In Tuscany black kale and farro marry well in pesto.

Farro as we call it in Italy, or spelt, one of the oldest grains known, is combined in this recipe with a special ‘pesto’ made mainly with black tuscan kale, which is the most popular vegetable in Tuscany. The dish has a very fresh and full palate taste, perfect for lunch or dinner with a good glass of medium bodied red wine like Chianti or Nobile di Montepulciano.

black kale pesto
Ingredients
200 gr of spelt
200 gr of black tuscan kale
70 gr of almonds
1 garlic clove
70 gr of tuscan pecorino cheese
4 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste
Put the almonds under the broiler in oven tray and turn it on for a few minutes, just to have them lightly toasted.
Wash the kale, cut out and discard the stem in the middle. Put the kale in a pan with a little water and cover and cook for 5 minutes, then drain it.
Put everything in a blender and mix briefly the kale, almonds, salt, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.
Bring to boil 2 liters of water, add 1 /2 tablespoon of salt and the spelt, let it cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Drain the spelt (preserving 2 spoons of boiling water), pour the spelt and the kale pesto sauce in a bowl and stir well with some left hot water, add a drizzle of olive oil and serve.
Enjoy this Arianna & Friends‘ recipe.

Warning: adding a few fresh chopped tomatoes may want you to eat more….

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Means ‘ugly shoe’ but it’s an amazing tuscan dish

From an old tradition of the northern coast of Tuscany, comes this surprising dish.

La Scarpaccia (means ugly shoe, because, once cooked it’s thick like a sole’s shoe) is shaped and soft like a focaccia, and the taste is so appealing to the palate that one could hardly tell it comes from a combination of a few basic ingredients.

scarpacciaIngredients:

500 gr of fresh small size zucchini
20 zucchini flowers
1 medium size white or golden onion
4 tablespoons of white flour
40 gr of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the zucchini into thin rings, chop finely the zucchini flowers and onion. Put everything in a bowl and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, let it to rest.
After three hours on the bottom of the bowl there will be some liquid needed to form the dough.
Add then in, the flour and olive oil, mix everything making sure that all the vegetables are coated with a light batter (if necessary add a little water to it).
Grease with some olive oil a baking tray, or use baking sheet, pour in the dough, it should be about 1 cm high, and bake at 200 °C for about 50 minutes to an hour until a golden crust is formed.

Buon appetito from Arianna and Friends!

 

A tuscan dessert you have to taste… and taste..

A typical dessert of traditional nothern Tuscan cuisine, mainly the Lucca and Pistoia mountains, the Necci are basically made from chestnut’s flour and ricotta cheese. They look like pancakes and they were traditionally cooked between two hot iron plates.

necci and ricotta

photo courtesy intoscana.it

Here follows our recipe.

Ingredients:
500 gr of chestnuts flour
200 gr of sheep ricotta cheese
75 gr of white sugar
50 ml of extra virgin olive oil
50 ml of dry white wine
Salt
20 ml of dark rhum
40 gr of icing sugar

Directions
In a bowl beat the ricotta with the sugar until frothy. In another bowl, whisk chestnut’s flour, wine, a little trickle of oil, sugar and a pinch of salt.
When the mixture becomes homogeneous, warm up on the stove a non stick pan with a few drop of oil and grease through with a paper towel. When hot enough, pour in a small ladle of the compound, shaking the pan to have the compoud well distributed and cook.
When the top side whitens, flip over the neccio and cook until it gets golden. Repeat the procedure for each crepe starting from greasing the pan.

With all the necci in a tray, stuff each of them with the ricotta cream, roll them up on themselves and sprinkle on top a few drops of dark rum and some icing sugar.

Best served warm. Enjoy!

Cooked Water ? Not really, a tuscan simple recipe

From the old tradition of tuscan farmers of using everything available around the house and garden, comes the recipe of Acqua Cotta (means cooked water) from southern Tuscany, where stale bread was recycled making with it a tasty soup.

Ingredients (serving 4 people):

2 celery stalks chopped
4 medium-sized white onions finely chopped
2 eggs
400 gr of tomato pulp
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt
chili pepper (powder)
100 gr pecorino cheese
400 gr of tuscan bread (stale or toasted)
1,5 liters of water or broth

Directions
In a large pan put onions and celery, add the oil and let it sautee, when the onions are golden (not brown), add the tomato pulp and water, salt and chili to taste, and cook slowly, until the celery is tender.
After about 25-30 mins it should be cooked, at this stage add two eggs that were earlier beaten with the pecorino cheese, wait 3 to 5 minutes stirring occasionally then remove from the heat.
Cut the bread into thin slices and place in a bowl, pour over the broth mixture and serve hot with some extra grated cheese on top, in each plate.

Buon Appetito!

Befanini the Tuscan Christmas cookies

Around this time of the year the flavors of the befanini cookies is unmistakable in our homes, bakeries and pastry shops. These cookies once available for the Epifany celebration of January the 6th, have become the most popular biscuit that welcomes the holiday season in Tuscany.
Let’s see how to prepare them with the recipe we inherited from grandma.befaniniphoto Aurelio Barattini

Ingredients

500 gr of white flour
300 gr white sugar
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla essence
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 eggs
200 gr of butter
pinch of salt
grated skin of 2 oranges
1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons of Rhum
colored sugars to decorate

In a bowl combine 3 eggs with sugar and whisk well, then slowly add, while mixing, the melted (and cooled) butter, salt, grated orange skins, rhum, and baking powder.
On a separate surface combine the previous mix with the flour and knead well (in case the dough is too firm help yourself with a little milk). Wrap the dough in a cloth or aluminum foil and let it cool in the fridge for an hour.
Roll out the dough to about 3 to 5 millimeters thick. cut cookie shapes as you wish, can be little stars, christmas trees… and place them on oven tray.
Beat the remaining egg and brush each cookie, add the colored sugars on top and bake in a 180° preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let them cool, they keep well in a glass jar for a couple of weeks (if nobody finds out where the jar is !)