It’s time to treat yourself a little better and take a gentle approach to feeling good. At Follonica on the Tuscan coast, there is a train workers’ canteen at the end of the line. I’ve no idea how we found it, but my brother and I became obsessed with it a decade ago. Lunch was cheap and good, and over the years we became friendly with the proprietors.
You were supposed to pay with credits from your job, but we were able to pay with cash. For a €5 supplement, you could have something similar to the langoustine pasta here. It always struck me as the most festive of dishes.
I’ve included two soups, each redolent of a chalet supper, and a pasta drunk with red wine and chestnuts. These are the heartiest of winter dishes that will see you through to Christmas.
Pici in red wine
If you struggle to find radicchio use a couple of heads of chicory instead. Serves 4
chestnuts 200g, in their shell
red onion 1
garlic 1 clove
olive oil 3 tbsp
bay leaves 3, fresh, cut in half
valpolicella ½ bottle, or another red wine
pici or thick spaghetti/linguine 400g
butter a little
parmesan a handful, grated
Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Score and roast the chestnuts for 10 minutes. They can also be microwaved for 3 minutes, but please do make sure you score them properly first. They needn’t be completely cooked, just peel-able. Peel.
Slice both the onion and garlic very thinly. Place them in an open, low-sided pan, large enough to eventually accommodate the pasta, with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set over a medium heat. Cook carefully until completely soft. I’m fine with you adding a splash of water at some point should you feel the need and they threaten to catch. Add the bay and crumble the chestnuts in, too. Finely chop the radicchio and stir it in. Allow it to wilt and lose some of its brightness and bitterness. After a couple of minutes, add all the wine and turn the heat up. Simmer for 12 minutes.
Drop the pasta into a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water and cook for 3 minutes less than the time stated on the packet. Drain, reserving plenty of the cooking water. Allow the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce over a low heat. It will take on the colour of the wine. Add the cooking water …….