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Broad Beans with Bacon

  • 45 minutes
  • Easy
  • Side dishes and salads
A springtime side dish that is easy to prepare using rustic, genuine ingredients.
Lazio

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 2 lb broad beans, fresh
  • 2 ½ oz guanciale (or bacon), (or pancetta)
  • 1 onion, small
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Peel and wash broad beans under running water.
In a pan (if possible earthenware) sauté the chopped onion and diced bacon in the olive oil.

When this has browned, add the fresh broad beans together with the salt and pepper, and leave to cook for a while adding from time to time some warm water, if necessary, and serve hot.

If you use dried broad beans, boil the beans and then let them follow the recipe, reducing the cooking time and adding a little dry white wine during cooking. 

Food History

The broad bean plant is most likely from the Mediterranean basin where it has existed for thousands of years. The first signs of the broad bean date back 8,000 years in what is modern-day Israel. Before the discover of America and the arrival of beans in Europe, broad beans were extremely widespread in the Old World, particularly in the ancient times. In his book De rustica, Varrone reported that in Ancient Rome broad beans were used one of the most commonly-eated foods, together with spelt and barley. Cato, in one of this works, suggests eating cooked broad beans with vinegar, while Pliny wrote about a widespread dish called puls fabata, the predecessor to the modern Macco di fave.
Broad beans continued to be popular throughout Europe even after the fall of the Roman Empire, especially among the poorer classes who made use of the lost coast and multiple preparations of the broad bean. It was only when American bean varieties arrived in Europe that the consumption of broad beans decreased to the point of being considered a traditional food in only some regions of Italy.

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