Posts

For me, the gastronomic journey in the Rieti area has become an annual appointment that has been repeated for three years now and that each time makes me discover new recipes of a cuisine made of few ingredients, authentic and with an unmistakable flavour: this is what Gnocchetti in frasca gluten-free dumplings make you experience.

But what are Gnocchetti in frasca? They are a dish handed down by the inhabitants of Micciani in Cittaducale, prepared with grains that were harvested and milled in the mills along the Peschiera river in the Velino Valley. These small dumplings were in fact prepared by mixing two flours, corn and wheat flour (which I have replaced with a gluten-free flour), on which the survival of families was based. The accompanying sauce is based on stewed beans that were flavoured with a few slices of guanciale, i.e. pork cheek, to give an unmistakable touch of flavour and the calories needed to cope with the hard work in the fields and the harsh temperatures of winter.

Today, considering instead that the need is to reduce calories more and more, we can possibly do without the splendid guanciale (which I used while remaining faithful to tradition, choosing the Guanciale amatriciano Sano) to prepare Gnocchetti in frasca with beans and tomato, thus transforming the recipe into a vegan and nutritionally balanced dish.

Tradition dictates that Gnocchetti are served as a soup by adding the cooking water from previously prepared Borlotti beans: in short, the perfect dish for cold winter days.

Read about the history of Spaghetti all’Amatriciana to get to know a land yet to be discovered.

gnocchetti-in-frasca

Gnocchetti in frasca gluten-free dumplings

20g carbohydrates per 100g

considering adding 500g of cooking water to the soup

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 400g tomato sauce
  • 200g gluten-free pasta flour mix, brand Molino Dallagiovanna**
  • 200g coarse corn flour*
  • approx. 160g lukewarm water
  • 150g dry Borlotti beans
  • 2 slices of pork cheek*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece of Kombu seaweed (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Soak the Borlotti beans for at least 12 hours, adding a piece of Kombu seaweed of your choice, which will help the digestion of the legumes once cooked. Cook the beans in plenty of water with the addition of a bay leaf, then keep them aside.
  2. Cut the pork cheek into cubes and put in a large pan to brown with a drizzle of oil, then add the tomato sauce and let it flavour for at least 15 minutes. Add the cooked Borlotti beans with a few ladles of their cooking water to make the soup rather liquid.
  3. Place the two flours on a chopping board forming a well, add a pinch of salt and start adding the lukewarm water in the centre of the well, mixing with a fork to start forming a dough. Add the water gradually as the amount may vary depending on the flour and humidity. When the flours are mixed enough to be worked by hand, start kneading them with your hands to obtain a homogeneous, smooth, firm and non-sticky mixture.
  4. Take pieces of dough, form long cylinders with your hands and cut them into 1 cm square dumplings.
  5. Put a large pot of water on the stove, salt it when it comes to the boil and throw in the dumplings to cook them. Drain them with a slotted spoon and pour them into the pan with the Borlotti bean sauce to allow them to take on flavour, adding more Borlotti cooking water. Season with salt and pepper and serve the Gnocchetti when they have the desired texture and flavour.

Version with gluten of Gnocchetti in frasca dumplings

Replace the Molino Dallagiovanna fresh pasta flour mix with an equal amount of wheat flour, adjusting the amount of water needed for kneading.

Easter is approaching and with it the traditions of Easter sweet and savoury recipes with which we celebrate it. This year I thought I would share with you the recipe for a biscuit that I love and that was the star of the course dedicated to Italian Biscuits: I am talking about the gluten-free and traditional  Canestrelli  recipe that you can give to your loved ones with the certainty of making them happy, a perfect gift also for Father’s Day.

The Canestrelli recipe between legends and truths

Canestrelli biscruits are so famous and popular that they need no introduction, yet not many people know their history and preparation techniques.

Their origin dates back to the Middle Ages and even then they were so popular to be depicted on Genovini, i.e. the coins minted from 1252 onwards by the Genoese Republic. The value of this biscuit was linked not only to its taste, but also to the ingredients used, namely white flour and butter, which in the hinterland of Genoa, in the Val di Trebbia, were true rarities, so much so that Canestrelli were used for centuries as currency.

And the name Canestrello is also linked to notoriety as it first appeared in an official document in 1576 that reported on a hapless muleteer stabbed and robbed of a ‘basket’ of biscuits (basket being ‘canestro’ in Italian, hence the name of the biscuits), confirming the value that was attributed to this product.

Precious ingredients and… magical mistakes

While it was considered scandalous to ‘waste’ white flour and butter on a biscuit, there is no shortage of legends to explain why hard-boiled egg yolks are used in the Canestrelli dough instead of fresh eggs (in fact, shortcrust pastry made with hard-boiled egg yolks is a specific type of dough that results in cakes with a crumbly, silky texture).

