I look forward to eating this dish all year long. The window of opportunity for it is very short, so you have to enjoy it while you can.
Serves 4 generously or 6 moderately
2 large onions
2 cups fresh shelled peas and/or fava beans*
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces pasta (I love angel hair but I think any will do)
salt and pepper to taste
Slice the onions in thin rounds then into quarters. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on med/hi heat, add the onions when the oil is hot. To caramelize onions you want to stir them frequently and once they begin to clarify, turn the heat down to med. The onions will be done when they are all caramel colored and soft. Be careful not to burn them or they will taste bitter. While your onions are cooking, boil water for pasta.
At the same time your pasta is cooking, add the peas and favas to the saute pan with the onions and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. You don't want to over cook the peas and beans. Drain your pasta and add it to the saute pan with a small amount of the cooking water. Add salt and pepper to taste (I use about a teaspoon of salt and about 10-15 grinds of fresh pepper, but I think most people would like this better with more salt). Toss everything together really well.
Optional: add crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese.
Recipe notes: this is such an easy dish to make and because there are few ingredients it allows the delicate flavor of the fresh shelled peas and the fava beans to shine. I often like strong flavors such as garlic and herbs but this is an exception. It only takes me about a half an hour to make. Shelling the peas and beans takes time but you can do it while the onions are sauteing.
*If you are using fava beans be sure to remove the outer skin first by blanching and then dunking in ice water.