Pizzoccheri with Fava Beans, Pancetta & Tomatoes

The sauce was almost cooked and the water for the pasta was boiling.  It was one of those days (that's becoming frequent lately) that I am running behind schedule in preparing lunch and dinner.   I grabbed this big box of pizzoccheri from the pasta shelf in the pantry and tried to understand what this pasta was meant for during my 30-second sprint towards the kitchen.  I remember that it was the pasta that my husband bought to try.   He told me something about it but I couldn't remember what it was.  Next time, I should listen more.  I had no time to call him nor search the internet so off the short linguine-like pasta went in the boiling water. 

While the pasta was cooking in the water, I searched the internet quickly about pizzoccheri

My first reaction was ooooppss.

It is a kind of pasta made primarily of buckwheat flour that originated around the 1500s in the town of Teglio, the area of Valtellina in Lombardy, Italy.   Traditionally, this pasta is cooked with potatoes, savoy cabbage, butter and two kinds of cheese from the area.  Being a dish on the heavy and calorific side, it is eaten in winter.  I think this is the only pasta recipe (in Italian) I know that is coded and registered. In the town itself, there is the Accademia del Pizzochero di Teglio that protects this pasta and some of their products which are mainly wine. 

If only I had  a few minutes of researching, I would have cooked it with its rightful sauce.  But then you know what?  This plate actually came out very well that we enjoyed it so much. The pasta gave the whole dish a creaminess that you don't get normally from regular durum wheat pasta and if eaten immediately, you can enjoy it while the flavors are at their best.  

I have the rest of the box of dry pizzoccheri that I will save to cook with its proper sauce at the proper time. And I will try this sauce again with another kind of pasta while fava beans are still in season.  It's a recipe to keep. 

Pizzoccheri with Fava Beans, Pancetta & Tomatoes

Serves 4
  • 350 - 400 grams pizzoccheri (or any pasta)
  • 300 grams fava beans (weighed after being shelled)
  • around 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 150 grams pancetta affumicata, diced
  • handful of parsley, chopped finely
  • handful of basil, torn to small pieces
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • grated pecorino
  1. Boil water in a cooking pot.  When it boils, add salt.  Cook the pizzoccheri according to the number of minutes suggested in the packaging. 
  2. Meanwhile, as soon as you start boiling the water for the pasta, heat a little amount of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan.  Sautè the pancetta and onions.  
  3. When the pancetta are toasted, add the fava beans.  Toss for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the water.  Cook for 10 minutes on low fire.  
  5. Add the tomatoes  and cook for another 15 minutes.  If the sauce is drying up, ladle some water from the pot you are boiling for cooking the pasta.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.  
  7. When the pasta is cooked, mix well with the sauce.  
  8. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and grated pecorino.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.