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Fava beans with chicory – My love affair with Apulia

Fava beans with chicory – My love affair with Apulia

Fava beans with chicory is a very humble recipe with an ancient, peasant soul. The peculiarity of this rustic dish is the contrast between the sweetness of the fava beans and the slight bitterness of the chicory; a powerful meeting between two different, but exceptionally complementary flavors.

Fave e cicoria, in Italian, or fav’ e fogghie, as it is called in local dialect, is a dish of the Apulian tradition.

Apulian cuisine is really healthy and mainly based on wild greens, vegetables, fish, whole grain cereals and…their absolutely fantastic olive oil. Many simple ingredients are often combined together to get the most rich results and addictive recipes, in perfect Mediterranean style!

fava beans and chicory

My love affair with Apulia

I have a special affinity with Apulia, one the regions in Italy that most holds a special place in my heart. Many of my friends and ex-flatmates during university years come from there and I have spent many summers vacationing in beautiful Salento thanks to them.

Most important, my boyfriend comes from Brindisi and for this reason I am so blessed to spend some weeks there every year. I have also lived there for some months before moving to Brussels. If you have never been to Apulia, I strongly recommend you to consider visiting it, because of its ancestral, magical aura, beautiful landscapes, hospitable people, and…amazing food. The rural tradition is really strong and many of the old habits that are lost in the North of Italy are alive and kicking in this fascinating land.

Fave e cicoria make no exception as we are talking of a really quintessential Apulian dish, with ancient roots. It combines the wild chicory, that grows spontaneously in the Apulian countryside, and dried fava beans, whose cultivation is extremely widespread. Did you know that housewives were used to lay fava beans on their terraces and balconies to dry them and store them for winter time?
In ancient times, the locals  cooked fava beans and chicory in a pignata, a terracotta pot with the shape of an amphora. They added vegetables in the pot, together with water, and the cooking happened in the fireplace, next to the flames. It was really slow cooking, as you can imagine!

fava beans and chicory

 

Fava beans with chicory recipe

Ingredients:

1 lb (500 gr.)  skinless dried fava beans
1 potato, peeled and sliced
14 oz (400 gr.) wild chicory
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp for seasoning
1/2 tsp + 1 tsp table salt
1 tbsp kosher salt
3 bay leaves

Method

As first step, put the dried fava beans in a bowl full of cold water and let them soak overnight.
The day after, drain them well and wash them under running water.
Transfer the fava beans into a large thick bottomed pot, with the bay leaves and the sliced potato.

fava beans and chicory

Add enough water to cover and let simmer, for around two hours. Cover the pot with a lid and remember, from time to time, to skim away the froth that rises to the surface. It might as well be necessary to add some extra hot water.

fava beans and chicory

In the meantime, wash the chicory, drain it and cut away the tough part – the white one – with a knife.
In a large saucepan, bring abundant water to a boil, add  kosher salt and blanch the chicory for some minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. When it becomes soft, drain and put aside OR add an extra step and sauté the chicory in a large frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil, a clove of garlic, and 1/2 tsp  table salt.
Time to check your fava beans! They will be ready, when, stirring with a wooden spoon energetically, they will become a sort of puree. At that moment, season with 1 tsp table salt and prepare your composition!

fava beans and chicory
Spoon some of the fava beans puree on a plate and next to it, place some of the chicory. Season with 1 tsp olive oil and eat with some rustic bread!
TIP: Don’t mix fava beans and chicory in the plate! You should eat the chicory by twirling it around the fork, then spooning some of the puree and let the flavors get mixed in your mouth. That’s the best way to appreciate fave e cicoria!

Extra Tips:

-Some people nowadays use a mixer to perfectly blend the fava beans, after the 2 hours cooking. You can do it too, but I prefer being old school in this case.

-Wild chicory is extremely difficult to find if you are not in the right spot. I used cultivated chicory this time because it was the best alternative I had, and you can go ahead with that too.

-The potato is a recent addition in the recipe, a trick to obtain a creamier puree with a lighter color. It is up to you to decide if you like it or not (I adore potatoes, so for me it’ is a 100 % yes!).

-If you, like my boyfriend, like a much spicier taste, you can season chicory with chili flakes. In that case, it is better to sauté the chicory after blanching it, otherwise you can skip the passage.

Note : this post is sponsored by my absolute love for Apulia region! 🙂

fava beans and chicory

Fava beans with chicory

2017-04-30
: 4
: 30 min
: 2 hr
: 2 hr 30 min
: Easy

Delicious Fava Beans Puree with Chicory, a healty and tasty dish where bitterness and sweetness embrace each other with grace and balance.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 lb (500 gr.) skinless dried fava beans
  • 1 potato, peeled and sliced
  • 14 oz (400 gr.) wild chicory
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp for seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp + 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 bay leaves
Directions
  • Step 1 Put the dried fava beans in a bowl full of cold water and let them soak overnight.
  • Step 2 The day after, drain them well and wash them under running water.
  • Step 3 Transfer the fava beans into a large thick bottomed pot, with the bay leaves and the sliced potato.
  • Step 4 Add enough water to cover and let simmer, for around two hours.
  • Step 5 Cover the pot with a lid and remember, from time to time, to skim away the froth that rises to the surface.
  • Step 6 Add extra water if needed.
  • Step 7 In the meantime, wash the chicory, drain it and cut away the tough part – the white one – with a knife.
  • Step 8 In a large saucepan, bring abundant water to a boil, add 1 tbsp kosher salt and blanch the chicory for some minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  • Step 9 When it becomes soft, drain and put aside OR add an extra step and sauté the chicory in a large frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil, a clove of garlic, and 1/2 tsp table salt.
  • Step 10 Check the fava beans: they will be ready, when, stirring with a wooden spoon energetically, they will become a sort of puree.
  • Step 11 Season with 1 tsp  table salt and spoon some of the fava beans puree on a plate.
  • Step 12 Next to it, place some of the chicory.
  • Step 13 Season with 1 tsp olive oil and eat with some rustic bread.


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