Autumn-Inspired Italian Comfort Food
You’d be forgiven for writing off seasonal eating as just another food trend. It can be hard enough to reach the recommended serves of fruit and veg per day (2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of veg a day, in case you were wondering), let alone worry about eating seasonally.
Eating produce that is “in season” basically means eating fruits and vegetables that naturally grow and are ready to be harvested at the same time of year you are eating them. For instance, in Australia, blackberries, blueberries and cherries are available during the summer months. If you eat them in summer, you are eating seasonal produce.
While we aren’t taking a stance on seasonal eating, we here at Handyman can definitely acknowledge its benefits.
Firstly, eating seasonally is cheaper. When produce is in season, there is an abundance of it and therefore it is cheaper. We all know how costly it is to buy fresh blueberries in the middle of winter! For this reason alone it is worth knowing what fruit and veg are in season so that you can plan recipes that are budget-friendly.
Secondly, eating seasonal produce can result in more flavoursome food. If you are buying blueberries in winter, chances are they aren’t coming from any farm in Australia. That means they will have been imported from overseas and therefore probably picked before they are ripe to ensure they don’t rot before reaching their destination. If you are buying blueberries when they are in season, chances are they are coming from a more local source and are thus, much fresher.
Another benefit of eating seasonally is, of course, that you can eat out of your own garden! Those of you with flourishing vegie gardens most likely already adpot seasonal styles of eating as you are cooking what food is available to you.
So while eating only seasonal produce may not be viable, taking note of what fruit and vegies are in season is certainly beneficial.
To help you with ideas we’ve gotten our hands on two ridiculously delicious autumn-inspired Italian recipes from the newly released cookbook: Luca’s Seasonal Journey by international chef Luca Ciano.
Luca grew up in Milan, Italy and has worked in top restaurants around the world. Luca’s Seasonal Journey showcases Italian recipes that focus on fresh, seasonal produce. It is a cook’s guide through the four seasons with specific recipes for summer, autumn, winter and spring.
The two recipes we are going to share with you are both autumnal.
To find out what is in season in Australia during the autumn months visit Seasonal Food Guide Australia.
Luca’s Seasonal Journey is published by New Holland Publishers and retails for $49.99.
Pappardelle with goat ragu, chestnuts and baked ricotta
Pappardelle con ragu’ di capretto, castagne e ricotta al forno
Preparation 20 mins
Cooking time 2 hours
125 ml (4 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1⁄2 carrot, finely chopped
1⁄2 bunch celery, finely chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon dried chili
300 g (10 oz) goat meat (shoulder or leg), diced 2 cm (3⁄4 in) cubes
250ml (8 fl oz) red wine
250 g (8 oz) tomatoes, peeled
220 ml (7 fl oz) beef stock
3 juniper berries
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
Salt and pepper
250 g (8 oz) egg pappardelle
125 g (4 oz) chestnuts, cooked and sliced
50 g (13⁄4 oz) ricotta salata (salted ricotta), grated
100 g (31⁄2 oz) baked ricotta, crumbled
20 ml (2⁄3 fl oz) truffle oil (optional)
In a large casserole pot, add a little olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, celery and chili and cook until onion is golden.
Add the meat, season and sear, then add the wine and allow to evaporate by half. Add the tomatoes and the stock. Add the herbs and spices and bring to simmer. Let meat and spices cook for 1 hour with a lid on. Remove the lid and cook for a further 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Season to taste.
Bring plenty of water to the boil in a large pot, (1 1⁄2 teaspoons of rock salt per 1 L or 32 fl oz of water for 100 g or 3 1⁄ 2 oz pasta). Once boiling, add the pasta and stir well. Cook according to the directions on the packet or until pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce for 1 minute. Add the chestnuts and ricotta salata. Stir and remove from heat.
Serve with crumbled baked ricotta and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil (if using).
To make baked ricotta spread fresh ricotta in a layer 3 cm (11⁄4 in) thick on baking paper on a flat tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for 15 minutes, or until golden. You can also buy it in Italian delis or specialty stores.
Pear, cloves and chocolate cakes
Torta di pere e cioccolato con chiodi di garofalo
Preparation time 15 mins
Cooking time 45 mins
165 g (51⁄2 oz) pure superfine (castor) sugar
180 g (6 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
11⁄2 tablespoons baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 lemon, rind, finely grated
3 firm pears, peeled, cored
2 tablespoons raw sugar
60 g (2 oz) dark chocolate (min 70 cocoa)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
You may prefer to bake in one tin: either a 22 cm (81⁄2 in) pie dish or 20 cm (8 in) round cake tin would be ideal.