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May brings us two ideas for what we call fortified salads, i.e. salads that are nutritionally complete and therefore perfect as one-course meals for lunch in the office, at school or for dinner.

The rule applies that ingredients must be in season in order to maximise their nutritional contribution, so asparagus and mixed greens, as well as frozen edamame beans, will be the vegetable protagonists of the dishes.

The protein part of our salads is mainly of animal origin, being represented by grilled chicken and egg, not forgetting the contribution of edamame beans, an excellent source of plant protein.

As always, fibre is our best ally and is provided not only by vegetables, but also by buckwheat grains, an excellent alternative to rice and cereals containing gluten (for those who can eat them).

So here’s how to prepare reinforced salads that you can put in your lunch box for an absolutely perfect lunch out.

Discover more ideas for your salads here!

Buckwheat and asparagus salad

carbohydrates 24.48g for the whole serving

insalata-di-saraceno-e-asparagi

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 4 asparagus
  • 40g buckwheat grains*
  • 1 egg
  • 15g Pecorino Romano cheese in very thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Cook buckwheat grains in lightly salted boiling water, then drain and set aside.
  2. Place 4 asparagus in a container suitable for microwave cooking and cook for 4 minutes at maximum power.
  3. Put a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan, break the egg into it and cook for a few minutes until the egg white is cooked.
  4. Assemble the salad by placing the buckwheat grains in a soup plate, add the asparagus cut in pieces; dress with a sauce prepared whisking a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  5. Lay the hot egg on top of the asparagus and complete with very thin slices of Pecorino Romano cheese and a grinding of pepper.insalata-di-saraceno-e-asparagi

Chicken and edamame salad

carbohydrates15.77g for the whole serving

insalata-di-pollo-ed-edamame

Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 120g chicken breast
  • 50g edamame beans
  • baby lettuce or mixed greens
  • 15g raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of soy milk*
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise*
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Boil the edamame beans in lightly salted water for a few minutes, then  throw them in cold water. Drain them and set them aside.
  2. Grill the chicken breast. Cut it into strips horizontally.
  3. Prepare the dressing by putting the mayonnaise, lemon juice and soy milk in a small bowl, mix well with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the desired amount of lettuce or mixed greens in a soup plate, add the edamame beans and lay the chicken on top. Season with the mayonnaise emulsion, then top with raisins and pumpkin seeds.

insalata-di-pollo-ed-edamame

Version with gluten of Fortified salads

These recipes contain only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for their version with gluten.

A chickpea flour flan with lots of vegetables, also perfect for using the leftover vegetables in the fridge: try the Chickpea and Vegetable Flan.

I love this recipe that a friend taught me because it not only allows me to have a one-course meal that is perfect for diabetes and coeliac disease, but also because I can prepare it using just one pot! Thanks to the Berndes pot I found at my friend Michela’s store, I Love My House, you can in fact cook the vegetables on the stove first, then complete the recipe by putting the pot in the oven.

The vegetables I used are just an indication, but you can use your favourite vegetables or any vegetables that you may have in small quantities: a tasty and easy anti-waste recipe.

Furthermore, the leftover flan is a perfect lunch box to take to the office or to school.

If you’re running out of ideas for lunch boxes, here are some ideas.

Chickpea and vegetable flan

carbohydrates 11g per 100g

sformato-di-ceci-e-verdure

Ingredients for a 28cm flan

  • 600g water
  • 200g chickpea flour*
  • 150g Tropea onions
  • 150g courgettes
  • 150g carrots
  • 80g Swiss chard
  • 30g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

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

Preparation

  1. Put the chickpea flour in a bowl and pour the water over it in a trickle stirring with a whisk so that no lumps form. Let the batter rest for at least 3 hours.
  2. Slice the Tropea onions and brown them in a non-stick pan suitable for use in the oven too; add the julienne-cut carrots and courgettes, then a few tablespoons of water to prevent the vegetables from frying. Stir well, cook for a few minutes, then add the herbs. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat when the Swiss chard has wilted.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil to the chickpea batter, then pour it into the pan containing the vegetables and bake in a convection oven preheated to 160°C for 25 minutes.
  4. Open the oven, sprinkle the surface with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of oil, then put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve the flan warm cut into slices.

sformato-di-ceci-e-verdure

Version with gluten of Chickpea and vegetable flan

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

If you have been to Greece, you cannot have missed the Classic Mussakàs made with eggplants and meat sauce, a one-course meal rich dish that I thought I would revisit to create a lighter, vegetarian version: here is my
Vegetarian Mussakàs
.

