A favourite all winter there are more varieties of cabbage than you can shake a stick at, from the densely packed red variety to the leafy green. Cabbage is a brilliant accompaniment to roasted fowl of all kinds – duck, goose or even chicken – and red cabbage grated and dressed makes an ideal partner for ham including proscuitto. Serve it with a big, beefy red wine and you could be anywhere from Lazio to Calabria.
These are a bright splash of colour on a winter plate. If they are very fresh the tops are delicious simply blanched and drizzled with butter or a splash of olive oil. If you’re lucky you might be able to get hold of the saffron yellow, golden variety, which is scrumptious cooked in a salad. One favourite Italian combination that goes well with both red and golden beets, is goats’ cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
You can’t buy a pumpkin in a market in Italy without tapping it to check it sounds hollow. If you don’t do it yourself the stallholder will invariably do it for you! The story is that pumpkins that sound right will keep longer. All kinds of weird and wonderful looking squashes are available on Italy’s streets. Flavours’ favourite recipe comes from Emilia-Romagna where they stir in a puree of squash when making gnocchi and then serve along with melted butter and a handful of parmesan. The resulting plate (delicious!) is a winter classic that would almost make you sad come March, when the market gardeners produce the start of the summer crops.
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