Vegan Cecina and Zucchini trifolati

Cecina is a dish from the Tuscan tradition, mainly from the Maremma coast. It is a savory tart made with chickpea flour, which is a few inches high.

The origin of the Cecina seems to date back to the thirteenth Century and in particular to a battle between Pisa, who was defeated, by the Maritime Republic of Genoa.

The Genoese galleys, loaded with prisoners, found themselves involved in a storm. In the bustle some barrels of oil and chickpea sacks spilled, soaking in salt water.

Since the supplies were what they were and there was not much to choose from, they recovered as much as possible and the sailors were given bowls of chickpea puree and oil. Some sailors refused to eat them and they left the mixture in the sun, which dried it in a kind of pancake. The next day, driven by hunger pangs, the sailors ate the preparation and discovered its delicacy. Once back on the ground, the Genoese thought to improve the improvised discovery, cooking the puree in the oven. The result pleased and, to scorn the defeated, was called “the gold of Pisa.

This dish is perfect, paired with a glass of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a dry white wine. The first white wine to receive the Doc appellation back to 1966.

How to make the Cecina:

For the Cecina:

  • 80 gr of chickpea flour
  • 240 ml of water
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Mix the chickpea flour with water, adding the water little at a time to avoid the formation of clots. Add a pinch of salt and some olive oil, then let it rest overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 200° C (392° F), grease the bottom of a baking tray (26 cm/10 inches in diameter) with olive oil. Mix the batter to make it homogeneous and pour it into the baking pan. Put it in the oven for 20-25 minutes and finish with 3 minutes in the grill.
  3. Remove the tray from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting it. Serve it with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. As an alternative, you can cook it in a pan like an omelet.

For the Zucchini:

  • 4 zucchini
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • mint
  1. Wash the zucchini, cut them in half for the length, then in slices. Brown them in a pan with some olive oil, 2 tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt. Cook it with the lid for the first 10 minutes, then make it dry and finish cooking with a tablespoon of chopped mint.

To serve hot and Buon Appetito!

 

Vegan Pumpkin mustard

Vega Pumpkin mustard
250 g pumpkin pulp
200 g sugar
1 lemon
10 g fresh ginger
1 tablespoon mustard (beans or powder)

Macerate the pumpkin for 12 hours with sliced sugar and ginger, zest and lemon juice.
Boil everything, let it cool and repeat the operation two more times. Finally add the mustard.
Mix everything and … taste!

Vegan Wines & Vegan Wineries

When considering wine one would think that all wines are vegan and vegetarian since they are produced from grapes. That is not always necessarily true and not always the easiest to find out. The winemaking process is what mostly defines whether wines are vegan or not vegan. In addition, it is also important to take a look at what types of fertilizers are used in vineyards as some may be animal based.

Some winemakers choose to let a wine take its natural slow process of self-clarifying by allowing the solids and sediments to sink to the bottom of the tanks. Other winemakers choose to add what are called “fining agents” to the process. There are animal derived products used as fining agents that include egg whites, gelatin, casein and isinglass. These agents when added bind to the molecules, such as proteins, tannins and phenolics. This makes them easier to be removed. These fining agents all play their own part in either brightening, clarifying the wines or removing “off” flavors.

There are vegan friendly agents that vegan wineries can also choose to use such as charcoal, silica and bentonite, which is clay based. Some of the aforementioned agents like gelatin are now also being produced from peas to become vegetarian. Plus, the cost of animal-derived fining agents is on the rise. It is possible more winemakers will move towards agents like bentonite.

So how does one determine whether a wine is vegan or not? There are some wine bottles that are labeled as “unfined” and “unfiltered”. Even natural or organic wines are the ones you’ll want to gravitate to. Since not all wines are clearly labeled as such it’s best to ask for recommendations. You can check with a knowledgeable wine shop or do some research online prior to a purchase. TuscanyWineClubTime is a respected directory online that will help guide you in the right direction.

 

Jennifer Martin

Vegan Cooking Recipe, part 2

You are just come back from your Vegan Vacation in Tuscany, well so  it’s time to relive your vacation again with wonderful Vegan Recipes!

