September in North East Italy (the hilly area of my origin) is the time when most fruit is plentiful. Grapes, white peaches from the hills, figs, apples, pears, and towards the end of the month, chestnuts, almonds, walnuts, the hills hazelnuts, and fungi from the woods. This is reflected in the dishes served in the surrounding homes during the month. A favourite in my home was the young green pumpkin that my Auntie Maria used to serve to us, stewed.
FICHI CON PROSCIUTTO
(Figs with Ham)
8 good sized fresh figs
16 slices of Parma Ham
16 Cherry tomatoes
16 small sprigs of basil
1. Cut off the top of the figs
2. Wrap one slice of ham around each fig
3. Place them in sets of two, side by side on a large serving tray
4. Arrange the remaining ham around them using your own imagination
5. Make an incision in the cherry tomatoes and insert a small sprig of basil into each one
6. Place them around the figs
Breadsticks or melba toast work well served with the figs.
For this recipe, dried figs can be used. The figs must be soaked in water and wine (red or white) overnight. Drain them well before use. Depending on the size of the figs 3 per person may be used.
TROTA ALLE MANDORLE
(Serves 4 People)
4 Rainbow trout (with head and tail removed if preferred)
150g flaked almonds
100g unsalted butter
2 lemons cut in half (round the middle)
Sprigs of parsley
1. Wash well and rub the scales off the fish
2. Wash again and dry with kitchen paper
3. Beat the eggs well into a shallow tray
4. In a similar tray, place the flaked almond
5. Roll the fish, first into the beaten egg, and then into the almonds making sure all the fish is coated with almonds
6. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides and place it on to a well-oiled oven tray
7. Cook in a heated oven at 180ºC for 25 minutes. If the almonds start over colouring, lower the temperature to 140ºC
8. Dress the fish on a serving dish
9. Melt the butter and cook it until nut brown and pour it over the trout after having added all the remainder of the almonds
10. Decorate with the lemon halves and parsley and serve with brown rolls.
Small boiled potatoes and a mixed salad work well as a side dish. Also, Orvieto Classico is a wine that pairs well with this dish.
PERE AL VINO ROSSO
(Pears with Red Wine)
(Serves 4 People)
4 large pears, ripe but firm
1 bottle of table red wine (reasonably priced)
5g mixed spice
150g soft brown sugar
200g clotted cream
4 mint flowers
1. Wash and peel the pears, removing the seeds and core but retaining the stalk.
2. Place them, upright, in a suitable saucepan, cover them with the wine and bring the lot to a boil then simmer until a sharp knife can pierce them without encountering resistance.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and, keeping it covered, keep in a cool place overnight if possible, but at least until all is cold, then take the pears out of the wine and let them drain.
4. Place the brown sugar and spices in a shallow tray and roll the pears in it, making sure they are fully covered with sugar.
5. Stand them up in individual suitable dishes, sprinkle the remaining sugar over them and place the mint on the stalks.
6. Serve the clotted cream separately in a suitable bowl
A Sauterne or other sweet wine would work well with this dish. The red wine can be drunk or saved to use in other dishes.
LE ZUCCOTTE DI ZIA MARIA
(Aunty Maria’s Pumpkin Recipe)
(Serves 4 to 6 People)
2x 400g green pumpkins (or the equivalent weight in courgettes)
1 red onion, cut small
1 large stick of celery, chopped
½ tin of chopped Italian tomatoes
30g of chopped parsley
30ml of olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Wash the pumpkins, and discard their tops and
- In a large, non-stick pan, fry the onion and celery in the hot oil
- Cut the pumpkins into 2cm cubes and add it to the onions
- Cook in hot heat, stirring for at least 5 minutes
- Add the tomatoes, season stirring well for a further 5 minutes
- Reduce the heat and let it simmer, stirring from time to time, making sure it does not stick to the bottom
- The dish is ready when the pumpkin is soft.
- Correct the seasoning, sprinkle the parsley all over, and serve as an accompaniment to grilled or pan fried meat and poultry
Buon Appetito Giovanni Fontebasso