There is a beautiful Tuscan Spring time tradition of serving Broad Beans with a fresh pecorino cheese. The cheese is sliced and served with the beans. If the beans are young, the guests get to pod their own as they eat them. There is a saltiness in the fresh pecorino that matches the sweetness of the broad beans. And the crispy texture of the beans with the melting softness of the pecorino is divine.
Get your Italian Risotto Mojo on with some loud opera music and a good wine
Italian food is just wonderful! Today is another Great Risotto Dish. Risotto is always a meditation in cooking. A quiet kitchen, a wooden spoon, some rice and a large pot.
From years ago, when I was first making risotto, and still today, I amazed friends who pop in unexpectedly. I pick tomatoes, salad greens, chilli and rosemary from the garden, pull some stock and tomato paste from the freezer, and cook this risotto in approx. 30 minutes. I serve it with a garden salad and fresh fruit for dessert. They are always pretty impressed!
If you haven’t cooked risotto before, here are some basics.
Late Winter comes and we begin to look forward to Spring. However the weather gods have other ideas, plunging us into the coldest weather of the winter, stormy and wet, and very very cold.
We really did fall in love with dried broad beans this year. After a hiccup at the beginning – we really didn’t know a lot about how to handle these large beauties – we have settled into a routine of using them every couple of weeks. Totally delicious.
The smaller, peeled dried fava beans are easier to use, but if you can’t find them, use the larger (gigantic) unpeeled ones. The peeled dried broad beans are quite small, whereas the unpeeled ones are large beans. Soak the large ones overnight, then pop them out of their peels before cooking. If they don’t come out of the skins easily, try soaking them in boiling water for 20 – 30 mins. They should come off easily then. I like to peel them in front of the TV the night before I am using them. It makes this meditative task very easy.
This recipe doesn’t saute the onions and celery, but rather pops them into the pot with the beans and the stock. In Greece it is believed that sauteing them before hand makes the dish heavier, and if you think about it, it is an excellent observation. I like to keep this soup lighter, but by all means saute off the aromatics beforehand if you wish.
Cabbage and Carbs always go well together, right? And this dish of cabbage with pasta is divine. It is a great cold weather dish, and perfectly good for any time of the year as a Sunday Supper. It is a rustic dish, but don’t let that dissuade you.
Sometimes I cook this dish and the family aren’t home yet, and I pick at it in the kitchen until there is a definite hole in the side. It is so delicious with the nutty, slightly stretchy Emmental cheese. So easy to make just 3 ingredients – I cook the pasta and use the pasta water to blanch the cabbage. A few minutes assembly and into the oven it goes for about 20 mins – faster if you have a good fan forced oven. Take it bubbling to the table – your family will be begging for it again and again.
Truly, this dish almost needs a wood fire and a large glass of red. Eat on its own, with salads, or as an accompaniment to other dishes. Left overs are good fried up for breakfast! You could almost say that this comfort dish is NOT a Sydney dish. It is built for Melbourne and Adelaide, and all year round in Tassie. 🙂
Are you looking for Pasta dishes? First, check out our home made eggless pasta. Then try Pasta with Zucchini and Parsley Pesto, Pasta Sauce with Aubergine, Red Pepper and Tomato, and Light Pasta Salad.
Also browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006.
Barley is beautiful, especially in Salads
I am in love with barley at the moment – a great wintery grain that also, strangely, has some cooling properties when used in the warmer months. Not only does it do well in soups, pilafs and vegetable stews, it is an accommodating base for salads.
Ilyse, the amazing artist from the no-longer-existing blog Lucullian Delights, had a wonderful barley and tofu salad for any season. I tweeked it just a little, and it is a perfect salad for summer or for winter.
You might like to browse other Barley recipes here. Our extensive list of wonderful Salads are here. You might like to see all of our Tofu recipes also. Or simply explore our easy Late Summer Recipes.
Leftover eggplant in the fridge? Don’t quite know what to do with it? No matter what you are serving tonight, this Italian dish from Bugialli will blend. In no time at all you will be enjoying the wonderful soft texture of well cooked eggplant contrasted with the crunch of breadcrumbs. It makes a great starter with a green leaf or two, it can accompany any other dish for a a multi dish meal, or it can take centre place with a salad and chickpeas.
Eggplant will soak up whatever you soak it in. This recipe utilises this property well by marinating the eggplant before baking. Yummy! This is so good, I do hope that you try it.
Are you looking for other Eggplant dishes? Try Eggplants in a Creamy Peanut Gravy, Roasted Eggplant with a Garlic Sauce, Eggplant and Zucchini with a Chickpea and Harissa Sauce, and Eggplant, Sultanas and Pinenuts.
Also, feel free to browse other vegetarian recipes from our first blog in existence from 1995 – 2006, in our Retro Recipes series.
Simple is great, yes? Less is more. In this pasta dish, as with many others, it is the simplicity that shines and makes for a spectacular dish.
I have made it here with some home made eggless pasta that combines flour, semolina flour and chickpea flour and uses ground sesame seeds as a binding agent. It is pretty good, but of course this recipe can be made with any fettuccine or spaghetti.
