Risotto al Chianti

Risotto is a typical first course of Italian cuisine, originating in Lombardy and then spreading throughout northern Italy, and today found in numerous versions throughout the country.

Its main characteristic is the retention of starch, which, when jellified by cooking, binds the grains together in a creamy mixture. Among the various qualities of rice, there are some that are particularly suitable for risotto (Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Rosa Marchetti, Vialone Nano). The other ingredients vary according to the recipe to be prepared.


Yield: 4 persons 


  1. Finely chop the onion and lightly fry it in a pan with a little oil. As soon as the onion is browned, add the coarsely chopped sausages and cook until they have changed colour.
  2. When the sausage is cooked, add all the rice and toast it for a few minutes over a high heat, stirring often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
  3. Now add the Chianti wine, until the rice is completely covered and let it cook on a low flame until all the wine is absorbed, stirring occasionally. When the wine has dried, you can continue cooking by adding a little stock at a time until the rice is cooked.
  4. Before serving the risotto, sprinkle with a little pecorino cheese, a knob of butter, parsley and enjoy!

Polenta Chips

Polenta is a very old Italian dish made from maize flour or another cereal. Although it is known in its various variants throughout Italy, in the past it was the staple food of poor people’s cuisine in various northern areas: Lombardy, Veneto, Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Liguria, Trentino, Emilia-Romagna and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Polenta is also traditionally cooked in Tuscany and in the mountain areas of Umbria and Marche, Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise.

The basic cereal most commonly used is maize, imported in Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, which gives its characteristic yellow colour, while previously it was darker because it was made mainly with spelt or rye, and later also with buckwheat, imported from Asia.


Yield: 4 persons 


  1. The first thing to do is to prepare the polenta! Heat a litre and a half of water and add salt. As soon as it starts to boil, pour in the maize flour and stir with a whisk. No lumps should form! After about 40 minutes the polenta will start to come away from the edges of the pan, cook it for another 10 minutes and then roll it out very thinly on baking paper, using another sheet and a rolling pin. It must dry out.
    NB: the most important moment is when you pour the cornflour into the water, a little at a time, stirring with a whisk. When you have finished this operation, keep stirring from time to time and remember that the polenta must simmer throughout the cooking process. When the polenta has gained consistency and dried, take your baking paper with the fine polenta spread on top, preheat the oven to 180° and bake.

  2. The baked polenta chips will be ready when they get a crispy texture. The thickness is up to you


Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla carbonara is a dish that people tend to associate with the history of Italian gastronomic culture. However, the story of this dish is quite different:

The most famous meeting between pasta and egg dates back to 1778, when Vincenzo Corrado, Neapolitan cook and scribe, wrote about a recipe in the book “Il cuoco Galante”, where pasta was cooked in capon broth and served with egg yolks or without.
In 1839, in the book “Cucina teorico-pratica” by Ippolito Cavalcanti, appeared the first association of pasta-egg-cheese. But it is only in 1881 that the first association between pasta-egg-cheese-pork fat comes closer to carbonara (in the book “Il principe dei cuochi” by Francesco Palma).

In 1950 an article named “Trastevere’s national holiday” referred to a restaurant in the capital, which was the first to welcome American officers landed in Italy in 1943 against fascists and Nazism, where they asked to eat “spaghetti alla carbonara”.
The history of this preparation is very much linked to the presence of the American army who, in addition to distributing cigarettes, chocolate tablets and chewing gum, exchanged their individual rations containing bacon and powdered eggs, that ended up on the black market “carbonaro”. Many testimonies have been collected from tavern owners who prepared the first “carbonara” with bacon and powdered eggs, on the request of soldiers who asked for spaghetti breakfasts. In this context carbonara was born, an expression of Italian creativity and genius inspired by American logistics.

Some believe carbonara takes its name from Carbonarismo, a dish consumed during meetings of the members of the political movement present in Italy in the first half of the 19th century. The hypothesis is that a chef from Carbonia (a Sardinian city) invented it during the time he was working in Rome.
Although, the name could have originated from the fact that the ingredients came from the black market called “carbonaro”, a market supplied mostly by the American armies.

The idea of carbonara we imagine today, saw the light at the end of the 70’s, when the eggs were used raw (later only the yolks), cheese used was only pecorino or a mixture of pecorino and parmesan, and guanciale was established as the most suitable cured meat for this dish.

Carbonara Club, born in 1998, proposed in 2012 to close the issue of various versions spread throughout the territory by codifying a mediated recipe which winks at the tradition and the need of a contemporary restaurant.



Yield: 4 servings.

  • 400 g of spaghetti
  • 250 g of guanciale
  • 1 whole egg + 3 egg yolks
  • 210 g of pecorino
  • 40 g of Parmigiano Reggiano 24 mois
  • 20 g of freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cut the guanciale into pieces of about 1 cm. Brown the pieces over high heat in a pan, without adding any fat. As soon as it is well coloured and all the fat has dissolved, let it caramelise in its fat over very low heat for about 10 minutes. As soon as the pieces are nicely crisped, leave them warm without throwing away the melted fat created in the pan.

