Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Comfort Food: Fresh Pasta Sheets with Fava Beans & Andouille Sausage

It has been a crazy fall in NYC.

One week ago during Halloween weekend, this is what the city looked like the day after the freak snow/sleet storm hit the East Coast.

Downed trees and branches lined all along Museum Mile on Fifth Ave, numerous paths in Central Park were completely closed off due to massive trees being cut in half, snow blanketed the park, and kids sledding down hills. In October.  Tourists and native New Yorkers alike gawked at the destruction Mother Nature had wreaked and left behind.

It was wild, but so amazingly beautiful to walk through the park, see the trees in the full glory of fall foliage with the snow on the ground. 
So for my first weekend back in New York after almost a month of work travel, I took full advantage of the early winter weather with Tyler.  It was the perfect welcome back home.

That afternoon after defrosting a bit over a cup of warm apple cider, I decided to finally cook the lovely fava beans I had brought back with me from the farmer's market my short weekend in San Francisco...more specifically Mountain View (home of Google).

If you live in the San Francisco Bay area and have not checked out the Mountain View farmer's market yet, you are missing out.  While it is not the largest market I have been to, it is definitely chock full of some beautiful product and fresh home-cooked treats (which also made its way back home with me too...of course), including fresh shucked oysters.

But I digress as usual.  :)   When the first change of weather from warm to cold arrives, I always want a plateful of hot pasta to warm myself up.  It's so comforting to smell the sauce cooking away on the stove on a cold Sunday evening, the warm inviting smell just drawing you in.  If I had a fireplace, I would curl up in front of it and tuck into the bowl of pasta. But since I don't, I settled for a glass of red wine instead. Curled up in my chair with Tyler dozing at my feet and my Sunday TV line-up in the background. Perfect.

With that scene in my head, I stopped by the market to pick up a few things including some fresh lasagna sheets for my pasta dish that night.  There is no shame if you don't make your own pasta sheet. Sometimes you just don't have the time and since it's already there...well, I took the easy step! It is not necessary to purchase lasagna sheets to make square pasta sheets. It will take equally delicious if you have dried penne, cavatelli or farfalle in your pantry. I just love the nice chew from fresh pasta and the look of the square shape.

The best part about this pasta dish is how easy it was to make and assemble.  Even if you don't cook regularly, it is definitely something you will want to add onto your limited repertoire because of how simple it is to make. Yet the flavors are bold and complex with the spicy sausage, the dry sweetness of the Cabernet, and the fresh clean taste of the beans.  It is a great dish to serve if you decide to host a weeknight dinner party since it looks a lot more difficult to put together.  Bon appetit and hope that everyone had a great Halloween week!

 Serves 4

1/2 lb fresh fava beans or frozen shelled fava beans or edamame
1 8 oz package fresh lasagna sheets, cut into 1-inch squares
2 andouille sausage, case removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp herbes de provence
1/2 cup pasta water
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Fistful of flat parsley, roughly chopped
Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. To prepare the fava beans, boil a pot of salted water with the fava beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain water and let cool. Shell the pod and remove the beans inside.  Put to the side until ready to use.

2. Boil another pot of water on high while cooking the beans for the pasta. Remember to salt the water to season the pasta as it cooks. Let the water come to a boil before adding the pasta.  Lower to mid-heat and continue boiling for 3-5 minutes until al dente.  Note that fresh pasta cooks a lot faster than dried.  If you are using dried pasta, it should take approximately 8-10 minutes to become al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and run cold water over the pasta squares for a minute to keep it from sticking and to wash away any excess starch.

3. While pasta and beans are cooking, add olive oil to a large skillet.  Remove sausage from casing and roughly pull into small chunks. Add sausage and beans to the skillet and brown for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Then add garlic and mix together for a minute, making sure not to burn it.

4.  Add red wine, tomato paste, herbes de provence, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil for a few minutes and let reduce down a bit until it is slightly thick.

5.  To the bean-meat mixture, add the cooked pasta and parsley to the large skillet and gently fold all ingredients together until mixed fully. Add the reserved pasta water to make the sauce less dry. Finish with the butter which will give it a richer taste and a nice shine to the pasta.

6.  Serve into individual bowls and garnish with parsley and parmigiano-reggiano.


  1. I would definitely try this sans the andouille...I love fava beans! And good to see you posting again too :-)

  2. Thanks Mistress! It feels good to be posting again after my hiatus. The problem now is choosing what to put up next because I'm so behind!

    As you can see from my Facebook page, my kitchen was SIZZLIN' this weekend with all my cooking!