It’s officially fall in Umbria. From the porcelain blue of the sky to the technicolor sunsets, to the thousand shades of green and the sprinkles of gold, you can just never have enough of all this beauty.
It’s a time full of promise for us. In a month or so we will close the agriturismo for winter and finally enjoy a bit of time for ourselves after this busy and wonderful season.
It’s a time to collect ideas, make quiet walks and, in a while, cuddle by the wood-stove.
But the season is not finished yet, there are so many projects for next year already!
Our passion for designing one-of-a-kind tours and experiences for our guests never takes a rest. June 2020 will be especially exciting as we will be hosting potters extraordinaire Diana Strinati Baur and Lindsay Emery for a very special edition of our Food and Fire workshops.
If you love pottery, meeting artisans and learning about their art, stay tuned as we will announce dates and itineraries soon. I promise, it will be the experience of a lifetime.
And speaking about my own connection to ovens and plates, I am delighted that it’s finally cool in the kitchen. From now on I can bake to my heart content, something that I would not even consider 2 weeks ago.
As you might know, I often suffer of bad cases of “procrastibaking“. When I have an attack, I must abandon whatever boring task I am attending – e.g. administration – in favor of moving to the kitchen and whip up some bread or an impromptu sweet or savory bake.
For authentic procrastibaking, you need to use ingredients you already have in the house. That is not a problem as my house is always full of food and it would take me too much time to go shopping anyway.
This vegetable gratin is the result of one of my gastronomic escapades from the joys of bureaucracy. It’s simple and quick to assemble so it has become a standard vegetarian dinner in our house often in combination with a lentil or other vegetable soup.
- 3-5 potatoes
- 3 zucchini
- 1 onion
- 4 ripe salad tomatoes, diced or one 400 g (14 oz) canned diced San Marzano
- 100 g (3 oz) mild cheese like mozzarella or provola or scamorza, sliced thinly
- 4-5 tablespoon grated pecorino
- leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, very finely chopped
Slice all vegetables very thinly, with a mandolin if possible. Toss zucchini and potato separately with olive oil and salt, before layering.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350° F).
Line a 30 x 22 cm (12 x 8 inch) roasting tin with parchment paper and drizzle with one teaspoon olive oil. Don’t skip the parchment paper as the gratin it’s difficult to remove from the pan and will break in pieces.
Spread the potatoes over the bottom in an even layer. Top with 1/4 of the sliced onion, the diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of chopped rosemary, black pepper, the mild cheese and the grated pecorino.
In this recipe I use pecorino instead of parmigiano, however please note that the Umbrian pecorino di Norcia is milder than pecorino romano. If you only have access to pecorino romano, you might want to use half parmigiano and half romano to obtain the necessary balance of sweet and salty.
Spread ½ of the zucchini slices in an even layer, then top with 1/4 onion slices, tomato, balck pepper, rosemary, mild cheese and grated pecorino.
Repeat with one additional layer of potato/onion/tomato/cheese then one layer of zucchini/onion/tomato/cheese and finish each one with rosemary and black pepper.
Top with one layer of potato and more grated pecorino and lightly drizzle with one-two teaspoon extra virgin olive oil.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour until the vegetables are tender and lightly brown on top. Let it stand 15 minutes and serve warm, possibly on wonderful handmade plates.