Although Italy is mostly famous worldwide for the high quality and the immense variety of Pasta dishes, there is a lot more to discover about our traditional culinary art. If your travel to Italy is long enough and out of the peak season, you may give yourself the chance to enjoy quite a lot of our local food and wine tradition and you might discover that we also have a lot of vegetarian recipes.
Despite I was born and raised in Piedmont, at the north-west corner of Italy (at the borsers with France and Switzerland), my mother is from Sicily, in southern Italy, where culinary arts have been widely influenced by the Spanish and the Arab tradition. The recipe I am presenting you today is my mother’s interpretation of a simple dish made with Broccoli and Cauliflowers, which she learnt from my grandmother, who also learnt it from her mother, and so on, till the beginning of times.
It mixes vegetables that are common in winter season here, with some ingredients borrowed by the Arab tradition and a local wine from Sicily.
Broccoli and Cauliflower with Raisins, Pine Nuts and Passito wine
Note: Passito is a wine made with raisins thare left in the cellar for months, on special wooden stands, after the harvest, until they are almost dry (Appassito in Italian). When the raisins are eventually pressed, the juice is very condensed and aromatic, thus the final product is a wine that is stronger and richer in taste, which you cannot sip during your lunch or dinner but mostly after that, to help digestion. I used Passito di Pantelleria which is from Sicily, but you can also use Passito di Moscato, Passito di Erbaluce or, if you can’t find any Passito at your place you can use another liquor such as Wiskey, Bourbon or Rhum, until they are a bit aged.
- A small Cauliflower
- A small Broccoli
- 1 Shallot
- 50 grams of Pine Nuts
- 100 grams of Raisins
- 1/2 glass of Passito wine
- 2 tbps of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Rehydrate the raisins in a small bowl filled with warm water for approximately 20 minutes. Menawhile clean the Cauliflower and the Broccoli until you get locks of the same size, then wash them carefully.
Chop the shallot very finely and let it brown for a couple of minutes in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil at high fire.
When the shallot is well browned (but not burnt), add the Cauliflower and the Broccoli in the pan and let them toast for a couple of minutes. Take the raisins our of the re-hydrating bowl, squeeze them a bit in the palm of your hand to release the water and put them into the frying pan togeteher with the pine nuts. Mix well, then add half glass of Passito wine and let it evaporate at high fire. The room will get filled with a very pleasant aroma. When the wine is fully evaporated, cover the frying pan, turn the fire down at low level and cook for approximately 20 minutes. Check the solidity from time to time: the broccoli and the cauliflower shall get soft but they don’t have to mash (you may need more or less than 20 minutes depending on the strenght of your fire and the hardness of the vegetables.
If you were in Italy, a plate like this would be a side service for your main course. Since this recipe is simple but very tasty I do usually pair it with something simple, whose taste wouldn’t cover that of the vegetable: try it with a simple roast chicken or, if you are a full vegetarian, with some Tofu.
Try it if you like and let me know what you think in the comments section here below.