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

Recipe meringues

Recipes for meringues with egg whites and sugar have been known for centuries, but the name meringue allegedly derives from the Swiss town Meiringen. In this town an Italian chef prepared the confection.According to a special edition of La Cucina Italiana on‘Dolci, torte & dessert’ from 2007, professionals distinguish between ‘Meringa italiana’ made with hot melted sugar and ‘Meringa francese’, where ordinary castor sugar is whipped with the egg whites.

I use the French version from a ‘let’s produce less dish washing’ point of view, and it works fine, as long as you remember to beat the egg whites soft to firm before adding the sugar. Otherwise the mixture will never get stiff.Another important rule for meringues making, which I failed to observe in this instance, is to let the cookies dry instead of baking them. As a result my meringues appear slightly tanned, while they should be white like a wedding dress. After all, the piercing sweetness of the meringue goes well with the grand romantic occasions – and an ordinary cup of coffee.

2 egg whites
100 g sugar

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Add sugar and continue beating the mixture, until the peaks are stiff and stays in the bowl even if it is turned upside down.
Spoon the egg whites and sugar into a pastry bag (a bag of plastic, where you cut a corner also serves the purpose).
Make small tops on a pre-greased baking sheet.
Leave the meringues to dry in the oven at 100 C (210 F) for about an hour until they are light and crisp.

If you like this meringues recipe you might also like these other Italian cookies:

Caramel puffs

Torta Sbrisolona – huge polenta biscuit from Mantova

Halloween cookies recipe from Italy

Recipe meringues

Saltimbocca veal scallops

Saltimbocca alla Romana
Saltimbocca veal  alla Romana are scallops stuffed with ham and mozzarella and one of the best dishes ever invented.

Saltimbocca ‘jumps into the mouth’ as one of the most simple and loved Italian meat dishes. It is also a dish with numerous variations. Some claims authentic Saltimbocca alla Romana should be made with boiled ham and no cheese. Others prefer cheese and dried ham. Some fry the scallops in butter, while others choose olive oil. And then there are those who braise the meat in white wine to ensure extra sauce.

I prefer this recipe, though I am not quite sure who to credit for the invention. Probably it is coined from several different cookbooks, but it is really good and incredibly fast cooked. And it always reminds me of my Italian sage bush, which flowers with purple-bluish bells over dusted soft green leaves every early in the spring.

Serves 4
4 veal scallops
4 slices of prosciutto crudo
1 mozzarella in four pieces
Sage leaves, salt and pepper

Spice one side of the meat with salt, pepper and sage.

Wrap a piece of mozzarella in prosciutto. Place the cheese/ham filling on the veal and fasten with a toothpick (or three). Prepare the other scallops the same way.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and fry both sides of the veal over moderately high heat until they are done and golden brown. Hopefully, the mozzarella will stay inside.

If you wish more sauce than a scarpette dipping, you can boil off the frying pan with dry white wine.

Serve with bread.

saltimbocca veal

Other delicious veal recipes:

Stuffed veal rollups

Meat rolls from Marche

Veal scallops in marsala

Veal scallops with mushrooms

Stuffed breast of veal

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.