  2. Grate the two cheeses and mix them together.

  3. Drop the spaghetti into a saucepan filled with boiling, salted water.

  4. In a salad bowl, beat the eggs adding three quarters of the cheese and pepper, then mix everything together. (There is no need to salt the recipe, the cheese and guanciale will do the trick)
  5. When the pasta is al dente (do not forget to put a few ladles of boiling water on the side) pour it directly into the salad bowl with the eggs, cheese and pepper, and mix well.

  6. Let stand for 1 minute, then add the crispy, still-warm guanciale. Make circular motions from top to bottom, in order to create an emulsion with the beaten eggs, cheese, guanciale and its fat.

  7. Work fairly quickly, adding a little cooking water to create the right creaminess. The whole success of this dish is played out in just 1 minute.

  8. Serve immediately adding pepper and cheese.

La Mortadella

“La Bologna”, nicknamed to pay homage to its hometown, has a rich history and tradition of craftsmanship.

Mortadella is a kind of large pink sausage, compact and cylindrical, made mainly out of finely chopped lean pork meat, with fat cut into cubes, all seasoned with sea salt, pepper, spices and often pistachio. The whole is put into a synthetic or natural casing, slowly cooked (up to 24 hours) and suspended by a string at about 75°C in an air oven. The diameter of mortadella ranges from 20 to 30 cm for a weight ranging from 10 to 30 kg, but you can find pieces that weigh up to 100 kg.

Mortadella has long been the icon of the classic country snack, in the middle of two nice slices of bread and accompanied by a good glass of wine (Chianti Italo Riserva in the shop for example). Considered as a very fatty sliced product, it is slightly salty when of excellent quality.

Mortadella di Bologna (link to the organic mortadella of Pedrazzoli in the shop) is a product certified IGP since 1998 but it is also produced in other regions of the north and center of Italy. The IGP admits two versions: with or without pistachio. In Bologna, the one without pistachio is preferred, as tradition dictates, but in central and southern Italy the pistachio version is very popular.

The origins of Mortadella Bologna IGP are to be found in the territories of the ancient Etruscan Felsina and of Bonomia dei Galli Boi, rich in oak trees which provided tasty acorns to the many local pigs, both wild and domesticated.
There are many hypothesis about the origin of the name Mortadella:

1) In the Archaeological Museum of Bologna the first evidence of what is believed to have been a producer of mortadella is preserved: a stele from the Imperial Roman period in which are depicted seven piglets on one side led to pasture and on the other a mortar with pestle. Since the mortar was used by Romans to pound and mix pork meat with salt and spices, it could be inferred that the name of this tasty specialty comes from “mortarium” or better from “murtatum” which means meat finely minced in a mortar.
2) Another version derives from the word myrtatum, the Latin term which designated myrtle (aroma used instead of the more precious pepper) which was one of the ingredients of a sausage called, for this reason, farcimen myrtatum. Farcimen myrtatum was already known and widely appreciated, as Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) and Varro (116-27 B.C.) both mentioned it.

What is the first real recipe for mortadella?

It was given in the first years of the 17th century by the agronomist Vincenzo Tanara with precise indications about the ingredients and a much higher quantity of fat than today.
In 1661, Cardinal Farnese issued a proclamation which codified the production of mortadella, providing one of the first examples of disciplinary similar to the current ones of DOP and IGP certifications.
A couple of centuries ago, Mortadella di Bologna was a product reserved to an elite of gourmets, nobles and rich bourgeoisie who could afford a cured meat with a high price, even higher than ham. It is only after the gradual development of the charcuterie industry, which began in the 19th century, that it became a product accessible to everyone.

How to taste it?

Cut in thin slices (cut with a good slicer or with a sharp knife made by an expert charcuterie expert) and add on pizzas, bruschettas, breadsticks, croutons or focaccias; on top of a pan-cooked egg, stuffed with fresh cheese (ricotta, stracchino, etc.), served with pistachios, walnuts or pine nuts; with figs.
Cut in cubes can be added to salads; for aperitifs; alone or with a skewer of cheese and vegetables.
Grinded can instead be added to sauces, ravioli or tortellini Bolognese fillings, savory pies, meat rolls.

Fattoria Lischeto – Volterra (Tuscany)

Fattoria Lischeto is located in Volterra (Tuscany), famous throughout the world for its history of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance cities; for its unique landscape of gullies and terrestrial graves; for its traditional alabaster processing in artisan shops. It is in this context of open territory and cultural deposit that Lischeto livestock farm operates and where the new but ancient craft of the cheese-maker arises.

The activity began in 1991, exploiting the traditional experience and knowledge in the field of pastoralism. The farm chose to adopt the complete biological cycle of processing: sowing and harvesting fodder, selected breeding, which together with the climate, the earth, and the process of artisanal production, affect the final quality of the cheeses.

“Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane” is a historical cheese of the area. The milk destined for transformation into this special cheese must be rigorously whole sheep’s milk and must not undergo any kind of thermisation. It must be processed within 48 hours from the first milking. Raw milk is poured into a copper or stainless steel boiler until a temperature
ranging from 30° to 40°C is reached. Vegetable rennet made from wild thistle is added to the heated milk.

