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Fava Beans and Pecorino

Fava Beans and Pecorino

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This is our take on the classic Ligurian salsa maro, which is made of crushed fava beans, mint, pecorino, a little bit of garlic, and a squeeze of lemon to brighten the whole thing up. If you just dump everything in a food processor and pulse it, you'll wind up with a more uniform consistency, which isn't quite as interesting to eat (see note below).

Click here to see 'Franny's' Cookbook Brings the Neighborhood Italian Joint to Your Kitchen.


Note: If you want to use the food processor for this, go ahead, but be careful and pulse the favas to get different-sized pieces.


  • 1 fat clove garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 Teaspoon kosher salt, plus large pinch
  • 1 Cup peeled fava beans
  • 12 mint leaves, torn
  • 4 Teaspoons coarsely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 Teaspoon lemon juice
  • Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices Italian long bread


Calories Per Serving270

Folate equivalent (total)105µg26%

Riboflavin (B2)0.3mg14.7%

Fava Beans and Pecorino Toscano

In Tuscany, fava beans and Pecorino Toscano cheese are a classic springtime combination because that’s when the beans come into season. There, we don’t serve them in a salad—instead we sit, preferably outside, each person peeling his own beans and cutting pieces of cheese from a large wedge. At Da Silvano, I serve Fave con Pecorino whenever I can get my hands on fresh beans, not just the spring. (In January for example, I get them from California.) Peeling fava beans takes a lot of time, but is well worth it.

Peeling fava beans requires two steps: First, carefully remove the tough outer pod. (If you like, you can run a paring knife along the seam, but be careful not to push in too far or you’ll cut the bean.) Then, carefully remove the skin that envelops each individual bean. One pound/450g of fava beans in the pod yields about ½ cup/110g of beans.


  • Pecorino cheese 200 grams
  • Fava beans 300 grams
  • Extra-virgin olive oil as needed
  • Salt and Pepper as needed

Fava Bean and Young Pecorino Torta

Well here we are… the beginning of May… locked down and staying safe. But thankfully we have cooking to keep us sane. Fortunately, I also have the garden to keep me occupied. What started off in January as my annual ritual to plant fava bean seeds has morphed into my “victory garden.” With all that is is going on around us, it’s satisfying to feel the rhythm of the seasons continuing around us.

The first fava bean harvest for 2020

Fava beans are one of those you- love-them-or-you-hate-them things. They will always taste great to anyone who loves green veggies, but the shuck-blanch-shock-peel process to prepare them can be too much for some people. But if you channel your inner “nonna,” you will find a shady spot under a tree, and enjoy shucking and peeling with a little glass of wine (un po’ di vino).

As is the tradition in Italy, freshly picked fava beans are paired with young pecorino cheese in this simple tart. I remember attending a party in Italy several years ago where the main snack was a huge bowl of fava beans still in their pods and lots of young pecorino to slice. What a far cry from chips and salsa!! What could be a better reflection of springtime?

Ask for this cheese at your local favorite cheese purveyor. It’s very different than Pecorino Romano, which has been aged and takes on a very sharp quality. There are lots of different types of young pecorino, so just look for something that’s soft and mild in taste.

Peppered Capellini with Fava Beans, Peas and Pecorino

This spring I joined community supported agriculture (CSA) by purchasing a share from one of Whidbey Island’s finest farms. Each week, I head to Rosehip Farm stand to see the bounty that awaits! Being a part of CSA has presented me with some wonderful, fresh veggies over the past several weeks. I absolutely love eating in season, supporting local farms, and receiving and preparing the most freshest veggies I can get my hands on. It’s a fun way too, to learn about new vegetables and how to prepare them.

I haven’t always been so amicable to trying new things. Especially when I don’t recognize a vegetable, let alone how to prepare it. It feels good to step outside of my proverbial vegetable box! Preparing this Peppered Capellini with Fava Beans, Peas and Pecorino has enabled me to do just that!

