Last Tuesday, our friend Katie came to visit. Katie and I were roommates in college and it’s accurate to say that during our first year at Georgetown we subsisted on a diet of Thomas bagels, Zatarain’s instant red beans and rice and Haribo gummy bears, and usually all of them in one sitting. Thankfully, we’ve gotten past those horrifying dietary habits, and somehow I write a food blog and Katie cooks for a restaurant.
These days, Katie lives up in Boonville, CA and cooks for the Boonville Hotel. Boonville is just two hours North of San Francisco in Medocino County, but we’re not able to get together as often as the short distance would suggest. And so it’s a real good thing when I get an out-of-the-blue text from Katie saying that she’ll be in San Francisco for the day and would I be around?
There is nothing I like more than having someone over for dinner, and even more someone who’s happy to just sit down, shell some beans and chat about all matter of things while I sauté up a shallot. Not everyone can dig into big and important life questions while the other person flits from stove to sink, stirring this and washing that, but Katie doesn’t seem to struggle. We’re a good match.
Which brings me to pasta. This pasta comes together gracefully. You can carry on a conversation and still put a meal on the table in about thirty minutes. There’s nothing fussy about it, but looks and tastes like you did a whole lot more work. In case your market doesn’t have fava beans, you also could swap them for spring peas or asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces. I’m planning to do just that later this week. This recipe makes enough for three people as a main course.
Bucatini with Fava Beans and Creme Fraiche
12 oz fresh pasta, bucatini if you can find it, but any long noodley one will do
2 lbs fava beans, shelled
1 shallot, diced
2 tablespoons butter
3 oz creme fraiche
salt and pepper
parmesan, for grating on top
Put a pot of salted water to boil. Take the fava beans out of their pods. When the water is boiling, blanche the favas for a minute or two, until they turn bright green. Scoop them out of the hot water and into a bowl. Then peel off their outer skin. Keep the water boiling to cook the pasta in later.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sauté for a few minutes to soften. When the shallot is soft, add the favas and sauté a minute or two more. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook the pasta 2 – 5 minutes, depending on its shape.
When the pasta is cooked al dente, scoop it from the water and add it to the sauté pan with the fava beans and shallot. Still over low heat, add the creme fraiche and stir to distribute. Easiest sauce ever. When it’s looking all saucy and delicious, scoop onto plates and garnish with a little grated parmesan.