Arvolto con pomodori piccanti (Fried Flatbreads with Spicy Tomato Sauce)
Locanda di Nonna Gelsa, Niccone di Umbertide (Perugia), Umbria
Arvolto (also known as arvoltolo, bustrengo, tortuccia, and fregnaccia) is a piece of fried dough that takes on a contorted look. It may be either sweet or savory. You can use canned peeled tomatoes for the spicy sauce.
Serves 4 to 6
Salt to taste
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying and sautéing
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon minced chili pepper
Add enough lightly salted water to the flour to create a soft, smooth dough and knead until well-combined. Divide the dough into equal-sized pieces by weight (5 to 6 ounces each), shape each piece into a ball, and set them aside on your work surface. Cover with a damp dishtowel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Roll out the balls of dough one at a time. Their diameter should be just slightly smaller than the diameter of the pan you will use to fry them.
Line several baking sheets with paper towels. Fill a skillet with high sides with several inches of oil for frying and heat until very hot but not smoking. Add one of the flatbreads. When it begins to puff, carefully turn it over using tongs. When both sides of the flatbread are brown, transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining disks of dough.
When the breads have all been cooked, in a clean pan sauté the garlic in a small amount of oil over medium heat. When the garlic has browned, add the tomatoes and cook until dissolving, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and the minced chili pepper.
To serve, arrange each flatbread on an individual serving plate, cut into quarters, and top with the tomato sauce.
Cajoncie di spinaci (Rye Ravioli with Lambsquarters)
Ristorante Tyrol, Moena (Trento), Trentino-Alto Adige
The Ladin people of the Dolomites speak a Rhaeto-Romance language and have a unique culinary tradition that includes these ravioli, which are sometimes fried rather than boiled. Lambsquarters are wild spinach. They are delicious, but feel free to substitute any other type of greens you like.
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound lambsquarters
2/3 cup mascarpone
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
3 1/2 cups rye flour
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
Warm melted butter for finishing
Grated smoked ricotta for finishing
Poppy seeds for finishing
For the filling, sauté the onion in the butter until soft and golden. Add the lambsquarters and cook until reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, mince the mixture, and set aside to cool. When the mixture is cool, combine with the mascarpone, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and refrigerate until using.
For the pasta, combine the rye flour and all-purpose flour and shape into a well on the work surface. Lightly beat the eggs and yolks together and add to the center of the well. Add the olive oil, if using. (It makes the dough easier to work, but results in a pasta with less bite.) Roll into a thin sheet and let it rest briefly, then dust lightly with flour and cut into squares with 2 1/2-inch sides using a wheel cutter.
Remove the filling from the refrigerator and knead for a few seconds, then use the tip of a teaspoon to place a little bit of the filling in the center of each square of pasta. Fold the squares into triangles, taking care not to trap any air in the pockets with the filling. Press to seal. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the pasta rises to the surface, a few minutes at most. Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and toss with melted butter, grated smoked ricotta, and poppy seeds.
Polenta saracena con porri e funghi (Buckwheat Polenta with Leeks and Mushrooms)
Ristorante Il Borgo, Ormea (Cuneo), Piemonte
Buckwheat cooks into an earthy polenta that matches well with equally earthy mushrooms. This is pure comfort food.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, minced
1/4 cup dried porcini, soaked to rehydrate, squeezed dry, and minced
1 quart whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
Salt to taste
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and halved
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the leek. Add 2 tablespoons of water, the mushrooms, and the milk. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, then add the cream, season with salt, and simmer for 10 additional minutes to reduce slightly.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot with water to cover, bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Combine the two flours and drizzle the mixture into the pot with the potatoes and the boiling water in a thin stream. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes without stirring so that the mixture steams. Then beat with a wooden spoon so that the potatoes break down and the mixture is smooth. Serve with the leek sauce on top.