Joe Trivelli’s preserved food recipes | Life and style
It can be hard to know what to cook during the “hungry gap”. At the River Café, where I am head chef, we are in the midst of broad beans, asparagus and peas from Italy; but in the veg box left on my doorstep at home, such signs of spring are lacking.
I wish I had spent the summer pickling and storing seasonal abundance as my southern Italian forebears would have done. Such is the delight of discovering, in January, a good jar of peppers under vinegar, that I find myself enjoying them quite as much as their fresh equivalents.
Remember, you do not have to think of the jars and tins in the way that the labels invite you to. All recipes serve 4.
I strongly urge you to make this. It is satisfying in every way – to make and to eat. If you are at all worried about making your own mayonnaise rest assured that the addition of tuna in its base makes it far more stable. Change the herbs if you like – I enjoy coriander – but just don’t add sweetcorn, please. Beetroots? Carrots? The difficulty is in deciding what to leave out – green beans? Apple? Eat it with bread.
preserved sustainable tuna 250g of the best quality
salted anchovies 4
egg 1 yolk
Romanesco broccoli or cauliflower 200g
peppers from a bottle or tin 2
peas 100g, frozen or jarred
inner heart of celery 1
parsley a small bunch
salted capers 1 tbsp, rinsed of salt
black olives 2 tbsp
Dijon mustard 1 tbsp
wine vinegar 1 tbsp
olive oil 250ml
To make the sauce, drain the tuna and put with an egg yolk into a food processor adding the juice of half a lemon, a sprinkle of salt, 2 of the anchovy fillets and the mustard. Blitz to a paste, stopping halfway through and scrapping down the sides of the bowl. With the machine running, add 250ml of olive oil in a thin stream over a minute to produce a thick mayonnaise. Taste for seasoning – as often as not, I’ll add the juice of the rest of the lemon at this stage. Chill.
If using frozen, cook the peas in a pan under a lid with a teaspoon of oil, a pinch of salt and a little water. Cook like this for 10 minutes until they lose their colour a bit. Peel and dice the potato, celeriac and celery into the size of small sugar cubes. Keep separate. Cut the Romanesco or cauliflower into florets roughly the same size. Cook the potatoes in a pot of salted boiling water for roughly 8 minutes, adding the celeriac after 4 minutes, and the Romanesco and celery after 6. Drain well and toss in a large bowl with 1 tbsp of vinegar and the peas. Leave to cool.
Cut the peppers into squares of the required size, the olives and gherkin, too. To these add the capers, the remaining anchovies torn into pieces and the parsley roughly chopped.
Line a bowl with clingfilm and mix everything together. Fill the bowl and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Turn out on to a plate and garnish with extra parsley.
Chicken livers with peppers and vinegar
This is loosely based on something my gran used to make me. I make the same dish in the summer with fresh yellow peppers cooked just a little longer. Sometimes I skip them altogether and add soaked sultanas in their place.
chicken livers 1 kg
bottled peppers 250g of the best quality
red onion 1, small
garlic 1 clove
almonds 75g, whole
wine vinegar 2 tbsp
crushed dried chilli a pinch
oregano or coriander
olive oil 1 tbsp
Clean the chicken livers by cutting them in half and removing sinew or anything else untoward. Don’t worry if they tear a bit. Pat them on a kitchen towel to dry a little. Slice the onion thinly and also the garlic. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over a low heat. When they are good and toasted, chop them roughly. Take the peppers from the jar and slice about 1cm thick, reserving their liquid.
Cook the onions over a low-ish heat, just covered with water, a pinch of salt and a generous tbsp of oil. Once the water has evaporated and the onions have softened, add the garlic and chilli and sweat for a couple more minutes.
Season the livers and add them to the pot, turning them over in the onions as they heat up. After a minute, add the peppers followed by some of their liquid and 2 tbsp of vinegar for extra zing. Once boiling, cover with a lid or a scrunched-up piece of baking paper and stew over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
Add the herbs, adjust the seasoning and serve with almonds scattered over.
Stuffed sundried tomatoes
This is a way to beam sunlight into March cooking for a quick and colourful snack. There are varying qualities of dried tomatoes: look for those dried in the sun rather than an oven. Note: they can be pretty punchy so consider slightly under-seasoning everything else.
sundried tomatoes 30 (about 250g)
cavolo nero 200g
pork mince 100g
garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
fennel seeds a pinch
Fontina 50g, or another good melting cheese
extra virgin olive oil
Soak the tomatoes for around 10 minutes in hot water to reconstitute them. Meanwhile, make the fillings.
Boil the cavolo nero in salted water for 7 minutes. Drain it, squeeze out the water and chop well. Put the cavolo nero in a bowl with an egg, the grated Fontina, a good scrape of nutmeg, half the breadcrumbs and half of the crushed garlic. Season and mix well.
In another bowl put the pork mince, the second egg, fennel seeds, Parmesan, the rest of the garlic and remaining breadcrumbs. Season the mixture and squeeze it with your fingers to bring all the ingredients together.
Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line a baking sheet with a piece of cooking paper and lightly oil. Drain the tomatoes and spread them out over the sheet, filling half of them with the greens and the other half with the pork.
Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve.
Figs with mascarpone cream
A man with the nicest name, Erminio, gave me a jar of his figs preserved in a simple wine syrup. He suggested serving them with mascarpone and cocoa.
dried figs 250g
dry vermouth 300ml
lemon peel a twist
cinnamon 1 stick
fennel seeds a pinch
cocoa powder for dusting
toasted hazelnuts a handful
Bring the figs and vermouth to boil over a low flame with the lemon peel, cinnamon, fennel and 2 tbsp of the sugar. Simmer for 7 minutes. Turn off and leave to cool.
Separate the egg into 2 bowls. Whisk the white to soft peaks before gradually adding half the sugar, whisking continually. Beat the rest of the remaining sugar into the yolk until pale. Whip in the mascarpone until thick and then fold through the whites and chill.
Serve the cool figs with the mascarpone, a dusting of bitter cocoa and a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts.
Joe Trivelli is head chef at the River Café. Nigel Slater returns in two weeks