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Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Mussel & fennel risottoWe really liked this tasty risotto made with delicious stock from the mussels. Jules bought half the quantity of mussels (in error!) but it was no worse for it. The sort of thing we like to eat on a Friday night with a glass of something bubbly.

Wine Suggestion: As we have a few bottles of Sparkling Saumur lying around after our summer holiday to the Loire this year, we automatically gravitated to this and found it a good match. This time we opened the Bouvet-Ladubay Trésor blanc, a blend of mostly Chenin Blanc with some Chardonnay. Fresh and vibrant but with the quality of fruit to stand up to the food. Cost aside, we don’t know why more sparkling wines aren’t matched with food.

Mussel & fennel risotto – serves 4

  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned thoroughly (discard any that don’t close when you hit them off the side of the sink)
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • a few parsley stalks
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, trimmed & diced
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 50ml dry vermouth
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Put the mussels into a large saucepan over a medium heat with the white wine, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until opened. Shake the pan a couple of times as they cook.

Strain over a bowl to catch the cooking liquor and remove the mussels from their shells. Throw away any that haven’t opened.

Strain the liquor through a sieve lined with muslin to catch any grit, then heat until simmering gently.

Heat 5 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onion, garlic and fennel over a medium heat until the onion is soft but not coloured. Stir in the risotto rice. Pour on the vermouth, then add the mussel liquor a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously. The rice should be cooked after about 20 minutes. Add some water if you run out of mussel liquor.

Stir in the mussels, parsley, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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Blue cheese gnocchi

We’ve been seeing more good quality pre-prepared fresh gnocchi around and it’s really handy for a quick dinner. Here’s how to make it tasty with some blue cheese and spinach.

Wine Suggestion: this was a little tricky given blue cheese’s affinity for sweet wine, and we didn’t want this with our meal. A glass of Oloroso sherry was considered but we ended up with a Puglian Primitivo-Nero do Troia blend from Michele Biancardi which is both savoury and fruity. The fruity, plummy sweetness was the foil for the cheese and the savoury tannins played a dance with the gnocchi and spinach.

Blue Cheese Gnocchi – serves 4

  • 500g fresh gnocchi
  • 250g bag baby spinach
  • 100ml/3½ fl oz crème fraîche
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 100g blue cheese – a soft variety would be good but use whatever you have

Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the timings on the pack. Stir the spinach into the pan with the gnocchi, then immediately drain in a colander and shake well to get rid of the water.

Put the crème fraîche and grated Parmesan into a small ovenproof dish. Add the hot, drained gnocchi and spinach and stir. Crumble the blue cheese over and season with black pepper.

Put the dish under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Spaghettini w. prawns basil parsley and pistachios

We know it’s Sunday and it’s getting colder and the clocks have changed, so we should really be posting a nice roast. However, we figure you probably have dinner sorted for today and you might like something to inspire you later in the week.

Wine Suggestion: the fresh, zesty Staforte Soave from Gaziano Prà would be a great match for this. Made from 100% Garganega it has apricot, peach and apple fruit flavours with touches of camomile and white flowers; followed by a textural finish. We would also try southern Italian Greco di Tufo and Falanghina’s with this dish; try to look for something with crispness, mid-weight and mineral texture and it should work.

Spaghettini with prawns, basil, parsley & pistachios – serves 4

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • a large handful of basil leaves
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • a large handful of mint leaves
  • 75g roasted unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 1 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g dried spaghettini
  • 500g raw peeled king prawns

Pound the garlic and half the sea salt to a paste with a pestle and mortar. Add the basil, parsley and mint and keep pounding together to make a thick paste. Add half the pistachios and grind them into the paste to get a creamy texture. Roughly chop the rest of the pistachios and stir into the paste with the Parmesan, lemon juice and 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Season with some more salt if needed and black pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salty water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente.

Put a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and add the rest of the olive oil. Fry the prawns for a minutes on each side, then season with the remaining ¼ tsp of sea salt. Remove from the heat.

Drain the pasta and keep a little of the cooking water. Immediately tip the pasta back into the pot, then toss together with the herb paste and cooked prawns. Add a little of the pasta cooking water if necessary to loosen. Serve immediately on warm plates.

(Original recipe from Neil Perry’s Good Cooking, Murdoch Books, 2016.)

 

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Pasta with red peppers and sausages

We love dishes like this! So cheap and easy yet tastes of Italian holidays. Try and find some good Italian sausages as they tend to be really well flavoured.

Wine Suggestion: the fresh and pure fruited Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo was our successful match with this. With no oak this is a delicious expression of cherry fruited flavours that celebrates the freshness of the dish at the same time.

