Looking for recipes for the festive season? Start your very special meal with some traditional cold cuts and cheese, prepare some fresh pasta, bake some meat and end your banquet with cantuccini and Vinsanto. Straight from Tuscany, here are some tips for your Christmas menu:
A traditional Tuscan antipasto should contain mixed cold cuts, Pecorino cheese, olives and especially chicken-liver crostini (chicken liver pâté over toasted bread). Throughout Tuscany each family makes its own version but everybody loves crostini. Find out here the recipe for traditional Crostini Toscani and a list of the most famous cold cuts of Tuscany. If you need a vegetarian starter, bake some Cecina (chickpea cake) and serve it warm.
According to tradition, Christmas lunch first course must be fresh egg pasta stuffed either with spinach and ricotta or the more classic potato filling. The sauce must be rich: a simple meat ragu will be just fine but to give a certain prestige to their tables Tuscans love to use wild game (selvaggina). Check here a recipe for Ricotta and spinach ravioli and the classic meat sauce for pasta. If you like wild game you can prepare a wild boar or hare sauce. For a vegetarian version just season your ravioli or tortelli with butter and sage leaves.
Arista is the Tuscan name for roasted pork loin, very common on Sunday's lunch, especially in Florence. Tuscan Arista is very easy to make and it's seasoned with garlic, fresh rosemary, sage, salt and extra-virgin olive oil.