Fasolada is a staple ingredient in Italian cuisine and the main ingredient in many traditional pasta sauces.
It’s made from broad beans (also known as fava beans), which have been available since ancient times.
They’re grown all over Italy, including Lazio, where they were originally cultivated.
You may be familiar with broad beans because of their appearance in risotto dishes—they look like little green peas.
But don’t let their appearance fool you into thinking that they taste like peas either.
Broad beans are rich in protein, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
So while they may not taste great on their own, they can be an excellent addition to your diet.
What is fasolada?
Broad beans (fava beans) are one of the oldest legumes known to man, dating back to the Neolithic period (about 10,000 BC).
They were first domesticated in Mesopotamia, and later spread throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America.
Broad beans are now found growing wild throughout much of Europe, including France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo.
In some regions, such as the Balkans, broad beans are still harvested by hand.
The name “fasolada” comes from the Latin word for broad bean, faba.
Fasolada is also sometimes referred to as “Italian broad bean sauce,” or simply “broad bean sauce.”
How to pronounce Fasolada?
The name fassolia comes from the Latin word fasolia meaning “broad bean pods” or “broad bean seeds.”
In order to distinguish this dish from other types of fasulli, it is sometimes referred to as fasolia or fava.
There are two basic ways to pronounce fasolada:
First, it’s easy to say it in English, as if it were spelled fa-SOL-la.
Or, second, you can stick with the original Italian pronunciation, which sounds more like fa-SO-la.
What to Serve with Fasolada
If you’ve ever eaten fasolada, you know that it has a creamy texture, which makes it perfect for adding to pasta dishes.
If you want to serve fasolada as its own dish, here are some ideas:
Spread fasolada on top of thin slices of pizza dough before baking in the oven.
Make a lasagna with fasolada instead of pasta sauce.
Fasolada pizza roll
Use fasolada instead of ricotta cheese when making a pizza roll.
Use fasolada as a spread between bread slices and add lettuce leaves or tomato slices on top.
Fasolada and eggplant rolls
Wrap sliced eggplant with fasolada, then bake them until crispy.
What are some tips for making fasolada?
Here are some tips for making fasolada.
Broad beans should be shelled, but this isn’t always easy
If your sheller doesn’t work well, or you don’t have one, you can shell them by hand.
Simply pick up a bean and squeeze it gently between your thumb and forefinger until you hear it pop open.
Then remove the pod and discard it.
The beans inside will come out easily when you do this, so there’s no need to use any special equipment.
The best way to cook fasolada is to boil it
You can steam it if you prefer, but boiling is the most authentic method.
Boiled broad beans take about 20 minutes to become tender.
However, if you want to speed things up, you can blanch them first.
To blanch, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.
Add the beans and cover the pot.
Once the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low.
Cook the beans for 5 minutes.
Remove them from the water with tongs and place them in an ice bath.
This stops the cooking process and helps keep the beans crisp.
Once the beans are cool enough to handle, drain them.
While they’re still warm, add olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil leaves.
Mix everything together using your hands.
You should end up with a very chunky mixture.
Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
Serve it hot.
Serve with pasta
If you want, you can serve it with spaghetti, penne, or other types of pasta.
Or you can eat it straight out of the pan.
Either way, it’ll be delicious.
You can freeze fasolada in individual portions
Just spoon it into small containers before freezing it.
When you want to reheat it, put the frozen container in a saucepan and fill it halfway with cold water.
Heat the water until it boils.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer the fasolada for 10 minutes.
Drain the contents of the container and transfer them to a bowl.
Serve them hot.
Full recipe of original Fasolada
500g dry white kidney beans or cannellini beans or navy beans (18 ounces)
3–4 carrots, finely chopped
1 large white onion, finely chopped (if you love onions, add one more!)
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
130ml extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup)
2 tbsps tomato paste
a pinch of paprika (hot or sweet, according to preferance)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (min 2 flat teaspoons each)
To prepare the fasolada, place the beans in a saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover them.
Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to medium and parboil for 30-35 minutes, until slightly tender.
Drain in colander and set aside.
Finely chop the onion, celery and carrots.
Add 3-4 tbsps of olive oil in a deep pan, add the chopped vegetables and blend.
Sauté for about 2 minutes and add the tomato paste and continue sautéing for a minute.
Add the parboiled beans in the pan and pour in enough boiling water to cover the beans and little bit more and blend lightly.
Place the lid on and simmer the fasolada for about 35 minutes, until the beans are tender.
Towards the end of cooking time, pour in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Boil for a few more minutes, until the soup becomes thick and creamy.
Serve this traditional fasolada while still steaming hot with a few Kalamata olives and of course some village bread.
Fasolada recipes vary by region, so if you want to learn how to make a fassolada or other variations of this popular dish, here are some ideas for you to try out.
1. Fassolada de arroz con pollo
This fasolada is a classic recipe, originating from the town of Avellino in Campania, Italy.
The ingredients include chicken, onions, garlic, raisins, pine nuts, almonds, tomatoes, olive oil, and white wine vinegar.
You can use any type of meat you prefer, such as lamb, beef, or pork, depending on what is available at your local grocery store.
The dish is cooked in a casserole dish until tender, then tossed with fresh herbs and served over rice.
2. Fassolada de pescado y verduras con huevos escalfados
In this fasolada recipe, you combine fish and vegetables with eggs and serve them over pasta.
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite restaurants, Osteria delle Erbe, in Rome.
It uses red snapper fillets as the main ingredient, which are sauteed with peppers, onion, celery, parsley, and lemon juice.
Then, you add a combination of eggplant, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes, along with cheese and breadcrumbs.
After everything has been cooked together, you toss it with penne pasta before serving it over spinach leaves.
3. Fassolada di ricotta e frutta di mare
This fasolada recipe calls for ricotta cheese, which is combined with shrimp and crabmeat along with fruit such as strawberries, peaches, and oranges.
This is another recipe from Osteria delle Erbe, which serves up a different version of fassolada every day.
4. Fassolada con gamberetti
This fasolada recipe calls for shrimp, which are first marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and dill.
Next, you cook them in a skillet with chopped fresh rosemary, garlic, and chile flakes.
When they’ve become tender, you toss them with penne pasta and serve them over spinach leaves.
5. Fasolada de papas con tomate rojo
If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, try this fasolada recipe, which combines sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and tomato sauce with chickpeas and feta cheese.
If you’re not a fan of chickpeas, you can substitute cannellini beans instead.
You can make this recipe vegetarian by skipping the bacon, using vegetable stock instead of chicken broth, and adding more water when cooking the vegetables.
- 1 saucepan
- 500 g white kidney beans or cannellini beans or navy beans, dry
- 3 – 4 carrots finely chopped
- 1 large white onion finely chopped (if you love onions, add one more!)
- 3 stalks of celery finely chopped
- 130 ml extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup
- 2 tbsps tomato paste
- 1 pinch paprika hot or sweet, according to preferance
- 2 tbsp salt to taste
- 2 tbsp ground pepper freshly
- To prepare the fasolada, place the beans in a saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover them.
- Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to medium and parboil for 30-35 minutes, until slightly tender.
- Drain in colander and set aside.
- Finely chop the onion, celery and carrots.
- Add 3-4 tbsps of olive oil in a deep pan, add the chopped vegetables and blend.
- Sauté for about 2 minutes and add the tomato paste and continue sautéing for a minute.
- Add the parboiled beans in the pan and pour in enough boiling water to cover the beans and little bit more and blend lightly.
- Place the lid on and simmer the fasolada for about 35 minutes, until the beans are tender.
- Towards the end of cooking time, pour in the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Boil for a few more minutes, until the soup becomes thick and creamy.
- Serve this traditional fasolada while still steaming hot with a few Kalamata olives and of course some village bread.