Today I’m going to share with you a traditional variation of gricia: pasta alla gricia with fava beans.
Pasta alla gricia is at the heart of the pasta tradition in Rome. Guanciale, pecorino cheese and black pepper are the pillars that sustain the pantheon of Roman pasta: carbonara, amatriciana and gricia itself!
This variation is highly recommended in springtime when you will find fresh fava beans. But you will be able to prepare this recipe all year long, thanks to the excellent frozen products available nowadays.
Pasta alla gricia with fava beans – how to have it right!
The secret to getting this recipe right is to create the perfect cream, that binds all the ingredients and the flavors together.
You can accomplish this thanks to these two tips:
- smash part of the fava beans
- as almost always, take advantage of the reaction between starch and grease, adding some pasta water in the final steps of the preparation. See also my “how to sauce pasta the Italian way” post for more!
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But now it’s time to get your first pasta alla gricia with fava beans. Let me know if this is not one of the best pasta of your life! 🙂
Pasta alla gricia with fava beans
- a pan
- a pot
- a mixer
- 400 gr pasta I chose spaghetti, but also rigatoni or other shapes will work. I don't recommend fresh pasta (e.g. tagliatelle) for this sauce.
- 1 half onion
- 400 gr fava beans weight is for the clean beans
- 100 gr pecorino cheese
- 100 gr guanciale
- q.s. salt
- q.s. black pepper (optional)
- Prepare your ingredients. Fresh fava beans are recommended, but you can prepare this dish also with frozen ones.
- Slice the guanciale and gently fry it in a pan. This will make it transparent as it loses the grease.
- Peel the fava beans, removing the skin that would give a bitter flavor to the dish. It is not the funniest task, that's why we get married 😉
- Drop half of the fava beans into salted, boiling water. 5 minutes will be enough. Important: don't waste the water, since you will use it to cook the pasta.
- Slice the onion and add it to the guanciale. There is a huge debate on this in Italy, but I love using it. You can comment on that 🙂
- Drain the fava beans from the water and put them into the mixer bowl. Add 50 gr of pecorino cheese and black pepper (according to taste). Note: roman traditional food loves black pepper! Mix the ingredients until you get a delicious cream.
- In the pan where the guanciale and the onion are gently frying, add the remaining half of fava beans, and a ladleful of the cooking water. This will cook on low heat, covered with a lid, until the water is absorbed.
- Time to cook the pasta, in my case the spaghetti, in the water used to boil the fava beans. This will give additional flavor to the final result. One minute before the suggested cooking time, drain the pasta. Always remember to save one glass of cooking water. Drop the pasta into the pan and gently mix.
- Over medium to high heat, add a ladleful of the cooking water and all the fava beans and pecorino cream. Gently mix until the water is absorbed and the pasta is perfectly cooked. Time to serve and…
- enjoy your first Pasta alla gricia with fava beans, like you were in Rome! 🙂 Buon appetito
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