This Vegetarian Mussakàs is the perfect substitute for Lasagna for the warmer months when light recipes rich in seasonal vegetables are preferred, but it is also loved by everyone in the family, including the little ones. It is also very useful for those who have to organise family meals, as it can be prepared in advance and then cooked with 30 minutes to spare.

If you don’t like peppers or find them indigestible, replace them with courgettes!

Remember that you can also prepare this recipe lactose-free by replacing the milk in the béchamel with vegetable stock: all other ingredients are lactose-free!

When you have eggplants in season, this recipe will be a dinner-saving one-course meal for every family need: enjoy!

mussakas-vegetariano

Vegetarian Mussakàs

9.26g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 1kg eggplants
  • 450g potatoes
  • 300g red pepper (or courgettes)
  • 200g tomato sauce
  • 150g carrots
  • 120g onions
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
  • breadcrumbs*
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • basil
  • sage
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 350g milk
  • 35g brown rice flour*
  • 35g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30g extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

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

Preparation

  1. Slice the eggplants and place them on a baking tin lined with parchment paper,  bake in a convection oven preheated to 180°C for about 20 minutes.
  2. Boil the potatoes with their skins on until they are soft enough to be sliced.
  3. Prepare the vegetable ragout browning the garlic in a little oil, then add the diced carrots and peppers; season with chopped basil and sage, add the tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Prepare a béchamel sauce by mixing the rice flour with the oil, then gradually add the milk so that no lumps form and heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat, add the Parmesan cheese, mix well and add salt to taste.
  5. Take a rectangular oven dish, form a layer of vegetable ragout, cover it with the wilted eggplants, the sliced potatoes, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and start the layers again: you should have two layers of aubergines and ragout and only one layer of potatoes. Finish with a layer of béchamel sauce and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake the Mussakàs in a convection oven preheated to 190°C for 20-30 minutes until crispy.

mussakas-vegetariano

Version with gluten of Vegetarian Mussakàs

Replace gluten free breadcrumbs with standard breadcrumbs; the rest of the recipe is naturally gluten-free, so no adaptation is needed for the version with gluten.

 

 

A super tasty idea for out-of-home meals that will not make you feel guilty when eating: Lentil and chickpea burgers, the vegetarian alternative to one of the most popular dishes amongst young people.

These vegetarian burgers are an excellent way of eating legumes in a less common preparation, which is so tasty that it may conquer even those who are not very fond of lentils and chickpeas.

This lunch box is rich in plant proteins and fibre, which leads to long lasting fullness and low glycemic index, elements that will turn this lunch box into a great companion for many meals!

Follow me in order not to run short of ideas for out-of-home meals and have a loot at my recipe of Legumotti with vegetable ragout and Jerusalem artichokes.

Lentil and chickpea burgers

62g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 110g lentils, boiled
  • 100g chickpeas, boiled
  • 1 Tropea onion
  • 40g leek
  • 20g breadcrumbs** + breading
  • 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar of Modena
  • pickled cucumbers*
  • string beans or other vegetables in season
  • paprika
  • chilli pepper
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

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

Preparation

  1. Sauté the chopped leek in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, then put it in a blender with the lentils and boiled chickpeas; blend to a cream.
  2. Add a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, the breadcrumbs, paprika, chilli pepper, salt and pepper and mix well.
  3. Slice the Tropea onion and brown it in a non-stick pan with a little oil, a pinch of salt and finally douse it with balsamic vinegar from Modena.
  4. Pour a trickle of oil in a non-stick frying pan and another trickle on the palm of one hand to easily form a burger with the lentil and chickpea mixture.
  5. Cover the burger with breadcrumbs and brown it on both sides in the pan with the oil.
  6. Assemble the lunch box by placing two burgers, Tropea onion, sweet and sour cucumbers and complete with boiled green beans or other vegetables in season.

burger di lenticchie e ceci

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.

Would you like some ideas for out-of-home meals that come directly from the traditions of southern Italy? Here is how to prepare Broad bean puree with vegetables, a very simple dish, but absolutely extraordinary in terms of taste and well-being.

Once prepared, put a serving in the lunch box (I prepared a larger amount to use for the whole family), complete with boiled or baked seasonal vegetables and lunch is served!

Broad bean puree is prepared from dried broad beans, so you can cook it in any season, while the accompanying vegetables will change: have fun changing vegetables! At this time of year, rapini are the stars, so they couldn’t be missing alongside this soft, smooth puree.

