New Recipe – Courgette-Tomato-Croquettes Leo XI with “Insalata Rossa”

I have always been wondering to know how Italians meals looked like before there were tomatoes in Europe and in Italy. Must have looked very poor. I love the Italian cuisine because of the many tomatoes. It is really surprising that this fruits didn´t arrive in Europe until the 16th century from South America and became common much later. I don´t know how it came to Italy but it is said that it was with the help of a Medici, Cosimo Vecchio (Cosimo the elder).


“Insalata rossa” (= “red salad” for its red ingredients: carrots, tomatoes, onions) is a very typical salad in Rome. As there were many Medici popes – who lived in Rome – I named this dish after the Medici Pope Leo XI who shouldn´t be forgotten: he only ruled 27 days.

  • Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 courgette
  • a small part (3-4 cm) of a sweet potato
  • 3-4 spring onions
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • a handful sundried tomatoes – soaked in water (drained after 15 minutes)
  • 3-4 Tbsp millet flour
  • 1-2 Tbsp tapenade
  • salt, pepper, chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds soaked in water (10 minutes) as binder
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil


Carrots and Swiss Chard in my husbands high bed gardens

Preheat oven to 180° C with fan, to 200° C without.

Wash and grate courgette and sweet potato finely. Salt and leave to stand for about 10 minutes. Pick it then up with your hands and gently squeeze out the water.

Cut onions, garlic cloves and tomatoes finely.

Put squeezed courgette and sweet potato into a bowl. Add onions, garlic, tomatoes, millet flour, tapenade, salt, pepper, chili flakes, the soaked chia seeds and the oil. Mix well.

With the help of a tablespoon scoop a little mixture into your hands and form gnocci or croquettes.

Place on a lined baking tray. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes until they look golden on the outside.

Serve with “insalata rossa” – sliced carrots, tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, add 1 Tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice and vinaigrette (oil and vinegar of your choice).


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