TUSCANY MARE - step by step instructions

A great many regions of Italy are intensely diverse; the food from one city barely even echoing that of its neighbour. Tuscany is a little different, and a common thread certainly runs through the food of its major cities – Florence, Sienna, Lucca & Pisa, amongst others – and through the countryside in between. Livorno, a sort of renaissance Milton Keynes, is a rare exception; its food, less bounded by tradition, features bold and punchy flavourings; though it is nevertheless distinctively Tuscan, and fits well within the greater cannon of the cuisine; earthy pulses, bright and crisp vegetables, and rich aromatic seafood, here strongly punctuated with garlic and chilli. This is a part of Italy that has beguiled the British for centuries, and no doubt will continue to do so for many more.   

TONNO E FAGIOLI
~
CACIUCCO
ROCKET, FENNEL & PECORINO SALAD
~
TORTA DELLA NONNA

 

For your meal you will need:

A bowl for dressing the tuna

A generous sized pot for the caciucco

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

  • Warm the caciucco base
  • Dress the tuna & beans, then eat
  • Add the fish & shellfish to the caciucco base and cook
  • Grill the bread for a fettunta
  • Dress the rocket & fennel salad
  • Eat both
  • Let the pie come up to room temperature, then eat this too

Tonno e fagioli

Tuna has been an important catch on the Italian coastline since at least Neolithic times, the fish trapped as they migrate down the western Mediterranean to enter the Atlantic through the straits of Gibraltar. These days, few Tuna are caught from the Tuscan coast, the majority coming from the islands of Sicily & Sardinia, but the Tuscan dish of Tonno e fagioli remains; and justifiably so. It is heavenly match of meaty tuna gently confited, with earthy cannellini beans perfumed with fresh oregano, and spiked with red onion and a sharp dressing of wine vinegar and the finest Tuscan olive oil.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Confit tuna
  • Cooked cannellini beans
  • Rocket, sliced red onion & picked oregano
  • A pack of red wine vinegar and Tuscan oil for dressing

 Directions:

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl
  • Add the dressing and mix well, but delicately, by hand
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust
  • Let tumble gently from your hands onto a chosen plate

Caciucco

Livorno, on the Tuscan coast, began as a trading port founded by the Medici dukes, its purpose to replace the old silted up port at Pisa. It had none of the culture or tradition of the older cities such as Florence or Lucca. Its food, too, was unbridled by the rest of Tuscan tradition, and influenced by the international culture of the traders who thronged the port. Chilli, garlic & tomato thrived here, to be brought together in rich punchy dishes such as Caciucco; practically every town and city on the med has its own version of fish stew, through France, Spain, Italy and beyond. This one is uniquely Livornese, and Livorno is indeed unique.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • A base of cuttlefish stewed in red wine, sage, garlic, tomato & chilli
  • A mix of clams, mussels, monkfish & prawns
  • Some fine olive oil, a clove of garlic & a little chopped parsley
  • A couple of wedges of bread, to toast, for fettunta

Directions:

  • Place the caciucco base in a large saucepan or stewpot, preferably lidded.
  • Add 200ml water, and bring to a simmer
  • When simmering, add the mussels, clams & monkfish, cover with a lid and cook for two minutes.
  • Add the prawns and cook for a further two minutes
  • Meanwhile, grill the bread (or toast) then rub with the garlic clove, and drizzle with half the oil
  • Tuck the bread into shallow bowls, and ladle the stew over. Pour on the remaining oil, and scatter with the parsley

Rocket, fennel & pecorino salad

Tuscany is a land teeming with intensely flavoured vegetables, and few more so, or more Tuscan, than wild rocket and Florence fennel. Here we shave the fennel into delicate ribbons, matched with little slivers of sharp and salty pecorino romano, tossed through the rocket, the lot dressed with fine Tuscan oil and bitter lemon.

Your pack serves two as a side and contains:

  • Wild rocket
  • Shaved Florence fennel
  • Shaved pecorino romano
  • A pack of lemon dressing

Directions:

  • Place the salad ingredients in a bowl
  • Give the dressing a good shake to mix, then pour over
  • Dress lightly and delicately with your hands, then sit the lot on a chosen plate

Torta della nonna

The Tuscans don’t do much by way of desserts – most meals end with a little cheese, or one of the many biscotti esteemed in the region; cantucci, panforte, or Brutti ma buoni – the ‘ugly but good’ biscuits that could be the name of a whole host of Italian dishes, perhaps dipped into Vin Santo or warm Zabaione. Torta della Nonna is a notable exception; Nonna– Grandma – is, of course, held in the highest regard in Italy. The very word signifies comfort and care, an older and gentler way of doing things. This rich custard pie is a gentle and homely embrace of a dish – sponge like pastry encasing a rich filling of thick vanilla custard, the lot topped with delicate, aromatic pine nuts.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • 2 fat wedges of torta della nonna

Directions:

  • Remove from the fridge a half hour or more before eating, to allow the slices to come to room temperature
  • Remove from the tub and place on plates
  • If desired, dust lightly with icing sugar
  • Eat.

ALLERGENS: all packs are prepared in a mixed kitchen, we cannot guarantee the absence of ANY allergen. All packs of this dish contain dairy, gluten, alliums, eggs, celery, and nuts.