Monday, after a long day of climbing, we burst into the house, ravenous, and ready to eat just about anything in sight. I opened the fridge, hoping to see some feast I had brilliantly made in anticipation of this moment, only to be reminded that we desperately needed to go grocery shopping. Not even a jar of peanut butter to tide us over. We needed dinner and we needed it fast.

This pasta dish came together with what we had on hand: a package of bacon, a pound of brown rice pasta, some goat cheese, and an endless supply of tender, young fava leaves from our backyard. Fava leaves are a beautiful, silvery-green color and they have the same subtle, nutty flavor of the young fava bean. I have been eating them raw in salads with blood oranges (another obsession of late) and avocado, or throwing them in last minute to grain dishes and soups. The flavor has the same promise of spring as young pea shoots or the first slender stalks of asparagus.

If you don’t have fava on hand you can easily substitute another green. Dandelion greens will add a nice bitter bite to the dish and sorrel will give it a lemony lift. If you are in a greens-deprived place, there is always delicious, reliable kale. The beauty of this pasta is the ease of the recipe and its potential for endless iterations with whatever you have on hand.

Fettuccini with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Fava Leaves

Serves 4 (or 2 SUPER hungry people)
1lb Brown Rice Fettuccini (or regular fettuccini)
1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
4 or 5 pieces of thick cut bacon
4 oz chevre
3 large garlic cloves smashed with the back of a knife
4 cups fresh young fava leaves
salt and pepper
parmesan to top
Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 20 minutes. Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. If your bacon yielded a lot of fat you may want to drain off half of it to save for another use. Be sure to leave a good amount (at least 1/8 of a cup) in the pan. Once the bacon has cooled, chop into good sized chunks, about 1/2 an inch.
Stir the garlic and onion into the bacon grease (careful for grease splatters!) and lower the heat a little. Add lots of fresh cracked black pepper and stir periodically. You want the onions to be soft and starting to brown by the time the pasta is finished cooking.
While the onions and garlic cook, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and stir. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta in a colander.
Add the pasta, bacon and goat cheese to the pan of onions. Stir everything together, adding small amounts of the reserved pasta water at a time to help the sauce come together. Once everything is well mixed and the pasta evenly coated, remove from heat and stir in half of the fava leaves. Once the leaves are well mixed and wilted add the remainder of the leaves.
Serve immediately topped with fresh grated parmesan, cracked black pepper, and–if you are as citrus obsessed as I-lots of fresh lemon zest.
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