Lentils from Santo Stefano di Sessanio: typical regional products

We are what we eat“The German philosopher Feuerbach said that what we choose to eat says a lot about us and the way we live, as well as how we nourish ourselves in a certain way and become part of who we are. In the nineteenth century, which already had meaning, but with the evolution of biomedical and nutritional research, physical, a statement that is even more true given the psychophysical and social consequences of our moods and health conditions.

In the modern world food It has become the absolute hero of healthy diets, photos to be shared on social networks, TV programs and aperitifs with friends and colleagues, typical regional products perfectly embody this maxim. Neither example is very popular Lentils from Santo Stefano di SessanioSlow Food presidium and among traditional Abruzzo rural-food products documented since the foundation of the ancient medieval village (10th century).

A very nice variety of legume that took over several pages of local and national news a few years ago is in danger of disappearing.

Yesterday and today – Crossing the borders of Santo Stefano di Sessanio means giving yourself the opportunity to live a different experience than usual, immersing yourself in a village standing in time with its old windows, stone windows, fifteenth century houses with white limestone. , arches and loggias. is a part of The most beautiful villages in Italy and sinks into his gaze Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park that frames it.

Typical views of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. Ph: Alessandro Blasi.

The origins of typical local lentil cultivation are lost over time. According to historians, the highlands of L’Aquila were dedicated to this legume before the village was founded, when the areaAbbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno and this lentil is identified among the monastic documents of the period “meat of the poor” due to its high protein content that can support low-income families. If we look at the history of Santo Stefano, we have seen how the tradition of the city continued later. Barony of Carapelle and Lord Medici, a period of greatest splendor. with’Unification of Italy and the privatization of Tavoliere delle Puglie forced many residents to emigrate, but at that time these lentils were already considered a typical product of the district.

Due to this continuous depopulation of the village, we had to wait 2008 for his birth Defense Consortium Santo Stefano di Sessanio lentil: since the 90s, in fact, a widespread hotel project, it has given new life to tourism through the initiatives of local youth and administrations. And thus, this leguminous plant has become not only a symbol of the city of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, but also a cornerstone of its economy.

Into 2017the crisis: production decreased by 50% due to climate change and wild boar. He has been under the lens ever since Eliodoro D’Orazio, President of Slow Food Abruzzo-Molisewho came into the field to support the manufacturers to save one of the oldest garrisons with its unique characteristics.

A valuable option – Santo Stefano di Sessanio lentils embody a very rare and ancient quality, always cultivated only here. high mountain (between 1200 and 1450 meters) e assembled only by hand. This is both to preserve its properties and to prevent large losses, given that it grows in very inaccessible areas. which is a autochthonous biotypeAdapted to the long and harsh winters of the Gran Sasso plateau extreme climatic conditions that it is impossible to develop organisms harmful to the plant, and therefore cultivation always takes place. naturalwithout resorting to pesticides and other synthetic chemicals.

Cultivated fields in Santo Stefano di Sessanio.
Cultivated fields in Santo Stefano di Sessanio. Source: wikipedia.

Its size is especially small compared to its traditional “cousins” and its color turns towards brown purple on top of striated and wrinkled surface. Low in fat but high in protein, loved because it can be cooked in just 20 minutes and without soaking; rather fast to be one slow feeding!


Dense, aromatic, crunchy and incredible Resistant even after long storage. Its reason for being chosen by the star chefs of Abruzzo – and not only – for many creative recipesEven so, the tradition handed down only soup for centuries.

Traditional recipe – Ingredients for traditional preparation (for 4 people). soup Santo Stefano di Sessanio lentils are:

  • 250 grams of lentils;
  • 2 tablespoons of EVO oil;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 1 clove of garlic;
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Beans should be washed and poured into a terracotta pot, where it is mixed with oil, bay leaf and garlic and covered with water up to 4 fingers. Then it is cooked on low heat for about 20-30 minutes, salt and pepper are added and left to rest.

Many people from Abruzzo add fragrant pieces of toasted bread to this soup.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio lentils are also very popular, along with Abruzzo artisan pasta shapes, e.g Sagne oh Tacony.

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