A hearty sandwich

The other day we were watching our favorite travel channel TV show: Bizarre Foods. We love Andrew Zimmern’s humor and  enjoy watching him explore curious food. Anyway, on that episode he showed culinary students how to cook heart. Everyone then proceeded to taste heart and comment on how good and unlike any other offal it was.

Next think I know, BF comes home from grocery shopping with lamb hearts. Now BF never willingly eats offal, not even liver. I got him to eat tongue, but that hardly count as offal: that is a voluntary muscle just as any other meat cut. So you can imagine my surprise. Well I quickly ventured online and found a recipe to cook heart. It suggested marinating the meat and then grilling it. I turned it into a pretty great sandwich.

Heart is quite different from other offal, in that it is much more meaty. And in this case it had a distinct lamb-y taste.  It is also a quite bloody meat and I found I only needed small amounts to feel full. Anyway, as Andrew Zimmern would say, if it looks good, eat it. And this sandwich did look good!

Hearty sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 lamb heart
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 bread rolls
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Start by marinating the meat. Prepare the marinade using the juices and grated zest of the lemon, the minced garlic clove, 1 spoon of oil and a pinch of salt. Thinly slice the heart and put it in the marinade and let rest for 1/2 an hour and up to 24 hours.
  2. Prepare the zucchini by slicing it and sauteing it with the remaining oil until soft and completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Warm up a griddle on the stove until piping hot. Grill the bread to make it toasty. Grill the heart slices for a couple of minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Assemble the sandwich and enjoy piping hot.

Zuppa Toscana from Northern Tuscany, Hearty Winter Soup Recipe

Zuppa Toscana (Northern Tuscany)

This recipe was contributed by Michele Molinari, whose great-grandmother was from southern Reggio Emilia on the border with Northern Tuscany. She used to call it Zuppa Toscana because she said that was the way it was prepared in Tuscany; Michele has no precise details as to where it originated for sure.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup millet
  • 1 cup borlotti beans
  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 2 cups farro
  • water
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 5 sage leaves
  • 10 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 cup green peas
  • salt and pepper
  1. Soak the millet, borlotti beans, chickpeas, lentils and farro in water overnight, changing the water 2 or 3 times if possible. Rinse and drain.
  2. Place them in a pot, cover with water, and bring to boil. Then simmer for about 2 hours, covered. Add salt towards the end of the cooking time.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 cup extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add onion, garlic, celery, carrots and sage. Fry for a few minutes over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the onion and the garlic begin to darken, add the tomatoes. Simmer until the excess water from the tomatoes evaporates. Turn off and wait for legumes to be ready.
  4. When legumes are cooked, take about 2 cups of the legumes and pure in a food processor or food mill. Return the pure to the pot.
  5. Add the bay leaves, green peas and the olive oil mixture, simmer for 1 hour semi-covered. Add boiling water if needed to reach the preferred thickness.

For a perfect taste, serve the following day after preparing the soup. Serve hot with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil, ground pepper, and a couple slices of slightly toasted bread.

Buon appetito!