Food simply tastes better when it’s in season. In Italy, cooks traditionally celebrate late winter delights like cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and celeriac by dressing them up with high quality ingredients such as Italian extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO and imported Italian prosciutto cotto. The quality and richness of these authentic foods serve to magnify the flavors of these hearty vegetables without too much fuss.
Here’s a menu of simple and satisfying seasonal Italian dishes.
Sauté of Brussel Sprouts, Chestnuts and Speck Alto Adige PGI
Ingredients (serves 4-8)
- 4 cups (400g) Brussels sprouts
- 2 ½ cups (250 g) Chestnuts (frozen or fresh)
- 3.5 oz (100 g) piece Speck Alto Adige PGI
- ¼ cup (50 ml) Chicken broth
- 3 tbsp (42 g) Unsalted butter
- ¾ cup (75 g) Breadcrumbs
- 1 Bay leaf
- Salt and pepper, for sprinkling
- Precook the frozen chestnuts in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain well. If using fresh chestnuts, make an incision around the chestnut, with a small knife and leave in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Peel off outer layer and remove skin. Set aside.
- Clean the Brussel sprouts. Cook in salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
- Melt half the butter in a pan. Add the breadcrumbs and toast lightly. Set aside. In a pan, cook the speck in the remaining melted butter. Add the Brussel sprouts, chestnuts and the bay leaf. Sauté for a few minutes. Add the chicken broth and cook on low heat, until evaporated. Add the salt and pepper. Mix with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve.
Prosciutto Cotto and Celeriac Cream Soup
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 lb (500g) Celeriac
- 1 Potato
- 2 Spring onions
- 1 ½ tbsp (21 g) Butter
- 3 tbsp (22 g) Flour
- 1/2 cup (100 ml) Milk
- ½ L Vegetable broth
- 1.8 oz (50 g) Imported Italian prosciutto cotto, diced
- Pepper, to taste
- Italian extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- 1 Parsley sprig
- Salt, to taste
- Wash the celeriac, potato and spring onion and cut into small chunks.
- Melt the butter with a little oil in a saucepan. Then add vegetables and sauté on medium heat for ten minutes.
- Remove from heat and slowly add milk and broth, mixing well to avoid lumps.
- Return to heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook slowly for thirty minutes.
- Season to taste, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down.
- Remove about half of vegetables with a perforated spoon. With a mixer or food processor, blend these vegetables.
- Pour this purée back into the pan. Add the diced Prosciutto cotto.
- Place the saucepan on medium heat and cook for another five minutes. Then pour into bowls.
- Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Roasted Cauliflower with Authentic Italian Tomato Paste
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 head Cauliflower
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) authentic Italian tomato paste
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) Italian Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
- ¼-½ cup (25-50 g) Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO, grated
- 1 tsp (4 g) Dried oregano leaves
- ½ tsp (2 g) Garlic powder
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425ºF (220°C) .
- In a large bowl, whisk the tomato paste, Italian Extra virgin olive oil and Dijon mustard together (note: the olive oil will not fully incorporate). Add 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO cheese and the oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Break the cauliflower head into florets and add them to the tomato paste mixture. Stir using a spatula to ensure that the sauce is getting onto the cauliflower. Using the spatula, transfer all the cauliflower and sauce onto a large baking sheet.
- Place the sheet into the preheated oven and roast until darkened in spots and is tender-crisp when stuck with a fork (about 20-25 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and then gently with a metal spatula. If desired, sprinkle with more Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO cheese. Serve warm.