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10/22/2011 - 14:31

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:INGREDIENTS500 g funghi porcini, sliced2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil2 cloves garlic, crushed1 glass white winea dash of aceto balsamico1 bunch parsley chopped1 small bunch of "nipitella"PREPARATION: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.


Yes, it is catnip, or "nipitella". Widely used in Tuscan cuisine, particularly to condiment "funghi porcini". For those who have never tasted it, I would say it is a mixture of mint, oregano and thyme. I make a great summer salad using lentils, onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, plenty of parsley and nipitella, olive oil and a good glass of lemon juice (the secret is to use plenty of lemon juice). The taste will remind you of the Middle Eastern salad called "tabouleh", using cooked lentils instead of bulghur (couscous). You can make a variation to the above by using cooked chickpeas instead of lentils. Make it at least one hour ahead of serving to enhance flavours. Excellent with cold meats or chicken. Enjoy!