After getting through most of the holidays without eating too much, we felt fit enough to accept the invitation to lunch at the house of one of the best cooks I know: Anna, Tommaso’s aunt, who is only rivaled by her brother Enzo. Last year I wrote about my father in law’s Christmas menu, and other menus from north to south Italy. This time, if you’re curious to know what a New Years’ Day lunch might look like in Taranto, Puglia, this menu, photos and recipes might satisfy your curiosity. This menu is not necessarily traditional, but makes great use of seasonal ingredients and flavours, and although it has many courses and lasted many hours, it was relatively light.
The table was beautifully set with a linen tablecloth purchased in Vilnius in Lithuania, a centerpiece of boughs, orchids and a single candle, and white china with blue edging.
- Smoked salmon
- tuna mousse
- toast and bread
- Leek and spinach flan (see recipe below)
- Risotto al limone (see recipe below)
- Baked Branzino fish (Mediterranean sea bass)
- Mixed salad dressed with oil and lemon
- Eggplant and artichokes “sotto olio” (in oil)
- Fresh mozzarella and ricotta
- cacio cavallo and pecorino
- scamorza fresca
- to go with the cheese: thistle honey, crab apple jam, mixed berry mostarda
- bowl of raw vegetables: fennel, carrots and catalogna or puntarelle (strange green vegetable related to chicory)
- artisanal chocolate panettone
- small pastries from Bar Tripoli in Martina Franca including cassattine, cannoli, mini eclairs and others.
- soft torrone
- chocolate from Vestri (Torino)
- Ricciarelli from Siena
- oranges, clementines, bananas, persimmons, grapes
- cocktail: spritz (aperol and spumante)
- Falanghina white wine from Campania
- Liquors: grappa, rum, amaro Lucano
I asked Anna to reveal a few of her secrets for us – here are two of the highlights of our meal, which are old favourites from the magazine La Cucina Italiana.
Risotto al limone
Slightly adapted and translated from La Cucina Italiana, November 1992
for 4 people, prep time 30m
- 300g arborio rice
- 70g cream (15% fat)
- 1 chopped onion
- 40g grated Parmesan
- 2 organic lemons – zested, and one half lemon juiced
- Organic vegetable broth, 1.1 litres
- Dry white wine
- Olive oil
In a large saucepan, Finely chop the onion and sautee it in olive oil. Add the rice and toast it on high flame with a bit of wine. When the wine has evaporated, add the warm broth, prepared in a separate pan, by ladlefuls while cooking for 13-15 minutes or as per the instructions on your rice’s packaging.
When the rice is al dente, add the cream, Parmesan cheese, the juice of a half lemon, the lemon zest and some salt. Garnish with a bit of chopped parsley and lemon curls.
Slightly adapted and translated from La Cucina Italiana, November 1990
For 6 people , prep time 1 hour
- For the pasta brisée (quiche crust)
- 250g 00 flour
- 120g butter
- For the filling
- 400g chopped leeks
- 100g boiled chopped spinach
- 100g milk
- 65g ice water
- 80g emmenthal cheese
- 3 eggs
- Olive oil, salt, pepper
Make the pie crust: on a pastry board or large flat bowl, put the flour in a pile, and cut in the butter (softened and cut into pieces). Make a crevice in the center and add the ice water and a pinch of salt. Knead until unified. Wrap and put in fridge for half an hour.
For the filling: sauté the chopped white part of the leeks in olive oil. Add the spinach, salt and pepper, sauté together.
Prepare a pie dish by buttering and flouring it. Roll out the dough and put in the container. Prick with a fork or use weights to keep it from bubbling. Put in the preheated oven at 200c for 10/15min.
Remove from the oven. Lay the cheese along the bottom of the crust. Then add the sautéed vegetables.
Mix together milk and eggs, salt and pepper, and pour into the crust.
Bake for further 20m or more until cooked, still at 200c.
We’re off to bed without dinner now. A wonderful time was had by all. Happy 2013, everyone!