Food & Garden
A Milanese Lunch Menu: Inspired by REV On Air with Sara Maino
Italy produces some of the world’s finest vegetables and fruits, including its famed legumes and plant based oils like olive oil and walnut. In this editorial, Our Food and Garden Editor, Robert shares two delicious Milan inspired recipes using fresh organic produce, perfect for Spring and Summer time.
Italy produces some of the world’s finest vegetables and fruits, including its famed legumes and plant based oils like olive and walnut. Taking inspiration from this land’s beautiful produce, we have put together a selection of plant based recipes for you to enjoy at home.
One of our biggest takeaways from Vogue Italia’s Sara Maino’s inspiring podcast episode was her realisation that in our fast pace and hectic lifestyle, time is the new, and perhaps the ultimate, luxury one can aspire to, and the importance of embracing the new “slow” that comes from having time.
So we have crafted this menu to evoke Sara’s message and also bring Milan’s cucina to your kitchen. Take time to shop locally and seasonally (wherever possible) and to take your time to cook your meal ideally from scratch, and then eat at leisure. The month of May is the perfect time to really start enjoying all the wonderful spring greens like asparagus, young zucchini and broad beans that are filling our markets. It is therefore the ideal time to give you some recipes for Milanese style veggie based dishes.
Antipasto - Carpaccio of Courgette With Fava Beans & Capers
The fava (broad bean) holds a near mythical status in Italian kitchens as they are one of the first spring crops to be ready for harvesting, seen as a symbol of spring. They are a cherished vegetable throughout the spring months. Here is a simple, delicious recipe for you. The marinating of the thinly sliced courgettes softens them, so no further cooking is needed. Try to seek out the freshest smallest courgettes, using the whole vegetable. If only larger ones are available, slice it open (in half) and scoop out the seeds.
Ingredients (for two portions)
2 Small, young courgettes
150g Fresh young broad beans (otherwise frozen will also do)
150g Freshest peas you can source (otherwise frozen is also good)
1 Small lemon, grated zest & juice
2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon baby capers
2 Tablespoons of fresh flat-leaf parsley, well chopped
1 Tablespoon of fresh mint leaves, well chopped
Parmesan or hard organic cheese (like parmesan, or ricotta) generous shavings onto the finished salad
Salt to taste
Freshly milled black pepper to taste
Using your mandolin (if you don’t have one use a veggie peeler or a sharp knife), slice each courgette lengthways into strips, making them as thin as possible. Place all the strips into a salad serving dish.
Now, add the zest of one lemon, its juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then season with a little salt and black pepper. Use your hands and softly massage all the oil and lemon juice into the courgette strips, then leave the courgettes to marinate while you prepare the beans and dressing.
Now to the broad beans – pod the beans out of their shell then put the beans in a pan of boiling salted water (1 teaspoon of salt) for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the water and immediately place into iced water to stop the cooking process (a small bowl half filled with cold water and handful of ice cubes works very well) and leave for a few minutes. Then take each bean and start to gently squeeze it until the inner green heart pops out of the huskier skin. Discard the outer skins, (it’s the heart greens you want). Place in a bowl.
For the peas – follow the same instruction as the beans (simply boil 2-3 mins in boiling salted water) however there is no need to double shell. Drain the water and add the peas to the bowl with the beans.
For the dressing – combine the olive oil (1 tablespoon), the capers and the chopped parsley in a small bowl and season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Once all the legumes (broad beans and peas) are ready, place them into a bowl bigger enough for mixing all these ingredients together and then add the dressing.
Make sure to mix it all well together until the legumes are all glossy with the dressing.
How to serve – lay out all the strips of courgettes onto a large dish with their sides touching (if not already prepared in step 1), then scoop the beans & peas mixture across the courgettes. To finish, add a final handful of parsley and mint and lots of wavy shavings of hard cheese (parmesan or salted ricotta).
Primo - Asparagus Risotto
Milan is the city and region of great rice dishes, so I thought it would be fitting that we enjoy a risotto; I’ve chosen a veg-based one. We are right in the heart of the asparagus season, so this dish showcases the wonderful spring vegetable. I have childhood memories of picking my grandparents’ highly-prized asparagus from their kitchen garden and love anything with asparagus – I hope you do too.
Ingredients (for two portions)
250g Asparagus, woody ends trimmed (half to be blended, remaining sliced up)
400ml Hot vegetable stock (ideally organic)
3 Tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil,
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 Celery stick, finely chopped
160g Risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli)
25g Parmesan cheese or equivalent, finely grated, plus extra to serve
Grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
4 Mint leaves, finely chopped
4 Parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 Walnut halves, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
Preparing the veggies – Put the asparagus into a small saucepan with just a covering of water and a pinch of salt and cook for 5–6 minutes, until really tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
Take 3 spears and slice diagonally into diamond shape.
Roughly chop the remaining spears then add them to a blender with a little (2 tablespoons of the water) of the reserved cooking water (or use a hand hander) and blitz to a smooth purée.
Cooking the risotto – Have your stock ready on a low simmer in a saucepan.
Take a separate large saucepan or deep frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the shallot and celery and cook on a low heat for around 8-10 minutes, gently stirring until they are super soft.
Turn up the heat and add the risotto rice. You want to toast the rice for around 2–3 minutes, stirring continuously. You need constant movement so that the rice does not stick. Remove the pan from heat.
You’re now going to add the vegetable stock slowly in stages, either with a ladle or using a small cup. Add the stock one ladleful at a time and stir until all the liquid is absorbed before adding another ladleful. Keep the heat at its lowest setting, to prevent the rice from overcooking. Repeat this until all the stock is used up. You are looking for a risotto rice that has a little bite – ‘al dente’, you don’t want mushy pap. This will usually take around 15– 20 depending on the type of rice and how high you have the heat.
Add the asparagus purée and chopped asparagus to the risotto mixture along with the remaining tablespoon of oil, the grated cheese, lemon juice, half the chopped herbs and most of the lemon zest (reserve a little for garnishing) and stir well. Your goal is for your risotto to have a velvety consistency.
Season with a generous pinch of sea salt and some freshly milled black pepper, or to your taste.
Divide between bowls and garnish each portion with the walnuts, the remaining herbs, a little lemon zest and more parmesan cheese. For those who like it citrusy, you can add a further squeeze of fresh lemon.
Lunch Cocktail - Negroni
30ml Sweet vermouth
Orange slice or twist, to garnish
Measure out the ingredients using an eggcup or spirit measure.
Pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes and give them a very good stir to blend all the spirits together.
Gently squeeze an orange twist or slice over the glass, then add as a garnish to finish off your cocktail.
If you prefer a coffee after lunch, I recommend trying one from Jaramillo Cafe to finish off your meal beautifully.