In the past fifty or so years, Italian cooking has become part of the British food culture. From pizza filling the high-street and spaghetti becoming a staple of children’s diets and pots of fusilli, tuna and sweetcorn becoming the go-to snack for hungry students, it was little surprise when pasta was rated the world’s favourite food by Oxfam in 2011.
However, in an increasingly health-conscious nation, we are growing increasingly aware of what we consume on a daily basis; with a growing number of diets limiting certain foods and making the average individual to consider everything! But Italian cuisine is rapidly shifting, to return to its roots: Authentic and seasonal produce, cooked with complimenting flavours. Much of it is quick and easy to make and sure to appeal to everyone.
So ditch the ready-meal and consider incorporating some authentic Italian flavour into your menu today with these three quick and tasty recipes.
Popular Italian chef Antonio Carluccio believes that for years vegetables were seen as ‘the Cinderella of the food world.’ and thought it would be the opportune time for local produce to re-enter the spot-light. A popular choice is Cavolo nero , (black cabbage), introduced into Tuscan dishes since the 1960s, complimenting dishes of hearty ribollita, a hearty, soup made with bread and vegetables.
Antonio recommends: sauteing two leeks, a carrot and two celery stalks in oil until soft. Add to the mix, two diced potatoes, two garlic cloves, two diced courgette and a head of cavolo nero leaves, along with chopped tomatoes. Cook gently for an hour, add soaked and cooked cannellini beans and water to make a broth. Finally, serve in bowls over crunchy bread and finish with extra virgin olive oil and a hint of ground black pepper to garnish.
The Isle of Sicily is home to some of the finest wines in Italy, ranking third in overall production. Thanks to the volatile nature of Mount Etna, the soil is incredible fertile, providing the ideal conditions for growing wheat, lemons, oranges, tomatoes olives, olive oil, artichokes, almonds, grapes and pistachios. A popular and simple meal on its own, or served as an alternative to bruschetta is Caponata .
To cook, cut two aubergines into half an inch slices, cover them with coarse salt and let them rest, well-stacked in a colander or pan. At the same time, blanch some celery in boiling water for no more than five minutes and cut into equally thin slices. After an hour, wash your aubergine slices, dry them with a towel and cut into cubes. Next, slice open an onion and simmer in plenty of olive oil for 10 minutes before adding the aubergines with salt and pepper and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Gently rinse some capers, to remove any salt then chop. Add tomato puree to the mix, stirring well, throwing in the capers, some olives and celery and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Whilst this cooks, put some sugar and vinegar in a bowl and stir to dissolve it. Switch the pan off the heat and season with vinegar to provide an unmissable sweet and sour aftertaste. Once cooled serve on generous hunks of bread for a delicious, healthy lunch. Bellavita’s Top Tip! : Try our fresh aubergines home grown in Campania: https://www.bellavitashop.co.uk/vegetables/533-aubergine-each
A healthy, light alternative to pasta, this Tuscan variation of Gnocchi is made with ricotta cheese with semolina instead of potatoes. Perfect for spring, these light, airy dumplings are packed with flavour and can be paired with seasonal vegetables, like this helping of Gnudi with broad beans and asparagus by Sabrina Gidda. To cook, Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and oil a baking tray. Poach the gnudi for a few minutes until they float to the surface. Drain well and put them on the baking tray. Blanch your asparagus in boiling salted water for a minute, then drain and leave to cool. Once they are cool, cut the asparagus diagonally into small pieces, then dress with some lemon juice, olive oil, seasoning and a little chopped tarragon. Leave this to the side until you are ready to serve.Heat a large saucepan of boiling salted water and blanch some peas and broad beans for one minute. Fry the gnudi in a non-stick frying pan in a little butter until they start to become golden-brown. In a cold frying pan, add the pancetta and start to heat it to render out a little fat. Add a little drizzle of virgin olive oil, and wild garlic, with the broad beans and peas. Add a little knob of butter, a little lemon juice and cook gently. Add the gnudi and toss once. To serve, put the gnudi in open bowls with the sauce. Add the sliced asparagus and finish with a sprinkle of wild garlic flowers, extra virgin olive oil and some Parmesan shavings. Bellavita’s Top Tip! : Unlock the flavours of garlic with our generously sized garlic grown in Campania: https://www.bellavitashop.co.uk/vegetables/611-large-garlic-100gr-990kg
Do you have a favourite healthy Italian dish? Let us know in the comments below; and for an authentic taste of artisan Italy visit Bellavita Shop or one of our expos.