Monday, 30 November -0001

Eat like an Italian

Follow Ron Suhanosky’s convivial and delicious Mediterranean-inspired recipes and suddenly the January diet doesn’t seem quite so depressing.

Written by Carolyn Hart
Outside, the rain sleets down and temperatures lurch between cold and damp and cold and freezing. Inside, the temple that is your body is looking decidedly run down – and a ghastly dilemma presents itself: eat to keep warm, or eat to improve your sad and lumpy self in time for the summer hols.

A solution is at hand, however – The Italian Table. This is a chirpy book written by an American chef whose roots reside in Italy, specifically at his great-grandmother Big Nonne's Tuscan table. Ron – could there be a less-Italian-sounding name – Suhanosky used to run Sfoglia restaurant on Nantucket and Manhattan. He's big in US food and indeed his first book Pasta Sfoglia won a James Beard Award (the Oscars of the food world) in 2010.

sprouting-broccoliThe Italian Table is a follow-up – a great mix of heartening and traditional home recipes all exhibiting that peculiarly Italian trait of being both filling and terrifically good for you (even thinning). They exude healthiness in other words – just the thing for fillthy January.

Being Italian by upbringing, Ron's recipes all centre on the idea of large family gatherings. He believes that 'every recipe starts at the table... what's most important is getting everyone to the table to 9780857830449eat come in famiglia'. To this end he's divided his book into sections serving different numbers of people, ranging from 'Just Us' (4-6) to 'Having Company' (6-8) and 'Celebrations' (10 or more). Thus, if you're having company (and this book will be especially helpful if you're unused to feeding large numbers), you can give your eager guests a classic Ribollita or gorgeous iceberg wedges with creamy gorgonzola dressing (absolutely delicious).

'Celebrations' includes lentil soup with Italian sausage. 'Just Us' has a really brilliant recipe for whole roasted cauliflower in olive oil with spices – cheap, good for you and totally different from familiar (and frequently reviled by one's children) cauliflower cheese. The recipes below, Sprouting broccoli, Castelluccio lentil soup, and Shaved celery with figs and Gorgonzola, carry on the theme of healthy and convivial eating – and might even render you brave enough for a summer bikini.

 The Italian Table by Ron Suhanosky, photography by Alberto Peroli, is published by Kyle Books, priced £20.

SPROUTING BROCCOLI

brocoli

SERVES 4-6

  • 2 tablespoons, plus
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 900g sprouting broccoli, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper

1. Fill a stockpot half full with water, add 2 tablespoons of the salt and bring to the boil over a high heat. Prepare an ice bath. Blanch the broccoli by dropping it into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove the broccoli from the pot, plunge into the ice bath and drain in a colander.

2. Place the grapeseed oil and garlic in a 25cm frying pan over a medium heat. Lightly sauté for 1 minute, ensuring that it does not colour or burn (lower the heat and/or remove the pan from the heat if necessary). Add the drained broccoli to the pan and lightly toss for 2-3 minutes to cook evenly. Add the chilli fl akes, lemon juice, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, and serve.


 

CASTELLUCCIO LENTIL SOUP WITH RENDERED SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE

soup

SERVES 10 OR MORE

  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 2 medium celery stalks, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 450g sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 900g Castelluccio lentils
  • 2 fresh sage sprigs
  • 1.9 litres water
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil for garnish, optional

1. Place the carrots, onions and celery in the bowl of a food processor with the blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Place the grapeseed oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent – 2-3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the lentils and sage and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until lentils are lightly toasted.

3. Add the water, increase the heat and bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the lentils are tender. Add the salt and pepper and taste for seasoning, adding more if necessary. Transfer the soup to bowls, garnish each portion with about ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, if desired, and serve hot.


 

SHAVED CELERY WITH FIGS, GORGONZOLA, HAZELNUTS AND BALSAMIC VINEGAR

celery-salad

SERVES 8-10

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 15 medium celery stalks
  • 680g fresh fi gs, cut into quarters (dried figs can be substituted)
  • 450g Gorgonzola piccante, crumbled into 1cm pieces
  • 200g hazelnuts, skins removed, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper

1. Place the lemon juice in a large, stainless-steel bowl about two-thirds filled with cold water. Using a very sharp knife, cut the celery stalks on an angle into slices about 10cm long and as thin as possible (about 2mm), adding the slices to the lemon water immediately. When all the celery is sliced, add a tray of ice cubes to the water and place the bowl in the fridge for 3 hours. Remove the bowl from the fridge, transfer the celery to a large sieve or colander and drain for 20 minutes.

2. Place the figs, crumbled Gorgonzola and hazelnuts in another large, stainless-steel bowl. Add the celery, dress the salad with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and toss thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large platter and serve.

Timing: Chill the shaved celery in the fridge for 3 hours before you make the salad.




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