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in the kitchen with: valerie rice’s fava bean and arugula pesto orecchiette

by Kristina Gill

Fava beans are in season, the weather is looking up, meals are moving outdoors.  These are three good reasons to try blogger and entertainer Valerie Rice’s recipe for fava beans and arugula pesto orecchiette.  I admit that I am not a big fan of shelling fava beans, but the flavor of this final dish was so rewarding, I am making this pasta again.  My resident taste tester said it is the best pasta he has had all year!  I love the way all the elements of the dish come together and like even more that it can be served warm or cold.  It was great the next day here, as I did not taste it on the day I prepared it.  The recipe below is for four appetizer size portions, so if you think you’d like more, double it.  And keep a jar of the pesto on hand.  It’s great too!  –Kristina

About Valerie: Based in Santa Barbara, Valerie has earned a reputation along the California coast for her expertise: how to make a good meal amazing, a struggling garden bountiful or a routine party unforgettable— elevating the ordinary and infusing every detail with her signature Mediterranean chic style.  Through her blog, eat-drink-garden.com, Valerie shares her best tips, recommendations, experience and recipes gathered from her own garden, kitchen and table often in the company of laughing, happy, and sometimes famous, guests.

See Valerie’s recipe after the jump.

Fava Bean and Arugula Pesto Orecchiette



2 cups orecchiette
3/4 cup fava beans*
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup Arugula pesto
1 tablespoon minced fresh peppermint
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of red pepper flakes

* If you don’t have favas, you can substitute with fresh or frozen peas

Arugula Pesto


  • 4 cups packed arugula
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese; cut in cubes
  • Zest and juice of one Meyer Lemon
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Method for pesto: Put all the ingredients in the food processor or blender. Taste to adjust seasoning. Use as a dip for fresh veggies and it is great for pasta, too.
Shelling the Beans: I always “hire” kid labor to shell the beans.  The girls love to help me cook, and this is the perfect fun, easy task for them (plus, it saves me from having to do it). Shelling favas is a two-step process. First, you take the beans out of their pod, and then peel the outer layer of “skin” from the beans themselves. It won’t kill you to leave the outer skin layer on, but the texture is much better without it.

Make the pasta dish:

  1. In salted boiling water, boil the orecchiette until done. Using a hand-held strainer, remove the pasta and set aside in a large bowl. In the same water you used to cook the pasta, cook your shelled and peeled favas for 1 minute. They will turn bright green and still have great crunch. After the favas cook, strain them, and place them in the same bowl as the pasta.
  2. In a dry pan, toast the pine nuts until you can smell their flavor. They should smell nutty, but not burned.
  3. In the same large bowl, add the toasted pine nuts, pesto, peppermint, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes to the cooked pasta and favas. Toss together and garnish with a sprig of peppermint and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This dish can be served warm or refrigerated and served cold.

Photos by Kristina Gill

Why Valerie loves this dish

This is so zesty and delicious. It’s packed with flavor that compliments the sweetness of the fava beans. It’s great spring recipe, because I can grab all the produce straight from my garden.

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