I first decided to give this recipe a try when I saw a group of old Italian mamas cooking it on TV. They were proper ‘old school’ home cooks and talked about the history of broad bean puree and why it was so important to them. It’s a traditional Puglian dish and has that real honest Italian foodie element to it.
From the way they were describing it, you could really tell that it was sustenance food and would have been quite prominent in poorer households. Despite its roots, it’s still a classic Puglian dish and is enjoyed throughout the region to this day.
Traditionally, it’s served with garlicky greens and olive oil but since putting together my own version, I’ve found it goes with many different things and is even fantastic on its own. I’ve had it alongside pierogi, salami and sautéed kale and enjoyed it every time.
When I first tried the recipe, I have to be honest and say I wasn’t expecting much from it. It looked delicious but I thought to myself – how could some plain broad beans and olive oil taste so good?
I was ready for a strange, almost earthy taste but boy, was I wrong. This puree is so deliciously smooth and sweet and is helped along by our old friend parmesan, as well as a seriously large helping of extra virgin olive oil.
I think the delicate texture of this dish is what makes it so very special. If you want to do it properly, it definitely takes time but it’s worth it in the end – a true labour of love.
If you cook it for long enough, you can actually blend it with a wooden spoon but if you’re in a hurry, there’s always a hand blender!
Whilst I’m sure my version doesn’t even come close to the Italian mamas’ one, I think the dish is very tasty and very simple nonetheless. This recipe uses few ingredients, so it’s important to make sure they are the best quality you can afford.
Ingredients for Puglian broad bean puree (for 2 people as a side or 1 as a main)
- 1 300g tin of broad beans (or 300g of frozen), defrosted if frozen and shelled.
- 3 baby potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces.
- 300ml- 500ml cold water, depending on how loose you want your puree.
- 3-4 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 tsp sea salt/rock salt.
- 1 tbsp parmesan (or a vegan friendly alternative).
- Chilli oil (optional).
To start, wash your broad beans and add them to a saucepan along with your potato chunks and cold water. It’s important to make sure you use a pan that’s large enough to contain all your ingredients, as well as giving you room to stir and blend.
Bring to the boil and cook on a medium to high heat for around 25-30 minutes, until your potatoes have softened significantly. At this point, you will want to start using the back of a wooden spoon to break down the potato and beans so that they begin to combine.
You’ll know when your ingredients have reached optimum softness, as the clear water will begin to go starchy and thick.
Continue to blend the ingredients together with your spoon for around 30 minutes or so, slowly adding your olive oil at regular intervals until completely combined. If you’re using a hand blender, add in the oil a tbsp at a time after blending and stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are fully amalgamated.
Once your puree is smooth and creamy, add your salt and parmesan and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes. To finish, grate a sprinkling of parmesan on top and if you like things spicy, a dash of chilli oil will add another dimension to the dish.
A simple Italian dish that’s simply delicious!