Fave e Cicoria is a wonderfully tasty dish inspired by our travels from Rome to Puglia, Italy. The velvetiness of the fave puree and the slight bitterness of the cicoria (chicory) marry well together delivering a dish that is simple yet sophisticated in flavor.
Song of the day: “Amazing” by Aerosmith.
Fave e Cicoria was one of many dishes we encountered on a 5-day road trip through the sea side of Puglia. Beautifully cooked and pureed fave beans, elegantly garnished with the rich tasting regional olive oil, and wonderfully sauteed cicoria, with some toasted croutons for texture and added flavor. A dish that will have our appetite peaked at first sight and our mouth longing for the next bite!
Memories of Fave e Cicoria (and a beautiful day in Matera).
Our road trip took us to many destinations, but our first stop was just before the border of Puglia. A place called Matera.
Upon reaching this place you are struck by its whiteness and majestic beauty. The historical city sitting up high cascading down to the valleys with a history far greater than I had ever experienced or known. Matera is the 3rd oldest city. It is the capital of the province of Matera and was also the capital of Basilicata from 1663 to 1806. This area is located in the southern part of Italy. The city has been settled since the Palaeolithic age, and founded by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, at that time named Matheola. Named after the consul Lucius Caecilius Metelus. In 664 AD the Lombards conquered Matera and it became part of the Duchy of Benevento. Matera is also known as “La Città Sotterranea” the subterranean city. The center is known as the “Sassi” and you will see the many churches and monasteries prevalent throughout this majestic landscape. Matera is located in a canyon carved by the Gravina river.
We encountered this canyon as we walked down into the city and found a restaurant where we stopped and had lunch. I was blown away and even emotional a bit as we sat outside on this patio looking out into this breathtaking view wondering what life was like for this ancient civilization. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch among many breaks to take pictures. One dish that we just loved was the Fave e Cicoria. A very popular and well-used dish in these parts. One that we enjoyed immensely with its rich organic flavors and wonderful texture, and one we took home with us and are sharing with you today.
Walking through Matera you see how beautiful and rustic it is. Beautiful views and rustic stairs take you to many chambers and homes that leave you with a feeling of warmth, pondering and beauty. The great part about walking is that it helps digest the substantial lunch we had and has left us with curiosity and passion for what else we will discover.
One thing you have to know about the Italian culture especially when it comes to food is simplicity, seasonal, and the best of ingredients. This Fave e Cicoria is just that. Beautifully dried fava beans, luscious cicoria greens, a little onions and garlic for the cooking base for the beans, and some good quality olive oil and toasted croutons for garnish and this dish is ready to go.
You could use fresh fave beans, but we wanted to use the dried ones that we brought back from Italy. It also had us relive our memory of that day. The incredible heat and sunshine and the wonderful pictures that linger with us as we share this experience with you.
Using dried beans means that you have to get started on this dish the night before. Into a large bowl these dried morsels of Italian goodness go. A nice generous amount of room temperature water covering the beans well as they will plump up and hydrate quite a bit. This type of bean has to be shucked. After the fave have been soaking overnight you rinse them and delicately peel the outer shell off. The next step is to cook them slow and low with a base of onion, garlic and bay leaves. When the beans are cooked they are run through a food mill. The cicoria greens are boiled then sauteed in the trilogy of oil, garlic and chili flakes. The plating simple. In goes the wonderful fave puree, on top a generous amount of the sauteed cicoria. I toasted some croutons in a pan with the e.v.o. oil and seasoning and these were put on top of the puree. To finish, and this is the part I love, that drizzle of e.v.o. oil all around the plate. I have to say it looks so scrumptious I am tempted to run my finger in to scoop some for tasting purposes, but Nicoletta stops me as we have to take the photo, the life of a food blogger, urggggggg!
So many memories flood me as we make this Fave e Cicoria. As you can see in this picture how mesmerized I was, and how deep in contemplation I seemed to be as I experienced the wonderful sights.
The abundance of cactuses which the climate nurtures so well, and those stone steps with nice low rise making it a whole lot easier to do the climb up to the upper parts of this fair city.
As we climbed up you can experience the vast amounts of elevation and characteristics of Matera and beautiful view points are in abundance as you can see here!
I am taken out of my day dream by the aroma of this Fave e Cicoria. The smell of the sauteed cicoria with that oil garlic combo. The richness and nuttiness of the pureed fave with hints of bay leaf. The toasted nature of the croutons. I have to go in. Wow, I just love the creaminess of this fava bean puree. It is so velvety in texture and the taste is wonderful, so alluring to my tongue as it plays with that starchiness. A textural change in the cicoria is very welcomed and its bitterness is soothed by the starchy flavor of the fave. The olive oil gives such luxury and silkiness and its grassiness is welcomed in every bite. The croutons are just the thing that takes this dish over the top with that seasoned crunch. Absolutely and simply amazing!
Nicoletta and I are so grateful to have had the opportunity to see Matera and also to share this experience with you. Maybe one day you will travel there and will be reminded to try this Fave e Cicoria dish, and we will have some common experiences to savour and cherish, and share being inspired to try making this dish. Just be prepared, it is breathtaking!
Song of the day: “Amazing”, by Aerosmith.
- 400 g dried fava beans
- 400 g fresh chicory (cicoria)
- 1/4 white onion chopped fine
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tbsp evo oil
- 3 bay leaves
- salt and pepper
- water 500 ml plus more if it dries out.
- 400 g fresh chicory (cicoria)
- 2 tbsp evo oil
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup croutons
- 1 Tbsp evo oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of peperoncino
- Soak the dried fava beans overnight, then drain them, rinse them and peel them.
- In a pot sautee the onion and garlic in evo oil.
- Add the fave beans to the pot pouring enough water to cover the beans completely.
- Finally add the bay leaves, and place cover on pot.
- Cook on low heat for about 2 hours, stirring frequently and checking to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the pot, adding a little hot water if it seems to be drying out, and eliminating the foam that forms on the surface.
- When ready, remove the bay leaves, add salt and pepper and run them through the food mill or a sieve to make a purée.
- Clean and wash the chicory, then boil it in salt water for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
- Saute the chicory in a pan with e.v.o. oil, garlic and chili flakes.
- In a sautee pan or wok drizzle in olive oil.
- Toss in cubed breadcrumbs.
- Season with salt, pepper, and peperoncini and toss well to coat the cubes.
- Sautee until they turn a wonderful golden brown about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- In a decorative bowl, place fave puree.
- Top with a bundle of sauteed cicoria.
- Toss some croutons onto the plate.
- Finish with a generous drizzling of evo oil.
- Ready to serve.
Remember to soak the dried beans overnight.
You can use fresh if you have them, just eliminate the soaking time.
- Serving Size: Serves 4
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