Spiced Wine ~ Vin Brule'

Recipe for Italian Spiced Wine ~ Vin Brule'

1 liter of red wine ~ 1 litro vino rosso
100 grams of sugar ~ 100 gr zucchero
a few cloves ~ alcuni chiodi di garofano
a stick of cinnamon ~ una stecca di cannella
a bit of nutmeg ~ un po' di noce moscata
lemon peel grated (or half lemon, half orange peel) ~ una scorza di un limone oppure una scorza di mezzo limone e mezza di arancia

Bring all ingredients to a low boil & add the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved - lower flame. Filter or strain. Serve warm & enjoy!

Bollire fino a quando si scioglie lo zucchero, levare dal fuoco e filtrare con una tela bagnata. Servire caldo.

Peperonata ~ Stewed Peppers and Grilled Sausages ~ Perfect for the Game

This year we had over 80 pepper plants in the ground yielding hundreds of pounds of peppers!! Needless to say we ate A LOT of peppers this summer & fall! They have such a great flavor & we used them in tons of dishes. But everyone's favorite is peperonata or stewed peppers. They are delicious piled on crostini to soak up the juices or even better with grilled sausages - awesome! (Not to mention - this is THE perfect lunch or dinner to feed a hungry crowd for a football game!)

Stewed Peppers

4-5 bell peppers, cut into large pieces, cleaned
a big handful of whole cherry tomatoes
1 yellow onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil

  • In a large skillet or pot , heat 1/3 cup of olive oil.
  • Saute garlic until golden brown & then discard.
  • Reduce heat to low & slowly saute the onion 12 - 15 minutes until well cooked. but do not brown it.
  • Raise heat & add peppers.
  • Season with plenty of salt & pepper.
  • Allow peppers to cook, stirring frequently 10 minutes until the ends start to shrivel.
  • At this point, throw in your cherry tomatoes & allow to cook another 10 -15 minutes until the peppers are soft & not mushy and the cherry tomatoes have let their juices out.
  • Taste to check the seasonings.
  • Serve hot, warm or cold.

a perfect pepper from our garden


Lasagna ahhh, a classic meaty cheesy mess. But it doesn't always have to be - This recipe however is one of my favorites & not that cheesy Italian restaurant cliche'. The key is to use fresh pasta in this recipe - for a lasagna that is light & delicate. If possible use your own tomatoes, we use jarred tomatoes from the garden - you just can't get that kinda flavor from a store bought jar.


Ragu (see recipe)
Parmesan cheese
4 sheets of pasta to cover your dish

In your casserole dish ladle a little of the ragu.

In plenty of boiling salted water, cook your pasta until a bit further than al dente. Cook only 1 -2 sheets at a time (otherwise they will stick & it will be a mess)

Lay down the sheet of pasta in your dish, ok if it comes up over the edge of the dish (that will make for the good crunch bits!)

Add a ladle of ragu - cover completely but don’t over do it - less is more.

Dot bechamel.

Now a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Repeat these steps ending with sauce on the top layer of the pasta

Bake at 375/190 C oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is brown & bubbly!

Classic Italian Ragu

Everyone has gotta have one - here is our classic ragu (meat & tomato) sauce. Perfect for spaghetti, lasagna, tagliatelle .... the list goes on!


1 small carrot, finely diced
1 med onion, finely diced
1 rib of celery, finely diced
1 clove of garlic
quarter pound of sausage meat
half pound ground veal
1.5 pounds peeled, seeded, pureed fresh tomatoes or 1 large can of peeled tomatoes
olive oil
salt & pepper

In a pot add a couple glugs of olive oil & sauté clove of garlic until brown then discard.

On med heat sauté veggies slowly for about 10 minutes - so they are not brown but translucent.

Raise the heat slightly & add in meat - breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon.

Season with salt & pepper.

Add tomatoes & half a glass of water.

Bring up to boil.

Lower to a very low simmer for 2.5 hours stirring occasionally.

Toss with your favorite pasta.