In the past, I’ve gone to the farmers market, every Saturday morning, religiously I can enjoy the bounty, on my terms. But this season, I wanted a new challenge. Improving my skills in the kitchen, stepping outside of my box for the fun of it and discovering new (new to me) veggies has great benefits.

My CSA share broadens the variety of vegetables me and my family consume, it widens my palette for foods I probably would have not tried otherwise, and it allows me to focus more on seasonal eating.

Discovering a New Bean

When fava beans appeared as a part of my share at Rosehip Farm, I was a bit intimidated. I had heard that these take too much time to prepare. But I also read that fava beans are nutrition powerhouses and they taste divine. So I dove right in, excited and, uh, apprehensive.

And yes, they take a bit of commitment to prepare, but most of this recipe comes together pretty quick. The majority of the time for prep work comes in the form of removing the fava bean from the pod, then, blanching the beans and finally, peeling the beans.

Fava beans are almost ethereal. The pod is beautiful inside and out with a soft, velvety interior for the beans to grow and develop. Individual beans are encased with a protective coat that is removed after blanching. Then, the bright green beans are ready to be enjoyed.

Processing the beans is a labor of love, but I found, are well worth the effort. The beans are buttery, delicate and have a creamy yet toothsome texture. They have a short growing season here in the states, from March – July, depending on location, so if you see them fresh in the store, or at the farmer’s market, grab them up! They won’t last long.

Fava Beans With Pecorino Cheese

This spring vegetable tastes wonderful in this traditional yet simple preparation. Fava beans can be seen across Italy as soon as spring arrives. Although not that easily found here in the States, if you check at your Italian specialty stores each spring, they often carry them.

I like to serve this dish as a light starter or antipasto on a small bed of greens with some good crusty bread. Because this preparation is so simple, you need to use the best ingredients you can find. If you’ve never prepared them before, their appearance may put you off, but they are very easy to clean and prepare, so I hope you give them a try.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Fava bean and pecorino tartlets

Hi, my name is Giulia, I have a problem and I would love to share it with you: I lack the sense of measure. I believe and I do hope it is due to my motto you have to be generous in the kitchen. It happens often during my cooking classes, and my friends are lucky witnesses.

A classic menu is made of five courses – appetizer, first course which usually is a dish of home made pasta, a main dish, a side dish and a dessert. Then you make up quick recipes with leftover ingredients such as salads or tasty frittate. Then how can you skip an olive oil, cheese and charcuterie tasting? If you want to get to the core of the Tuscan cooking you must bravely face all the challenges I will offer you throughout the day.

Then, last but not least, I tend to cook for a minimum of four people, even though we are just three – my guests and me. Just imagine what would happen if they want a second serving and there’s no more meat in the pan! It’s not a proper thing to be seen during a cooking class, at my table, so I just double the quantities and I have no fear.

The result is that we often eat leftovers for the next two meals, venturing in unlikely pairings. Sometimes I invite my friends over for dinner, padding out the meal with a good piece of pecorino cheese, grassy olive oil and wood baked bread. Leftovers are also one of the reasons that urge me to often vary the cooking class menu, otherwise sooner or later my family would mutiny and run away to the nearest fast food (well, at a second thought, probably they would not choose a fast food but a porchetta truck parked along the road selling crackling pork in a well filled sandwich).

Although I often brag quite unconsciously about my ability to over exaggerate the quantities, I messed it dramatically for the last picnic we organized. I made the most classic and crowd pleasing menu – fava beans, pecorino, salami, farro salad, strawberries with whipped cream and mousse au chocolat – then I had the brilliant idea to bake delicate tartlets with fava beans, pecorino and ricotta. It is an unusual way to present fava beans and pecorino, the most classic and loved food pairing of Italian picnics of the 25th of April, our national holiday, and May Day.

