We arrived home in the early hours this morning from an amazing and beautiful holiday to Tuscany, and the first thing I thought about after a well needed sleep was all the amazing food we ate and how I am going to relive it in my own little kitchen, if only we had the sunshine and beautiful scenery to go with it! For food and wine lovers Tuscany is an absolute dream; there are vine yards galore, fresh pasta, amazing produce and rich meaty casseroles. Instead of giving you my usual ramble please have a look through my pictures, and you will see just how incredible the place is.
I had some leftover pasta in the freezer from my previous pasta recipe (http://homemadewithmess.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/fresh-crab-pappardelle-with-red-peppers-chilli-and-wine/) so couldn’t resist carrying on the Italian food trend, I am now officially obsessed! So make sure you’re prepared for lots of holiday inspired recipes to come.
For the Roasted Veg and Feta Filling
- 1 red pepper – cut into 1inch size chunks
- 1 small courgette – cut into 1 inch size chunks
- 125g broccoli – broken into small florets
- 4 garlic cloves – left whole
- 1 red onion – cut into 8
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 70g feta cheese
For the cheese sauce
- ½ pint semi skimmed milk
- 1 heap tbsp. corn flour – mixed with a little water to make a paste
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ vegetable stock cube – crumbled
- 55g cheddar cheese – grated
For the pasta (I would suggest doubling up this quantity so that you have some leftover to make another meal)
- 100g 00 flour
- Pinch salt
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 egg
Pre-heat the oven to 200’C
Toss the vegetables, onion and garlic together with the oil in a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes
After the 20minutes, give the veg a good stir and remove the garlic, return the veg to the oven for a further 10 minutes and in the meantime finely chop the garlic
After the ten minutes, stir the veg and check it, it may need another ten minutes to cook and soften up
Once the veg has cooked, stir in the feta and the garlic and set aside until needed
For the cheese sauce; heat the milk with the bay leaf in until it is steaming and then pour in two thirds of the corn flour mix and the stock cube and stir continuously
You will see the sauce start to thicken, it will need it to be the consistency to coat the back of your spoon, if not simply add the remaining flour paste
Season the sauce with salt and pepper and add two thirds of the cheese, set aside while to make your pasta
To make the pasta; sieve the flour, salt and chilli powder onto a clean worktop and make a well in the centre
Break an egg into the middle and then start to bring the flour and the egg together with your finger tips
Once the dough has come together knead it for 7-10 minutes until you have a smooth dough
Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 20-30 minutes
To make the pasta split the dough into 2 and roll out until it is thin enough to roll through a pasta maker
Roll the pasta through the thickest setting, fold in half and then repeat this about 3-4 times before reducing the settings and feeding through the roller until you get to about setting number three and have lovely thin and smooth pasta.
Grease an oven proof dish (I would say roughly 20” x 10”, but I used an oval size dish and squeezed the rolls in) with a little olive oil
Cover the strip of pasta you are not working on so that it doesn’t dry out and lay the other strip out on a clean worktop.
About 2 inches in from the end of the pasta, spread a large spoonful of the vegetable mixture right down it from top to bottom so you have a strip about 2 inches thick of the vegetables.
Roll the pasta over the vegetables and when you have met the other side of pasta, tuck it in so it is nicely sealed and then cut the tube you have created off the main strip on pasta and place in the oiled dish
Repeat this process with the remaining pasta and fill your dish with your rolls of filled cannellini
Top the pasta with the cheese sauce and then sprinkle on the remaining cheese, along with a good twist of black pepper and bake in the oven for 30 minutes
Serve with fresh salad and enjoy
Our first meal in Italy had to be a pizza! This one was Tuscan sausage, Mushrooms and olives. I cannot explain how amazing the mushrooms were. I have never had ones like it, the flavour was out of this World and they just melted in your mouth!
After a morning in a natural thermal spar we stumbled across a cute little hilltop town called Pari, and it was here we had our best meal of the whole holiday. It was a small cafe/deli type place with little plastic tables and chairs out side but it was what I imagined to be proper Italy. Everything on the menu was home made; I had melt in the mouth cheese filled ravioli with meat ragu and a deliciously smooth and silky panacotta. After this meal I had numerous pasta dishes and desserts that could not even compare. I also had a carafe of white wine for 5 euros, winner!!
As I mentioned earlier, the mushrooms in Tuscany were out of this world. On our rainy day we had a walk and the woods were filled with tens of locals with baskets sorting out the local fungi. If only I had a better knowledge of what was edible or not and we would have get involved too!
Miles and miles of vineyards, a wine lovers paradise!
We couldn’t resist some local wine tasting….
Followed by a delicious lunch (and more wine)
You can’t go ton Italy without indulging on the ice cream, and it’s definitely not hard to come by as gelato stores are everywhere!
This photo is for my mum as she has loads of courgette flowers and doesn’t know what to do with them. This was the most incredible starter and was filled with creamy ewe’s cheese and smoked ham and then deep fried in a light batter.
If you like your steak well done then Italy is not the place for you, there were some steaks on the menu that claimed ‘only served rare!’
You can’t go to Italy without checking out Florence. Although watch out for the sting in the prices, we paid more here for 4 drinks that we did in some places for 2 courses each and 2 glasses of wine!
I want one of these in our flat!! Along with a garden and a massive pizza oven!
The other great thing about the restaurants is they have no issue with you taking your wine home if you don’t drink it, which makes for a great experience on the beach the next day!