kitchen firsts: fresh fava, asparagus and snap pea ragout with pasta
Pretty much every time I make pasta for dinner, I say to myself beforehand “ok, here is a chance to take charge of my pasta experience, so I’m going to be smart and make this more of a veggies with pasta affair than a pasta with veggies affair.” And I really do have all the intentions in the world to follow through with a veg:pasta ratio that leans more heavily on the veggies. But then, I somehow accidentally find a recipe that sounds too good as is, or I don’t have as much veg in the fridge as I thought (but it turns out I doooo have plenty of pasta), or it turns out we are having someone over, or we want leftovers, and the easiest way to ensure there is enough food is to amp up the pasta. And then we are left with arguably delicious pasta dishes but not ones that make me feel good and veggiefied.
This week I happened upon some fresh favas at the local market. I have been bothered lately by the realization that I have never bought shelling peas or beans of any kind, so I bought the favas on impulse (never having actually eaten one before) and figured that at the very least it would be a chance to shell something and do a kitchen first. Then, I kind of forgot about them in the fridge, until one night we decided we were really in the mood for some simple veggie-heavy pasta, and I remembered a tasty sounding recipe I’d see in Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food for Pea and Asparagus Ragout. So, a few switcheroos and we enjoyed a delicious fava, sugar snap, and asparagus ragout with pasta, which for once, was much more reliant on the veggies than it was on the pasta! It was a tasty way to enjoy spring veggies, was super easy and quick, and it really made us feel good about what we were eating. Sounds like win-win to me!
One nice thing about this recipe is that you could actually leave out the pasta entirely and enjoy this just as is, as a green side dish to accompany something else. If you’re interested in that, I’d reduce the 1/2 cup water to about 1/3 cup water so that your finished ragout is not too liquidy to eat by itself. You could also toss the ragout with another grain of your choice– rice, barley, quinoa, you name it. And if you are interested in bulking up this recipe with more pasta and less green, by all means go for it! Personally, if I made this again, I’d make it just for the two of us and use the same amount of ragout for half as much pasta and really make it a veg-heavy dish.
While we’re talking about ways to play with this, you could certainly also do as Alice Waters originally intended and use green shelling peas for this recipe, or try some snow peas. But we really enjoyed the crunchy tender sweetness of the sugar snaps and I would definitely use them again. As for the favas, if you’ve never used them before, beware that you only really get 5 or 6 beans from each big pod, so if you think you’re buying a lot you probably aren’t! I only had about 1/2 cup of favas when all was said and done, but you could definitely support more in this recipe.
Now go, and make a meat-free ragout!
Fava, Sugar Snap, and Asparagus Ragout with (or without) Pasta
Adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food
1/2 lb asparagus, washed and snapped
1/2 lb sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
1/3 lb fava pods
3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced (whites and greens)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T butter
salt and pepper
1/2 cup water
1/2 lb pasta
freshly grated parmesan, to garnish
First, set your pasta water to boil in a large pot. Snap the asparagus, trim the snap peas, shell the favas, and then rinse your veg. Then, slice spring onions, asparagus, and snap peas on the diagonal in short segments (about a half inch, for us, but just make sure the different vegetables are cut in pieces of a relatively similar size).
When the water boils, dump the pasta in to cook, and then place a medium skillet over medium heat. Melt 2 T butter in the skillet, then toss in the spring onions and cook until slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes. Toss in the minced garlic, and season with salt and pepper, stirring all around until fragrant, less than a minute.
Next, toss in your snap pea segments, asparagus, and favas. Stir around to coat with the garlic and butter, then add 1/2 cup water and allow to bubble and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, drain and then return to the pasta pot. In your veg skillet, some of the water will evaporate, and when the vegetables are tender to your liking, add the last tablespoon of butter to what’s left of the liquid and it will make a loose sauce. Toss the vegetables and pan juices into the pasta pot with the pasta, and toss to combine. Dish into serving bowls and sprinkle generously with freshly grated parmesan.