Asparagus & artichokes pasta – Italian Spring is served!

recipe spring asparagus and artichokes

Who said that to conquer a girls’ heart you need flowers?!

You could make a great impression just with an asparagus and artchokes’ bouquet! Ok…add pasta & one sausage (if you are not vegetarian!) for a perfect result 🙂

artichokes and asparagus short pasta recipe

This is a very easy and tasty Spring recipe with two vegetables we simply adore and you can easily find in this period of the year. We choose a very big pasta shape called “ceppi” from Regina dei Sibillini, but you can also use other short shapes of pasta such as penne or mezze maniche.

Ingredients for 4/5 people:

500 gr of short pasta (moccolotti, penne, mezze maniche, fusilli), 4 artichokes, 2 sprigs of asparagus, 1 pork sausage, cloves of garlic, extravirgin olive oil, white wine, salt, 2 slices of lemon, parsley.

Preparation:

Start cleaning artchokes:

artichokes and asparagus pasta recipe

Put the artichokes in a pot with olive oil, garlic and crumbled parsley. Cover everything with white wine and let them cook till the wine is completely consumed.

pasta recipe le marche italy

Usually it takes forty five minutes, but check the artichokes: they should be tender enough. Otherwise add other wine and keep cooking!

While artichokes are cooking, it’s asparagus cleaning turn! Wash them, cut the upper part and, if they are tender enough, take also the first part of the stem making tiny pieces.

asparagus pasta recipe italy

Put asparagus in a nonstick pan with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a little bit of water. Let them cook for twenty minutes.

Add one smashed sausage and when it is cooked, transfer in the same pan also the artichokes. Put salt as needed and blend everything adding olive oil.

artichokes and asparagus pasta italian recipe le marche

Now that the sauce is done, bung the pasta in boiling salted water. When is ready, drain it and pass it in the pan with the sauce. Melt it for two minutes at low flame for a tastier result!

PASTA DISH SPRING ITALIAN RECIPE ASPARAGUS

Now let’s see if this unconventional Spring bouquet brings the expected reaction on your guest!

Buon Appetito! °v°

Under the snow…bread! – Story of a very special kind of pasta

Our elders used to say “Under the snow, bread…under the rain, hunger”.

montefortino pasta regina dei sibillini marche

It is one of my favourite proverbs, of a girl born and raised at 10 minutes from the shore but with mountains in her heart!

Today’s fairy tale (because it is so full of poetry and beauty and love for our homeland that it actually seems a happy ending tale!) starts from this ancient moral. Which is full of truth by the way, as only old stories’ moral could be and it is full of the wisdom of our ancestors, that never left this harsh area on Sibillini’s slopes: the village of Montefortino (Fermo province).

montefortino sibillini monte priora  marche

This harshness and this mountains’ loneliness scared young generations, but those who stayed and kept fighting for the beauty and the autenticity of these places only got back amazing gifts from these stones.

montefortino fermo le marche

That’s the story of Regina dei Sibillini: a pasta manufacturing, who cultivates durum wheat in fields on arduous cliffs, perserved by a  snow-white-icy mantle. The snow that falls between November and March covers the harvest, hydrates it and protects it from freezing (that’s why snow is better than rain!).

montefortino monte priora sibillini

Regina dei Sibillini is the surname locals gave to Priora Mountain, which stands above all Sibillini peaks when you look from Montefortino side. As mountain is the heart and the start of this tasty idea, it’s easily explained why black is the logo’s colour.

For me it is already a luck to wake up everyday with such a view (…and I admit I would just stare the panorama the whole time!). That’s why I completely understand Regina dei Sibillini owners’ choice to stay in this territory and to do something for preserving its rural economy.