If sauce becomes too thick, add a little pasta water.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Rice & Shrimp

Stuffed Tomatoes
Pomodori Ripieni

serves 4

4 ripe round tomatoes (about the size of a tennis ball)
4 tablespoons of rice
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
clove of garlic, skin removed
herbs of your choice, I use basil or parsley
olive oil
salt & pepper

Wash your tomatoes & slice off the tops, with a spoon, hollow out the flesh of the the tomato being careful not to pierce the cup you are making.

Save the pulp & juice, pass through a food mill or give it a turn in the food processor, blender, etc.

In a small pot, brown 1 clove of garlic in a glug of olive oil.

Remove & discard.

Then on low heat, slowly sauté your onion until it is translucent - approximately 10 minutes.

Add in your rice & sauté for 1 minute, then raise heat & add tomato pulp.

Season with salt & pepper.

Bring to a low simmer for a minute or two. Remove from heat and add in herbs.

NOTE: If you are using a different rice other than long grain white rice, you will need to par-cook the rice first, for example brown rice, wild rice, etc.
Also this is where you can be creative. Incorporate shrimp with the onions or a little ground veal or sausage if you like also veggies work great too.

Spoon mixture into cups of tomatoes and replace the tops of the tomatoes.

Bake in a casserole dish with a little olive oil rubbed on the bottom at 375 F/ 190 C for 20-30 minutes.

When the rice is cooked and the tomatoes have started to split it’s done.

Serve hot warm or cold with a drizzle good olive oil atop.

Pomodori con riso

Fried Anchovies with Sage

If you have not tried anchovies before - you must try them now! Get over any weird apprehensions or that its just bait or a punchline for a joke about pizza ("extra anchovies")! These little suckers are delicious & actually good for you! Baked, fried & grilled - they are ohh so good and worth a try. If your not up to it, then pass me your plate because I love'em!
Here is my favorite - Fried Anchovies - the recipe below adds a sage leave to each piece of fish as well for an extra burst of flavor & color.

Fried Anchovies with Sage
Acciughe fritte con Salvia

1lb of anchovies cleaned, spine removed
sage leaves (optional - if you are not a fan of sage just omit)

1 cup of flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
seltzer water

vegetable oil for frying

In a bowl combine flour, eggs, salt & baking powder. Slowly add in seltzer water & mix until forms a thin batter. Cover with plastic & set in the fridge for at least an hour.

Heat oil in a pot to 350 degree.

Remove batter from fridge and mix once or twice (batter will have separated).

Take a sage leaf & anchovy put them together & dip into the batter - allowing access batter to drip off.

Fry 20 seconds a side until golden brown.

Remove from oil & drain on a paper towel.

Sprinkle with salt & serve immediately.

Pairs great with prosecco or white wine.

Bruschetta con Pomodori

Bruschetta (pronounced: brew-sket-ta) is one of the most well-know & butchered Italian words! And what exactly is it? Grilled bread most often piled high with chopped tomatoes.
Originating from a Roman dialect, the word "bruscare" means "to roast over coals."

Pane pomodori, bruschetta, crostini con pomodori... it's almost all the same to me - bread & tomatoes with lots of olive oil! So simple, so delicious and with loads of fresh tomatoes from our farm - I eat it literally almost everyday!

Bruschetta con Pomodori

good crunchy bread
1 large tomato of peak ripness, chopped
extra virigin olive oil - this is when to use the good stuff
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper

Grill your bread
Rub garlic on the bread once nice & toasty
Drizzle a bit of extra virigin olive oil
Top with chopped tomaotes that have been dressed with salt & pepper
Another hit of olive oil on ontop

Garden Casserole

Perfect for those crisp fall nights- hearty fall veggies in a casserole with crunchy bread - keeps you toasty by the fire! Our garden is filled with these veggies & it is one of the easiest ways to utilize what we've got! Plus - this recipe is ridiculously simple!!


