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Pasta with Arugula and Fava Beans

This year, my vegetable garden includes several arugula plants. I’m really excited about this since I love arugula and can’t buy it locally – and even if I could, it would be very expensive. As I’m observing how the plants spike upward it’s easy to guess why arugula is also called “rocket” lettuce.

A few years ago, while visiting Umbria, I enjoyed a fantastic pasta dish topped with arugula, fava beans, and tomatoes. I haven’t been able to find fava beans in my area, so I was nearly ecstatic when I discovered packages of steamed favas in the produce section of Trader Joe’s on my way home from D.C. recently.

With favas and arugula in hand, I was able to recreate the dish I had so much enjoyed in Italy. Although Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains have replaced the Italian Apennines for ambience, this rich and flavorful meal was still delicious. Here’s the recipe:

Pasta with Arugula and Fava Beans
For this recipe, I used fusilli because I had it on hand, but any bite-size pasta shape would be good with this sauce. Instead of using the steamed fava beans from Trader Joe’s, you can prepare your own fava beans or substitute cooked chickpeas or cannellini beans for a tasty alternative. Another variation would be to use spinach, chard, or other dark green in place of the arugula.

8 ounces fusilli or other small pasta shape
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups coarsely chopped arugula, well washed
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 (12-ounce) package steamed fava beans (from Trader Joes)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water.
While the pasta water is coming to a boil. heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the arugula and cook, stirring, until wilted. Add the tomatoes, fava beans, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer to blend the flavors and heat through, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it well. To serve, divide the pasta among shallow bowls and top each with the sauce, or transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl, add the sauce, and toss gently to combine before serving.