Italian Food and Flavours
Fava beans recipe Cossignanese: Fabio
This fava beans recipe is simple but delicious, when I was a boy my mother used to make this all the time in the spring and like many young boys I was reluctant to eat my vegetables. Now though it has become one of my favourite recipes, I cannot wait for the new fava beans and as soon as they are ready in the garden i make this delightful and yet simple dish.
Fava beans recipe
1 kg fava (fresh broad beans)
plenty of good quality olive oil
finely chopped garlic – to taste
splash of white wine vinegar
fresh mint leaves some chopped some for garnish
Simply boil the beans in water until they are soft, this will depend on how young and fresh they are. The newest beans need only a couple of minutes, older beans have thicker skins which should be removed, it is easily done. When the older beans are soft, five minutes or so, as soon as you can handle them, squeeze gently between thumb and forefinger and the bean will pop out of it skin. Add all the hot cooked beans to a bowl containing all the other ingredients and toss together, let the flavours mingle for five to ten minutes and serve still warm.
I like to add a little balsamic vinegar dressing or for variety a little sweet chili sauce.
Spinach, garlic, olive oil and chili recipe
This Spinach, garlic, olive oil and chili recipe from Le Marche is simple to prepare but the flavours work so well together and the crisp garlic adds a surprising and delightful contrast to the spinach as well as the bite of the chili that this dish will not go without comment. This makes a good lunch dish or will work as a starter or as an accompaniment to roast or grilled meats.
Spinach, garlic, olive oil and chili recipe
fresh spinach, about 500g , enough for a side dish or starter for 4, washed and de-stalked
two cloves of garlic crushed and chopped coarsely
2 fresh sliced and 3 dried chilies chopped , add more or less depending on your preference
Pop the cleaned spinach in a pan of boiling water until it wilts, drain in a colander, as soon as you can, squeeze the water out of the spinach and chop coarsely. In a high sided frying pan, a wok is perfect, heat a good splash of olive oil – not your best and when smoking, fry the garlic and dried chilies until the garlic is golden brown and crispy. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and keep to one side, add the chopped spinach with care – there will still be some water with it and it will spit together with the fresh chilies. quickly toss the spinach in the flavoured oil to coat and heat through, a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and add some more – good quality olive oil and toss again, then serve topped with the reserved garlic.
While the recipe here is for spinach only you can use the same method for spinach with other spring greens but most other green leaves need slightly longer cooking and they should be blanched separately from the spinach as the spinach water will flavour other leaves.
Turbot, asparagus and courgette
Turbot, asparagus and courgette is a lovely combination of light and delicate flavours and with the addition of traditional Le marche deep fried zucchini, there is the added interest of the crisp texture of the courgettes.
Nowhere in Le Marche is far from the Adriatic and arguably the best fish is brought ashore in the southern port of San Benedetto del Tronto. We are based just 30 minutes from San Ben and while that is a bit of a drive for fresh fish we have discovered a fantastic fish supermarket that specialises in freezing fish straight from the boats as well as preparing a wide range of fresh fish dishes in their own kitchen. The interesting aspect to the freezing is that the whole fish are glazed, this apparently means that the fish suffers little or no dehydration. As it thaws the glaze comes off in sheets of ice and it is difficult to tell the difference from a thawed glazed fish from a fresh one. Whatever the effect, these fish are as delicious as any I have tasted.
For this recipe one medium sized Turbot serves two. The Turbot is filited – a proper filleting knife that bends through 90 degrees is pretty much essential for this job – and simply pan fried in a mix of butter and oil (not olive)
The asparagus is cooked in a little boiling water – just enough to cover and served with butter.
The courgettes though need a bit more attention. First cut the ends off and then cut in half. with each half slice 4 sides off to make a chunky square profile. Then cut these sections into chips about 5mm thick. put the chips in a colander and salt well.
Leave for a hour or longer for the salt to draw out moisture. now rinse salt off the courgette chips and dry them on kitchen roll – they need to be good and dry. Now drop them in a bowl of plain flour and toss them in a sieve over the bowl until they are all separate and coated in flour. Then drop carefully into hot oil – 200C – remove with a wire spoon once they colour, about 1/2 mins. drain on kitchen roll and serve immediately.
Italian Food and Flavours
Sweet cucumber and red onion pickle
This sweet cucumber and red onion pickle recipe is quick and easy to make and you can eat it the same day, just leave it for the flavours to mingle for a few hours, but it also lasts several weeks in a sealed jar in the fridge. The red from the onion will bleed into the vinegar after a few days which makes it look even more impressive though it doesn’t change the flavour much. Great for this time of year when you have cucumbers coming out of your ears – literally!
Ok well not literally then. This one of those times when it is worth getting the slicing gadget out of the cupboard to add to your food processor if you are not so good thinly and evenly slicing with a very sharp knife. Have a couple of smallish sterilised preserve jars ready.
Sweet cucumber and red onion pickle
- 1 kg cucumber
- 3 red onions
- fresh dill or fennel, to taste
- 250g white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 200ml vinegar, cider or white wine
- peel the cucumber and slice thinly, cut the onions in half and slice thinly, make sure onion rings all fall apart. Toss them together with the chopped dill or fennel. mix the rest of the ingredients in a jug and pour over. pack the pickle in the jars and turn them over a couple of times to make sure it is all mixed up. turn the jars again over the next few hours.
