Cucina rustica is central to Tuscan culture, with the region celebrated and known for its rugged array of ragù dishes - such as the classic ragù al cinghiale, with wild boar - and stews that sustained peasants for centuries. However, Tuscany’s traditional approach and regional farming methods are not solely limited to the land. As the food writer Emiko Davies notes in her beautiful book ‘Acquacotta’, where she celebrates Tuscany’s coastal Maremma region, Tuscany is also home to beautiful seafood.
Indeed, Tuscany’s Ortebello lagoon, situated on the cusp of the Tyrrhenian Sea, is so bountiful that fishermen have been active here since ancient Roman times. Davies even notes that, on one small beach of the lagoon, known as Bagni di Domiziano, you’ll find the ruins of a Roman Villa, dating all the way back to 36BC. We’d love to take you there so you can see for yourself.
In lieu of a physical visit, we thought we might present you with a typically Tuscan seafood dish, inspired by the sapphire expanse at Ortebello. Indeed, the waters of the lagoon are replete with sea bass, which, in the local Tuscan dialect, are known as ‘ragno’. This confuses other Italians, for ‘ragno’ means ‘spider’ in Italian. Tuscans quite enjoy this confusion at their compatriots’ expense.
To honour the ancient fishing heritage of Ortebello, in this dish we’ve filled our freshly made mezzelune (“half moons”, in reference to their shape) with sea bass, which, incidentally, is an exceptionally healthy fish and source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and minerals. To dress our ravioli and complement the delicate flavour of the sea bass, we’ve included a parsley butter, as well as garnishes of salty samphire and a lemony crumb. As you take a forkful, we invite you to close your eyes and imagine you’re doing so from the little beach of Bagni di Domiziano.
Sea Bass Mezzelune (200g):
Pasta (Durum WHEAT Semola, Soft WHEAT Flour, EGG), Filling (Seabass Fillets (FISH) (52%), Butter (MILK), Hard Grated Cheese (MILK), Mascarpone Cheese (MILK), Shallot, White Wine (SULPHITES), Emulsifier (Potato Flakes, Starch, Rice Cream, Vegetable Fibre), Slat, Black Pepper), Rice Flour
Sage Butter (20g):
Butter (MILK), Sage, Salt, Black Pepper
Lemon Pangrattato (5g):
Breadcrumbs (WHEAT Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt), Olive Oil, Lemon Zest, Salt, Black Pepper