Joe Trivelli’s recipes for fresh spring meals | Food

this month my parents and their friends in central Italy are busy singing folk songs with fellow singers of May called maggerini† Traditionally, workers gathered on May 1, Labor Day, and sang on farms instead in exchange for farm produce: salami, cheese, vegetables, eggs, ricotta, poultry, nuts, dried fruit – a reward for everyone’s standards. In the post-war period, it was associated with the partisans and resistance to fascism. To this day, the Maggerini rewrite verses to update popular songs with current issues – you can imagine what the topics are this year.

Today, a week later, is La Ribotta, when the singers get together and eat what they got the week before. It’s a smashing party and the recipes below are a tribute to that party. When I went it was kind of like living in an Asterix comic. I think the Abruzzese dish, Le Virtù, demonstrates the Italian reverence for seasonal produce – each vegetable gets the spotlight in careful preparation. We will make the effort and enjoy celebrating simple things this season.

Salami, broad beans and pecorino

If I had small fresh, crunchy fava beans, I’d be tempted to eat them raw. It’s worth holding on to, though, and the breadcrumbs provide the crunch you lose when cooking. Serves 4

bread 2 slices
olive oil
garlic clove
dried chili 1
vinegar 100ml
fresh broad beans 300 g (peeled weight)
salami 1, small
pecorino 300g

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Blitz the bread into crumbs, drizzle with olive oil and toast for 5 minutes, or until crisp. Set aside on kitchen paper until needed.

Slice the garlic as thinly as possible. Place in a small saucepan with 4 generous tablespoons of olive oil and the dried chilli and cook cold over medium heat. Once the garlic starts to get sticky, turn off the heat and set aside.

Bring a small saucepan to a boil with the vinegar and about 4 times the amount of water. Boil the broad beans for 3 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon from the garlic and oil. Season well with salt and pepper.

Serve the salami with pieces of cheese and the broad beans sprinkled with breadcrumbs.

Le Virt (The Virtues)

'Comfortable, but lively': Le Virtù.
‘Comfortable, but lively’: Le Virtù. Photo: Romas Foord/The Observer

This is a vegetarian version of Le Virtù that comes from the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It uses the end of the dried beans from the winter and marries them with the first fresh vegetables. It’s comforting, but lively. I usually try to keep the number of jars to a minimum, but this one is worth it. It’s simple food, just with a lot of components. You can use precooked beans as always and you don’t necessarily need them all. Serves 8-10

For the beans:
dried borlotti beans 100 g (or 200 g cooked)
dried cannellini beans 100 g (or 200 g cooked)
dried chickpeas 100 g (or 200 g cooked)
brown lentils 50g
garlic 3 cloves
wise 1 bunch

For the fresh egg pasta:
’00’ flour 200 g, plus extra for dusting
Eggs 2

For the starch:
dried pasta 250g, preferably a mix of shapes for texture, broken into pieces

For spring ‘virtues’:
celery 1 cup
Red onion 1
garlic 4 cloves
parsley 1 bunch
olive oil
bay leaves 2
fennel seed 1 teaspoon
rosemary leaves 1 tbsp, chopped
canned plum tomatoes 4, stripped of juices
fresh peas and/or broad beans 200g (peeled weight)
young courgettes 2 (200g), sliced ​​thick
chard or spinach leaves 200g
Parmesan cheese 100g

Soak the dried beans and chickpeas overnight in separate bowls of cold water. You do not need to soak the lentils. Boil the beans, chickpeas and lentils in fresh water covering them 5cm, again in individual pots (they all have different cooking times) each with a clove of garlic and a few sage leaves. Test doneness from 40 minutes, add more water if necessary. Once the beans are tender, transfer to a large soup bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Make the fresh egg paste using your fingers as rakes. Mix the flour and eggs in a bowl. Once rough and mostly mixed, knead it together into a dough. Knead the dough on the bench for 5-10 minutes until smooth and springy. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

To roll the pasta, divide the dough in half and keep the other half you don’t use covered. Lightly flour the bench, flatten the pasta slightly and roll up with a wooden rolling pin. Lift the pasta and turn it 90° periodically to prevent it from sticking to the table. Apply light dusting if necessary. If the paste is very thin, no more than a few millimeters, cut into short strips a few centimeters wide. Set aside — not piled up or it will stick — and repeat with the other piece of dough. You can use pasta dough instead, if you have one, or even cut up fresh store-bought pasta.

