Chef’s Alliance Recipe – Gena Iodice

The story of my life is closely linked to my job: cooking has always been part of my existence, a childhood friend.

La Marchesella – this is the name of the restaurant I run with my husband Tommaso and my sons Francesco and Antonio, in collaboration with La Compagnia del ragù brand. However, my kitchen life started off with Fenesta Verde, my family’s first restaurant, opened in 1948 by my maternal grandparents.

The idea to run an eating establishment where wine was served in jugs and simple local dishes could be enjoyed, sprang up as a result of the bombings during the second world war. At the time, my grandparents‘ cellar served as a bomb shelter for their neighbors. My grandmother Luisa had words of comfort for everybody and sometimes even a glass of wine. When the war ended and its bombardments ceased, the survivors would stop by everyday to greet my grandparents, who in turn always offered their visitors a glass of wine and often a bowl of hot soup. This is how the restaurant came to be.

Then, my parents, Angela and Antonio, continued running the business afterwards, and passed on their passion for cooking to their four children: my brother Giovanni and my two sisters Luisa and Laura, who currently run the Fenesta Verde. To be honest, my mother tried very hard to forge a different path for me. I attended a Liceo Classico (a type of secondary school focusing on humanities) and graduated in Classical Humanities. The title of my dissertation was a matchmaker indeed: compound verb tenses in a cuisine essay – De Re Coquinaria. The kitchen has been my playground ever since, a place that I share with my husband Tommaso, a graduate in agricultural science, a sommelier, and a wine and gastronomy expert. We also opened our own restaurant, “La Marchesella”, named after the street it is in.

I happened to discover Slow Food at the World Conference that was held in Naples, in Piazza Plebiscito, in 2003. I immediately fell in love with the idea that food and conviviality play central roles worldwide and that of a global, tight, joyful and convivial food community. The feeling of belonging to a larger project, Terra Madre, truly fills my heart with joy. When I realized that I could help protect biodiversity by working in my tiny little world, my kitchen, I immediately joined the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance. I have been a member of the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance now since 2012, representing a new approach towards local traditions, cookery and agricultural produce. Sharing is the main course on the Slow Food menu, and I would love to travel the world with this movement, spread the traditions of my homeland, collaborate with International chefs, set up events and themed dinners and/or training courses for young chefs with the clear aim to promote local, good, clean, fair products.

I opted for this recipe, which is also a favorite at my restaurant, since its main ingredient, Cicerhia Flegrea (azure blue sweet peas from Phlegraean Fields), is a Slow Food Presidium from the Food Community of the Phlegraean Area.

Fusilloni (large spiral pasta) with azure blue sweet peas from Phlegraean Fields, sausage, wild fennel and Provolone del Monaco cheese flakes.

Ingredients for 4 people

  1. 400 g. Gragnano brand- fusilloni ;
  2. 400 g. azure blue sweet peas from Phlegraean Fields;
  3. 200 g. pork sausage,
  4. 1 teaspoon of wild fennel;
  5. 2 cloves of garlic;
  6. 1 dl of extra virgin olive oil;
  7. 100 g. Provolone del Monaco cheese flakes;
  8. Black pepper to taste;
  9. chopped parsley;
  10. sea salt;

 

Method

Soak the azure blue sweet peas for at least 12 hours in plenty of water, making sure to change the water at least twice. Rinse the peas and pour them into a pot with 2.5 liters of unsalted water. Boil the azure blue sweet peas for around 2 hours and add salt at the very end.

Remove sausage meat from its casing and place in a casserole with a little extra virgin oil and some wild fennel seeds. Mince the meat by hand to mix it with the oil. Then put the casserole in a preheated oven at 180° C and cook the meat for around 10 minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the oven and take the casserole out.

Pour on a little extra virgin oil and the two garlic cloves, previously pressed with the palm of your hand, in a large pan. Fry until the garlic gloves get a hazelnut-like shade, then take them out of the pan and pour the azure blue sweet peas in, without their cooking water. Now, add the previously cooked sausage and simmer for 5 minutes to allow it to develop a richer flavor.

Boil some water in a large pot. When the water starts boiling add salt and put the Gragnagno-brand Fusilloni on. Boil the pasta for 6 minutes and then drain. Keep some cooking water aside. Pour the half-cooked fusilloni in the frying pan with the other ingredients. Toss to mix them, if necessary add a little cooking water to better mix everything. Also add a spoon of provolone del Monaco cheese flakes and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the pasta in a soup dish, sprinkle with provolone del Monaco cheese flakes and chopped parsley, and drizzle a little extra virgin oil over the pasta before serving.

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