One of the things I like most about being here in the Italian countryside is the wealth of fresh produce that’s on offer. Unlike the UK where the supermarkets are filled with the same fruit and veg the year through, here it’s very seasonal. For the eco-conscious, you can be assured that the fava beans and strawberries you are purchasing have raked up very few miles and therefore have a miniscule carbon footprint.
One of the benefits of buying local produce, and I do see this as a benefit, is it’s not been tampered with by the EU. Peppers come in all shapes and sizes, some look like they’ve been stepped on and others look like someone has had a go at them with a bicycle pump. That dreadful uniformity in UK supermarkets isn’t here, even the supermarket chains here sell fresh produce that would give an MEP nightmares. Now don’t get me wrong there is some imported foodstuffs, bananas, pineapples etc. but the majority of fresh produce is local and thus seasonal. We’re just leaving the artichoke and strawberry season, but now stalls everywhere are groaning under the weight of melons and shops are displaying signs telling everyone that cherries are now in stock.
A few days ago I read a post about broad beans on the Facebook page of The Olive House Italy, a beautiful self-contained, holiday villa in Roccascalegna, that grows its own produce for the guests staying there to use themselves. What a good idea, no popping to the shops to get your veggies, just walk down to the orto and pick it fresh.
Fave, or as we Brits know them broad beans are coming to the end of their season and yesterday I managed to get a kilo from our local fruit and veg shop. One of the other benefits of buying local is the price, the kilo of beans, two large lettuce, a melon and a cucumber came to just €3,70. (A quick price comparison with a well known UK supermarket shows me that in England I’d have paid £5.64, that’s €6,58 and the broad beans would have been frozen.)
Photograph courtesy of The Olive House Italy
In Italy you often see the fava beans in salads, the outer skin is stripped from the bean and the bright green insides are eaten raw. So today I decided to make my own fava bean salad. I always think that the beans go well with mackerel, so after pan frying two medium sized mackerel and setting them aside to cool, I removed the beans from the pods and stripped off the outer skin. Tip, Don’t waste time trying to peel the little blighters, just halve with a knife and pop out the green discs inside. Chop some tomato, cucumber and celery, also take some of the yellow celery leaves out of the heart and add those. Add all the salad ingredients and fava beans into a bowl with some lettuce; I used the frilly one that’s slightly bitter, flake in the mackerel add a pinch of salt and black pepper, mix and serve. One thing that works well with mackerel and broad beans is creamed horseradish, and although this isn’t an Italian ingredient a dollop went well with the dish.
Click the link to visit The Olive House Italy