The “cicerchia” looks like grains of pulses
and it is originated from an annual herbaceous plant similar to the
chickpea. Its ancient origin comes from the Middle East; the Greeks used
to call it “Lathiros” while the Romans “Cicercula”.
In Italy there are about twenty different kinds of this plant which is
cultivated in the centre and in the south of the territory in a hilly
vegetation or along the coastal zone. The preferred variety (chosen for
the excellent flavour and its easy cooking) looks flat and yellowish. The
sowing time is in spring, at the end of April, and the harvest is in
The plant doesn’t need particular treatment in fact
it grows even in difficult conditions, stands up to drought and low
temperature, it adjusts also to non fertile soil. As many pulses it has
important nutritional characteristic for their high rate of vitamins and
proteins, and dried “cicerchia” can be preserved for two years.
In the territory of Serra de’ Conti, on the Verdicchio’s hills, a
particular kind of “cicerchia” is cultivated using a technique
at low environmental impact.
The “cicerchia” looks small and
sharp-cornered, its colour is from grey to speckled brown, the peel
isn’t very tough and the flavour is less bitter than the other
With these characteristics it doesn’t need long
periods of soaking and cooking. For this reason it has an appreciable
taste and it’s suitable for traditional and creative recipes.
Every year, at the end of November, in Serra de’
Conti the “Cicerchia
feast” takes place in many taverns and cellars of the historical
centre which is an important
event to relive ancient flavours.
Below some suggestions to learn how to cook cicerchia.
Soak the cicerchia in lukewarm water for 6 hours
changing the water 2 or 3 times. Before cooking remove the tough skins
which have remained in the water. When cooking don’t use salted water.
It’s necessary to use a litre of water for 100 grammas of
Place the cicerchia in cold water and heats gently until it boils. Cook
for 40 minutes covering half of the saucepan with a lid. At the end of
cooking time leave the cicerchia in the water until needed to be
This method is used to avoid any hardening caused by water cooling. One of
the suggested recipe is Purea of cicerchia with bitter herbs. After
cooking, put the cicerchia in the food-mixer adding a bit of the cooking
water or some broth until the compound becomes a puree of medium density.
Add minced chive. Peel the chicory and boil it for 5 minutes. Then pass it
in a saucepan with some oil. Dress with pepper, salt and extra-virgin
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