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Cicerchia

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION
The Cicerchia, lathyrus sativus, also known as Chickling Pea), is a legume. It produces seeds that stem from an annual grass-like plant, quite similar to the chick pea plant. Its origins date far back to the Middle East. The Greeks called it lathiros, with the Romans it went by cicerula. In Italy existed about twenty different varieties that were grown in the center and in the North. Over time cultivation declined slowly until it more or less faded out. The preferred variety grown today is tiny and yellowish, because it is easy to cook and is tasty. The kernels are small and yellow. Sowing takes place in the spring, at the beginning of April, harvest is at the end of July. Cicerchia has no special cultivation needs and can grow under harsh conditions. It is draught resistant and can deal with poor soil. Like all legumes its nutritional values are interesting for its high content of protein and starch, and low content of fat. Its vitamin content is considerable with B1, B2 and B3 (PP), It also contains calcium, phosphorus, and fiber. Apart from the fact that it is good tasting, it is dried and thus easily preserved.

THE CICERCHIA FROM SERRA DE' CONTI
Slow Food Presidium
In the area around Serra de’ Conti, between the hills that provide the ideal conditions for the Verdicchio grapes, a special variety of the Cicerchia is grown. One of its characteristics is that the cultivation has hardly any impact on the environment. The kernel is flat and angular. With coloring that goes from grey to spotted brown and a pod that is not chewy, the taste is less bitter than of some of the other varieties. It needs to be soaked far shorter than other varieties. About 8 hours of soaking is sufficient and 45 minutes cooking is enough. These characteristics, besides ensuring a pleasant taste, make it ideal for both traditional dishes and innovative recipes. This particularly versatile ingredient is very good in soups and stews, and as a puree or served as a side dish with pork knuckle. With Cicerchia flour chunkier types of pasta can be made.

Cicerchia Soup

Preparation
Sauté celery, carrots, and onions in olive oil. Add to these two ladles of vegetable broth and let it simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile rub the soup bowls with a garlic clove. Then dish out the hot soup. You can also add croutons and chives. Round it off with a streak of good extra virgin olive oil.

Zuppa dei Conti

Una zuppa nutriente e salutare con prodotti delle nostre colline marchigiane. Troverete insieme legumi e cereali della nostra tradizione con l'aggiunta di spezie orientali per regalarvi un gusto nuovo e proprietà salutistiche eccezionali.

Ingredienti: cicerchia di Serra de' Conti decorticata (Presidio Slow Food), lenticchie, fagiolo solfino e trìccole de La Bona Usanza, favetta di Fratte Rosa decorticata (Presidio Slow Food), farro perlato e grano antico Saragolla spezzato della Comunità del cibo di San Marcello, cipolla di Suasa disidratata, mela dell'abbondanza essiccata di Urbino, zenzero e curcuma.
Non necessita di ammollo. Cottura 30 minuti. 6 porzioni.

Cicerchiòle

These are a type of puff pastry cracker, artisan-made with Cicerchia flour (40%), chick pea flour (20%) and wheat flour (20%). Cicerchiole comes in useful for a snack in between, or on the go that can be kept in your purse or car. They are ideal for small snacks that go with an aperitivo and are perfect additions to the bread basket in restaurants. Here are a few suggestions about what to add to them: Lard that has been flavored with garlic and parsley, baccala (salt cod), gorgonzola cream, a cauliflower and rosemary relish, eggplant and mint pesto, or a puree from Borlotti beans and sweet onions.

Coriandoli

This is a small type of pasta made of cicerchia flour (60%) and chick pea flour (40%). Neither of these legumes contain gluten. Cooking time is 6 minutes. Since they are made from legumes, they are more compact than regular pasta and therefore one serving corresponds to 50 grams.

Coriandoli, Pippoli, Triccole and Girelle were created with the intention to provide pasta entirely made out of flours from legumes, without gluten, rich with fiber and proteins, and without fat; they are a source of high energy. We have selected small local workshops for making this pasta to ensure that the entire production chain is handled by artisans.

