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Pot of spring vegetables A seasonal dish, light and tasty, best with fresh greens and pulses from Puglia by Dario Ersetti
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Pot of spring vegetables. Photo by Dario Ersetti

What do these have in common – Sieglinde potatoes from Zapponeta and Galatina, spring onions from Zapponeta, artichokes from Brindisi, fava beans from Carpino or Zollino, ‘ricci’ peas from Sannicola?

They are all typical Puglian products, from the areas of Foggia and Lecce, and they all appear in spring. So it’s not surprising that dish is widely eaten all over Puglia. Each family adjusts the amounts to suit their own tastes, and may even leave out some ingredients.

Let’s not forget that the ‘ricci’ peas from Sannicola (Lecce), today a hard-to-find niche product, in the past was the only kind grown in Puglia and it was so popular, both dried and fresh, that it was even sold in central Italy.

 

 

The recipe

 

  4 servings:

 

- 3 potatoes

- 3 artichokes

- 700 g of fresh fava beans

- 700 g of fresh peas

- 2 spring onions

- parsley

- 50 g of grated pecorino cheese

- 50 cc of extra virgin olive oil

- salt

- pepper

 

Peel the potatoes and cut into wedges, clean the artichokes and cut them in quarters, shell the peas and fava beans, finely slice the onion, chop the parsley very fine.

In an earthenware pot place the oil and vegetables, add water to half cover the vegetables, add salt, sprinkle with parsley and cheese, cover with the lid and cook on a very low fire for about half an hour. This is one of the styles of cooking known in Puglia as “tutto paro” where the ingredients, all cold, are placed in the pot at the same time. This method, which began as a way of reducing work in the kitchen, would be called healthy cooking today since the oil never reaches high temperatures.

If you don’t like fava bean pods, all you have to do is put them in the microwave for a minute on high and you will hear little explosions when the pods are “shot” away from the fava beans.

The original recipe calls for more than four times as much oil, since oil was the fuel for working in the fields and was eaten with great quantities of bread. But even with less oil the pleasure of eating this dish will not be diminished.

A curiosity. The book Legendary Francescan published in Venice in 1771, cites an episode in which the Blessed Giacomo of Bitetto lets a few tears fall into the pot while cooking fresh fava beans for his fellow monks. The most widely accepted interpretation sees this fact as a prodigious event, if not a miracle, prompted by the Blessed Giacomo’s state of ecstasy; strange that nobody suggested that Fra Giacomo, an acting cook, had just sliced the onions to add to the fava beans.

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