It’s black summer truffle season here in the Tuscan Valtiberina and these alternative fruits of the forest are everywhere. Less pungent than in some other areas of Italy they are often served grated over pasta or grilled meat in abundance. There’s one restaurant in the village where the set menu looks like its own truffle festival with the antipasti, primi, and secondi all featuring this local treasure. I’ve yet to discover a dessert using black truffle—chocolate truffle is, of course, something quite different—but watch this space.
I bought a beautiful 100g truffle just over a week ago and had used only a small portion for the recipe I bought it for. I’d been religiously keeping it in a paper bag in a sealed jar, but it had begun to show the first signs of being past its best. So in order to preserve it for later (fond thought as we ended up eating it all in one evening) I made a traditional Tuscan salsa tartufata or truffle sauce.
This sauce is found all over Tuscany and Umbria and features the addition of anchovy for saltiness and garlic to accentuate the natural flavour of the truffle which is a little similar. Again, if you substitute the anchovies for salted capers, it becomes a full vegan dish.
Because of the olive oil content this will last well past truffle season in a sealed jar. It can be eaten as a pasta sauce—works really well with spaghetti adding a little of the cooking water to thin the sauce so it coats the pasta completely—or on small pieces of toasted Tuscan bread as crostini. That’s how we enjoyed it on one of the first real evenings of summer on the terrace at La Madera with a chilled bottle of Tuscan white.
If you can’t find truffle where you are, a lot of good Italian food outlets sell this sauce ready made in jars.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
100ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salted capers, finely chopped (Vg)
100g (3 1/2 ounces) black summer truffle, grated
- Warm the oil in a saucepan on a very gentle heat.
- Add the garlic and anchovies (or capers for the vegan variation) and heat until all the anchovy has dissolved into the oil, about 5 minutes. Be very careful not to let the oil overheat and the ingredients fry.
- Add the grated truffle, stir through and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and being very careful not to let the ingredients fry.
- Allow to cool.
- Serve as a pasta sauce (with tagliatelle or spaghetti) or on toast as crostini.