Agretti are now in season and this recipe enhances their peculiarly earthy and mineral flavour through the delicacy and sweetness of egg yolks. Seemingly simple, this dish instead features an intriguing complexity that balances all the ingredients’s properties.
- 4 free range eggs (prepare extra to leave room for error)
- 160 gr sea salt
- 40 gr brown sugar
- 4 bundles agretti
- 2 tbsp salted capers
- 6 anchovies in oil
- 6 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
- 1 lemon
Eliminate the hard stalks from the agretti, thoroughly wash and boil in slightly salted water for 3-4 minutes. Rinse with running water to keep the colour.
In a food processor place the capers after rinsing well, anchovies, oil, lemon juice, two stripes of zest and whizz until smooth.
Season the agretti with the sauce (keep some for the decoration) then form 4 nests on 4 individual plates.
Mix the salt and sugar, put on a plate and even the surface. Very carefully lay the egg yolks over the mixture and leave to set around 30 minutes. Using your hands, very gently take the egg yolks from the mixture, shortly rinse under running water and lay on the center of the agretti nests. Decorate with a glug of sauce and serve.
Stilish and elegant, these mini polenta balls are the ideal finger food to make the most of a winter dinner.
For around 25 balls
- 100 gr quick-cooking polenta
- 500 ml tap water
- 1 yolk and a half from free range eggs
- 45 gr grated parmesan
- 1/4 tbsp grated nutmeg
- 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
- 75 gr hazelnuts, skin on
- 75 gr raw pistachios
In a heavy-based pan bring the water to a boil; add the polenta and whisk with some energy until well combined. Always stirring the polenta, let it cook for 8 minutes (or follow the instructions on the box).
Add the parmesan, nutmeg, a pinch of sea salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Now incorporate the eggs, one at a time.
Using a mortar and pestel coarsely chop the pistachios and hazelnuts to a granola.
Very carefully, since the polenta will be hot, make small balls wetting your hands in water every now and then, in order to give them a more accurate shape.
Coat every ball first in the egg yolks slightly beaten and then in the granola, switching between the two. Delicately put the balls on a tray covered with parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes at 180°C, still. Serve warm but not too hot.
Feeling a little heavy after Christmas? Let’s have a soft detox with this warm, creamy and healthy veggie-vegan soup: if you want to go vegan, simply omit the feta cheese.
- 350 fresh or frozen peas (they are not in season!)
- 1 potato, peeled and diced
- 8 sprigs fresh mint leaves
- 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
- 1 red chilli pepper, thinly chopped
- 100 gr feta cheese
- 30 gr almonds, skin on, coarsely chopped
Fry the onion in a heavy-based pan with the extravirgin olive oil and the red chilli pepper. Add the potato cubes and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas, mix thoroughly and pour in the pan 500 ml of vegetable stock or boiling water: you might need more, depending on the quality of the potato you chose. Let simmer for further 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste and the mint leaves as well (washed and drained). Place in a food processor and whizz until smooth and creamy.
Dice the feta cheese, transfer the soup in 4 bowls and scatter with the feta or almonds, if you fancy the vegan option.
The traditional tabbouleh, a largely known Arabic recipe, is a sort of salad based on bulgur and parsley, enriched by other vegetables in varying proportions. It originated in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria and was an essential part of people’s diet in the Middle Ages. In the Libanese version the quantity of parsley is much more than the quantity of bulgur, or the same. In this case I substituted bulgur with quinoa and I did not use the same proportion between quinoa and parsley because I find it a little overwhelming on other more delicate flavours. The result is an unusual formula which hopefully won’t disappoint you!
- 150 gr red quinoa, cooked according to the instructions on the box
- 1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 spooons duqqah (see below)
- 8 spoons good extravirgin olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 140 gr pink radish sprouts (or broccoli or whatever sprouts you can find, except bean sprouts)
- 20 gr parsley, chopped
- 10 gr fresh coriander, washed and drained
- juice of 1 lemon
for the duqqah:
- 50 gr raw hazelnuts, skin on
- 25 gr white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
Separately toast the hazelnuts and sesame, let them cool and then reduce to a powder with a food processor. Incorporate the cumin and coriander, stir well and place in a little jar. .
Sprinkle the chickpeas with the dukkah and add 2 spoons extravirgin olive oil, mix well in order to completely coat the chickpeas, place in a baking tray and bake in the oven, still, at 180°C for 25 minutes, or until the chickpeas are crunchy.
Let the chickpeas cool to room temperature, then in a bowl place the sprouts, parsley, shallots, chickpeas and quinoa. Season with the oil and lemon juice, add salt to taste and garnish with the fresh coriander leaves.
Ezme is a Turkish word which can be translated as “mashed”, so this is a kind of a mashed salad, very delicious and easy to prepare. Serve with a plain pita or whole crackers.
- 4 tomatos
- 1 large pepper (red or yellow)
- 1 bunch of parseley
- 1 small onion
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 spoons extravirgin olive oil
- 1 spoon pomegranate molasses (if you don’t have it, a simple honey can easily work)
Dice the vegetables into very small cubes (concassé) and place in a bowl.
In another little bowl prepare the seasoning: emulsify the oil with the molasses and lemon juice, add salt to your taste and season the vegetables. Stir well and serve.