There is nothing that screams spring more than this quick and easy broad bean pesto recipe. This pesto without pine nuts can be served as broad "fava" beans hummus or as a pasta sauce. A real treat with a creamy texture and crunchy Parma ham bites.
What makes this pesto different from the traditional one is the presence of the broad beans, or fava beans called in the US, instead of the basil. Also, the addition of the Ricotta cheese, mint leaves, and lemon peel will balance well the strength of the pesto. If you love pesto this Tomato tart with pesto and burrata cheese will be a great addition to the list of the recipe to try.
Why you'll love this broad bean pesto without pine nuts
- Quick to make. No need to spend too much time in the kitchen. In 30 minutes, you will have an incredibly creamy and delicious pesto.
- Make ahead recipe. This pesto is a great option for those busy days. It can be made the day before and stored in the fridge until use.
- Mediterranean taste. The taste of the lemon, mint leaves, ricotta cheese, and crunchy Parma ham will bring you on holiday in Italy.
Way to use this pesto
This broad bean pesto is perfect for the spring and summer seasons, it is fresh, light, and rich in flavors. I always make it in double batches as I like to have it through the week, in case one day I fancy an appetizer. Especially when I have family over or a bbq party in my home, I just need to take it from the fridge, make it pretty, and serve it. Here I share my favorite way to eat this pesto:
- Broad o fava bean hummus or dip. Thanks to its creamy texture it makes it ideal to serve as hummus. Make sure to have plenty of bread to dip into it. My favorite way to serve it is along with this flaky Italian flatbread, and with some cured meat, and cheese board. It will be an appetizing starter that your guest will love. Besides, why not make it pretty? Have fun decorating this broad/fava bean hummus with some mint leaves, and chopped toasted almonds. To finish, drop some crunchy Parma ham bites and some drops of olive oil.
- Pasta sauce. If you are craving pasta or if you are a pasta lover as I am, this is perfect to use as a pasta sauce. Any type of pasta will work wonderfully, especially penne or any shape that traps the pesto in it.
How to recognize fresh broad o fava beans?
To get the best flavor from the broad "fava" beans hummus or pesto is important to buy fresh ones. When you are in the market look for firm, puffy, and vibrant green pods. Leave behind the ones with black patches on them, this is a sign of non-freshness.
Ingredients for broad bean pesto
The ingredient list is quite short, for this reason, we want to get the best high-quality ingredients to reach peak flavor. However, if I have to choose to buy just one high-quality ingredient - in addition to the mentioned beans - that would be extra virgin olive oil. Here is the list:
- Broad beans
- Mint leaves
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Unwaxed lemon peel
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Ricotta cheese
- Parma Ham
Step by step instruction*
*Note: this is just a quick introduction. Please read the recipe card for the full instructions.
As I mentioned, this pesto without pine nuts is super easy and quick to make, you will need to toast and precook the broad beans, and blend.
Toast the almond in a preheated oven on a baking tray for 10 minutes. Once done remove the almond and set them aside to cool down*.
*Note: the almond needs to cool down before blending them with the rest of the ingredients. This will prevent the pesto from becoming dark because of the heat.
On a baking tray lay down the slices of Parma ham and cook them for 10 minutes until crispy. Remove them from the oven and set them aside.
Bring the water to boiling in a medium saucepan. Once the water is boiling drop the broad beans in it and let them cook for 4 minutes. Drain the broad beans with a strainer*, leaving the water in the saucepan, and rinse them under cold water. To finish, drop the broad beans into the bowl with cold water. Remove the skin from the broad beans and pop the bright green beans into a bowl.
*Tip: don't throw the cooking water from the broad beans, it can be used to cook the pasta. This way the pasta will have more flavor. Also don't panic if the pasta once cooked will change slightly the color. This is completely normal because the broad beans release the color in the water.
Add the broad beans and the rest of the ingredients, except the Parma ham, to a blender and blitz for a couple of times until it is all combined. Serve with a sprinkle of Parma ham either as hummus or as a pasta sauce.
Nuts- As we said this pesto is made without pine nuts, however, you can definitely use pine nuts, walnuts, or unsalted pistachios. Remember to toast the nuts, this way the nuts will release more flavor.
Veggies- A great combo would add to the pesto some peas or asparagus. Let the peas cook in boiling water for 2 minutes, and drain them under runny cold water. For the asparagus, remove the hardest bottom of them. Then put them in a frying pan with cold water to cover them, and once the water is boiling, let them cook for 7 minutes.
