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Winter in Tuscany: traditional cold-proof recipes

The winter season is a moment of rest for the luxuriant nature around our country hotel. The creatures of the forest doze off in a deep lethargy, the branches undress under the blows of the frozen wind, the earth falls asleep waiting to blossom again in spring. Winter in Tuscany is waiting, rest, quiet before rebirth.

Cold and frank, it is the season of family gatherings, of long days at home, in front of a lit fireplace, with loved ones. A tempting opportunity to share a hearty meal all together: conviviality has always been the basis of sociality.

The winter dishes of Tuscan cuisine are genuine, substantial and capable of warming the heart (as well as the stomach). Let's discover the best ones to share in winter



The triumph of black cabbage


In Tuscany, a vegetable with a full flavour, an emblem of the winter season, grows spontaneously: black cabbage. Authentic local excellence at the base of soups, appetizers of ancient memory and side dishes designed to enhance the best game.

Among the recipes to try we suggest the croutons, as simple as they are delicious. Just boil some black cabbage, braise it in a pan with a little oil, garlic and chili and lay it on slices of good Tuscan bread (unsalted): a real pleasure with every bite.

Yet, when you think of black cabbage, in Tuscany the first image that springs to mind is a steaming bowl of ribollita, whose heart is this vegetable. Ribollita - also known as black cabbage soup or bread soup - is a timeless classic of the Tuscan tradition, prepared with products from the winter garden. Black cabbage, alongside savoy cabbage and chard, dominates in this recipe, which involves the use of carrots, potatoes, celery, beans, peas and stale bread in preparation of about three hours. Once served, even before tasting it, the strong and genuine fragrance will convince you that the wait was worth it.

We are the first lovers of this winter recipe, so much so that we have revisited it in our special Ribollita Ravioli, accompanied by the cream of potatoes and black cabbage. A delicacy to be enjoyed until the last bite, paired with a glass of red wine.


Lampredotto and peposo, full-bodied main courses


Ribollita, especially if enriched with lard or pork rinds as happens in some areas, can represent a nutritious single dish on cold winter evenings. But if your appetite is not lacking, the Tuscan tradition provides full-bodied main courses, to be enjoyed without haste.

Let's start with the lampredotto, typical of the Florence area, and consisting of the abomasum - one of the four stomachs of cattle - cooked for a long time in a tasty broth and served stewed with vegetables or in an inviting sandwich. If these flavours do not fit you, the peposo is an excellent alternative, succulent enough to warm the body. It is a beef stew, cooked slowly with red wine and peppercorns. A spicy delight, of ancient origin: according to the legend, it dates back to the period of the construction of the Dome of Florence Cathedral, when workers cooked beef in earthenware containers placed at the mouth of the oven for cooking bricks.


Last but not least, cantucci and panforte


The harsh climate induces you to indulge in an innocent sin of gluttony from time to time, right? That's why ending your winter dinner with a traditional dessert sounds good.

We recommend a handful of cantucci, typical biscuits with almonds, which we prepare with passion and following a family recipe at our restaurant. Cantucci were already known in the 16th century: their name could derive from “canto”, that is part of a whole, or from “cantellus”, that is a piece of bread in Latin. Unmissable on the tables of the Medici, they give their best in combination with an excellent bottle of Vin Santo del Chianti.

If you want something more substantial, Panforte di Siena is a dessert with Christmas scents and an enveloping taste. Created in 1870 for Queen Margherita's visit to Siena on the occasion of the Palio, the recipe involves the use of almonds, candied fruit, honey and spices.

Come and taste it at our Bruschetta Snack Bar, for a special break, with Ricciarelli and Pan Co Santi.

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