Market Haul, Fava Beans, and New Foods

377a6978I’m a happy camper today. I walked to the outdoor market this morning to look for fave secche intere or fave secche con la buccia (whole dried fava beans or dried fava beans with skin), which I need for the next recipe I’m planning to make.

Fava beans are a food I only discovered after coming to Italy. Italians eat them fresh (either opening the pods with their fingers and snacking on the beans or cooking them in recipes), frozen (prepared like fresh beans) or dried.

Dried fava beans come in two forms: fave intere (whole fava beans) which are larger and brown, and fave spezzate (split fava beans) which are yellowish halves with the skin removed.

377a7015Dried fava beans are used to make delicious fava bean purees that are characteristic Southern Italian recipes. Fave e cicorie (fava bean puree and chicory) is a well-known recipe from Puglia, and that was what I ate the first time I tasted fava bean puree.

Fave spezzate are easier to find and less expensive. For the recipe I’d like to make, however, I need the whole dried beans. I only found them in one supermarket near where I live and they cost almost four euros for a small 300 gram (10.5 oz) package. I figured my best bet was to go to Porta Palazzo, the huge outdoor market downtown, but I decided to try the local market near my apartment first.

I discovered a wonderful stall selling all sorts of dried beans, legumes, nuts, dried fruit, spices, and other things like millet, quinoa, chestnut flour, and honey. Everything looked really good and their prices were great (the price for a whole kilogram (2.2 lb) of whole fava beans was €3.50).

When I got home I had to take a picture, because finding and eating these kinds of real foods make me feel so happy.

377a6978-copy-2That’s whole dried fava beans, shelled almonds, millet, and dried figs. All that cost €9.69, which was a good price because these kinds of foods are expensive in the supermarket.

Speaking of markets, I know that when I go to Porta Palazzo I see new kinds of fruits, vegetables, and other foods that I have never tried before. Life is short, I’d like to taste more of these new things.

The other day I bought some Sweet Sapphire grapes. I’m sure they’re not Italian but they were new to me. They cost a little more and are kind of funny-looking but I was happy I got them- they were delicious and even seedless (Italian grapes have seeds). Here are a few shots.

377a6892377a6881377a6898Today I also roasted some purple carrots. They aren’t a new food because I’ve bought them once before (see this post)… but the second time is still pretty new 🙂

377a7009Stay tuned for the fava bean recipe I’m planning to share on my blog soon (hope it goes well!) and photos of new foods I’m curious to try from the markets too. I’m also feeling motivated to experiment with new Italian dishes. Since fall is coming I have a feeling this will involve a lot of squash and dinosaur kale (the kind they grow here).

Happy eating everyone.

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