The most characteristic cheese of the company’s production, it is included in the list of Italian denominations and in the European Register of Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) since February 2015 with the name “Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane DOP”.

From the first original quality products: pecorino, ricotta, raveggiolo, today they are able to offer different and original cheeses resulting from research and the recovery of old recipes. They keep and develop the traditions of typical tastes of sheep breeding in Tuscany, working only the milk of the sheep present on the farm.

Natur Gréng selects a range of different products by Fattoria Lischeto.

Certifications: ancient tradition in your pantry

A guide to italian certifications

DOP, IGP, DOC, DOCG are letters often found on the label of your favorite Italian food and drink, but what do they mean? Acronyms like IGP and DOP show that the product is legally guaranteed by the European Union to be “authentic” or made in the original town or region with real ingredients. Beyond saving ancient traditions, the product actually tastes better. The need for guaranteed authentic products began in the last century, when Italy’s food and wine producers found themselves in trouble: as “Italian cuisine” gained popularity in the U.S. and abroad, the market was flooded with low-quality olive oil, cheese, prosciutto and wine, sold under the guise of the high-quality products they mimicked.

To protect its culinary reputation, Italy worked with the European Union to create legal certifications that encourage food and wine producers to focus on quality, tradition, and reliability. To earn the labels, producers must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, overseen by the government.


IGP – Indicazione Geografica Protetta

The IGP label shows that the quality or reputation of your food or condiment is linked to the place or region where it is produced, processed or prepared.


IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica

The IGT label refers to wines whose production takes place in the respective geographical indication, the grapes come for at least 85% exclusively from that geographical area, with the indication of the organoleptic characteristics. Wines recognized with the IGT label are certainly created with specific grapes, but not from a restricted and well indicated territory, as opposed to DOC and DOCG marks.


D.O.P – Denominazione di Origine Protetta

The DOP label guarantees that your favorite product is produced, processed and packaged in a specific geographical zone and according to tradition. Each step, from production to packaging, is regulated.


D.O.C. – Denominazione di origine controllata

Regarding wine, unlike IGT, the DOC definitions will usually specify additional more stringent rules regarding permitted grape varieties, harvest yields, minimum ageing including use of barrels, minimum alcohol content and other factors.


D.O.C.G. – Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita

DOCG is intended to be a superior classification to DOC and is the highest classification in Italy. All DOCG wines from each producer are analysed and tasted by government–licensed judgement panel before being bottled. The rules for the DOCG wine usually require more stringent quality controls. These controls are a combination of a lower proportion of blending grapes, lower yields, higher minimum alcohol, longer ageing requirements and so on.

Organic – Certificazione Biologica

Organic certification is granted to companies after they have undergone a series of checks throughout the production chain: the start of cultivation, processing and distribution of organic products, as well as their import, is subject to European regulations that determine their standards, the control system, the characteristics of labelling and how to import them.

Pesto di Prà, or Pesto alla Genovese, history of a traditional sauce

We are in the middle of the 19th century and we are naturally in Liguria, the land which traditionally has always been the cradle of aromatic herbs. The use of these herbs has very ancient traditions, going back to the Middle Ages and, just like for many other foods, it was the social categories to differentiate their use.
Pesto was born just starting from Ligurian aromatic herbs, used as a cold condiment from basil. The original recipe seems to be dated back to the second half of the 19th century by Giovanni Battista Ratto, described in a volume of his book called “La cuciniera Genovese” (The Genoese Cook).

The excerpts are easily retrievable: ‘Take a clove of garlic, basil (baxaicö) or in the absence of this marjoram and parsley, grated Dutch cheese and Parmesan cheese mixed together and some pinoli and pound all in a mortar with a little butter until it is reduced to a paste. Then melt it with plenty of fine oil. This mixture is used to dress “trofie”, adding a little hot water without salt to make it more liquid.

We are now in a convent in Prà, a small district of Genoa, dedicated to Saint Basil where lived a monk who gathered all the aromatic herbs growing on the hills around and inside the convent. The aromatic herb in question was, of course, basil and the monk combined it with some ingredients brought by the faithful and, with a mortar, he pounded everything obtaining the first pesto ever produced.

Basil from Pra’ is considered very special due to the favourable micro-climatic conditions of this area. The district of Pra’ is located in an extraordinary position: sandwiched between
the sea and the mountains, high up but close to the sea, its peculiar exposure makes this basil renowned for the delicacy of its scent and the intensity of its flavour.

Linguine al Pesto


Yield: 4 servings



– Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water; set aside a ladleful of the cooking water, then drain the pasta al dente.
– Meanwhile, place the pesto in a shallow mixing dish and set aside.
– Add the pasta to the pesto in the shallow mixing dish but do not place over heat! Toss to combine, and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. If needed, add a small amount of the pasta’s cooking water to thin the pesto.
– When the pasta is completely coated in pesto, place it into a warmed serving dish, and serve