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When talking about white wine in the strip of land from Parma to Piacenza, the first thought is Malvasia because this grape, whether vinified to obtain a sparkling, still or raisin wine, gives rise to an Aromatic Malvasia that is perfect for dishes prepared with local ingredients, just like this Cous cous with lentil sauce.

Aromatic Malvasia: Emilia lifestyle

Malvasia is part of the Emilia everyday life and in the province of Piacenza, in September, this wine is celebrated at the Valtidone Wine Fest, four weekends dedicated to wine & food living, i.e. dedicated not only to the discovery of local wines, but also of typical gastronomic specialities and of the historical-cultural heritage.

To enrich the festival with new ideas for dishes to be paired with Malvasia Aromatica di Candia dei Colli Piacentini, the organisers asked the Italian Food Blogger Association to select 30 Italian Food&Wine Bloggers to create a recipe with the ingredients of a Mystery Box containing food products from Piacenza and a bottle of wine selected by the Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori dei Colli Piacentini involving its local wineries.

Did you see what my Mystery Box contained? My protagonist is a bottle of Malvasia Aromatica di Candia, which I am expected to pair with a recipe prepared using at least 2 of the following ingredients: Pancetta piacentina, Borgotaro Porcini mushrooms, Valtidone saffron, honey and shallots.

My Malvasia di Candia is produced by the Mossi 1558 Winery and bears a decidedly romantic name: Baciamano, i.e. hand-kissing, because it is gallant and sensual, just like this ancient gesture, characteristics that have enabled it to be awarded the Gold Medal by both The Wine Hunter and the Japan Women’s Wine Awards.

My recipe to be paired with Aromatic Malvasia

My recipe is the result of combining ingredients I generally use in the cooler months of the year with cous cous, a dish I love to enjoy in summer because it enables me not to use the oven and to prepare fast and tasty one-course meals. Since the perfect one-course meals for my children are prepared with pulses and vegetables, here is my culinary proposal to be paired with Malvasia Baciamano.

Its spicy aroma pairs perfectly with the notes of shallot and dried Porcini mushrooms. Its intense flavour with marked acidity complements this dish whose personality is enhanced by the unmistakeable sapidity of a super crispy Pancetta that completes the sensory experience of a cous cous that we can serve in any season of the year never feeling to have prepared something wrong.

Cous cous with lentil sauce and crispy Pancetta paired with Malvasia aromatica di Candia Baciamano

Cous cous with lentil sauce and crispy Pancetta paired with Malvasia aromatica di Candia Baciamano

Cous cous with lentil sauce

19.44g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 4-6 servings

  • 400g tomato sauce
  • 200g Chickpea and red lentil Cous cous Bia*
  • 200g carrots
  • 150g lentils
  • 60g Pancetta piacentina*
  • 15g dried Porcini mushrooms
  • vegetable or meat stock*
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • dried oregano
  • 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. Prepare the cous cous adding 200g warm slightly salted water to the cous cous; leave to rest for about 15 minutes, then separate the cous cous grains well using a fork.
  2. Soak the Porcini mushrooms in lukewarm water.
  3. Boil the lentils in plenty of slightly salted water for about 25 minutes, then drain them.
  4. In a large pan, heat up 20g of extra virgin olive oil and brown the finely chopped shallot and the cloves of garlic. Add the carrots sliced in rounds and the soaked mushrooms in small pieces; allow to sauté for some minutes, then add totamo sauce and oregano and cook for 15 minutes. Finish adding the boiled lentils, some ladles of stock to cover the lentils with liquid, then cook for another 15 minutes or anyway until the lentils are perfectly cooked. Remove the cloves of garlic.
  5. Cut Pancetta into strips of the desired size; put it in a frying pan (better if a steel pan like the ones used to prepare amatriciana sauce) with a dribble of oil until the strips are perfectly crispy. Drain the strip from the fat that has melted.
  6. Serve the cous cous topping it with the lentil sauce and complete with the crispy Pancetta strips. Enjoy the recipe pairing it with a glass of Malvasia Baciamano.

Version with gluten of Cous cous with lentil sauce

This recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, however you may decide to replace the type of cous cous used.

Sometimes it is just an idea that gives a standard dish an extra touch, so a rice salad can turn into a colourful lunch to deal with the summer heat: here is a perfect summer recipe, my Venere rice salad in a glass.

The rule I am following these days with no air conditioning in my kitchen is just one: no oven, unless I have to bake bread. So, here is a one-course meal ready in 30 minutes, unless the cooking time for your rice takes longer.

Furthermore, if you like this summer recipe idea, use your creativity to invent many other rice salads layering them in a glass to make your table unique and fun for your table companions.  Have a look at these Venere rice towers  to find inspiration!

Summer recipe: Venere rice salad in a glass

9.5g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for the courgettes cream

  • 300g courgettes
  • 170g water or vegetable stock*
  • 100g leek
  • 20g extra virgin olive oil
  • a bunch of basil
  • some mint leaves
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the mozzarella mousse

  • 400g cow’s milk mozzarella
  • 20g extra virgin olive oil
  • water

Ingredients for assembling 4 glasses

  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 100g Venere rice
  • basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Cook the Venere rice in lightly salted water and drain it when it has the perfect texture to be eaten, then lay it out to cool quite quickly.
  2. In the meantime, chop the leek and sweat it in a pan with the extra virgin olive oil, add the chopped courgettes, allow them to gain flavour for a minute, then add the water, basil and mint and cook for 12-13 minutes.
  3. Pour everything in a blender, blend to a smooth cream and season with salt and pepper. Put aside.
  4. Place the chopped mozzarella in a large, tall glass, add 4-5 tablespoons of water and start blending with an immersion blender (ideal for the texture is to use a Bamix) while also pouring in the extra virgin olive oil in a trickle. If the mozzarella cream is too hard, add a few more tablespoons of water while continuing to blend until it is soft and creamy like a mousse. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut the cherry tomatoes into 4 wedges, season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Now assemble the glasses: pour the courgette cream on the bottom, form a layer of Venere rice, a layer of mozzarella mousse, the chopped cherry tomatoes and finally decorate with a few basil leaves.

insalata di riso venere in bicchiere

Version with gluten of the summer recipe: Venere rice salad in a glass

This recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptations are necessary.