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MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Cicerchia
In pursuit of old-time flavors
This pulse is rich in protein and starch but it is important to soak it at length, changing the water several times by Luigi Formisano
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“Angela Maddalena” cicerchie from Altamura. Photo by Dario Ersetti

The cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus) is a leguminous plant typical of the south of Italy. It is one of the fallen aristocrats of our cooking; in the 1600s it played a leading role in many dishes described in the old renaissance gastronomy books but today, unfortunately, it no longer has the importance of the past since it requires too much work for a limited yield. Luckily in Puglia, in Alta Murgia, in the area of Tarantino and in Salento, there has been a rediscovery of this crop, strong and tenacious, exactly like our land: in fact the cicerchia grows undaunted even in drought or extreme climatic conditions. To fully enjoy the flavor of these pulses you have to be careful to eliminate the water used for soaking; they are soaked at length (even 2 days) and the water is changed 3-4 times a day but is not used for cooking. Before cooking, the hard skin, which comes off easily, is removed and the pulses are rinsed in running water: this totally eliminates a neuro-toxic substance that used to affect only those who, being extremely poor, were forced to eat exclusively cicerchie. This problem is obviously unknown nowadays thanks also to the varied nutrition provided by the Mediterranean diet.

The cicerchia (recognized as a traditional Italian agro-food product by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry policies for the Puglia region) is rich in protein and starch, vitamins B1, B2, and PP, calcium, phosphorous and fiber: it is recommended for memory disorders, cerebral fatigue and general asthenia.

 

 

 

   Nutrition facts for 100 grams of cicerchie:

 

- energy: 314 Kcal

- fats: 1,6 g

- carbohydrates: 48,4 g

- protein: 29,3 g

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