Moreover, the fact that my pasta dish could breathe this air and enjoy this landscapes makes me feel more relaxed! (Ehi! It is important that my spaghetti arrive trim on my table! Within the good and the beauty of these mountains!).

montefortino sibillini pasta regina dei sibillini

All kinds of pasta, which are of course respecting classical shapes (simple & tasty & with no frills!), are made according to an handcraft process, drawned in bronze then put to dry at low temperatures.

pasta shapes regina dei sibillini montefortino
If you want to enjoy a plate of traditional pasta with us… make sure you’ll be here for our next recipe! °v°

Crescia bread with lard and wild herbs – Le Marche in appetizers

crescia

We made a spring wild herbs’ picking up tour with granny Elda, and as we know that a perfect trip always deserves a likewise amazing lunch, we introduce ourselves in pic-nic’s official season preparing this traditional Le Marche appetizer or finger food or salty snack…actually it is so quick and tasty, you can adapt it to a pic nic, an aperitivo or as a starter.

Of course wild herbs are protagonists 🙂

wild herbs crescia from le marche

Ingredients (for 6 people)

For the dough:

1 kg flour, 50 g brewer’s yeast, 2 pinches of salt, 1 glass of olive oil, water as needed for kneading.

For the filling:

Mixed wild herbs (see how to pick them up!) or spinach, 1 pork sausage, chili pepper, cloves of garlic (as much as you like it!), pig lard.

Preparation:

Start cleaning wild herbs: cut the lower part of the trunk (the one usually stick to the ground), discard ruined leaves and wash everything in cold water. Let them dry.

In the meanwhile start preparing the dough: arrange the flour on the wooden table making a mountain shape. Make a hole on the top of your flour-mountain (creating a volcano!). Put in the hole salt and olive oil. Add brewer’s yeast melted in a glass of warm water. Knead all the ingredients adding water as necessary.

crescia recipe flat bread

Wrap up the dough in a rag and let it rest and rise for an hour. Divide it in parts: the size depends on how you want your crescia to be big, but not bigger than a regular pizza. Now spread out each one making a round shape. You can help yourselves using the rolling pin.

crescia recipe le marche

Be careful: crescia dough must stay high! At least higher than a pizza! Because it is more similar to a focaccia bread and it is more traditional. Put the cresce on a griddle and bite them with a fork on  the surface. Turn them frequently. When they turn golden they are ready!

You can cook them “at-the-moment” or even prepare them before and serve cold.

For the filling, start boiling wild herbs in hot salted water. In the meanwhile, put the garlic’s cloves in a non-stick pan and sautĂŠ them with olive oil. In another pan cook the sausage. It is better if you squashed the sausage with a little bit of water before cooking it. Now dry the boiled herbs, cut them a little bit, put them in the pan with the garlic and “drag” them in the pan with the sausage and chili pepper till they become tasty!

strascinare le marche typical recipe

Now take one crescia and rub the lard on the surface. It will melt a little bit. Now end putting over the herbs with the sausage (“erbe strascinate”). Buon Appetito 🙂

crescia and wild herbs le marche recipe

Let’s explore some more options & have fun creating a Crescia-bar to surprise your guests:

crescia bar le marche

“Sweet Lamb” Easter cake – cooking “Agnelletto” Macerata’s way!

ingredients easter lamb macerata

If you are an animal lover (or just a cake lover!)

If you are looking for a traditional Easter’s dessert (or just for a dessert!)

this “Sweet lamb” cake, known in central Italy as “Agnelletto”, is the perfect end for a spring lunch or the best (and funniest) alternative to lamb meat 🙂 (it’s sweet and it doesn’t hurt anyone!).

filling agnelletto le marche

We checked the recipe in our master-chef-book: Tina’s! You already met her during our Limoncini cooking-session. There are several versions of “sweet lamb”, here we present the one made in a town in Macerata hills, Loro Piceno. Such a tiny village that you can’t keep a secret…that’s the reason why they all cook Agnelletto almost the same way!

