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Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

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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Radicchio & Gorgonzola pasta

In some ways this is an opportunistic dish because we don’t always see Radicchio in our grocer’s shop. We love the creamy, salty, bitter flavours  which come together with the rich creamy sauce. We like serving it with a bit of Parmesan too, but it’s not necessary.

Wine suggestion: The Rocca delle Macie’s Vermentino from the Maremma was our choice and the crisp, almost sappiness, helped to cut through the richness and complement the bitterness of the radicchio. If we’d had one we would have loved to have tried a good, dry Lambrusco from near Bologna. We could be wrong but think this might work too.

Pasta with Radicchio & Gorgonzola – serves 4

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 radiccio, shredded
  • 50ml white wine
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • 75g gorgonzola
  • 300g pasta

Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the timings on the packet.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and fry the onion until softened, then add the radicchio and continue to cook until wilted.

Add the white wine and season. Pour in the cream, melt in the gorgonzola and mix through the cooked pasta.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, April, 2014.)

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Spaghetti with parsley, pancetta & parmigiano

We’re never surprised at how reliable the cookbooks from River Cafe are as in general they celebrate fabulous ingredients with simple cooking methods; our favourite way to cook too. This is a rich dish and works best served in small portions as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: The richness and parmesan cry out for higher acidity in the wine. We combined this idea with the almost bacon-ny yeasty and almondy autolysis of a sparkling Trento DOC, the Ferrari Perlé Nero Riserva. Body, richness, nuttiness and freshness; a great combo with the pasta.

When choosing between Italian sparkling wines we find the Trento DOC area has a bit more body and richness than the creamier and refined Franciacorta. This is not to say that top producers like Ferrari don’t have refinement, they do in spades, but that there is a lightness and elegance to be found in Franciacorta. Too light for this dish. Both areas produce some stunning wines.

Spaghetti with parsley, pancetta & parmesan – serves 6

  • 8 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 200g pancetta, finely sliced, then cut into 5mm pieces plus an extra Rose 6 thin slices (one each)
  • 400g spaghetti
  • 150g butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 dried red chilli or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • olive oil
  • 120g Parmesan, grated

Gently heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, then add the pancetta and garlic. Turn down the heat, stir and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes. You can turn up a bit again at the end if you want the pancetta to crisp up.  Season well with salt, pepper and the dried chilli. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a small frying pan, brush with oil, and fry the slices of pancetta to crisp them. Drain on paper towels.

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, but scoop out a few tablespoons of the cooking water first. Throw the spaghetti into the warm parsley mixture and toss, adding a little of the pasta water to help the sauce coat the pasta.

Serve with lots of Parmesan and a slice of pancetta on each bowl.

(Original recipe from River Cafe Green by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Martin Gray, 2000.)

 

 

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Porcini & spinach risottoWe love a good risotto and this simple one doesn’t disappoint. Perfect cold weather comfort food.

Wine Suggestion: as this is a richer flavoured mushroom dish our first choice would be to head to a Nebbiolo, especially a good Barolo. With the addition of the spinach which has a fresh, iron bitterness we would swing back to a full-bodied white and go for a good Alsace Pinot Gris. The depth of flavour of this dish can balance a really intense Pinot Gris like one from Zind- Humbrecht, which sometimes can be edgy and a bit much for many foods. This one can handle it so push the boat out for flavour and enjoy.

As we had this as a weeknight treat, however, we found that a more humbleVilla Wolf Pinot Gris from the Pfalz also worked.

Porcini & spinach risotto – serves 2

  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 50g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 150g risotto rice
  • a glass of white wine
  • 750ml veg stock, simmering (we use Marigold Swiss Bouillon powder)
  • 100g spinach, washed & chopped
  • parmesan shavings

Soak the porcini mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid through a sieve to remove any gritty bits and keep for later. Roughly chop the porcini.

Heat the butter in a wide shallow pan and cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the chestnut mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, then add the porcini and risotto rice and stir until coated.

Pour in the wine and bubble until it has been absorbed by the rice. Gradually add the stock and porcini soaking liquid, stirring until the rice is al dente (you may not need all of the stock). Stir through the spinach until just wilted and serve sprinkled with shavings of parmesan.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, February 2009.)

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Conchiglie al Cavolo Nero

We’ve made this a couple times recently as  Cavolo Nero is around and we keep on being drawn to it. Especially as we’re starting to tire of root veg and looking forward to all the treats that will come with Spring.

The dish is  creamy and cheesy, with load of garlic and iron rich Cavolo Nero. Fairly rich for a main course in our opinion but absolutely perfect served in small starter portions.

If it suits you can blanch and dry the Cavolo nero and make the garlic puree in advance which leaves very little to do to get the dish on the table.

Wine suggestion: An old favourite came to the rescue here in the form of the Sartarelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore “Tralivio” which has a great weight but also a freshness and vibrant texture. The flavour of the food isn’t shy, so make sure whatever you choose has enough body to cope.

Conchiglie al Cavolo Nero – serves 6 as a starter

  • 900g Cavolo Nero
  • 300ml double cream
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 dried chillies, crumbled or 2 tsp chilli flakes (adjust to your heat preference)
  • 150g Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 250g conchiglie or other shell-shaped pasta

Remove the central stalk from the Cavelo Nero leaves and cut each one into 3 or 4 pieces. Blanch the leaves in boiling salted water for 3 minutes by which time they should be tender and bright green. Drain and dry in a clean tea towel.

Put the double cream and 5 of the whole garlic cloves into a pan and simmer until the garlic is soft, about 15 minutes. Purée in a blender.

In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and fry the remaining 2 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices, and the chilli. When the garlic has coloured, add the blanched Cavolo Nero, stir & season. Pour in the cream and garlic purée, bring to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes until the Cavolo Nero is coated and the sauce has thickened. Add the Parmesan.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, then drain well before mixing well with the sauce.

(Original recipe from The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Ebury Press, 1995.)

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Minestrone

This minestrone soup is from Jamie Oliver’s very first cookbook, back when his recipes were from the heart, had a simplicity and weren’t designed to be chucked together in 15 minutes. If you bake a ham be sure to reserve the water that you cook the ham in before baking, it makes a great ham stock for soups like this one.

Minestrone Soup – serves 6

  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced into 1 cm cubes
  • 2 leeks, remove the outer leaves and dice into 1 cm cubes
  • 5 sticks of celery, remove the stringy bits with a vegetable peeler and dice into 1 cm cubes
  • 2 red onions, peeled and diced into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 heaped tbsp of chopped rosemary
  • 850ml gammon/ham stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 3 handfuls of basil
  • 170g spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Put the olive oil into a warmed heavy-based pan and sweat the carrots, leeks, celery, onion, garlic and rosemary over a medium heat until just tender – around 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming off any froth that comes to the top. Add the cabbage, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, then rip in the basil leaves and add the pasta. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste and season.

Serve garnished with the grated Parmesan and a slug of good olive oil.

(Original recipe from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 1999.)

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Rigatoni Peperonata

A simple midweek pasta supper for using up those multi-pack peppers. It reminds us of summer and Italy.

Wine suggestion: a great match with Cabernet Franc. The bell pepper, inky and pencil shaving character really compliments the flavours in this simple dish. A favourite of our is the Ch du Hureau from Saumur. Their “Tuffe” a youthful Cab Franc is a gem that regularly makes its way onto our wine rack. If you want to stick with Italian a 100% Sangiovese would make an excellent choice too.

Pasta Peronata – serves 4 (easily halved)

  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 yellow peppers,  sliced
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
  • 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped and stalks reserved
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 handfuls grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 heaped tablespoons mascarpone cheese or crème fraîche (optional – we don’t usually add this unless we have some already)
  • 500g rigatoni or penne pasta

Put the peppers into a large frying pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover with a lid, and cook gently for about 15 minutes until softened. Add the onion and cook for a further 20 minutes. Then add the garlic and parsley stalks and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Season to taste. Add the vinegar, then add a handful of the grated Parmesan and the mascarpone or crème fraîche if you are using it and turn the heat down to minimum while you cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the pack. Reserve a little of the cooking water before draining. Toss the peppers, pasta & chopped parsley in a large warm bowl. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water and a splash of good olive oil to coat the pasta. Serve with the rest of the Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Jamie Oliver).

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