This Fava Beans and Morel Mushrooms recipe was supposed to be Sunday’s post! But the cruel madness of a low-life hacker upended all of that. So in the immortal words of Carlotta here’s to you, ya bum! “Good times and bum times, I’ve seen ’em all and, my dear, I’m still here. Flush velvet sometimes, sometimes just pretzels and beer. But I’m here. I’ve run the gamut from A to Z. Three cheers and dammit, c’est la vie. I got through all of last year and I’m here! Look who’s here! I’m still here!” GREG
It’s spring at the Hollywood Farmers Market. The choices are mind-boggling.
The array of beautiful bounty would indeed amaze you. I couldn’t decide. In the end, I made two choices. After all, I am only human. The choices I made are two of my favorites. In fact, both have shown their glowing faces at Sippity Sup already this spring!
But they called to me. I swear. I actually heard them call me. When I answered back the farmer who ran the stand winked at me, and threw in an extra handful of morels! The sweet soul that he is.
I imagine these beauties call to him night and day. So I guess he knew what I was going through.
With such beautiful ingredients, I decided to go with simplicity. I decided to make pasta. I decided to make a fresh linguine. I know I have always said I prefer dried pasta with “hard” durum wheat. And generally, I do. But it’s spring. I just felt that the soft supple textures of fresh pasta suited my mood and my ingredients. So there… you never know where my mind will wander (and my shopping list will follow).
For this pasta I am going to do little else than sauté these beautiful vegetables in a bit of butter, then deglaze the pan with some dry vermouth. I am using the Paula Wolfert method to barely cook the fava beans. It’s the best solution for this delicate green goddess.
But to add a bit of complex sweetness I am turning to another genius. Because I decided these flavors need a base, something to tie them to the fresh soft pasta. I am using Thomas Keller’s onion confit recipe from Bouchon as the base for the pasta sauce. Sure it takes 3 hours and lunch will be horribly delayed. But it’s springtime. A late lunch (early supper?) may be just the thing the season calls for.
- 2 1⁄2 lb Spanish or yellow onions
- 8 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 t kosher salt
- 6 lb unshelled fava beans
- 1 lb fresh morel mushrooms
- 3 T unsalted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1⁄2 c dry vermouth
- 1 lb fresh linguine
- 3 T fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- parmesan cheese to taste
Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions and cut the onions lengthwise in half. Remove the peel and outer layers. Cut a V wedge in the bottom of each half to remove the core and pull out any solid flat pieces from the center. Lay an onion half, cut side down, on a cutting board with the root end toward you. There are lines on the outside of the onion; cut along these lines (the grain) rather than against them to help the onions soften more quickly. Holding the knife almost parallel to the board, slice the onion lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, following the lines of the onion. Once you cut past the center of the onion, the knife angle will become awkward: Flip the onion onto its side (toward the knife), return the knife to the original position, and finish cutting the onion. Separate the slices of onion, trimming away any root sections that are still attached. Repeat with the remaining onions. (You should have about 8 cups of onions.)
Warm 1/4 cup of water in a large pot over low heat. Add the butter and whisk gently to melt it. Add the onions, salt, and bouquet garni, stir to combine, and place a parchment “lid” (a piece of parchment, cut to fit) on top, pressing it against the onions.
Cook very slowly, stirring the onions every 20 to 30 minutes at first, more often toward the end of cooking, for about 2 hours. The onions will wilt and steam will rise, but they should not brown. Check the onions after about 30 minutes: If they seem lost in the pot, transfer to a smaller pot and cut down the parchment lid to fit. If there is a lot of liquid remaining at this point, you can turn up the heat slightly to cook a bit more rapidly. After about 2 hours, the onions will have softened but should not be falling apart; there still may be liquid left in the pot. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Allow the onions to cool in their liquid. Transfer the onions, with their liquid, to a plastic container and refrigerate for up to a week. Drain the confit before using.
Favas and Morels:
Remove all the fava beans from their pods. Place the fava beans in a heat proof bowl. Pour enough boiling water over the beans to cover by about 1-inch. Let the beans sit undisturbed until the water has cooled enough so as to handle the beans.
Start peeling the beans by using your thumbnail to nick a slit in the skin. Squeeze slightly, and the inner bean will pop right out. If possible start with the smaller beans working to the largest beans. Place the peeled favas in a bowl and set aside.
Cut the morels in half lengthwise and set aside. In a large saute pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter. When the butter melts and begins to get foamy add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook an additional minute or two more until the pan nearly dry. Add the vermouth, deglazing the pan. Cook about 2 minutes then add the favas, stirring to combine. Turn off the heat, until ready to serve.
Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add a good heaping of salt and add the fresh pasta. Stir gently to keep it from sticking. Since it’s fresh, it will cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Do not let it overcook! Fresh pasta with egg is often made with “soft” flour with less gluten than the “hard” durum wheat flour used in the best dried pasta.
While the pasta cooks add about 2 cups of the onion confit to the fava and morel mixture. Reheat them together gently.
Once the pasta is cooked use tongs to move it from the water to the fava, morel and onion pan. It’s good to be a bit of the water along. In fact, you may even need to add a bit more of the pasta water to achieve a good consistency of the sauce. Pour the contents of the pasta pan onto a serving platter and garnish with parsley and Parmesan. Serve hot.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD