Creamy Fava Risotto

’Tis the season of fava beans!! the markets have been covered in the delicious legume lately, and I can’t get enough. Once we shell the beans, we’re always left with these giant shells that I just can’t throw out. You know how much I absolutely hate wasting food, so I did some experimentation and really love the results. Boiling the shells of the beans in water, olive oil, and salt then puree them with herbs and spices creates a really delicate, yet flavourful addition to the risotto. Grating fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese made it a heavenly combination I know you’ll love, too! *FUN SIDE NOTE: every Italian will disagree with me, but all of my risottos are vegan until I add the cheese. This naturally light and creamy puree especially disguises the fact that I don’t use butter in my risotto. But I have served many italians without telling them, and they have given me nothing but compliments and are always licking the fork clean.

What You’ll Need:

(serves 4)

  • 4 handfuls of carnaroli or arborio rice + 1 for the table

  • 1/2 onion, minced

  • veggie broth (please read the ingredients if you’re buying in the store!! make sure it’s ONLY veggies…if you cannot find a good brand, make at home or just omit and use the water used for boiling fava shells)

  • 10 fava beans and the shells

  • handful of fresh basil leaves

  • salt, qb

  • fresh oregano, qb

  • 1/2 glass white wine

  • freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP or Pecorino Toscano DOP


Shell and rinse the fava beans. In a shallow pan, boil about an inch of water with a little olive oil and salt. Add the fava shells and cover for about 20 minutes, adding more water when necessary. Put the broth in a pan to slowly boil. In a deep pan or pot on low heat, lightly sauté the diced onion with the fava beans. Just as the onions start to slightly brown, add the dry rice and toss around until coated in the oil. Raise the heat and add the white wine, continuously stirring to “toast” the rice (far tostare il riso). Lower the heat, and add 3-4 ladles of broth until the rice is covered. Stir a little. Let cook until broth evaporates and rice starts to show, and add more broth to cover it. Continue this until rice is nearly finished cooking. In the meantime, remove the soft, cooked shells from the water and blend them with salt, basil, and oregano using a food processor, emulsion blender, or blender…whichever you have; adding the water you used to boil, and olive oil as necessary to create a creamy texture. Once the rice is just about cooked, add the fava shell puree and stir into the rice, adding a little more broth if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, reserving more to garnish. Scoop one heaping ladle of risotto onto the plate, tap the bottom to let it spread out, and sprinkle fresh Parmigiano. Buon appetito!