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Since the heat does not leave us this summer, I am constantly looking for cold recipes that can satisfy the palate, be healthy and above all be pleasantly refreshing, which is why I propose the Cream of peppers and lentils with anchovy croutons, this time paired with a fantastic wine!

In fact, a dear friend who knows my passion for wines gave me a bottle of Viognier Linea Ars Magna by Omina Romana vintage 2017, for which I wanted to create an ad hoc recipe. So here is my pairing because its intense and complex bouquet of aromatic herbs goes perfectly with the sweet scent of peppers, enlivened by the savouriness of anchovies and slivers of 36-month Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that masterfully reflect the mineral note that the wine draws from the volcanic soils where the vines grow.

The recipe is rich in fibre thanks to the peppers and lentils, it is also an excellent source of vitamins, the anchovies provide us with Omega 3, and the 36-month Parmesan cheese not only allows us to get calcium, but also makes the recipe suitable for those who are intolerant to dairy proteins: in short, a “supplement recipe”  as my friend Alessandra Bosetti, clinical dietician at the Buzzi Hospital in Milan, would call it, just like the Venere rice towers with almond cream and tomatoes.

When staying in the city while others are on holiday, the best way to treat oneself to a few moments of pleasure and relaxation is to indulge in good food and a glass of wine of those that remain in the memory file like photos taken in summer.

Omina romanaViognier

Cream of peppers and lentils with anchovy croutons

12.74g carbohydrates per 100g of Cream of peppers and lentils without croutons

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1kg bell peppers (2 red and 2 yellow)
  • 100g hulled lentils
  • 2 slices of gluten-free wholemeal bread**
  • 30g Parmigiano Reggiano 36 months old
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chili
  • salt and pepper
  • edible flowers for decoration

** Ingredients specific for celiacs

Preparation of Cream of peppers and lentils

  1. Clean the peppers, cut them in half, remove the stalk, seeds and white filaments, then cut them into quarters and place in the oven under the grill at 200°C until the skin is slightly dark. Seal the peppers in a paper bag and, when cold, peel and set them aside.
  2. Boil the lentils in lightly salted water until cooked: with hulled lentils it will take about 15 minutes. Drain and leave them to cool.
  3. Place a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, melt the anchovies drained from oil and when melted, add the diced wholemeal bread and toast it well on all sides.
  4. Now prepare the cream by putting the peeled peppers and lentils in a blender and when you have obtained a smooth and even cream, add salt, pepper and chilli.
  5. Divide the cold cream into 4 bowls, sprinkle the surface with Parmesan shavings and the anchovy croutons, then top with edible flowers.

crema di peperoni e lenticchie

Version with gluten of Cream of peppers and lentils with anchovy croutons

For the gluten-free version of the recipe, replace the gluten-free wholemeal bread with standard bread.

 

The Ricotta and Lentil Tart is the start of a wonderful journey in the company of a blogger friend, Aura from the blog www.aurasenzaelle.comduring which we will accompany you to discover the regions of our enchanting Italy with an itinerary of trekking and typical dishes.

The ’20 di cambiamento’ project

My friend Aura’s project is called ‘20 di cambiamento‘ and is a tour throughout Italy divided into weekends. I summarise it in 4 points, but you can read the full description in this article:

  • One visit in each of the 20 Italian regions;
  • One trek in each of the 20 visits;
  • A different person for each of the 20 visits to act as a guide to connect with that place;
  • A virtuous local company (for sustainability, environmental commitment, production respecting the land) to be visited, supported and promoted.

This is where I come in with the recipes of the dishes that you will find if you travel to that region and that you can then reproduce at home, in gluten or gluten free versions and with a carbohydrate count, to relive the experience also through taste.

The first stop

The journey starts from a region, Umbria, which is often not at the top of the list of those visiting Italy, but which is a jewel for its historical and monumental wealth (just think of Assisi), for its natural beauty (and here you can enjoy this trek) and an unexpected source of culinary specialities.

La Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi

Umbria owes much of its identity to the presence of the monastic orders that attracted the faithful from all over Europe. And it was precisely the pilgrims who had a very significant influence on the cuisine of the area because of the need they had to carry food in their saddle bags that could be stored easily. It is no coincidence that roasted meats, cured meats, Schiacciate (flat bread) and Polenta, desserts prepared with nuts, but above all pulses are the mainstay of traditional regional cuisine.

The widespread use of herbs for both cooking and curative purposes is also linked to the presence of religious orders with the liturgical calendar often imposing ‘lean’ periods during which herbs were used to replace fragrant, rich meats.

In addition to truffles, fish from Lake Transimeno and wines, here is a list of Umbria’s PGI and PDO products:

  • Extra virgin olive oil PDO
  • Spelt from Monteleone di Spoleto PDO (which we eating ‘gluten free’ cannot use)
  • Colfiorito red potato PGI
  • Prosciutto di Norcia PGI
  • Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale PGI
  • Lamb of Central Italy PGI
  • Pecorino Toscano PDO
  • Italian Salamini alla Cacciatora PDO
  • Lentil of Castelluccio di Norcia PGI

The first recipe

The first recipe (see also the second recipe!) that I want to share with you starts from the flower fields of Castelluccio di Norcia where lentils are harvested in summer after flowering, between May and the end of June, next to a multitude of wild flowers that make the phenomenon an enchanting and unique attraction.

