Abundant vegetables and herbs + simple cooking methods + traditions & creativity = delicious Christmas dishes that reveal the character of Liguria and the ingenuity of its people. “Discover Portovenere Blog” has asked some food bloggers from Liguria to share a Christmas recipe to celebrate the Holiday Season and to give you some ideas for a unique #onthetable that will surprise your family and friends!
Vegetable & Fruit Salad
by Alice Lombardi at Salvia & Rosmarino
Here is a fresh and original salad that can be served as the opening dish of your Christmas lunch or to accompany a main course. The ingredients are simple, local and seasonal. Alice recommends you to have fun with the presentation, for example she used a glass jar wrapped in cabbage leaves held together by a string. This will certainly impress your guests!
- Pomegranate seeds
For the vinaigrette
- 4 tablespoons of orange juice
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
- A pinch of ground pepper
- A pinch of salt
Clean, wash and slice the fennel thinly, rinse the valerian leaves, cut the orange into slices and prepare your salad.
For the vinaigrette, mix well the remaining ingredients and pour a couple of spoons on your salad, add the pomegranate seeds and serve to your guests.
Russian Salad in a Liguria style
by Daniela Vettori at Le Cinque Erbe
“Insalata alla genovese” (Genoa-style salad) – this is how the dish was known in Italy during the 1700s, when it was considered one of the main delicacies in the gala lunches of Liguria’s aristocracy. Daniela recommends preparing the Liguria-style Russian Salad with fresh (ideally organic) ingredients, with veggies “al dente” (cooked to be firm to the bite). This is a great dish to accompany your dining between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
- 150 g carrots
- 150 g peas or green beans
- 200 g potatoes
- 150 g oven-baked beet
- 2 spoons of salt-packed capers
- 1 spoon of taggiasche olives in brine
- 10 pickled gherkins
- Peppers in oil cut into small strips
- Anchovies in salt for decoration (if you are not vegetarian)
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- Olive oil, fine salt and white wine vinegar
For the mayonnaise
- 2 egg yolks at room temperature
- 200 g of mature Ligurian extra-virgin olive oil at room temperature
- ½ lemon from Monterosso (Cinque Terre)
- 1 pinch of salt
Clean all the vegetables and cut them in small cubes. Cook them separately in boiling water or steam them, so that they remain crunchy (cooking times vary depending on the type of veggie). As you drain the vegetables, bring them together in a large bowl and let them cool. Then season with salt, oil, a little bit of vinegar, stirring gently. Add a spoonful of well-rinsed capers, the peeled and diced beet, and some small pickled gherkins.
Prepare the mayonnaise by pouring the egg yolks into the immersion blender, without any trace of egg white. Add some olive oil, a tablespoon of filtered lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Start to blend at low speed. After a few seconds the mayonnaise will start to thicken, continue to blend until you obtain your desired consistency. If the sauce thickens too much, soften it with a few drops of lemon and continue alternating oil and lemon. Taste it to control flavor and consistency.
Mix the vegetable salad with a bit of mayonnaise, check the flavor, then put it on a serving dish and shape it like a dome, cover it with some more mayonnaise and decorate it as you like with anchovies, capers, peppers, hard-boiled eggs, gherkins and olives. Play with your creativity!
Keep the Russian salad in the fridge (possibly for at least an hour) until ready to serve.
Natalini in brodo
by Erica R. at diciboealtrestorie
This is a typical Christmas dish, especially in Liguria’s capital – Genoa. The natalini are long macaroni-style pasta that can be found only during the Holiday Season. The original recipe features capon broth, but you can also find variations with meatballs or sausage stew. According to tradition, the meat represents prosperity.
- One capon of about 2 kg
- 500 g beef
- 300 g sausage
- 300 g natalini pasta
Put the celery, carrot, onion and cloves in a pot and bring them to a boil. Meanwhile, wash and flame the capon. When the water boils, put the capon in the pot and add the beef.
Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 2 hours. Make sure to adjust the salt about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Drain the meat, remove the vegetables and filter the broth. Put the broth back on the burner and make it boil. Meanwhile, remove the skin of the sausage and form some meatballs. When the broth boils, add the sausage and the pasta, and cook for 6-7 minutes.
by Francesca Bonafortuna at Soul Kitchen
We could not miss Genoa’s most famous Christmas dessert. Francesca, who blends cuisine and music in her blog, shares her recipe along with a song that matches perfectly the occasion. She proposes that you prepare or taste the delicious Genoa Cake to the sound of “Happy Christmas (War is over)” by John Lennon & The Yoko Ono Plastic Band.
- 260 g of 00 flour
- 100 g of soft butter
- 80 g of sugar
- 1 egg
- 150 g of raisins
- 70 g of diced candied orange
- 70 g of diced candied citron
- 40 g of pine nuts
- 30 ml of orange flower water
- 50ml of rum
- One bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds
- Half a sachet of baking powder
Put the raisins in lukewarm water.
Sift the flour with the baking powder. Add the fennel seeds and the sugar, then mix with the slightly beaten egg, water, rum and butter, just enough to mix everything.
Squeeze and add the raisins, the candied orange and citron, the pine nuts and the bay leaf. Knead again briefly, then shape a round bread, flatten it and place it on a baking tray with parchment paper.
Bake in a static oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes.