Torta Pasqualina: Easter Greens & Ricotta Cake

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Torta Pasqualina
Celebrate the end of Lent with torta Pasqualina, a savory Easter cake.

Easter is a relaxed holiday. There’s a saying “Natale con i tuoi. Pasqua con chi vuoi.” Christmas with your family. Easter with whomever you like. In Italy the Easter celebration spills over to Monday, called La Pasquetta, when Italians like to eat al fresco or go on a picnic.

Torta Pasqualina, Easter cake, is traditionally served as an antipasto on the Easter table. Torta Pasqualina is best at room temperature so it’s good to go for your picnic too.

The torta includes traditional symbolic Easter foods. Before modern production, eggs were costly and only available this time of year so eggs and tender leafy greens are a reminder of spring awakening.

The dough for the crust is fun to make. It’s pliable enough so that you can stretch it and roll it out really thin. If making dough doesn’t sound like fun to you, use puff pastry instead.

Chard and baby spinach sautéed with onion in olive oil and brightened by fresh marjoram forms the first layer. Ricotta whipped light and fluffy with egg and parmigiano creates the second layer topped with a golden phyllo-like crust.

Spring lamb, “the Lamb of God” in all those Renaissance paintings, is a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. So baby spring lamb is another traditional Easter food. If you’re looking for an Easter main course check out my abbacchio video, baby spring lamb roasted with rosemary and garlic served with golden potato wedges. And if you want help with the other courses, check out my Easter recipe roundup.

Buona Pasqua! Buon Appetito!

 

Torta Pasqualina: Easter Chard & Ricotta Pie
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Antipasto
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1½ cups water
Filling
  • 1 pound swiss chard
  • 1 pound spinach
  • 1 bunch of spring onions (or half an onion)
  • 1 pound ricotta, drained
  • ½ cup grated parmigiana
  • 9 eggs
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat parsley
  • sea salt freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
Crust
  1. You want to end up with 4 sheets, 2 for the base of a 10" inch spring form pan and 2 for the top crust.
  2. Dissolve the salt in the water then add the oil and stir.
  3. Put the flour in a large bowl. Add the water mixture.
  4. Mix the flour with a fork or knead it with you hand.
  5. When a dough has formed put it on a lightly-floured surface and knead it until it becomes smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  6. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic film and let sit at room temperature for about an hour.
Filling-Greens
  1. Blanch the chard and spinach in simmering water for about 3 minutes. Drain the greens and let them cool on a plate.
  2. When cool squeeze all the water out of the greens. You want them very dry.
  3. Roughly chop the greens.
  4. Chop the onion.
  5. Over medium-high heat put 2-tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan.
  6. When the oil starts to ripple add the onion and cook until the onion starts to turn translucent.
  7. Add the greens to the pan, add sea salt and pepper and mix well. Cook until the greens are tender.
  8. Put the greens in a bowl and add the chopped marjoram and let the greens cool.
  9. Put the ricotta in another bowl. Beat 3 eggs and add them to the ricotta along ¼ cup grated parmigiano, parsley, nutmeg (which I forgot to add in the video) and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk all the ingredients together so that the ricotta mixture is well blended and fluffy.
Assembly
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Divide the dough in 4, roll 2 larger dough pieces (about 10 oz. each) to a thin sheet about a 13-inch diameter and the smaller balls (about 7 oz.) and roll out to to a thin sheet about 10-inches.
  3. Brush the bottom and sides of the baking pan well with olive oil.
  4. Spread one larger sheet of the pastry and spread it with evenly over the bottom of the pan and about up the side.
  5. Brush the pastry all over with oil.
  6. Put the second pastry sheet, put it on top of the first sheet and pat it so that the second sheet adheres to the first.
  7. Add the greens to the baking pan and spread them evenly over the bottom crust.
  8. Add the ricotta mixture and spread it evenly over the greens.
  9. Make an indentation with the back of the spoon in the center and then 5 indentations spread evenly mid-way between the center and the edge of the pan.
  10. Separate 6 eggs. Put an egg yolk in each indentation.
  11. Lightly beat the egg whites and spread a thin layer of the whites on top of the ricotta mixture and sprinkle grated parmigiano all over.
  12. Completely cover the top the ricotta layer with one of the smaller sheets. Press it to adhere to the side crust and brush it with olive oil.
  13. Lay the last small sheet on top to fully cover the cake and press this last sheet gently to adhere to the side crust.
  14. Cut off any dough that hangs over the side of the baking pan. Roll down the remaining dough on the sides, crimp with your fingers to form the edge of the crust an the circumference of the cake. Gently depress the edge with a fork to create a pretty top edge.
  15. Brush the top of the cake with olive oil.
  16. Bake the cake in the oven until the top crust is golden, about 45 minutes.
  17. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Spring Asparagus Frittata

Spring Asparagus Frittata

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Spring Asparagus Frittata
Pencil-thin asparagus is just barely held together by egg in this spring frittata.

I made this asparagus frittata last spring while in Rome. Allesandro, my friend and produce vendor in Campo de Fiori, the huge open air produce market in the historical center of Rome, showed me wild asparagus he had foraged the night before. It took him all night to collect 2 kilos.

That’s Allesandro in video episode showing me those skinny wild asparagus that quickly went into a frittata for my mates back in our apartment near Piazza di Spagna.

I found some really thin asparagus at the farmers market. They reminded me of the frittata I made in Rome and I had to make it here in San Francisco.

I roasted the asparagus with olive oil and sea salt to intensify its bright flavor. This is a thinner frittata than I usually make because I want the egg mixture to just hold the asparagus together and let the concentrated springtime flavor shine.

Watch me make a sausage and potato frittata and see another asparagus frittata recipe where I don’t roast the asparagus but cook it in the same pan that I use to cook the frittata.

Serve frittata as a part of your antipasti or as a light lunch or dinner with a salad and a hunk of crusty bread. When I’m not in the mood to cook frittata is my go to recipe. It’s ready to eat in less than 30 minutes. Buon appetito!

Asparagus Fritatta
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 8-10 asparagus spears
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat parsley
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino, parmigiana or grana padano
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the asparagus on a cooking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Toss the asparagus to cover them all with the oil.
  3. Roast in the oven until the asparagus begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Turn them at least once.
  4. Take the asparagus out of the oven and when cool cut them on the diagonal in 2-inch pieces. Set the asparagus aside.
  5. Add the eggs to a large bowl and beat them well.
  6. Add the asparagus, parsley, grated cheese, ½ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and mix all the ingredients well.
  7. Put a 9-inch cast-iron or saute pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Swirl the olive oil so it coats the sides of the pan well to avoid the sides of the frittata from sticking.
  8. When the oil starts to ripple the add the egg mixture to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  9. As the frittata begins to set stir the bottom of the frittata with a fork. With a spatula lightly pull the edge of frittata away from the side of the pan. Genly slide the spatula under the frittata. Be sure the frittata is loose and moves easily when you shake the pan.
  10. Place a plate over the pan and flip the pan so the frittata ends up on the plate.
  11. Slide the frittata back in the pan.
  12. Finish cooking the frittata until it is solid.
  13. (If you don’t want the flip the frittata, finish cooking it in a 375 degree oven until the top sets and browns.)
  14. Slide the frittata onto a serving plate and serve immediately or at room temperature.

 

Baked Baby Eggplant via Japan

Baked Baby Eggplant

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Baked baby eggplant makes a great centerpiece for an antipasti platter.
Baked baby eggplant makes a great centerpiece for an antipasti platter.

Baked Italian baby eggplant is a favorite blog text recipe post so we decided to show you how to make it. Let me know if there are other recipe posts or other Italian dishes you want me to cook and maybe we’ll add them to our upcoming video episode list.

We’re in the worst drought ever here in California.

My produce guys tell me prices are already on the rise because of the drought. 60% of America’s produce comes from California so we’ll all be paying 15-20% more.

Even as prices rise, keep on buying local organic produce. The quality of the ingredients is vital. There are only 4 key ingredients in this dish so they all have to shine.

The only two days of heavy rain this whole winter had to be when I’m out food shopping over the weekend for the 3 episodes shot on Monday. I know we need the rain but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain.

