Southern Italian Fava Bean Purèe (Maccu)

Southern Italian Fava Bean Purèe (Maccu)
Source: The Italian Diabetes Cookbook. Recipe Credit: . Photo Credit: Renee Comet.

Maccu is a popular dish in Amy Riolo's ancestral homeland of Calabria, Italy. The word calabria is derived from a Byzantine term meaning “fertile land.” This region lives up to its name with rich agricultural traditions that continue today. The word maccu comes from the dialect word for “mashed” and refers to a purée that is made of fava beans, one of the world’s oldest agricultural crops. Fresh and dried fava bean dishes are served in Calabria for St. Joseph’s Day. Serve this appetizer alone, drizzled with olive oil as a side dish, or with crackers, flatbread, or Whole-Wheat Cracker Rings with Black Pepper and Fennel Seeds. Use first cold-pressed olive oil and pecorino Crotonese—a high-quality, aged sheep-milk cheese from Calabria, if possible. This dish, like many popular Italian appetizers, can be served hot or at room temperature. Chickpeas and cannellini beans can be substituted for the fava beans.

  • Prep time
    5 min
  • Cook time
    1 hr 5 min
  • Servings
    6 Servings
  • Serving size
    1/3 cup
Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

6 Servings

  • Serving Size
    1/3 cup
  • Amount per serving Calories 80

  • Total Fat 5g
    • Saturated Fat 1g
    • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 120mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 6g
    • Dietary Fiber 2g
    • Total Sugars 1g
  • Protein 2g
  • Potassium 90mg
  • Phosphorus 45mg

Choices/Exchanges: 1/2 Starch, 1 Fat



  • peeled, dried fava beans, soaked in boiling water for 1 hour and drained
    2/3 cup
  • small onion, quartered
  • dried bay leaf
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil (preferably first cold-pressed), divided
    2 tbsp
  • fennel seeds, plus extra for garnish
    1 tsp
  • Crushed red chile flakes, to taste
  • unrefined sea salt
    1/8 tsp
  • freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 tsp


  1. Place beans, onion, and bay leaf in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until tender, approximately 1 hour.

  2. Drain beans and place in a food processor with cheese, 1 tablespoon. olive oil, and fennel seeds. Purée until smooth. Taste and season with crushed red chile flakes, salt, and pepper.

  3. Spoon onto a serving platter and smooth out the top with a spatula. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon. olive oil, and sprinkle crushed red chile flakes and fennel seed on top, if desired.