  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into 2cm squares
  • 4 pork sausages – try and get your hands on some Italian ones if possible
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • a couple of pinches of salt and chilli flakes
  • 5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (cover with hot water for a minute to make them easier to peel)
  • 400g pasta, we used rigatoni but use any short pasta variety
  • plenty of freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Run a sharp knife down each sausage and remove the meat from inside the casing. Crumble roughly with your fingers to break it up a bit and set aside.

Over a medium-low heat, fry the onion in the olive oil with a small pinch of salt until soft but not browned. Add the chilli and sausage meat, crumbling it with your fingers, then fry, breaking the pieces up with the back of a wooden spoon until the meat is no longer pink. Add the peppers, another pinch of salt and cook, stirring every now and then, for another 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for another 15 minutes or until the sauce is rich and thick and the peppers are very soft.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in  boiling salty water until al dente. Warm a large bowl, then mix the cooked pasta with the sauce and the grated Parmesan before serving.

(Original recipe published in The Guardian 18th July 2017.)

 

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Courgette RisottoWe loved this simple risotto with toasted pine nuts and little pieces of fried courgette. Definitely special enough to serve to friends for dinner.

Wine Suggestion: this risotto demands a waxy, nutty white and what better than an excellent Soave made by Graziano Pra. His Soave Classico “Otto” is fresh and a delight with jasmine and hawthorn aromas, but if you can step up to the “Monte Grande” cuvée then you get extra depth and greater layers of almonds and nuts that complement the pine nuts perfectly.

Courgette Risotto – serves 3-4

  • 50g butter, plus a bit extra to finish
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 250g courgettes, 140g coarsely grated, dice the rest
  • 175g risotto rice
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1.2 litres of veg stock (or chicken stock) kept hot over a low heat
  • 25g parmesan, grated
  • 2 heaped tbsp mascarpone
  • 1 heaped tbsp toasted pine nuts

Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan then gently fry the onions until softened. Stir in the grated courgettes and the rice, then increase the heat and stir for 1-2 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and a ladleful of the hot stock. Stir continuously over a medium-high heat. Keep stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed, then add another ladleful of stock. Continue like this for until the rice is just tender and has a creamy texture, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, mascarpone and some salt and black pepper, then cover with a lid and set aside for 5 minutes while you fry rest of the courgettes.

Heat the rest of the butter with a splash of oil in a small frying pan. Add the diced courgettes and fry over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until golden & softened. Divide the risotto between plates, then scatter with the diced courgettes and any buttery juice from the pan, the pine nuts & a few pinches of lemon zest.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Lemony pea risotto

A standby, reliable dish; something we make for weekend lunches that is simple, tasty and comforting. We’re always surprised at how good it is!

Wine Suggestion: a fresh, zesty white is our usual choice. Vermentino from  Tuscany like the Poggio ai Ginepri IGP Bianco works a treat, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Chablis would be great too.

Pea & Parmesan risotto – serves 4

  • 1.2 litres chicken stock/veg stock
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 225g arborio rice
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Put the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then keep over a low heat.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan, and the onion and garlic, then cook for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir over a low heat until translucent and starting to soften. Increase the heat to medium and begin adding the hot stock, a ladle at a time. Keep adding ladles of stock when the one before has been completely absorbed by the rice.

Continue like this for about 15-20 minutes or until the rice is al dente.

Tip the frozen peas into the risotto and stir. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes or until the peas have defrosted and the rice is bubbling. Finally, stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately with a few shards of Parmesan over the top.

(Original recipe by Tana Ramsey in BBC Good Food Magazine, July, 2007.)

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Asparagus & Prosciutto soup

Another favourite from the River Café where the prosciutto gives a big addition to the flavour. Serve with a few asparagus tips and top quality olive oil on top. Delicious!

Wine suggestion: Sauvignon Blanc with bags of  flavour. Something like the Dog Point from New Zealand or the Dezat Sancerre from the Loire will work great. Going slightly off-piste we love the Domaine Bellier Cheverny Blanc which combines 85% Sauvignon Blanc with Chardonnay in a un-sung appellation from the Loire, a really good food wine.

Asparagus & prosciutto soup – serves 4

  • 500g asparagus
  • 140g prosciutto slices, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 140g spinach
  • Marigold Swiss bouillon powder dissolved with 750ml of boiling water
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the remaining stalks into short lengths. Keep the tips to one side.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and soften for 5 minutes, then add the prosciutto, potatoes, parsley and asparagus stalks. Season with pepper (hold off on the salt until the end as the ham is salty) and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the bouillon and simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are tender – about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and most of the asparagus tips and cook for a another few minutes. Remove from the heat and blend to a rough purée.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil and fry the reserved tips for a few seconds. Serve the soup with the asparagus and oil drizzled over each bowl.

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

 

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