Fresh Spinach Salad with Pecorino, Fennel and Lemon Zest
The Pecorino, a hard cheese with similar characteristics to Parmigiano-Reggiano though made from sheep’s milk and more nutty and milky in flavour, adds a sharp saltness to the salad which perfectly complements the sweetness and fragrant aroma of lemon and grapefruit. Serve a large portion as a main for lunch or enjoy it as a side dish accompanied with grilled salmon or seafood such as octopus or scallops.
For 2 portions
• 150g fresh baby spinach leaves
• 6 tbsp. Pecorino Romano, grated
• 2 shells from a fennel bulb, sliced
• Lemon peel (from one large organic and unwaxed lemon)
• Fresh chilli (two very small or one medium sized chilli)
• 4 tbsp. lemon juice
• 3 tbsp. grapefruit juice
• 1 shallot
• 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• Sea salt
1) Wash the fresh spinach in a colander and leave to dry for a few minutes. In the meantime prepare the citrus dressing. In a small bowl, combine lemon and grapefruit juice with olive oil, white wine vinegar, one diced shallot and salt and pepper to taste.
2) Break off two shells from a fresh fennel bulb and cut them into thin slices, including the stalks. Spare the leaves to use them as garnish later.
3) Wash the lemon. Use a citrus grater, e.g. Canele cutter or mini Julienne peeler, and scrape off long, thin strips of lemon peel. Then cut the fresh chilli in fine strips and add both the chilli and lemon peel to a non-stick frying pan put on low heat. Don’t add any fat to the pan; just let the ingredients get crisp by the heat. This will only take a few minutes, but be careful not to burn the lemon peel.
4) Take two large plates and divide the spinach and fennel strips. Then drizzle the citrus dressing over the leaves. Take a handful of grated Pecorino and evenly sprinkle it over the leaves. Then place the crisp lemon peel and chilli in the middle and garnish with the fennel leaves. Serve immediately as the spinach leaves will get soggy once the dressing has been added.
Stuffed mushrooms with Asiago D’Allevo and Pancetta
1 large breakfast or Portobello mushroom per person
Knob of butter
A bunch of spring onions, chopped (about 1 per person)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A handful of pancetta, chopped into small pieces
A handful of breadcrumbs
A handful of freshly grated Asiago D’Allevo
A handful of freshly chopped parsley
Brandy or sherry
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F - gas 4)
1. Brush the mushrooms clean but don't wash them
2. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop stems into small pieces
Put a large glug of olive oil into a frying pan, add the garlic and fry gently to soften for a few minutes
4. Add the spring onions and chopped mushroom stems and fry for a further 2 minutes
5. Stir in the pancetta and breadcrumbs and cook for 1 minute
6. Remove from the hear and stir in the parsley
7. spoon the mixture into the mushrooms and top with the grated Asiago D'Allevo, place on a baking tray
8. Pour a capful of brandy or sherry into each mushroom and top with a pinch of salt and some olive oil.
9. Bake for 15 minutes
Leek and Gorgonzola Risotto
2 small leeks sliced
1 garlic clove
125 risotto rice
1 glass of white wine
900ml vegetable stock
2tbsp tarragon, chopped
125g creamy Gorgonzola
1. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and half of the butter in a wide shallow pan. Add the leeks and garlic and cook over a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil.
3. Increase the heat a little and pour in the wine, simmer for 2 minutes
4. Add a ladleful of the stock and simmer, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has been absorbed. continue adding stock this way until the rice is creamy and tender
5. Season and stir in the tarragon. Remove from the heat and fold in the remaining butter and cheese through the risotto