We still have a lot of green tomatoes. They have kept well in a dark spot with the potatoes, but we do need to use them before they start spoiling. We have been eyeing this recipe from Abbruzzo for a while, and today Mrs BYF decided to give it a try. Because this is lockdown cooking she did not have all the ingredients the real recipe required, so here is the make do one. It was a very nice, fresh tasting pasta sauce, almost spring like.
4 or 5 medium sized green tomatoes, diced
1 onion chopped
1 big pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup marjoram
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 hot chilli. We like hot food so use less if you want
6 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Rigatoni or other cut pasta
Soften the onions in the cooking oil. Add the garlic and the chilli, cook until garlic browns a bit. Add the tomatoes and cook covered to release the juices. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. When the tomatoes have softened, add the marjoram and nutmeg. When the pasta is cooked ladle a soup spoon full of pasta water on to the sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce. Mix and serve with plenty of grated parmigiano.
Do not forget a glass of home made red!!
Pesto di Ortiche (Stinging Nettle) and Pesto di Crescione (Water Crescent)
On my way back from feeding the chickens and picking Stinging Nettles, I noticed some Water Crescent on the side of the road and decided to forage some as well. Back home I parted with some nettle for Mrs BYF to make Ristto alle Ortiche, the rest I converted into a Pesto. I also made Watercress Pesto using the same recipe and had a comparative taste test. Nettle – 9, Watercress – 6
170 g Basil, Carrot Tops, Nettle or Cress
45 g Roasted Pine Nuts
40 g Fresh Garlic
5 g Salt
In a Mortar and Pestle crush all the ingredients very fine
270 ml Good Olive Oil
Hand mix the olive oil with the contents of the Mortar and Pestle very well
100 g Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Any strong hard grating cheese if you do not have Parmigiano
40 g Grated Pecorino Romano (Any sharp goat or sheep cheese if you do not have Pecorino) Today, I used my own home made cheese
90 g Soft unsalted Butter
Now fold the cheeses and butter into the mix
It is ready to eat, but the flavours develop and intensify over the next 24 hours
Enjoy on bread or in a pasta
Do not forget the glass of good home made wine!!!
Pesto freezes very well
Stinging Nettle Risotto
We have a friend who has a few stinging nettles growing in the chicken coop and in their vast vegetable garden. Every year at about this time we binge eat stinging nettle. We pick only the soft tips and once we have a basketfull we plan. Half goes to pesto, no question, but the rest will be used in all sorts of ways. Today the choice went to risotto. The risotto came out an intense green, hinting at the wonderful flavour, spinach like, but much tastier. I am sharing Mrs BYF’s recipe and I wish I could let you have a taste!
I use my favorite cast iron pot, big enough to make risotto for 6, but this is for 2 hungry people who will not be getting any dinner.
1 big leek or 4 or 5 little ones. I use the small tender ones from our garden green leaves and all
1 green mild chili from the garden because it was there
1 and 1/2 cup of Arborio rice
200 g or more of fresh nettles. They cook away to almost nothing
1/2 cup olive oil
700 ml of stock – I used quail stock
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmigiano for the table
Blanch the rinsed nettles in boiling water, drain and put aside.
Heat the stock and keep it lightly simmering
In the pot you will be cooking the risotto, pour the oil and add the leeks. Cook over low heat until the leeks have softened. Add the rice, stir until the first rice kernels pop. Add a ladle full of stock, stir until almost absorbed, add another ladle full and stir, add all the nettles, then keep ladling the stock on the rice and stirring. The more you stir the creamier the risotto will be. Once the rice is al dente and still very moist, almost soupy it is ready. Serve immediately sprinkled with lots of Parmigiano.
We have a lot of zucchini, as has almost every one I know. There is quite a harvest of spring onions, too. We have used up all the garden’s onions, but Mrs BYF decided to combine the lot and to use it for pasta sauces, on pizza, in frittata and fritters. The discovery we made was that slow sweated spring onion sliced finely, including the green part becomes really soft and tasty. Add the slices zucchini to that and braise over very low heat. Then, create magic by adding fresh mint and basil! It tastes so good that it may be eaten straight out of the pot in stead of being a part of another dish.
20 Spring Onions
1 Kg sliced Zucchini
1 Hand full of fresh Mint leaves
1 Hand full of Basil
6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
Cut about 1/3 off the top of the spring onions to get rid of the harder leaves. Slice the rest very finely. Fry the onions for about 5 minutes in the olive oil and then cover and sweat on very low heat until soft. Scrub the zucchini and slice very thinly. When the onion is soft add the zucchini and braise for about 10 minutes over very low heat . Add the shredded mint and basil, cover and cook on low until the flavours have blended. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Being creative in the kitchen is a lot of fun, especially if one can rely on the hunter who often brings lovely, fresh, organic rabbit. He hunts on properties where insecticides are not used, and the grass is not sprayed with hormones and other awful things. Mrs BYF has always loved chicken tikka saag, with saag in restaurants being mostly spinach, so she decided to re create the dish using a young rabbit and some tender stinging nettle tips. I do not normally enjoy Indian food, but this was delicious. What made it even more delicious is that the main ingredients were free. The rabbit was a gift and the nettles were picked by me in a friend’s vegetable garden!
1 rabbit cut up in pieces
1 cup blanched nettle tips, seeds included if they are still green
1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
1 table spoon of flour (I know this is the hard one!)
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 small chili
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, smashed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds ground
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup of stock, I used home made quail stock
Heat the oil in a pot or pan big enough to hold all the rabbit pieces lying flat. Brown the rabbit well and remove from the pan. In the same pan, fry the onion until soft then add all the other ingredients except the nettles. Fry the spices until they release their aromas. Add the nettles, the rabbit and the stock, sprinkle the flour over the mix, stir until the rabbit is covered in sauce, cover the pan and cook on medium heat for about 1 hour (this depends on the age of the rabbit) until tender.
I served the dish with a cup of cooked basmati rice, tinted a lovely yellow by adding a teaspoonful of turmeric.
Mrs BYF has done well again and we washed it all down with some home made Elderberry Wine