After hauling home fresh asparagus and fava beans from the farmer’s market, I stood on a chair and made a loud declaration: “I will not adulterate these beacons of springtime with a convoluted recipe that obfuscates their natural glory!” Getting down from the chair, I thought about my declaration and realized that to live up to my word, I would need to cook the asparagus and fava beans as simply as possible, and serve them up with something special-enough to be memorable but not so special as to shadow the star ingredients: which is how I came up with making fresh pasta.
I’ve already annoyed you with the fact that my favorite fresh pasta recipe comes from my own cookbook, but that book will appear on shelves September 4th. That’s so soon! You can wait, can’t you? And even if you can’t, any fresh pasta recipe will work. Just roll it through the thinnest setting and cut the pasta into fat ribbons (sort of like pappardelle):
Meanwhile, you’re going to have to shell some favas. Here are the pods I bought at the market:
As many of you know, favas are labor intensive. First you take beans out of the pods and then you have to peel each bean, which is a pain; you dig your nail in and pull off the outer shell the best you can. Here are my favas, post-shelling:
Let’s look closer:
So yes, those are the favas. And here they are next to some skinny asparagus tops, sliced strategically so there were no bottom halves (sorry bottom halves) but still most of the asparagus is used:
Here, then, are my only other ingredients (remember my vow!): grated Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon wedges.
Also, here’s butter in a pan:
Now here’s how this all went down. I put the butter on low heat as my big pot of salted water came to a boil. Into the water I dropped the asparagus tops:
And when they were just al dente, but mostly cooked through, I lifted them with a spider into the pan with the butter:
I also added some of the lemon zest.
Then I dropped the favas into the water and cooked them for a minute or so until one tasted great to me and then added them to the pan with the asparagus (along with a ladleful of pasta cooking water):
Look at that beautiful pan of springtime!
I kept that at a low simmer as I dropped the fresh pasta into the boiling water and cooked for just a minute or two (until I tasted a strand and could tell it was just cooked through) at which point I added all of the pasta to the pan with the asparagus and favas (along with a ladleful of pasta cooking water):
I stirred that all around until the pasta absorbed all of the liquid; then, off the heat, I added the cheese, more lemon zest, the lemon juice and a few grindings of pepper:
And behold: I lived up to my vow. Springtime Pasta that celebrates springtime with no adulteration:
This was so good; so good, I couldn’t stop eating it. Even when my portion was finished, I carried the pan to the table and dug in:
It’s the kind of food that tastes special because it only happens once a year. Sure, you can buy asparagus and favas at grocery stores out of season, but that defeats the whole point.
So do yourself a favor and stand on a chair and take a vow: “I vow to go to the farmer’s market to buy favas and asparagus to make this fresh pasta to honor springtime! And I vow to clean this chair once I step down because my shoes are dirty.”