Fettuccine with dried broad beans and toasted breadcrumbs

Soaked broad beans gives this pasta sauce a super-creamy texture.
Soaked broad beans gives this pasta sauce a super-creamy texture. Photo: William Meppem

This is a brilliant vegetarian dish, inspired by a recipe I adapted from one of the nonnas in the cookbook Pasta Grannies. Once you've soaked the beans overnight, it's so simple and the sauce's texture is super-creamy. This breadcrumb mixture adds great texture; I use it on most seafood and vegetable pastas when I don't add cheese. I don't think you need cheese, but if you must, some freshly grated parmesan is fine. Serve with a salad and a glass of good wine.


4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 small onion, finely diced

1 small carrot, finely diced

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp fennel seeds, roasted and crushed

400g dried broad beans, soaked overnight

400g fettuccine

Toasted breadcrumbs

4 tbsp sourdough breadcrumbs

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped


1. To make the toasted breadcrumbs, preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional). Spread the sourdough crumbs on a tray and drizzle with the olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a plate with paper towel to absorb the leftover oil. When cool, mix the parsley and breadcrumbs together.

2. Pour the olive oil into a non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, chilli flakes, fennel seeds and season with sea salt. Cook the vegetables until they have softened, about 7-10 minutes. 

3. Add the broad beans and cover with about 1.5 litres (6 cups) water. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the beans are falling apart and creating a creamy sauce. Stir from time to time to stop them sticking.

4. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the fettuccine for about 1 minute less than the instructions on the packet. Add a couple of large spoonfuls of the pasta water to the bean sauce. Drain the pasta and toss it through the sauce.

5. Divide among 4 pasta bowls, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture before serving.

Three recipes from the Pasta Grannies cookbook