Antipasti and vegetables

Antipasti and vegetables

By
Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi
Contains
23 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781784880040
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

It seems incredible that if we could travel to Rome as it was 2,000 years ago, we could sit on a stool at a bar, sip chilled wine and eat bar snacks just as we could if we went there today. The flavours of some of the recipes we have unearthed from that time are as enjoyable to us now as they were to Romans then. The only difference is that our friend in the toga would be happy to be served by a slave and then go to watch the Christians being torn apart by lions after lunch, whereas perhaps we would prefer not to. Vegetables have always been plentiful in the Roman diet, as well as cereals and pulses, because they are cheap and readily available. In ancient Rome they were made into purées, relishes and dips and eaten with bread or crackers. Vinegar and herbs were used to dress salads as olive oil was expensive. Vegetarianism, whether by choice or purse, was not unheard of; Roman chef and restaurant owner Arcangelo Dandini told us that the legionnaires ate a diet of pecorino, farro (a grain), almonds, fruit and dates, as they were easy to eat when marching, only eating meat once they had set up camp. We’ve read that they might have used their helmets to cook in, particularly puls, a porridge made from barley or farro. We are sceptical this was general practice though – imagine having to scrub burnt porridge off your helmet before you could put it on!

When the Romans settled in Britain they brought their taste for vegetables with them. They introduced us to garlic, rosemary, onions, shallots, celery, peas, asparagus, thyme, bay, basil, walnuts and chestnuts. They also encouraged the cultivation of dessert apples and mulberries, and introduced other fruits like grapes and cherries. Wow, our diet must have been pretty dull before!

Today, vegetable dishes and antipasti pretty much merge into one, which is why we have kept our selection of historical and modern days dishes together in the same chapter. Vast arrays of vegetables are often simply steamed, fried or roasted and eaten as part of antipasti or ordered after the main course. Every time we visit Rome the selection changes, from artichokes and monk’s beard – known as agritti – in early spring, to broad (fava) beans – fave in Roman – and the pointed green cauliflower called romanesco a little later, and locally grown strawberries in summer. Bitter greens such as cicoria, a member of the chicory family, are highly prized, as are porcini mushrooms, when in season.

Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again