Springtime in Florence
by Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
Spring is my favorite season. I love to wander through the olive tree fields and lay down on the fresh grass to look at clouds and fall asleep with the birds singing. I used to do it when I was a child, and I still do it with the same joy.
Our countryside is glorious during this time of year. Wildflowers blossom everywhere, and all around you can smell the perfume of fresh herbs and flowers. Irises, daffodils, daisies, and little wild orchids color our hills. Everything looks like Botticelli’s “Primavera.”
Firenze is full of flowers. Every terrace and little balcony is festooned with potted flowers and plants. Going to the street market is a feast for the eyes.
The farmers arrange fresh vegetables in such an artistic way, and the market is a triumph of color and freshness.
I always come home with heavy bags full of fresh vegetables and fruits. Most of the time when I shop, I don’t have a particular recipe in mind. I just buy what inspires me and believe that with such beautiful veggies, every recipe I improvise will turn into a success.
This recipe is a traditional peasant dish of my hometown, Florence. It is genuine, delicious, and it has an old story: During the medieval banquets in Tuscany, the feudal lords did not use dishes. They used round flatbread as plates and utensils. The servants and the farmers wrapped the leftovers in this unleavened bread and reboiled (ribollita) it with beans and other vegetables. This large amount of ribollita lasted for days. There are no rules about the ingredients of this ancient dish. In the modern version, I add tomatoes, but the secret is in the stale bread.
10 slices stale bread 1 can cannellini beans 2 carrots, diced 2 yellow onions, diced 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 lb. dark cabbage, cut into dice 1 tomato, diced 1 celery stalk, diced 4 tablespoons olive oil 1 qt. vegetable broth Parsley Salt & Pepper
Combine celery, cabbage, carrots, onion, and tomato in a large soup pot. Add beans and broth. Cook for approximately 40 minutes. Add water as needed. Stir in garlic, bread, salt, pepper, parsley,and olive oil. Cover and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed by bread. Serve, drizzled with olive oil. Serves 4