* 2 nice sized potatoes (yukon gold are best), peeled & thinly sliced
* 2 medium zucchini, sliced on the bias with seeds removed
* 2 shallots, chopped
* couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
* handful of fresh herbs, chopped (oregano, parsley or marjoram)
* salt & pepper
* extra virgin olive oil
* good bread

The Steps~

* Pour a little oil in a casserole dish (oven safe).
* Make a layer of potatoes covering the base of the dish
* Layer of zucchini
* Salt & pepper
* drizzle of olive oil
* couple of tomatoes ( does not have to fill in completly)
* sprinkle of shallots
* salt & pepper
* drizzle of olive oil
* chopped herbs
* repeat these steps until the dish is filled eding with potatoes on the top & a final drizzle of olive oil
* bake in a 400 degree oven until it is bubbling & a knife slips in easy & soft. Cooking time depends on size & height of your caserol dish - normally about an hour - hour & half.

Thinly Sliced Zucchini

Thinly Sliced Zucchini
Fine Fine Zucchini

olive oil

Use mandolin or slicer, slice zucchini very very thinly - paper thin.

Lay out one layer on a plate or plater.

Crack of pepper, crack of salt, drizzle olive oil, squeeze of lemon & shave parmesan over the top.

Let sit for 15 minutes & serve.

Fava (Broadbean) Crostini

Fava crostini - the color & crisp flavor on crunchy bread - how can you only eat one?!
Fava (Broad bean) Crostini:
Serves 4

1 cup of double shelled (outer pod & inner shell removed) fresh fava or broad bean
couple glugs of olive oil
garlic clove, skinned, whole
squeeze of lemon
shaved parmesan
salt & pepper
baguette or crusty bread, sliced & toasted

Throw the fava in a pan & cover with water & a little salt. Bring to a boil & lower to a simmer. Cook a couple of minutes until the fava are tender. Drain.

Return the pan to the heat. Pour in a couple glugs of olive oil and the garlic clove. Fry the garlic until browned. Then discard garlic.

Toss the fava into the pan & sautee for a minute or two. Then begin mashing with the back of a wooden spoon until you form a paste. If you need to add a bit of water, do so.

Remove fava paste from heat & season with salt & pepper add a squeeze of lemon.

Toast slices of good bread & rub warm fava mixture & top with shaved parmesan. You can drizzle a little really good quality extra virgin olive oil as well if you like.

Lesso con Salsa Verde - Poached Beef with Green Sauce

Lesso di vitello con salsa verde

Poached beef with green sauce

A quick note about lesso or boiled/poached meat: you can make a lesso of anything - fish, chicken, beef even potatoes. A great secondo for a hot day - as you can make it far ahead of time & then there is no need to turn on your stove in the heat of the day!

serves 4

little over a lb. of a tough roast: rump roast, eye round or chuck roast will work well
enough broth to cover
1 carrots,
1 rib of celery
half an onion
1 bay leaf
1 leek
couple of sprigs of parsley

In a large pot, bring your broth to a boil. Drop in your aromatics (herbs & veggies) and return the pot to a boil.

Gently add your meat to the broth & veggies. Allow pot to return to a boil.

Lower to simmer for 2 - 4 hours until meat is extremely tender.

Remove meat & place in the fridge to cool.

Broth can be strained & saved to be served as a soup or another dish. Freezes very well.

Salsa Verde

2 handfuls of parsley (stems removed), chopped
2 cloves of garlic, skins removed, smashed
1 tablespoons of capers, chopped
4 filets of anchovies, chopped
pepper flakes as desired
2 - 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

In a small sauce pan add a couple tablespoons of the oil, on a low heat fry the garlic.

When outside of garlic turns golden brown add capers & anchovies & pepper flakes. Pulverize into a paste with the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove pan from heat. Add vinegar & parsley incorporating into the mixture.

Once mixture has had a chance to cool down for a minute, slowly stir in the rest of the olive oil and adjust the seasoning.

Allow salsa mix to sit out & rest for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to incorporate

Meanwhile -
Remove the meat from the fridge. Slice thinly against the grain. Lay meat on a plate in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt & top with salsa verde.

Allow for the finished dish to sit for 15-minutes or so once topped. It can be done far ahead in advance & refrigerator - but remember to pull it out of the fridge early so the oil comes back up to room temperature & is not congealed.