I was a man on a mission. Off I went to the Ferry Building Saturday farmer’s market in the rain. No Italian baby eggplant. I hit at least six other markets and baby Italian eggplant were nowhere to be found. All I got was wet.

I panicked. I needed eggplant for Monday’s shoot. While scouring the city I caught a glimpse of dark eggplant on a sidewalk stand as the bus passed Grant Street in Chinatown. I made my way back to the produce stand and there I found not the Italian baby eggplant I desperately needed but Japanese eggplant instead.

I prefer the baby Italian eggplant but if I can't get 'em Japanese eggplant will do just fine.
I prefer the baby Italian eggplant but if I can’t get ’em Japanese eggplant will do just fine.

I was about to pass them up when I said to myself “Hey, you got a show to shoot. Whaddaya gonna do? Buy these. Stupido! This happens to other people too, so it’s an improvisation lesson.”

After chasing all over the city, I had developed a “woolie” (a craving) for these baked eggplant. I had to make them.

So that’s why I’m using Japanese eggplant that are readily available in the market. If you can’t get the Italian baby eggplant, use the Japanese.

The taste and texture is as good as baking the small black-purple Italian ones. But if I find them in market, I go for the baby Italians every time.

Zesty crispy tomato and pecorino top sweet creamy soft eggplant inside the flavorful shriveled skin. The essence of eggplant in every single bite. Serve it by itself or as the centerpiece of an antipasti course. Just add some prosciutto & cheese to the platter and some olives too.

If you like eggplant watch me make my favorite dish eggplant parmigiano.

Keep on cooking. Buon appetito!

4.7 from 3 reviews
Baked Baby Eggplant via Japan
 
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Intense creamy baked baby eggplant topped with San Marzano tomatoes, oregano and pecorino.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4 Italian baby eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup Italian canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed well by hand
  • ¼ cup pecorino, grated
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut off the stem of the Italian baby eggplant and cut each in half. (If you're using Japanese eggplant, cut off most of the narrow neck.)
  3. Lightly score the top of the eggplant on the diagonal in both directions to form diamonds.
  4. Put the eggplant in a single layer in a baking dish cut side up.
  5. Drizzle each half generously with EVOO.
  6. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  7. Evenly distribute the crushed tomato on top of each half.
  8. Sprinkle the oregano on top of the crushed tomato.
  9. Sprinkle the grated pecorino evenly on each half.
  10. Pour the water in the bottom of the baking dish.
  11. Add some olive oil and tomatoes to the water. (This will make a pan sauce to put over the eggplant before you serve them.)
  12. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil.
  13. Bake until the eggplant are knife tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  14. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  15. Uncover the pan and bake until the pecorino is lightly browned and the eggplant start to collapse in on themselves, 10 to 15 minutes more.
  16. Serve hot or at room temperature.
  17. Serves 4-6

 

Roasted Beet Salad Recipe

Roasted Beet Salad with Gorgonzola & Toasted Hazelnuts
Roasted Beet Salad with Gorgonzola & Toasted Hazelnuts

The Virginia branch of the family gathered at my nephew’s beautiful new house on Smith Mountain Lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

No one but my sister and brother-in-law knew I was joining 3 generations for this Thanksgiving gathering. As each wave of the family arrived at the lake taking in their surprised reaction upon seeing me for the first time was priceless.

Thinking I was in San Francisco my nephew emailed me on Tuesday as we were driving to the lake from Richmond.

“Hi John. I hope all is well. I wanted you to know I watched the video with your ribs hotness challenge and will make those for mom and dad over Thanksgiving. Looks awesome and perfect for a late fall ribs at the lake. Hope to catch up soon.”

“You’ll love these Greg. Happy Thanksgiving,” I replied. Little did he know that we would cook them up together that night to feed the first wave of family to arrive. 2 pounds of imported penne pasta and 3 full racks of ribs in a San Marzano tomato sauce doused with hot oil were quickly devoured by the crowd at the table.

3 generations pitched in to cook up a fantastic southern Thanksgiving dinner. There were so many side dishes I had to fill up my plate twice to get a taste of everything.