Pìppoli

This is a small type of pasta made of cicerchia flour (60%) and chick pea flour (40%). Neither of these legumes contain gluten. Cooking time is 12 minutes. Pippoli can be served in broth or like regular pasta with vegetables or creamy sauces, as one prefers. For example, (Pippoli in broth with vegetables of the season; Pippoli with artichokes, herbs and Pecorino; Pippoli with fresh fava beans and crispy bacon; Pippoli with garden vegetables, fava beans and Taleggio cheese. Since they are made from legumes, they are more compact than regular pasta and therefore one serving corresponds to 50 grams.

Coriandoli, Pippoli, Triccole and Girelle were created with the intention to provide pasta entirely made out of flours from legumes, without gluten, rich with fiber and proteins, and without fat; they are a source of high energy. We have selected small local workshops for making this pasta to ensure that the entire production chain is handled by artisans.

Trìccole

Triccole is a “short” pasta made from Cicerchia flour and chick pea flour, in a ratio of 60 to 40 (cooking time 8/9 minutes). These kind of pasta are high in protein and fiber and can be eaten like pasta together with vegetables or sauces that are usually eaten with legumes. Examples: with green cabbage and rosemary, with bacon, herbs and black salt from Cyprus, with radicchio and walnuts. 50 g per serving is more than enough.

Coriandoli, Pippoli, Triccole and Girelle were created with the intention to provide pasta entirely made out of flours from legumes, without gluten, rich with fiber and proteins, and without fat; they are a source of high energy. We have selected small local workshops for making this pasta to ensure that the entire production chain is handled by artisans.

Girelle

Girelle is similar to small “fusilli” (cooking time 8 minutes) and have the same composition of le Triccole. These kind of pasta are high in protein and fiber and can be eaten like pasta together with vegetables or sauces that are usually eaten with legumes. Examples: with green cabbage and rosemary, with bacon, herbs and black salt from Cyprus, with radicchio and walnuts. 50 g per serving is more than enough.

Coriandoli, Pippoli, Triccole and Girelle were created with the intention to provide pasta entirely made out of flours from legumes, without gluten, rich with fiber and proteins, and without fat; they are a source of high energy. We have selected small local workshops for making this pasta to ensure that the entire production chain is handled by artisans.

Dried Fig Log

A TRADITIONAL SWEET
This sweet has the shape of a sausage. In olden days, figs were grown in large quantities and the farmers put a lot of effort into preserving them. One of the many ways of doing that was to make them into a type of “salami” composed of sun-dried figs, ground walnuts, almonds and anise liqueur, all rolled up in dried fig leaves and tied together with strings of wool. Once upon a time the sweet fig log (Lonzino di Fico) was a popular snack for children during fall and winter; nowadays it has been re-discovered and is served in restaurants as part of gourmet desserts. We suggest that you serve it at the end of a meal, cut in slices, with a spoonful of Sapa, some well-aged cheese, and Passito dessert wine.

DRIED FIGS IN ANCIENT ROME
How to make a fig log is described in Columella’s (65 AD.) recipe in Latin and has been handed down as a rural tradition to our days.
De ficis siccandis
Quidam, lectis ficis, pediculos adimunt et in sole eas expandunt. Cum deinde paulum siccatae sunt, antequam indurescant, in labra fictilia vel lapidea congerunt eas. Tum, pedibus lotis, in modum farinae proculcant et admiscent torrefactam sesamam cum aneso aegyptio et semine faeniculi et cymini. Haec cum bene proculcaverunt et totam massam comminutae fici permiscuerunt, modicas offas foliis ficulneis involvunt ac religatas iunco vel qualibet herba offas reponunt in crates et patiuntur siccari. Deinde, cum peraruerunt, picatis vasis eas condunt. Lucio Giunio Columella Res Rustica, XII, 15 (65 d.C.)

