Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto

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Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto



The story behind the making of Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto

When springtime arrives you will find me in my garden, (well, when I’m not at my computer writing these recipes down) planting and harvesting my crops. Springtime is bursting with fresh peas, lettuces, beets, carrots, radish, and FAVA beans.


Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto


Risotto with Fava Beans is one of my favorite ways to use up all those favas. And just within the past couple of years, I learned that even the leaves on the fava plant are edible; and taste just like the fava bean itself. So what better way to make a fava bean risotto then with both the bean and the leaf? I can tell you that this recipe for Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto is bursting with flavor. That’s BURSTING with it.

If you aren’t familiar with fava beans, check out the article I wrote “All About Fava Beans” and get familiar with them. Fava beans are becoming more and more available, I actually saw some in Safeway. Not that I would buy my beans from Safeway necessarily, fava beans convert their sugar to starch pretty quickly, so if at all possible, buy your beans at the farmer’s market, a farm stand or a “fresh” market, such as Sprouts, Whole Foods, Bristol Farms or a small independent market. As Fava beans are really easy to grow, you might consider a patch of ground in your yard and try growing some.

The Fava Leaf Pesto is really lovely with the risotto. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to get the leaves; you could use either my recipe for Arugula Walnut Pesto or Spinach and Artichoke Pesto. Either one would work well as a replacement.

If you’ve read any of my risotto recipes, you know that I love to cook it in the pressure cooker. Only 7 minutes once it comes to pressure and it only uses 2 cups of broth, rather than 4 – 6 cups. I don’t know about you, but I can always use that broth for some other purpose. Right?


But if you don’t want to use the pressure cooker, then go ahead and use the stir stir, add add, stir stir method. Just remember, you will need more broth then what is indicated here. And of course I always use homemade broth when I made risotto, the flavor is just so much richer than boxed or canned, but boxed or canned broth will work. Just make sure you get a good quality broth that uses the least amount of aromatics in it. If you wanted to keep this vegetarian, you could also use vegetable stock.

And since this is made with rice (arborio rice) it is naturally gluten-free. All rice is gluten-free. It’s just not carb free.

I hope you find some fava beans, and hopefully, some fava leaves so you can try this easy and delicious risotto. No matter how you cook it.


Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto


Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto


  • For the Fava Leaf Pesto

    2 cups loosley packed tender fava leaves, washed
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachio nuts** (I used toasted salted nuts I got from Trader Joes, then just adjusted the salt at the end)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, as needed
  • For the Risotto

    1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or white vermouth (a sauv blanc worked will with this dish, and it drinks well too)
  • 2 cups warm, or room temperature chicken broth*** (homemade preferred)
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled fava beans (if large double shell, if small or medium, you can just remove from the pod and leave whole)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and a generous amount of black pepper


Step 1

Prepare the Pesto

In a blender or food processor, place the fava leaves along with the pistachios and garlic, pulse until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice and pulse; then with the machine running add the olive oil in a steady stream, stop and using a spatula, scrape the sides. Add the cheese and pulse until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. Taste and adjust for salt. Set - aside.

Step 2

Prepare the Risotto

Take out your pressure cooker or wide high sided risotto pan. Heat the oil over medium heat; add the onion and sauté until soft; about 3 minutes; add the rice and sauté, stirring, until the rice is just opaque in the center; about 3 -4 minutes. Add the wine or vermouth and allow it to evaporate. While this is cooking, using a blender, puree 1/2 cup of the shelled fava beans into the chicken broth. Once the wine is evaporated; add the now modified chicken broth and place the cover to the pressure cooker; bring to pressure, reduce heat to maintain pressure and cook 7 minutes. Release the pressure using the quick release method.If you are not using a pressure cooker, you will need to add the broth, one cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed, add more broth, a cup at a time, stirring each addition until it's gone, repeat until the rice is tender. Once the rice is cooked stir in the remaining fava beans. Cook for about 3 minutes or until tender; then stir in the cheese. Taste and adjust for salt and add a generous amount of black pepper. Serve the risotto with the pesto on the side.

*Time includes the time it should take to double shell the fava beans.

**Buy your nuts at Trader Joe’s when possible as they have all kinds of nuts at very reasonable prices. You can also shell whole pistachio nuts.

***If you are making risotto the standard way, you will need 4 – 6  cups of broth.

Risotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf PestoRisotto with Fava Beans and Fava Leaf Pesto served with

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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Cher on June 3, 2014

    I’ve never tried Fava Beans… I might have to make your fabulous recipe so I can try them!


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