PRODUCTS OF THE TERRITORY
In addition to olive oil, many estates realise niche products, such as the traditional and precious sulphur beans, the pink chickpeas of Reggello, the potatoes of Pratomagno, and characteristic processed pork meats.
TYPICAL TUSCAN RECIPES
In a fairly large salad bowl put a head of ricciolina lettuce that has been washed and cut up. Add small lumps of chicory, an apple cut into thin slices, half a grapefruit in pieces, and a handful of shelled walnuts. Mix and then dress with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.
Drain 200 grams of black olives. Chop them together with half a clove of garlic and a fresh spring onion. Pour the chopped mixture into a bowl and amalgamate it with a pinch of salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Toast slices of Tuscan bread and spread the cream obtained over them.
YELLOW POLENTA WITH OIL
Boil salted water in a very large saucepan. Slowly add 350 grams of corn meal, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Regulate the consistency to taste by adding boiling water or more corn meal. When the polenta is cooked (it takes about 30’), detach it from the saucepan with a wooden spatula rinsed in cold water and turn it out on a cutting board. Slice the polenta using colourless thread, and season it with extra-virgin olive oil and freshly-ground pepper.
CABBAGE WITH TOASTED BREAD SLICES
In a saucepan of salted water that has already begun to boil, put six good-sized “hearts” of black cabbage. Toast six slices of bread and rub them with garlic. Rapidly soak them in the water in which the cabbage is boiling, and then arrange them on a serving plate. Drain the cooked cabbage thoroughly and put a cabbage heart or two on each slice. Season with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Mix extra-virgin olive oil with lemon and freshly-ground pepper. This condiment can be used to give flavour to fish (or to boiled and roast meats), salad, or cooked vegetables. By adding white wine, a stewing liquid can be obtained that will give flavour to frozen fish or seafood.
OIL SPICED WITH HOT RED PEPPERS AND GARLIC
Take two small spicy red peppers and the cloves of a head of garlic, skinned and without the tips, and let them steep for at least fifteen days in half a litre of extra-virgin olive oil. The spiced oil can be used to dress pasta, grilled red meats, or cooked vegetables.
PANZANELLA [SUMMER SALAD]
Put slices of stale Tuscan-type bread to soften in cold water. Wring them out well with your hands. Crumble the bread in a salad bowl, add two ripe tomatoes cut into pieces, two sliced cucumbers, a red onion sliced thinly, and several basil leaves. Mix and then dress with vinegar, salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Boil 400 grams of beans, possibly zolfini [sulphur beans], in an earthenware saucepan with cold water, a clove of garlic and a stick of celery. Cook over a very slow fire: there must be abundant water because it will be needed later to soak the bread. Add salt to the beans only a moment before removing them from the fire. Take a good-sized bunch of black-cabbage shoots, no longer than 15 cm, and scald them in very little water. Chop the leaves coarsely and put the pieces into a frying pan with quarter of a decilitre of extra-virgin olive oil together with well-chopped celery sticks, a white potato, two carrots cut into rounds, a cluster of six or seven tomatoes, salt and freshly-ground pepper (if desired). Brown for two or three minutes, add a ladle of the water used to boil the beans, and cook over a slow fire for half an hour. After two hours from the cooking, remove half of the sulphur beans from the saucepan and put them through the vegetable mill. Put the other half aside in a warm place. Filter their cooking water into the pan where the cabbage leaves are cooking. Continue the cooking over a slow flame for another 30 minutes. In another earthenware pan place finely-cut slices of Tuscan bread baked over a wood fire and that is at least 6 days old. Bathe them with the vegetable broth, add a little of the whole beans, a little cabbage, other slices of bread, and so on. Put the second oven dish in the oven at 130° for half an hour or, covered, for 45 minutes over a very gentle flame. The “ribollita” must be dense, velvety and homogeneous. It should be eaten hot or tepid, seasoned with Pratomagno extra virgin olive oil.