This Traditional Italian Puree Is A Great Way To Use Leftover Fava Beans

There are not many better things to do in springtime than visit Italy and its famous markets, abundant with fresh produce such as peas, baby artichokes, and fava beans. The latter, in particular, is a great leftover that can be repurposed with ease into fresh new dishes.

Also known as broad beans, these springtime crops are sown on November 2, All Souls Day in Italy. So come springtime, we can enjoy these beans that grow in big green pods. The versatile beans are often used in stews, fillings, salads, and sauces (per The Spruce Eats). Whether fresh or dried, fava beans are very nutritious, and in Italy, they're also considered to be symbols of good luck. And if you have some leftover fava beans, there's a traditional Italian purée that you can easily make in your own kitchen.

When life gives you leftover fava beans, make macco di fave

So maybe you've opted for a traditional Roman appetizer consisting of fresh fava beans and Pecorino Romano cheese, and now you're wondering what to do with the leftovers. Don't worry, as there are two very similar Italian dishes that you can easily prepare, and both are delicious. In Sicily, this soupy fava bean purée is called macco di fave, or maccu di fave, and it's made with dried fava beans, butter, olive oil, fennel, ricotta, and spring onions. Once mashed into a purée, macco di fave is typically served as an appetizer, main dish, or a side (via La Cucina Italiana). 

And in another Italian region, Apulia or Puglia, broad bean mash is served with chicory, and the dish is known as fave e cicoria (fava beans and chicory). Fave e cicoria is commonly served as an appetizer with a slice of crusty bread. Locals love the dish due to the contrasting flavors — nutty and slightly bitter at the same time (per Memorie di Angelina). But there are even more things to do with the fava bean mash — Italian Food Forever suggests stirring it into risottos or using it as a garnish for seasonal vegetable soups. And now that you know what to do with those delicious beans, it's probably time to start cooking.