Purea di Fave con Cime di Rapa

Puréed Fava Beans with Broccoletti di Rape

My first experience of purea di fave was in a villa near Perugia, midway through a long weekend celebrating the wines and country food of Umbria. As long as I shall have a working memory, the bliss that flooded my senses on that day in Umbria will endure as one of the best moments of my life at table.

Reconstituted dried fava beans are cooked and pureed with milk-soaked bread and olive oil. The parboiled greens are sautéed in olive oil scented with garlic. The two are put on a platter, the pureed fava below, the broccoletti above, and drizzled with a little raw olive oil. The flavor I find so affecting is monastically simple. It comes from the exchange between the creamy, mellow, nutty beans and the slightly bitter, garlicky strands of broccoletti di rape, and from the good olive oil that connects them both. Reverently is how I eat it, as slowly and as wordlessly as I can manage.

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  • 1 pound dried fava beans
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • slices good-quality, firm white bread trimmed of its crust
  • cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Italian
  • pounds broccoletti di rape
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves


  1. Soak the dried beans overnight in a bowl of cold water.
  2. The following day, drain the beans, put them in a pot with enough cold water to cover amply, and turn on the heat to medium high. Cover and cook for 5 minutes after the water comes to a boil.
  3. Drain the beans, put them in a bowl of cold water, and peel them.
  4. Put the peeled beans in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover amply and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cover, turn on the heat to medium, and cook at a steady simmer for about 30 minutes, until they are reduced to a pulp. If, during the cooking, you find there is not enough liquid in the pan, replenish with fresh water. Make sure, however, that by the time the beans have finished cooking, all the water has evaporated, leaving them moist but not soggy.
  5. Put the milk in a saucepan and heat it until lukewarm but not simmering.
  6. Put the white bread in a small bowl and pour the warm milk over it. Let soak for 5 minutes, then drain excess milk from the bread by squeezing it gently in your hands. Set aside.
  7. Purée the cooked beans through a food mill into a bowl, using the disk with the smallest holes. Use a potato ricer if a food mill is not available.
  8. Add ⅓ cup of the olive oil and the milk-soaked bread and beat the mixture with a whisk or wooden spoon until it is blended smoothly. At this point, if you find that the consistency is too runny—it should be nearly as dense as mashed potatoes—return the fava to the pot and cook it down further, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  9. Remove any very hard wooden stalks from the broccoletti di rape and peel the larger, more tender stalks. Rinse the greens thoroughly in cold water.
  10. Choose a lidded saucepan that will accommodate all the greens. Put in 3 to 4 cups of cold water, cover, and turn on the heat to medium high. When the water boils, add 2 tablespoons of salt and the greens. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens have become thoroughly tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside. Both the greens and the beans can now wait several hours at room temperature until you are ready to complete the dish and serve it.
  11. Warm the pureed beans in a double boiler, stirring them frequently.
  12. Peel and crush the garlic cloves. Put them in a sauté pan together with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and turn on the heat to medium. Sauté the garlic until it becomes colored a pale gold, then remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  13. Add the cooked greens and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring them from time to time.
  14. Taste both the beans and the broccoletti di rape and correct for salt.
  15. Spread the pureed fava on a serving platter and over it distribute the broccoletti Pour over both, in a thin stream, the remaining raw olive oil.