Serve a bed of salad underneath the lesso.

Cherries with Mascarpone

Cherries with Marscapone

Serves 4
Pound of pitted cherries
3-4 leaves of mint, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons of liquor of your choice (we use brandy or cognac)
white sugar
3/4 cup of mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Toss cherries with liquor in a bowl with a little sugar, if cherries are tart add more sugar, if cherries are already sweet you can omit the sugar.

Refrigerate for an hour or two.

In a separate bowl whip cheese, chopped mint & cream adding in a spoonful of sugar of two until incorporated & smooth. Mixture should have just a hint of sweetness to it - not sugary.

Spoon cherries with syrup into a pretty serving dish or cup (we use a martini glass) and top with a couple spoon full of marscapone.

Garnish with fresh mint.
We added a short bread cookie for a little crunch! You could also fill a tart shell with a layer of the cheese & then top with cherries - that is really good too!

Enjoy! The perfect ending to a summer lunch.

Pork Roast

You will not be disappointed, this comes out delicious & juicy!

Pork Roast
Arista di Maiale

pork loin roast, tied (the butcher will do this for you)
fennel seed
red pepper flacks, to taste
rind of half a lemon, chopped
olive oil
white wine

Combine all ingredients (except the meat) and form a paste. Food processor, mortar & pestle or a small food chopper will work, you can also do it by hand.

Transfer above mixture into a bowl & add a glug or two of olive oil so the paste is spreadable.

Work paste into meat evenly & refrigerate over night or at least 6 hours.

When ready to cook preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Generously salt the meat & place in a roasting pan.

Roast for the first 15 minutes at 425 degrees, remove from oven. Add a 3/4 cup of white wine

Then return to oven & lower to 350 degrees cooking for about 15 minutes per pound,or until juices run clear.

Baste the meat once or twice during cooking.
(If the top starts getting too brown, cover for the last bit. If liquid at the bottom of the pan cooks out, add a little water.)

Once cooked, allow roast to sit for a few minutes. Remove string & slice thinly. Use the pan juices as a sauce.

NOTE: pairs well with white beans.

Maria's Artichokes ~ Carciofi alla Maria

Spring brings bright fresh flavors! This artichoke dish, courtesy of our friend Maria, is a fantastic example of spring on your plate! We serve it as an antipasta, but you could easily serve it as a side-dish. Sometimes Jason leaves out the olives (as he doesn't really like 'em) & it still comes out great.

To be honest, the first time Jason said he was making artichokes with capers & olives, I thought it sounded kinda gross because I'm not a huge fan of capers - BUT! I can't deny it - these are soooo good!! Now I'm beggin' for more! If you love spring artichokes, try this pasta recipe ~ Pasta with spring vegetables (fava, artichokes, peas) Spaghetti alla chitarra con vedure primavera.

Maria's Artichokes
Carciofi alla Maria

Serves 4

juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
8 globe artichokes, remove tough outer leaves, scoop out choke & cut into wedges
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon capers, drained & rinsed
scant 1 cup green olives, pitted & chopped
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt & pepper

Half-fill a bowl with water, stir in the lemon juice, add the artichokes & let soak for 10 minutes, then drain & pat dry.

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the garlic & cook for a few minutes until golden brown, then remove & discard.

Add the artichoke wedges to the pan & cook over high heat for 5 minutes, then add the capers & olives.

Season with salt & pepper to taste and add 2/3 cup warm water.

Mix well, cover & simmer for about 30 minutes until tender.

Remove the lid & boil off any excess liquid.

Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish, sprinkle with parsley.

Served both warm & at room temperature.

Rabbit Hunter's Style ~ Coniglio alla Cacciatore

Coniglio alla Cacciatora (Rabbit in the style of the Hunter) - Version 1

Rabbit 3-3.5 lbs
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2-3 sprigs of sage
salt & pepper
2 cups wine vinegar
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons capers

Clean the rabbit & cut into serving pieces. Wash is carefully & wipe dry.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan & sauté the rabbit pieces with garlic & sage until brown all over. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water & pour half of it into the pan.

Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, adding most of the remaining vinegar, a little at a time, as the rabbit dries out.

When the rabbit is tender, transfer the pieces to a deep heated serving dish. Keep hot. Discard the garlic cloves. Stir the anchovies and capers into the sauces, and continue cooking & stirring until the anchovies are reduced to a paste.

Bring to a simmer and stir over a moderate heat until the sauces has thickened. Pour over the rabbit & serve immediately.

NOTE: Best served with roasted potatoes - patate al forno!

Seafood Risotto

If you've got 20 minutes to stand over the stove stirring - try this immediately! Jason's seafood risotto recipe is soooo good! I beg him to make risotto - any kind cheesy, mushroomy (ok i know that's not really a word) & fishy - delicious & hearty! Risotto is perfect for cold fall or winter nights a real stick to your bones dish.

Here it is served as a primo (first course, after antipasti) since it is in the pasta / rice family but I think it is a meal in itself. So when you just don't feel like tagliatelle (the pasta of our region) try this! The key is the rice - it's gotta be ARBORIO!!

Yes, it really does take about 20 minutes of stirring, but it's totally worth it & your guests will know that you love them because you have spent the time to make this.

Just remember this MUST be served at the moment it is ready - risotto is very temperamental: known problems: it can dry out easily or be too crunchy & get stuck in your teeth or it can go the other way & just become mush!

Now for you to try your hand! Here is a basic Seafood Risotto recipe, but you can change it up & use mushrooms or cheese too!
(A recent class on risotto, they asked to learn how to make a 'proper risotto' & they did just that!)


Serves 6

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1 lb 5 oz. cleaned mixed seafood - calamari & shrimp (Italians chop the seafood to about the same size as the rice so it's not in big chunks, it all blends together)

5 cups fish stock

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

scant 2 cups risotto rice - Arborio or Carnaroli are best

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion & garlic and cook over low hear for 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Remove and discard the garlic, add the seafood to the pan and cook for a few minutes more.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil in another pan.

Sprinkle the wine over the seafood & cook until it has evaporated, then season to taste.

Pour in 3 tablespoons water, add the tomato paste and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it has absorbed all the liquid.

Add a ladleful of the hot stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, and stirring until each addition has been absorbed.

This will take 18-20 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil & serve.


Pasta with Spring Veggies (Spaghetti alla Chitarra con verdure di primavera)

Perfect for spring - looking for something fresh & light, delicious & a little different? This it it!

This dish is a great way to incorporate all the fresh vegetables of spring. It's roots are Roman as they called it vignarola or vignole but it is found all over Le Marche!
A versatile dish that you can make as a primi - pasta dish or as a stew/soup by adding more vegetable stock.

It is so simple, Jason has made this for many dinners this spring as his "go to" pasta - everyone has loved it! (One group of Italians even asked to take the rest home with them!) The longest part is the shelling of all the fava. (For the vegetarians out there, sadly, just omit the prosciutto)

Please, please use fresh pasta in this dish - it will make it much softer & worth the effort or cost. We used Spaghetti alla Chitarra a local pasta, but you probably won't find that in the States, so try regular spaghetti, linguini or fettucini.

Pasta with Spring Veggies (Spaghetti alla Chitarra con verdure di primavera)

serves 6

12-16 oz. of fresh pasta
4-5 small artichokes
sea salt & pepper
1 leek, outer leaves removed, cut into 3-inch lengths, washed
1/2 lb. chard (or other nice leafy greens)
extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
3/4 cup of vegetable stock (add another 3/4 cup if you are making into a stew) - use the water you will using to blanch the veggies in.
12 oz. fresh shelled peas
12 oz. of fresh shelled fava (or half a grocery bag full of the beans)
one bunch of asparagus
4 thick slices of prosciutto
small bunch fresh mint & parsley (we have both growing wild)

Put artichokes into a pot of cold, salted water & bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes or until tender (you can check by inserting a knife into the heart) and drain. (Tip: Jason puts a plate on top of the boiling water of artichokes so they don't pop out & stay under water!) Allow to cool, then peel off the outer leaves until you find the pale tender ones, remove the choke (fuzzy white parts) using a spoon. Cut the hearts into quarters.

