Sweet and sour carrots

Carote in agrodolce
There are generally seven types of cold Italian antipasti: the pickled sweet and sour carrots recipe belongs to the sott’aceto category.

There are generally seven types of cold Italian antipasti: Sott’aceto, sott’olio, sotto sale, a base di carne, a base di pesce, a base di formaggio and a base di pane. This recipe from Piemonte belongs to the first category, and it is very good this time of year, when you have a craving for salads and fresh vegetables.

Yet the tasty, sweet and sour carrots are preserved and may keep for weeks in a clean, airtight container. They are really easy to prepare and easier still to serve along with other antipasti sott’aceto such as olives, onions, cucumbers and artichokes. Especially, if you are entertaining many guests and wish to show off with a full plate of delicious starters.

½ kg peeled carrots
100 ml vinegar made on white wine
100 ml dry white wine
100 ml water
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
2 cloves of garlic
2 bayleaves
Fresh mint, rosemary, parsley
Salt and pepper

Slice the carrots or cut them up into long juillienne sticks.
Place the carrots and the peeled cloves of garlic in a casserole with water, wine and vinegar. And sugar, oil and herbs, and let it boil for 8-10 minutes until the carrots are al dente.
Remove the herbs and transfer the carrots to a clean glass.
Cover with the boiling liquid, and leave the carrots in the fridge for a day or two. (They are delicious from day one, but a rest may improve the taste further.)
Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves before serving.

Other preserves to supplement sweet and sour carrots 

Burrata with pickled aubergine

Make sauerkraut – sour cabbage

Preserving artichokes

Sweet and sour carrots

Fresh ravioli with ricotta filling

Ravioli con ricotta
The secret behind fresh ravioli with ricotta filling and other good homemade pasta is hard work. You really have to knead the dough thoroughly for a long time in order to obtain a passable texture. That’s why pasta machines are a tremendous help.

Another secret is the absence of eggs – at least to begin with for the inexperienced pasta maker. Most pasta recipes operate with one egg for each serving, which would be enough put an entire family down with acute cholesterol chock. Especially, if you are Italian and eat pasta every day. In my experience, eggs tend to make the pasta heavy and soggy, while I prefer a lighter, fluffy version. The south Italian housewives I have consulted also ban the use of eggs, except perhaps for filled pasta, but they are not that orthodox in their pasta with or without eggs habits. Still, none of them would ever dream of adding salt to the dough. Pasta should be salted though the boiling water. Basta.

As long as you follow these three rules, the result will be truly awesome.

For the pasta:
250 g pasta flour
200 ml tap water

For the filling
150 g fresh ricotta
4 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tsp grated nutmeg

For the sauce
50 g shelled walnuts
1 garlic clove
50 ml olive oil
2 tbsp crunchy fried pancetta or prosciutto crudo in tiny cubes

Make a volcano of flour on a clean table. Pour a little more than half the water in the middle of the mount and use a fork to stir in flour. Add more water gradually, till you have a tough dough. Use the heal of your hands when the fork is no longer useful and knead the dough together. Keep kneading for at least 10 minutes or use a pasta machine.

Run the dough through the pasta machine once. If the edges are frayed, add more water, and if the dough seems sticky, add more flour. Roll the pasta through the machine at least ten times at max width (to make up for ten minutes kneading).

Keep rolling the dough to a thin sheet, while you decrease the width gradually, one step at a time. Cut the pasta out in squares or circles.

Leave the pasta on wire rack covered by a clean tea towel.

Mix ricotta with grated parmesan and nutmeg for the filling.

Put the mixture in a plastic bag, cut off one corner, and place a top of filling on every other pasta square/circle. Cover with another pasta square/circle, and make sure to press the edges together. If the dough has the right texture, the pasta will close tight around the filling, but you can seal too dry pasta shapes with a drop of water.

For sauce pound walnuts and garlic in a mortar. Fry the mixture lightly in olive oil.
Fill a large pan with water and bring it to the boil. Add 1-2 tbsp salt. Boil the ravioli 3-4 minutes until they are al dente. Drain and place in a warm service dish with sauce and a topping of fried pancetta.

Other homemade pasta recipes to supplement fresh ravioli with ricotta filling:

Gorgonzola pasta

Homemade ravioli recipe with radicchio filling

Tasty pecorino stuffed ravioli from Sardinia – Culingionis


Fresh ravioli with ricotta filling

Photo of stracotto beef stew

Stracotto beef stew

Stracotto beef stew should be left to simmer for hours on the stove. The result is slow food of the unpretentious, old-fashioned kind.

Baccalà Mantecato: Salt cod spread from Venice

Baccalà Mantecato: Salt cod spread from Venice

Baccalà Mantecato is dried salted cod, boiled it in milk with garlic and served as mash on a piece of toasted bread. A true delicacy from Venice.