Tuscan olives, usually picked green to press for oil
Fall is in full swing as I returned to Tuscany from Sicily.
I gave my neighbors some of my oil from Olio Verde
they traded me some fresh olives to cure.
I do a salt-only technique which I will write up later
when I get more olives. My husband adores these hard to find cured olives
so I make a huge jar of them yearly.
We look for abbandoned olive groves and harvest the olives when they are black.
The secrets to great Italian food are the great ingredients
celebrating the seasons with what is right from the field.
Italy's way with vegetables makes anyone LOVE them.
Traditionally, vegetables are twice-cooked.
The first time to COOK them,
the second time is to FLAVOR them.
The added flavor from garlic and olive oil, with or without chili pepper
is one of my favorites as a side dish,
but works expecially well as a pasta course.
On my recent trip to Sicily, the incredible colored cauliflowers were all over the markets
being sold from trucks on the side of the road
and we even saw then packed as passengers into the back of a car!
Palermo uses fresh breadcrumbs on everything
even in place of parmesan cheese.
here is what I made inspired by the trip.
Pasta with cauliflower and toasted breadcrumbs.
Pasta con cavolfiore e pangrattato
Boil cauliflower in salted water until really tender.
Remove from water, save water to boil pasta.
While the pasta is boiling, saute a large clove of garlic, sliced, in extra virgin olive oil
I added a couple of oil-packed anchovies and a couple of tiny, spicey, bird's eye chili's.
When the garlic is just starting to get golden, add the cauliflower,
and break-up into smaller pieces.
When the pasta is done, saute in pan with the cauliflower mix
and top with toasted breadcrumbs.
To make the toasted breadcrumbs:
Sicilians have a salted bread they buy in whole loaves.
When it is getting older, they take out the centers and put into a food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs.
I used regular breadcrumbs I find here in Tuscany and sauteed them in a skillet with garlic, olive oil, salt and some herbs. I cooked until they changed color.
Wonderful earthy taste and texure to the dish.
Then a little Tuscan lasagna went into the oven for another day, I was having cooking withdrawl!
Making Tuscan Sugo is such a fabulous thing to do on a blustery day!