We hired a local couple to come to the Villa to teach a basic Umbrian cooking class. Daniella, head chef and her husband Luca, chef in training are owners of a growing family business. Luca was originally from Perugia and Daniella grew up right here in Umbertide. We enjoyed some of their own family’s 0live oil – which was amazing!
The Villa sports a fully stocked kitchen and a brand new chef-quality range. The theme of the class was “Our Food Our Roots: Preservation of Umbrian culinary traditions.” Basically, Umbria, a rural region boasts simple, flavorful and seasonal dishes. A rather poor area of Italy, Umbrian cooks always make the most of simple ingredients, recycle leftovers and only add luxury ingredients like eggs and meat for special occasions. Umbria brings to Italy’s many culinary traditions ingredients such as olive oil, pork, lentils, truffle, salami and of course, wine.
Appetizer: Pannpasato stuffed with Salami and Italian cheese w/Arugula.
Salad: Faro Salad and Chickpea Salad
Main: Roasted chicken with Potatoes
Desert: Strawberry cake with whipped cream
“A Kitchen without salt, a counter without bread, a cellar with no wine makes a bitter morning time”
Wine is used to enrich nearly every dish and according to Daniella, Umbrians used to pour wine all the way to the top of the glass believing that otherwise the devil would dance inside. That’s my kind of pour! Umbria’s Docg wins include: Torgiano, Monefalco, Colli del Trasimeno and Orvieto.
“ A meal without wine is like a cloudy day”
Well, most of our days here were cloudy so we had plenty of wine on this trip! Below are the wonderful recipes shared with us, some of which we cooked and enjoyed over many days.
Pork Cuts with Apples and Grapes
Cut 800g pork meat into tiny cubes and roll them in flour
Cook on stovetop with an onion cut in pieces, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and white wine and salt – for about 20 minutes
Add 400g apple cubes and cook again for 10 minutes
Add 100g grapes (red and white) and leave on stovetop for 5 more minutes
The “Cipolla di Cannara” is the most famous onion in Umbria. It is cropped twice per year, during summer and autumn and gathered into braids. This onion dates back to the 1600s. The onion is a core staple used in salads, sauces, omelets, pizza and so much more. Onions are said to heal a cough if baked, mashed and eaten with sugar, honey and cognac! Onion juice is thought to prevent acne if rubbed over the face and cheeks.
Trevi Black Celery
Celery needs a wet soil to grow and grows from May to September. Celery is believed to help digestion and is good for the skin as it is a diuretic. Rich in vitamins, mineral salts it can help with sunburn and in some places has been thought to be a good aphrodisiac (so that told us anyway!). Trevi Black Celery is a typical plant cultivated near Trevi, a medieval Umbrian town, starting in the XVIII century when a cardinal decided to reclaim plain lands. According to tradition the black seeds of celery are planted the day before Easter and extracted when the plant has reached 30 CM. In Trevi, there is a fair of the Celery on the third Sunday in October. During the fair season the traditional breakfast is Black Celery in cassimperio (oil, salt and pepper) along with grilled sausages.
Boil celery and mix with sausages paste
Mix with flour and then roll them in one mixed egg
Fry in hot oil
Put them in a pot along with a meat sauce and bake for 45 minutes
Add Parmesan cheese and bit of butter and then grill for a few minutes
Lentils are one of the most ancient plants, originating in Mesopotamia at the beginning of rural civilization. In Umbria they are grown in Castelluccio, Colfiorito, Annifo.
Wash Lentils in cold water and oil.
In another pot, warm olive oil, garlic, sage and tomato sauce.
When lentils are soft, mix together and add salt, hot pepper and serve.
“Pans Bring Peace to your home”
Umbrian bread is very simple, consisting of flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and water. It is cooked in a skillet and often sliced open and adorned with yummy ingredients: cheese, arugula, onions, and salami – just about anything.
25 g. yeast
300 g. all purpose flour
1 large pinch of salt
Knead the dough for 5 minutes
Add large spoonful of olive oil
Roll into a ball
Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough in a flat disc (about 1” high) and about 8-9” diameter
Heat cast iron skillet
Cook the bread on each side till brown and cooked through (about 5 minutes)
Slice bread open and fill with anything yummy!
Serve with olive oil or balsamic vinegar
Faro Salad (also known as Spelt)
Faro is an ancient grain and was a staple of all Umbrian meals for ages. Once thought to be a poor mans grain, Faro is making a comeback. Filled with goodness it is one of the best grains for health)
Cut in quarters a pound of ripe cherry tomatoes
Add into cooked Faro (~4 cups)
Add healthy pinch of salt
Add fresh thyme or basil
Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle in ample grated Parmesan cheese
Add fresh Arugula (baby preferred)
Toss and serve
Soak and cook chickpeas
Add finely chopped garlic
Add finely chopped rosemary
Add salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Toss and serve
Roasted Chicken with Potatoes
Create bouquet garni of rosemary, sage and marjoram and stuff in cavity
Add 4-5 whole garlic gloves to cavity
Sprinkle chicken with healthy portion of salt
Sprinkle with crushed wild fennel seed
Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar over chicken
Pour ample white wine over chicken and fill pan about 2-3 inches
Add diced potatoes
Cook @ 400 degrees for about an hour
Fresh Pasta (with egg)
250 g. Farina (aka Semolina)
250 g. Faro Flour
Mix flour and create a well in the middle
Add 50G All-purpose flour
Add 3 eggs
Add pinch of salt
Add 1 large spoonful olive oil
Mix from the inside, slowly incorporating flour into liquids
Let rest for a least 30 minutes
Roll out very thin (flour often to prevent sticking)
Cut pasta into desired shape
Boil for 3-4 minutes
For egg pasta, a simple sauce of butter and sage will do. Eggless pasta requires a more robust sauce – tomato Ragu, Bolognaise
Strawberry (or any berry) cake with whipped cream and strawberry sauce
Make the Cake:
Dice strawberries (for sauce)
Slice strawberries (for cake)
Mix 150g sugar and 2 eggs
Whip until creamy and color lightens
Add lemon zest
Add 200g all-purpose flour
Add 1 package of cake yeast (or baking powder) – vanilla flavor or add a little vanilla
Flour a 10” spring form pan
Pour in batter
Add sliced strawberries on top
Put plenty of butter flakes on top
Sprinkle sugar on top
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 for 3o minutes
Make the syrup
Put diced strawberry, sugar and water in a small sauce pan
Cook on stovetop on low temperature until syrupy consistency
Serve with whipped cream