Turning zucchini into glorious pickles
Fussy to make, these pickles are rather gorgeous and a great way to use the gigantic zucchini that you can’t avoid in your vegetable garden patch.
This is a most beautiful risotto with the creaminess of mushrooms combined with the creaminess of a risotto. Mushroom Risotto is a perfect winter-time dish, a cold evening dish, a heater-on-high dish. It is a comfort dish, for when you need a little more love and support in your life. Really, it is divine. Who doesn’t like risotto?
While I specify button and oyster mushrooms, you can make this with any mix of mushrooms. Cut them to size accordingly.
Do be careful about the rice that you use for risotto. You will get the best results using a risotto rice. You can read more about that here. My favourite at the moment, and the one that I used for this dish, is Carnaroli.
If you are new to making risotto, read How to Make Risotto.
Are you looking for Mushroom recipes? Try Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s Slow Cooked Creamy Mushrooms, French Mushrooms and Tomatoes, Adzuki Beans with Shiitake Mushrooms, and Mushroom and Carrot Salad with Mung Sprouts.
Zucchini takes extremely well to marination, particularly with Mediterranean flavours such as garlic, olive oil, oregano. Mix them up and leave for 30 mins – 1 hour, then serve. You can mix them with Bocconcini, for example, or, like this recipe, with some beautiful tomatoes. Fresh, young zucchini has the most glorious texture.
I have used small cherry tomatoes here, but use any tomatoes you have – halving or slicing them depending on the size. I like to mix green, semi ripe and ripe tomatoes as it gives variation in flavours, but this is probably only possible if you or your best friend grow your own tomatoes. Green tomatoes are difficult to find these days, yet I love them.
Throw in a small zucchini flower or two if you have them.
Are you looking for other Tomato Salads? Try Artichoke Hearts with Tomatoes Salad, My Mother’s Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Creamy Dressing, and the very red Tomato and Pomegranate Salad.
Or are Zucchini dishes your preference? Try Zucchini Preserved in Oil with Mint, Chilli and Garlic, Zucchini Rice, Zucchini Fry, and Poached with Other Vegetables in Wine.
Another beautifully coloured salad for Autumn, beautiful reds of the roasted capsicums. Here we toss them with white beans, fresh mozzarella and a little shallot.
Don’t you just love roasted peppers? While you are roasting them for this salad, add another 1 or 2 or 12, so that you can used them throughout the week. I find it easiest to roast peppers and eggplants on my covered BBQ, but you can also do it over a gas flame on your stove, under a grill or in the oven.
Would you like to try other Red Pepper/ Capsicum Salads? Try Red Pepper and Tomato Salad with Crispy Flatbread, Chilli and Lime, Peperoni in Padella – Roasted Red Peppers Salad, and Sweet Red Pepper Salads. There is a Roast Pepper Relish too.
And please try our Tapenade Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella.
Using up the amount of zucchini from our garden takes some creativity. But having made Parsley Pesto, the thought of pasta, pesto and char grilled zucchini had me grilling tiny zucchini slices early one morning. A pasta lunch was in the making.
Its very easy, and any pasta can be used – spaghetti is great, but I chose to use pasta from the local Adelaide makers L’Abruzzese. I love this olive leaf pasta, tasty and slightly chewy, it has 3 colours – spinach, beetroot and regular.
If you are looking for more pasta recipes try Fettuccine with Cheese and Pepper, Pasta with a Cauliflower Sauce, Pasta Sauce with Aubergine, Red Peppers and Tomato, and Elegant Orzo Pasta with Wilted Spinach and Pine Nuts. And check out our home made eggless pasta.
You might also like to read Why we Cook Pasta al dente.
Once I had a lovely older Italian man as a hairdresser. He was amazing. As we molded my hair into some shape and varied colour upon colour, we discussed cooking, fashion and food. Sometimes with a glass of champagne. He was very special and he gave me this great family polenta recipe.
Here I sit at the (usually) hottest part of the year, and as I write it is a cool day, and wet. So we find ourselves wanting Autumnal food. Having made a risotto yesterday, I am using the remainder of the stock to make a white bean soup – luckily I had the forethought to soak the beans overnight. You have to bless the Italians, right? Simple food with great flavours.
This soup is just gorgeous because the beans just seem to float in this gorgeous broth.
White beans are great – versatile for Summer in Salads, and in Winter for Soups, pasta sauces and more hearty dishes. Use cannellini or haricot beans when white beans are specified. Keep them in your pantry year-round.
Other White Bean recipes include: Grilled Eggplant Salad with Pine Nuts, White Beans and Pita Chips, Florentine Beans, and Tuscan Beans with Sage and Lemon.
Yet another divine use for eggplant – such a versatile vegetable. This time it is a cheesy torte – eggplants layered, Italian style, with cheeses, baked, allowed to rest and firm up, then cut into wedges to serve. What could be better? It makes a great lunch or supper, or works very well in a tapas spread, mezze or antipasto. It even makes a great any-time snack.
Eggplant is so flexible, and very variation tastes so good. You can bake it, simmer it, stuff it, crumb it, steam it, BBQ it, grill it, roast it, saute it and deep fry it. I hope you try some of these recipes.