Broad Bean Puree
- 2 lb broad beans
- 1 small bunch wild fennel fronds
- ½ chili pepper
- extra virgin olive oil to taste
The evening before, put the dried, peeled broad beans to soak.
Rinse them, put them in a crockpot and cover with abundant water.
Turn down the heat when it comes to the boil and cook for at least 3 hours, until (also with the aid of a spatula) all the broad beans have been reduced to a cream.
At this point, add a sprig of wild fennel cut into pieces and slivers of half a chili pepper. When the vegetables are cooked, the puree is ready.
If you wish to add pasta (which should be of the lasagne type, and home-made) dilute with sufficient boiling water to obtain a soup that is watery, but not too much.
Dress with olive oil in the serving plate.
Macco, the name of this dish, comes from the late-Latin verb maccare(to reduce something to a pulp). This is a very ancient preparation and was even mentioned by Pliny the Elder who included it in his list of purees and bean- or grain-based dishes eaten by the ancient Romans. This dish was one of the main foods eaten by peasant families in Sicily who did not have much with which to feed themselves. In honor of the spring equinox, they would prepare a version of this dish with a variety of beans to celebrate the end of the last year’s production and the arrival of the new harvest. Over time, this recipe came to be associated with the festivities of San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph), which are celebrated every year in certain parts of Sicily.
The main celebration, the dinner of Saint Joseph, is held on March 19th and on this day the families that decide to participate in the celebration cook a meal for three less-fortunate members of the community, usually an elderly person, a young girl and a baby, who represent the Holy Family. On the evening of March 18th, the families prepare a large table with a tablecloth and other decorations. They place the food on the table for the Saint’s dinner. The following day, the three pre-selected guests attend Mass and then head to the home of the family that invited them to eat the banquet of food based on traditional recipes, including the macco di fave.
Did you know that…
Even some Italian-American families with Sicilian roots celebrate the dinner of Saint Joseph?
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