It’s Spring in Tuscany. The flame red poppies flare up out of the green landscape, their papery heads whipping in the wind, a frantic dance that draws your attention away from the patient golden and white wildflowers, from the regal purple spears that bloom amidst Tuscany’s greenery.
The delicate white jasmine flowers are slowly, shyly, starting to reveal their delicate faces on the vines that cloak ancient stone fences.
Nearby, agricultural fields are bursting with artichokes that seem to burst up out of the ground like an extravagant stage performer, cloaked in a large robe of green leaves that wrap the artichoke heads. Wild asparagus spears, the thinner but more flavoursome cousins of regular asparagus, pierce through the dirt. Olives are just starting to bud amongst the silvery leaves of the trees carefully laid out in the olive groves. And one of Tuscany’s typical rustic delicacies are being gathered ? baccelli beans.
The beans themselves lie cuddled in long thin pods, opened along the centre to pluck the beans from their cosy nesting place.
At Tuscan tables, it is not unusual to have the beans placed in handfuls on the tabletops to be eaten as a starter before a relaxing Sunday lunch, their discarded shells scattered over the tablecloth.
The beans can also be used in delicious, simple salad recipes.
In Tessa Kiros’ ‘Twelve: A Tuscan Cookbook’, she has the below delicious and simple Tuscan recipe. It is delicious served on Tuscan bread, pane toscano, which is a salt-free bread (made thus so as to support rather than overpower already salted foods that the bread is served with). Sliced and grilled on a barbecue or roasted in the oven, with scoopings of the bean mix atop, it is just to die for.
You can, should you wish to, add in chunks of prosciutto ham to the mix. We like it tossed in a fry pan for just a second to slightly heat the meat, but you can do it without any warming should you prefer.
Baccelli e Pecorino ? Broad bean and pecorino salad recipe
From: ‘Twelve: A Tuscan Cookbook’ by Tessa Kiros
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) fresh pecorino cheese
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) shelled broad (fava) beans
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
‘This is a very traditional meal in May – beans, bread, cheese and olive oil. Apart from the bean shell, each individual broad bean has two coats ? the outer one is often removed to expose another, brighter green coat underneath.’
Cut the cheese into slivers or cubes. Put the broad beans into a bowl and splash with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and mix through. Put a pile of Tuscan beans onto each plate, scatter with the pecorino cheese and serve.
Tessa Kiros, a good friend of Artviva, is an occasional special guest at the Authors, Artists and Aristocrats events giving visitors to Tuscany a chance to meet local authors, artists and aristocrats, including wine tasting and insights into Italian culture.
You can also learn about the traditional Italian ingredients and learn to make delicious, typical dishes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you by signing up for our hands-on cooking class in Florence.
You can also get up and close and personal with Tuscany, where the makers of the Mona Lisa and David worked and played, see where Leonardo da Vinci tested his historic flying machine and the shaded hillside stone works where Michelangelo learned his craft on our Perfect Morning in Tuscany tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.
Experience a typical Tuscan meal in situ, amongst the rolling Tuscan hills as part of our Best of Tuscany small-group day tour to explore three Tuscan hilltop towns and have a typical lunch and wine tasting at a Tuscan villa. Best of Tuscany.
Have fun learning about the amazing history of Florence and the characters that made it so on our small-group Original Florence Walk tour.
Our Florence Walk is part of the Florence in One Glorious Day discounted Florence tour package including the skip-the line Uffizi Gallery Tour and skip-the-line Academia visit, The Original David Tour.
Artviva is a proud supporter and member of Slow Food, and specialises in small-group, quality (and fun) tours in Florence/Tuscany, Rome, Cinque Terre, Venice and beyond. Visit www.italy.artviva.com for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.