One such story tells of a woman baker who, on the very day she had a large order of biscuits to prepare, did not wake up as usual. Her husband, in an attempt to help her, had hard-boiled all the eggs to have them ready for breakfast the following days. Having no time to buy more eggs, the baker decided to use the hard-boiled yolks to prepare the biscuit dough: these biscuits were so successful that they became famous throughout the region.

As is often the case in Italy, typical recipes have countless local and even family variants, and Canestrelli are no exception, so although they are recognised as Traditional Food Products (PAT) of Liguria, ingredients and preparation may vary slightly from area to area.

But what are their main characteristics?

Definitely the daisy shape that goes from a diameter of about 10cm with scalloped edges to smaller diameters to be eaten in one bite. The central hole is proportionate to the diameter, while the thickness is always quite high, at least 7 millimetres. The colour is barely golden, made even lighter by the icing sugar with which the surface is dusted.

So, are you now feeling like turning on the oven and baking some biscuits? Do you have some paper bags ready to wrap them for daddy or as a gift for Easter? Have fun with my gluten free Canestrelli!

Canestrelli senza glutine

The typical flower shape of Canestrelli

Gluten free and traditional Canestrelli

carbohydrates 64.31g per 100g canestrelli without icing sugar on the surface

Ingredients for 23 biscuits

  • 120g butter
  • 100g gluten free flour mix for bread, brand BiAglut** (wheat flour for a version with gluten)
  • 100g potato starch or corn starch*
  • 50g icing sugar*
  • 2 yolks of hard-boiled eggs
  • grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 egg white for brushing
  • icing sugar* to complete

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Put the eggs in boiling water and boil them for 8 minutes; shell them and extract the hard-boiled yolks.
  2. Place the flour, icing sugar, soft butter, starch and sifted egg yolks in a bowl or planetary mixer and start mixing, add the pinch of salt and grated lemon zest, then knead until smooth and firm. Initially the dough will seem dry, but once the butter is mixed in, it will be soft and smooth. Cover the mixture with cling film and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  3. Roll out the shortcrust pastry to a thickness of approx. 7mm-1cm, then cut the biscuits using the flower-shaped cookie mould with the hole in the centre. Brush them with egg white.
  4. Put Canestrelli on a baking tin covered with parchment paper and bake them in a static oven preheated to 170°C for about 15-20 minutes without allowing them to get brow: it is important not to bake them too much!
  5. Let them cool down, then dust with icing sugar.

The mould for cutting Canestrelli 

Version with gluten of Canestrelli

Replace the gluten-free flour with an equal amount of wheat flour.

Finding a product that is perfect for both the needs of diabetes and celiac disease is a rather rare occurrence, so discovering Barilla Legumotti on supermarket shelves was more than a surprise: it was a real joy and I decided to cook Legumotti with vegetables.

In fact, the label of Legumotti with red lentils, chickpeas and peas shows only these three ingredients in the quantities of 60%, 20% and 20% respectively. The total carbohydrate value of Legumotti is 48.3g per 100g of dry product, which is then half as much once cooked, as they double their weight by absorbing some of the cooking water. By adding the vegetables, we then provide lots of fibre which will slow down the absorption of the complex carbohydrates from the pulses… and this is what made our day with perfect blood glucose levels!

But all with a truly unexpected treat for the palate: my children expressly asked us to unleash our creativity to bring this ‘mini-pasta‘ (which reminds us so much of the Sardinian fregola that we love, but have never found in a good gluten free version) to the table at least once a week.

I’d say we really like this challenge, since with the kids on summer holiday the need to prepare a midday meal as well needs an extra effort of organisation and imagination!

Legumotti with vegetables

14.94g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients

  • 350g courgettes
  • 300g Barilla Legumotti*
  • 200g carrots
  • 100g semi-hard cheese
  • 90g cherry tomatoes
  • 60g pitted black olives
  • 50g onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • basil, extra virgin olive oil and salt as needed

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Chop the onion finely and sauté it with the garlic clove over high heat in a wok or non-stick pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, stirring constantly. In the meantime, cut the carrots into rather small cubes and the courgettes into slightly larger cubes (so that the cooking time is the same, as the carrot generally takes a little longer) and add them to the onion.
  2. Always keep the heat fairly high and stir occasionally so that the vegetables cook quickly without burning. Once ready (they should remain crispy), season with salt, remove the garlic and set aside.
  3. Cook the Legumotti in salted water, drain them and stop cooking by running them under cold water for a few seconds.
  4. Pour the Legumotti into a bowl, add the sautéed vegetables, quartered cherry tomatoes, pitted olives, diced cheese and season with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, chopped basil to taste and a pinch of salt if required.
  5. Serve the Legumotti warm or cold.

legumotti-alle-verdure-barilla

Version with gluten of Legumotti with vegetables

The recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

Winter offers us some wonderful products, and Radicchio is certainly one of these delicacies whose secrets you can discover in this article dedicated to the “Winter Flower” and this recipe to prepare Ricotta dumplings with radicchio.

