Every once in a while, I like to mix shellfish with pork–a combination more common in Spanish cooking than Italian (e.g. paella). In fact, these two flavors complement each other beautifully and are both enhanced by the earthy richness of fava beans.
Although fava beans are a labor to prepare, they remind me of Spring and the rebirth of all the local produce in our area. Therefore, I consider their preparation a welcome ritual and something of a celebration–I make them every opportunity I can find the time to.
Like other legumes, fave have a natural affinity for earthy, smokey flavors, like bacon, pancetta and onions. Sharp cheeses like pecorino, pair well with them as well.
This is a good one-dish weeknight meal–it contains protein, vegetables and pasta all on one plate. The only thing necessary might be a salad.
In addition to our pasta tonight, I’ve made a colorful salad of arugula and oranges, dressed with red wine vinegar, agave and olive oil–the perfect sharp flavors to cleanse the palette and balance the richness of the pasta.
Pasta with Fava Beans, Shrimp and Pancetta
1/2 lb fettucine or linguine
2 lbs fava beans, shucked and peeled, to yield about 1/2 lb of beans (for shucking and peeling technique, see Fava Beans with Leeks, Arugula and Mint)
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, de-veined and cut into bite-size chunks
2 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced, then diced crosswise into 1/4″ strips
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/2 c white wine
1/4 – 1/2 c chicken broth
4 tbls olive oil + 1 teaspoon for drizzling
2 tbls fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
grated pecorino romano for sprinkling
While pasta boils, in a large skillet on low heat, combine shallots, pancetta and oil and bring to a sizzle, as pancetta renders and shallots become golden.
Add fava beans and white wine and reduce for another minute.
Add half the broth. Turn heat to the lowest simmer and add shrimp. Season with salt and pepper.
Allow shrimp to rest on top of the mixture until pasta is a minute shy of done. At that point, add parsley and toss shrimp to combine with sauce.
When pasta is done, drain and add to skillet, with a little more broth, if necessary to loosen the sauce. Sprinkle on more black pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Serve with plenty of grated pecorino romano at the table.