Monday, 20 January 2014

Bowled Over by Simplicity

Risoni con i Fave, Salami, Finocchio & Vino Bianco
Risoni with Broad Beans, Salami, Fennel & White Wine

People... I'm telling ya- this simple bowl of Risoni noodles, fava beans (or broad beans- depending where you come from), salami, fennel and white wine is such a wonderful combination that you are going to love it! Of course I had a rough idea and had the combination of flavors in mind when I thought this up- but sometimes you just get lucky and things work out even better than you hoped for... in this case, a LOT better :-)

The finished dish was more than just the combination of tender fava beans, sweet aromatic fennel, salty and intense salami and the richness of the touch of white wine... it was as perfectly balanced and satisfying as you could possibly want! It is something you are going to have to trust me on and I am going to hope that the pictures do the talking for you... but I will tell you what I did along the way... 

So, as you can see, the ingredients were simple- fresh fava beans, a little fennel, a little salami, the risoni (or I believe you call them "orzo" in the States for some reason) and maybe half a glass of wine. Especially if you get impatient whilst cooking and drink half of it before you come around to adding it to the dish!

The astounding thing, again, is just how little of each ingredient you need per person to make an incredibly flavorful meal... and I am more than delighted to share a few details with you now in case you feel like trying this yourselves!

OK- the first question, as always, is "how much of the risoni do I need, per serving?" Now- you can weigh them or go by my rule of thumb which is: 2 handfuls for a full 1 dish meal like this one and 1 handful if it you are going to serve them as a side dish (which an Italian would never do anyway- lol!)

Or do what I did this evening and put about half the amount in volume into you bowl and imagine it doubling in size when it is cooked... that's about the easiest and most foolproof method!

As for the salami- this is another case where less is more! I used no more than 6-7 thin slices from the small, rich, mature salami. The one I happened to have at home, that I bought on Saturday, was pretty delicious as it had pieces of walnut and hazelnut in it was well as being made of wild boar- but of course I am just bragging a little and any good, mature salami of your preference will be fine for this... the drier and more mature the better.

I cut, as I said, 6-7 thin slices which I then cut up into small pieces, so that they would become well integrated into the whole of the dish...

The fava beans were no more than a couple of handfuls in all, but I did make sure to peel away the pale outer skin of each bean, as this makes them much sweeter to eat as well as allowing them to boil more quickly.

The final ingredient was fennel, which was also cut into a fine dice and I needed  just 1 handful for a single serving in this case.

I started off by boiling the risoni in well-salted water for around 10 minutes whilst I got busy with the rest... which meant in this case frying the diced salami and fennel together in a non-stick pan. The salami had enough fat of it's own to make adding any more redundant and after 4-5 minutes of heat, the salami turned a deeper, richer, red and the fennel began to turn nice and brown. At this point I added a teaspoon of fennel seeds, as well as pepper and salt of course.

By the time the risoni were almost cooked, the salami had cooked through nicely giving us a rich aroma and a deep red color and the diced fennel had become transparent... and of course, the fennel seeds had begun to smell wonderful! And this was the time to deglaze the frying pan with a good half-glass of white wine... hiss!

In the meantime, the risoni were ready to add- so in they went, along with a little of the cooking-water, which immediately integrated all of the flavors of the cooked-in fat of the salami and fennel and then infused them into the risoni themselves.

After 5-6 minutes of constant stirring, adding a little ladle of water every now and then to keep things moist and adding a few of the finely chopped fennel greens, the risoni was silky smooth, rich and ready for serving!

The only thing I added to mine was the slightest hint of olive oil... of course I could have added cheese, but you know? I tasted it... it seemed "perfect" to me- and I didn't want to go and ruin anything by overloading things with too much flavor... there was much more than enough going on as it was!

A last grind of mixed peppers and some of the fine fennel greens as a garnish and I was ready to go! Simple, colorful, healthy, elegant and all done in 15-20 minutes at the most! I wish I could claim that I took that long to finish off this plateful mind! Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment