Jan 15 2019

Peas and Mint Veggie-Vegan Soup

Feeling a little heavy after Christmas? Let’s have a soft detox with this  warm, creamy and healthy veggie-vegan soup: if you want to go vegan, simply omit the feta cheese.

Serves 4

  • 350 fresh or frozen peas (they are not in season!)
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 red chilli pepper,  thinly chopped
  • 100 gr feta cheese
  • 30 gr almonds, skin on, coarsely chopped

Fry the onion in a heavy-based pan with the extravirgin olive oil and the red chilli pepper. Add the potato cubes and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas, mix thoroughly and pour in the pan 500 ml of vegetable stock or boiling water: you might need more, depending on the quality of the potato you chose. Let simmer for further 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste and the mint leaves as well (washed and drained). Place in a food processor and whizz until smooth and creamy.

Dice the feta cheese, transfer the soup in 4 bowls and scatter with the feta or almonds, if you fancy the vegan option.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Starters, First course, Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian
Dec 28 2018

Squash Tortelli

The history of the squash tortelli begins in Northern Italy, more precisely in Mantova, during the Renaissance, probably with the contribution of a Jewish cook. Originally a dish of the peasants, due to its ingredients which don’t include meat (which was too expensive at the time), the squash tortelli became a must have on the table of the rich and were soon established as a tradition for the dinner of 24th December, when Catholics are not allowed to eat meat. Many versions of this sort of tortelli are reported: during the centuries, the Italian cuisine developed a lot of different recipes, especially the city of Cremona, which changed the original recipe by removing the squash and adding other stuff in order to have some really sweet tortelli. The following is the recipe I found in the kitchen diary of my family. My personal touch is in the balance of the super traditional ingredients. 

Serves 6

  • 400 gr plain flour
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 1,5 kg peeled and deseeded squash
  • 75 gr Mostarda di Cremona (not to be confused with mustard: it is a sort of slightly spicy apple jam, probably available in Italian grocery shops or certainly on line)
  • 100 gr Amaretti biscuits, crumbled
  • 150 gr good Italian parmesan, grated
  • 1 spoon chopped parsley
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg, grated
  • 100 gr butter, melted
  • 5-6 sage leaves

The day ahead prepare the filling: cut the squash into thick slices and place on a tray lined with parchment paper. Brush with a few drops of extravirgin olive oil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C until tender and golden.

Use a pestel and mortar to reduce the Amaretti to a crumble.

Let the squash cool at room temperature and whizz with a food processor until creamy. Add the Mostarda, Amaretti, parmesan, cinnamon, nutmeg, parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before using.

Place the eggs, flour and a half of an egg shell amount of water into a food processor or a kneading machine. Knead for 5-7 minutes until you obtain a smooth lump. Wrap with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

If you want to make the dough the traditional way, by hand, place the flour on a large board, make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork and incorporate the flour little by little scraping the side, until the eggs and flour are thoroughly combined. Knead the dough working with the back of your wrists for at least 10 minutes, working with a regular rhythm until you obtain a smooth and uniform lump of dough. Also in this case, wrap the dough with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

Now fetch the dough from the fridge and knead it by hand for an additional 5 minutes working with the back of your wrists and adding a small quantity of flour if needed. Dust the board with some flour (not a lot or your dough will become dry), press the dough out flat with your fingertips and roll using a rolling pin until very thin.  Cut into squares of 4/5 cm and place around half a teaspoon of the filling in the centre. At this point brush the sides with a bit of water, so that the tortelli will be more stiffly closed.

Fold the filled squares in a shape of a triangle, pressing with your fingertips along the sides. Pinch one end of the triangle, then using the other two fingers wrap the opposite end around your first index finger, then press the two ends together, and voilà your tortello is ready.

While closing the tortelli, place on a clean tea cloth dusted with flour, then boil in hot salted water for 4-5 minutes. Drain well, season with the butter, previously melted in a little pan with the sage, and serve immediately.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in First course, Recipes, Vegetarian
Dec 10 2018

My Mum’s Ricotta Cheese Tortelloni

Almost everybody on planet Earth are more than familiar with the classical tortelloni, or ravioli, with ricotta cheese and spinach. My mum Giuliana, who was born in Bologna, used to make the tortelloni with parsley instead of  spinach, like many Bolognesi were used to doing according to their own tradition. The parsley-based filling is absolutely more aromatic and has a stronger zing than the spinach-based one. For my family, there is no Christmas without this lovely dish.

