My first time cooking with taze bakla (fresh fava beans) was disappointing here in Istanbul.
Similar to those moments when I spot a beautiful dessert or pastry at a pastane, but when I eat it, the dessert is dry, crumbly, too sweet and just plain not good.
At first, I was ecstatic to try the taze bakla I bought at the Saturday pazar in Beşiktaş. These fuzzy green bean-like pods were definitely fresh and a sign of spring! I'm awfully tired of seeing all the root vegetables at the pazar in Istanbul.
But shelling these small bakla is just like shelling spring peas! Maybe even worse!
Each pod contained 4 or 5 miniscule fava beans. So I only yielded 60 grams (about half a cup) out of the half kilo I purchased.
Well, at least I had a delicious plan for these prized fava beans.
My lettuce vendor had thrown in a bunch of spring garlic (yeni sarımsak (new garlic) as he referred to it) that smelled sweet and sharp. This was a real treat as spring garlic is only around for a few weeks. (See: last year's Spring Garlic Soup recipe.)
|Fava beans and a bunch of spring garlic, which could be mistaken for scallions.|
So the fresh fava beans and spring garlic make for a simple, spring-flavored pasta. For once, my recipe only contains a handful of ingredients and is just a bit of this and that.
I also added some leftover Italian mortadella from our Bologna trip that was begging to be used. Hey, my love of pork won me over.
|Who could resist a bite of this garlicky pasta with loads of Parmesan cheese, mortadella|
Fava Bean, Spring Garlic Pasta (Bakla ve Makarna)
1-2 T. olive oil
300 g. (10.5 oz.) package of fresh pasta like fettuccine
Handful taze bakla (fresh fava beans)
1 bunch spring garlic, chopped
To taste salt and pepper
As needed Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Handful fresh basil, julienned
Optional: handful of diced mortadella or some pancetta
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Drop in the fresh pasta and fava beans. Cook until al dente - about 3 minutes. Strain immediately, but save some of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Sauté the spring garlic and pork, if using, for a few minutes.
Then, in the large pot used for the pasta, combine the spring garlic, pork, pasta, fava beans and some of the pasta water. Throw in a knob of butter for some added richness. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and taste again. Add more pasta water as needed to make a light sauce.
Garnish the pasta with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and basil. (I couldn't resist trying a giant forkful of the pasta right out of the pot!)