A Tuscan sauce usually is something on season, made with simple and fresh ingredients.
Fresh pasta represents the essence of my job and the bond with my grandmother. I know it could be silly to explain “the food” like something of great value or an important message; but food is my life and I try to communicate love through food as well. Yes, with my family, friends, but also with my students and customers on holiday in Tuscany.
Almost all of you know that us “Cuoche in Vacanza” (Italian for Cooks on Holiday) are all mad for Fresh Pasta; well, we obviously are mad for every Tuscan sauce for pasta, as well.
So, with our itinerant cooking school around Tuscany we try to teach how making fresh pasta in all the possible ways.
I think that PASTA is the most versatile dish:
- First of all, enjoying your time, you can make both fresh eggs pasta or no eggs fresh pasta
- Furthermore there are a lots of fillings for fresh pasta; meat based, fish, veggies… anyway here in Tuscany we prefer pasta filled with ricotta cheese. Then you can add to the ricotta what you prefer
- and what is fantastic with fresh pasta is the chance to “colour” depending of ingredients that you use with the eggs and flour. Click the link for the many ways to coloring FRESH PASTA
- Finally you’ll never finish to experiment to season your pasta dish, because the sauces are endless. Here in this post you can find the recipe of a very tasteful tuscan sauce, made with mussels from Livorno and asparagus from San Giuliano Terme.
This time we were called from a group of tourists from Norway to teach them a Tuscan menu:
- Ravioli Maremmani and Tagliatelle (black)
- Fresh Veggies Seasonal Sauce
Tuscan Sauce with mussels and fresh asparagus (recipe downhere)
What you’re seeing in the picture are all the vegetables in season here in Tuscany: cherry tomatoes, leeks, basil, asparagus and the amazing courgette flowers.
Don’t be surprised, in Italy we often cook courgette flowers in many ways and I can guarantee you that they are delicious.
- fried: in a blatter, stuffed with mozzarella and anchoives, or with ricotta cheese and olives
- steamed stuffed with fish and egg
- cut in stripes and cooked in a pan (just 5 minutes) to season all kinds of pasta with a Tuscan sauce. Want to see a sauce with courgette flowers? GNOCCHI SAUCE HERE
Our customers and students from Norway were such “hard workers”!
They set a long table outside of the beautiful “Podere Zobi” (we call “podere” every country villa here in Tuscany) with a fantastic view over the hills.
Sun was really shining and the table was open air, so it was not easy to run the cooking class. But when you’re doing something that makes you feeling good, you forget any nuisance.
So we went forward making fresh pasta outside and cooking a gorgeous tuscan sauce in the beautiful kitchen inside.
The tuscan sauce with asparagus and mussels was delicious and everyone asked for an extra portion. It’s a very good sauce for “black” (squid-ink) pasta.
Finally down here you can read the recipe and I’m sure that you’ll appreciate this dish both for its flavor and the easy way to make it.
You know the Cuoche in Vacanza said: #SimplebutExquisite
- 1 lb fresh asparagus
- 2 lb fresh mussels
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ glass dry white wine
- 1 cup veggie broth (optional because you can use water)
- 1 sprig of parsley
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- to taste black pepper
- 13 oz (360gr.) of dry pasta OR 34 oz (800gr.) of fresh pasta
- to taste salt
- 5 tbs extra virgin oil
- Wash the asparagus under fresh water and trim the ends (only the white part)
- Wash the mussels and debeard them (it's very quick, pinch the beard between your thumb and first finger. Use a side to side motion and firmly tug the beard out. The beard isn't inedible, no problem if there are a few little threads left that you can't grasp.)
- Cut asparagus into ½ - inch pieces and leave the last part (asparagus tips) about 1 or 2 inch size
- Pour oil in a pot with 1 garlic clove over high heat
- after few seconds add mussels and parsley
- pour in the wine, let it evaporate
- Put the lid on the pot and let mussels cook until the mussels open
- turn off the heat and strain the cooking liquid through a sieve
- remove the mussels from the shells and set them in a plate
- Pour oil with 1 garlic clove in a large pan over medium heat. Wait until you can see the first bubbles around the cloves of garlic
- add the asparagus in the pan
- pour in half of the cooking liquid (from mussels),
- turn medium heat and lid
- When almost all the liquid is absorbed, pour the remaining cooking liquid from mussels
- let asparagus cook for about 20 minutes (adding warm water when the cooking liquid is finished)
- turn off the heat and pour in the mussels, stirring a bit
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta (respect cooking time on the box of the dry pasta, or cook 3 minutes the fresh eggs pasta).
- Add the mussels to the asparagus in the pan and heat on the fire (medium heat)
- Drain the pasta well
- pour the drained pasta in the pan and stir with a wooden fork to well season.
- Serve immediately
- Buon Appetito!
Here’s another tasteful sauce: red mullet, rucola and piccadilly tomatoes
Anyway I’ve some questions for you:
Have you ever tasted asparagus with mussels? Where?
Do you know that here in Tuscany (on Spring) you can find “wild asparagus”?
As “Cuoche in Vacanza (Chefs on holiday) we organize walks in the tuscan country to pick up and cook wild herbs. CLICK HERE to know more.