Spicy peperoncino and a snow storm


In my mind, I was going to be able to go to a great market and share with you the wonders of Italian food. I knew it had snowed and the variety would not be what I am used to but for sure it was going to be better than my little market in St. Catherine. I was looking forward to local fruits to add to my salad and many other delicacies I look forward to when i come here. I was definitely not prepared for what I found. Or did not find….

We arrived at Pescara airport which is 45 minutes from our mountain village of Calascio in the region of Abruzzi in the central part of Italy, population: 95!

At the car rental counter we were informed that the highway was closed and it was not safe for us to venture in the evening through mountain roads. So we stayed the night reassured by all that by morning, all would be fine. We called a friend who lives nearby and he found us a hotel and took us out for a spectacular feast of fish and seafood.
The next morning it was snowing again. The highway was still closed. With a desire to reach our destination and a taste for adventure, we took the small mountain roads which we anticipated would take us a couple of hours…. As the roads began to twist and turn and get steep, we decided to put chains on our tire. Of course that tedious task is left up to me as my wonderful husband who has many qualities, is definitely not a handy person. Since we had not yet encountered another car on the road, we stopped the car in the middle of the road and I started putting on the first chain which proved a lot harder than expected and of course all of a sudden “traffic” got heavy, at least a car every 3 minutes… So each time I was almost done, a car arrived and I had to stop. Finally after much effort, chains were on.
Our friends, started calling us every half hour to make sure we were ok.
In the end it took us nearly 5 hours to reach our destination! Home sweet home.

The next day we went to the market. Wow! It looked like war… Empty shelves, people rushing to get the last of things. No fresh milk, bread, produce. We were barely able to get our hands on the following: 2 sausages, 1 bunch of broccoli rabe (the last one), 2 pears, garlic and shallots and 3 carrots and some lamb.

The first night we made a nice lentil soup. I sautéed some shallots, 2 clove of garlic, some bay leaves and carrots in a bit of olive oil. Washed the lentils and added them to my “soffritto”, covered with water and cooked about half an hour until the lentils were soft. Served it with a bit of olive oil.

Next day for lunch I prepared a mountain version of “orecchiette” pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. the recipe is traditional of the region of Puglia.

This is a simplified version and for vegetarians, can be made without sausage. The result is a creamy broccoli sauce with a nice kick from the peperoncino.

Take the broccoli bunch and wash it.
Then remove any leaf that is damaged or yellowed and cut the bottom part of the stalks. Separate the leaves from the florettes and the stems.

In a large pot, boil water and add salt. Add the stems and cook for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan, sauté 3 garlic cloves and some spicy peperoncino. Add the sausage meat and brown it. Add the leaves and florettes of the broccoli. Take the stems out of the water with a skimming spoon and add to the sausage.

In the same water, cook the orecchiette pasta. Drain the pasta 1 or 2 minutes less than indicated on package and add to the sauce. Finish in the sauce for a couple of minutes.

Though very simple and with few ingredients, this dish is delicious and should not be made only in the hardships of a snow storm 😉

Tonight I will roast my lamb with the few ingredients I have left…

Forgive the layout but I am doing this on my iPad and there are less options.

Next week, if I make it back to Brussels things will get serious again.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim Vincent says:

    See now I wasn’t gonna comment but how can I not !! you are madmen !” driving on the mountain roads with the chains and the snow !!! I am floored !! You poor babies. And now an Armageddon menu ? It is just what everyone needs in this unpredictable winter wonderland ! Please don’t move from there until spring ! Love you both and I hope you bought those silk long johns to cuddle up in..

    1. Catherine de Zagon says:

      Another storm expected tomorrow… I made the lamb shoulder last night. No photos but will give you the recipe because it was fantastic! Love, Catherine

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