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Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Ultimate Bolognese

We don’t keep much food in the freezer – peas, broad beans and ice cubes mainly. But at this time of year we like to cook bigger quantities of bolognese, chilli & casseroles so there’s always something warming available for the end of the week, when ingredients are running low. This version by Barney Desmazery is not traditional but absolutely flavour-packed and we loved finishing the pasta in the sauce which really brings it all together.

Wine Suggestion: Bolognese and other tomato based ragú worked really well with Sangiovese. Whether you choose a favourite Brunello, like we did, a Chianti, or a non-Italian version the acidity and tannins help with the richness and flavours.

Pasta Bolognese – serves 8 

  • 400g beef mince
  • 400g Italian sausages, skinned and crumbled
  • 200g smoked pancetta
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • small bunch fresh basil, small leaves picked and reserved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • handful dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • ½  tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 4 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml white wine
  • 100g Parmesan, grated, rind removed and reserved
  • pasta, to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and crumble in the mince and sausage meat. Cook the mince for a good 30 minutes – it will release a lot of liquid which will evaporate and eventually it will fry in its own fat. If the pan looks a bit dry, drizzle in more olive oil. Towards the end, keep stirring the mince until it starts to crisp and brown.

Heat the oven to 140C/120C/Gas 2.

While the mince is browning, heat another splash of oil in a casserole dish and fry the pancetta for about 5 minutes or until it starts to brown and release its fat, then add the vegetables and herbs and finely crumble over the dried porcini. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft and starting to brown. Sprinkle over the sugar, then stir in the tomato purée and splash in the fish sauce and vinegar. Simmer down until thickened, then stir through the meat and pour in the milk and tomatoes. Rinse out the tomato tins with the wine and stir into the pan. Season, then nestle in the Parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours.

When cooked, tip as many portions of the Bolognese as you need into a sauté pan. Cook the pasta until very al dente, then add to the bolognese sauce with a bit of the water and finish cooking in the sauce for 2 minutes. Stir through the Parmesan and a drizzle more olive oil.

Serve the pasta bolognese in bowls with basil and Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Barney Desmazery in BBC Good Food Magazine, September 2017.)

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Lasagne bianco

This ‘white’ lasagne is a bit different as it has no tomato sauce. Very rich and delicious though.

Wine Suggestion: we think that this dish suits earthy whites and happily suggest the Salwey Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from Baden in Germany which is a gem, but could also suggest a Vin Jaune from the Jura, or the Jean Fournier Aligoté from Burgundy (one of the few brilliant examples of this grape).

White Lasagne – serves 6

  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150g pancetta cubes
  • 500g veal mince
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml white wine
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp of thyme leaves
  • 8-10 fresh lasagne sheets (or use dried ones)

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL:

  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 750ml milk
  • a good grating of nutmeg
  • 100g Parmesan, grated

Put the porcini into a small bowl and pour over enough boiling water to just cover.

Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft. Add the pancetta and cook for a few minutes until the fat is released. Add the veal mince and cook until it starts to brown. Break it up well with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Stir in the flour.

Chop the porcini and add the the pan with the soaking liquid (leave the gritty bits behind in the bowl). Add the wine, stock and thyme and season. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce is reduced and sticks to the mince. Depending on how much mushroom liquid you added it may take a bit longer.

To make the béchamel, melt the butter in a pan then add the flour. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, then gradually pour in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in the nutmeg and most of the Parmesan and season.

Heat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.

Layer the mince, lasagne sheets and béchamel in a baking dish, finishing with a layer of lasagne and béchamel. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan and bake for 40 minutes until golden.

(Original recipe by Lulu Grimes IN: Olive Magazine, September 2015.)

 

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Risotto bianco with pesto

It’s anything with pesto in our house at the minute. This dish is definitely suitable for adults too.

