Fava beans and chicory are two vegetables very common in Puglia: in our region, they are harvested and most used in winter time. They are usually cooked and paired together: this tasteful combo represents a traditional food that is being eaten since ancient times.
So where is this tradition from?
This tradition comes from Magna Graecia: it is the time when the Greek empire colonized southern Italia. And it was likely a custom brought there from the Greek people, that used to eat them, according to many literary sources. Aristophanes, a greek comedian playwright, mentioned these two ingredients combined already in 405 b.C., in his famous comedy “The Frogs”. He wrote that Heracles or Hercules, son of Zeus/Jupiter used to eat them in order to get more strength, while completing his famous 12 labors.
Is it still a custom to eat it?
The answer is yes, people are eating this dish especially in Puglia, where it is considered a humble dish, since its ingredients are easy to be found and simple to be cooked. It is commonly known as ‘Ncapriata, from the greek word “Kapiridia” and it is one of the healthiest vegetable recipes on Earth: that is because these two vegetables contain many useful substances for the human body and give a super-nutritious outcome when mixed together.
Indeed, the fava beans are rich of elements like vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibres, having antioxidant and energetic functions, while chicory has yet another series of vitamins and minerals, helpful to stimulate hunger, regulate intestinal functions, and have diuretic and detoxifying effects.
Its recipe is very simple and consists in making a purè with fava beans as a bed or side for the chicory leaves, that are usually simply stewed with olive oil, garlic and chili pepper. It can be eaten as a substitute to the main course, or as a side dish or yet as a single course.
A traditional comfort food
Nowadays, this dish is considered a winter time comfort food, easy to find everywhere in Puglia and very rich in flavors. So it is not just a healthy food, but it is also very appealing in all of its simplicity: it is a dish that makes people discover the taste of our land.