Jun 6, 2009

Fave e Cicoria recipe

Broad beans have a long tradition of cultivation in Old World agriculture, being among the most ancient plants in cultivation and also among the easiest to grow. It is believed that along with lentils, peas and chickpeas, they became part of the eastern Mediterranean diet in around 6,000 BC or earlier.

The term fava bean (from the Italian fava) is its most common name in the United States, with broad bean being the most common name in the UK.

fava beans and pecorino, a roman classic pairing

In ancient Rome, beans were used in voting; a white bean was used to cast a yes vote, and a black bean for no. Some people carry a fava for good luck; some believe that a broad bean, in pocket will assure the essentials of life. In and around Rome, on May 1st, families traditionally eat fresh fava beans with Pecorino Romano cheese during a daily excursion or a picnic.

cicoria greens and baby spinach
Cicoria is a very interesting green leafy protagonist of Italian cuisine. This relative of the endive has curly, bitter-tasting leaves that are often used as part of a salad or cooked as greens. In the United States, early endive is sometimes erroneously called chicory. I've heard it associated to dandelion greens. Today's trendy radicchio is in effect a red-leafed cicoria.

cicoria ripassata, dragged in a pan with olive oil and garlic

The baked and ground roots were used as a coffee substitute during WWII when espresso was a luxury item sold uniquely on the black market. When a particular espresso is of inferior quality, it's often compared to the wartime surrogate coffee beverage.

This recipe is typical of the splendid region of Puglia, features the pairing of bitter cicoria leaves and a delicate fava bean purée.

250 g (1/2 lb) dried and peeled fava beans, soaked overnight
500 g (1.1 lb) bitter greens (like black kale, aka cavolo nero, dandelion, or chicory)
optional, 6 slices crusty peasant bread, 1" thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Drain the fava beans and place in a saucepan. Cover with water, cover the pot, and cook over medium-high flame. Skim the foam that rises to the top once the water boils.

Once there is no more foam, add a generous pinch of salt and cook the beans, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, or until they have dissolved into the water and have taken the consistency of clotted cream. You may have to add more boiling water to keep beans from scorching.

Using a hand blender beat in 1/4 cup olive oil and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

While the beans cook, soak the greens in and baking soda, rinse several times in clean water, and then place them in a saucepan over high heat and cook them in the water that clings to their leaves, adding a little more water if necessary to prevent scorching. Once they are very tender, remove from the pot, squeeze out excess water, and dress with the remaining olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve the greens and fava puree in soup bowls over a slice of grilled or toasted bread, drizzled with a thread of raw oil.

Fave e Cicoria - www.aglioolioepeperoncino.com

Buon appetito!


  1. Interesting voting with beans, I love it!! Plus a good luck piece. I enjoy any kind of bean or green, so healthy! I like that recipe, Thanks Lola :)

  2. You are cooking like my Nonna. That's a compliment.

  3. Most interesting anecdotes to accompany your recipes. Perfect Saturday morning reading. Thanks.

  4. Wow! It looks really good...and when you at first used the word bitter to describe Cicoria...well, I wasn't sure...but your description and photograph really make me want to try it! You are an inspiring chef, and writer! ~Janine XO

  5. That's a great photo! Really made me want to try it. Once again, a show stopper.

  6. In the U.S., chickpeas and lentils are easily found, but I don't know where I could find broad beans (aka favas). They look like a rather fat lima or maybe a butterbean in your photo.

  7. I love bean dishes, plain and simple. You just know they are good for you.

  8. Cooking, history, cross-cultural manners, all in one post. Brava. We have a difficult time finding cicorie, but dandelions will accomodate the taste for bitter greens.

    I gow fave here all year round. They freeze well too, providing us with instant possibilities. My favorite recipe is sauteed onions with fava served over fettuccine. Delizioso!

  9. Yummie! and yes, the pic is most appetizing.

    Rosarias recipe sounds delicious too.ummmm.

    Happy weekend L & E

  10. Oh wow, simple and delicious... I'm on my way over, lol...

  11. Hi Bella Lola, we call them Broad Beans and Endive here in AusTralia.
    Hub and I, have recently been changing over to a vegetarian diet, and this looks like a goodie to try.

  12. Interesting healthy food. Hmmm I'll try this one. I had eaten all kinds of beans in my life including broad beans. With the addition of chicory, this is even more healthier. Bitter tasting vegies are good for red blood cells production that promotes Iron in our system. Good for anemia. And blood purifier.

  13. Lola don't tell me you are going to leave me like this.

    Are you going to only leave me with a picture on a screen.

    Now I am starving.


  14. I will try this one definetly- it sounds delicious as well as being soo healthy;

  15. I really didn't know about the romans using beans for voting...
    I love them fresh with pecorino cheese....mmmhh so yummy!
    That corn galletta with the green on top look fantastic!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU for the interesting recipe!

  16. "I really didn't know about the romans using beans for voting..."

    They were reluctant, at first, but when mashed potatoes didn't work out, they felt that they had no choice.

  17. Hi Lola: This is so interesting with the food history to highlight the recipe. Thank you! This sounds simple and delicious.

  18. Great post, as ever! Just beautifully done.. and thanks for your comment on mine about the elephants. Yes, I absolutely do appreciate exactly where I am, and love my life where I can get so close to nature and the wild animals... x

  19. Thank you all for your lovely comments! Please if you do ever try to make this, report back with the outcome.

  20. Lola, what is your opinion of canned beans? I use the canned versions of cannelini or chick peas or black-eyed peas. Do they take away from the virtues of uncanned ones? Thanks for any input you may have on this.

  21. That looks delicious. I swear. That is not a stamp I yield when I come here. That looks delicious. And oh, how you're killing me with that butter.

  22. Beans offer much inspiration for the literary mind...I may have to play with that white/black bean thing.

  23. che meraviglia: non vedo l'ora che sia primavere per mangiare questo piatto!
    Ho appena scoperto il tuo blog...non vedo l'ora di leggerlo tutto!!!