Hello there, how are you all getting over the recent festivities and what usually accompanies them? You know what I mean – that extra pound or two as we weigh up the situation on the scales, the liver sensibly asking for some respite from tipple-mania, and the body aching to be involved in a modicum of movement and fitness. Yes, it is very good to overindulge every now and then, to allow our hair to cascade down, to increment the variety of spices in our life and to let two of the Seven Cardinal Sins, gluttony and sloth, out of the moral no-no box in which we justly allocate them the rest of the year. My mother-in-law Maria’s mental health is fast degenerating on account of dementia/Alzheimers with all the sadness that that entails for all concerned, not least of which are the ‘missing’ wit and quips in her conversation. If there were to be just one sentence I would love to hear her utter again then that would be, “Lord save us from the virtuous !”.
That said, one does have to be sensible. I can’t stand the term ‘detox’ but I’m presuming a large swathe of post-holidays revellers are embracing it full on.
Last Saturday I went to Frascati’s weekly Slow Food (local) farmers’ market as well as to the town’s covered market which is open six days a week, and it was as if I couldn’t get enough of the vegetables on offer. I went quite beserk, and came home laden like a mule with bags hanging from both shoulders and being carried in both hands. It’s not a long walk from these markets to where I live but it was quite the haul, I assure you and not very comfortable. As I took out the vegetables out of the bags, I could see that I had perhaps … ahem … erred on the side of vegetable excess (can’t think of the Cardinal Sins’ name for that one) ? I made myself some squash soup for lunch and as I went about my way, I fell into a reverie of sorts.
We all know vegetables are healthy and good for us. But really, I do love love love me veggies – there wasn’t a hint of ‘detox’ notion clouding my purchase – it was sheer lust (another Cardinal sin) that drove me. Vegetables make me happy, you see. As does wine. And so my thoughts flitted about being vegetarian and vegan in our contemporary times. Again, I came to the conclusion I’ve had for a while, which is that I am an omnivore with a twist: I am a vegetarian who eats lots of meat, fish and dairy foods. But I can easily eschew meat or fish at a meal whereas I simply cannot contemplate one without vegetables. I started writing a post along these lines yesterday but it ‘degenerated’ and got to be so long that I am going to post it separately.
Here, in the meantime, just take a look at all my lovely vegetables from last Saturday’s morning shop. The exercise included walking and weights so well done I.
Radishes … mmm. My sister made a herring based paté to serve with them (it included yogurt, thick Italian spreadable cheese, freshly grated horse radish, lemon juice and zest, parsely and olive oil. We tweaked the recipe from one of Jamie Oliver’s TV ones that was made using smoked mackerel instead.
Artichokes are coming into their own season-wise just now. We had these three beauties for dinner last night, cooked the classic Roman way. See link below.
Spuds. We got these for our mother.
Thinly cut, lots of olive oil, dried chilli flakes, and salt and pepper. This is how we cooked them that evening.
The garlic bulbs (Italian, from the Abbruzzo region) were for my sister to take back to Blighty. It’s hard to find good garlic in the UK. The fennel is still in the fridge, as is the bunch of spring onions. That yellow thing is a bergamot. I’d never seen one before. Smells heavenly. Tasted the zest and it was overpowering, fwah. The apple I ate after lunch. The red pepper: we griddled it and had it for dinner with olive oil, parsely and thin slices of garlic. Up top in the photo and hard to make out, is some lamb’s lettuce and a small bunch of rocket/arugula.
These are what we call ‘broccoletti’ in and around Rome. Broccoli Rabe or Rapini elsewhere. I’d trimmed them of the bits that are not nice to eat and left them to soak in this cheerful yellow tub. Later I boiled them in salted water until tender. Once drained and cooled, they need to be pressed to remove the excess moisture. They can be served either plain, with just a squirt of lemon juice and olive oil (which is how we enjoyed them). Or else, they can be cooked a second time in a frying pan, tossed about and coated in olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes. Here’s a link to a quick pasta recipe using broccoletti:
This is what we call cicoria – pronounced chee-corr-eee-ah in English.
It’s a bit of a labour of love trimming cicoria. It too needs soaking in plenty of water before cooking. There is always some soil attached to it that needs removing.
The link below will show you what I did with this cicoria, after boiling it first.
The above vegetable is “Cicoria catalogna”, another variety of cicoria. During this time of year, this veggie gets trimmed and turned into a beautiful salad. We call this “puntarelle” here. The dressing includes the ubiquitous olive oil, plus garlic, vinegar and anchovy fillets. Quote from wikipedia: Puntarelle or cicoria di catalogna or cicoria asparago is a variant of chicory. The heads are characterized by an elongated shape (about 40–50 cm), light green stems and dandelion shaped leaves. ‘Puntarelle’ shoots have a pleasantly bitter taste.
Our Christmas Eve wouldn’t be the same without them. Anyway, see a link on how to prepare them:
This broccolo romano is still in the fridge.
Ditto this cabbage.
And last and definitely not least, here is some of othe squash I used to make myself some soup as already mentioned.
Here is wishing you all a happy vegetable-filled year.