Sunday, 21 October 2012
Puglian Broad Bean dip - Purea di Fave
Months ago, GL's parents gave us a precious bag of dried, skinned, split broad beans from Puglia, precious because I have yet to find these pale skinned beans in the UK. Once a staple of la cucina povera, 'peasant cooking', made into a puree and traditionally served with a boiled green vegetable, it is now more often found gracing the tables of chic local restaurants as part of the groaning antipasti table or served instead of the pasta course, as a primo. Don't be put off by the simplicity of the recipe - although the beans in their pallid, wrinkled, uncooked state don't seem to promise anything good, the transformation that takes place with what is basically no more than the addition of water and an onion is incredible. The puree is creamy and satisfying, with the subtle taste of the beans taking centre stage. It really is so much more than the sum of its parts.
I had intended to cook this months ago in my first flush of enthusiasm after receiving the beans. However, the need for overnight soaking meant that I couldn't just cook them whenever I felt like it and they gradually got pushed to the back of the cupboard. It was with joy then that my hand fell upon these as I was having a rummage in order to (finally) participate in this month's Random Recipes Challenge from Belleau Kitchen, Store cupboard Finds. Unfortunately, I know that only one of my cookery books has recipes using dried broad beans - La Cucina Salentina, a small publication I bought whilst last on holiday in Puglia. It has two recipes using this ingredient, a soup and this puree - I opted for the puree as I have always wanted to try making it at home and I must say, I was not disappointed. My only problem now is where to get more of these elusive beans...
RECIPE - taken from La Cucina Salentina
400g dried, skinned, split broad beans
1 small onion, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the beans, put them in a large bowl or pan and cover them with cold water. Leave to soak overnight or for at least 10 hours.
Drain the beans and rinse them again under the tap. Place in a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a medium heat, skimming off the foam as it rises to the surface. Add the sliced onion, lower the heat and part cover. Cook at a gentle simmer for about one hour, topping up with hot water if the beans start to run dry. When the beans are very soft and starting to disintegrate, remove from the heat and season with 1-2 teaspoons of salt.
Leave to cool slightly and then puree the beans with a stick blender until smooth or the consistency that you prefer - I like them with a bit of texture. Stir in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and add a little water if you prefer a looser puree. Adjust the seasoning to taste. I also add some dried chilli flakes.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some wilted spinach or with warm toasted bread if you prefer the non-traditional route.