Fill the pot with new water, add salt & bring to a boil. Blanch the fava beans for a minute, remove from water with a slotted spoon. Blanch the leeks for 3 -4 minutes, until tender, and the chard until just wilted.

Heat a large saucepan, big enough to hold all the ingredients, and add a good splash of oil. Cook the onion, low & slow for about 10 minutes until soft. Cut the tough parts of the asparagus off the bottom & discard, cut into quarter inch pieces. Sauté for 2-3 minutes with onion. Then add the vegetable stock (the water used to blanch the fava, leeks & chard) and the peas, bring to a boil. Cut the prosciutto into bits & add in - simmer for about 10 minutes, until the peas are cooked and soft and the prosciutto has flavored it all nicely.

Chop leeks into strips, run a knife through the chard & stir into the pan. Add the artichoke hearts & fava beans and let simmer for a few minutes. Finish with salt & pepper to taste a small bunch of chopped fresh mint & parsley. Add a few glugs of olive oil.

Toss with pasta & drizzle with a bit more olive oil for the bright flavors & colors of spring! Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan or grana padano.

Note: you may need a few spoonfuls of pasta water if the dish looks too dry.

Cappelletti in Brodo - Little Pasta Hats in Broth

If you are looking for a slam-bang dish - look no further!
Cappelletti in brodo or little hats in broth - I was once told is a dish served for only those you love because it takes so much time & patience to make! This dish is traditionally served on Christmas day for lunch and New Year's Eve for dinner- special occasions. Just yesterday we gathered a group of friends to help us make over 6 kilos (about 13.5 pounds) of pasta! We used 30 eggs in the dough, 4.5 pounds of meat & a ton of parmesan!

Take the time, buy the freshest eggs (it will make the color of the dough nice & golden) & enjoy homemade pasta the way it was meant to be eaten - it is TOTALLY worth the time!

Pasta Dough Recipe:
(serves 4)
400 grams of flour (type 0)
pinch of salt
4 eggs

To make the dough - follow our recipe - click here
6 oz. lean beef cubbed
4 oz. pork loin, cubbed
half a chicken breast, cubbed
1 sausage, without casing, cubbed
1 carrot, diced finely
salt & pepper
a healthy pinch Nutmeg
handful of grated parmesean cheese
1 egg
pad of butter
glug of olive oil
salt & pepper

In a pot, melt the butter & toss in all the meat & carrot.
Cook over medium heat, until meat is cooked & 2/3 of the liquid is reduced.
Set aside & let cool.

When the meat is cool toss it into the food processor & pulse until it resembles ground beef - not a paste.

Add the egg, salt & pepper, nutmeg & cheese - mix with your hands. (It will hold a ball when squeezed together, but not wet)

Roll out pasta dough into about 2mm thick sheets.

Cut into 1 inch squares. Place a pea size amount of filling in each square.

Fold the square into a triangle - making sure to seal the edges very well! (Super important)
This is when it gets difficult to explain...Then take legs of the triangle & pinch them together -(take a look at the picture to help explain)

Make sure not to overstuff your cappelleti & to seal them properly - otherwise they will burst when you boil them.

Boil in brodo (broth) until they float - if they are fresh about 2-4 minutes. Jason suggests that when they start floating - try one.

To freeze for later: Let the pasta sit & dry overnight in a cool dry room in a single layer with parchment paper underneath.

Butternut Squash Soup

Fall in a bowl - this would make a perfect dish to add to your Thanksgiving lunch or dinner! It can be served day of or is even better the next day! Which makes it great for Thanksgiving since you can cook it off a day or 2 before, one less thing to do on turkey day! This soup has become a tradition in our house - it's so creamy & delicious.
photo: www.recipegirl.com

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium butternut squash - peeled, diced, seeded
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 ribs celery diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
vegetable stock
olive oil
bay leaf
fresh thyme
salt & pepper

In a soup pot heat 2 glugs of olive oil over med low heat, add carrots, celery, onions & garlic - until translucent - about 15-20 minutes.

