Some of my favorite bowls of pasta in New York come from a restaurant called Franny's, even though they're more famous for their pizzas. All of the pastas have a wonderful simplicity and this marvelous richness that eludes me. Last week they served a Bucatini alla Gricia with Fava Beans that I was eager to recreate at home—but I had no idea how to make it taste quite so transcendent.
Incidentally, Franny's just released a newsletter with a recipe for linguine with ramps. We've already covered that territory on Dinner Tonight, so I replaced the ramps with fava beans while retaining the curious cooking technique that may be the secret to the pasta's deliciousness: the barely undercooked bucatini goes into the skillet with whatever vegetables you have going, then a knob of butter is added with a little of the pasta cooking water. Swirled with tongs, the noodles continue to cook and give off starch, which marries with the butter to create a rich sauce. I finished it off the heat with a handful of Pecorino cheese for a very satisfying bowl of pasta.
About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.
- 1 pound bucatini
- 1 pound fava beans (weight including pods—about 15-20)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Freshly grated Pecorino
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring two pots of water to boil, both salted. In the meantime, split the fava bean pods and remove the beans within. Prepare a bowl filled with ice water, then blanch the beans for about 2 minutes. Remove to the ice bath, then slip off the skins to reveal the bright green bean within.
Cook the bucatini until 1-2 minutes before al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sautee the garlic until fragrant and soft. Add the fava beans and a splash of water and cook gently until the beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the drained pasta to the skillet along with the butter and a little pasta water. Toss to combine, then swirl the pasta around the skillet for a few minutes until the pasta finishes cooking and a sauce has formed.
Remove the pasta to bowls, top with grated cheese and serve immediately. Finish with olive oil or pasta water if too dry.