Puglian Fava Beans with Greens

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The delicious, rustic Puglian food traditions of Southern Italy date back through the millennia. The foods are simple, based on what is regionally available in this sun-drenched Mediterranean climate. Classic bean dishes are part of those traditions. Filled with nutrition, good taste, and satisfaction, these bean recipes, served with the delicious local breads of Puglia (Apulia in Italian) are hearty and filling. While in Puglia, I enjoyed the classic local dish of fava pure e cicorielle (fava with chicory) at many meals. Completely plant-based, vegan, and gluten-free, it was pure bliss served with locally produced wheat bread and a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers with olive oil.

I brought back fava beans from Italy for this recipe, but you can easily find dried fava beans in many supermarkets and online shops. You can also substitute another type of bean, such as cannellini, flageolet, or white beans. In this recipe, Puglians use bitter greens, such as chicory, turnip greens, or wild greens, such as dandelion. I used dandelion in this recipe for Puglian Fava Beans with Greens, as it’s easily found in many supermarkets, farmers markets, or foraging sojourns. If you can’t find dandelion, try mustard greens.

Just soak the beans overnight, cook with fresh water and broth with onion and a few seasonings until tender, mash until soft, and top with the greens to let wilt. Drizzle with olive oil and dig in!

What are fava beans?

Also called broad beans, fava beans (one of the oldest plant foods in the world) may be enjoyed fresh and green in the spring and early summer right out of the pod, cooked lightly in dishes like pasta and salads. They are also dried so that you can use them in any dish that calls for dried beans, such as chili or cooked heirloom beans.

How to cook fava beans?

Dried fava beans must be soaked for about 8 hours to rehydrate, then they can be slowly simmered until they are tender for about 1 1/2 hours—they can be cooked in dishes, such as this fava bean recipe for Puglian Fava Beans with Greens. They have a light, earthy, pleasant flavor that suits many recipes.

On my visit to the charming villages of Puglia
Classic foods of Puglia

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Puglian Fava Beans with Greens

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  • Author: The Plant-Powered Dietitian
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes + 8 hours soaking time
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Diet: Vegan

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried fava beans (or cannellini, flageolet, or white beans)
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh dandelion greens or chicory, coarsely chopped (or substitute mustard greens)

Instructions

  1. Place beans in a large pot or Dutch oven, cover with water, and soak overnight (about 8 hours).
  2. Drain beans, return to pot, add broth, water, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, onion, garlic, red chili flakes, oregano, salt (optional), and black pepper, cover, and simmer over medium heat for about 1 ½ hours, stirring frequently, until beans are very soft and tender. May need to add additional water if necessary to make a thick, stew-like texture (should not be too runny).
  3. Remove from heat and immediately use a potato masher to mash the beans while they are hot in the pot, creating a thick mixture (about the texture of mashed potatoes). Add more hot water if mixture is too dry and thick.
  4. Add chopped dandelion greens on top of the beans, cover, and let simmer for 5 minutes—do not stir, let greens wilt. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. Makes 6 servings (about 1 cup each).
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes + 8 hours for soaking
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean, American

Keywords: fava beans, fava beans recipe, what are fava beans, how to cook fava beans, dried fava beans

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For other classic bean recipes, check out some of my favorites:

BEST Vegetarian Refried Beans
Heirloom Bean Cassoulet with Root Vegetables
Easy Instant Pot Black Tepary Beans

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Publisher: Sharon Palmer