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Loading The Puglian Cookbook
  • Beans and Greens

    This dish is a cornerstone of Puglian cuisine, especially in southern Puglia. It combines some of the most common Puglian ingredients: beans, greens, and olive oil. It is also the perfect illustration of two of the unique features of Puglian cuisine: It is easy to make yet full of flavor and deeply satisfying. Accompanied by some inky Primitivo or a good Puglian rosé, it makes a perfect summer dinner. I also often serve it as an appetizer to kick off a dinner party. It tastes great even at room temperature and requires so little effort that you can enjoy your guests and still serve something they are sure to love. In Puglia, the beans of choice are fava and the greens are chicory. I use chickpeas and dandelion greens, a close relative of chicory, which are much easier to find in the United States. Dandelion greens have a pleasant bitterness and lots of flavor.

    For the bean spread:
    • 2 cups (273 mL) dried chickpeas
    • 1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
    • 3 cloves garlic, whole
    • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) sea salt, plus more, to taste

    1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water.

    2. Drain the beans and put them in a large pot. Add water to cover the beans by about 2 inches (5 cm). Add the onion, carrot, garlic, and about 2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt, and bring to a boil.

    3. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly for about 3 hours, until the beans are soft and can be mashed with a wooden spoon.

    4. Drain, reserving 1 cup (236 mL) of the cooking liquid. When the beans are cool enough to handle, remove the onion and carrot.

    5. Put the beans and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the purée reaches a uniform consistency. If the purée is too dry, gradually add a little of the cooking water. Add salt to taste.

    For the greens:
    • 2 bunches dandelion greens, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
    • Salt, to taste
    • Olive oil, for drizzling
    • Toasted French bread or fresh vegetables (such as celery, carrots, and bell peppers), for serving

    1. In a medium pot, bring 2 quarts (1.9 L) of water to a boil. Add the greens and salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Drain immediately.

    2. Serve the beans surrounded by the greens. Drizzle the dish with the olive oil, and use toasted rounds of French bread or fresh vegetables to scoop the spread.

Copyright © 2010 Viktorija Todorovska. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the publisher.

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