Category: Pasta with Shellfish
Difficulty: Easy but labor intensive
This extraordinary preparation is a special spring dish. In this case, if you can manage it, everything should be homemade and fresh, the pasta, the shrimp, the porcini, and the fava beans. That means you should be thinking of making this recipe in May. Now, if that’s just impossible then you can use store-bought tagliatelle or pappardelle, dried porcini, defrosted shrimp tails, crab, or lobster, and frozen peas if there are no fava. To peel the fresh fava beans drop them in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and pinch off the light green skin. Porcini mushroom season in Italy is during September and October, but in California, the porcini mushrooms are in season for about a month from mid-May to mid-June and they come from colder climes near the Oregon-California border.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ pound fresh porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced or ½ cup dried porcini, soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained
¼ cup dry white wine
¾ pound fresh shelled rock shrimp or 1 pound defrosted shrimp tails, shelled
½ pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 ½ pounds fava bean pods, beans removed and beans peeled (yields 1/2 pound double-peeled beans)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound pappardelle or tagliatelle
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1. In a large casserole that can hold all the pasta, melt the butter with 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat, then cook the onion and garlic, stirring, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the porcini mushrooms and fava beans and cook, stirring gently, until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and once it has evaporated a bit add the shrimp and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are orange-red and firm, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, for every pound of pasta, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat, salt abundantly with up to 1/2 cup of salt, then add the pasta in handfuls. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick together, until al dente. Drain without rinsing.
3. Transfer the pasta to the casserole and toss gently with the shrimp and mushrooms until well blended. Drizzle on the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle on the parsley, toss again, then serve.