Tuscan Recipes

Nonna Margherita Dottorelli in her kitchen, 1905

Some excellent traditional recipes from her granddaughter, Marta, who refuses to be just a character in a novel called “The Whirling Girl”, made up by that writer.

My name is Marta Dottorelli. My husband is Niccolo. Above you will see a picture of his grandmother, long ago, in her kitchen very traditional. We live still in this same house, in the hills behind Cortona, in Tuscany.
Fortunatemente I speak English very well.
       It is my pleasure now to give you some recipes also very traditional, because that woman who has put me in her novel knows nothing, niente!

Today, Zuppa di Ortiche (Nettle Soup)
…….along with the method for the making, which “that writer” completely forgot. If her readers will listen to me, they will learn a lot.

Tuscan Recipes

Metodo (how this is done)

With a pleasant amount of olive oil extra vergine (and please do not listen to those who say you should not make the sauté with olive oil) in a large soup pot, cook a pleasant amount of chopped onion, a little carrot, some celery if you wish, some garlic, and a reasonable number of nice little potatoes (maybe two or three; we will need to see how many nettles you have collected; and some pleasant herbs (for me a bay leaf from the tree outside my kitchen door, and some thyme from between the cobble stones).
But first:
Of course I will have collected the nettles, and I will have been wearing heavy gloves to do this. I will have already pulled the leaves from the woody stems.
The liquid:
For me, I have a busy life and I do not use “the stock”. I prefer a ogni modo to allow all the flavours to speak for themselves. I will add enough water to the kettle with the odori (these are the vegetables that have made together the good flavor with the oil) and when this is boiling I will add the nettles, which I have chopped. Also some nice salt, and some pepper.
This I will cook until the potatoes are soft and the nettles are still bright green.

If I am making this for the Signora Chiara in “the writer’s” novel, I will put into the pot an “immersion blender” which the Signora’s uncle long ago bought, and I will make the soup very smooth. “The writer” does not bother to mention this.

If beautiful Chiara spills some on her white silk blouse, I will take the blouse from her and soak the stain in lemon juice and set it in the sun. Later, when the Signora spills tomato on the same blouse, she will try to do this herself and she will not do it properly and the blouse will be ruined.

This was my recipe for nettle soup.

If you will stay tuned (as “she” would say it in her idiom) I will make some more recipes for you here, when sometimes I have the moment.

To find these you can “click” on the little titles at the very top of this page, or in the list in red here below, with some nice additions from time to time.

— Pomodori Fritti
— Pansanella
— Two Soups
— Mozzarella in a Blanket
— Bruschetta
— Bruchetta con Pomodori
— Ragu
— Braciole di Vitello
— Torta Sottosopra
— Egg Noodle Pasta
— Christmas Shortbread
— Gnocchi di Patate
— Lasagna con Carne
— Spaghettini con Gorgonzola
— Crostini with Olive Paste
— Maccheroni all’anatra
— Roast Tomato Sauce con Manzo
— Watercress Soup
–  Pesto all’pignoli
—  Meloni di Vino Dolce
—  Marzapane Italiana
—  Le Praline Toscani

Oh — (if I may say a few more words about “that writer”) — she may tell you about the Etruscans who once ruled much of Italy from here – and the strange ways of the modern archaeologists who descend on us each year. She may have read many books, even made friends with these archaeologists who come each year to dig up our good soil, searching for what they will say is “intellectual treasure”.

But I know you will not pay attention to the dark thoughts she has put into the head of the beautiful Signora Chiara Livingston, whose house and olive grove we care for. Sometimes, the Signora looks even at us with suspicion now — asking what we know, for example, about the “tombaroli” who in the secret hours (the Signora has been told by that writer!) break open and steal treasure from still undiscovered Etruscan tombs. (But of course there are no more undiscovered tombs filled with treasure!) As if we had time to listen to such ridiculous things!

Allora! As we say in Tuscany, “Mangiare bene é la miglior vendetta.” Eating well is the best revenge!

Tuscan recipes