¼ teaspoon of coarse salt.  Stir occasionally, allowing all ingredients to become fork tender, golden brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. If your pan starts to dry up at any point, add another drizzle of olive oil.  If your ingredients start to get too brown or there is too much sizzling, lower the heat slightly.  The water in your pot should be boiling now, so throw in the pasta into it and cook for the amount of time stated on the package.

Meanwhile, back at the saute pan, add the fresh peas to the other vegetables, another teaspoon of olive oil if needed, another pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.  Stir occasionally allowing peas to soften, about another 8 minutes.

Add cooked, drained pasta to the vegetable mixture and toss thoroughly over the heat.  Turn off heat and serve immediately with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese on top.

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