Cured meat- Instead of the crispy parma ham a delicious alternative would be to use diced pancetta, diced guanciale, or very fine slices of bacon. Cook the bacon as the Parma ham. While for the pancetta or guanciale crispy them in a hot frying pan until browned and crispy.
Frequently asked questions
Where do I find broad or fava beans?
The broad or fava beans can be found in any vegetable stall or food market. Alternatively, you can use the frozen ones that are largely available in the stores. In case you are using the frozen broad beans, let me cook for 5 minutes in boiling water.
Is edamame the same as broad beans?
The edamame looks alike in shape and color to the broad beans but they are not the same. The edamame is a young green soybean pod. As the looks might be alike the taste is completely different, I would not recommend swapping the edamame with the broad beans.
Can you use broad beans without double podding?
Yes, you might. However, the skin of the broad beans makes them bitter. For this reason, I suggest you remove the skin from them.
How long will the broad bean pesto last?
Store the pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. Also, it can be frozen for up to 2 months.
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Broad beans pesto
- 1 Medium oven tray
- Baking paper
- 1 Medium saucepan
- 1 Strainer
- 2 Medium Bowl
- 1 Blender
Broad beans pesto; total 400gr
- 240 gr broad or fava beans without the outer poded plus the one you need to serve as decorations
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon Maldon salt
- 40 gr Parmigiano Reggiano
- 140 gr ricotta cheese
- 5 gr grated peel of unwaxed lemon
- 60 gr almond with skin
- 10 mint leaves washed and dried
- 2 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 60 gr Parma ham or Prosciutto
To decorate as hummus/dip optional
- 5 mint leaves
- 10 almond chopped and toasted
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 10 broad or fava beans podded cooked and removed the skin
To serve as pasta sauce
- 360 gr pasta
- 360 gr broad beans pesto
- 6 tablespoon pasta water
To decorate the pasta/optional
- 38 broad or fava beans podded cooked and removed the skin
- 20 gr Parmigiano Reggiano grated
Broad beans pesto
- Preheat the oven to 200°C fan, 220°C conventional,7 Gas mark, 392°F.
- Lay a baking tray with baking paper, place the almond and let them toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Once ready set them aside to cool down.
- On the same baking tray lay down the slices of Parma ham and cook them for 10 minutes until are golden crispy. Remove the slices from the oven and set them aside. Once they cooled off, break them with your hands into chunks.
- Bring the water to boiling in a medium saucepan. Once the water is boiling, drop the broad beans in it and let them cook for 4 minutes.
- Prepare a medium bowl with plenty of cold water and set aside. Drain the broad beans with a strainer and rinse them under cold water for few times. To finish tip the broad beans into the bowl with cold water. This will help broad beans to maintain their vibrant color. Don’t throw the cooking water from the broad beans, it can be used to cook the pasta. This way the pasta will have more flavor.
- Remove the skin from the broad beans with your hands by making a scratch on the tip and then squeeze each pod. Pop the bright green beans into a bowl and set aside. Throw the skin.
- Optional, set aside the broad beans you will use to decorate the pasta or the hummus.
- Add the broad beans, garlic, lemon peel, olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, salt, mint leaves, ricotta cheese, and almonds cooled off into a blender. Keep in mind that the almonds must be cold otherwise the color of the pesto will darken up because of the heat.
- Blitz for a couple of times and stop once it is all blended. Scrape down the sides of the blender if you still see chunky pieces and blend again until combined. Tip the pesto into a bowl and serve as desired.
To serve as hummus/dip - optional
- Transfer the pesto into a bowl, using the back of a large spoon to create a swirl in the center. Before serving, garnish with some crunchy Parma ham, mint leaves, chopped almonds, and broad beans. To finish, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
To serve as pasta sauce - optional
- Bring the same water where the broad beans were cooked to boil, you might need to add more water if not enough. Once boiling, add some coarse salt and the pasta.
- Cook the pasta al dente. Set aside a glass of pasta water when you are about to drain the pasta. Tip the pesto into a medium bowl and add 6 tablespoon of pasta water to cream it up. Add the drained pasta into the bowl with the pesto and combine.
- Plate the pasta for every person and garnish it with crispy Parma ham, and broad beans. To finish, sprinkle some grated Parmigiano Reggiano over the pasta and serve immediately.