I’m eating light now that I’m back home. Here’s an updated version of my family’s favorite beet salad. Nothing concentrates the sweet beet flavor than roasting them in their jackets but in a pinch you can use canned beets too.

The tender butter lettuce is a perfect base for the sweet beets bathed in an olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano & shallot dressing. Gorgonzola adds a zesty flavor note and crunchy hazelnuts add texture to this simple delicious salad.

Buon appetito!

Roasted Beet Salad with Gorgonzola
 
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Sweet roasted beets served over butter lettuce with an olive oil, red wine vinegar & oregano dressing dotted with gorgonzola & toasted hazelnuts
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 red beets
  • 2 gold beets
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • gorgonzola, diced into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash the beets and do not peel them.
  3. Brush the beets with olive oil and put them in a baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with foil for easy clean-up.
  4. Roast the beets until they are knife-tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, put the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl and whisk well. Add the shallots and set the bowl with the dressing aside.
  6. Lightly toast the hazelnuts in a saute pan to bring out their rich flavor. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and set them aside.
  7. When the beets are cool enough to handle, trim the top and bottom and remove the skin.
  8. Cut the beets in small wedges and put them in the bowl with the dressing and mix well to coat the beets with the dressing.
  9. Lay the lettuce leaves on a large platter and cover them with the beets.
  10. Drizzle the dressing remaining in the bowl all over.
  11. Dot the beets with small gorgonzola cubes and sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts all over.
  12. Serve the beet salad chilled or at room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start Thanksgiving Dinner with Crab & Vegetables in a Hot Bath

Anchovy Garlic Hot Dipping Sauce for Crab & Veggies
Anchovy Garlic Hot Dipping Sauce for Crab & Veggies

The dungeness crab season started a couple of weeks ago and the harvest is superb.

So here’s a simple delicious start for your Thanksgiving dinner, steamed crab and vegetables with bagna cauda, a flavorful anchovy-garlic hot dipping sauce.

This is a super easy dish. Buy some fresh-steamed and cleaned crab, dungeness here in the Bay Area, blue crab on the east coast.

Cut up your favorite vegetables. Serve the vegetables raw or blanch them for a couple of minutes in boiling water if you like. Slice some cubes of crusty, rustic bread.

Make the bagna caulda dipping broth in 5 minutes. Keep it hot on the stove until you’re ready to eat. You can serve it over a flame in a fondue pot or a small earthenware pot over a candle-warmer.

I just put the steaming bagna cauda in a small pot on the table without a flame. It’s usually all gone before it cools off.

Crab, multi-color carrots, zucchini, red bell pepper and green beans and crusty bread surround the bagna calda. You can leave the cracked crab in the shell to dip but I wanted to make it easier to enjoy. Drizzle some bagna calda over the crab pieces so your guests can scoop up some of the pieces too small to dip .

Dip the large crab pieces and the vegetables in the bagna cauda. Hold the bread underneath to catch any drippings as you transport the crab and vegetables to your salivating mouth. Dip the bread in the sauce, eat it and start all over again. It’s a fun antipasto to share.

The mellow briny anchovy-garlic infused oil is a perfect boost for the sweet meaty crab and crunchy veggies .

Here are some other suggestions to add a bit of Italy to your American Thanksgiving meal.

Best wishes for a wonderful time with family and friends at your Thanksgiving table.

Buon appetito!

Bagna Cauda-A Hot Dipping Sauce
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Antipasto
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and then finely chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Put the olive oil and butter In a small sauté pan or small pot over low heat.
  2. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. When the butter is melted and just starts to foam add the garlic and sauté briefly, until the garlic starts to give off its aroma, about a minute. (Don't allow the garlic to take on any color.)
  3. Add the anchovies to the pan and cook stirring frequently until the anchovies dissolve.
  4. Add the parsley and stir well.
  5. Serve the bagna calda immediately in a small crockery pot or bowl along with the crab, vegetables and bread.

 

Calamari Salad

Calamari Salad
Calamari Salad

I’m cooking dinner as a birthday gift for a friend and I’m in the mood for this calamari salad as part of the antipasti.

The steamed calamari is sweet and tender bathed in the zesty olive oil and lemon dressing. The celery and onion add a crunchy textural note. The mellow roasted pepper strips and buttery Castelvetrano olives fill out the flavor palette.

You can make calamari salad in about 20 minutes. Just chill it in the fridge and you’re ready to eat.

Buon appetito!

Calamari Salad
 
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Sweet tender calamari with a zesty lemon-olive oil dressing with celery and onion adding a crunch.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • The whole peel and juice of ½ lemon
  • 1½ pounds calamari bodies and tentacles, cleaned and bodies cut into ½ inch rings
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • ½ cup pitted Castelvetrano or other green olives, cut in slivers
  • 4 celery stalks with leaves, sliced thin (I like to use the tender, pale green inner stalks.)
  • ½ cup roasted red bell peppers, cut in strips
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian flat parsley
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dry oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon hot chili flakes
Instructions
  1. Put 2 inches of water in a Dutch oven or pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the bay leaves and lemon peel and boil for a few minutes until they release their aromas.
  3. Set a colander or steamer over but not touching the water.
  4. Add the calamari rings and tentacles into colander or steamer lower the heat so the water is simmering. Cover the pot and cook until calamari is just cooked through and is opaque, about 5 to 6 minutes. (I taste the calamari to ensure that I take them out when they are cooked but tender. Don't over cook the calamari or it will toughen.)
  5. In the meantime in a large bowl combine the onion, olives, celery, roasted pepper, parsley, salt, oregano, peperoncino, olive oil and lemon juice.
  6. Add the cooked calamari to the bowl and mix well with the other ingredients and olive oil and lemon dressing.
  7. Chill the calamari salad before serving.

 

Eggplant “Meatballs”

Eggplant Meatballs
Eggplant Meatballs

An old woman in a soiled white apron stood at the top of the stairs leading to a basement trattoria a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.

We were wandering around the backstreets in Naples behind the big fancy hotels facing the marina and Castel dell’Ova (The Egg Castle).

We were hungry. It was just after noon. Too early for lunch? I went up to the woman to ask is the restaurant was serving yet.

“We’re open. I’m taking a break from frying eggplant meatballs” she said in Italian.

I never had eggplant meatballs (polpette di melanzane) so we had to go in. Were they just eggplant or did they have meat too?

That Neapolitan memory floated into my culinary consciousness this morning so I had to fry up some eggplant meatballs.

There’s no meat in this easy recipe. The hardest part is forming the small balls in your hand. Make a big batch for your antipasti course or serve them as a side for roasted or grilled meats or fish.

Pop one of these zesty marble-sized balls in your mouth whole. The crunchy exterior gives way to the soft mellow eggplant center flavored with pecorino and garlic.

You can also fry eggplant meatballs without the breadcrumb coating, add a simple tomato sauce and serve them with pasta. This is a versatile recipe. Make it part of your Italian kitchen repertoire.

Buon appetito!

Eggplant Meatballs
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 eggplant, about 1 pound
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat Italian parsley, minced
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • fine breadcrumbs for coating
  • extra virgin olive oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Put on a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Cut the eggplant with the skin on into 1-inch cubes.
  3. When the water is boiling put the eggplant in. Press them down once in a while because they like to float on the surface.
  4. Boil them for about 10 minutes until the cubes are tender.
  5. Drain them in a colander and press them down with your hand or wooden spoon to get out more water. You want the eggplant as dry as possible.
  6. While the eggplant is boiling, put the rest of the ingredients (except the olive oil and the breadcrumbs for coating) in a large bowl and mix well.
  7. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle mince it fine.
  8. Add the eggplant to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix everything well.
  9. Roll the eggplant mixture in your hand to form 1-2 inch diameter balls. Lay them out on a plate or baking sheet in a single layer.
  10. Put the breadcrumbs for the coating in a shallow bowl and lightly coat the balls. Put them back on the baking sheet or plate in a single layer.
  11. Heat enough extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan (I use my 9-inch cast iron pan) to a depth of at least ½ inch. You need sufficient oil or the balls won't fry evenly.
  12. Fry the balls until they are golden all over. Turn them gently so they don't break apart. Take them out of the pan and drain them on a plate lined with paper towel.
  13. Serve immediately.
  14. Makes about 2 dozen eggplant meatballs.

