Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mezze penne with broad beans and fresh ricotta cheese


Do you know how to cook pasta with fresh broad beans (or fava beans) and fresh sheep ricotta cheese? Here in Sicily we love mixing vegetables with cheese. These vegs automatically make me think at my grandma, nonna Nuccia, and at the country house we used to go to during summer. At about 11 o'clock in the morning sitting on the patio she would ask my mum to start shelling the beans, and there she was marching to the kitchen and preparing all the necessary for the "operation": the newspaper for the pods, the big enamel bowl for the beans. God bless you nonna!

For 4 people you will need: 400 gr pasta (penne or mezze penne) - 1 onion - 150 gr. broad beans - olive oil - salt - ricotta cheese - grated cheese (like Parmisan or Pecorino)

Photo source: mangiarebene.it
First of all, you need to shell the broad beans. Open the pod, take the beans out and also remove the little cap on top. In a sauce pan on a medium heat put a drizzle of olive oil, then chop and sauteè the onion with the oil. Add a big pinch of salt and the broad beans. 

After about 7-8 minutes add some warm water (2 cups). Cover with the lid and let cook for about 20 minutes on a low heat. In the meantime you can prepare your pot for the pasta on a medium heat. When the fava beans are cooked just switch the heat off and let them be until pasta is ready.

As soon as the water boils add salt and put the penne (or mezzepenne or fusilli) in the boiling water. Cook them until "al dente" (or as you like), just following the instructions written on the packet. Then drain and transfer them on serving plates mixing also the broad beans (or in a more professional way you can mix the pasta in the sauce pan directly.)

Once the dish is ready put some fresh ricotta cheese on top. Many people love to add some grated cheese as well, such as caciocavallo, pecorino or parmesan. It's a perfect dish for vegeterians and its taste is very good and delicate, and healthy too. 

Photo Source: letentazionidellatte.it

NOTE - If you can't find fresh fava beans, you can use the canned ones, but the success of this recipe is all in the freshness of the 2 main ingredients: fava beans & sheep ricotta which is one of the most sought-after Sicilian cheese. 
I hope you enjoy!



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