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Ribollita Soup : Zuppa di Ribollita

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Elderberry cordial

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Stromboli: “volcano” bread

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Stuffed mushrooms: Ripiene di funghi

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spinach, garlic, olive oil and chili recipe

Italian Food and Flavours 

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

Ingredients:

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

olive oil 

2 fresh sliced and 3 dried chilies chopped , add more or less depending on your preference

salt pepper

Method:

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.

 

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Lettuce soup: zuppa di lattuga

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turbot, asparagus and courgette

Italian Food and Flavours

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. 

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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)

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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.

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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.

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sweet cucumber and red onion pickle

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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!

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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

 

sweet cucumber and red onion pickle
Yields 2
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 kg cucumber
  2. 3 red onions
  3. fresh dill or fennel, to taste
  4. 250g white sugar
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 200ml vinegar, cider or white wine
Instructions
  1. 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.
Notes
  1. This is a delicious pickle to serve with pecorino cheese, salami and good crusty bread for a perfect spring or summer lunch.
Cooking Holidays Italy http://www.italianfoodandflavours.com/
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