 

 

Flourless Potato & Onion Focaccia

A flourless potato focaccia  with a sweet onion filling
A flourless potato focaccia with a sweet onion filling

Here’s an interesting twist on focaccia.

There’s no flour in this potato & onion focaccia from the southwestern region of Puglia, focaccia di patate e cipolle in Italian.

The “dough” is fashioned from riced potatoes with grated parmigiano and white wine.

The potato dough holds a sweet filling of long-cooked onions with capers and black olives.

The focaccia is topped with bread crumbs and baked in the oven until golden brown.

The creamy potato crust top and bottom has a nutty crunch as you bite into the perky sweet onion filling with the capers and olives.

Serve the focaccia as a side for meat or fish or incorporate it into your next antipasti platter.

Buon appetito!

Flourless Potato & Onion Focaccia
 
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No flour in this focaccia. Riced potatoes with parmigiano and white wine form the focaccia "dough" filled with sweet long-cooked onions flavored with a bay leaf, capers and black olives topped with bread crumbs and baked until golden brown.
Author:
Recipe type: Focaccia
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • Onion Filling
  • 2 pounds onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 pitted Gaeta or your favorite black olive, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon drained capers
  • Dough
  • 2 large baking potatoes boiled then peeled and riced or mashed, about 1¼ pounds
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmigiano or pecorino cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons dry white wine
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs and extra virgin olive oil for the top and bottom crusts
Instructions
  1. Onion Filling
  2. Pour the olive oil into a large enameled pot or heavy bottomed sauce pan
  3. Add the onions, bay leaf, wine, salt, pepper to taste and the water to the pot.
  4. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the water is evaporated. Be sure the mixture is very dry so the interior of the focaccia is not gummy.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the capers and olives.
  6. Dough
  7. Boil the potatoes with the peel on until they are knife tender.
  8. Peel the potatoes and rice or mash them.
  9. Put the potatoes in a bowl, add the grated cheese, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and mix well.
  10. Add enough of the wine to make a consistent dough.
  11. To Assemble
  12. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  13. Brush the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with olive oil and thinly coat the bottom with bread crumbs.
  14. Spread about half of the potato mixture in an even ¾ inch layer in the pie plate.
  15. Next evenly spread the onion filling.
  16. Top the onion filling with the remaining potatoes,
  17. Brush the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs to completely cover the the top.
  18. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
  19. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

White Bean & Tuna Salad

Cannellini beans and canned Sicilian tuna salad with olives and red onion
Cannellini beans and canned Sicilian tuna salad with olives and red onion

I love cannellini beans and Sicilian canned tuna. Putting these 2 pantry staples together in this salad makes me very happy.

You can use canned beans but since there are only 2 main ingredients in the salad I like to use dry beans. They aren’t mushy like the ones in the can and don’t break apart as you mix the salad together.

Soak the beans overnight. But, if you’re like me and didn’t plan ahead use my speedy method to prepare the dried beans for the salad in about 2 minutes.

The creamy beans infused with celery, onion and bay leaf are the perfect base for the briny tuna, sweet red onion and tangy olives. Every bite is a delight.

Serve the white bean and tuna salad as part of your antipasti platter or on a bed of lettuce as a light meal with a hunk of crusty bread.

Buon appetito!