Weight the ingredients, add this and that, mix, knead, roll out the dough, bake it… at the end I managed to style prettily on a dish just three tartlets. Three. There were eight people – eight hungry people – coming for the picnic. My crowd pleasing menu would have certainly turned in a fight for the last tartlet. So I decided to cut a long story short and have them for lunch with my sister. My friends would do with the idea of them, I hope!

Do not miss these tartlets if your ideal picnic includes a checkered tablecloth, a green meadow dotted with daisies, one or more dogs chasing each other in the background and a wicker basket from which you gleefully pull out, just like Mary Poppins, sandwiches, cookies, a refreshing lemonade, a form of cheese that still smells of milk and a generous handful of fava beans.

This is your recipe if you like spring picnics and love to be tickled by that subtle and sparkling liveliness that you can breathe in the shade of an olive tree under the May sky. Just pay attention to the quantities, and bake a tartlet for every friend!

Fresh Pasta with Fava Beans and Pecorino Cheese

Every Spring in a 2-foot by 10-foot space in our garden, I plant fava beans. This year I planted dried beans that I saved from last year’s harvest. Fava beans are one of those plant-it-and-forget-it plants that will come up and surprise you with a wonderful Springtime present.

Raw fava beans and Pecorino cheese

Once you harvest them, it’s a bit of work to shuck, blanch, shock and peel them, but the payoff is a true bite of Springtime. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see the Warm Farro, Fava Bean and Pancetta Salad step #5 for instructions.

If you can find really fresh fava beans, the most popular way to eat them is freshly shucked with Pecorino cheese. When they are young and fresh, you don’t need to peel the outer skin.

In California, farmer’s markets are currently busting with fresh-picked fava beans. The East Coast probably has another month or so before favas are in season. Once they are done, they’re done for the year, because they don’t do well in hot weather.

So for this Springtime, I made a classic dish for Spring in Italy: fresh pasta with fava beans and pecorino cheese. This is a crazy-simple recipe but it does require the effort of preparing the fava beans. If you can find them at your local farm stand, give this recipe, and the others below, a try!

Here are some other fava bean recipes to try for Spring

  • Fava beans with anchovies

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the fava beans and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and place in an ice bath. Peel the skins off the favas the beans will split into 2 bright green pieces as you pop them out of their skins.

3. In a food processor, combine the peeled favas, pecorino, garlic, parsley/mint mixture, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and EVOO. Pulse into a thick spread. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Season with a little flaky sea salt.

4. For the frico: mix the 2 cups of pecorino with a tablespoon of flour. Divide the mixture into small piles on a silpat-lined sheet tray. Place in oven until golden and melted together, about 10 minutes. Remove with a spatula.

5. Slice your bread into thin slices. Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Place in oven until crisp and golden. Serve the spread on the charred small toasts. Place a frico standing up on each crostini.

Seeing fava bean pods appear at the market each spring undoubtedly sparks joy. While some freeze the beans to maximize their limited availability year-round, they're at their best when enjoyed fresh during April and May.

Like peas, fava beans go well with salt-cured pork products like pancetta, guanciale, and bacon. So, here's an easy, flavor-packed pasta that couples the freshness of the fava beans with the salty, porky, crispiness of the pancetta.

Pasta With Fava Beans and Pancetta

Ingredients for 2
2 lb. fresh fava beans
8 oz. pasta (any type)
½ onion
3 oz. pancetta or bacon
Pecorino, grated
black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil


Peel the fava beans. Tear off the ends and slice or pull open the seams to release the beans. Blanch the beans by cooking them in boiling water for 1 minute, draining them then placing them in ice-cold water until cooled. Gently crush them to remove the actual legume from the casing.

In a non-stick pan, wilt the onions with oil, then add the pancetta. Cook for a few minutes and pour in the clean broad beans, season with salt, and pour half a glass of hot water. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for around 10 minutes.

Cook the pasta until very al dente, and drain it around one minute before it's ready as it will finish cooking in the pan with the broad beans. If necessary, add a little cooking water. When the pasta is cooked, switch off the heat and sprinkle with grated Pecorino and black pepper, mix together, and serve.


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