Pasta with Fava Beans, Greens & Pancetta


  • 2 cups shelled fava beans (can substitute edamame or lima beans, thawed if frozen)
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (brown rice noodles would be an excellent gluten-free alternative)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 ounces thinly-sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 4-5 ounces pak choy  (or baby bok choy, spinach, arugula, or tender kale leaves–chop if leaves are large)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (could use extra olive oil instead)
  • kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • about a half cup of asiago cheese, grated or shaved with a vegetable peeler  (Pecorino Romano or gorgonzola would also be delicious)


  1. Blanch the fava beans in boiling water for two minutes, then drain well.  (At this point, you may remove the thin “skin.”  I didn’t bother and they tasted great and the texture was perfect.)  This step may be done in advance. Then, simply refrigerate the beans until you are ready to use.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.  Before draining, reserve a half cup of the cooking liquid.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and the pancetta and cook until the onion is lightly browned and the pancetta is starting to get crispy, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the favas to the onions and pancetta and cook until the beans are tender, about 5 minutes more.  Season with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Add the drained pasta, the reserved liquid, the cream, and the greens to the fava mixture.  Toss to combine everything well.  Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with the asiago cheese or pass the cheese at the table.

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