Can you feel the chill starting to set in? Winter is finally here, and it’s the perfect time to cook all those meals that are ideal for this time of the year – the comforting, hearty dishes that feel like a loving hug from nonna on a cold evening.
Chef Luigi here at Visco has put together his favourite winter warmer recipes to keep the cold at bay in your home, along with his preferred ingredients to cook with during these cooler months. He’ll inspire you to create your own traditional winter warmers to pass down in your family.
The perfect winter ingredients
The key to any winter warmer recipe is a hearty and filling foundation – like rice, polenta or couscous.
We particularly love Melotti Carnarolli and Vialone Nano rice, cultivated by the Melotti family since 1986, on their farm in northern Italy – an area known for its natural spring water and rich, organic soil. They produce some of the finest rice in the world, which is perfect in risotto, arancini and salad.
We’re huge mushroom fans at Visco, and with so many varieties of mushrooms, the possibilities for creative meals are endless. Here are some ideas on using some of the delicious funghi that we have in stock:
Dried porcini (400 g)
Soak to reveal TWO intense products: the rich mushroom and a delicious “stock”.
Use the stock to enhance the sauce of your favourite grain dish, or cook your rice in it for amazing arancini.
Wild mixed mushrooms (1 kg)
Prepare into a sauce, omelette or sautée in butter with some fresh herbs as a side to add a particularly robust flavour.
Morel mushrooms (1 kg)
Try bread crumbed and fried to create an almost meaty texture, or sautée in butter for a simple pairing with any dish.
Chanterelle mushrooms (1 kg)
Pair with pappardelle pasta for a rustic vegetarian meal.
Winter warmer – Porcini risotto
Rustic and easy to prepare, this sumptuous and rustic mushroom risotto will be a dinner mainstay in your home during winter.
- 100 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 5 cup Melotti Vialone Nano rice
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 small onion or shallot, minced
- 5 cups boiling water
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 thyme sprig
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Soak your dried porcini in the boiling water in a heatproof bowl until softened (10-20 min).
- Drain the porcini, reserving 1 cup of the soaking liquid, and rinse the mushrooms to remove any grit. Finely chop the porcini and put aside.
- Pour the reserved soaking liquid into a medium saucepan, but don’t pour in the sediment at the bottom. Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper and warm the stock over a low heat.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of your oil in a large saucepan until simmering. Add the shallot or onion and garlic, and fry over a moderate heat – stirring, until softened (2 min).
- Add the rice and dried porcini to the oil – stirring to coat. Pour in the wine, cooking until it has evaporated.
- Add ¼ of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock in small batches, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente and the sauce becomes creamy (20 min).
- Stir in the butter and grated cheese, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Add the diced porcini and thyme and cook over high heat – stirring until softened and golden. Remove the thyme stem.
- Season the porcini with salt and pepper. Spoon the porcini over the risotto and serve.
Winter warmer – Couscous salad
This super simple 5-step salad is ideal for a lunchtime catch-up with friends or a picnic with the family on a cooler day.
- 2 cups Moghrabieh couscous
- 35 g pine nuts, roasted
- 25 g currents
- 1 small zucchini, diced finely
- 4 shallots, sliced thinly
- 2 cups fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 60 g butter, cubed
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup coriander, chopped
- ¼ cup mint, chopped
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Combine the orange juice, butter, salt and pepper into a small saucepan, and gently bring the mixture to the boil.
- Add the couscous, stir, cover and remove from heat – letting it stand for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the couscous to a large bowl, and use a fork to break up any lumps.
- Add all remaining ingredients, combine well, and adjust seasoning as required.
- Serve warm or cold, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- For best results, prepare one day before serving.