Serves 6

  • 400 gr plain flour
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 350 gr ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp coarsley chopped parsley
  • 150 gr good Italian parmesan
  • 100 gr butter, melted

Prepare the filling mixing the ricotta cheese together with the parmesan, nutmeg and parsley. Do not forget to add a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside and make the dough.

Place the eggs, flour and a half of an egg shell amount of water into a food processor or a kneading machine. Knead for 5-7 minutes until you obtain a smooth lump. Wrap with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

If you want to make the dough the traditional way, by hand, place the flour on a large board, make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork and incorporate the flour little by little scraping the side, until the eggs and flour are thoroughly combined. Knead the dough working with your hands as well as the back of your wrists for at least 10 minutes, working with a regular rhythm until you obtain a smooth and uniform lump of dough. Also in this case, wrap the dough with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for one hour.

Now fetch the dough from the fridge and knead it by hand for an additional 5 minutes working well with the back of your wrists and adding a small quantity of flour if needed. Dust the board with some flour (not a lot or your dough will become dry), press the dough out flat with your fingertips and roll using a rolling pin until very thin.  Cut into squares of 4/5 cm and place around half a teaspoon of the filling in the centre. At this point brush the sides with a bit of water, so that the tortelli will be more stiffly closed.

Fold the filled squares in a shape of a triangle, pressing with your fingertips along the sides. Pinch one end of the triangle, then using the other two fingers wrap the opposite end around your first index finger, then press the two ends together, and voilà your tortello is ready.

While closing the tortelli, place on a clean tea cloth dusted with flour, then boil in hot salted water for 4-5 minutes. Drain well, season with the butter, previously melted in a little pan with the sage, and serve immediately.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in First course, Recipes, Vegetarian
Nov 5 2018

Risotto with Sardinian Pecorino and Caramelised Pear

I would highly recommend this risotto, which is a classic and always in vogue: the couple formed by cheese and pear represents a marriage which is one of the most successful in the history of cuisine.

Serves 4

  • 250 gr Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1,5 lt vegetable stock
  • 60 gr Sardinian Pecorino cheese (Fiore Sardo)
  • 2 Williams pears
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 small leek
  • 75 gr butter

Peel off and dice the pears, put in a pan with 30 gr butter and the sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until caramelised and set aside.

Chop or grate the cheese.

Chop the shallot and leek together and transfer to a heavy based pan with the butter. Let it sautée gently until lightly golden. Add the rice, toast for 3 minutes constantly stirring, add some salt to taste and cook adding the stock little by little, always stirring. You can also use a kitchen robot to make the risotto, eventhough I own one I prefer the classical manual way: still nothing is better than your own hands.

Sprinkle with some black pepper and add the Pecorino: mix well and rapidly, in order to incorporate as much air as possible, cover and let rest for 2 minutes.  Place the risotto on a platter, scatter with the pears (warm them up before serving) and serve immediately. As we say in Italy, risotto can’t wait.

 

Tagged with:
Posted in First course, Recipes, Vegetarian
May 5 2018

Spaghetti con la bottarga

For those who don’t know it,  “bottarga” is a sort of fish eggs (mainly of mullet) dried in their own ovarian sack. Bottarga is a specialty of Sardinia and originates back to the Phoenicians, who once used to visit the island, but the word itself derives from Arabic, whose people were very popular in the Mediterranean. Spaghetti with bottarga makes a royal dish, very easy to prepare as long as you play by the rules. Have fun!

Serves 4

  • 320 gr spaghetti
  • 1 medium bottarga
  • 6 spoons first quality extravirgin olive oil
  • 4 bunches parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/3 unwaxed lemon, zest grated
  • chilly powder
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooking water, reserved

Place a pan with salted water to the boil; in the meantime peel off the bottarga, coarsely chop and blend in a food processor until powdered. Boil the spaghetti until it has still a little bite to it and place in a bowl with the oil, chilly powder, garlic clove and parsley. Toss to coat and pour 1 cup of cooking water. Add the bottarga, always stirring until you have a creamy, soft consistence. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

Tagged with: ,
Posted in First course, Light recipes, Vegetarian
Publications
Casa golosa. Un ricettario di famiglia fra tradizione e nuovi sapori in vendita su
Fare festa. Idee e ricette per ricevere in casa. in vendita su