Tag Archives: hazelnuts

Lentil Celeriac Salad

No resolutions for this year, and most of all, no “best of” for the year which just ended. 2012 has been, for the most part, stressful, challenging, mentally and physically tiring. There have been a lot of highlights, of course, and most of them have happened outside of these pages, in sudden, unexpected, unplanned moments. Yes, 2012 has been so necessary for my personal growth, and I am so grateful for it to be in my records. But now, I’m also quite grateful for it to be over.

The way we (Italians) say goodbye to the old year (and perhaps, the old self) and welcome the new one is lentils and cotechino, each symbolising wealth and good luck. But as you might know by now, boiled cartilaginous sausage, for good that it might be, is just not in our favour. We were left with the lentils. We love lentils, we adore them, but we find sometimes difficult to make them feel, well, festive; or fit into the idea of a “special meal”, they are usually part of our everyday diet anyway.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup

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.

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No-Knead Ciabatta with Hazelnuts

This no knead ciabatta belongs to the famous no-knead bread family, and it’s as simple to make following similar steps. The result is rustic, savoury bread is excellent for making Italian style crostini (small, open-faced sandwiches), bruschette (larger than crostini), and cicchetti (small bites, Venetian style) with cured meats like prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele, sopressapancettalardo di Colonnata, or even fresh cheeses like casatella or stracchino, topped with seasonal vegetables such as radicchio or carciofi (artichokes). Sliced, it makes a great carrier for baccalà mantecato or brandade (creamed cod). It also produces some excellent panini imbottiti (stuffed sandwiches). For a sweet take, try it with ricotta and honey for breakfast.

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