A lovely day outside will make us really hungry. Artichokes as a starter will be great. The variety for today has the lovely name ‘mammole’ which I don’t think I have to translate. Remove the stem and wash the artichokes (1 pp). Put them in a big casserole so that they can be placed next to each other on the bottom. Add ½ bottle of dry white wine, 4 peeled garlic cloves, 1 white onion cut in halves, 4 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 table spoon of dried thyme (fresh is of course also possible), 2 table spoons of a tasty mustard, 4 table spoons of olive oil, 1 spicy little pepper, 1 lemon cut in halves, salt. Add water until the artichokes half covered. Boil until the artichokes are ready (30-45 mins depending on the size, test by checking the bottom part). Remove the lemon. This cooking process is always better to do 1 day in advance to improve the flavours. Reheat the artichokes in the liquid or in the oven (covered with aluminum foil). Boil the liquid until you get a concentrated sauce. Remove the bay leaves. Mix the sauce, add some salt or pepper, and if the lemon has left some bitterness you can add some sugar or some light cream. Serve the artichokes as an individual starter removing the leaves and dipping in the sauce. By the end remove the hay and eat the artichoke bottom with the sauce. Delicious!
For the main course I thank Carluccio for a wonderful vegetarian dish which is quite some work in advance, but really worth it.
For 4-6p cut 1 aubergine in slices of 5 mm and put in a colander with salt for approx. 30 mins. Cut 1 large courgette in slices of 5-7 mm. Cut 5 small courgettes in long halves. Grease them with olive oil and grill them in the oven or on a grill plate. Cut 1 fennel in slices of 5-7 mm and boil them for 10 mins in salted water.
Make a simple tomato sauce. Fry 1 chopped big red onion, 4 chopped garlic cloves and 1 small spicy little pepper in olive oil. Add 1 table spoon of dried basil and 2 cans of peeled tomatoes. Add a pinch of sugar, and 1 table spoon of chopped fresh basil. Let simmer for 30 mins and stir now and again. Add salt by taste.
Boil the pasta. A perfect shape for this recipe is rigatoni. Mix the pasta with a bit of tomato sauce.
Grate 100 grams of parmigiono. Cut 300 grams of tasty cheese in smaller cubes (taleggio, bel paese).
Oil an ovendish. Start with a layer of pasta. Create layers, first aubergine, then courgette, then fennel, then the little courgettes, then the cheese cubes, then tomato sauce, then parmigiano and repeat until everything is finished.
For the finishing touch we will make walnut sized balls of parboiled and drained spinach mixed with 1 chopped garlic clove, 25 grams of grated parmigiano, 100 grams of fresh bread, 1 egg, pepper, salt and grated nutmeg. They will form the top layer. The last bit of parmigiano will cover everything.
This will take your time on Saturday. Sunday evening 30-40 mins in the oven at 180° and ready.
As sweet closure of the weekend and of this italian menu we will keep it simple. Cover a little circle of 10 cm of puff pastry with thin slices of apple with red skin, some cinnamon and a pinch of sugar. Bake in the oven for 15 mins at 180°.