Thoughts of Italian food seem to always conjure up the thought of tomatoes and tomato based sauces. Yet, in the winter months, when sun-ripened, natural growing tomatoes are not available, most foods are without tomatoes in any form. Winter lettuces, fruits and greens (with a predominance from the cabbage family) hold center stage and are often combined in unusual and interesting dishes. This week, I enjoyed among so many others, these three winter dishes.
endive, rucola, apple, pear salad with toasted almonds dressed in a thick 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar, garlic and extra virgin olive oil
borrowed from Tuscany, the makings of ribollita
There are many slight variations to this classic non-recipe, but they all include:
- Swiss chard
- ruffled cabbage (cavolo nero or verza)
- several stalks of celery
- leeks or onions
- a russet potato
- white cannellini beans
- stale crusty bread
- extra virgin olive oil
- my variation: a few “flecks” of carrot for color
- salt, pepper and peperoncino to taste
plump black olives dressed with our Genius Loci extra virgin olive oil, the rind of our own orange and minced garlic
Winter foods do NOT take a back seat to those of the summer and are so fitting to the season. These are just a few of my favorites among the many winter delights.