Sunday, 22 November 2015

Flat-Out Fantastic!

Piadina con Cime di Rapa, Bacon, Ricotta & Olive 
Piadina (or Tortilla) with Broccoli Rabe, Bacon, Ricotta & Olives

Is it a piadina? Is it a tortilla? Does it matter?!?!? Not really! It is a flatbread, a plain and simple, thinner than thin bread made to wrap things in or to pick things up with as a part of your meal. They can be made into sandwich type affairs like tacos or burritos or wraps, they can be dipped into to things... they can be whatever you want them to be!

Well- this evening I wanted mine to be something like THIS!

What a delight to combine salty bacon and rich olives with creamy ricotta cheese and bittersweet, tender broccoli rabe! And with some added fennel seed and nutmeg to enhance the flavors and make everything complete- this was a pretty wonderful treat for a Southern Italian guy like me! 

Maybe it would be for you too? Whaddaya think?

3 little, young stalks of broccoli rabe, 4-5 thin rashers of bacon, a few olives, 2-3 tablespoons of fresh ricotta, salt, pepper, nutmeg and fennel seeds. That's all it took! And about 30 minutes to prepare. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Down in Sicily and in the South of Italy in general, bitter greens are often used in pizza and pie type dishes and even in sandwiches. They are great in combination with fattier products like sausage or bacon, delicious with olives and such a traditional and essential part of the cuisine that it is hard for me to imagine doing without them... and so I don't! I enjoy them as often as I can!

I separated the leaves from the stalks of the broccoli rabe and cut the stalks in half or quarters as required, so that they were all about the same width. I cut them into 2-3" lengths and fried them together with the bacon, also cut into 2-3" lengths, together with a teaspoon of fennel seed until the bacon slightly began to brown and the broccoli became a deeper shade of green.

I then added the leaves, still wet from rinsing, straight on top and put on the lid so that everything would steam inside. After 2-3 minutes, I gave everything a stir and replaced the lid for a further 4-5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. And whilst that was happening, I turned on the grill in my oven to get it nice and hot and ready.

After around 10 minutes of cooking and steaming in all, the greens had wilted down, the stalks were tender and the bacon had infused everything with flavor. It looked a little bit sorry for itself at that point... but that would soon change!

I set the pan to one side to cool and got busy with the tortilla and the ricotta in the meantime...

I spread the tortilla generously, but not ridiculously so, with ricotta, sprinkled it lightly with salt and grated it generously with nutmeg. Don't add too much ricotta, or you run the risk of making your piadina or tortilla too soggy.

I then added the greens, bacon and olives to the ricotta coated piadina, grated it generously with fresh black pepper and popped it onto the stovetop for 2-3 minutes, until I noticed the tortilla beginning to steam a little from the middle- and then transferred it to my hot oven for 3-4 minutes under the broiler, which was set to the highest setting. This made the edges of the tortilla brown, the bacon crisped-up and came to life and everything muted together and became one wonderful, glorious creation...

Hot, steaming, crispy and delicious- waiting to be cut into quarters, folded over and eaten as quickly as possible! And all I can say is... buon appetito! smile emoticon

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