#24 / MARCO AND MACCO - Marco Moreo Milano

When I was child and people asked me my name, I would answer “Macco!” – I couldn’t pronounce the two consonants together, so the R always disappeared. For a long time, my family continued to call me “Macco”.

Much later, during a trip to Sicily, I encountered another macco: one made from fava beans. In spring, you can just sit down at one of Palermo’s typical putìa (shops that sell traditional food to eat in or take away) and be swept away by its delicious savoury flavour.

Which, of course, is exactly what I did!

Macco is a fava bean purée, originally eaten by Sicilian peasants, that has all but disappeared from modern tables. Which is a shame because it’s super easy to make, nutritious, and healthy: fava beans are low in fat and high in vegetable proteins and fibre. And look at that gorgeous green colour!

You can make macco with dried fava beans, but my recipe uses fresh ones. It’s spring, so why not make the most of seasonal vegetables?! Plus, that’s the only way to get that rather psychedelic green.

So, let’s see how to make Fava bean macco. 


30 minutes [15 mins preparation, 15 mins cooking]

Ingredients [serves 4]

  • 2 kg fresh fava beans
  • 1 shallot (or spring onion)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 or 3 wild fennel leaves. Alternatively, dried fennel seeds
  • A few fresh mint leaves (optional)


  • A saucepan with fairly high sides
  • A frying pan
  • A sharp knife
  • A hand blender


Shell the fava beans like beans or peas: open the pod along its length and remove the beans. Separate the larger beans from the smaller ones – they can be very different sizes.

I recommend peeling the larger fava beans – they have a protective skin that is difficult to soften during cooking.

How? Just remove the stalks and blanch the fava beans for about a minute. Drain them and stop them cooking using cold water. Then simply squeeze them one by one, and the inner bean will slip out of its skin easily.

You don’t need to do this for the smaller fava beans.

And now, it’s time to make some macco! In a frying pan, sauté the diced shallot in two tablespoons of oil. When it has softened, add the shelled fava beans, pour in a cup of hot water, and cook uncovered for about ten minutes.

Flavour with wild fennel, or fennel seeds if you can’t get fresh fennel. 

Place the fava beans in the blender and blend them, adding more water as needed. You’re looking for a medium consistency – not too runny but not too thick either. Not a soup, but not a purée. Yes, I know: the only tricky part of this recipe is getting the right balance. ;)

Flavour with a few mint leaves. These are optional, but I highly recommend adding them: the mint softens the savoury, slightly bitter taste of the fava beans and brings out their green freshness.

And voilà, your fava bean macco is ready! Don’t you feel like you’re in a putìa?! Serve the fava beans with a drizzle of olive oil and some toasted bread.

Tip for those with big appetites: use the macco as a pasta sauce. Cook your pasta in a separate pan as usual, drain it, then toss it in the frying pan (the one with your macco in, obviously). Use short pasta or hand-broken spaghetti – about 3 to 5 cm in length. But don’t go crazy with the ruler. Let them be irregular: that’s the beauty of homemade pasta shapes. 

Buon appetito! 💗