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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Rome recipe: Pasta con fave, guanciale e pecorino

May is without a doubt the month of broad beans in Rome. 

By Kate Zagorski

From the traditional May Day picnic with 'fave e pecorino' to 'vignarola', a springtime stew made at that magical moment when the season of fresh beans, peas, artichokes and lettuce overlaps, it seems that, for month at least, the fava beans are everywhere. 

This recipe is a take on the classic combination of broad beans and pecorino romano cheese, with the always-welcome addition of guanciale. Double-podding the beans is a little bit time-consuming but worth the effort to avoid the chewy, leathery skins, so set aside the extra 10 minutes. Fresh pasta such as fettuccine works best and also means that, once the preparation is done, this is a quick and easy dish to make, as well as being very tasty.

Serves 4

150g fava beans, podded and stripped (total of about 15-20 per person)

170g guanciale

Half a glass of white wine

400g fresh fettuccine 

5 tablespoons grated pecorino romano

Remove the beans from their pods then using a small sharp knife remove the thick skin of each leaving just the bright green beans. Set aside.

Heat a frying pan, cut the guanciale into thin strips then fry until crunchy and remove from the pan leaving the fat. Keep to one side.

Cook the beans gently in the guanciale fat for about 5 mins until tender then add the white wine. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the alcohol has evaporated then turn off the heat.

Meanwhile bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil then cook the pasta. About two mins before the end of the recommended cooking time place the frying pan back on to a medium heat, drain the pasta and and cook together with the beans, tossing it in the fat.

Cook for two minutes, adding a little pasta water if the mixture looks dry. 

Add the guanciale and mix everything well then turn off the heat, sprinkle in the grated pecorino and shake everything together to thicken the sauce. 

Serve immediately.

Kate Zagorski has lived in Italy since 2000. Married to a food-obsessed Roman chef, she leads food tours and also works as a freelance food and travel writer.
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