I owe an explanation for my silence… 1) work–very hectic… 2) going home the weekend just past, to do some paperwork with my Dad and also to see my Mum.
Being in Rome was a welcome, if short, pause, which reminded me of what Autumn (well, it was much warmer than the averages, almost feeling like September !) means in Italy!
Plentiful Romanesco cauliflower–the green ones with an arrow point!–chestnuts, walnuts still slightly soft and big bunches of Italia and Regina grapes, yay, a real paradise! On Saturday we enjoyed a leisurely family lunch–my Mum had made me a fab minestrone with beans and fresh veg, the full works and in addition there were tagliatelle with homemade Bolognese sauce and for the meat-eaters, veal roast cooked on top! My cousins had brought home made tiramisu, which was a treat for all concerned too.
In the evening I took my time to make dinner for me and my parents… outside the local Church (I went to vigil mass) they were selling chesnuts in aid of a project seeking to construct hydraulic mains in Mato Grosso, hence, idea–how about having them for dinner? plus a morning visit to the local market had seen me bringing home a large Romanesco and plenty of fresh herbs… all I needed for a gratin!
So, here goes–this gratin can be made with all floreted cruciferous, i.e. romanesco, cauliflower and even broccoli.
Ingredients (depending on the dimension of the cauliflower it can feed up to 6 people as a side dish; if having as main, count 2 per cauliflower)
1 romanesco, cut in florets and washed thoroughy
2 cloves garlic
80g fresh breadcrumbs
a handful fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dry)2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for the tin), -salt and pepper to taste
In a pan of boiling water blanch the florets for about 7/8 minutes; drain well.
Heat the oven to 180C; in a blender, whizz the breadcrumbs with the garlic, olive oil, parsley and salt and pepper.
Oil an oven tin or dish and place the florets in it, then top with the crumb mixture, drizzling with a tiny bit more oil.
Bake at 180C for about 25 min til bubbly and golden brown; this can be served on its own with slices of sourdough bread or can be a good accompaniment for pasta–cook your favourite shape til al dente then add them to the oven dish and return to the oven for the final 5/6 min cooking time for the cauliflower.
Chestnuts… well, everyone likes them roasted on the fire! 🙂 But I am quite partial to the boiled ones! Simply put them in a pan of cold water, bring it to the boil and let them simmer away for about 45 minutes. They are delicious peeled and eaten as they are. Or they can be mashed, mixed with rosemary, a bit of salt, olive oil and 3/4 tbsp chestnut or polenta flour (the recipe often calls for adding pinenuts and raisins if you like, and they do taste lovely in it! I also like almond flakes!) and then spread on an oiled tray; bake this at 200C for about 40 minutes–it is my version of delicious castagnaccio, of which there are many regional varieties in Italy!
This is a good Italian page: http://www.cookaround.com/cucina-regionale/emilia-romagna/torte-di-frutta/castagnaccio and I like the images!
Alternatively, for any English speakers… 🙂
OK–15 min lunch break over… talk soon, promise!