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I’ve got a thing about fava beans. One of my favorite kitchen rituals is the shelling and peeling of these viridescent treasures. They are an iconic Spring vegetable, yet we get a welcome second wave of them here in Fall. The taste is reminiscent of an English pea, but ever so much better. Creamy, rich, and without that annoying little capsule-like shell. (Sorry, pea-lovers, but as a child I ate peas by swallowing them whole with milk. Like pills, one at a time. It was the only way I could manage to choke them down. Fortunately I’ve come on a bit since then.)


Ready for the ritual magic to begin. Note glass of Sauv Blanc ready to hand.


Did Shakespeare know about fava beans? Opening one of the big green pods, I think of Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed, the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Each would have found the downy, velvety and pristine white interior of the fava bean pod a lovely place to nap.

After shelling the beans, the next step is to boil them for three minutes. Now comes the most labor-intensive, yet hypnotic task. Each in-di-vidual bean must be divested of its gauzy translucent robe to reveal the vivid green goodness beneath. The striptease is slow but seductive, as one by one the beans reveal their charms to the admiring eye of the hungry cook.
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In homage to Asian traditions, I named this recipe “Five Treasures” for the five luscious additions to the pasta. The idea is that each treasure keeps its own distinct flavor, and each mouthful is different. Clockwise from top left are creamy fava beans, spicy browned veggie sausage, salty sliced mixed olives, sweet oven-dried tomatoes, and bitter rapini greens. I combined these in the skillet with garlic, a touch of Maldon salt, lemon juice and mostaccioli, my favorite pasta. Garnished with grated asiago, the Treasures made a handsome dish.
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