Mashed broad beans are certainly more interesting than their more famous potato-based dish as they are rich in plant protein and slow-absorbing complex carbohydrates. Moreover, by accompanying it with vegetables, we will have a high percentage of fibre, our great ally of well-being.

Follow me not to run out of ideas for out-of-home meals and have a look at Legumotti with vegetable ragout and Jerusalem artichokes.

Broad bean puree with vegetables

32.16g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 60g dried broad beans
  • water
  • rapini and other boiled or baked vegetables to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

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

Preparation

  1. Rinse the broad beans and soak them in water the night before.
  2. Transfer the broad beans to a pan (use the soaking water for kneading the bread!) and cover them with water in such a way to have about 3cm of water above their surface. Simmer for about 1 hour or until the broad beans have dissolved.
  3. Pour the broad beans into a blender and blend them while pouring in extra virgin olive oil in a drizzle to make the puree nice and creamy, then add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Assemble the lunch box with mashed broad beans accompanied by blanched rapini and other vegetables to taste: I added onion and baked beetroot.

Purè di fave con verdure

Ideas for out-of-home meals are always good because we increasingly eat lunch away from our kitchens. What does our lunch box contain today? An appetising Red rice salad with avocado cream.

Red rice is a wholemeal alternative to white rice, thus an excellent substitute, rich in flavour and, above all, fibre. In this lunch box you will find it paired with a tasty cream of avocado, a fruit rich in antioxidants and cholesterol-friendly mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and a vegetable salad enriched with the Omega 3 of tuna.

Here then is how you can prepare it for another good and satisfying lunch.

Follow me not to run short of ideas for out-of-home meals! And if you are looking for meals with a lower amount of carbs, try my Roastbeef with aubergine cream.

Red rice salad with avocado cream

51.72g carbohydrates for the whole lunch box

Ingredients for 1 lunch box

  • 60g Basmati rice
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 40g drained tuna
  • 40g iceberg lettuce
  • 30g fat free Greek yoghurt
  • 30g carrots
  • 30g pitted green olives
  • lemon juice
  • parsley
  • 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. Boil the red rice in lightly salted water, possibly making sure that the rice completely absorbs the liquid. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.
  2. Mash half an avocado in a bowl and add Greek yoghurt, season with parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare the salad by cutting iceberg lettuce into strips, grate the carrots, add the pitted olives and dress with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Fill the lunch box by placing the red rice in one of the containers with the drained tuna and the avocado cream, while placing the vegetable salad in the second container. Close it up and take it with you!

riso rosso con crema di avocado

Today I want to take you on a trip to the mountains of the Abruzzo region to discover artisan liqueurs created, as if by magic, by a family of nature and food lovers, which I want to propose to you in this recipe, also lactose-free, to prepare my Prawns with cream of Cannellini beans flavoured with Ratafià.

Artisan liqueurs in the kitchen

Let me introduce the liqueurs by the Scuppoz company starting with the name. The term ‘Scuppoz’ is an onomatopoeic word from Abruzzo that sounds like glasses clinking for toasting and celebrating, but today, Scuppoz is an artisan company that produces liqueurs using what the land of the mountains has to offer: wild herbs, berries and a lot of creative energy.

Before I met the Scuppoz liqueurs, I met Anna, the irrepressible wife of the second generation of herb alchemists whose passion in telling about the battles and challenges of making liqueurs in the hostile mountains of Abruzzo conquered me to the point that I couldn’t but find out about these ‘strong and gentle spirits’, as the motto of the ‘Medicinette’ liqueur collection reads.

Le "Medicinette" dell'azienda Scuppoz

The “Medicinette” collecion by Scuppoz

Ratafià: black cherry liqueur from the hills and Montepulciano wine

For my recipe, I chose the black cherry liqueur Ratafià made with black cherries from the hills and Montepulciano wine, ingredients that give the liqueur a powerful structure. Scuppoz Ratafià can be enjoyed by people with coeliac disease because it is prepared only with red wine, sour cherry juice and alcohol, i.e. without the addition of flavourings (here you will find the AIC rules for choosing gluten-free liqueurs).

Where does the name Ratafià come from? From the Latin expression‘ut rata fiat’, let the deed be ratified, because it was customary to drink this liqueur (prepared by women, but drunk mostly by men) immediately after signing a notarial contract to sanction its validity.

Scuppoz liqueurs are a journey of aromas, flavours and mountain stories, which I have brought to you in this recipe so that even the little ones at home can fully enjoy the experience without taking the alcoholic part for which they will have to wait a while!

