OK… So here goes, the launch of my first regular feature, Postcards from Italy. Every month I will post a recipe that my Italian Auntie has sent to me on the back of a postcard all the way from Cocumola, my family’s tiny village in the Southernmost part of Puglia.
We started writing and exchanging recipes with each other last summer. Hers, homemade southern Italian stables, and mine, classic British dishes.
I often daydream about those long summer nights when I was fortunate enough to stay (for months at a time!) at my Dad’s house in Puglia, lapping up the sun on the terrace and eating homegrown goodies from our next door neighbours, my Auntie and Uncle. In fact the whole street is Rizzello by name and I’m not even exaggerating.
I similarly long for those times when my Auntie said to me in passing “Vuoi mangiere?” (Want to eat?) to which I’d shout, “YES PLEASE!” I don’t think she realises how much I love eating her food. There is something incredibly honest about her cooking, which I believe is why it tastes so damn good. No doubt it has a lot to do with the vegetables being freshly picked that day and the tomatoes being poured straight from a bottle of homemade passata.
So here’s to the first recipe of what I hope will be many more of my Zia Teresa’s classics. Pasta con Ragu Rigate ‘Vitello (Pasta with Veal Sauce).
PASTA CON RAGU RIGATE ‘VITELLO
450g Minced veal (available at Waitrose)
10g Dried porcini mushrooms
600ml Stock (chicken)
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Tomato puree
1 Glass of dry white wine
1 Stalk of celery
1 Clove of garlic
1 Pinch of salt and pepper
50g Grated parmesan
1. Sauté the onion, garlic, and celery in olive oil.
2. Add the meat and fry a little then pour in the wine and let it evaporate.
3. Add the tomato puree and chopped mushrooms along with the salt and pepper then stir.
4. Pour in the stock and let simmer for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and if it dries up add more a bit more stock. Taste to see if the meat is tender, if not continue to simmer until it is, adding more stock if needed.
5. Cook the penne in salted boiling water. Dress with the sauce and finish off by grating parmesan.