Pasta with Mint Pesto and Fava


Pasta need not weigh you down; serve this light recipe as a starter, or top it with meatballs for a heartier meal.


  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 cup shelled fresh fava beans (about ½ pound in a pod)

  • ½ cup roasted unsalted almonds (about 2 ounces)

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  • ½ cup finely grated pecorino cheese (about 2 ounces), plus more for sprinkling

  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping

  • 2 ½ cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 12 ounces angel hair pasta (capellini)

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  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt. Blanch fava beans until bright green and tender when pinched, about 2 minutes. Transfer beans with a slotted spoon to a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. When cool, peel off the tough outer skins, squeezing the beans from the skins (discard skins).

  2. Pulse almonds with garlic in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add cheese and the oil; process to a coarse paste. Add mint, and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl, and top with a thin layer to preserve the color.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions (about 4 minutes for dried, 1 minute for fresh); reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. In a warmed serving bowl, mix pesto with enough reserved cooking water, then drain pasta. In a warmed serving bowl, mix pesto with enough reserved cooking water to form a thin sauce. Add pasta and fava beans, and toss well to combine.

  4. To serve, divide pasta among four dishes, and top with meatballs; garnish with mint, and sprinkle with more cheese.

    meatball dish

Cook's Notes

Fresh fava beans are found at specialty produce stores and farmers' markets. If you can't find fresh favas, look for frozen (shelled) ones at supermarkets and natural-food stores; defrost according to package instructions.

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