Recipe: Fava Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Have you ever tried fava beans? They pop up in Farmer’s Markets at the beginning of spring and when I see them, I always get excited because it means warmer days are on the way. Shelling and peeling them is a little bit of a process but it’s worth it (and a very fun activity for little kids’ hands). From a nutritional perspective, they are rich in many nutrients including iron, folate, potassium, protein and fiber. Below is one of my favorite ways to use them, which is adapted from Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I make this recipe often throughout the year and substitute edamame when favas aren’t available. It’s a short seson for them, so if you see them, make sure you grab ’em!

Fava and Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Serves: 6


  • 2 pounds of fava beans in their pods
  • 1 ½ cups lightly packed basil leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves or spinach
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ¾ cup Olive oil
  • 1 pound dried pasta
  • 1 ½ cups grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup lightly packed mint leaves


To shell favas: Make a slit in pod with a knife or fingers. Pop out beans and place in bowl. Bring a pot of water to boil and set a bowl with ice water to to it. Boil beans for 30 seconds and transfer to ice water with a slotted spoon. Let cool for a few minutes and then remove outer skin with a knife or fingers.

Put basil, ½ of the garlic, parsley or spinach, pistachios, ½ tsp of salt and half of the favas in the food processor and pulse to make a coarse puree.  With the motor running, drizzle in ½ cup olive oil.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining, scoop out 2 cups of pasta water and set aside in a bowl.

Heat remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining two garlic cloves and cook 3-4 minutes until slightly brown. 

Add cooked pasta to the skillet as well as pesto.  Stir to combine and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add 1 cup of the pasta water (continue to add more if needed), cheese, butter and the remaining favas. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve pasta in bowls, topped with fresh mint leaves.

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