It’s not the first time we mention the Queen of Legumes in Le Marche, Its Majesty Cicerchia. During Carnival, we prepared the Cicerchiata, named after It, but we have just referred to it for its shape.
The Latin name is Lathyrus Sativus, but it is also known as grass pea or Indian pea. This small irregularly shaped legume is unknown outside Italy (probably even outside Marche) and does not look like a chickpea at all, even though it is sown together with it!
It’s time to bestow the right importance upon It: let’s clear things up!
First of all, the Serra de’ Conti cicerchia is under the protection of Slow Food Presidium, therefore, its uniqueness in the processing methods is widely recognised. Hence its risk of extinction: although it had been harvested around Serra de’ Conti for many years, by the second half of the 20th century, only few farmers were still cultivating it. For many years it had been completely abandoned and exploited only by multinationals.
Eventually, the Presidium producers decided to protect and safeguard the tiny, irregularly shaped legume and to create a co-op, called “Bona Usanza”.
Cicerchia is sown in Spring inbetween corn, together with beans and chickpeas, and harvested in August. It was one of the food supply in Winter for many farmers in Le Marche.
A Queen must be properly celebrated: every year its native land, Serra de’ Conti, , a village in Ancona area, dedicated three entire days at the end of November to cicerchia. There you can taste delicious cicerchia soups and also cicerchia-flour, from which pasta is made. Of course you can also buy it and try some recipes with: there’s no need to be a professional chef, cicerchia only requires 40 minutes to be properly cooked.
Take a look at the official site of Cicerchia: www.cicerchiadiserradeconti.it (where also the photo has been taken)