Involtini di verza. This is a good winter dish. There are many versions, but I prefer this one because the stuffing is not so heavy as it contains rice and chopped cabbage rather than all meat. It can be served as an antipasto or a second course, but it is quite substantial, so it is probably better as a second course. Serves 6
Remove the tough central rib from 12 cabbage leaves.
stuffed cabbage removing stalk
Blanch the leaves in abundant boiling water. Take 150g of the more tender centre of the cabbage and chop finely.
stuffed cabbage cooking filling
Melt the butter in a pan and fry the carrot, celery and onion gently for about 15 minutes. Be careful that they do not brown. Increase the heat and add the rice and “toast” for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the white wine, the sausage and the chopped cabbage. Stirring constantly wait until the liquid has been absorbed. Add a ladle of the hot stock and wait for the liquid to be absorbed. Continue using the standard risotto method until the rice is cooked. Mix in the parmesan.
stuffed cabbage filling rolls
Take a cabbage leaf and place a couple of tablespoons of the mixture on each one.
stuffed cabbage filled roll
Roll the leaf up to make a compact parcel. Hide the open seam underneath.
stuffed cabbage ready for the oven
Cover the base of a casserole with little olive oil and half a ladle stock. Arrange the cabbage rolls in the dish. Cover the dish with melted butter and parmesan.
Stuffed cabbage finished dish
Bake at 200°C for 15 minutes, finish off under the grill for 5 minutes. Let the rolls rest for 10 minutes and the serve.
Casonsei alla Bergamasca. When I lived in Bergamo we used to drive up into the mountains once or twice a year to eat polenta taragna. The starter was invariably casoncelli, or casonsei in the bergamasco dialect. Slightly sweet filled pasta dressed with sage and pancetta. Makes a generous 8 servings.
Casoncelli finished dish
For the pasta:-
400 g 00 flour
100 g durum wheat flour
Mix together all the ingredients along with enough water to make a dough. Knead until smooth. Let it rest for half an hour or so and then roll out into reasonably thick sheets. A hand cranked pasta machine will be a great help with this.
Salsicce al pomodoro. This is a great way to turn the humble banger into something special. Use the best quality sausage you can find – at least 90% meat. This dish is often made with chipolatas and served cold as an antipasto. Serves 4.
Sausages in tomato sauce ingredients
8 sausages (preferably Italian but any high meat content sausage will do)
100 milliliters dry white wine
250 milliliters passata
salt and pepper
Prick the sausages with a fork, put the in a pan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over a low heat, turning occasionally. When the water has evaporated the sausages will start to fry in their own fat. Continue until they are golden brown.
Add the wine and cook until it is completely evaporated and the sausages are just starting to fry again.
Add the passata, season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for around 15 minutes.
This dish can be cooked with small sausages and served cold as an antipasto.
Polpettine al Sugo. A lot of people mistakenly think that this dish was invented in the USA, but although it’s not nearly as common here as it seems to be in the states, it is Italian through and through. It tastes even better heated up the next day. I served it with linguine(a bit of a crime: ragu should be served with a ribbon pasta such as tagliatelle) the first day and polenta the second, but it goes with pretty much every kind of pasta.
Mix together the beef, sausage, the breadcrumbs moistened in a little water, garlic and parsley in a bowl. I find it easiest to use my hands. When it is well mixed, season with salt and pepper and mix in the egg.
Form into small meatballs, about the size of a marble.
Fry the meatballs in plenty of olive oil until they are evenly browned. Drain on Kitchen towels.
Drain the excess oil from the pan, add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
Add the passata and basil, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Serve with your favourite pasta or with polenta.
Now I’ve been here a while I realise that I’ve been very English and got things a bit wrong. :hangs his head in shame: The recipe above is still authentic, but the Italians don’t serve the meatballs with the pasta. They are eaten as the secondo.
Maryann puts it better than I can(see comments):
I think why most people say spaghetti and meatballs originated in American is that they eat it all on the same plate, in the same course. In my family, first the macaroni, then the meat from the sauce.
This is a traditional new year’s eve dish. CotechinoModena or Cotechino di Modena, also sometimes spelled cotecchino or coteghino, is a fresh sausage made from pork and comes from Modena. Zampone Modenais closely related, but uses the pig’s trotter as a sausage case. There are two kinds of cotechino: Raw and precooked, though most Italians buy the precooked kind, which comes in a foil packet which you have to boil gently for 20 minutes. You should be able to get a ready cooked cotechino in an Italian deli. Serves 4
Put the lentils, half the onion and one of the celery sticks in a large
Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer over a low heat until
the lentils are tender – about 45 minutes.
When they are done discard the onion and celery. Chop the remaining onion
and celery finely.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan. Fry the onion and celery for about 5
Drain the lentil and add to the pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring
Season with salt and pepper.
If using a precooked cotechino, reheat according to the instructions on the packet. If you are using a fresh one, place it in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 2 hours for a small (600g) one, up to 4 hours for a larger (1000g) one. At the end of the cooking time, remove from the heat and allow to rest in the cooking liquid for 10 minutes, drain and slice into thick rounds.
Serve the lentils with slices of the sausage on top.
It may be difficult to find Italian sausages outside of Italy. This needn’t be a problem as they are usually 100% minced meat, encased in a sausage skin. Therefore, if you can’t find Italian sausage, replace it with minced pork. This is another of the recipes that I remember from my time in the north. Very easy to cook but delicious! Serves 4