- This is a delicious pickle to serve with pecorino cheese, salami and good crusty bread for a perfect spring or summer lunch.
Fava beans recipe
This fava beans recipe is a perfect antipasti dish for a warm spring evening, the mix of flavours is something special. Serve on its own or on some good toasted bread with a glass of chilled prosecco.
The first fava (broad beans) are now ready in the gardens here and they are ideal for this recipe as it needs light crisp and sweet beans. it can be made with older beans but they will need longer cooking and will have to be removed from the hard shell that forms as they get older. So to save the faff use the young fresh beans that are available now.
Whether it is eating this dish here in the Marche that makes it so delicious, or whether it would taste good anywhere I don’t know but if there is one dish that sums up this region this is it. The ingredients reflect the provence; with anchovies from the adriatic just 20k away, fava beans and fennel from the garden, local capers and olive oil and mature pecorino cheese from the mountains 30k in the other direction, this is dish made in le Marche.
- 4 anchovy fillets, preserved in oil not salted
- 1 tbls capers
- clove of garlic
- 2 handfulls fava beans
- olive oil
- white wine vinegar
- lemon juice
- grated pecorino
- with a fork mash up the anchovies and capers in a small bowl, mash the garlic in a pestle and mortar and add to the anchovy mix. pour in small glass of oil and good spash of vinegar. make sure they are good quality, grind in a little pepper but no salt. this mix will benefit from being allowed to stand for 30 mins or so in the fridge but you can press on if you dont have time. Cook the beans in already boiling water for 3 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain and mix the hot beans in with the anchovy paste, making sure everything is well coated. Pile the beans on a serving plate and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over before topping with a handful of grated pecorino and finally a last drizzle of olive oil.
- This dish is wonderful warm as the beans absorb all the amazing flavours and the residual heat brings everything to the fore on your tongue, but I am told it is also good cold. Personally I have never had any left over to try.
Italian meatballs recipe
“Heh, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh…? And a little bit o’ wine. An’ a little bit o’ sugar, and that’s my trick.”
It may not be exactly Clemenza’s Italian meatball recipe but the next time you have to “take to the mattresses” it might be you that has to cook for 20 guys so it is worth knowing how to make something like the great man’s. They take a bit of time to make but once you get into the swing you wont notice, the trick to the perfect meatball manufacture is to just keep humming .. do do do do do do do doooo, do do do do do do do do doooo …
You may have spotted that we on Italian Food and Flavours like our films. I think perhaps we should create a blog just on food and drink from films. What do you think?
- 500g minced pork and beef
- 1/2 egg
- 2 tbls grated parmesan
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbls fresh oregano finely chopped
- 3 tbls dry breadcrumbs
- salt and black pepper
- for the tomato sauce
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbls butter
- 1 tbls olive oil
- 700g passata
- salt and pepper
- 100 ml full fat milk
- oh and dont forget "a little sugar"
- put everything in a large bowl and get in there and squidge, when mixed up roll a small amount - about the size of meatball - between the palms of your hands.
- Place the meatballs on baking trays and put in the fridge
- whizz the onion, garlic and oregano in a food processor. Heat the butter and oil in a deep, wide pan, cook the onion mix over low heat until the oil seperates, 10 mins or so. pour in passata and cup of water. pinch in your sugar and salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes more. add the milk, and using a spoon add the meatballs. leave the pan, if you stir too soon the meatballs will break up, once the egg has done its stuff you can stir gently.
- Cook for about 20 minutes, partially covered.
- In Italy the butcher will always mince the meat while you watch so you know what you are getting. Try this yourself, it does make a difference.
- Serve with tagliatelle.
Elderflower cordial recipe
Now that spring is in full voice, the mornings are filled with birdsong and the scent from the herb garden. We are lucky to have a couple of magnificent Elderflower trees that provide blooms and berries at various times of the year. The warmth and sun have brought out a fabulous display of elderflowers this year and the trees are heavy with the blossom. The delicate flowers are so numerous that we can pick plenty for this year’s elderflower cordial without making much impact on the display in the garden.
This elderflower cordial recipe has to be the perfect drink for a summer’s day, a splash of elderflower cordial topped up with sparkling ice cold water and a slice of lemon. Later in the evening a drop of the magic cordial in a glass of prosecco rounds of a hard day in the garden.
- 4kg white sugar
- 2.5lt Boiling Water
- 40 Elderflower Heads
- 150g Citric Acid
- 4 Lemons sliced, plus their grated rinds
- Shake elderflower heads to ensure they are free of insects.
- Place the water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Add the grated rind and sliced lemon with the citric acid.
- Place the elderflower heads in a bowl and pour over the boiling water.
- Leave for at least 12 hours covered with cling film.
- Sieve the liquid, to remove the solids and strain through muslin to clarify.
- The cordial is quite concentrated so only a small amount is needed to make a refreshing drink. Sterilised bottles filled to the brim and stored in the door of the fridge will last 2 weeks, if you can keep it that long!