And remember to follow Anna’s adventures on social media (https://www.instagram.com/scuppoz_spirits/ ): you won’t regret it!

gamberi con crema di cannellini al ratafia

Prawns with cream of Cannellini beans flavoured with Ratafià

14.10g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 400g red onion from Acquaviva delle Fonti (or Tropea onion)
  • 400g cooked chickpeas
  • 8 prawn tails
  • 2 shallots
  • vegetable stock
  • Ratafià – Scuppoz black cherry liqueur*
  • 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. Slice the red onion and brown it in a non-stick pan with a little oil for a few minutes, then cover with vegetable stock and let it cook without browning.
  2. When the onion is soft and the stock has evaporated, deglaze with 4-5 tablespoons of Ratafià, add salt and pepper and let the liquor thicken for a few minutes, then turn off the heat.
  3. Prepare the Cannellini cream. Put the chopped shallot in a non-stick pan, let it brown, then add the cooked Cannellini beans and let them season for about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the Cannellini beans to a blender, add the necessary amount of stock to obtain a thick cream and blend. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the onion cooked in Ratafià to a bowl so that you can use the frying pan to cook the prawns: leaving the cooking juices of the onion, cook the prawn tails for a maximum of 2 minutes on each side.
  6. Now assemble the dish: with a ring, form a disc of Cannelli cream, place the Ratafià flavoured onion on top, then 2 prawns and finish with a grinding of pepper and a very light drizzle of oil.

gamberi con crema di cannellini al ratafia

Version with gluten of Prawns with cream of Cannellini beans flavoured with Ratafià

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

When you discover a product that you have never tasted and never heard of before, it is a bit like receiving a gift: so let me introduce Couve Manteiga, the cabbage originally from Brazil, now also grown in Italy, which I have cooked in two mouth-watering versions, namely in Pesto and in Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto, perfect also for the little ones at home.

Couve Manteiga is a broad-leaved plant that is reminiscent, especially in its use and scent, of kale. Its leaves are beautiful and scented and, turned into pesto, give us a truly inviting emerald green colour, while eaten raw they are crispy and spicy with a typical bitter aftertaste.

la foglia di couve manteiga

Couve Manteiga leaves

It is a vegetable rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, which is excellent for the diet of those with diabetes as well as for low-calorie diets since 100g contain only 5 carbohydrates and 32 kilo calories.

Personally, I discovered it thanks to the editors of Cuoci Cuoci, a platform where you will find lots of news and recipes, in addition to my proposal of Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto.

If you want to order Couve, you can contact Azienda Agraria Evangelisti  (gabrieleeva@tiscali.it) or order it by phone at: +39 346-324-5132).

Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto

21.5g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for the pesto (you will use about half)

  • 200g already blanched Couve Manteiga leaves
  • 30g Pecorino cheese, grated
  • 30g almonds, peeled
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for the rolls

  • 300g tomato sauce
  • 200g Stelline Massimo Zero pasta**
  • 8 leaves of Couve Manteiga
  • 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 of pesto

  1. Wash the Couve Manteiga leaves well, remove the central rib and blanch the rest in boiling salted water for about 1 minute, then with a skimmer remove the leaves from the pot and throw them into cold water.
  2. Place the Pecorino cheese and almonds in a blender and blend to a flour.
  3. Add to this flour, 200g of the blanched and slightly squeezed leaves, a drizzle of oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a little of the cooking water and process in the blender until creamy.

il pesto di couve manteiga

Preparation of rolls

  1. Blanch a further 8 Couve leaves cut in half at the central rib, which you have removed. As with pesto, once blanched, toss the leaves in cold water, then drain and lay them on a tray to dry slightly.
  2. Boil the Stelline pasta in plenty of salted water and, once drained, season them with Couve pesto: the amount prepared is larger than the amount needed to season the pasta, so you can also enjoy the pesto on a slice of toasted bread as an appetiser!
  3. Pour a little oil in a non-stick pan, add the tomato sauce, season with salt and let it cook for a few minutes.
  4. In the meantime, spread out the Couve leaves and stuff them with the Stelline pasta, closing them to form rolls.
  5. Place the rolls in the pan with the tomato sauce, let them season for 5 minutes, turning them and serve hot or warm.

involtini di couve manteiga

Version with gluten of Vegetarian rolls with Couve pesto

Replace the Stelline Massimo Zero pasta with a durum wheat pasta, while no other adaptation is necessary.

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.