Farfalle fave, pancetta e pomodorini

Farfalle fave, pancetta e pomodorini

Simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine and fancy sauces aren’t needed because Tuscans use pure, strong flavors and the freshest ingredients. Many dishes have peasant origins, and ingredients like legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are commonly used. Different types of beans, like fava beans that are featured in this recipe, have long been a big part of the diet as well. Tuscany is also the most famous wine zone in Italy, producing wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti and Chianti Classico, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This particular recipe is an everyday pasta dish that is fast and easy to make. Pancetta provides you with something the chew, and the cherry tomatoes are a fresh addition bringing some color into the mix. Pecorino Romano cheese  is used instead of Parmigiano.

Ingredients: 

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

140 gr/ 5 oz smoked pancetta

2 small cans of broad  a.k.a. fava beans

5 dl/ 2 cups vegetable stock

farfalle pasta

250 gr/ 9 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

salt an pepper to taste

freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

fresh thyme

Farfalle fave, pancetta e pomodorini

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onion until it becomes golden. Add the pancetta cubes and continue frying for a few minutes. Add the fava beans and the vegetable stock and let the sauce simmer for 10-15  minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Drain.

Once the fava beans have softened and the liquid has been reduced, add the tomatoes. Let the sauce simmer for a minute or two, and season with salt and pepper. Mix the sauce with the cooked and drained pasta. Garnish each plate with fresh thyme and freshly ground Pecorino Romano.

Panzanella

Panzanella – a salad with bread and tomatoes – is a very popular rustic summer dish in Italy, especially in Tuscany and other parts of central Italy. It doesn’t require any cooking and is therefore ideal for hot and humid summer days. Originally, it was a dish for peasants who worked on the fields all day. The basic ingredients are soaked stale bread, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, salt and pepper, vinegar and oil. More modern interpretations might include lettuce, mozzarella, anchovies, celery, carrots, or tuna, but don’t offer these variations to the puritans who will most certainly disapprove! The first written reference to panzanella was already made in the 16th century when poet and artist Bronzino wrote about the incredulous taste of toast with onions, oil and vinegar. Tomatoes were only added to this recipe in the 20th century.

Panzanella

Ingredients:

300 gr/ 10 oz stale Italian bread

1-2 red onions, thinly sliced

4-6 tomatoes, in chunks

1 cucumber, in chunks

fresh basil leaves, shredded

2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Remove the crusts, and cut the bread into slices. Soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes. Once heavy with water, remove a little bread at a time and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Then break the slices apart into small, dry crumbs.

Place the bread crumbs in a salad bowl and add the red onion, tomato and cucumber chunks together with the shredded basil leaves. For the authentic feel, peel the cucumber first. Dress with a bit of oil, salt and pepper, and let the salad cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When it is time to serve, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and oil.

Panzanella

Pappardelle al ragù di coniglio

Pappardelle al ragù di coniglio

Rabbit meat is not yet a household name all over the world, but in Italy it is quite common to eat rabbit, especially in the winter. Like other types of game, rabbit meat is also sold at supermarkets, often frozen. Rabbit meat is white, lean, tender, tasty and a good source of high quality protein. Leaner than beef, pork, or chicken, it can be used in most ways chicken meat is used. The best rabbits for eating are between three months and a year old. Herbs like rosemary, sage, bay leaf, thyme, fennel, and basil are the best accompaniments for the meat. You can prepare the meat in many ways – cacciatora style, in the oven, with different vegetables, braised, and fried. Here, the rabbit simmers in a fresh tomato sauce and is served with pappardelle pasta. White wine and rosemary give it the final touch.

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, sliced

1 stick of celery, sliced

2-4 dry chilies, deseeded and finely chopped

fresh rosemary

3-4 rabbit legs, cut into pieces

1.5 dl/ 2/3 cup dry white wine

2 cans peeled tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Pappardelle, fresh or dry

freshly grated parmigiano

Pappardelle al ragù di coniglio

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute them until the onion becomes golden. Add the sliced carrots and celery, and continue frying for a few minutes. Add the dry chilies and the fresh rosemary together with the rabbit pieces. Add also the white wine, and once the wine has evaporated, remove the pan from the heat.

Take the rabbit pieces from the pan and remove the bones. After that, return the pan back to the heat with the boneless rabbit pieces. Add the peeled tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, and let the sauce simmer on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Add water, if needed.

Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle al dente in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmigiano.

Christmas Dinner: Coniglio alla Cacciatora

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Yesterday I had a wonderful Christmas dinner with two very dear friends with whom I prepared a four-course menu showcasing the very best of Italian cooking. Coniglio alla Cacciatora (the rabbit of the hunter’s wife) was served as the main course. This delicious stew comes in many shapes and forms, and you will find versions with red wine, olives and vegetables. I personally prefer white wine over red and use some chili for a welcome kick. This dish can also be prepared with chicken, which is a good option if rabbit is not readily available.

Ingredients: 

olive oil

2 rabbit legs, cut into 1 inch/2.54 cm pieces

1 onion, sliced

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

3 dry chili peppers

200 gr seasonal mushrooms

salt and pepper

1 tin (à 400 gr) peeled tomatoes

1.5 dl dry white wine

3-4 bay leaves

fresh parsley, chopped

Coniglio alla Cacciatora

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Fry the rabbit pieces over medium heat until they brown and set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the chili flakes. When the onion is tender, add the sliced seasonal mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Add the peeled tomatoes and the dry white wine together with the bay leaves. Bring the rabbit pieces and their juices back to the frying pan and let the mixture simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes. If necessary, concentrate the sauce by increasing the heat. Sprinkle some fresh parsley over the rabbit pieces and serve with potatoes or polenta.

Coniglio alla Cacciatora

Fagioli all’uccelletta con salsicce alla finocchiona

This is so Tuscan… Fagioli all’uccelletta con salsicce alla finocchiona is the epitome of la cucina povera or peasant-style cooking. This simple and down-to-earth dish is known all over Tuscany, from Pisa to Florence. Famous for its culinary delights, this region favors home-grown ingredients, bread, vegetables and beans. And as they say in Italy: In Toscana, si mangia bene…

Ingredients:Fagioli all'uccelletta con salsiccia alla finocchiona

olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, whole

a bunch of fresh sage leaves

300 gr Cannellini or white beans

300 ml passata di pomodoro

4 (à 100 gr) salsicce (pork sausage)

salt and pepper

Instructions: 

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the fresh sage leaves and the garlic cloves and saute lightly for a few minutes. Add the beans, and after 5 minutes, the passata di pomodoro and 1 tbsp of hot water. Let the mixture simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the sausages for ca. 10-15 minutes in a separate pan over a high heat. Add the sausages to the passata di pomodoro and bean mixture and continue frying for further 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a freshly baked baguette.