Braised Fava Beans with Pancetta (Stufato di Fave, Stufato di Baccelli)

>> Monday, June 24, 2013


Braised Fava Beans with Pancetta (Stufato di Fave, Stufato di Baccelli)


If we were in Italy right now, where my cousin Scott and his wife Jennifer are traveling, chances are we'd find a dish of fresh young fava beans braised with pancetta, broth, and tomato on our dinner table. This is a classic early summer dish that's just popping with flavor. It also works well with butter beans or limas.

For a few weeks now, I have been seeing fresh fava beans in the pod at our local grocery store but didn't have a craving or a specific recipe in mind. Then the other day, I saw a large heel of cured pancetta (half a pound!) in the reduced section of our deli. The price was irresistable, and I began thinking of braised fava beans.

But when I went back to the store with the beans, not a single fresh fava was found. I bought a frozen package, finally, since I wasn't going to give up my stewed bean craving that easily. The shelled frozen beans tend to be more mature, so I blanched them and slipped them out of their skins so they'd be tender. Fantastic.




Ingredients

1 pound fresh shelled fava beans, or 20 oz. frozen favas
1 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
ground pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water


Directions

If using frozen fava beans, boil a small pot of water. When it reaches a boil, put in the beans and cook for 1 minute. Soak the beans in ice water for one minute, then peel off the outer skins. I found it easiest to pull off the dark stripe at the top; the rest of the skin comes right off with that strip.



Heat the oil in a medium frying pan, then cook the pancetta and onion until soft and slightly browned. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main meal.

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