Begin by soaking your fava beans. You can do this one of two ways: either leave them overnight with cold water to cover or boil them briefly (for, say, 5 minutes) and remove them immediately from the heat and let them sit, covered, for about an hour. Unlike other beans, favas need to be peeled, as they skin, while not entirely inedible, does not make for good eating. This is not difficult—once soaked the skins should slide off fairly easily, leaving a pod of two loosely attached halves—but it does require some patience, so sit down with your bowl of favas and listen to some music while you peel.
Put your peeled favas in a pot large enough to contain them and enough water to cover by a couple of centimeters (about an inch). Season well with salt and pepper and, if you like (although this is not original) a garlic clove or two, and/or a small onion. Simmer about an hour or more, until the favas have become very tender. Stir frequently and top up with more water as needed to prevent the beans from drying out and scorching, but you do want to water to reduce, so that by the time the favas are tender, the water will mostly have evaporated.
When the beans are tender, begin to mash them with the side of your wooden spoon, until the beans have formed a kind of ‘cream’. Add a good filo d’olio to enrich the beans. Continue simmering, stirring all the time, until the beans have formed a purée thick enough that you can form a little ‘canal’ with a wooden spoon like so:
Meanwhile, take a good head of chicory (if you can find wild chicory, so much the better) or another bitter green—dandelion greens also work well—and boil them in well salted water until tender. Trim off the root but do not cut the greens into pieces; the leaves should remain whole (see Notes below).
Now you are ready to serve. Place your fava bean purée in the bottom of a soup plate, forming a little well in the middle, then using some tongs, grab some of the boiled greens, let them drain rather well (but not completely) and place them in the center of the plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a generous amount of the best, fruitiest olive oil you can find. Serve immediately.
NOTES: The beauty of this dish lies in the contrast of the bitterness of the greens with the smooth, nuttiness of the beans. The best way to eat it, then, is to take a bit of the greens with your fork, twirling the leaves as you would strands of spaghetti in the purée, which will form a kind of ‘sauce’ for the greens. Eaten this way, you can make sure you get a bit of greens and a bit of bean in each bite.
You can cut down the cooking time for the fava beans by using a pressure cooker. It should take about 15 minutes once it gets up to pressure. De-pressurize immediately. Since there is less evaporation than using a conventional pot, you may need to drain the beans and do the final simmering in another pot.
For this dish, you really want good, fruity, extra virgin olive oil to given this dish the proper character. If you use any other kind of oil, even the lighter olive oils, will not do. And, of course, if you can find olive oil from Puglia, so much the better! The Cento and Alessi brands both sell Apulian olive oil.