Friday, October 7, 2016

Cooking with Simona Part III

Yesterday after our foray into Adriana's garden, we came back to Il Granaio, our villa and had a cooking lesson with Simona ably assisted by her husband Simone.  I don't know about you, but when someone gives me cookies at 10:30 a.m. they are my friend for life.  These were awesome, too.

George shelling beans

Merlene and Dr. C. shelling beans
Our menu for the day began with fresh shelling beans, made in the style of Tuscany.

The beans are cooked in water for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender, the water is saved, and the bread is dipped into the water to soften it.  Then the beans are dressed with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil, and spooned over the bread, dressed with a bit more olive oil.  

This is a delicious first course, simple and delicious served with a crisp white wine, or a nice red.
Next up acqua cotta; the appetizer we had on our first night that we raved about.  Swiss chard from Adriana.

Chard and its stems (since they were so tender) were torn

Onions, garlic and celery are sauteed in extra virgin olive oil and then the chard is added.  

These two work so well together, it's fun to watch, Simone has opened a bottle of Simona's father's wine which was delicious

The bread is toasted, then a bit of vegetable broth is spooned on the top.  It is topped with the sauteed Swiss chard, and then some Pecorino.  In this case the cheese was from the Alto Adige region in the north and it was delicious.  
Our final dish was gnudi; it means uncovered.  The mixture is one that can be used for ravioli, but instead it is rolled into balls and then boiled for 3 to 4 minutes.  Ours was served with an elephant garlic tomato sauce. 

Once the mixture is ready, it is rolled into balls and then flour to coat
This is definitely playing with your food

I will give the recipe below

Our gnudi!
The Italians call this agnoli, the closest in the states is Elephant garlic

The garlic is minced, then sauteed in extra virgin olive oil

Once the garlic is sauteed, add about 2 cups of crushed tomatoes (these are her summer tomatoes from the garden)

A beautiful sauce that just needed a few minutes on the stove while the gnudi were cooking

Simona said an average serving is 7---I could barely finish 3, but they were worth it!

L to R:  Simona, me, Dr. C. Merlene, and George

What a morning, food, fun and great conversation learning about the life here in Castiglion Fiorentino and sharing it with this beautiful couple.  I know we will see them again when they come to San Diego in January. Anyone wanting to do a cooking class in San Diego with Simona let me know and we will see what we can persuade her to do!  If you are in Tuscany and want a cooking class she is a gifted chef, and you will enjoy every minute with her.  Now for the gnudi (when I posted the photo on instagram everyone wanted the recipe, and I'm happy to share)

Gnudi alla Simona

2 cups cooked chopped spinach, squeezed dry
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of flour  plus more for rolling
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (to taste)

In a large bowl, combine the ingredients, until they begin to come together.  Add more flour if the mixture seems wet---it should stick together so that when you roll it into a ball it shapes well. 
Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil, and add the gnudi.  Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, until the gnudi float on the top.  Remove immediately and dress with sauce.  
Traditional sauces are butter and sage, or Simona's garlic tomato sauce.  (see below)

Simona's Elephant Garlic Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cloves elephant garlic, minced
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
salt and pepper

In a saute pan, heat the oil and saute the garlic for 3 to 4 minutes over low heat.  Add the tomatoes, turn up the heat to high, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes.  
Dress the gnudi with the sauce.   

Buon Appetito, and ciao for now.  Next up pizza making with Romano and Giovanna. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you again Diane, I'm touched! I'm very happy that you had great moments! And you enjoyed my food :)