The recipe is not difficult, you only need tons (really tons!) of ingredients and a little bit of creativity for making the lamb shape (or you can ask uncle Google and download it! Here’s one.).

le marche agnelletto receipe

Ingredients

For the dough:

400 g flour, 150 g butter, 1 egg, 2 yolks, 150 g sugar

For the filling:

100 g amaretti (or other almond biscuits), 200 g almonds, 2 yolks, 150 g sugar, 100 g candied fruit*, 100 g dark chocolate,  100 g raisins*, 2 cups of coffee, 2/3 little spoons of rhum, 1 lemon peel, vanilla extract, 2/3 little spoons of cinnamon.

*if you do not like them or you can’t find them, you can choose not to put them and add more almonds or chocolate.

For the icing:

2 eggs’ whites, 200 g powdered sugar, a pinch of salt.

Preparation:

We start from the dough: knead flour and warm (not melted) butter, then add the egg, 2 yolks and sugar. Knead till it becomes homogeneous and let it rest while you prepare the filling.

dough traditional agnelletto treia

Take a big bowl and put inside crunched amaretti (or almond biscuits), minced almonds, minced dark chocolate, candied fruit, raisin, sugar, 2 yolks, coffee, 2/3 little spoons of rhum, the vanilla extract, 2/3 little spoons of cinnamon and lemon peel. Mix them all using a fork or by hands.

filling of sweet lamb treia macerata

Now take a piece of wax paper and draw (or trace) the lamb shape with a pencil.

Divide the dough it in two parts, take one and roll it up. It should cover the paper lamb’s shape entirely. Now take your paper lamb’s shape, put it over the kneaded dough, and start tracing the lamb’s border with a knife (BE CAREFUL: this passage is just to impress the lamb shape on the dough, so use the part of the knife that does not cut! Try to make a little scar on the dough).

Now that you have a guide line on the dough you can definitely cut it following the guide (now use the knife’s blade 🙂 ). We used a pizza cutter instead of a knife, so if you find yourself more comfortable with it you can do the same.

lamb shape traditional receip treia

Take the remaining part of the dough and do the same: this time cut the shape at least 3 cm bigger than the border you drawn because we need a bigger shape to close the filling between the 2 lambs’ shapes.

Start spreading the filling on the smaller dough’s shape keeping the filling 1 cm away from the borders. When it’s done, put over it the remaining bigger shape and close the borders by pressing carefully with fingers.

filling the dough le marche food

If at this stage you break the dough shape by accident or because it was too thin (that’s our case 🙂 ) just take a little bit of dough from the leftovers you cutted and stich it carefully on the holes.

Take one raisin or a chocolate flake to make the lamb’s eye and put everything in the owen at 175° for half an hour (however, check it and take it out from the owen when it gets a golden surface).

Now prepare the icing beating two eggs’ whites with sugar and a pinch of salt.

When the sweet lamb has cooled down, cover it with this white icing and have fun decorating it as you like! Wait till the glassa dries.

PS: if you do not like icing, you can cover the lamb with powdered sugar too.

agnelletto le marche treia

Easter dessert is ready! Yummy! °v°

Getting serious in spontaneous herbs picking! – A picking-tour through Le Marche fields

le marche spring

Seems that finally first bursts of spring are making their way in our Italian middle-earth!

We are winter-addicted but beside snow, it’s a fact that colors and warm breezes always melt the heart! Plus: it’s the perfect season for Picus expeditions! First stop: an outing to Le Marche countryside looking for spontaneous herbs!

grass le marche italian herbs

As grass picking is a serious thing around here, whose secrets and habits has been passed on generations, we called an expert! Meet Elda: 80-something years old & super sprint granny raised up during the Second World War in San Paterniano (Ancona), when grass picking did not mean just fun and health but was sometimes the only remedy against poverty. ”Especially in a country family with 5 daughters” she pointed out.

italian grandma picking herbs

So we have the expert but we actually do not know where to start!

