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What can I use in Italian food if I can’t eat tomatoes? - MW

I stopped eating tomatoes for health reasons, but I like to cook Italian food. Is there a substitute for tomatoes in dishes like lasagne and caponata?
Charles, North Yorkshire

According to a study by Munich Technical University last year, about 1.5% of the population in Northern Europe and up to 16% in Italy were affected by tomato allergies. While this number is relatively small, a life without lasagne and caponata is completely lifeless. For Joe Trivelli, the head chef at River Cafe, the answer is simple: Just order them and put them in. But I won the watch early.

Tomatoes are a relatively late addition to Italian cuisine, with pasta sauce and braising being red only in the late 16th and 17th centuries. As food writer Guardian from Rome Rachel Roddy - user The fruit has fallen since moving to Italy - put it, we need to stay away from the dominance of tomatoes. So many Italian cuisines, like hunter-hunting chicken, braised rabbit or beef tail stew, have pre-tomato versions, she said, eating and eight times out of 10, I prefer them.

Find the original versions, then focus on your use of olive oil, garlic, and chili, if you make pasta sauce, starchy water. However, Roddy has a few tips to achieve that umami flavor when tomatoes are not played: anchovies, parmesan, porcini and herbs, such as rosemary and sage, can make you feel uncomfortable. .

Caponata can also live quite happily without tomatoes, Trivelli said, as long as you balance the other ingredients with soffritto [a mixture of diced onions, carrots and celery] and a bit of spicy vinegar to create depth and acidity. Head to Rome for inspiration for macaroni, salads and braised dishes, Roddy advises: there's nothing great with vegetables like pumpkin, lovely, rich flavors. Anna Jones has implemented this method in her recent pizza recipe, exchanging a tomato base for squash, roasted with olive oil and chili, then blurred and loosened with some vegetables.

Lasagne is also at your fingertips, Charles. Trivelli's favorite dish (tomatoes or otherwise) is the artichoke version: removing the hard leaves on the outside, separating the green meat from the artichoke root and the trunk, scraping off the chopped feathers, then slicing, cooking and used to layer between lasagne, bechamel and cheese plates.

Tim Siadatan, chef and co-owner of Padella, a second website just opened in Shoreditch, says red peppers are cooked slowly, if you can eat them, provide a good base for sauces, stews and spoon on mozzarella or burrata. He put them on a charcoal grill or barbecue to get a lovely smoky flavor, he said, but a gas stove would work as well. Cook chili until the outside is nice and blistering, then transfer into a bowl and cover to steam. Once they are cool enough to handle, Siadatan peels off the skin, removing seeds and thin slices. Then, in a separate pan, he added some sliced ​​garlic and some dried chili, and sweat in olive oil over a low heat until they were sweet and sticky. Season with salt and pepper, add a drop of Cabernet sauvignon vinegar, some fresh marjoram (if you can't find it, use basil) and some mascarpone or creme fraiche, and you'll have a creamy sauce to wrap. around penne.

In addition, Siadatan said, add cooked cooked beans into long pieces with a little mascarpone and basil, and you've got a garnish for lamb; or throw in some green beans, lentils or other pulses for a delicious appetite. Life without tomatoes can still be pink.


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