Spring in Italy means: fave! An ode to the broad bean.

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Traveling through Italy at this time of year there’s no escaping it, it’s spring! And that means: fave, or broad beans. Everywhere along the road and in markets, you will be thrown to death with it. Now I’m not much of a bean eater, but here they know how to do nice things with it.

  • broad beans
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper and salt
  • pecorino cheese
  • Fresh herbs, such as thyme, tarragon or marjoram

It was last year that, before the start of the cooking class with Enzo ( read my previous piece about him here ), I was enjoying a glass of wine. Enzo wasn’t there yet. He was, as usual before the start, busy in the garden. A fantastic garden with fruit trees, vegetables and herbs. Everything, except the fish and occasionally the meat, comes from that garden.

They eat with the seasons, only what is there at the time of the year. Not like in the Netherlands, where in December you can buy strawberries that have flown in from the other side of the world and then don’t taste of anything. In terms of taste, there is also an incredibly big difference between products that have had the sun and products that come from greenhouses.

Enzo has shown me around that garden before, and again this year, and as best I understand it, I learn the names of the vegetables and herbs. I learn what goes with what, and especially which herbs go well with fish and which with meat. With which herbs you can make a delicious risotto, for example; like rosemary in a pumpkin risotto.

You can also find fresh herbs in the supermarket, but you will hardly ever find parsley and basil in the smaller supermarkets in the villages. They are used so much that almost everyone has it in their own garden or in a pot for immediate use.

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And although I often only understand what Enzo told me in the garden when preparing, you can hear in his explanations the respect for nature and the passion for food.

I was sitting with my glass of wine wondering what dishes he would have in store for that evening when I was thrown a few husk fava beans. “Here,” he said, “try it!” Slightly surprised: taste, raw?! “Try it,” he said again. I shelled the bean and was about to put it in my mouth when he made it clear to me that I also had to peel off the skin. The skin is bitter and uncooked not very healthy if you eat it in large quantities.

Spring in Italy is marked by dishes with fava beans. As an antipasti (insalata), as a first dish: fave with tomato and pasta or as a contorno (side dish). Often in combination with pecorino cheese, which gives the beans a special taste.

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Recipe for an insalata con fave: 

If you buy beans at the market, taste them first. In Italy it is very common – at least more than I’m used to – to taste it before you buy. They even insist on tasting.

Blanch the shelled broad beans in plenty of boiling water (2 to 3 minutes) and double-shell them (remove the skin after blanching).

Make a simple dressing (vinaigrette) from fresh lemon juice, oil, pepper and salt. Toss the broad beans in the dressing and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Grate some fresh pecorino over the broad beans or roast a thicker slice of pecorino under the grill or in a hot frying pan. Place the slice on a plate and spoon some broad beans with the dressing over it. Top with some freshly cut herbs such as thyme, tarragon or marjoram.

A variation on the dressing: 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a clove of crushed garlic and a tablespoon of freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley. Mix the ingredients with salt and pepper and let rest for 15 minutes before adding the blanched and double shelled broad beans. Let it rest for a while and serve with some thinly sliced ​​or grated pecorino.

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Source: Culy by culy.nl
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