How often do you get to put something inside someone’s body?
No this ain’t a sex post but it’s close.
I just returned from 3 weeks in Italy when I sat down with my friends at Hungry Village. Cameras rolling I riffed on what draws me back to Italy each year and what fuels my passion for sharing my food with family and friends in my home and with you on my blog.
I hope you enjoy a short video of my time living in a Roman neighborhood and my Italian-American lifestyle in San Francisco’s North Beach.
Are you afraid of squash blossoms that are flooding farmers markets now?
Don’t be. The blossoms are versatile and easy to cook up. Grab some if you can.
Stuff the blossoms with mozzarella and anchovy and fry them coated with a light batter. Use them as a topping for a tomato-less pizza. Or make this really simple pasta cream sauce that will be on your table in the time it takes to cook the pasta.
Slice the blossoms into 1-inch ribbons. Saute the shallot with butter and extra virgin olive oil. When the shallot is translucent add the blossom ribbons and saffron. Finish with heavy cream and cook until the sauce thickens.
Add the cooked pasta and toss with the sauce to finish cooking. Shut off the heat. Add grated parmigiano and a sprinkle of grated black pepper and toss well.
That’s it. Sit down and eat.
Most of the sauce will be absorbed by the pasta and some will coat it too. The yellow-orange blossoms pleasingly speckle the saffron-tinted pasta and add a hint of zucchini flavor. Mild shallot deepens the flavor of the mellow parmigiano cream sauce.
Every eye-pleasing bite is a mouthful of delicate complex flavor. So simple and so delicious.
1 pound or 500 grams fresh tagliatelle, linguine or fettuccine. Or use a long dried pasta. I used fettuccine here
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
12 zucchini blossoms, sliced into ribbons
Pinch of saffron
¾ cups heavy cream
¼ cup grated parmigiano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Put a big pot of well-salted water on to boil.
Cut off the dark green base of the squash blossom and the stem. The pistil should fall out. Discard the pistil and stem piece.
Slice the blossoms horizontally into 1-inch ribbons.
Put the butter and olive in a large saute pan over medium heat.
When the butter begins to bubble add the shallot and cook until the the shallot is translucent, about 1 minute.
Lower the heat to medium-low.
Add the sliced blossoms and sea salt to taste to the pan and stir to coat the blossoms with the butter and oil.
Cook until the blossoms soften and become fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the saffron and mix well.
Add the cream and cook stirring well until the cream begins to thicken.
In the meantime, when the water is at a rapid boil. add the fresh or dried pasta (Fresh pasta should take less than 5 minutes to rise to the surface and be perfectly al dente. Follow the package directions for dried pasta. Cook until al dente.)
While pasta is cooking warm the sauce over low heat.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste and the grated parmigiano. Mix well to coat the pasta evenly with the sauce and cheese.
Serve immediately with extra grated parmigiano on the table for your guests.
Rows of fish packed on ice sparkled in the morning sun as we searched the open-air fish market for the perfect catch for dinner.
I almost bumped into this guy in the picture below swinging a long stick with neon orange plastic strips on the end to keep the flies moving.
With this heat we’d cook on the grill when we got back to our house in Ortigia on the Ionian coast.
We settled on 1-inch steaks cut from a huge swordfish just out of the sea.
To finish the dish I made Salmoriglio, a light uncooked sauce with fresh oregano and parsley, extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and garlic popular throughout southern Italy and perfect for grilled swordfish steaks.
Mix up a batch as you get the fire going. I takes about 5 minutes to make the sauce. Let it sit for about 30 minutes so the flavors meld.
Lightly brush the sauce over both sides of the swordfish steaks and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
Grill the steaks over medium coals or medium-high heat in a grill pan. Grill the first side giving them a quarter turn halfway through to create the hatched grill marks, about 4 minutes total. Finish them quickly on the second side so that they are still moist and tender when you take them off the grill, about 3 minutes more.
Put the swordfish on a plate and drizzle with the Salmoriglio sauce. Put the extra salmoriglio in a sauce bowl so you guests can add more if they want.
The firm and moist swordfish steak is smoky from the grill. The fresh oregano and parsley are front and center in the clean and light lemon and olive oil sauce with garlic and hot red pepper in the background. A wonderful combination that lets the fresh briny swordfish shine.
Here’s one of my favorite dishes that’s easy and quick to make for a weeknight dinner. You’ll be eating in a half hour or so.
Roast the sausage in a hot 425 degree oven until they’re golden brown.
While the sausage is roasting steam/saute the broccoli rabe in a big covered pot with garlic, red pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil.
The broccoli rabe is infused with garlic and the hot chili flakes add a perky sparkle as you swallow.
I chose two Little City Meats homemade sausages to diversify a bit. One is the mild Sicilian with fennel seeds the other a hot Calabrese with dried chili.
Sometimes I want to extend the heat and I’ll grab a hot Calabrese. Sometimes I want to calm it all down and go for the mild Sicilian instead. Either way with a crusty chunk of Italian bread you’ll be in heaven.
For a vegetarian alternative I often just have a bowl of broccoli rabe with a hunk of crusty bread to soak up the cooking broth.
Either way quick, healthy and delicious. Your dinner all on one plate.