Radicchio + Strawberry = Springy Salad!

A new lovely and creative recipe by our friend Elisabeth Minchilli:
“I love pair leafy early radicchio with the first strawberries of the season. The combination of bitter leaves with sweet berries is my definition of the onset of spring.
My latest version of this salad involves toasted hazelnuts to add a bit of crunch. And since I usually add acidity in the form of a squeeze of orange, I decided to try using the orange oil from Marina Colonna, which was perfect. And a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar added a sweet tart tang that brought it all together”.

Inslata Radicchio Fragole

Ingredients
  • 4 cups chopped radicchio leaves
  • 10 large strawberries
  • Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Gold Label
  • Orange olive oil (or else extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice)
  • ¼ cup chopped, toasted, hazelnuts
  • Salt, pepper

Instructions

  1. Try to find loose leaved radicchio if possible. Using a knife, slice it into half inch ribbons and let it soak for 15 minutes in cold water. A good soak makes the radicchio slightly less bitter.
  2. Drain and dry the leaves and lay them on a platter.
  3. Quarter or slice the strawberries and mix them with the radicchio.
  4. Scatter the roughly chopped hazelnuts on top.
  5. Dress the salad with the balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Toss and serve immediately.

Wishing you a Happy Easter!

Yummy Cherry Jam Crostata!

Spring has finally arrived! The sun is shining, the breeze is gently blowing, the birds are chirping and the flowers are beginning to bloom.

What better to enjoy the springtime than to prepare a tasty Cherry Jam Crostata?! This delicious suggestion comes from our friend Elisabeth Minchilli, author of a lovely food blog dedicated to all “the good stuff in Italy”!

To learn more about it, here you have the recipe:

Cherry Jam Crostata

cherry jam {crostata}

March 17, 2014 by Elizabeth

Recipe type: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  25 mins

Total time:  35 mins

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup all purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons butter (125 grams) softened
  • 2 egg yolks, room temp
  • ½ cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • grated zest from 1 untreated lemon
  • 1 jar (about a cup) of Cherry Jam (La Vecchia Dispensa)
    Cherry Jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

cherry jam open

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F
  2. Put flour in big bowl, and make well in center. Add butter, yolks, sugar, zest and salt to well. Mix the wet ingredients with your fingers, then slowly start mixing in the flour. Just use your hand, and eventually the heel of your hand to mush it all together until it forms a ball. This only takes a few minutes.
  3. Let the dough rest for ten minutes, then push it out into a parchment-lined tart pan with removable rim. Don’t try to roll it out, just spread it out to the edges with the palm of your hand, to form an even crust.
  4. At this point the crust is ready for any jam filling.
  5. Filling and baking:
  6. Empty out an entire jar (about 1 cup) of jam into the unbaked crust. Spread out with the back of a spoon. Place on middle rack of oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely before serving.
  8. Enjoy your slice of crostata!

Roasted Carrot Soup with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Here a very natural and tasty soup coming from the roman kitchen of our friend Elizabeth Minchilli!

When’s the last time you read a recipe for carrots and thought “Oh, I can’t wait to make that!” Carrots are just one of those vegetables that rarely merit our excitement. Like potatoes and onions that sit in a basket in a dark place, waiting to be used without fear of going bad, carrots share the lower drawer of my refrigerator with a few stalks of celery and maybe a bunch of parsley. They are there if I need them in an emergency, or else to play a minor role as a background note in a more complicated recipe.

roasted-carrots-soup-balsamic-vinegar-of-modena-igp-vecchia-dispensa

But the carrots at the farmer’s market the other day were just so beautiful, that I couldn’t bear to banish them to the fridge for even one minute. And while I could have made a salad, or roasted them around a chicken, I decided they needed to shine on their own.

Since it’s been raining non stop for weeks now, soup seemed a good choice. While I’ve made carrot soup in the past, in the summer, I wanted something heartier and more stick-to-your-ribs for a cold winter day. So instead of simply adding the carrots to a pot of simmering broth, I roasted them at high heat first.

Roasting carrots is the best thing to do when they are very sweet. The high heat means that the edges will begin to darken and caramelize, giving a depth and savoriness to them. And to give it a woody flavor, I added a few sprigs of freshly picked rosemary from our rainy terrace.

Leeks, sauteed until they began to fall apart, added a silky texture and earthiness.

Once the soup was done, a whizz of the immersion blender brought it all together and made it soup. Rather than give a final squeeze of lemon, for acidity, I decided on a bolder drizzle of balsamic vinegar. But my final decision was (in my humble opinion) brilliant. Instead of toasting croutons to add a crunchy and filling component to what was actually a pretty light soup, I decided to add little cubes of crispy crunchy pancetta along with a teaspoon or two of the hot pork fat. Because, if I said it before I’ll say it again, everything tastes better with pancetta.

roasted-carrots-soup-balsamic-vinegar-of-modena-igp-vecchia-dispensa-2

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):

  • 1 kilo / 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large leek, white part only, rinsed and finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 cup cubed pancettta
  • Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Gold Label

Preheat oven to 200 C/ 400 F.

Place the sliced carrots in a bowl, and add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and about a tsp of salt and toss well to coat.

Lay the carrots out into a single layer onto an oven sheet. Drizzle any extra oil from the bowl on top. Tuck the rosemary sprigs in between.

Roast the carrots until done and edges begin to turn dark, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

In the meantime, put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper. Cook until the leeks are completely softened, but do not let brown. About a half hour. Add the white wine and let bubble for a minute or so.

Take the carrots out and remove the rosemary branches (it’s ok if the leaves remain, just make sure you get the tough branches out)

Add the carrots to the pot, stir and add enough water to cover the carrot by about an inch and a half. Cover and let simmer for about a half hour. Let cool down a bit and, using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. You can do this in a food processor if you prefer. The soup is pretty thick, so if you’d like to thin it out a bit add a cup of broth or milk.

In the meantime heat a small frying pan and add the pancetta cubes. Cook until the pancetta is well browned and crispy.

To serve, reheat the soup and the pancetta bits. Spoon the soup into individual bowls, swirl a bit of balsamic vinegar on top, and top with bits of pancetta and as much of the pork fat as you can justify to yourself.

*Since the balsamic vinegar is used here as a last and final touch, you want to use the good stuff. You don’t have to break out the 25 year old tiny bottle, but please make sure you are using real, true aged balsamic and not the horrid stuff that is only colored with caramel and flavored with sugar.