Place a large pan over medium heat. Cut the celery, onion, garlic, a handful of parsley into cubes and sweat them together with the bay leaf, the fennel seeds and the chopped rosemary in 3 tbsp olive oil. When the yield is soft and sweet, add the tomatoes and cook for a while. Turn off and then add all pulses.

Bring another large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the fava beans or peas, then the courgettes and finally the Swiss chard and remaining parsley, removing with a slotted spoon when al dente in the pan with the other vegetables.

Top up with water if necessary before cooking the dried pasta. Return the other pot to medium. Add the fresh pasta three minutes before the pasta is ready. Drain the pasta when it is cooked, reserving some of the cooking water. Add a scant cup of water to the other pan, add everything together with the cheese and stir gently for a few minutes, before serving with a ladle and lots of extra olive oil and more grated cheese.

Frittata rustica al forno

'Wedding of herbs and spring vitality': frittata rustica al forno.
‘Wedding of herbs and spring vitality’: frittata rustica al forno. Photo: Romas Foord/The Observer

More vegetables than eggs, this is a dish brimming with spice and spring vitality. Add the best of what you have. Serves 6

courgettes 200g
asparagus 250g
Red onion 1
garlic 1 clove
leek 100g
canned plum tomatoes 2, stripped of juices
basil or mint a few twigs
parsley 1 small bunch
potatoes 200 g, grated
Eggs 6
chickpea flour 20 g (or wheat flour)
peas 50g (peeled weight)
pecorino or Parmesan cheese 100 g, grated
sausages 4 (450g), good quality pork
wise 8 leaves

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Wash all vegetables. Trim or trim the tough ends of the asparagus. Slice the courgettes as thinly as possible. Chop the onion and garlic. Cut the leek lengthwise in 2 and then again into ribbons. Cut the tomatoes into thin slices. Pick the herb leaves.

Grate the potato into a large bowl and add all the eggs, 2 tablespoons chickpea flour, half of the cheese and a good pinch of salt. Knock well. Add the peas, courgettes and mild herbs.

Skin and crumble the sausages and fry the meat in a few tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onions, followed quickly by the garlic and sage. Once the onion is translucent and the sausage meat begins to release its juices, add the asparagus and toss. When it is hot, add the leek. Season with pepper.

Add the contents of the pan to the eggs and mix well.

Fill the baking tray with the mixture, arrange it slightly and bake for about 15 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and a little more oil halfway through cooking.

Let it rest for a while before serving. It remains a matter of fork and knife: you certainly want to eat it while sitting at the table, preferably with a hunk of bread to round loose asparagus or leek ribbons.

Sweet ricotta cake

'Good for breakfast': sweet ricotta pie.
‘Good for breakfast’: sweet ricotta pie. Photo: Romas Foord/The Observer

A great match for black coffee and good for breakfast. Serves 6

butter 115 g, plus extra for greasing
peeled almonds 80g, sheet on
demerara sugar 60g
sea ​​salt
whole wheat flour 150g
ricotta 450g
golden caster sugar 80g
Eggs 2
flour 2 tablespoons
single cream 150ml

Cut the butter into cubes. Process the almonds in a mixer with a pinch of salt and the demerara sugar, but not a paste. Add the flour and butter and pulse quickly into breadcrumbs. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons cold water and pulse again until dough is formed. Only add an extra spoonful of water if necessary. Finish joining by hand and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into pieces, crush them in a small, buttered cake tin with a removable bottom to make a shell (mine measures 18cm wide and 7cm high). Place in the freezer while heating the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

In a large bowl, beat the ricotta with the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating all the time. Finally, add the cream, flour and a pinch of salt.

Fill the puff pastry dish and bake for 30 minutes. The cake will have risen slightly and the top should be slightly seared. Cool completely before serving.

Joe Trivelli is joint chef at the River cafe