Did you you that there is a type of pasta that was originally made, before pasta maker machines, by wrapping the pasta around a bicycle spoke? Yup, fusilli avellinesi is that pasta. Think about the condition of your bicycle spokes and let’s all hope that they used brand new ones in the pasta making. If you check out Anthony Bourdain below, there’s a demonstration of how the pasta is made around minute 9:10. (Fair warning, once you hit the 10 minute mark, you’ll see some animals getting prepped for a feast. If you’re squeamish, then don’t watch past the pasta making demonstration.)
Fusilli comes from the word fuso meaning “spindle” in Italian and was first found in Granducato di Toscana around 1550. This stuff is good because the little nooks and crannies can hold a lighter sauce tightly yet it doesn’t wither when faced with a heavy sauce. For the recipe below, I use a basic dried fusilli, not one formed on a bike spoke, which is more easily found on any grocery shelf.
Whether you call them fava beans, horse beans, English beans, Windsor beans or broad beans, one thing’s for sure – these beans have been around for a very very long time and once were the only beans available in Europe. For your bit of trivia: Apparently, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras (a noted vegetarian) completed despised them. Despite this, he is credited with being the root of pharmacogenetics when back in 510 BC he “noted that hemolytic anemia occurs in some individuals after fava bean consumption. Twenty-five centuries later, this enigma was elucidated by Mager et al. ( 51 ), who demonstrated that deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase is responsible for this adverse effect of bean ingestion.” In other words, some folks may be allergic to fava beans causing an anemic reaction (i.e., tiredness, headache, fever, etc.) Thank you, Critical Care Medicine for that information.
On the brighter side, for those of us that don’t have that reaction, this recipe of fusilli con fave e piselli makes a nice rustic meal. I, unfortunately, could not find fresh fava beans, so I resorted to canned – hence the brown hue of my dish. Oh, and don’t forget, you’ll want to serve these fava beans with a nice bottle of chianti…sorry, couldn’t help myself.
Fusilli Pasta with Fave Beans and Peas (Fusilli con fave e piselli)
by Alta Cucina Recipes
- 1 14.5 ounce box Fusilli shaped pasta
- 1/2 cup fresh baby peas
- 1/2 cup fresh fava beans, unshelled (if you can’t find fresh ones, canned will do fine, rinse them first, though)
- 2 leeks
- 2 – 3 cups vegetable broth
- grated roman pecorino cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and white pepper
Finely chop the onion and cook it gently in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Add the peas and the Fava beans. Season with salt and pepper and let it to cook for 15 minute over a light heat, adding a little stock when needed. Clean the leaks and chop them in thick slices. Add to the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes. Cook the pasta al dente and pour it into the pan with the vegetables.