Pantano of Pignola “Red Drafted Bean” has its natural habitat in a large natural amphitheater formed by the mountains of Maddalena, near the Lake of Pantano of Pignola, in the middle of a WWF Oasis, a few kilometres from Potenza. Imported from America by the Spaniards, has quickly become a fundamental support of peasant families of Lucania. Today Pantano of Pignola “Red Drafted Bean” is a very valuable and well known for its delicacy and its versatility in the kitchen. It’s in the land and culture of Lucania that this bean has its real strength.
Pantano of Pignola “Red Drafted Bean” is cultivated in Pignola and Abriola municipalities, altitude over 600 meters above sea level, with temperatures never exceeding 30° C. The 15 producers, still family run small vegetable gardens, are now joined in a growers association, with its own production protocol and a brand that identifies the authentic red beans. Cultivating this legume requires much work, care and attention and is now very rare. It’s just a passion because young people gradually abandoned the countryside and went to work in the cities. Pantano of Pignola “Red Drafted Bean” has not a real market. You can buy it directly from the producers.
The climbing plant produces a round, ovoid seed, beige in color with the dark red streaks that give the name of Pantano of Pignola “Red Drafted Bean”. The harvest runs from around the first week of September. It is very rich in fiber, iron and other trace elements, B vitamins and contains proteins of good quality.
The Lucanian cuisine, in a still uncontaminated context of ancient perfumes, culture and nature. It is more and more appreciated by the foreign tourists, from each part of Europe and of the world what they discover this little hidden hospitality casket. A blessing for health are Pasta e fagioli (home made pasta with beans), Passata di fagioli con i peperoni cruschi (beans puree with dried peppers), Luganighe e fagioli (lucan sausage with beans), Strascinati e fagioli (another home made pasta with beans), Fagioli con le cotiche (beans with pork rind), Fagioli in pignatta (beans in pot) and many other ancient and healthful recipes. Their very tender skin means that the beans are suited for use in for appetizers and side dishes.
Today I will tell you a very simple sweet that was prepared at Christmas time: the crunchy almonds, another typical recipe of Lucania.
It is an ancient dish with simple ingredients and very tasty.
When I were small, my mother prepared that and I was very delighted. They were like cherries!
In the winters of the years ’70, in my home town, Potenza, fell a lot of snow. So, at Christmas time, we were all at home playing bingo.
On the table there were not too many sweets and even gifts and so much waste. For us children, the party was also nibble those small and delicious homemade sweets, crunchy almond.
Difficulty: very low
Toast time: 5 min
Cooking time: 10 min
Total time: 15 min
4 tbsp shelled almonds
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
1 teaspoon of lemon
The origin of this sweet, enjoyed by young and old, is somewhat controversial.
According to an ancient legend told by Ovid, almond was born into one of those unlucky loves of ancient Greece.
Some historicals attribute the authorship to Spanish pastry chefs while others argue that the crunchy sweet origins in southern Italy, around the 13th century, as a descendant of an Arab cake made with almonds, honey and spices.
In Lucania, just in the south of Italy, this cake is known as “asleep mother-in-law” to say that is so good that it can “sleep” the mother-in-law!
It is said that once a young, to be alone with his girlfriend without being under the watchful eye of her mother-in-law, brought to her the crunchy almonds. The mother-in-law was distracted by the goodness of sweet and so the young man could embrace his girlfriend.
Today, unfortunately, it is a story of the past…
1. Place the shelled almonds on a baking sheet with parchment paper and toast for 5 minutes.
2. Place sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan, add the toasted almonds and stir continuously over low heat with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and begins to bubble.
3. When the sugar begins to thicken and begins to coat the almonds, continue to stir quickly.
4. Remove from heat when the mixture takes its amber color and place in a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
5. Place the crunchy almonds so you get a rectangular shape.
6. Let cool the tablet until it is solidified.
7. In order to enhance the flavor, put half a lemon over the surface of crusty before it is completely cold.
At this point, choose a movie to watch, sit on the couch with the little bowl of crunchy almonds right and the love of your life left and enjoy your evening!