Writing from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Lentil and Matt Purbrick of Grown & Gathered are living the simple life. Inspired by their surroundings, here they share with us a recipe for rabbit minestrone.
Photography, words and recipes by Lentil Purbrick of Grown and Gathered
We’re staying in a little town in the hills; it’s a foodie’s heaven. We eat cheese made from indigenous sheep’s milk, salami, locally farmed meats, fresh fruit, vegetables and a unique kind of flat, crisp bread. If we don’t grow it, we buy it from the village store or the local market. It’s an approach to eating that we’ve been writing, researching and promoting for years.
The other night we went out to a local restaurant, we ate what I can honestly say was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. It was incredibly simple: fresh pasta with a minced wild rabbit and white wine sauce. They call it Ragu Bianca (White Ragu), so simple, but so tasty.
This meal was the inspiration for the recipe. We wanted to make a simple “one pot wonder” kind of minestrone that’s easy, uses local ingredients, and captures the flavours of traditional minestrone. This dish is completely seasonal. The ingredients we’ve used are either from the garden where we’re staying, or the local market. It’s almost like you can taste our surroundings. It’s grounded, it’s nurturing and tastes even better the next day.
The secret to this dish (as with any great minestrone); is the chunk of pecorino. This is the key. For years I wondered. Now I have it. And so do you.
Everything in this dish is available in spring (the season here in Italy) and winter (where you’re in Australia). Rabbit is available at the market or at a good butcher; if you can’t find it you can replace it with pasture raised, happy chicken. You can also adapt the ingredients with seasonal vegetables so you can enjoy it year round.
3/4 cup dried white beans, pre-soaked in water and a big pinch of salt for about 12 hours
Good quality olive oil
400 g (2 medium) red onions, finely diced
80 g (1 small bunch) parsley, chopped super finely, separating leaves from stems
4 cloves garlic, crushed
10 g (about 10 sprigs) rosemary, leaves stripped from stems, finely chopped
650 g rabbit, cut into about 6 large pieces
165 ml (2/3 cup) white wine
50 g (1 large chunk) pecorino cheese
300 g (about 6 medium) carrots, finely diced
300 g (about 4 large stalks) celery, finely diced
350 g (2 medium) potatoes, finely diced
250 g (2 medium) turnip roots, finely diced
1 teaspoon sea salt, ground
2 L spring water
100 g wild greens or chard/silverbeet, finely chopped
Pecorino (sheep’s cheese), grated
Extra fresh parsley
Place a large pot on low-medium heat. Add a really big splash of olive oil, a big pinch of black pepper, the onion, and parsley stems. Sweat for about 5-10 minutes until the onions soften.
Add garlic, rosemary, and rabbit pieces. Brown the rabbit, for 5-10 minutes, until just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally.
Increase the heat so the pot is hot and add the wine. Allow the pot to simmer and deglaze for 5 minutes (or less if liquid dries up earlier). Add all remaining ingredients, except for the wild greens and parsley leaves.
Cover and bring to the boil. A foam will form on the surface (this is the difficult to digest proteins from the beans). Skim this off with a slotted spoon, add the parsley and greens, cover again and continue to simmer for at least 2.5 hours.
When ready, your soup should have a rich flavour, and the beans should be butter soft.
Serve hot, with a splash of olive oil, a sprinkling of fresh parsley, freshly grated pecorino and a generous glass of red wine.