Tuscany holds special memories for me. It is where Mr B proposed. In Florence. In the Uffizi? Nope? On the Ponte Vecchio? Nope. But on one knee in a Tapas restaurant. Something I blogged about here: Six years ago today and so when I was asked if I would like to blog a Tuscan recipe for #TuscanyNowCookOff well how could I refuse. The email I got was so lovely and even said “I know you don’t normally enter competitions by writing a post I wondered if you might do for this”. So rare for a PR person to have taken the time that it seemed rude to turn down the chance.
And if I win the prize I promise to take you all with me. I can say that because, let’s face it, with one of the criteria for entry being “presentation” this is never going to win but it is tasty and I think you might enjoy it too. (If you want more info on the competition the link is here: Tuscany Now). “Creative Expertise” is another. I should have stopped reading at that point really.
The other criteria is “Italian authenticity” so we decided to find a local Italian deli and make sure our ingredients were both fresh, and Tuscan. And not just labelled as Italian and manufactured in a warehouse on an industrial estate in the East End of London. La Gina in Wokingham was where Google (other search engines are available) is tiny but has everything you could possibly need for a Tuscan themed night. From Parma ham to beer and wine to fresh olives to pasta and cheeses. We could have spent hours in there, despite it being about the size of our kitchen.
Tuscan food for us means simple, hearty dishes but using the best ingredients so we decided to do a Tuscan sausage sauce, with authentic pasta.
I made this recipe up and used the slow cooker but you could do it just as easily in a big pan in the oven
- 6 Tuscan sausages
- 1 onion, chopped but not too finely
- 4 mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tins of tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 packet of spaghetti
- Lightly fry the sausages until browned.
- Chop into chunks and put into pan (I used my slow cooker)
- Add onions, mushrooms, garlic and tomatoes
- Cook until onions are soft, sausages are much softer and the tomatoes are bubbling.
- It doesn't need to be precise, and in fact I think it would benefit from cooking gently for as long as you can leave it. We cooked ours in the slow cooker for about three hours.
- Cook spaghetti according to instructions
- Spoon sauce over the pasta and enjoy
And when you are done you need to cover it with authentic parmigiano cheese, grated.
We had a starter of antipasti which were all beautifully wrapped in waxed paper and then in blue stripey paper, not shoved in a plastic bag with a sticker and a bar code as you so often get
and finished off with an espresso and biscuit, which was to die for.
And there you have it. My Tuscan inspired dinner
I know. You are in Italy yourselves now aren’t you? It’s uncanny