Monday, August 15, 2016

Jewels of summer

Mellow yellow.
It has definitely been a great year (so far) for the tomatoes. It's mid-August and tomatoes are ripening at a rapid rate.  Trust me, I'm not complaining about eating tomatoes at every meal because soon enough they will be a distant memory and the greenhouse/imported varieties pale in comparison to the gems ripening in the back garden.

We planted several heirloom varieties and are already planning next years crop. Yellow grapes, pears, green zebras and a striped german (the dark orange one with the pink blush - all pictured above) made fantastic salads and bruschetta toppings.

We started our Ferragosto meal with this blend of chopped tomatoes, dressed with salt and pepper, a smattering of herbs and a good glug of Sardegnian olive oil atop grilled bread. 

Buon Ferragosto everyone!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Pesto revisited.

This is the time of year when the anticipation of the garden is just about fully realised.  August is here and the abundance of vegetables is well on it's way. The cucumber, zucchini flowers and pale green zucchini have been around for a few weeks now, some deep purple eggplant have been sliced for the grill and I've had the first tomatoes (showing their many colours) in a spectacular salad. 

But before all that, there's the scent of basil.  The aromatic arrival of the tender new basil crop, in all it's fragrant glory, is essential to complement all of the above mentioned vegetables, adorn pizza and provide the verde in insalata caprese.  That said, it also makes for a wonderful solo act.

-Pesto -
Large bunch of basil, trimmed of any stemmy bits.
I use a mortar and pestle and follow Jamie Oliver's recipe, more or less.

On classic, handmade trofie with a few tender green beans, filej or other spiral pasta where the basil-y goodness can gather, pesto is particularly satisfying.  However, not a total stickler for authenticity, any sturdy long or tubular penne-type or garganelli will do if you need a basil fix..

Another interesting gem I have found to coat pasta is a carrot top pesto.  It's spectacular on roasted carrots and if you've got a bit leftover from the carrot dish, it's tasty on pasta as well.

Wine: Inspired by the herbal aromas, I opened a bottle of Astrolabe Sauvignon blanc.  Classic Marlborough matches well, as would a solid RSA Chenin blanc (generally under-rated good value too).  If you favour keeping things Italian, almost all of the Italian wine regions have a food friendly white on offer.  A few immediate favourites come to mind: Soave, Pinot grigio from Friuli or Roero Arneis  - all very good.


Tuesday, August 02, 2016


Sometimes the simplest of recipes are the best treat and Nacatole are one of those traditional Calabrese cookies that are, in my opinion, a 'must try' whenever you are fortunate enough to visit Calabria.  I was gifted an enormous tray of these cookies by a dear family friend when visiting Calabria nearly two years ago and, most recently, a lovely bag of them appeared in Canada courtesy of my suocera's cousin.  Given the state of air travel today (and the cost of checked cases), I'd have been grateful for one cookie smuggled over in cling film.

Nacatole aren't sweet or spiced.  Rather, they let the flour, eggs and oil shine in their distinctive ladder shape.  Baked to a crunchy, espresso dunkable consistency, they are a nice way to cap off a meal or, with fruit and yoghurt, a good start to the day.