Here comes the sun: Italian summer recipes

Posted on: 25th Jun 2016 by: Aldo Zilli

I love the dishes opposite, pancetta and rosemary-crusted rack of lamb with spinach, sultanas and pine nuts, which makes a special Sunday roast with a really Italian flavour, and the dessert, summer millefoglie, which follows it perfectly. Enjoy!

Pancetta and rosemary-crusted rack of lamb

1 tsp olive oil

2 x 500g racks of lamb

100g flat pancetta, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped

20g butter

40g sultanas

500g spinach

30g pine nuts, toasted

SERVES: 4

PREPARATION: 15 MINUTES

COOKING TIME: 45 MINUTES

Preheat the oven to 210°C/425°F/Gas Mark 6.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan on high. Cook the lamb racks one at a time, for 2-3 minutes, turning until browned all over. Remove from the heat and cool.

Place the pancetta in a food processor and process until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl. Add the garlic and thyme and mix well. Press the mixture over the upper side of lamb. Bake for 20 minutes for medium-rare or to your liking. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan on a high heat. Add the sultanas and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes, until wilted. Season well and stir through the pine nuts.

Carve the lamb into cutlets and transfer to plates. Drizzle over with the pan juices and serve with the sultana, spinach and pine nut mix. 

Summer millefoglie

For the crème pâtissière: 

400ml fresh whipping cream

1½ tbsp icing sugar

½ vanilla pod, seeded and the seeds reserved

250ml fresh milk 

2 egg yolks

60g caster sugar 

30g plain flour 

For the pastries:

8 puff pastry discs, 6cm diameter ? 1 egg + 1 tbsp milk whisked together for brushing the pastry 

½ punnet strawberries, quartered

½ punnet blueberries

½ punnet raspberries, cut in half 

Icing sugar

Fresh mint

SERVES: 4

PREPARATION: 30 MINUTES

COOKING TIME: 15 MINUTES

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

Whip the fresh cream with the icing sugar and vanilla seeds. Put the milk and the vanilla pod into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Then fold in the flour and stir. 

When the milk boils, remove it from the heat. Add it, a little at a time, into the egg mix, stirring constantly until all the milk is incorporated. Filter the liquid through a sieve and return to the heat. Cook on a gentle heat until the sauce thickens. Then cook it for a few minutes. Transfer the sauce to a clean container and refrigerate immediately.

Place the puff pastry discs on a flat oven tray lined with baking paper. Pierce the disc tops with a fork to make lots of small holes. Brush with the egg wash and bake in the oven for 4-6 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then with a sharp knife cut the discs in half.

To assemble, use a piping bag to fill one layer of puff pastry with whipped cream 

and crème pâtissière and scatter with berries. Cover with the “lid” and repeat the process.

Serve garnished with the icing sugar and mint. 

recipe

Recipes taken from Luca’s Seasonal Journey by Luca Ciano (£19.99, New Holland), photographs by Steve Brown. To order your copy, call the Express Bookshop on 01872 562310, send a cheque or postal order made payable to The Express Bookshop to Express Bookshop, PO Box 200, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 4WJ, or order online at expressbookshop.com