by Maria Linardi — last modified 2008-06-20 16:12
Get a taste of Liguria in these two delicious recipes - you'll be coming back for more!
Liguria, with its 315 kilometres of coastline, is often, and indeed rightly, considered to be a bridge between Italy, and the rest of the Western World. The mountains rise up dramatically from the coast - around two thirds of inland Liguria is mountainous, the rest hilly - making this a land of contrasts, a unique place to be savoured slowly, just like its renowned cuisine. Liguria has a long tradition of cooking and dishes such as the sublime focaccia from Recco, which was first tasted during the Saracen invasions, are famous all over the world. Legend goes that during the 16th century Recco's beach was often under Saracen attack. While the men stayed along the coast to defend their towns, the women, children, old and infirm fled to safety in the hills, taking with them basic supplies of flour, oil and salt. Once out of danger the women kneaded their dough with water from the mountain springs while the old people collected wood. The bread was then cooked on a slab of slate over an open fire. One day, tired of the same old bread, someone had the bright idea of trading some salt for fresh mountain cheese. The rest, as you say, is history . . .
| Cheese focaccia |
Here is one of our favourite focaccia recipes. Pile some flour and a pinch of salt onto a clean surface. Make a well in the flour and pour in half a glass of oil and some warm water. Knead the mixture to a soft, elastic dough. Divide into two parts, cover and leave aside for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven. Knead the two parts once more then leave aside for another 10 minutes. Roll them out into very thin disks (12-15''). Place one of the disks on an oiled baking tray. Cover with soft cheese (use a cheese like stracchino, if possible). Now place the other disk on top. Trim the sides and roll the edges up and around to seal the focaccia. Prick the top with a fork and drizzle oil over the top. Bake in a very hot oven for 5-6 minutes until golden brown..
Another of Liguria's specialities is olive oil, which is produced in large quantities in the Imperia area, home of the well-loved taggiasche olives. Taste them at their best in this recipe.
Rabbit with taggiasche olives and Vermentino
1 1kg rabbit
70 g black olives in brine (if possible choose taggiasche olives)
1 small onion
3/ 4 cloves of garlic
a bottle of Vermentino wine
extra-virgin olive oil (from Liguria)
Section the rabbit into medium-sized pieces, then wash and dry well. Leave aside the sweetbreads (liver, heart and kidneys). Heat the oil in a terracotta pan and fry the onion, garlic, chilli and herbs. Add the meat and brown for approx. 10 minutes. Then add the sweetbreads and cook, stirring all the time. Season and cover with the wine. Cover with a lid and cook gently until the meat is ready, adding water if necessary - the sauce should be fairly thick. Ten minutes before the end add the olives. If the sauce is too liquid add some flour, dissolved in water or stock and stir into the stew.
Accompany with a bottle of Vermentino.