About This Recipe
Scurdijata is a peasant dish from Salento, the southernmost part of Puglia (the heel of the Italian boot). Traditionally made from foraged wild greens, leftover beans, and stale bread, it’s endlessly adaptable to whatever you have on hand. Because scurdijata is so simple, and the ingredients are so few, you’ll notice a profound difference in the result if you cook dried beans the day before and use fresh local greens, good bread, and high-quality olive oil.
Legumes are nutrient-dense, complex carbohydrates, rich in plant-based protein, amino acids, and folate — crucial for cell growth, repair, and overall health. Greens are full of fiber and micronutrients that benefit the digestive system. They are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals with antioxidant properties, particularly chlorophyll, which helps prevent cell damage and fight disease and aging. The combined vitamin and mineral quotient of a bouquet of legumes and greens may help lower blood pressure and blood sugar.
Note: These measurements should just be seen as guidelines; the whole point is to use up leftovers in a manner that nourishes and delights. Let their quantities be your ratio! If you want to make the beans specifically for this dish, a method follows.
- 1 cup (200 g) dried chickpeas or any dried beans, soaked overnight
- 3 cups (720 ml) water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 bouquet garni (a bay leaf, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs of parsley, tied together)
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
For the scurdijata
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 small dried red chile, sliced, or 1/2 tsp chile flakes
- 2 cups (320 g) dandelion or wild chicory greens, previously cooked or boiled in salted water for 5 minutes
- 2 cups (480 g) cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup bean cooking liquid or vegetable stock
- 2 cups (100 g) stale bread (whole-grain sourdough or similar), cut into cubes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Herbs for garnish (optional)
Step 1To make the beans: Drain the beans and add to a large stockpot, cover with water, add salt, and bring them to a boil. Add the herbs and garlic, and lower to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for about an hour or until the beans are tender. Remove the bouquet garni and discard. Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup (240 ml) of the liquid. Set aside.
Step 2Into a large pan over medium heat, pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When it ripples, add the garlic and red pepper. When the garlic just begins to color, 30 seconds, add the greens and stir well. Lower the heat and let the greens cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; you want to see a bit of browning on some of the greens.
Step 3Add the beans, and their cooking liquid or stock, stir well, and let cook for another 10 minutes with an occasional stir. If some beans start to break up, that’s good; they’ll thicken the liquid.
Step 4While this is cooking, toast the bread cubes in a pan with a little oil, salt, and pepper, stirring them to color several sides of each cube. Turn off the heat and set aside. Taste the beans and greens mixture for seasoning, then turn the heat off.
Step 5Spread half the croutons in a platter or shallow bowl large enough to hold everything easily. Ladle the mixture over the bread, then top with the remaining croutons. Drizzle with some more oil, garnish it with some chopped fresh herbs if you like, and serve.
Substitutions: Virtually any combination of greens and any type of legume from lentils to chickpeas, will work here. Try cannellini, pinto, or navy beans. Dandelion and other wild chicories are traditional, but broccoli, chard, or mustard greens work well.
Level Up: Bake your own sourdough.
Zero Waste: The beauty of peasant food like this is that it’s dedicated to preventing food waste.