Pasta with Asparagus, Artichokes and Fava Beans

  • 5 to 7 tiny, new spring green asparagus stalks
  • 3 small artichokes
  • 4 to 6 pods of fava beans
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • High-quality olive oil
  • 5.6 ounces (160 grams) short pasta
Clean asparagus and break off the woody ends. Chop asparagus into small pieces, and let them cook in a saute pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and enough chicken broth just to slightly steam them.

Mix lemon juice with water in a large bowl. To prevent artichokes from browning, dip them in lemon water as you work. Reserve the prepared artichokes in the lemon water.

Rinse and prepare artichokes by cutting off the tough top part of the leaves, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Peel away and discard the tough outer leaves until you reach the light green tender leaves. At the bottom, trim the stem, leaving 1 to 2 inches; trim the remaining stem and the bottom of the artichoke of all rough dark green parts and bruised areas. Chop the artichoke lengthwise into 4 wedges. Remove the choke from each wedge if necessary, and slice it into small cubes.

When asparagus is just tender, drain the cubed artichokes from their water and add them to the asparagus. Cook them for just a minute or two and let all of the broth evaporate.

Boil pasta in salted water. When pasta is almost cooked through, add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the saute pan with the vegetables. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it to the saute pan.

Toss the pasta with the vegetables over medium heat, adding more olive oil, pepper, and the fava beans. When the pasta has absorbed the water in the pan and some of the oil, and you notice a little sauce has formed, serve immediately.

Other notes: I use the tiny chokeless artichokes called morellini, tender enough to eat raw; and bacelli, which are fresh fava beans that are only eaten raw. The fava beans should come in their long, furry pod and be small and sweet without having to peel them. If they are large with a thick, opaque, bitter skin, then they should be peeled and dried for use in winter with other recipes, not this one. If these aren’t available, use whatever sweet, tender spring vegetables you can get. Shuck some new sweet peas out of their pods. Use any artichokes you can find; just make sure you pare them down to the tender, edible bits. And use any fresh beans you like, blanching them first if necessary. Or skip the beans, and it’s still good. You can even skip the artichokes if you like. Peas and pepper with good oil on homemade pasta is one of my favorite springtime pastas.

Yield: 2 servings