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Plant Oriented Cooking


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RECIPE: Finocchi alla Ghiotta


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 8 large green Sicilian or Cerignola olives
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

METHOD

  1. Trim and cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise and then cut each half lengthwise into four 1-1/2-inch-thick wedges.
  2. Slice the olive flesh off the pits lengthwise.
  3. Sauté the fennel, one cut side down, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, turning once with tongs, until the wedges are lightly browned on both cut sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. Add the onion and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally and gently so as not to break up the fennel wedges, until the onions are slightly softened and browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, capers, and olives to the pan along with 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low or low, to maintain a steady simmer.
  6. Cook until the fennel wedges are fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to high, and simmer briskly until most of the liquid evaporates, leaving a thick sauce, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently stir in the parsley. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

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RECIPE: Sautéed Escarole


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of escarole, well washed
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

OPTIONAL

  • A handful of capers, well washed and squeezed
  • A handful of black olives
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • A handful of pinoli nuts
  • A handful of raisins, soaked until soft and drained

METHOD

  • Blanch the escarole.
  • Fry the garlic gently in a generous amount of olive oil.
  • Transfer the escarole from the pot to the sauté pan with a pair of tongs. Let the escarole drain before you add it to the pan, but letting some water still cling to the leaves.
  • Turn the heat back on, stir the escarole so it is well coated with the oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

OPTIONAL

  • Add the optional ingredients to the pan, mix them into the escarole, and re-cover the pan.
  • Let the escarole simmer for another 5 minutes until very tender and flavorful.
  • Bon Appétit!

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RECIPE: Chanterelle Leek Risotto


INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Large Leeks, tops chopped off, discarded and bottoms cleaned and sliced.
  • 1 Lb Chanterelle Mushrooms.
  • 2 Shallots, thinly sliced.
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced.
  • 3Tbsp Butter, unsalted.
  • 1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary.
  • 1.5 Cups Arborio Rice.
  • 3/4 Cup Dry White Wine.
  • 5-6 Cups Chicken or Veggie Stock, well heated.
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated.

METHOD

  1. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter on low heat in large pan and add shallots, leeks and garlic, covering with lid. Saute 5 minutes, add the 3/4 Lb of mushrooms and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add rice and sprig of rosemary, stirring until grains become slightly clear and golden on the outside, approximately 2 min.
  3. Add the wine, stir well, and allow for absorption by the rice and evaporation of the alcohol.Next ladle in enough stock to just cover the rice mixture and allow for a low simmer, stirring fairly regularly to avoid burning and encourage creaminess. Continue adding further ladles of broth as it gets absorbed, again only as much as is needed to cover the rice.
  4. Continue this for 30mins, or until rice mixture is creamy and has reached the desired texture. You want it to be soft but still hold its texture and not be mushy.
  5. Add the Parmesan cheese and about a Tbsp of butter. Stir well.
  6. Melt a Tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the rest of the mushrooms, saute until cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  7. Ladle up some risotto and garnish with sauteed mushrooms.

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RECIPE: Panzanella


INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread, cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes.
  2. Serve at room temperature.

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RECIPE: Sicilian Eggplant Caponata


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium-large-sized eggplants, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 2 cm chunks
  • 150 g green olives, pitted and drained
  • 500ml tomato passata
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 25g sugar
  • 40g capers, soaked for 1 hour, rinsed and with excess salt removed if salt-packed
  • 20g sultanas, soaked for 1 hour, drained and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 20g pinenuts
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil
  • a handful of basil leaves, for garnish

METHOD

  1. Salt the eggplants for an hour, rinse to remove excess salt, pat dry thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth
  2. Fry the eggplant chunks without overcrowding the pan. When the chunks are crisp and golden brown, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with absorbent paper towels.
  3. Fry the onion slices until they are translucent in colour. Add the celery chunks, the green olives and the tomato passata and simmer covered on low to medium heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the capers, the fried eggplant, the pine nuts, the sultanas, the vinegar and the sugar. Stir ingredients so they are well-combined, taste for and add salt.
  5. Transfer to serving bowl, cover and leave to rest for 2 hours at room temperature for the flavors to mix.
  6. Garnish with a couple of basil leaves and serve as an appetizer with plenty of bread on hand!)


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