Bruschetta with broad beans, pecorino, mint and taggiasche olives
Just-picked, freshly podded, raw baby broad beans are unlike anything you can buy in the shops, and a real seasonal treat.
Here they are mixed with Taggiasche olives, a Ligurian delicacy from the small town of Taggia, considered to be one of the best-flavoured varieties.
Wine pairing: greco di tufo, benito ferrara
Ingredients (serves six):
250g broad beans, podded
8 mint leaves
30g pecorino, grated, plus extra to serve
lemon, zest and juice
50ml olive oil
6 slices focaccia, toasted
3 tbsps taggiasche olives, halved
salt and black pepper
In a pestle and mortar, pound the broad beans, mint leaves and a pinch of salt until crushed.
Fold in the pecorino, lemon zest and juice and olive oil, and season to taste.
Cut the focaccia into small pieces and spread thickly with the topping. Sprinkle with the olives and more pecorino before serving.
Ravioli with ricotta di bufala and young nettles
Dismissed by many as a weed, nettles have a peppery, spinach-like taste and are delicious in soups and stews – or with creamy cheeses as in this light supper dish.
Franciacorta brut nature, 1701 or pinot bianco vorberg, terlano
Ingredients (serves four):
For the filling:
500g ricotta di bufala (or cow’s milk ricotta if you can’t find it)
500g young nettles zest of ½ lemon
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg salt and black pepper
For the pasta dough
520g 00 flour
a big pinch of salt 6 large egg yolks 3 large eggs
½ tablespoon olive oil semolina, for dusting
80g unsalted butter
a large handful of mixed marjoram and sage leaves
First hang the ricotta. Place it in a fine muslin cloth and either hang over a bowl or rest it in a sieve with a bowl underneath to catch the excess liquid. Leave to hang in the fridge overnight.
To make the pasta dough, mix the flour and salt on a clean surface and make a deep well in the centre. Add the egg yolks, eggs and oil. Working quickly but gently, use your fingers to gradually combine. Bring together into a rough ball and then knead for 10–15 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough – it will be hard work at first but keep going and it will come together. Alternatively, mix all the ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook. Wrap the dough and rest in the fridge.
To make the filling, blanch the nettles in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and allow to cool, then squeeze out the excess liquid, making sure the nettles are really dry. Once dry, finely chop the nettles and mix with the ricotta and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg and chill in the fridge for one hour before making the ravioli.
Cut the pasta dough into two pieces of around 300g each. Roll each one out to around 1cm thick, then feed through a pasta machine, gradually reducing the settings until you reach thickness level 1.5.
Cut each sheet in half so you have four pieces. Dust the work surface with semolina, lay out a sheet of pasta and place heaps of filling (about ¾ tablespoon each) along the pasta sheet about 3cm apart.
Spray a little water on the pasta to help seal it and top with another sheet of pasta. Gradually push the air out of the pasta parcels and seal tightly. Cut with a ravioli cutter and store on a tray with plenty of semolina to prevent the pieces sticking to one another.
Repeat with the rest of the pasta and filling – you should make around 36 pieces in total.
To serve, cook the pasta in boiling salted water for two minutes.Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the marjoram and sage, then add the pasta along with a tablespoon of the cooking water to form an emulsion.Serve sprinkled with the Parmesan.