Thursday, August 4, 2011

Welcome to "The Tuscan Sun Festival"

Welcome, to The Tuscan Sun Festival, which is celebrating it’s 9th anniversary this year in Cortona, Italy. It is the region’s premiere arts festival and lifestyle event. From July 30- August 7, this music and arts festival takes place within the medieval town of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany. This festival includes not only world class concerts, but events that consist of fine arts, lectures on wellness, cooking demonstrations plus the local culture of wines and its history.

Speaking of history, let me share with you some information about The Tuscan Sun Festival. The festival was founded in 2003 by Barrett Wissman, cellist Nina Kotova and writer Frances Mayes. Do you remember hearing the name Frances Mayes before? Her book “Under The Tuscan Sun” was made into that beautifully romantic movie in the hills of Cortona, Italy, now a popular tourist attraction. The Tuscan Sun Festival includes international soloists, conductors, chamber orchestras and classical opera singers who perform in the intimate setting of the town’s 400-seat theatre. Besides the musical events there are cooking demonstrations by celebrated chefs, many beautiful art exhibitions plus discussions and readings with literary figures as well as walking tours of Cortona. The Tuscan Sun Festival’s wellness demonstrations include regular tai chi classes and yoga classes. Many of the Hollywood and movie industry also take part in this festival, by presenting plays with famous actors and actresses. The Tuscan Sun Festival’s wine events consists of lectures and wine tasting with honored Italian experts. This event is usually followed by a spectacular gala dinner and is the success of the Festival.
My Great Grandmother
Madeline (Russo) Fiore

Now that you know a little about The Tuscan Sun Festival, what about the Tuscan region? Come with me and let us explore Tuscany together. Italian Toscana is a region in central Italy, which is often regarded as among the most beautiful parts of Italy. It is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and its artistic heritage. Many tourist destinations in Tuscany include Florence, Siena, and Pisa. St. Frances of Assisi spent part of his monastic life at Le Celle Monastery in Cortona. He preached in 1211, and his small room had a stone bed with a wood pillow. Walkers enjoy the mountain paths, cyclists enjoy the rolling hills, and visitors enjoy the sea coast and its islands. Many students come to learn the beautiful Italian language and its culture. 

Among many other aspects of Tuscany, many people from all over the globe have fallen in love with the cuisine of Tuscany. It goes back to when the Italian‘s used to work in the fields and there were limited ingredients to create a meal. Most Tuscan dishes have become known as peasant cuisine because of its simple and hearty ingredients, but are still extremely flavorful. The cuisine consists of many hearty soups with beans and pasta, to strong red meats, pork, game, fish, honey, sweet fruits, mushrooms and many vegetables, that spans over 1,000 years of history. With many dishes to choose from, making your own Tuscan recipe is easy and a worthwhile experience. No matter what you create the most important part of this cuisine are the fresh and healthy ingredients. My recommendation for a wonderful wine is a Pinot Noir. It is a medium bodied red wine.
My recipe this week is one that my mother created, which she called, “Zucchini with Beans and Pasta Soup“ She made this recipe as a one dish meal. It contains everything that you need in a good nourishing meal. This dish includes your vegetables, pasta (starch) and beans (protein). This warm tasty recipe represents what a Tuscan hearty soup would be like. Between the zucchini, beans and the pasta it is a thicker soup that you can taste all the flavors throughout the dish. So, let’s travel back in time to a Tuscan home surrounded by all the incredible ingredients and the country side that encompasses a simple lifestyle.

“Zucchini with Beans and Pasta Soup”

5- thin green Zucchini squash-washed and cut into ½” thick wheels
Canola or Vegetable oil-to coat with a thin layer on bottom of Dutch Oven (5 qt) pot
2- medium thinly sliced onions
3- stalks and bottom leaves of washed celery cut up about ¾” thick
1- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1- 29 oz can of cannellini beans drained and rinsed (white Italian kidney beans)
1/3 lb of cooked “al dente” small soup pasta ex: Ditali or whatever you prefer
Salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Pour oil in pan on medium heat. Place sliced onions in oil and sauté. Add celery plus leaves and stir together until softened. Then add tomato sauce and 2 cups of water. (as a substitute for water you can add chicken or vegetable stock) Stir well before adding squash, salt, pepper and some oregano. Make sure there is enough water to cover squash. Let cook for about 20 minutes. Then add beans and simmer until the squash is fork tender. Now add pasta and heat, adjusting the amount of liquid as you prefer. Serve, in bowls and sprinkle grated Pecorino Romano cheese on top.

Yields: 6-7 soup bowls
You can add to your meal a tossed green salad and slices of crisp toasted Italian bread.

You can substitute Cannellini beans for Great Northern or White Navy Beans.

Till next time…..

Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment