Eating with the seasons has this magic feeling to me –my imagination is boosted to greater heights with every dish. I am deeply convinced that nature knows best, and all I can do is second it. Saying that colours signal specific health benefits, and that nature gives us certain foods in a specific season to meet our bodies’ needs is nothing new. However, it is an often forgotten or neglected principle. An easier way to remember could be by means of colour coding: eating with the seasons often means eating with colours. For this reason, the colour of this salad is unforgettably bound to the colour of winter.
Back home (the old home) for a while, I found myself surrounded by well-known feelings, situations, and habits. I also found myself surrounded by grandma’s and grandpa’s food again: chicken, eggs, frozen vegetables picked during summertime, and fresh winter produce, such as Savoy cabbage and cauliflowers.
My grandpa for some reasons that he is not willing to explain plants a huge amount of cauliflowers. He doesn’t like them so much, he says –perhaps because he doesn’t want to be bothered cooking them, so we end up with tonnes of them in our refrigerator every other day. Tonnes.
In my family, cauliflowers have always been eaten steamed or boiled, seasoned with garlic, olive oil and salt, period. Never a soup, never raw, never roasted. Only when I went to live by myself did I discover other ways of making good use of this delicious winter vegetable: pasta, soup, stews and raw couscous.
Yet, I never roasted it before. And when I finally did, it was a bit of a revelation. The roasting process caramelises cauliflower’s sugars and brings out all their sweetness, giving them that lovely brown colour with dark, crispy edges. You can use them simply like that (or mashed) as a side dish, or go ahead and make the soup.
I made this smoked trout and lentil salad as part of a New Year’s Eve spread, alongside some more seafood delights, but I can picture it being delicious on its own, too, especially if washed down with a glass of crisp white wine.
We packed, we moved, we unpacked. We lost our Christmas mood somewhere in between, maybe among some of the bags and suitcases.
We have had very little time for holiday gift lists and shopping, so I relied on homemade gifts. I made this granola for those in my family who like to eat cereals for breakfast. I wanted to make something special and different from what they could find in a normal food store – something that tasted like Christmas, a familiar flavour of the holidays.
I chose to make it with many of the ingredients found in Panettone, the traditional Italian Christmas cake: raisins, candied citrus peel, orange and vanilla. A good and healthier alternative to a slice of Panettone for breakfast during the holidays, but without giving up its lovely, warming and festive flavour.
A few weeks ago, on a foggy Sunday afternoon, we drove from Bra to Cervere, a village known for being home to the best leeks in the whole of Italy, to secure our stash for the season.
The first thing I made with these huge, beautiful leeks is risotto – a simple dish made special by local, quality ingredients, and enriched by a good deal of savoury sausage for good measure. A perfect winter warmer.