Once the figs have been picked, the stems are removed and the fruit is spread in the sun. After the figs have dried a bit but before they get hard, they are piled into terracotta or stone jugs. Then people wash their feet and stomp on the figs in the same way as they do with flour. Then the figs are mixed with roasted sesame seeds, with anise from Egypt, fennel, and cumin seeds. After everything has been well stirred, small sausages are formed, which are wrapped with fig leaves, tied with a reed or some other type of grass, and put back onto the racks until they have dried. Once they are dry, they are stored in pots sealed with pitch.

Chick Peas

CHICK PEAS FROM SERRA DE’ CONTI
In the past, legumes were a basic daily food element in the Marche. In the last few decades, they have been abandoned like other types of food considered “poor.” Now finally, traditional dishes are having a revival and people are starting to look for natural ingredients. A new concept of wellness is emerging that puts attention on what we eat. In the upper Misa valley in the center of the Marche the growing of traditional legumes has been taken up again. An example is the small and tender chick pea which is full of flavor, and grows with little environmental impact. Chick peas are ideal in dried soup mixes, together with chunky pasta and seasoned with salt, extra virgin olive oil, and chives.

Suggestions for preparation:
• Soak the chick peas overnight.
• Cook them in unsalted water.
• Add a twig of rosemary and some unpeeled garlic cloves to the cooking water.
• Carefully skim the foam during the first couple of minutes of cooking
• Cook slowly for a little over an hour
• Essential for the success of this dish are a few drops of good quality extra virgin olive oil dribbled over it when it is served.

Solfino Bean

AN ANTIQUE BEAN FROM THE MARCHE
The solfino bean has returned to the Marche Region. It is small, puffy, and light yellow (like sulfur). In the past, it was quite common in Central Italy (Marche, Tuscany, Umbria). During the last decade the sofino bean has been brought back to life in various regions including the Marche. The seed, a local variety, has been recovered, studied, and selected by the CRA – The Experimental Horticultural Institute of Monsampolo del Tronto. The Bona Usanza Cooperative from Serra de’Conti has also decided to take up the cultivation of the solfino bean, an autochthonic cultivar at risk because of the increasing use of industrial methods. The solfino bean (once called “Solfi”) has unique organoleptic properties: very thin peel, creamy consistency, and a delicate flavor. It doesn’t fall apart when it is cooked. In order to fully enjoy its qualities, it should be eaten right after it has been cooked when still warm, with a trace of good olive oil and a pinch of salt. Sowing takes place in April and it is harvested at the end of July. The plants prefer dry and poor soil and do not like stagnant water. Growing it is difficult because success is closely dependent on the weather. The solfino bean is delicious, but growing it requires care and patience, which means that a lot of manual labor is involved. That was the very reason that it had almost disappeared, but now it is returning onto our tables. The farmers who are putting their hearts into growing this tiny bean are proud of their success.

Lentils


Lentils have been known since ancient times. As members of the legume family they are rich in protein, fiber and mineral salts. This makes them a valuable component of our diet. In addition, they are easy to cook and can be used in a variety of recipes. The small, multi-colored type is to be preferred, because it contains a higher proportion of minerals like iron, phosphor and magnesium.

Lentils from Serra de’Conti are grown on the hills of the Apennine, above 500 m altitude in limey and gravelly soil. Cultivation is done in the traditional way, without the use of pesticides.

These particular lentils are small, very tender, full of nutrients, invigorating, delicious and do not have to be soaked before cooking, although soaking can further improve their taste.

