LIGURIA CAMPO - step by step instructions

Liguria is an emerald gem of a region – what one of my good friends would describe as one of ‘God’s thumbprints’ on the earth. I have long enjoyed staying a few nights at the harbour town of Camogli, partly in order to hike the promontory in the morning. There I would stop at midday at the Abbey of San Fruttuoso – completely isolated save for a coastal path, secluded beach and sea access – to lie a while on the sand, and then take lunch at Ristorante Giorgo, seated over the waves. After lunch I’d complete the hike to Portofino, ogle the vulgarity of wealth and sip an overpriced diet coke, then take a boat back to Camogli for supper. Here, I give you a feast of Liguria’s springtime bounty – vibrant minestrone speckled with pesto, rich little pasta parcels stuffed with wild herbs and tossed with walnut sauce, and camogliesi, fat little choux buns stuffed with chocolate.  

For your meal you will need:

  • A saucepan for the minestrone
  • A large pot for boiling water for pasta, and a frying pan for the sauce
  • A wooden spoon

The detailed recipes for the dishes are below, but in essence: 

  • Let all the ingredients come up to room temperature
  • Bring a pan of well-salted (10g/lt) water to the boil
  • Put the minestrone in a pan, add a splash of water then heat up and cook for a minute
  • Serve in bowls, topped with a spoonful of pesto
  • Boil the pasta, warm the sauce, then mix the two
  • Serve with the walnuts crumbled atop
  • Chop the tomatoes and dress them
  • Scoff this & the pasta, then the pud

Minestrone verde with pesto Genovese 

My mum always makes this verdant vegetable soup, enriched with a hunk of Parmesan rind, and has done since I was tiny. It is her second most potent restorative after Yiddishe-mama chicken soup. Until I went to Liguria, I assumed this was the true minestrone alla Genovese, but soon discovered that is a heartier and redder concoction of dried beans, pasta, courgettes & often tomato. Locals would call my mother’s soup minestra verde (green soup) instead and, like the more famous Genovese, serve it with a fresh, vibrant dollop of pesto Genovese in it.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Minestrone, full of the Spring’s bounty
  • Some pesto Genovese (ensure this is at room temperature and not fridge cold)
  • A little parmesan

Directions:

  • Decant the minestrone into a pan, and place on a medium heat
  • Add 175ml water
  • Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat
  • Serve in bowls, topped with a spoonful of pesto & scattered with parmesan

Pansotti alle noci 

Pansotti, little triangular stuffed pastas, are typically filled with preboggion, a mixture of wild herbs from the Ligurian hills, and are a celebration of the abundance of Spring. We stuff ours with a mixture of borage & chard, and perfume them and their sauce with aromatic marjoram, and they are joyous.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Pansotti, stuffed with young greens
  • A sauce of walnuts, marjoram & fine oil
  • A little parmesan & some toasted walnuts

    Directions:

    • Bring a large pan of well-salted (10g/lt) water to the boil
    • Decant the sauce into a frying pan
    • Add the pansotti to the water, and cook for roughly 1 ½ minutes
    • Meanwhile, place the sauce on a medium heat, and add a splash of the pasta water
    • Gently warm the sauce (do not boil)
    • When the pansotti are ready, drain them then add to the pan of sauce
    • Stir together gently, then serve on warmed plates
    • Crumble over the whole walnuts (crush them between your fingers), and scatter with the parmesan

      Merinda tomatoes, olive oil & basil

      Crunchy, mildly acidic & saline, these tomatoes are very different to their plump summer brethren, and to my mind, superior. They are at their best when part green, part red, and offer a fantastic crunch and deeply savoury flavour. Tossed with a little good oil and fresh basil, they form the simplest and most beautiful salad of all.

      Your pack serves two as a side and contains:

      • Some merinda tomatoes
      • A little fresh basil
      • Some beautiful olive oil

      Directions:

      • Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating
      • Chop into rough chunks
      • Season well with coarse salt, tear in the basil and douse with some of the oil (you’ll probably have a little spare – use it for dunking bread)

        Camogliesi al rhum

        Camogliesi are, like all the best things, a 70’s invention designed to lure in tourists – originally from Pasticceria Revello in Camogli, a small town just a few kilometres up the coast from Portofino, they were a means to give the town its own distinctive product, and so give tourists a reason to wander in. And they worked – so much so that now not only are these butch choco-coated profiteroles richly stuffed with choco-rum ganache, but the people of Camogli are too.

        Your pack serves two and contains:

        • Four little camogliesi

        Directions:

        • Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating, or better yet, 1-2 hours
        • Serve on plates
        • Scoff

          ENJOY