Artichoke & Black Olive Salad
A delicious vegan insalata made with grano or farro, artichokes and black olives, this authentic Mediterranean salad makes the perfect antipasto, or accompaniment to grilled fish or meat.
- 300 g (1 ½ cups) of grano or farro, presoaked overnight with water and salt
- 8 artichokes, small, tender and cleaned
- 1 red onion, small, peeled and chopped finely
- 2 large eggs
- 200 g (generous cup) of black olives
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped finely
- 2 pinches of dried thyme
- Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
Clean the artichokes, remove the outer tough leaves, clean the stems and cut them in half. Put them in water with the lemon juice for 10 mintues. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and add the grains. Let cook for 1 hour and a half, until soft (or follow manufacturer’s instructions). Next, boil the artichokes in a pan with salted water for 15 minutes, then remove and let cool. When the grain is cooked, drain well and let cool and place in a bowl. Add the onion, olives, celery and the thyme to the grain, add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then salt and pepper to taste. Add the artichokes and mix well.
Vernaccia San Gimigliano – Panizzi
This Vernaccia is a light straw color with greenish reflections and offers up aromas of spring flowers and fresh fruit such as green apple and grapefruit. Good acidity helps counterbalance the artichoke in the dish, and there are pleasant notes of fruit and citrus. Aftertaste is puckery and persistent.
Gli Gnudi or Ravioli Nudi ~ Naked Ravioli
- 600 g (1 lb 4 oz) fresh spinach
- 600 g (1 lb 4 oz) day-old ricotta
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 150 g (5 oz) of Parmesan, grated, plus extra when serving
- 100 g (2/3 cup) rice flour
- 10 sage leaves
- 80 g (3 oz) butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Flour, enough to coat before baking
It is best to use day-old Ricotta that has been chilling in the fridge; it will have released some of the excess moisture.
Wash and cook the spinach in a pan with a little salted water. Drain and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, rice flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Squeeze the spinach, chop well and add to the mix. Thoroughly mix the ingredients.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Form balls with the mixture into large ping-pong size and roll them in flour to coat them. Drop them into the boiling water and cook until they float to the top.
In a large pan melt the butter with the sage. Transfer the gnudi to the pan and coat with the butter, adding salt if necessary. Serve hot with a heavy sprinkle of Parmesan.
Valcolomba Vermentino della Maremma DOC
For these gnudi we have chosen a slightly softer white wine, a Vermentino della Maremma which will go well both with the ricotta and also the green spinach. The bouquet offers notes of sweet spring flowers, and, in the mouth, you will taste honey and fruit and eventually a soft, balanced acidity with a dry but rounded finish.
Ragú Di Carne Chianina~ Chianina Beef Ragout
- 1 ½ kg (3 lbs 4 oz) ground beef (Chianina, if possible)
- 200 g (7 oz) celery
- 200 g (7 oz) carrots
- 200 g (7 oz) onions
- 500 ml (2 cups) Chianti Red Wine
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 100 g (4 oz) tomato concentrate
Dice the celery, carrots and onion. In a pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the celery, carrot, and onion for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Then add the ground beef, continuously stirring until well browned.
Add the wine, cover the pot and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the cover and let the sauce reduce. Add the tomato concentrate diluted with a glass of water. Continue simmering the ragu for another 20 minutes on low heat. Salt and peper to taste, turn off heat, cover and let ragu rest for 30 minutes prior to serving.
This ragú goes well with all types of pastas!
Here, any number of robust Tuscan reds would do the job, but we have gone for a Chianti Rufina. Made in one of Chianti’s smallest sub-zones, this Chianti offers intense aromas of herbs and dark berries. Rich and tannic, there are overtones of sage, blackberries, black tea, vanilla and pepper – the perfect accompaniement to a rich, meaty ragù. Open a little before you mean to serve.
Tuscan Torta di Mele ~ Apple Cake
- 1 cup almonds, peeled and ground
- The grated zest of 1 lemon rind
- 6 tablespoons sugar + ½ cup
- 6-8 medium apples
- 10 ½ tablespoons butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven to 170°C or about 340°F.
In a small bowl, mix the ground almonds with the grated lemon zest and the ½ cup of sugar. Peel the apples and cut them into quarters and then into thin slices.
Melt the butter.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the 6 tablespoons of sugar; add the melted butter, the flour and the baking powder, and beat well. Pour the batter into a cake tin lined with parchment paper.
Press the sliced apples vertically into the mixture, pushing them right down into the pan (so they are covered). Sprinkle the mixture with the sugar, almond and lemon over the top of the batter.
Bake in the oven for about approximately 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool.
What better than a shot of this heavenly nectar to accompany something as simple but satisfying as a homemade apple cake? This is no normal vin santo. Just imagine, it is made with a yeast dating back to the early 1900’s and is matured in oak barrels from the same era. Deep amber in color, the wine’s aroma is complex, with notes of hazelnuts, almonds, candied orange and chestnut honey. In the mouth, despite a deep caramel taste, it is surpisingly fresh and has an intense, balanced aftertaste. A special treat.