Hi, my name is Giulia, I have a problem and I would love to share it with you: I lack the sense of measure. I believe and I do hope it is due to my motto you have to be generous in the kitchen. It happens often during my cooking classes, and my friends are lucky witnesses.
A classic menu is made of five courses – appetizer, first course which usually is a dish of home made pasta, a main dish, a side dish and a dessert. Then you make up quick recipes with leftover ingredients such as salads or tasty frittate. Then how can you skip an olive oil, cheese and charcuterie tasting? If you want to get to the core of the Tuscan cooking you must bravely face all the challenges I will offer you throughout the day.
Then, last but not least, I tend to cook for a minimum of four people, even though we are just three – my guests and me. Just imagine what would happen if they want a second serving and there’s no more meat in the pan! It’s not a proper thing to be seen during a cooking class, at my table, so I just double the quantities and I have no fear.
The result is that we often eat leftovers for the next two meals, venturing in unlikely pairings. Sometimes I invite my friends over for dinner, padding out the meal with a good piece of pecorino cheese, grassy olive oil and wood baked bread. Leftovers are also one of the reasons that urge me to often vary the cooking class menu, otherwise sooner or later my family would mutiny and run away to the nearest fast food (well, at a second thought, probably they would not choose a fast food but a porchetta truck parked along the road selling crackling pork in a well filled sandwich).
Although I often brag quite unconsciously about my ability to over exaggerate the quantities, I messed it dramatically for the last picnic we organized. I made the most classic and crowd pleasing menu – fava beans, pecorino, salami, farro salad, strawberries with whipped cream and mousse au chocolat – then I had the brilliant idea to bake delicate tartlets with fava beans, pecorino and ricotta. It is an unusual way to present fava beans and pecorino, the most classic and loved food pairing of Italian picnics of the 25th of April, our national holiday, and May Day.
Weight the ingredients, add this and that, mix, knead, roll out the dough, bake it… at the end I managed to style prettily on a dish just three tartlets. Three. There were eight people – eight hungry people – coming for the picnic. My crowd pleasing menu would have certainly turned in a fight for the last tartlet. So I decided to cut a long story short and have them for lunch with my sister. My friends would do with the idea of them, I hope!
Do not miss these tartlets if your ideal picnic includes a checkered tablecloth, a green meadow dotted with daisies, one or more dogs chasing each other in the background and a wicker basket from which you gleefully pull out, just like Mary Poppins, sandwiches, cookies, a refreshing lemonade, a form of cheese that still smells of milk and a generous handful of fava beans.
This is your recipe if you like spring picnics and love to be tickled by that subtle and sparkling liveliness that you can breathe in the shade of an olive tree under the May sky. Just pay attention to the quantities, and bake a tartlet for every friend!
Fava bean and pecorino tartlets
- 100 g of wholewheat flour
- 80 g of corn flour
- 5 g of salt
- 1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 40 g of extra virgin olive oil
- 250 g of sheep milk ricotta
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 20 g of grated pecorino cheese
- Fresh herbs, chives, thyme, lemon thyme, mint
- 600 g of fava beans, about 100 g once shelled
- 20 g of shaved pecorino cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a bowl mix all the ingredients to make the shells of the tartlets. Work it quickly with your hands until it forms a ball, then use the dough to line three 8cm round tartlet moulds. Prick with a fork, cover with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or cover with a smaller mould. Bake the tartlets in a hot oven to 180°C for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment paper and let them cook for the last 5 minutes uncovered. Remove them from the oven and let them cool.
- In a bowl, mix the ricotta with salt, freshly ground black pepper, grated lemon zest and chopped herbs to taste. Spoon the ricotta filling into the tartlets.
- Dress the shelled fava beans with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. Add the shaved pecorino cheese and spoon over the tartlets. Serve immediately.