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Broad beans and chicory

Favetta and chicory



Chicories kg 1
Dried hulled broad beans gr.500
Potato gr.100
Olive oil to taste
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste



For the broad beans: 

Soak the dried hulled broad beans at least 10/12 hours before starting the dish.

Drain them from their soaking water, put the broad beans in a pot with water and a little salt, add the potato and cook for about 2 hours, adding water if necessary.

At the end of the cooking time, adjust the salt, add the extra virgin olive oil and blend everything until it becomes a homogeneous, frothy puree.


For the chicories:

Clean and wash the chicories and boil them in salted water, when done adjust the salt and drain.

Assemble the dish and drizzle with plenty of extra virgin olive oil.



Historical research

If there is one dish that more than any other 'tells the story' of Apulia, it is the one that brings together white broad beans and chicories. A tasty combination that harmonises well, since chicories have a bitterish taste and broad beans, on the other hand, when pureed, tend to be rather sweet.

The dish that in the collective imagination most represents Apulia, recognised by the Region and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry as a traditional food product (P.A.T.), Fave Bianche e Cicorie is a monument of Apulian gastronomy.

In some areas of Apulia, this dish is called 'ncapriata', a term that reveals its history and antiquity: from the Latin 'caporidia', itself a derivation of a Greek term 'kapyridia', it indicated a kind of polenta made from pounded wheat. It is easy to assume that this broad bean puree is a natural evolution of man's first expressions in the kitchen.

The historical and cultural link between Apulia and Greece is evident in research into the history of this dish. In fact, as early as around 450 B.C., Aristophanes, in his comedy 'The Frogs', extolled the goodness of broad beans and wild herbs, causing one of his characters, Hercules, to exclaim.

Why did broad beans and chicory become such a popular dish on Apulian tables?
Easy answer: this offered its parched land, poor in water sources and with long periods of drought. Legumes were sown to fertilise the fields, alternating with wheat production which, until the 20th century, was a precious commodity for lords and citizens. Peasants and shepherds were left with nothing but leftovers; broad beans were not required by the lord as payment for rent, thus becoming the main daily food.

n the past, wild chicories, or 'cicorielle', were highly valued for their medicinal properties, as Pliny the Elder in his 'Natural History' extolled their antineuralgic, diuretic, stomachic and cholagogic properties. Only later were they used for food purposes, due to their important presence in the Murgese territory, in uncultivated and uncultivable land.
In any case, broad beans and chicory is still a very popular dish in Apulia, despite the passage of years, fashions and cooking styles.

Cicorielle: There are different types of chicory in Apulia. This is a vegetable much loved by the Apulian people, for its bitterish taste and that characteristic tingling sensation it leaves on the palate. But the type we want to tell you about is the wild type, which grows wild in Apulian fields and can be harvested by hand. Fortunately, its identification is not difficult: all you need to do is recognise the flower, which is a distinctive colour, indigo blue. The leaves, on the other hand, are lance-shaped and often have red veins.

Wild chicory usually flowers from June until September. It is not difficult to find wild chicory at local greengrocers, or at stalls selling fruit and vegetables on the street. One thing is certain: wild (or field) chicory contains more nutrients than cultivated chicory, and the flavour is also much stronger and more defined.

Broad beans: Legumes have been the staple food for Italian farmers for centuries. Especially in Apulia and the Gargano region, a land that has always been dedicated to growing these precious seeds: here chickpeas, beans, chickling peas and broad beans were consumed in large quantities as a source of protein. Broad beans, in particular, were cultivated on the calcareous and clayey soils of Carpino, a small town that supplied the entire region. However, when their price began to rise at the end of the 19th century and they were replaced by potatoes, the production of broad beans slowed down considerably, almost disappearing at the end of the 20th century.

The Carpino broad bean differs from other varieties due to a dimple at the bottom. It is small to medium in size and is green when harvested, turning to a sandy colour. Carpino beans are sown between October and November, without fertilisers and by removing weeds by hand. Between June and July, the plants are mown by hand, tied in sheaves and dried. When they are well dried, they are placed on a particularly hard piece of ground and, when the sun is high, they are crushed by horses (the weighing phase) in order to separate them from the straw. Finally, using wooden forks, the broad beans are separated from the straw.

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