Fava beans and Pecorino cheese
This is the favourite Roman “starter” in Spring when the first tender young fava beans appear. On May 1st, the public holiday for the workers, lorries used to drive up from the countryside south of Rome, and tip out shining heaps of fresh beans to be sold by the side of the main roads leading out of Rome. This is traditionally a day for picnics or eating out, and even on elegant tables the fava beans are served in their pods. Everyone shells their own, and if you find a pod with nine beans you must keep it safe for it will bring you good luck for the following year. Today the beans are sold in market stalls and shops and only in the country outside Rome are they still sold from lorries.
1 k fava beans in pod
200 g Pecorino cheese which is not too mature and salty
Place all the beans on the tablecloth in the middle of the table. People reach out for their own pods. Cut the pecorino into wedges and hand around.
If you prefer cooked beans try this version of the Roman Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e pepe with Fava beans
Pasta with pecorino cheese and black pepper
This is a very simple, quick “Roman” recipe which can be prepared with any pasta although flour and water pasta, like strozzapreti seem to work best. It belongs to the cucina povera tradition.
500 g pasta
100g pecorino romano, freshly grated
2 T good extra virgin olive oil
black pepper, freshly ground
250 g fava beans, shelled
1 thick slice guanciale or pancetta
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 t ev olive oil
Cook the fava beans in a little lightly salted boiling water until just tender. Heat the oil, add the guanciale and cook until the fat runs out, then add the garlic. I usually pop off the outer fava skins so they are a vibrant green.
Bring the water to the boil and salt before throwing in the pasta. For this recipe I use less salt because the pecorino romano is very salty.
Grate the pecorino as the pasta is cooking. Before the pasta is cooked remove a ladle of pasta water and process with half the pecorino and butter or olive oil to make a smooth sauce.
Drain the pasta, pour over a ladle of water and the pecorino sauce. Stir in the guanciale, garlic and fava beans.Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and grind a lot of black pepper over the pasta.