Known since ancient times, Leonforte Fava Beans were once extremely widespread as they were planted as a rotation crop with wheat. Their purpose was to replenish the nitrogen in the soil, and were (and still are) a key ingredient in the local cuisine. Cultivation is still completely done by hand. In November and December the tracks are prepared, the seeds are planted in small groups (a postarella), and then covered with soil. Afterwards, the ground is hoed in order to remove grass and some extra soil is added around the seedlings. Once the plants start to wilt they are cut down, dried in small bunches (manate di favi) and beaten in the courtyard (whereas they used to be walked on by animals). In order to separate the so-called furba (that is, the remains of the stalks and leaves) from the seeds, they are thrown in the air with a pitchfork on slightly breezy days. Fava beans are good and, as they say in Leonforte, they’re cucivuli; that is, they are easy to cook and don’t have to be soaked first (like other legumes). At the end of March the green fava beans are harvested: these are soaked in salt and spring onions and served with pecorino cheese (in a dish called favaiana e cipuddetti). They can also be served as a frittedda: fried in extra-virgin olive oil with bacon and onions and then cooked on a low flame. The smallest seeds were fed to animals, while the largest were sold to merchants. As a result, the fava bean fields were progressively shrinking year after year and the fava bean itself was at serious risk of extinction.
Fava bean is harvested at the end of March. Dried beans can be found throughout the year
Leonforte, Assoro, Nissoria, Enna and Calascibetta municipalities, Enna province
Tel. +39 339 4236628
di Angelo Calì
Tel. +39 334 3668010