Six years ago when I began my Panini Girl trips to Lucca I met a very talented local woman whose passion is cooking. By day she works for the archdiocese located a few blocks away from our apartment and in her spare time she teaches cooking classes. We are lucky to stay in an amazing apartment with a very large kitchen which is perfect for a class where everyone can get up and participate in the preparation of the meal.
The menu for our class was for a classic Lucchese dinner. We started with bruschetta and since this is Italy and the weather is a little bit warmer than back home, the tomatoes were ripe and full of flavor (they probably came from down south).
Next we moved on to a the heart of the class-a lesson in pasta making. What I loved about this part of the evening was that everyone realized that making fresh pasta is a lot easier than you think. I was thrilled to hear that all the participants planned on making pasta once back home in their kitchens. We made ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach served in a sage butter sauce. So simple and so incredibly flavorful.
I’ve been lucky to have cooked with the very knowledgable Alessandra various times but at this class we made a dish that made we wish that I was already home and in my own kitchen. It was a fennel gratin made with a very thick béchamel with parmesan and nutmeg topped with bread crumbs and I’m telling you I could have eaten this and nothing else for the rest of the evening.
The main course was chicken with lemon and fresh herbs with white wine and olives. This is a perfect dish for entertaining as you can cook the chicken ahead (even a day or two) and reheat it.
We actually started the class with the biscotti making. This was another surprise for the gals in the class as they had no idea that they are not at all difficult to prepare. These were flavored with orange zest and almonds and much to my delight chocolate chunks were added to part of the dough. The best thing about the biscotti was that we made enough to munch on for the rest of the week.
A big grazie to Alessandra and her sous chef Tamara. This was the Tuscan dinner of our dreams and we were all thrilled to help make it happen.
Stay tuned for the recipes in a future post.