Italian Food and Flavours
Fava beans recipe Cossignanese: Fabio
This fava beans recipe is simple but delicious, when I was a boy my mother used to make this all the time in the spring and like many young boys I was reluctant to eat my vegetables. Now though it has become one of my favourite recipes, I cannot wait for the new fava beans and as soon as they are ready in the garden i make this delightful and yet simple dish.
Fava beans recipe
1 kg fava (fresh broad beans)
plenty of good quality olive oil
finely chopped garlic – to taste
splash of white wine vinegar
fresh mint leaves some chopped some for garnish
Simply boil the beans in water until they are soft, this will depend on how young and fresh they are. The newest beans need only a couple of minutes, older beans have thicker skins which should be removed, it is easily done. When the older beans are soft, five minutes or so, as soon as you can handle them, squeeze gently between thumb and forefinger and the bean will pop out of it skin. Add all the hot cooked beans to a bowl containing all the other ingredients and toss together, let the flavours mingle for five to ten minutes and serve still warm.
I like to add a little balsamic vinegar dressing or for variety a little sweet chili sauce.
Italian Food and Flavours
Sweet cucumber and red onion pickle
This sweet cucumber and red onion pickle recipe is quick and easy to make and you can eat it the same day, just leave it for the flavours to mingle for a few hours, but it also lasts several weeks in a sealed jar in the fridge. The red from the onion will bleed into the vinegar after a few days which makes it look even more impressive though it doesn’t change the flavour much. Great for this time of year when you have cucumbers coming out of your ears – literally!
Ok well not literally then. This one of those times when it is worth getting the slicing gadget out of the cupboard to add to your food processor if you are not so good thinly and evenly slicing with a very sharp knife. Have a couple of smallish sterilised preserve jars ready.
Sweet cucumber and red onion pickle
- 1 kg cucumber
- 3 red onions
- fresh dill or fennel, to taste
- 250g white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 200ml vinegar, cider or white wine
- peel the cucumber and slice thinly, cut the onions in half and slice thinly, make sure onion rings all fall apart. Toss them together with the chopped dill or fennel. mix the rest of the ingredients in a jug and pour over. pack the pickle in the jars and turn them over a couple of times to make sure it is all mixed up. turn the jars again over the next few hours.
- This is a delicious pickle to serve with pecorino cheese, salami and good crusty bread for a perfect spring or summer lunch.
Fava beans recipe
This fava beans recipe is a perfect antipasti dish for a warm spring evening, the mix of flavours is something special. Serve on its own or on some good toasted bread with a glass of chilled prosecco.
The first fava (broad beans) are now ready in the gardens here and they are ideal for this recipe as it needs light crisp and sweet beans. it can be made with older beans but they will need longer cooking and will have to be removed from the hard shell that forms as they get older. So to save the faff use the young fresh beans that are available now.
Whether it is eating this dish here in the Marche that makes it so delicious, or whether it would taste good anywhere I don’t know but if there is one dish that sums up this region this is it. The ingredients reflect the provence; with anchovies from the adriatic just 20k away, fava beans and fennel from the garden, local capers and olive oil and mature pecorino cheese from the mountains 30k in the other direction, this is dish made in le Marche.
- 4 anchovy fillets, preserved in oil not salted
- 1 tbls capers
- clove of garlic
- 2 handfulls fava beans
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
- lemon juice
- grated pecorino
- with a fork mash up the anchovies and capers in a small bowl, mash the garlic in a pestle and mortar and add to the anchovy mix. pour in small glass of oil and good spash of vinegar. make sure they are good quality, grind in a little pepper but no salt. this mix will benefit from being allowed to stand for 30 mins or so in the fridge but you can press on if you dont have time. Cook the beans in already boiling water for 3 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain and mix the hot beans in with the anchovy paste, making sure everything is well coated. Pile the beans on a serving plate and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over before topping with a handful of grated pecorino and finally a last drizzle of olive oil.
- This dish is wonderful warm as the beans absorb all the amazing flavours and the residual heat brings everything to the fore on your tongue, but I am told it is also good cold. Personally I have never had any left over to try.
Frittata with Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Spinach
A frittata or omelette makes a super speedy and nutritious lunch or supper dish, especially when you add some healthy veggies such as broccoli and spinach. At this time of year in Italian Ortos the purple sprouting broccoli is ready to pick. Broccoli (which comes from the Itallian word brocco meaning branch or arm) was initially cultivated by the Romans. Broccoli has been grown in the UK and the US since the early 18th century, although the purple sprouting variety has only recently been popular. The plant produces lots of little heads of broccoli rather than one large one which you maybe more used to and the slender, fine stalks should be chopped and eaten too. Of course, if you don’t have access to purple sprouting, then normal broccoli is fine.
The Italian frittata is versatile, in that it can be eaten warm or cold and one can change the ingredients to suit you or to suit what is in your fridge or veggie plot. My Le Marche friends and neighbours give me plenty of organic, free range eggs so this is a lunchtime staple for us.
Broccoli and in particular sprouting broccoli is a super food and is rich in iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur.
Fresh Broccoli is a storehouse of many phyto-nutrients such as thiocyanates, indoles, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates and flavonoids like beta-carotene cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zea-xanthin. Studies have shown that these compounds by modifying positive signaling at molecular receptor levels help protect from prostate, colon, urinary bladder, pancreatic, and breast cancers.Further, it contains very good amounts of another anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-A. 100 g fresh head provides 623 IU or 21 % of recommended daily levels. Together with other pro-vitamins like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and zea-xanthin, vitamin A helps maintain integrity of skin and mucus membranes. Vitamin A is essential for healthy eye-sight and helps prevent from macular degeneration of the retina in the elderly population.
- 5 or 6 eggs
- A couple of garlic cloves, chopped finely
- A glug of extra virgin olive oil
- Handful of purple sprouting broccoli
- Handful of spinach leaves
- Grated parmigiano and pecorino cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Handful of frozen prawns (optional)
- Prepare the broccoli by finely chopping the stalks and steaming the stalks and the florets briefly.
- Roughly chop the spinach and the garlic.
- Gently heat the oil in an omelette pan and saute the garlic and the spinach.
- Whisk the eggs with some salt, pepper and grated cheese to taste.
- Pour the eggs over the spinach and garlic , then add the broccoli.
- Put a lid on the pan and cook over a very low hob for about 15 minutes, until the eggs have set.
- Do not turn over.
- Take off the heat and leave for a few minutes before removing from the pan.
Carrots in marsala
A simple but delicious alternative to boiled carrots from Le Marche. Winter being the perfect excuse for putting a little fortification with your dinner. Once tried you wont go back
- 2/3 carrots
- 50g butter
- 1/2 glass marsala wine
- stem of fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- The quantities will depend on the numbers you have to feed. This is not a recipe where the quantities are critical, it is more about the cooking method so feel free to adjust to suit. Scrape the carrots to clean and cut in half then slice longitudinally into thick matchsticks, about 3/5 mm thick. Put the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently until melted then add the carrots. stir and cover, keep the heat on low for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
- When the carrots start to soften turn up the heat and add the marsala, let the alcohol evaporate and then turn down the heat again and throw in the thyme and cook for a further 20 minutes or so uncovered unless the wine evaporates too soon in which case add a little water and cover. Ideally the carrots should be starting to colour a deeper red at the edges but not browned.
- This is a lovely contorno (side dish) for roast or grilled meats. The sweetness of the marsala permeates the carrots which will be soft and caramelised, a perfect complement to strongly flavoured meats.