Our version of Meatless Monday is for vegetarian foodies with discriminating palates and features recipes that elevate the “dining at home” experience. A weekly feast for your eyes, Mondays won’t be the same once you get a hold of these savory and seasonal dishes with distinct and intense flavors. Invite a friend over and start your week already satiated with good food and good conversation.
Got a recipe for ridiculously rich tasting risotto or a silky smooth sweet potato soup? Send your ideas for vegetarian foodie recipes here.
Recipe is an excerpt from the book, The Al Tiramisu Restaurant Cookbook: An Elevated Approach to Authentic Italian Cuisine, author Chef Luigi Diotaiuti. If you are in the area, stop by or connect with Chef Luigi on Twitter at @chefluigi
Fave con Cicorie/Fava Beans with Chicory
This recipe is one of the dishes that the people of the Southern Italian region of Puglia associate with their culinary patrimony. It is also in the bordering region of Basilicata, where Chef Luigi is from. It’s an ancient recipe boasting favas, one of the world’s oldest agricultural crops, and a perfect example of the healthful Mediterranean diet.
You may be familiar with a popular type of pizza named after Naples’ Queen Margherita. But, did you know that this famous gourmand was also interested in this dish and sent one of her royal messenger’s to procure it for her? While most courts of her time were concerned with creating new and exciting dishes that pushed culinary boundaries and displayed lavish wealth, Queen Margherita, through her curious palate, was responsible for introducing street food to not only Italian nobility, but eventually the rest of the world.
Ingredients (serves 4)
NOTE: When making this dish that the beans need to be soaked a night in advance. Dandelion greens can be substituted for chicory if it is not available.
11 ounces peeled fava beans, placed in a bowl and covered with boiling water (4 inches above top of beans) – left to soak overnight
7 ounces chicory or dandelion greens, cleaned, cooked in salted boiling water for 2 minutes, and drained
1/3 cup good quality olive oil, preferably Puglian, divided
4 ounces potato, diced
½ small onion
Salt, to taste
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- Drain the beans and put them in a medium saucepan.
- Add the onion, potato, a teaspoon of salt, and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and allow to cook for 25 minutes, or until beans are tender. (This could take longer depending on the size of the beans).
- Drain and reserve cooking water in another bowl.
- Transfer beans and vegetables to a food processor or food mill. Proccess until smooth, adding a tablespoon of the olive oil and additional salt, if needed.
- Puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, if needed.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil. When it is hot, add the garlic and as soon as it begins to turn color add the chicory or dandelion greens. Stir well and cook for a few minutes. Add salt to taste.
- Spread the fava puree in the bottom of a terracotta bowl. Mound the chicory in the middle and drizzle olive oil on the top.
Italian cooking primer
A great deal of Italy’s olive oil comes from ancient groves in the Puglia region. It is said that there are 60 million olive trees in Puglia – 1 for every Italian! Known for their high antioxidant levels, locals recommend that the taste of the olive oil must burn the throat slightly while it is being tasted or else the nutrients aren’t doing their job.
This humble dish benefits greatly from a good quality olive oil. Do as the Italians do by using one basic, first cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil for cooking. Then, buy the best quality unfiltered olive oil to drizzle on top of dishes like this one. The bright, fruity flavor will bring the dish to life and the nutrients will be as beneficial to your health as they are your taste buds.
This recipe pairs well with a Susumaniello from the Brindisi area of Puglia – an ancient grape variety which was originally enjoyed with these very same ingredients.