La fioritura a Castellucchio di Norcia

The flowering of Castelluccio di Norcia (photo: Aura Moia)

The Castelluccio lentil is small, round and has a thin skin so that it does not have to be soaked to cook it. This pulse was one of the main sources of sustenance for the shepherds of the area, who combined it with the other ingredients offered by sheep farming. This is the origin of the Ricotta and lentil tart, a cake where lentils replace chocolate chips in a delicious way. I wanted to prepare this recipe because for those of us who do not live in Castelluccio, eating lentils as a dessert is certainly less common than the wonderful soups that, here, are often flavoured by the presence of pork.

Zafferano di Cascia dell'Associazione Zafferano Purissimo dell'Umbria

Cascia saffron of the Associazione Zafferano Purissimo dell’Umbria (phooto: Aura Moia)

Another small but pleasant discovery: the ricotta and lentil tart can be made even more delicious by flavouring the ricotta with Cascia Saffron – Pure Umbria Saffron another of the jewels of small family farms whose economy is linked to the production and direct sale of saffron and the other products they grow, such as lentils, grass peas, spelt, Roveja (do you know it? It will be the star of the next Umbrian recipe) and cheese. I tried it using the yellow gold of the Zafferano e Dintorni company which I recommend you to try by going there as soon as you can or by ordering it directly from their website.

Gli ingredienti del ripieno della Crostata di ricotta e lenticchie

Ricotta and lentil tart   

36.61g carbohydrates per 100g

 Ingredients for the pastry for a 20cm diameter tart

  • 125g GF flour mix for sweets, brand Sarchio**
  • 50g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 15g brown rice flour*
  • ½ lemon, peel
  • a pinch of salt

Ingredients for the filling

  • 400g sheep’s milk ricotta
  • 60g sugar
  • 40g Castelluccio lentils*
  • sweetener* or sugar
  • cinnamon powder

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

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

Preparation

  1. Prepare the shortcrust pastry (of course you can also use other recipes for shortcrust pastry); pour the powders (flour and sugar) into a mixing bowl or planetary mixer, add the butter and start to knead it into the powders, then add the egg, the grated peel of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. Mix until the mixture is smooth, then place it in the refrigerator wrapped in cling film while you prepare the lentils and the filling.
  2. Place the lentils on a plate and make sure they do not contain other pulses or cereals, then rinse them well and place them in a saucepan with water and a bit of sweetener (I used Tic) or a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to the boil and cook the lentils for 15 minutes. Drain them and keep them aside.
  3. Put ricotta cheese in a bowl, add sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and the drained lentils.
  4. Roll out the shortcrust pastry into a thin disc; I used a 20cm diameter perforated metal ring to cut the base on a perforated silicone mat and then I covered the ring to form a pastry shell for the tart; alternatively, cover a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Fill the pastry with the ricotta and lentil filling and bake in a static oven preheated to 180°C for about 30 minutes. Let it cool and serve.
  5. Bake in a static oven preheated to 170°C for 45 minutes.

La Crostata di ricotta e lenticchie con gli ingredienti per il ripieno

Version with gluten of Ricotta and lentil tart

Use a standard shortcrust pastry, whereas the filling is prepared with naturally gluten free ingredients, so no other adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

 

As the cold weather arrives, the best thing to do is to pamper yourself with food that will warm even the coldest of days, providing the right amount of nutrients without forgetting taste, and for this there is nothing better than a steaming Lentil soup.

Well, the season of soups, the main dish for winter evenings, has begun again. The protagonists of our recipe are pulses and, more precisely, lentils. If you like lentils, discover Rascino lentils and how to cook them to prepare a Pulse pasta with Rascino lentils.

So, ready to prepare it?

Lentil Soup

12.26g carbohydrates per 100g soup without pasta

Ingredients

  • 200 g lentils
  • 100g carrots
  • 90g onions
  • 50g celery
  • gluten-free Ditalini rigati pasta** (optional)
  • water, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

Preparation

  1. Cover the lentils with water in a large saucepan, add the carrot, celery, a small bunch of parsley and the onion in large pieces and cook without salt.

zuppa-di-lenticchie-uno-chef-per-gaia

  1. Once the lentils are ready, drain them but keep the cooking water and remove the parsley.
    Put the carrot, celery and onion (if you do not like onion, you can remove it) and possibly some of the lentils in a food processor with a few tablespoons of cooking water and blend to form a cream.
  2. At this point, you can decide whether to complete the soup with or without pasta. In case you decide to prepare it with pasta, cook some Ditalini rigati in the cooking water of the lentils and, only at the end of cooking, pour the cooked lentils and the vegetable cream in the pan with pasta. If, on the other hand, you do not want to use pasta, assemble the soup by mixing the cooked lentils with the vegetable cream and the amount of cooking water necessary to reach the desired density.
  3. Then serve the soup hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

zuppa-di-lenticchie-uno-chef-per-gaia

Version with gluten of Lentil soup

The recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten. If you add pasta, replace gluten-free pasta with standard pasta.