Mais Quarantino

The Quarantino 12–row corn
The quarantino variety was the typical corn grown in the Marche until the 1860s, when it was gradually replaced by hybrids with higher yield. But many haven’t forgotten the soft, fluffy and creamy sensation on the palate, the slight roasted notes, and the overall mildness of the polenta made from that variety of corn. Thus, this almost extinct corn was selected for preservation. Now, after years of developing better growing methods, we have sufficient seeds for planting and can again offer food lovers the quarantino corn flower for polenta and cookies. Corn is an annual grass-like plant. Usually plants of the quarantino variety bear only one cob, with small and round corn kernels. It is called “quarantino”, because the cob is formed 40 days after it has been sown. Production is limited, but that way we can make sure that a variety is not lost which, for decades, has stilled the hunger of farm families in the area and which is definitely superior in taste to other varieties available nowadays.

Sapa

GRAPE SYRUP
In the old days sapa was prepared during the wine harvest. Well ripened grapes were selected. The must was filtered and put in a copper kettle where it was slowly simmered over a wood fire, with the pot suspended from a big tripod. It took many hours for the liquid to noticeably reduce. 4 liters of must result in one liter of grape nectar. During simmering, which lasted about 15 hours, the foam was skimmed off with a big perforated ladle. When done, the sapa was poured into large wooden barrels to let it cool down and settle. The next day it was bottled and stored away in a high place in the cellar. It was used in many ways: to season Christmas or Carnival bakery, for preparing sweet pies filled with homemade jams or marmalades, for improving fruit cakes or compote, and to flavor polenta or the dough of the traditional “Ciambelle”, a donut-shaped pastry. In the summer it was mixed with cold spring water giving a refreshing, tasty and invigorating drink

SAPA AND HOW IT IS USED
Sapa contains much grape sugar and thus is basically used for sweetening dishes. Fruit cakes can be sweetened with it or it can be used for their preparation together with apples or pears, or for fruit pies. It tastes good with fig log, Panna Cotta or vanilla ice cream, with fruit salad or fresh fruit. It also goes well with mature cheeses or cheeses that have been seasoned with herbs. There are many ways one can experiment with sapa, for example on liver with sage. Many have sweet memories of a cooling summer refreshment made with sapa and crushed ice.

Agresto

GRAPE-BASED CONDIMENT
The Romans were familiar with sauces based on grapes, wine and vinegar. The one best known was “garum”. Numerous documents prove that Agresto has long been used in the preparation of common dishes. In all dictionaries published before the 19th century, the term “agresto” appears. The name “Agresto” originates from the “gresta” grapes. Those are grapes that grow on the higher shoots and are not yet ripe at the time of the harvest. They are very small grapes, green, hard and roundish. The farmers picked them at the end of November in order to squeeze them and make a sour sauce out of them to flavor cooked vegetables, potatoes and onions. Or, sometimes, the agresto or vinegar made from agresto was mixed with cooked must to create a sweet-and-sour sauce.

LA BONA USANZA AGRESTO
The members of the Bona Usanza Cooperative took up this old tradition and re-introduced the agresto in its sweet-and-sour version. Their agresto is syrupy, rather dense, and dark. The taste is initially tart, but ends on a pleasantly sweet note. It tastes of cooked must and also a little of caramel. Agresto is used in many ways, whenever sweet and sour flavors are desired. All ingredients are made of grapes in one way or another prepared in the same as before the 19th century, when the introduction of tomatoes made people neglect agresto.

Cipolla e Carciofo

Onions from Suasa with Agresto
Onions from Suasa that are grown in Castelleone di Suasa and the surrounding towns and on either side of the river Cesano, have become popular again during the last decade. These rather rare onions are available only in limited quantities. They are sweet and mild, on the outside pink, with purple layers inside.
The Bona Usanza onion spread is made with agresto (the grape-based condiment), they themselves produce. It is ideal on rusks and goes well with middle-aged cheeses.

Artichokes from Jesi with Agresto
The Jesi artichoke has a compact, elliptical bud closed on the top. It is green at the bottom, with hints of purple. It starts budding in early April and can be harvested for about one month, beginning in late April. This cultivar is listed as a typical product of the region and is grown in the central valley of the river Esino in cool and aerated soil.

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