Where the Fava is Queen
The Apulians are avowed vegetable addicts. They even have a saying: "Di tutti i legumi la fava è regina, cotta la sera, scaldata la matftina" ("Of all vegetables, the fava is queen, cooked in the evening, warmed in the morning"). Every year in Apulia, 33 million pounds of fava beans are harvested and transformed into antipasti, side dishes, and soups. The best-loved fava bean soup of all is 'ncapriata: dried fava beans are boiled until tender, then puréed and served next to boiled wild chicory.
This potato torta illustrates three things about the Apulian kitchen: its love of intensely flavored vegetables; its skill at turning potatoes into succulent flatbreads, breads, and pizze; and its propensity for making peasant foods taste like a celebration of nature. If you enjoy crusty textures, place the pizza pan directly on a heated baking stone.
1/2 pound boiling potatoes, peeled
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached
plus extra for the counter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground
1/4 pound fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch dice,
drained in a colander 30 minutes,
and blotted dry
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Place the potatoes in a 1-quart pot. Add cool water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes. Drain, pass through a ricer, and cool.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix the potatoes, flour, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt on a counter until a smooth dough forms, adding a little water if needed to help the dough come together; If the dough is sticky, add a little flour. Roll out into a 12-inch circle on a floured counter.
Grease a 12-inch pizza pan with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and line it with the dough. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil; top with the tomatoes, cut side down. Season with the oregano, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Remove from the oven, top with the Mozzarella and Parmigiano, and return to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Serve hot.
The pie can be shaped and topped up to 12 hours ahead and refrigerated until you are ready to bake.
Regional Italian Country Cooking
by Micol Negrin
Hardcover, 384 pages
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created May 2003
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