Unless you do not have a favourite secret field, the first step is wandering and wandering looking for an abandoned or uncultivated field, perfect environment for spontaneous grasses’ growth (also because there are no pesticides).

Otherwise, you can take advantage for next year buying some seeds and spreading them in your field or garden….next year you will have an amazing & natural harvest! As this plants are spontaneous you do not even need to cultivate them, just sow the seeds accidentally and leave some of plants flowering, that’s all!

Of course for us the field’s quest is part of the fun! Along with the straw hat 🙂

pick herbs up le marche italy

Consider that not in all fields you can find the same herbs: there are some kinds we did not find in our picking-tour as for example the borage or “Borragine” (but this is just a great excuse for making a second round! 🙂 )

So here is what we had in our baskets at the end of the day and a brief guide on how-to-recognize these wild herbs:

spontaneous herbs le marche italy

Elda also gave us her mother’s favourite recipe with these spontaneous plants…so make sure you’ll be here for our next cooking-post! °v°

St Patrick’s Day in San Germano … drinking beer of course!

There is a festival we really really adore and we would like to borrow from a beautiful green country: Ireland! As it’s almost St Patrick’s Day we are getting ready to celebrate it properly! And “Properly” means of course with a huge tankard of beer 🙂

Our Irish friends are beer masters of long experience (there’s no match!), but we think they will forgive us if along with a Guinness stein this year we drink also an agricultural beer born at the shadow of green Monte Conero (in the end, nobody better than the Irish understand patriotism!).

san germano camerano monte conero

And how could be possibly called a brewery located in the village of San Germano (Camerano, AN) if not SAN GERMANO 18?

beer factory italy camerano

The brewer, started for fun, driven by passion and willing to create an authentic product made with at least 51% ingredients produced by himself: that’s why San Germano 18 is an “agricultural beer” and not a simple artisan one! The plus is that the malt is cultivated here, in a field in front of the brewery, breathing the marine breeze and turning golden under Le Marche sun.

camerano le marche italy

It really is fascinating for beer lovers and even newbies to see the brewery at work: I never realized the job of research and patience there could be behind my beer mug!

In the end what does it take? Grow the malt, toast it, find the right hops to preserve a certain  bitter, crush malt with water to obtain must, filter a first time, boil it, then second filtering to remove impurities, add yeast for the sparkling effect, last filtering to avoid yeast’s leftovers, bottle up,put the stoppers, now wait 2 months to let the beer referment in the bottle…breathe and finally taste it!

brewery agricultural beer camerano italy

Bur here the funniest part (besides drinking!), are the stories each beer has to tell!

GIANA, THE BLONDE PILSNER

What a pre-roman goddess, procuress of freshwater springs, has to do with beer? Nothing if not considering that water is the main ingredient of all beers! “La Giana” is part of the tradition of this area and almost each village has a spring dedicated to her. Camerano is no exception!

agricultural beer camerano san germano

UPUPA, A HONEY BLONDIE

Hoopoe (Upupa) is a beer full of mystic reminders to past centuries: the Druids used to ferment their beverages with honey to see the future (and with that high alcohol strengh they surely succeeded!). The Hoopoe, as the Celts, always wanders into the woods looking for food while the Druids were always seeking natural ingredients for their potions. Hoopoe is also the name of the farm who gives to San Germano 18 the honey for this recipe…so there was no better name for this blonde!

sangermano18 camerano le marche beer

BUBO’, STOUT BLACK BLACK BEER

Who’s afraid of bogeyman? Known by Camerano’s kids as Bubò?! In traditional legends it represents darkness and man’s fears…so, there is no better way to dispel them than a mug of beer! Guinness addicted will love this dark stout with strong scents of coffee and liquorice.

Of course this is just a small taste (anyway is still 10 am!)…but you should try all 9 tipes before choosing! And if you want to know more stories we are here to help your curiosity 🙂

sangermano18 tipical italian beer

Round of drinks for all & happy St Patrick’s Day! °v°