I believe this blog post is the shortest post I’ve written so far, purposely done bearing in mind that in late November most of us already think, plan and prepare for the Christmas affair, which is the most beautiful and festive time of the year.
Whilst we start to leaf through the glossy magazines, cook books and our own firm favourite Christmas recipes we still (I hope) try to eat well, healthy and creatively in some way.
For me, vegetables, conventionally categorised into starters or antipasti and side dishes, have always played an equally important role during any meal, especially when we eat at home.
In Italy we’ve been spoiled for seasonal choice and variety. The vegetables: all manner of fresh salad leaves, artichokes, multicoloured beans, puntarelle, bitter chicory, Swiss Chard, porcini mushrooms and so forth, are prepared in a very simple way, where the flavour and texture of the vegetable is the main focus, without extra, and very often unnecessary, embellishments. No need to mention that the food markets are open six days a week. A hustle and bustle activity that I miss in London dearly. In the Italian restaurants the „contorni” (side dishes) are anticipated and to be searched for rather than dismissed as a boring filler and another addition to the bill. When in Rome for example, look out for the artichokes alla Romana (slowly cooked) or alla giudia (deep fried), or „le puntarelle” with anchovy dressing. Very seasonal, traditional and absolutely delicious way of celebrating the autumnal-wintery greens.That’s only one of the reasons, why you should open the „contorni” page on the menu.
In London however, the variety of the fresh produce and its choice is different. I can find Italian ingredients here too, even very close to home, but then, occasionally there is the problem with its freshness. Lets face it, a wilted radicchio leaf is not a joy to eat.
Therefore, whilst we temporarily live in London, I have found my way around how and where to shop, and subsequently I conjure up different kinds of salads or side dishes for us. Having said that, I’ve never liked the confinement of starters and side dishes to an almost secondary role, lets celebrate together the importance, enjoyment and deliciousness of different flavours, seasonality put together on a plate.
I’ve just shared a few new recipes for:
and I truly hope you enjoy them xx