Wine Suggestion: We would suggest a good Fiano from Campani in the south of Italy with  freshness and fruit that isn’t too ripe and tropical. By avoiding over-ripeness you get more stone fruit with a fresh vibrancy. Alongside the rich risotto and herby pesto it’s a great match.

Risotto Bianco with Pesto – serves 6

  • 1.1 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ a head of celery, finely chopped
  • 400g risotto rice
  • 2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth or dry white wine
  • 70g butter
  • 115g freshly grated Parmesan
  • fresh pesto
  • small handful of pine nuts – toasted
  • small basil leaves (to serve)

Put the olive oil and knob of butter into a pan, then add the onion, garlic and celery, and cook gently for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened turn the heat up and add the rice.

Keep stirring for about a minute or until the rice looks translucent. Add the vermouth and continue to stir.

When the vermouth has disappeared, add a ladle of the hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding ladles of the stock, stirring all the time, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding another. This should take about 15 minutes. After this taste the rice to check if it’s cooked. If not, keep adding stock until the rice is soft with a little bite. If you run out of stock you can add a some boiling water. Season.

Remove the risotto from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well, then cover the pan and leave to sit for 2 minutes. Eat immediately garnished with a spoonful of fresh pesto, some toasted pine nuts, a few basil leaves and some extra Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2005.)

 

 

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Creamy marscapone tortellini

Because we had leftover marscapone … we love using leftover ingredients. It’s ok to cheat sometimes with some shop-bought fresh tortellini and the result is dinner in minutes!

Wine Suggestion: this works with young, fresh red wines. If you feel like Italian then the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo which is unoaked and vibrantly full of fruit is a good choice. We, however, threw a Pike & Joyce Rapide (unoaked) Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills into the fridge for 30 minutes. A good match too.

Tortellini with Creamy Tomato & Mascarpone Sauce – serves 2-4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder (we never are without Marigold Swiss Bouillon) or ½ cumbled stock cube
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • few basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone plus a bit extra
  • fresh tortellni – we used spinach & ricotta

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic and gently fry for 1 minute. Add the tin of tomatoes, the stock powder, tomato purée and sugar, then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Tear in the basil leaves and stir in the 2 tbsp of mascarpone.

Meanwhile, cook the tortellini in boiling salted water as per the timing on the pack, then drain well and tip into a small ovenproof dish.

Pour the sauce over the tortellini and top with a few more spoonfuls of mascarpone, then bake until bubbling at the edges.

(Original recipe by Gareth Morgans IN: BBC Good Food Magazine, August 2008.)

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Parmigiana di Melanzane e Pepperoni con Prosciutto di Parma

We love this Italian dish that bursts with summer flavours. It takes a while to prepare but the rich flavours are really rewarding and it is straightforward to prepare. You will need a big dish as this is a generous portion for 6 but it makes delicious lunchbox leftovers. Kids like it chopped up a bit and stirred through pasta too. Serve with a green salad and you will definitely need bread to help clean your plates.

You can assemble the dish up to a day in advance and bake for 40 to 45 minutes when ready to serve.

Wine Suggestion: this is a robust dish and needs an equally robust and fresh red wine to match. Our choice tonight was made by an old friend Laura, the Gianni Brunelli Rosso di Montalcino; fresh youthful and elegant and yet with a powerful backbone.

Parmigiana di Melanzane e Peperoni con Prosciutto di Parma – serves 6

  • 4 red peppers
  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ x 700g jars passata or sugocasa
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped herbs including parsley, tarragon and chives if possible
  • 2 good handfuls of basil leaves, torn
  • 140g prosciutto
  • 140g Parmesan
  • 3 x 100g balls mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/fan 180C.

Put the peppers onto a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes or until the skins are soft and blackened in places.

Trim the ends of the aubergines and slice them lengthways into 1cm thick slices. Put the aubergines in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Put a saucer on top and weight down with a tin of tomatoes (or something similar). Leave for about 20 minutes.

Remove the roasted peppers from the oven and either put them into a bowl covered with cling film or into individual sealed sandwich bags to cool for 20 minutes or so.

