For a May Day Picnic: Fave e pecorino (Fava Beans and Pecorino)

Frankantipasti, Lazio, Spring11 Comments

Fava Beans and Pecorino Cheese

Fave e pecorino—fava beans and pecorino is not really a “dish” at all, you just set out the fava beans, in their pods, and a hunk of pecorino cheese. Each diner opens the pods for themselves and eats the raw fava beans they find inside with a bit of pecorino, washed down with a well-chilled dry white wine. Odd as it may sound, it is a combination that was just meant to be.

Romans traditionally eat fava beans and pecorino on May 1, preferably while they picnic fuori porta, or literally ‘outside the gate’ meaning outside town. Romans will pick up and find any green spot (even city parks if they can’t get out of the town) to set out their picnic lunch. When we were living in downtown Rome close to the Campo dei fiori, we’d often go up the Gianicolo, a high hill just across the river,for our May Day picnics. When we moved to a country setting on the outskirts of town, we could just sit outside on the terrace; and we would often come across strangers picnicking down the hill from our house!

If you want to get fancy, you can de-pod and shell the fava beans, cube the cheese and combine the two with a bit of oil, salt and pepper to make a salad. That is how I had this once in a tony restaurant in Florence. But personally I like the rustic informality of eating fava beans and  pecorino in the raw, so to speak.

11 Comments on “For a May Day Picnic: Fave e pecorino (Fava Beans and Pecorino)”

  1. I got the first fava beans of the season last week at the farmers' market: what a pleasure to have them with real pecorino! My father loves fava beans, so this time of the year my mother would buy them often and we also visited farmers who grew them. I am glad they are becoming more and more common in the US. If you don't find them in your area, try asking a farmer to grow some: you never know…

  2. You lived by the Campo dei fiori and moved? Campo dei fiori was one of my favorite places in Italy. My wife and I stumbled across it on our own and a couple of days later we brought people from our tour back so we could have lunch there.

  3. This Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to share this classic Roman tradition with my friend's family. The taste of these two foods combined is unexpected, yet delicious. The beans have to be really fresh, we picked them that same morning!

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