Simplicity – and a bowl of “fave e cicoria” (dried fava beans and bitter greens)
|March 31, 2012||Posted by ameliaps under beans, Italia, Italian, italy, vegetables, vegetarian|
There comes a point in your life in which you need to pause and look at the road map that is in front of you.
You mark your mileage and look in the rear mirror to the road you have driven so far. And it’s long, and windy, and beautiful, and full of bumps. It’s YOUR road.
You can assess the gas tank capacity at this points, but who are you to know how long the road ahead is and where it might take you?
Sure, you might need some extra oil, the windshield is not wiping off perfectly, the window squeaks…
Then you realize that the best approach is holding your hands on the wheel, focusing on the conditions RIGHT NOW, and turning the music on to make the trip more pleasant.
You realize that you might have overcomplicated your needs and wants.
In reality, there is much wisdom and pleasure and happiness in simplicity. Yesterday is your memory, tomorrow your potential, but today is to be lived, one mile at a time.
I have done much planning, over-complicating, perfecting, mapping, racing… but the more I think of it, I am happiest when I keep it to the basics, when I have an unassuming engine, drive on a country road, carry few good people in the backseat, ignore the map, enjoy the ride, and eat simple food.
So today I present you “fave e cicoria”, a peasant dish from the Apulia region of Italy, which we drove across last summer (a few pics below), and is famous for its secular olive trees and simple life style. This is “cucina povera”: poor cuisine. It’s simplicity is disarming but the flavor is rich (and good for you). The ingredients are poor and few, yet when brought together they form a special, unique flavor: dried fava beans (which are nutty and creamy) and chicory (use wild, if you can find it, or substitute any other bitter greens). I found dried fava beans at my local International farmers’ market. As per any dish with few ingredients, just use the best you can find… in this case, a very high quality extra virgin olive oil, with a fruity flavor, is tantamount to success. Even better if you can get Apulian oil. Life works much the same way: few, good ingredients usually work better anyways for me…
|“fave e cicoria” (dried fava beans and chicory)|
- 1/2 lb (250 gr.) dried peeled fava beans
- Salt, to taste (pepper, if you wish)
- 1/2 cup (240 ml, 8 fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil (high quality, fruity, Italian)
- 1 lb. (500 gr.) chicory (or curly endive, or other bitter greens, preferably wild)
- A few slices crusty Italian bread, cubed
- Soak the fava beans overnight in cold water (or, if you are in a rush, boil them 5 minutes, turn stove off, let rest an hour).
- Drain the soaked fava beans and place them in a large saucepan, adding water to cover (about 2 cm or 1 inch). Cover and cook on medium. when you see foam, skim it. Season with salt. Allow to cook for about 1 hour, or until creamy, stirring occasionally. Watch in case you need to add more more boiling water so they do not stick. Once they are done, mash them with a wooden spoon, drizzling and stirring in about half of the olive oil, until you have a smooth mash. Place in a large oblong serving plate (or multiple small ones: clay pots are perfect) making a well in the center for the greens.
- While the fava beans cook, rinse the greens and steam them in their residual water in a large pot until tender. Drain them squeezing out the excess water. Then place them in the well you created with the fava mash, drizzling with more olive oil. You can add some fresh crushed pepper, if you wish.
- Also, while the fava beans cook, toss the bread cubes with a tablespoon or two of the oil, drizzle with salt, and toast them. Serve along side the dish.