One of the reasons I love being in Tuscany is to eat. Yes, some of my fondest memories are the times I've eaten the best food and drank the best wine. All at the same time. That's practically every time I experience Italian food and wine.
As the seasons change, I think about what foods are being prepared and served in my beloved Tuscany - Chianti, to be exact. During their fall and winter, my friends are enjoying big red wines, lots of porcini mushrooms, black truffles, chestnuts, polenta, new olive oil, pecorino cheese (it's creamier now - the sheep eat grass, not hay), cinghiale (wild boar is hunted so the meat is fresh not frozen), and hearty pastas with meat sauce. YUM.
Our dinner last evening was a wonderful bolognese lasagna, accompanied by a big red chianti (Casa Emma: www.casaemma.com) and fettunta (toasted bread rubbed with garlic and lavished with Podere Pornanino's new olive oil: www.pornanino.com)
Yesterday and today, Mother Nature is giving us a big dose of reality. Outside it's acting like WINTER. This is a shock to our systems! Before yesterday, we've enjoyed temperatures up to 50 degrees. In January! Now that reality is setting in, I like to eat comfort foods.... like big thick soups, heavy pasta dishes, potatoes....anything with potatoes... and chocolate, of course. Funny thing - everything goes with big red wine!
Tonight, I will make one of my all-time favorites and I thought I'd share it with you. It's simple and quick, but really hits the spot on a blustery, cold day. The first time I had this was on a cold fall day in Tuscany at Badia a Coltibuono, which is located between Radda and Gaiole. Lorenza de'Medici runs the cooking school there: (www.coltibuono.com)
ITALIAN SAUSAGE, CABBAGE, & PENNE
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped garlic
1 lb Italian sausage - cut into bite-size pieces (easy to do when semi-frozen)
1 head black (or other) cabbage, torn up
4 c marinara sauce
1 lb (4 c) penne rigate (I like Barilla)
Saute onions and garlic in oil until golden. Add sausage and brown. Add cabbage, apply lid, and cook over medium heat until cabbage is wilted. Stir regularly to coat cabbage in juices. Cook penne rigate to al dente. Do not overcook. Add to cabbage mixture or pour sauce over individual portions of pasta. Serve with a bottle of big red Chianti. Buon appetito!
I found this photo on line and it does not do justice to my version! However, to experience this dish at it's best, you will need to join me in Tuscany. And here is how you do that: www.enchantedtuscanytours.com
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch through facebook. Just do it! I've received 3 inquiries about spring/summer tours so the groups are forming.
Vieni in Toscana con me! Come to Tuscany with me! I promise to help create wonderful memories of not only the food and wine, but the places, the people, the beauty.....