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Piselli sgranati – Peas with prosciutto


This is not a difficult dish to make: stand next to a field of fresh peas with a frying pan in your hand in which is simmering gently a generous handful of pale pink prosciutto and perhaps a few finely chopped green spring onions. Wait until the peas are barely ripe – still tiny and bright green in their pods. At that precise moment start shelling them straight into the pan, toss them quickly in the sauce and run with them to the nearest table.

Excerpt from the wonderful book:
A Table in Tuscany, by Leslie Forbes.


  • 2 kg young, fresh peas in their pod
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 g Italian prosciutto, diced

Pod the peas and set them aside. Put the onion and olive oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat and sweat the onion, stirring frequently, until it is soft and translucent, but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the peas and the prosciutto, stir well and pour in a glass of water. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, until the peas are soft but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time.

You can serve this as a side dish, or perhaps with some cooked pasta, e.g. farfalle.

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Coniglio con salvia – Rabbit with sage

Rabbit with sage


If you bone and dice the rabbit after cooking, you get a delicious pasta sauce, that you can serve with pappardelle.


  • 1 rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150 g pancetta, cubed
  • 1 onion, 2 carrots and 1 celery stick, finely diced for soffritto
  • 250 g tomato pieces
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sage leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Season the rabbit pieces and brown thoroughly on all sides. Remove from the pan. Sweat the pancetta in the same pan, add the soffritto and cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomato pieces and the white wine, and boil for a few moments. Add the rabbit pieces, the bay leaves and the sage. Cover and simmer for an hour. Adjust the seasoning and serve with bread.

A young Chianti would be very nice with this dish.

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Pollo al mattone – Chicken cooked between terra-cotta

Literally, this recipe translate as “chicken with a brick”, so called because the chicken is flattened down with a brick during grilling.  This not only reduces cooking time, but also keeps the chicken tender and moist.

A mattone is a special device made in terra cotta for cooking a chicken on the stovetop, withouting having to use a brick or a grill.

The recipe is quite straightforward: the chickens are spatchcocked (butterflied), and then cooked in the mattone.


  • a chicken, the best free range quality you can find/afford, butterflied
  • 1 dessertspoon olive oil
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 lemon (optional)
Ask your butcher to prepare the chicken for you, or have a look at this video if you want to give it a try.
Lightly oil the bottom part of the mattone and place it over a gas burner, using a flame tamer.  Place the top part also over a burner, again with a flame tamer.  Make sure both parts get very hot (allow 15 minutes).
Sprinkle a large pinch of salt over the bottom part of the mattone.  Rub the chicken with some salt, pepper and the rosemary leaves and place it on the bottom part of the terra cotta pot.  Cover with the top part and let cook for about 40 minutes, turning the chicken over every 10 minutes.
Serve with some extra olive oil drizzled over the chicken, and a lemon wedge.

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Bruschetta al pomodoro – Tomato bruschetta

Often a picture says much more than a long text.  This video proves the point: just looking at it is enough to reproduce this easy dish in your own kitchen.  As always, make sure that you get the best ingredients (good bread and tasty tomatoes are the hardest bit) and do roast the bread in the grillpan (only the barbeque will give a better result).

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Fettuccine ai funghi porcini – Pasta with porcini mushrooms

This is one of those recipes that proves that it can be easy to put a fantastic dish on the table with minimum effort.  Key to the success is, as often, the quality of the ingredients, in this case fresh porcini mushrooms, and home made egg pasta.  If you do not want to make your own pasta then buy the best quality you can find – either fresh of dried.  Make sure to buy a ribbon shaped pasta, like fettuccine, tagliatelle or even pappardelle.

This dish does not need a sprinkling of cheese.


  • 300 g fettuccine or other ribbon shaped pasta
  • 300 g porcini mushrooms, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • sprig of rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • peperoncini (chili pepper flakes)
  • sea salt
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan.  Add the mushrooms, the garlic, the rosemary, the peperoncini and the salt.  Fry for 5 minutes, then add the white wine.  Let simmer for another 5 minutes so that the wine can evaporate.  In the mean time cook the pasta al dente, drain and add to the frying pan.  Toss to mix thoroughly, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve at once.

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