Tuesday 23 May 2023

Fava bean puree with chicory

20 minutes to prepare to cookServes 4

Fave e cicoria

The cuisine of the poor, has become quite fashionable in recent years. Based on humble ingredients and simple cooking techniques, these traditional peasant dishes were born out of necessity. And yet they still appeal to us today, partly out of nostalgia, partly because they’re enviromental friendly. But probably they just taste too good to give up, even when you can afford something more complex.

Fave e cicoria - fava bean purée with chicory - is a dish from Puglia. It epitomizes the whole cucina povera concept. It is made from two ingredients that were and still are dirt cheap. Or free, in fact, for people, who still forage for wild chicory in the open fields around the city. But put these two unpretentious ingredients together and you get a taste experience to appeal to the most sophisticated of palates.

The beauty of this recipe lies in the contrast between the bitterness of the greens with the mild nuttiness of the beans. The best way to eat them is to take a bit of the greens with your fork, twirling them as you would strands of spaghetti, and then dip the greens into the purée. This way you can make sure you get a bit of greens and a bit of bean in each bite.
You want peeled fava beans if you can find them. If you find favas with their skins still on, you will need to peel them before cooking. The skin, while not entirely inedible, does not make for good eating. This is not difficult, since once soaked, the skins should slide off fairly easily, leaving a pod of two loosely attached halves - but it does require some patience, so sit down with your bowl of favas and listen to some music while you peel.
And you really want good, fruity, extra virgin olive oil to given this dish the proper character. If you use any other kind of oil, even the lighter olive oils, will not do. 

Here are ingredients for a 4-serving recipe:

500g dried, peeled fava beans
2 cloves garlic
400 g chicory
salt and pepper
EVO oil

  1. Soak fava beans overnight, up to 12 hours
  2. Put your favas in a pot large enough to contain them and enough water to cover by a couple of centimeters. Season well with salt and pepper
  3. Simmer about an hour or more, until the favas have become very tender. Stir frequently and top up with more water as needed to prevent the beans from drying out and scorching, but you do want to water to reduce, so that by the time the favas are tender, the water will mostly have evaporated
  4. When the beans are tender, begin to mash them with the side of your wooden spoon, until the beans have formed a kind of cream. If you want a smoother texture, use an immersion blender or pass the favas through a food mill and return them to the pot. Add a good pour of EVO oil to enrich the beans
  5. Continue simmering, stirring all the time, until the beans have formed a purée thick enough that you can form a little 'canal' with a wooden spoon as you stir. The purée should have the texture of mashed potatoes. Taste and, if necessary, adjust for seasoning. 
  6. Meanwhile, boil the chicory in well salted water until fully tender but still bright green, about 4-5 minutes. Drain
  7. Place your fava bean purée in the bottom of individual plates. Place some of the boiled greens on top of the fava purée. Drizzle both greens and purée with a generous amount of the best, fruitiest olive oil you can find. Serve immediately!

Nutrition Facts are detailed in the table below. Data is provided per serving.

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