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from "Italian Farmhouse Cookbook" by Susan Hermann Loomis

After a long day of research I was back in the small, comfortable apartment I'd rented on the Il Colle farm near Trequanda, a village in the heart of Tuscany. In the back seat of the car were the spoils of the day: a generous bag of fresh favas and bunches of aromatic basil, gifts from the farmers I'd been to visit. I already had a bottle of olive oil from Il Colle and a bag of good hard-wheat pasta, so my dinner menu was set. I made and ate this pasta sitting on the small terrace outside my door that overlooked the village.

The rolling landscape was sculpted in hues of every imaginable green—dusty from the olive trees, kelly from the wheat, forest from the trees, emerald from the wild grasses. I thought as I ate if you grow up in this part of Tuscany where can you go to see anything more beautiful?

I sipped the 1995 Il Colle Chianti produced on the farm and found it surprisingly gutsy and good. Everyone I'd talked to sniffed at 1994, considering it a poor wine year but the more I learned, the more I realized that the Chianti region is full of microclimates.

What is a bad year in one vineyard can be excellent in another. Thus categorizing any year as bad for all Chianti is shortsighted. Chiantis must be judged individually, as should most wines.

When you find a Chianti you like, make this dish to serve along with it. You are sure to be satisfied.

6 servings

1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds fresh fava beans in their pods, shelled and skinned (about 2 cups)
Fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups (gently packed) fresh basil leaves
1 pound good-quality dried short pasta, such as penne or fusilli

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1. Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil and the favas in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup water, stir, and season lightly with salt. Cook, shaking the pan so the favas cook evenly, until they are tender but still bright green, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2.Meanwhile, bring a very large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

3. Tear the basil leaves into large bite-size pieces if they are very large. Combine the basil with the remaining extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl and stir to moisten the leaves with the oil.

4. Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir, and cook just until it is al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the basil and toss to completely coat the pasta with the oil. Add the fava beans and toss until they are evenly distributed throughout the pasta, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water if the pasta seems dry. Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Note: If your fava beans are very fresh, you may be able to leave on the inner peel. Sample one and see. If the peel is bitter, the favas will be better off without it.

Buy The Ingredients
Product nutrition and information
 Quantity Ingredients Est.Price

Fava Beans - $2.49/lb
  Gotham Greens Local Basil - $3.99/ea
  De Cecco Penne - $2.49/ea
You May Already Have
  Bel Aria Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - $10.99/ea
 34fl oz
  La Baleine Fine Sea Salt - $4.29/ea
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