Frances Mayes has written books about her love affair with Tuscany and all of them have featured food quite predominantly. She is the bestselling author of Under The Tuscan Sun and is about to release her first cookbook with husband Edward.
It is only natural that this cookbook should revolve around their 21 Tuscan years and their favourite Tuscan recipes. The book invites readers into their beloved home Villa Bramasole and introduces their Tuscan friends.
To celebrate the release we have an excerpt from the book and a recipe that looks delicious.
Stick a Post-it note on this recipe, and when in doubt, turn to it. The Mediterranean flavors transform “just chicken” into a memorable dinner.
Chickpeas are a late love of ours. Just a taste of chickpea fritters, which are a favorite Sicilian street food, and we were fans. Now we roast them for snacks, serve them with herbs and tomatoes as a cold salad, and adore them in this super-fast piatto unico, one-pot dinner.
Refer to the pantry section (page 17) for information on chickpeas. You can simmer them in light stock with onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, or just cook them in water and season afterward. Cooking chickpeas yourself yields a much better texture than you’ll fi nd in the soft and viscous canned ones. Artichokes partner well with the ceci. Although fresh artichokes are a primary passion, in this recipe I opt for the convenience of canned or frozen ones. If you’re using sun-dried tomatoes in dry form, plump them for a half hour in wine or olive oil.
This hearty stew calls for a big wine, such as Tenuta Sette Ponti, IGT, Crognolo. All the Sette Ponti wines are terrific.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
3 chicken breasts, halved, skin on
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups cooked chickpeas (see page 24)
2 400-gram cans water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, slivered, or 1 cup sliced oven-roasted
tomatoes (see page 42)
1/4 cup fresh thyme or fresh marjoram leaves or
2 tablespoons dried
1/2 cup black or green olives, pitted
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Over medium-low heat, in a large, enameled ovenproof pot with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sauté the onion, and after about 3 minutes, remove it to a medium bowl. Season the chicken breasts with the salt and pepper. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil to the pot, raise the heat to medium-high, and brown the chicken for 3 minutes per side. Add the wine, bring it quickly to a boil, and then turn the heat off immediately.
Combine the onion with the parsley, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, and olives. Spread the combined vegetables over the chicken, and bake, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces, turning the chicken once.
Serve right from the pot or transfer to a platter.
To find more fabulous recipes and tales of the Tuscan life
The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, Recipes from our Italian kitchen by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes is available where you buy your books.