Preparing for the Tuscan Table

I was seeking some inspiration for my Tuscan Table wine class this week, so I sat down with a pile of cookbooks yesterday to see what I could find. Have you done this? It is so fun to just pour over the pages of beautiful books full of fabulous recipes, seeking the one that you both want to eat and have the time and energy to cook. Often those two things don't match, but I always seem to find something, and yesterday was not exception. I found it in Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Italy," rotolo di zucca e ricotta. I knew that I would be highlighting Sangiovese at the class, so I needed a food that would have both the intense flavors and the textured richness of the region. The recipe was perfect, and I have always wanted to make the dish. I highly recommend the cookbook, by the way. He is fun to read, much more narrative style, and the recipes are fairly simple and the ingredients readily accessible. No, eye of newt, if you ow what I mean; those recipes are not for me.

This one calls for a basic egg pasta recipe for the pasta, greens, butternut squash, and ricotta, along with a few spices and herbs...I can't in good conscience give you the whole recipe, but the whole book is great, so grab it!

it was so fun to make this...but it took a little time, so give yourself a couple of hours of prep time. Nothing too hard, just time to roast the squash, sautΓ© the greens, make pasta and let it rest...

first the pasta...Kitchen Aid to the rescue!

Jamie, and yes, we are on a first name basis, recommended a specific flour, which I found at Whole Foods, and it made a beautiful dough, so I suggest that you seek it out. I am going to try to find it for the shop because I want it for holiday cookies!

Once the pasta is all set, I just had to assemble the ingredients and roll it like a jelly roll.

It was easy to handle, surprisingly. Then you wrap it in a towel, secure with string, and boil in a large pot. I used a roasting pan, and it worked like a charm.

It simmers for nearly 30 minutes, then you remove, unwrap, slice, and garnish with clarified butter and fried sage leaves.

Have you ever fried sage before? It is so simple and delicious, they get crispy in the clarified butter, and they add a wonderful pop of flavor, salty and intense.

It looked pretty good on the plate, and was perfect with the Sesti Brunello de Montalcino that my guest was kind enough to bring along.

The bright, fruitiness and the dark intensity if the Sangiovese was so perfect with the flavors on the dish, the saltiness of the pork tenderloin, the crips buttery sage, the bitter greens, and the sweet roasted squash all became even more satisfying with the addition of the wine.

Thanks, Jamie, this one is a keeper, and thanks for the inspiration...which chef's inspire you to cook, eat, and enjoy wine with friends?

cheers, Maria