La ribollita

La ribollita

La ribollita is undoubtedly the queen of all hearty soups. The word means ‘reboiled’ – and slow cooking is indeed the secret of this thick vegetable soup. Hailing from Tuscany, there are many different versions and recipes, but they all call for black leaf kale, or cavolo nero. You might substitute this vegetable with Savoy cabbage, but the real thing would provide you with the best authentic and deliciously rustic feel and taste. The other key ingredient is the white cannellini bean that is central to many Tuscan dishes. Prepare the soup with the best ingredients you have at hand, and the next day, serve a different version by adding new vegetables. Enjoy the soup in good company with toasted Italian bread.

Ingredients: 

olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

100 grams/ 3.5 oz (smoked) pancetta, cubed (optional)

2-4 dry chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2-3 carrots, sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

3 medium size potatoes, diced

2 tins of peeled tomatoes

1 can of cannellini beans

1 head of black-leaf kale, i.e. cavolo nero, sliced

salt and pepper

fresh rosemary

fresh oregano

1.5 l/ 6 1/3 cups water

(stale) Italian bread

La ribollita

Instructions: 

If you are using dry beans, soak them in plenty of water overnight. Drain and rinse.

Heat olive oil in a large cooking vessel, like a cast iron or cast aluminium pot, and saute the onion, garlic, and pancetta until the onion softens and becomes golden and the pancetta is crispy. Add the chili, carrots, potatoes and celery, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato tins, the cabbage and the beans, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, and with the fresh herbs.

Add enough water, about 1.5 l/ 6 1/3 cups, to cover all the ingredients. Let the soup simmer for about 90 minutes over a very low heat. Remember to stir every now and then, and if needed, add water.

Let the soup stand for an hour. The longer it lingers, the better the taste gets. Reheat it again just before serving.

Toast (stale) Italian bread and put it at the bottom of the soup plate before ladling in the soup. Drizzle some olive oil over the soup and add a pinch of black pepper. You can also serve the soup with a slice of toasted bread.

Advertisements

Baccalà alla fiorentina

Baccalà alla fiorentina

Baccalà (dried and salted cod) is cod which has been preserved by drying after salting. The drying of food is the world’s oldest known preservation method, and dried fish has a shelf life of several years. Traditionally, salt cod was dried only by the wind and the sun, but nowadays it is usually dried indoors with the help of an electric heater. During the 17th century cheap salt became available to Northern Europe, and the affordable product was easily transported to the consumer. Salt cod was also an integral part of the trade between Europe and Asia, and it spread around the Atlantic and became a traditional ingredient in the Mediterranean and many other cuisines. Because drying preserves many nutrients, it is said that salting and drying makes the cod tastier. This particular recipe showcases how salted cod is used in the Tuscan city of Florence. The cod is prepared with a refreshing tomato sauce and combined with rosemary, garlic and parsley.

Ingredients:

800 gr/ 1 2/3 lb baccalà (dried and salted cod)

all-purpose flour for dusting

olive oil

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

fresh rosemary sprigs

1 onion, sliced

2 cans of peeled tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

fresh parsley, finely chopped

Baccalà alla fiorentina

Instructions:

Before preparing the fish, you need to rehydrate it. Soak it in water for 2-3 days, changing the water every 8 hours or so. Test the saltiness by breaking off a small piece. If it is still extremely salty, let it continue soaking as long as possible.

Remove the skin of the baccalà. Cut the fish into ca. 5 x 7 cm or 2 x 2 2/3 inch pieces.

Dust the fish pieces with flour. Heat olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and the rosemary. Add the baccalà and continue frying for a few minutes. Set the fish pieces aside to dry on kitchen towels.

Put the pan back on the heat and saute the onion together with the garlic until the onion softens. Then add the peeled tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes. Add the fish pieces and continue frying for about 10 minutes. Let the sauce rest for a minutes before serving and garnish each plate with fresh flat leaf parsley.

Baccalà alla fiorentina

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare (Spaghetti with Fruit of the Sea) is one of the dishes that is known all over Italy, but the best versions can be had on the coastal regions, where fresh seafood is readily available. Nothing beats locally sourced seafood that has been prepared with the reddest tomatoes of the season, and is offered to you with a glass of beautiful white wine. Fast and easy to prepare, the pasta sauce simmers in its own juices, some white wine and fresh tomatoes. You only need to cook spaghetti, sprinkle some parsley on top, and you will have a night to remember. This is a proven success story.

Ingredients:

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

olive oil

500 gr/ 1 lb seafood mix (mussels, shrimp etc.)

1.5 dl/ 2/3 cup dry white wine

5 tomatoes, sliced

fresh flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper to taste

spaghetti or spaghettini

Spaghetti ai frutti di mareInstructions: 

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic. Fry for a moment without burning the garlic cloves and add the seafood mix. Lower the heat and add the sliced tomatoes and the dry white wine. Let the sauce simmer on a low heat until it thickens. Season with fresh flat leaf parsley, and salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti al dente in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Drain the pasta and mix it thoroughly with the sauce. Garnish each plate with some parsley and serve immediately.

Mediterranean Meatloaf

Mediterranean Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a perennial dinner favorite all over the world. The readers of Good Housekeeping chose meatloaf as their 7th favorite dish in 2007. And no wonder, because this affordable dish offers a myriad of variation options. This particular version is inspired by the Mediterranean countries, where basil, oregano, thyme and sun-dried tomatoes are widely used. The meatloaf has its roots in Europe – it was mentioned for the first time in the Roman cookery collection ‘Apicius’ already in the 5th century. Needless to say, with this recipe you can also prepare mouthwatering meatballs.

Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

200 gr/7 oz mushrooms, sliced

a handful of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

oil for frying

500 gr/1 pound minced meat

120 gr/4 2/3 oz melting cheese, like mozzarella

3/4 dl/1/3 cup bread crumbs

1 dl/0.4 cup milk

1 egg

1 tsp dry basil

1 tsp dry thyme

1 tsp dry oregano

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 tomatoes, cut in half

fresh basil, shredded

Mediterranean Meatloaf

Instructions:

Saute the onion and garlic lightly in a pan. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue frying. Add the sun-dried tomato slices into the mix. Remove the pan from the heat once the onion and garlic are golden, and the mushrooms and the sun-dried tomatoes have softened, but are still firm.

In a separate bowl, mix the bread crumbs, milk and the egg. Let the mixture swell for a couple of minutes. Add the dry herbs, and salt and pepper into the mix.

Combine the minced meat with the bread crumbs mix, the melting cheese and the already fried ingredients. Mix very well and put the mixture into a baking dish. Bake the meatloaf in the oven, preheated to 225C/425F, for 30 minutes. Garnish the baked meatloaf with tomato slices and fresh basil. Serve with either rice or potatoes.