Fabada Asturiana, from northwestern Spain, has evolved from being a poor man’s bean stew to its modern gastronomic glory. So why is it one of Spain’s top dishes today?
From humble beginnings, the rugged coastal region of Asturias in northwestern Spain created what has since become one of Spain’s most iconic dishes - fabada Asturiana.
Made with faba beans from the region, slow cooked with leftover cured meats, fabada Asturiana or, simply put, fabada, evolved from being a poor man’s stew to its modern day gastronomic glory around the globe. So why is it in the top 10 of typical Spanish dishes today?
Although first mention of fabada Asturiana was in 1884, fabes beans have been a staple part of the Asturian diet since at least the 16th century. These beans grow on around 2500 hectares of Asturian farmland - which has its own protected denomination of origin (PDO). The other key ingredients in fabada are more hearty, to add sustenance and flavor. Recipes mention cutlets of pork or bones for stock, with cured sausage like morcilla and chorizo and, of course, saffron providing that essential Spanish earthy and complex flavor and aroma.
The resulting fabada Asturiana is perfect comfort food in colder months and, between October and February, there are local and international festivals to celebrate the stew.
During fall in northern Spain, the Fiesta de la Fabada takes place in Lourenzá, Galicia, welcoming the change of the seasons, as well as marking the matanza and the curing of meats.
Photo credit: Diarlo 16
In recent years, food critic Nacho Sandoval has put Fabada Asturiana on the world map by declaring the first two weeks of February La Ruta de la Fabada, culminating in the fabada contest held in Madrid and Fabada Day on the second Saturday of the month. From Asturias to New York City, many Restaurants From Spain highlight the dish for the occasion, with interesting variations to the stew - some including spider crab and cockles!
Fabada Asturiana makes for a great sharing dish in the winter - not to mention a savvy way to upcycle meat offcuts and leftovers. So, whether you make it at home or order from your local Spanish restaurant, now’s the time for fabada!