Ароматы Тосканы: tuscan cooking recipes

Olive oil (extra virgin only), is a basic ingredient of the Tuscan cuisine. The olive harvest usually takes place through the so-called “pettinatura” (combing). The operation consists in combing, with special rakes, each branch of the tree dropping the olives into cloths lying at the base of the plant. The olives are stored on special mats that ensure the ventilation, until the time of transport to the mill. The extraction of oil from the pulp of olives, follows this traditional cycle:
- Washing of the olives with water
- Crushing of the olives with stone grinders
- Pressing of the olives for oil extraction
- Centrifugation to separate oil from water
- Conservation of oil in terracotta jars
Olive oil is good and extremely tasty just extracted and its fragrance at this time is at its most.

THE TUSCAN BREAD

Bread is considered the backbone of the Tuscan country-folk cuisine and since the Middle Ages. Indeed, at this time people ate almost exclusively "wet bread" and soups cooked with bread, olive oil, garlic and wild herbs, or cultivated in the orchards.
Tuscan bread is now known throughout Italy as an example of taste and authenticity, symbol of a cuisine that needs long and thoughtful times.
It needs time to rise and long cooking, it lasts a long time and should be carefully cooked in the firewood oven, as it was once in those houses that were equipped with. The absence of salt in the Tuscan bread is one of its most popular features: probably this aspect comes from the poverty of the peasants of the past and the high price of salt at that time, but another historical version explains the lack of salt in the Florentine bread as a result ofthe war between Florence and Pisa in the twelfth century, when Pisa blocked the trade of salt toward Florence.
Many of the most famous Tuscan recipes are based on bread. The "panzanella" and "ribollita" are two examples among the most popular.

LA PANZANELLA

Ingredients for 4 people
6 ounces of stale Tuscan bread
2 tomatoes
2 red onions
1 cucumber
Extra virgin olive oil
vinegar
salt and pepper
fresh basil


Cut the bread into slices and let it soak in cold water for half an hour, then, when they have softened, squeeze it with the hands in a bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, onion into thin slices, basil, cucumber (who likes) and season with oil, salt and pepper, mixing well and making it rest in the refrigerator. Before serving, season with vinegar.
Panzanella has undergone many reinterpretations and enrichment over time, such as adding various ingredients such as lettuce, boiled eggs, anchovies, tuna, celery and whatever else the imagination has suggested.

BREAD SOUP OR "RIBOLLITA"

Ingredients for 6 persons:
6 slices of stale Tuscan bread
300g dried red kidney beans
A quarter of a Savoy cabbage
Two bunches of kale
1 potato
1 onion
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
a clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
Salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil


Boil beans in approx. 2 liters of salted water. Mash half of them putting back the puree in the cooking water. In another pan, sauté in ½ cup of olive oil, onion and garlic.
As soon as the onion wilts add the tomato paste diluted in a little water.
Then add the cabbage, cleaned and cut into strips, sliced celery and carrots and potatoes into large touch.
Add salt and pepper and cook a little 'dry.
Then pour all the soup with beans and continue cooking until the vegetables are all well cooked (it will take about an hour). In a bowl have a few slices of bread cut in half, then cover with half soup. Then still more bread and the remaining soup. Sprinkle with a good Tuscan olive oil and wait a quarter of an hour before serving.
In Tuscany every family has its own recipe for this bread soup. Famous throughout the world, thanks to tourism, it has become "the ribollita" which is nothing but bread soup heated in advanced pan. The Ribollita is best eaten warm with a little olive oil and a bit 'of fresh onion slices on top.

LAMPREDOTTO

Ingredients for 4 persons:
Lamprey 600 gr
One onion
one carrot
a stalk of celery
two tomatoes (for soup)
parsley
salt and pepper
loaves of bread


In a saucepan, put about 3 gallons of water, add the onion cut in half, carrot and celery, tomatoes and a sprig of parsley. Add salt, and as soon as the water boils, add the entire piece of lamprey. Cover and cook up for about an hour over low heat.
The Florentine tripe sellers, an institution that has not yet lost, used to serve it in round a sandwich, slightly wet in the stock of the lamprey, the latter cut into irregular strips and well peppered.

TRIPPA ALLA FIORENTINA

Ingredients for 4 persons:
Tripe ½ kg
Tomatoes for sauce 400 gr
Tuscan olive oil 100gr
Butter 60gr
Celery
Carrot
Onion
Garlic
Basil
Grated parmisan cheese
A glass of dry white wine
Beef broth a pint
Salt and pepper


Wash in plenty of water the tripe and cut into thin slices.
Chop a small stalk of celery, carrot, onion and some basil leaves, put everything in an earthenware casserole, combine gr.20 of butter, oil and a clove of garlic (some also combine a bay leaf). Place the pan over the heat and brown slowly, then add the white wine, let it absorb, then add the tripe drained from water and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, tomatoes peeled and chopped (or one or two tablespoons of tomato sauce melted in a ladle of hot broth). Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat soaking, when it will be necessary with hot broth.
Serve hot with a few knobs of butter and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

SCOTTIGLIA

1.5 kg of different meats: beef, chicken, rabbit, beef, pork, lamb
Some celery
1 carrot
1 onion
Some parsley
Basil
Red chilli
Ripe tomatoes 500gr
2 cloves of garlic
1 lemon
Broth
6 slices of
6 slices of homemade bread
1 glass of Chianti Classico
Extra Virgin olive oil
Sal and pepper


Prepare a mixture of all odors, celery, carrot, onion, basil and garlic and fry with chilli.
Add the meat cut into small pieces and brown over high heat.
Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring everything to cook in about two hours, adding lemon juice and wine. Place in serving dish slices of bread toasted , previously and rubbed of garlic. Cover with sauce and pieces of flesh.
The typical medieval Scottiglia is a soup of the area of the Casentino, in the province of Arezzo.

CACCIUCCO (alla livornese)

Ingredients for 6 persons:
Fish with bones (scorpion fish, weever, etc.): gr. 800
Dogfish gr 500
Octopus 500g
Cuttlefish gr. 500 gr cicadas 500
Ripe tomatoes or peeled 500 gr
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
parsley
chilli
A little of red wine
6 slices of homemade bread
Olive oil
salt


Clean the small size fishes you have chosen. Remove the scales, gut and remove the fins. Peel the dogfish and cut into logs. Clean the mussels well and cut into pieces. Take finely chopped garlic, onion, parsley and pepper and brown in a half cup of oil. Once the onion starts to brown pour half a glass of wine and when it will be add the octopus and cuttlefish in the pan. After a few minutes add the tomatoes, salt and cook for another fifteen minutes. Joine then the other fish and the cicadas, then simmer for about twenty minutes. If necessary, add fish broth.
Serve the fish soup over toasted slices of bread rubbed with garlic, previously put on the bottom of a bowl.
Remember that the fish soup with is appreciated most with young red wine.
If the steak (FIORENTINA) is the representative of the Tuscan Country kitchen, the CACCIUCCO is its highest seafood expression.