ITALIAN HERBS AND FUNGHI PORCINI
This is "funghi porcini" time and you will find them sold fresh everywhere. A great time to enjoy them. There are many ways to prepare them: sauces, garnishes, omelettes, pasta.... The sky is the limit.
In Tuscany, we use "nipitella", a local herb to condiment them and they are a perfect match. "Nipitella" belongs to the mint family, although it tastes like a mixture of mint and oregano. It has been used for centuries and people say that it has healing powers. Actually, its name derives from "Nèpa", which means "scorpion" and it was said that it could cure those who had been bitten by those little monsters (I would not advise anyone to take this claim very seriously and see a doctor).
"Nipitella" grows wild and it is a perennial. It goes dormant during the winter months and grows again in spring and summer. You can also cultivate it in pots, but you should get new plants every 3-4 years.
But going back to "funghi porcini", they were a true blessing when food was scarce as they are an important source of protein. They grow wherever chestnut trees are and this is why Tuscany, particularly the northern end, is full of them at this time of the year.
My favourite way to prepare them is as follows:
500 g funghi porcini, sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 glass white wine
a dash of aceto balsamico
1 bunch parsley chopped
1 small bunch of "nipitella"
Heat the oil, add the garlic (careful, do not burn), add the "funghi porcini" and cook for a few minutes, add the wine and the balsamic vinegar, allow the alcohol to evaporate and finally add the herbs. Ready.
Do you have any interesting tips or recipes regarding herbs or funghi? Please share them with everybody.