This story – People Watching – will resonate with anyone who loves to learn about their surroundings by watching people, especially while traveling. The American couple who visits Italy learns more than they expected during a normal evening dinner steps from the Piazza del Campo in Sienna.

The pasta dish that the American woman orders is one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time. She orders tagliatelle with fava beans, prosciutto and burrata. The burrata serves as a cream, delicately caressing the homemade tagliatelle. The fava beans are blanched just enough to slide them out of their skin. The prosciutto crudo is not cooked, added to the hot pasta at the very end of it’s quick boil. The pasta will take on the color of the eggs, which will take on the color of what the chicken is fed. It is a very beautiful circle of life.

fava beans

Everyone who knows me is aware of my intense love of fava beans. At the Farmers Market in Napa, I would shriek when I would see them for the first time each season. I began growing them in my garden because they grew so beautifully in a warm Mediterranean climate and I am quite greedy for supply. Now that I am in Florida, I cannot access fresh fava beans as much as I would like. They are called broad beans in the South, and I am overjoyed when I rarely find them at a Farmers Market.

There are many recipes for fava beans besides pasta. I make fava bean pesto and serve it on crostini or frico (parmesan wafers) as an appetizer. They disappear when I serve these, with hungry friends gobbling them up immediately.

fava beans crostini

Fava bean crostini

If you are so lucky as to come across fresh fava beans, please do not pass them by! First, you will need more than you think because the pod is very large, and you will discard it. Open the pod and remove the beans that are inside the skin. Then, boil them in water for 2 minutes. You will find that the bean slips out of the skin quite easily. This is a task that I always perform with a glass of white wine, to keep up my strength, of course!

This dish is best with freshly made pasta, but you can also make it with dried tagliatelle or pappardelle. Burrata is best because it coats the pasta like cream; however, you can substitute mascarpone or heavy cream if you cannot access burrata. Please give this recipe a try!


The number of ingredients depends on your taste and how you serve this dish. For example, how much prosciutto do you want? One slice per plate of pasta is right for me, but you may like more or less. As far as the pasta, I will make a 2-egg pasta for my husband and me as a main course (and we usually have leftovers) or serves four people as a first course. A 2-egg pasta usually makes 3/4 pound, but this can change depending on how dry/humid your location and flour is. I would recommend that you buy at least a pound of fava beans; I usually buy two pounds. The reason is that you will discard so much of the weight and bulk in the pod. Plus, you can use any leftover fava beans from this pasta to make a pesto or serve many other ways. This is a recipe that I suggest you try with your immediate family first and refine the amounts before serving at a party. It’s a simple recipe with few ingredients, but it depends on your taste and the situation, i.e., first or main course, etc.

Remove fava beans from the pod; boil beans in water for 2 minutes; remove beans from skin; and set aside.
Tear prosciutto into thin strips and set aside.
Tear the burrata open and use the creamy inside for the pasta. Reserve the outside for an accompanying tomato salad or serve on hot, grilled bread.
Boil fresh pasta for 2-4 minutes until al dente. Drain the pasta from the water and toss with proscuitto, fava beans and burrata. Serve immediately with a garnish of basil leaves.


Read the story People Watching!
Watch the video about how to make Fava Bean Pesto!
Read my blog about how to cook with fava beans!

Sandra Richardson