At the same time, cold days bring with them a desire for full-bodied, rich-tasting recipes, a solution to combat the cold and pamper the palate. For this reason, we like first courses that combine balanced ingredients with an enveloping flavour. So, here are our Ricotta dumplings with radicchio.

Served piping hot and creamy, they are irresistible!

Ricotta dumplings with radicchio

16.4g carbohydrates per 100g plain ricotta dumplings

Ingredients

  • 300g cow’s milk Ricotta cheese
  • 200g Taleggio cheese
  • 100g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 100g gluten-free multi-purpose flour, brand Schär**
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Radicchio from Treviso
  • salt and extra virgin olive oil

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Start preparing the dumplings: mix Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, flour and egg, adding salt to taste. Shape into a dough ball and put it to rest in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Once ready, create cylindrical strips and cut them into chunks, they will be your dumplings.

Uno_Chef_per_Gaia_gnocchi di ricotta al radicchio e taleggio

  1. In the meantime, put a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the chopped Treviso radicchio. Once soft, add the Taleggio cheese and turn off the heat.

ricette senza glutine_Uno_Chef_per_Gaia

  1. Cook the dumplings in boiling salted water for a few minutes. As soon as they rise to the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon and put them in the pan with Radicchio and Taleggio cheese.

IMG_2398Foto Lorenzo Moreni_Uno_Chef_per_Gaia_2016

  1. Stir gently over medium heat so that the cheese melts and all the flavours blend together.

Uno_Chef_per_Gaia_gnocchetti di ricotta al radicchio

Version with gluten of Ricotta dumplings with radicchio

Replace the gluten free flour with 120g wheat flour.

One eats first of all with the eyes, which is why dishes must not only be good but also harmonious and colourful: the cheerfulness they convey starts with the sight and then leaves room for the taste and that is what happens with the Three-colour crêpe rolls.

It is a sensory journey through aromas, scents and nuances.

That’s why the first course we propose here marries this theory to perfection, a perfect mix of flavour, authenticity and energy. Needless to say… strictly gluten-free.

Bring your imagination to the table then with our recipe for Three-colour crêpe rolls. If you like crêpes, also try Quinoa crêpes with broccoli.

Three-colour crêpe rolls

9.7g carbohydrates per 100 g

Ingredients for crêpes

  • 500g milk
  • 230g gluten-free multi-purpose flour**
  • 50g cooked and mashed red beet
  • 50g cooked and blended spinach (creamed spinach)
  • 6 eggs
  • 8g salt
  • extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the filling

  • 500g cabbage
  • 300g milk
  • 200g Bitto or Casera cheese (semi-hard cheese)
  • 30g wholemeal rice flour°
  • 10g butter
  • salt

To serve as desired: cream and parmesan fondue, creamed spinach

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. In a bowl or a food processor, blend all the ingredients for the crêpes except the beet and spinach cream. Once the batter is ready, divide it into three equal parts: one part should remain its natural colour, the other two should be completed with the creamed spinach and red beet respectively.
    In case they still contain pieces of vegetables, blend each mixture using an immersion blender.
  2. Lightly grease a frying pan about 15cm in diameter and pour in enough mixture to cover the bottom. Cook the crêpes on both sides until lightly browned.
  3. And now the filling! Cut cabbage or Savoy cabbage into strips and cook in a wok or non-stick pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and, if necessary, a bit of water. Finally, season with salt.
    In another pan, prepare the béchamel sauce with 10g butter, 30g rice flour, 300g milk and salt to taste.
Rotolini di crepes colorati

The coloured crêpe rolls

  1. Roll the crêpes, distribute the vegetables evenly on top and cover them with two tablespoons of béchamel sauce; finally, finish by adding the diced Bitto or Casera cheese; roll the crêpes and place them on a baking tin covered with parchment paper. Heat in the oven at 160°C until the cheese has melted.

Just one more step.

I rotolini di crepes colorati pronti per essere mangiati

The colourful crêpe rolls ready to be eaten

  1. Cut the crêpe rolls obliquely to obtain 3 small cylinders; spread a layer of fondue on the bottom of each plate and lay 1 cylinder per colour on top.

Serve piping hot.

Version with gluten of Three-colour crêpe rolls

Replace the 230g gluten free flour with 250g wheat flour to make the crepes; no other adaptation is needed.