Then add your squash, bay leaf & a couple sprigs of fresh thyme and salt & pepper. Sautée for another 15-20 min. on med-low heat until the squash starts to fall apart & gets soft.

Cover with vegetable stock & cook another 20 min. until the squash is now totally soft.

You may need to adjust the amount - if it looks like it is getting too thick, add a little water.

Blend with a hand blender & then add in about half a cup of heavy cream.

Adjust the seasonings to your liking: you can add in cinnamon, nutmeg &/or a clove to make it a bit more spicy & festive!

Toast a piece of bread & float it on top - garnish if you like with a little parsley

I know the cream sounds heavy, but it really rounds out the vegetables. Enjoy!!

Lentil Salad

photo: Andrea Wyner
 Everyone loves this dish - even if they don't think they like lentils. It light & fresh - perfect for summer!
Serves about 6
1 1/2 cups green lentils
1 seedless english cucumber
1 medium red onion
Handful of mint & parsley (cleaned & picked off the stem)
Juice of one lemon
Salt & pepper
1/2 of a yellow onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil

In a pot, place lentils, 1/2 yellow onion & garlic cloves with skin removed. Cover lentils with water. Bring to a boil, reduce flame & simmer for 25-35 minutes until lentils are tender - BUT NOT MUSHY. It might be necessary to add a little more water during cooking process as lentils absorb the water.

When lentils are tender drain. Pick out onions & garlic, discard.

Peel cucumber, slice lengthwise & remove seeds. Dice into small pieces about the size of a lentil. Dice the red onion to the same size as well. Chop parsley & mint. When lentils are cool, combine with above ingredients.

Juice the lemon & combine with double the amount of olive oil (1 part lemon juice/2 parts olive oil) and dress salad. Season with salt & pepper.

Greenbeans, Tomaotes & Balsamic

1 lb of green beans
3 good fresh tomatoes
good quality olive oil
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
fresh herbs

Serves: 6

Clean the green beans.
Blanch beans in salted water. Drain & rinse in cold water.
Score the bottom of 3 nice good quality tomatoes and remove the stem root. Plunge into boiling water for 20 - 30 seconds. Drain & shock the tomatoes in ice water.
Slough the skins & de-seed tomatoes. Give them a good rough chop into chunks.

In a frying pan, over low heat add a couple of glugs of good quality olive oil. Throw in 2 whole garlic cloves (skins removed). Gently fry for a couple of minutes.

Raise heat, add the green beans & sauté for a minute.

Throw in tomatoes. Toss a couple of times in the pan & cook for 3-4 minutes until the green beans are tender but not mushy.

Remove garlic cloves. Season with salt & pepper. Add a small handful of one type of your favorite fresh herbs, chopped. (for example basil, oregano or marjoram) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

At our agriturismo we finish the dish with 30 year aged traditional balsamic. (To find the good stuff in the States can be hard & expensive). It's totally OK to use regular balsamic, it is just more acetic or use a squeeze of lemon.

Farro & Leek Soup

Farro is an ancient grain, the original grain from which all others derive. Farro has been eaten & cultivated in Italy for centuries most notably by the Roman Legion! The Romans ate farro to give them strength as they marched across the Western World & would arrive with a full belly & battle ready thanks to this hearty grain!

Farro is like spelt, but has a firm chewy texture. You should be able to find it at an Italian shop, health food store or speciality shop. We are lucky to find locally grown farro right here in Le Marche! (If you can't find farro - spelt or barley should work)

This recipe has only a few ingredients but is full of flavor and a great first course, not to mention super easy to make!

Farro & Leek Soup
Minestra di Farro e Porri

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white parts only, sliced
1 1/2 cups pearl farro
6 1/4 cups meat stock **Please do not use bullion (or stock) cubes for this! There are only a few ingredients & they should be of the highest quality possible.
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the leeks and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Add the farro, pour in the stock, season with salt and simmer over low heat for 1 1/2 hours or until the farro is tender.
Season with pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls or a soup tureen and sprinkle with Parmesan & drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.