Last Saturday, my laptop would not wake up after a period of sleep. (I just learned that the hard disk is broken and needs replacement.) Hence, the last several days have been challenging due to lack of access to files and applications I need for work, the blog and photography. The stressful computer situation did not prevent me from cooking and, in this case, experimenting a bit with available ingredients.
As I mentioned in my recent post on ribollita-inspired soup, at the farmers' market, I got some fresh fava bean leaves (foglie delle fave), called also fava greens. What I did not use in the soup, I turned into a kind of pesto, as follows:
- 3 oz. fresh fava bean leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic, previously roasted in the oven (skin on)
- a generous pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Put the first three ingredients in the food processor and turn it on, then pour the oil slowly through the feeding tube and process just a few seconds after you finish the oil.
I used a dollop of the sauce to top each bowl of ribollita-inspired soup, and stored the rest for further experiments. The first experiment was to use it as pasta dressing the way I use pesto. The result was acceptable, but not quite satisfying. Freshly harvested rainbow chard from my little vegetable patch almost screamed to be used and I paid attention.
My recipe for making fresh tagliatelle is in this post. The final element of the dish is fiore sardo (pecorino from Sardinia), the kind of cheese I use (together with Parmigiano-Reggiano) to make traditional basil pesto. It's one of my favorite Italian cheeses (and one of the few cheeses I still buy, since I cannot make it at home due to lack of access to sheep milk). It is also the cheese traditionally paired with fava beans, represented in my pasta dish by their leaves.
This is another recipe where quantities are not fixed: I made a small batch of tagliatelle (using one egg, as in this recipe), harvested a small bunch of chard leaves and adjusted the amount of cheese to our palate. If you cook more chard than needed for the pasta, you can use it later as a side dish.
- olive oil
- a clove of garlic, minced
- a small bunch of chard leaves cut into ribbons, thick ribs removed and set aside for another dish (like this or this)
- sea salt and freshly milled black pepper, to taste
- a tablespoon (or a bit more, to taste) of pesto made with fresh fava bean leaves (see above)
- a small batch of tagliatelle made using one egg
- freshly grated fiore sardo
Bring water for the pasta to a boil. In the meantime, warm up olive oil in a skillet and add garlic. Let fry lightly for a minute, then add the chard. Sauté over gentle heat until cooked (in my case, it took 6 minutes or so, since the chrd leaves were young and tender). The water hanging onto the leaves should be sufficient, but keep a close eye during the cooking to prevent them from sticking to the skillet. When ready, season with salt and pepper to taste, add the fava bean leaf pesto, stir well and turn off the heat. Keep warm while the pasta cooks.
Add salt to the boiling water, drop tagliatelle into it and stir. Bring back to a boil and cook pasta al dente (it will take just a few minutes). While you keep an eye on the pasta pot, grate the cheese. Pour some cold water into the pot, stir, then drain the tagliatelle. Empty the strainer into a bowl, then dress the pasta with the cooked chard and some of the cheese. Toss well, sprinkle more cheese on the surface and serve immediately.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the tagliatelle con bietola e pecorino audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]