  1. Pesto di Cavolo Nero (Kale Pesto)

A simple Vegan pesto, this option is simple to prepare and extremely taste! We use pine nuts, almonds and natural yeast to mimic the flavors of traditional pesto. This pesto is also excellent on bread as a spread for crostini. First, remove the stalks from the kale, and steam the leaves. In a mortar, put together the kale, pine nuts, almonds, and garlic (if you like it!). Add some (about 50 grams) of natural cooking yeast, salt, and lots of olive oil to achieve a smooth consistency. This pesto is good for two to three days in the fridge, so be sure to make an ample batch.

  1. Vegan Carbonara

Vegan carbonara is possible and can be achieved with the use of our favorite seitan, together with soy cooking cream. First, cut the seitan into tiny pieces and set aside. Do the same with some zucchini, and in a non-stick pan, heat some garlic in olive oil. Remove the garlic from the pan and add the seitan pieces together with the zucchini. Add some pepper and cook all together over medium heat. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti leaving it al dente. Put the soy cooking cream in a bowl and add turmeric. Mix them together so they are in a homogeneous sauce. Drain the spaghetti and put it into the pan with he seitan and zucchini. Add the cream with turmeric mixture together with some fresh thyme and mix well. Your carbonara is complete!

  1. Tempeh Ragu

Another option for a Vegan ragu is to make it with tempeh, instead of seitan. Tempeh is a protein made from the fermentation of yellow soy beans, and is rich in fiber, vitamins, and of course protein. As we did before, prepare a soffritto with onion, carrot and celery. Let it cook before adding the tempeh, and then clearing the pan with some white wine. Once the wine has cooked away, add the tomato, and let it cook down for 20 to 30 minutes. Add a little salt, and then choose what pasta you want to make! This sauce is really great with anything, and is also excellent on crostini, so make a lot and invite your non-vegan friends to see how vegan ragu can be just as good as the real deal.

These are just some suggestions to get you started with your vegan cooking adventures. There are lots of ways to eat meat-free, and we are here to help with ideas whenever you need them. Be sure to enjoy your pasta with an excellent vegan wine!

Vegan Cooking Recipes, part one

You can experience creating these and many other Vegan Recipes in our Vegan Cooking Course in Florence, available daily in a charming country house in the hills with beautiful views of Florence. You will learn to cook vegan delicacies as Tuscans have been doing for centuries!

Part 1

Vegan Sauces: 2 Recipes to Try

Those who love first courses know that the right sauce can transform a simple plate of pasta into a true gourmet dish. To make a dish special, it’s fundamental to choose the right sauce. Seasonal vegetables, aromatic herbs, plant-based oils, and even seitan, tofu or tempeh are the main ingredients that will help you prepare an excellent vegan sauce for your pasta (and other things!), to enjoy every day at dinner or even on the holidays. Here are 2 recipes to try!

  1. Vegan ragout with seitan and apples

Ragout is the number one go-to sauce when it comes to the holidays, and it is ideal for any form of pasta, including lasagna. Why give it up when you can make a vegan version of this Italian classic using seitan protein and apples? This recipe calls for you to first make a normal soffritto base of carrots, onion and celery. Cook the soffritto in olive oil before adding some water and then the tomato, as you would with a normal ragu. Add the seitan, chopped in pieces, and let it all cook down for about 15-20 minutes. Finally, when there are just a few minutes’ cooking time left, add the chopped apple. This ragout will surely wow your friends and family, alike!

  1. Vegan zucchini spaghetti with white seitan sauce

Another recipe with seitan as the protagonist, due to its versatility and high protein content. Seitan particularly lends itself to making sauces, since its texture mimics that of the meat normally used to make traditional sauces. In this case, we make a sauce that is without tomato, and suggest adding walnut pieces for crunch. Here, instead of noodles or pasta, make zoodles – zucchini is a great stand-in for egg-based pastas since their texture is similar after boiling. Clean the zucchini and, using a knife, remove both ends. Cut each one in half and then cut into strips. Finally, cut them into 3 or 4 mm ‘noodles’ before boiling them in slightly salted water. Cook them for a few minutes before draining and setting aside. For the ragu, put some garlic in some oil and turn on the heat. Add the pre-chopped seitan to the pan and add a little salt. Crush the walnuts and add them to the pan. After about ten minutes, add some chopped parsley, then toss in the zucchini and heat through on a low flame. Enjoy this healthy, vegan alternative to spaghetti!