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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saint Nicholas and Fava Beans - San Nicola e Fave Secche

The feast of St. Nicholas, patron of shepherds, is an event linked to the ancient cult of St. Nicholas, patron saint of Italy.  According to tradition, the saint would have saved the people of Pollutri (a village next to my birthplace), during a terrible famine, by being able to feed everyone just with a handful of fava beans.  

Since then, every year in memory of the event on the evening of December 5, on the main square are placed nine cauldrons in which fava beans are boiled and then distributed along with the bread and wine to all present.  On the morning of December 6, a solemn procession with the statue of the saint takes place.

Fave cooking in caldrons - (Photo: Raffaella Valori)

Keeping with tradition, last night I cooked fava beans (fave secche).

Fave secche
All photos - Copyright - ©2011 - La Casa e Il Giardino – picasaweb

- 1 1/2 lb. fava beans
- 1 potato
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 tomato chopped or 1/2 canned
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

The day before soak the fava beans. The next day, rinse the fava beans under running water.  Place the beans in a pot together with the chunks of potatoes, chopped celery, chopped garlic, tomato and salt.  Cook for 45 minutes over low heat.  As soon as foam appears, remove it with a wooden spoon.  Add additional hot water as liquid evaporates.  Stir occasionally and cook slowly until the beans transform into a puree.  At this point, close the flame, add the oil and adjust the salt and pepper.
Serve with rustic bread.

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