This is a well-known peasant dish from Puglia, in the heel of Italy. In spite of its simplicity we voted it a star turn during a gastronomic trip to the region. Dried broad beans are not as easy to find in Britain as they are in Puglia but Cypriot and Greek grocers often have them. You can use butterbeans instead but will then have to sieve the purée to remove the skins. Since it is difficult to get the long stems of dark leaf chicory with which the purée is usually served in Italy, I used spring greens mixed with our usual chicory.
In Puglia this dish is served as one of several, but I found it was perfect on its own as a light meal, accompanied by a tomato salad, cheese and bread.
Soak the broad beans in cold water for an hour or more, then drain and put into a flameproof casserole or heavy saucepan. Peel the potatoes, cut them into fairly thick slices and lay evenly on top of the beans. Add cold water to come about
When the beans are ready, beat the mixture vigorously with a fork to turn it into a purée, beating in the olive oil to taste. Season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Turn the mixture into a wide heated serving dish, cover loosely with foil and leave in a very low oven to keep warm.
To prepare the vegetables, wash the spring greens and slice just the leaves across fairly thinly. Cut the base off the chicory and then slice lengthways in quarters or thirds. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the spring greens and chicory and boil for 10-15 minutes, until both greens and chicory are soft. Drain and put them on top of the bean purée towards the middle, so that you can see the purée round them. Then sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil all over.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.