White Bean & Tuna Salad
 
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Combine 2 of my favorite ingredients, cannellini beans and Sicilian canned tuna, to create a full-flavored salad.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans
  • 1 celery stalk with top leaves, cut in large pieces
  • 1 small onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 7-ounce can Sicilian tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • ⅓ cup Gaeta olives
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Italian flat parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans in cold water to cover overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans
  3. (If you forgot to soak the beans overnight put the beans in a pot and cover with water at least 2 inches above the beans. Bring the pot to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Take the pot off the heat, cover and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse and continue with the recipe. If you're really desperate use canned beans. Be sure to rinse them well.)
  4. Put the soaked beans in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches and bring the pot to a boil.
  5. Add the celery, onion and bay leaf, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or longer until the beans are tender.
  6. While the beans are cooking, put the red onion in a large bowl and cover with the vinegar. Let the onions sit in the vinegar for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the olives to the bowl.
  8. When the beans are cooked add them to the bowl.
  9. Add the olive oil and parsley to bowl. Gently mix the beans to coat the beans with the olive oil.
  10. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix the beans gently.
  11. Break the tuna into small pieces and add the tuna to the bowl. Mix the beans gently to distribute the tuna.
  12. Let the salad sit for about an hour before serving.

 

Suppli al telefono: Fried Arborio Rice Balls Video

Suppli al Telefono
Suppli al Telefono

We had fun in the Cookhouse kitchen in North Beach. I was still on this kick cooking the food of Roma and Napoli so I could get in the groove for an upcoming trip to those cities. Stay tuned for some episodes we shot in Italia!

Suppli are tasty egg-shaped fried rice balls. The surprise in the middle give them their name.

You may know these as arancini. They remind Sicilians of oranges. But in Rome, they’re called suppli al telefono for the telephone lines formed when you bite into melted mozzarella at the center.

The rice inside the crispy crust is flavored by a thick flavorful tomato-meat sauce. The best bite is when you hit the oozing mozzarella telephone lines in the center.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Suppli--Fried Arborio Rice Balls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For the tomato/meat mixture:
  • 1½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound ground lean beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups passato di pomodoro or tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the rice:
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • For the breadcrumb coating:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into rectangles the size and shape of large sugar cubes (about 24 pieces)
  • Olive oil, preferably extra-virgin, for deep-frying
Instructions
  1. To make the tomato mixture:
  2. In a small bowl, combine the mushrooms with warm water to cover and let stand for 15 minutes to rehydrate. Drain, squeeze out the excess liquid and chop finely.
  3. In a fry pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the beef, onion and mushrooms and sauté until the meat is no longer red, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato puree and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has reduced by about one-third, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  5. To make the rice:
  6. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a rapid boil over high heat.
  7. Add the 1 tablespoon of sea salt and the rice and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the rice has softened but is still al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the rice and spread it out on a large platter or roasting pan to cool slightly.
  8. When cool put the rice in a bowl and add the eggs, butter, parmigiano, a pinch of salt and the tomato mixture. Mix to combine well. Let cool to room temperature.
  9. To form the croquettes:
  10. Whisk the egg in a small, shallow bowl.
  11. Pour the flour into a second shallow bowl and the breadcrumbs into a third bowl.
  12. Using a spoon or your hands, scoop up some rice and with your hand form into a ball the size and shape of an egg to make the suppli.
  13. With your finger, make an indentation in the side of the suppli, insert a piece of the mozzarella deep into the center and close the rice around it.
  14. Roll the suppli in the flour to lightly cover all over, then the beaten egg coating it all over, and then roll in the bread crumbs, again coating evenly.
  15. Place the ball on a large, flat plate or tray. Repeat with the remaining rice and cheese, evenly coating each suppli.
  16. When all the suppli are formed, cover the plate and refrigerate the suppli for at least 1 hour or up to overnight before cooking.
  17. Preheat an oven to 200°F. You can keep the suppli warm on a sheet pan in the oven as you cook them.
  18. To cook the suppli:
  19. In a heavy saucepan or deep, heavy fry pan, pour in olive oil to a depth of at least 2 inches and over medium-high heat the oil until a bit of rice dropped into the hot oil sizzles immediately on contact.
  20. Working in batches, fry the supply, turning as needed to color evenly, until they are a deep sunburned color and have a nice crisp crust, 5 to 7 minutes.
  21. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain, then transfer to the platter in the oven while you fry the remaining croquettes.
  22. Serve the croquettes while the mozzarella core is still hot. They may be eaten with a knife and fork, but for the traditional telephone-cord effect, they should be eaten by hand so the telephone line forms as you bite into the mozzarella center.
  23. Makes about 24 croquettes.