Ever fancied a hemp pie? The University dei Sapori (University of Taste) in Perugia (Umbria) has just launched a new secret ingredient which they hope will become a fundamental part of the Mediterranean diet. Rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and mineral salts, the humble plant with the botanical name of Cannabis Sativa was once well known as the multi-purpose hemp, widely cultivated in many regions of Italy until the middle of the 20th century.
Used mainly to make rope, canvas and even bedcovers, hemp, however, also had its place in the country kitchen and recent research has confirmed its many nutritional qualities. Adaptable to all kinds of uses, it was ground into flour, its seeds were crushed into oil and the nutty-flavoured leaves were added to many traditional dishes. Unfortunately, hemp has now got a bad name, due to its present popularity as a drug and its many virtues have been forgotten.
The chefs of the Università dei Sapori hope to restore hemp to its original place in the culinary field with their rediscovery of the secret ingredient, which they have now presented in the form of series of recipes that range from pie with hemp pesto to icecream cake with frothed hemp and chocolate.
For information: University dei Sapori Cenbtro Nazionale di formazione e Cultura dell'Alimentazione