Italy is always one for some seasonal produce and these tender little beans are one of springtime’s sweetest pleasures. The broad bean (vici faba, also known as the fava bean) and it’s distinct flavour – ranging from a pealike sweetness to an earthy bitterness depending on when they’re harvested – is known all across Europe and the Mediterranean.  While they seem to have a particular affinity for dishes containing pork-based meats like bacon, pancetta and chorizo, the diverse fava bean cuisine of Italy helps cement their status as the legume with the most soul. In Tuscany, the beans are snatched up as soon as they appear, eaten raw with sharp cheese like Pecorino Romano. Around the Mediterranean, the emergence of the first fava beans also beautifully coincides with  the last of the artichokes, resulting in a popular stew known as fritella or fritedda in Sicily or la vignarola in Rome, where peas are added. Highly acclaimed chef Russell Brown has expertly paired his broad beans with some of Italy’s more well-known ingredients: Pasta, ricotta and truffle.

ruseell brown

After cooking professionally for the last twenty years, Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Russell Brown is now heading up Creative about Cuisine, a bespoke food-based consultancy, writing and photography service. You can read a more in-depth description of what Russell does and how he can help your business succeed below.

Serves six

For the agnolottiborlotti beans ravioli

– 400g pasta dough (see below)
– 250g ricotta, drained
– 65g finely grated Parmesan
– 1 egg yolk
– egg yolk wash to assemble
– A good quality sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the truffle butter sauce

– 6 tbsp vegetable stock reduction (see below)
– 75g unsalted butter
– 180g blanched and peeled broad beans
– 20g truffle paste
– Good quality sea salt

To serve

– Parmesan shavings
– Extra Virgin Olive oil 

(Bellavita reminds you that some of these items are available to buy at the new Bellavita eshop including the ricotta, Parmesan, truffle butter, Pinot Grigio, 00 floursea salt, olive oil plus many others.)

  1. First make the agnolotti; push the ricotta through a sieve and blend in the egg yolk and grated cheese, then season well. Transfer the mix to a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle. The mix should almost taste over-seasoned to come through the pasta.
  2. Roll out the pasta dough to the point where you can just see your fingers through it. To fill the pasta pieces, pipe a line of ricotta mix 2cm in from the long edge nearest you. Continue to squeeze the ricotta tube at 2cm intervals (so that the area of pasta you will be sealing together is clear of filling.
  3. Divide the pasta into individual pieces by cutting in the gaps with the fluted cutter. Egg wash the edges of the pasta lightly and fold over to seal together with the filling in the middle, as if making a sausage roll.
  4. Trim the pasta off using a fluted pastry wheel a thumbs width beyond the far edge of the ricotta tube. Keep the pasta covered with clingfilm while you are finishing creating the pieces.
  5. Transfer the agnolotti to a semolina-covered tray and store uncovered in the fridge. The pasta can be kept like this for 2 days. It can also be blast-frozen and stored in the freezer.
  6. To serve, heat the vegetable stock reduction and whisk in the cold diced butter to form an emulsion. Add the truffle paste and season to taste.
  7. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 2-4 minutes depending on how much it has dried in the fridge.
  8. Drain the pasta and add to the truffle sauce. Then, add the broad beans and toss together, allowing it to cook gently for a few minutes to warm the beans but avoid boiling the sauce. Serve in warm shallow bowls and garnish with a few flakes of cheese and a drizzle of best quality extra virgin olive oil.

Veg stock reduction

– 750ml fresh vegetable stock
– 100ml Noilly Pratt
– 250ml dry white wine, for example Pinot Grigio

  1. Reduce the alcohols on a high heat in a heavy based pan to around 100ml, then add the vegetable stock and reduce by 3/4.
  2. Pass through a fine chinois and chill. The reduction should taste intense and fairly sharp. It will keep in the fridge for 10 days. 

Pasta dough

– 360g “00” pasta flour
– 40g semolina
– 2 whole large eggs plus yolks to make up 230g total weight
– 10g olive oil
– 12g finely ground high quality sea salt
– Water as required

  1. Sift the flours and salt into a blender, and in a separate bowl, mix the eggs and oil together. Pour the egg combination in through the feed tube and then pulse until the mix forms coarse bread crumbs. Test a little dough, it should come together to make a fairly dry but easily pliable dough. Add a little water if necessary.
  2. Tip the dough onto a clean surface and knead together. Oil lightly and wrap in clingfilm.
  3. Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before use. The dough will freeze well if tightly wrapped.

Combining valuable, high-quality hotel and restaurant experience gained over the years with a passion for great food and service and an approachable, easygoing manner, Russell’s consultancy service is designed to assist your business in areas such as menu-planning, chef mentoring/training, supplier sourcing, kitchen design and planning, plus much more.

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