Sangria, Polenta and Mushroom Appetizer, Tagliata with Rucola and Grilled Vegetables

Today’s menu is very much typical of an Italian Summer Backyard Barbeque…
Fun Drink: Sangria
Appetizer: Mushrooms “Trifolati” with Nipitella over Grilled Polenta
Main Course: Tagliata with Rucola Salad
Side: Grilled Mixed Vegetables
Wine: Conte Bregonzo, Amarone della Valpolicella (not a great bottle to tell you the truth, but it did the trick)

To be on a good schedule…since it is good not to let cool off your delicious new Tuscan achievement…make the Polenta the night before, the Sangria the morning after or early afternoon, then chop the vegetables, slice the polenta, cook the Mushrooms and just heat them when needed, taste the Sangria. Sorry about the jumping around…but multitasking is necessary.When it is actually time to eat, grill the polenta and heat up the Mushrooms, serve them while you grill the vegetables and the steak.
There are a few things that, even in their simplicity, are very important to get this menu done with ease; let’s start with the seasoning of the meat…and what kind of meat.

People do not get pressured: “Tagliata” in Italian only means cut/sliced. It does not have to be a very fine and expensive piece of fillet (even if it sounds fabulous), it can be just an honorable thick steak, or even a smaller piece of meat…
Salt and Pepper is all you need, just sprinkle well your steak right before you put it on the grill…Do not fall into temptation, do not marinate, do not use ketchup (it saddens me when I see it happen).

As far as the polenta goes, you can check this old episode for the preparation, but in general you can refer to the instructions on the box, as it’s just a matter of boiling some salted water, and stirring some flour into it. We use good organic instant polenta, it’s ready in about 5 minutes and it’s “solid”, nothing bad to say about it…the kids keep us on a time budget, it is just impossible even to attempt a traditional 3 hours stirring session.

Last but not least the mushrooms…the herb that we used is called Nipitella, it is a variety of Thyme characteristic of Tuscany and Lazio, and nowhere else to be found; you can either order the seeds online or just use regular Thyme.
Also, do not overcook the vegetables on the grill, it is good to maintain them crunchy and fresh, and please excuse use for the constant Nectarine/Peach digression…
Let’s Get Started!!!

INGREDIENTI

SANGRIA

Serves - 4 / Prep Time – 15 Min. + 4 hours or overnight in the fridge to macerate the fruit

2 Oranges
2 Lemons
½ Green Apple
½ Red Apple
1 Nectarine (or Peach)
1 Bottle of Red Wine (Spanish Wine or Cannonau from Sardegna)...but we used Sangiovese.
1 Shot Glass of Brandy
1 Cup of Club Soda
3.5 Oz of Sugar
6 Cloves
½ Vanilla Bean
1 Stick of Cinnamon

POLENTA AND MUSHROOMS APPETIZER

Serves – 4 / Prep Time -10 Min. / Cook Time – 40 Min.

1 Box of Instant Polenta (about 9 Oz)
1 Lb of Porcini Mushrooms (or any other mushroom you happen to like)
3 Tbsp of Olive Oil
1 Handful of Parsley
1 Handful of Nipitella (or Thyme)
3 Garlic Cloves

TAGLIATA WITH RUCOLA AND GRILLED VEGETABLES

Serves – 4 / Prep Time – 5 Min. / Cook Time – About 12/15 minutes for the “ Flinstones’ ” rare juicy steak, about 20 for my wife.

¾ Lb of fresh Arugula (Rucola) salad thoroughly washed.
2 Handfuls of Cherry Tomatoes
1 steak of about 1 ½ Lb.

SANGRIA

1

Wash thoroughly all the fruit. Squeeze the juice of one Orange and one Lemon, remove the pits and set aside.

2

Slice the Apple, the Nectarine, the Orange and the Lemon, remove the pits but do not peel. Cut in small pieces.

3

Mix all the ingredients together, except the Club Soda, and let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours…overnight is better.

4

When the time comes, to fill the glasses and start the party, remove from the fridge, add a few ice cubes and the Club Soda, get a smile on…don’t drive.

POLENTA AND MUSHROOMS APPETIZER

1

Follow the instruction on the box for your instant Polenta, mold it into a bread pan and allow plenty of time to rest and cool off (better overnight). Flip the mold on a cutting board and slice it about 1/2/ inch thick.

2

Pre-heat a cast iron grill on a high flame; grill the polenta slices for about 5 minutes each side.

Mushrooms.

3

In a non-stick pan, slightly sauté in the oil the garlic chopped medium fine, over a high flame. Add the Mushrooms, salt and pepper, and maybe another sprinkle of olive oil. Reduce the flame to a medium and cook for about 15 minutes stirring often. Add the Parsley and the Nipitella finely chopped, cook for another 10 minutes…does it need another bit of olive oil?

4

Serve warm on top of the polenta slices, dress with some extra salt pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

TAGLIATA WITH RUCOLA AND GRILLED VEGETABLES

1

Wash the tomatoes and cut them in quarters; lay them on top or the salad in a nice serving tray.

2

Heat your BBQ or an iron cast pan on the stove, season the meat with salt an pepper, and cook each side for the recommended time.

3

When the steak is ready, put it on a cutting board and slice it with a sharp pairing knife. Organize the slices on top of the salad in the tray, or start serving the individual plates.

4

Do not dress the Rucola, let your guests enjoy the act of pouring some delicious extra virgin olive oil in their plates…

Buon Appetito!

Debi and Gabriele