To make the sauce, peel and chop the onion and roughly chop the carrot and celery stick. Whizz these in a food processor until finely chopped. Crush the garlic on a board with some salt.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan. Cook the carrot and celery mixture for a few minutes or until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the passata. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes until thickened. Stir in the chopped herbs and basil leaves. Season to taste and set aside.

Brush the aubergine slices with the rest of the oil and cook in batches on a griddle pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until softened and browned (you can cook under a grill if you haven’t got a griddle pan).

Lay all of the slices of prosciutto together on a board, then slice finely. Finely grate the parmesan and slice each mozzarella ball into 6.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the stalks and seeds. The blackened skins should also peel off easily. Slice the peppers into rough strips

To assemble the dish begin by spreading a layer of sauce over the base of a large casserole dish or roasting tin. Layer half the aubergines, a third of the mozzarella and a third of the prosciutto on top. Follow this with another third of the mozzarella, a third of the grated Parmesan and prosciutto and another handful of basil leaves.

Spoon over half of the remaining tomato sauce and top with all of the peppers. Layer over the rest of the mozzarella, prosciutto, aubergine and another third of the Parmesan.

Finally spoon over the rest of the sauce and finish with the remaining Parmesan and a drizzle of oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

(Original recipe by Valentina Harris in BBC Good Food Magazine, January 2001.)

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Finocchiona salami with fresh Borlotti beans

We grew fresh borlotti beans in our little garden last summer. The beans had a fabulous creamy texture. Serve this as a starter with lots of ciabatta to mop the plates with. Finocchiona is a soft salami from Tuscany with fennel seeds in it.

Wine Suggestion: If you feel like a white choose a Vermentino from the Tuscan coast; we like the Poggio ai Ginepri Toscana Bianco. If red is what you feel like search out a fresh, youthful and fruit-driven Chianti like the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo, a real taste of spring and summer with no oak and vibrantly fresh fruit.

Finocchiona salami with fresh borlotti beans – serves 4 as a starter

  • 1kg fresh borlotti beans, podded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 300g Finocchiona salami, finely sliced

Put the beans into a medium-sized saucepan with the garlic and cover with water. Bring the the boil, then simmer for 25 to 35 minutes or until tender. Drain, season generously, then add the vinegar & 3 tbsp of your best olive oil.

Slice the plum tomatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 long strips. Season the tomatoes, then gently fold into the borlotti beans.

Divide the beans between 4 plates and scatter the salami over the top. Serve drizzled with some more oil.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

 

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Italian seared beef

So this is a bit of a treat and yet has very few ingredients and takes very little time to prepare. Hail to that.

Wine Suggestion: fresher and bit more rustic than Bordeaux is Bergerac, into the Dordogne River to the east. The best vineyards are in the Pecharmant AC and have Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot as the dominant varieties. We found some unoaked wines on our last trip from Domaine des Costes, Cuvée Tradition which, while simple, had a joy and juiciness that perfectly complemented the beef, pesto and rocket.

Italian Seared Beef – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 250g rump steak
  • 2 heaped teaspoons pesto
  • 40g rocket
  • 15g Parmesan cheese

Put a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Cut the fat of the steak, finely chop the fat and put into the hot pan to crisp up. Cut the sinew off the rump and season with salt and black pepper. Put the steak between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin until it is an even thickness of about 1 cm. Scoop out the crispy fat and set aside, then sear the steak in the hot pan for 1 minute per side or until golden but still pink in the middle (as per photo). Remove the steak to a board to rest.

Spread the pesto over a serving plate. Thinly slice the steak at an angle and scatter over the plate. Pile the rocket on top, then scatter over the pine nuts and crispy fat (you don’t have to eat the fat if you would rather not –  we’ll have it!). Mix the resting juices with a tbsp of good olive oil and drizzle over. Shave the Parmesan over to serve.

(Original recipe from 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2017.)

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