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Recipes from theDreams of Imma Tataranni

Fava Bean Purée with Bitter Greens

Written by Linda SarrisPhotos by Pietro Motisi

Seasons 3 coming Spring 2023!
EDITOR'S NOTE: When we reached out to Chef Linda Sarris about a recipe series based on Matera's own Deputy Prosecutor Imma Tataranni, she immediately said, "Yes! And would you believe I just returned from a trip to Matera in Basilicata?" We think you'll agree, Linda's first-hand knowledge of the food, people and culture of Matera deliciously inform these Imma Tataranni inspired recipes!

Fava e Cicoria

Fava Bean Purée with Bitter Greens

Pair this recipe with:

Imma recounts a fabulous, food filled dream. Imma Tataranni now streaming on MHz Choice.


Here’s another dish from the dreams of Imma Tataranni. In season 1, episode 6, Imma fires off an extensive list of dishes from her recurring dream and of course this classic southern Italian staple was included. Fava e cicoria is a traditional, economic and simple dish. This extremely flavorful recipe is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It can be served as a contorno side dish or even as a delicious and hearty vegan starter with some toasted bread.

Fava e Cicoria is a smooth broad bean purée topped with sautéed chicory, typical all over the regions of Basilicata and Puglia. If you’re having trouble finding chicory, try substituting with any kind of leafy greens. Dandelion greens, escarole, Tuscan kale or even radicchio will work well in a pinch.

When making a dish like this with such few ingredients, it is important to use the best quality products you can find. A new harvest cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil will make a big difference and bring all of the flavors together when you garnish the platter at the end. 

IMMA KITCHEN BEAN 14 872x1540 1
Fava e Cicoria

Notes from the Chef:

Make sure you buy peeled and dried fava beans, you’ll recognize them split in half and with a light pale yellow color. If they are a shade of deep brown-green, that means they still have the skin on. You do not want to use whole favas with the skin on because it will be tough and the finished purée will be discolored and slightly bitter. 

If you want to use fresh fava beans in springtime, this is not traditional but it can be a delicious alternative. Fresh favas must first be plucked from their pod and then each individual bean will have to be peeled before using. Time consuming and tedious, yes — but worth the effort. 

Serves 4
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1 c. peeled and dried favas (broad beans), soaked overnight in water
2 small red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 c. chicory greens, washed and stems trimmed
a healthy glug of high-quality extra virgin olive oil

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
peperoncino dried chili pepper, to taste

After the fava beans have been soaked overnight, drain and rinse off any frothy foam that they might have given off. In a wide soup pot, sauté the onion and optional chili pepper over medium-low heat with at least 4 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil. Stir the onions and let them “sweat” for five minutes before adding in the fava beans. Coat the beans in the olive oil by stirring first before adding the water. 

Cover the bean and onion mixture with enough water to double the quantity in the pot. This can be at least a few inches of water above the level of favas. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and let it simmer, uncovered. In the meantime, bring another pot of salted water up to a boil for the chicory greens.

Let the favas simmer and stir them now and again until they breakdown into a hearty stew-like texture. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your beans and how high you set the burner’s flame. It’s better to cook them “slow and low” to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan or burn. Once the fava mixture is cooked through, turn off the heat and work on the greens. 

Blanch the bitter greens in salted boiling water for a few minutes until they become a bright green color and the stems are no longer tough to bite through. Strain the greens out of the water and place them into a warmed sauté pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Toss lightly and let them burn off some of the extra cooking water. Check seasoning, remove from the sauté pan and set aside. 

You can adjust the thickness of the favas by straining the larger pieces of beans from the pot before putting them into a food processor to make the smooth hummus-like purée. Include some of the cooking liquid to get the purée to your preferred texture. At this point, add salt to taste. It will probably take more salt than you might think to properly season this dish. Pour the purée into your serving platter and garnish with the double-cooked greens, freshly ground black pepper, additional chili pepper flakes and a healthy glug of high-quality extra virgin olive oil on top. 

Recipes from the Dreams of Imma Tataranni

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About the Chef
Linda Sarris is a food/wine travel consultant and private chef based in Palermo, Sicily. From her sun-lit kitchen studio above the 1,000 year-old Ballarò food market, Linda works as a freelance writer, social media manager, and culinary communications consultant while still traveling regularly for private chef work with clients in the fashion and music industries. Under her brand, @thecheekychef, she is self-publishing a Sicilian food and wine ‘zine and curates a series of Mediterranean culinary/lifestyle retreats and travel experiences. Her first book will be published in 2022 with Hachette Book Group.