Fat Macaroni with Ricotta and Tomato Sauce

Paccheri with Ricotta and Fresh San Marzano Tomato Sacue
Paccheri with Ricotta and Fresh San Marzano Tomato Sacue

Tomatoes overflow the farmers market. I bought fresh organic San Marzano tomatoes with this pasta dish in mind.

I’m in the mood for rich and creamy so I’m mixing ricotta with the quick-cooked tomato sauce and serving it with giant dried pasta tubes.

The classic Neapolitan Paccheri con Ricotta e Salsa di Pomodoro is a late summer treat.

Paccheri means “slaps” in Italian. Gentle face slaps not hostile ones.

The fat tubes collapse on themselves. The pasta makes a slapping sound when picked up with a fork because of the creamy sauce trapped inside.

Paccheri are a big mouthful of pasta so you need a sauce that will hold up to them. This one fits the bill.

I usually just add basil to a quick-cooked fresh summer tomato sauce. But I remembered that sometimes my Mom added oregano to her tomato-basil sauce so I did too.

The mellow creamy ricotta-tomato sauce coats the fat pasta inside and out. Add a dollop of the tomato sauce on top. The fresh basil and oregano shine behind the sweet tomatoes. The freshly ground black pepper lightly tingles your tongue. You won’t believe the flavor wallop from so few ingredients quickly cooked.

If you can’t find paccheri use rigatoni, ziti or penne instead. If you can’t find San Marzano tomatoes use the ripest tomatoes available in your market. In a pinch use a 28-ounce can of imported San Marzano tomatoes.

Buon appetito!

 

Macaroni with Ricotta and Tomato Sauce
 
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A creamy light ricotta and fresh San Marzano sauce coats the fat pasta tubes inside & out.
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound or 500 grams dried paccheri or your favorite imported tube pasta
  • 1 pound fresh San Marzano tomatoes or the ripest summer tomatoes available in your market (or in a pinch a 28-ounce can of imported San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 1 large sprig fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, plus more for garnish
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • ½ cup freshly grated pecorino
Instructions
  1. Put a big pot of well-salted pasta water over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Make an "X" in the top of each tomato. Put the tomatoes in the hot pasta water until the skin begins to blister, about 30 seconds.
  3. Remove the tomatoes to a bowl and when they are cool enough to handle peel off the skin.
  4. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill to form a smooth sauce. Or finely chop the tomatoes for a chunkier sauce.
  5. In a sauce pan over medium-high heat add the olive oil and the garlic. Cook until the garlic becomes translucent.
  6. Add the tomatoes to the sauce pan along with the basil and oregano sprigs.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  8. Stirring occasionally cook the sauce until most of the tomato water is evaporated, about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Combine the ricotta and the grated pecorino in a large bowl and mix them well with a fork.
  10. When the pasta water is at a vigorous boil throw in the pasta. Follow the instructions and cook the pasta until al dente. Before draining the pasta reserve a ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  11. Pour about half of the hot tomato sauce into the cheese mixture in the bowl. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Stir well.
  12. Keep the remainder of the tomato sauce warm over low heat.
  13. Add the drained pasta to the sauce, rip in a few fresh basil leaves and fresh oregano leaves and black pepper to taste. (Add more pasta water for a looser, creamier sauce.)
  14. Serve immediately topping each plate with a little more tomato sauce left in the sauce pan and a light sprinkle of grated pecorino.

 

Fettuccine with Squash Blossom Cream Sauce

Squash Blossom Cream Sauce with fettuccine.
Squash Blossom Cream Sauce with fettuccine.

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.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fettuccine with Squash Blossom Cream Sauce
 
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Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Put a big pot of well-salted water on to boil.
  2. Cut off the dark green base of the squash blossom and the stem. The pistil should fall out. Discard the pistil and stem piece.
  3. Slice the blossoms horizontally into 1-inch ribbons.
  4. Put the butter and olive in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  5. When the butter begins to bubble add the shallot and cook until the the shallot is translucent, about 1 minute.
  6. Lower the heat to medium-low.
  7. Add the sliced blossoms and sea salt to taste to the pan and stir to coat the blossoms with the butter and oil.
  8. Cook until the blossoms soften and become fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
  9. Add the saffron and mix well.
  10. Add the cream and cook stirring well until the cream begins to thicken.
  11. 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.)
  12. While pasta is cooking warm the sauce over low heat.
  13. 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.
  14. Serve immediately with extra grated parmigiano on the table for your guests.

 

Fresh San Marzano Tomatoes with Pappardelle

Fresh San Marzano Tomato with Pappadelle
Fresh San Marzano Tomato with Pappardelle

I scored the first of the organic San Marzano tomatoes from Happy Boy Farms at the Thursday Galleria farmers market in San Francisco’s financial district.

I was lazy and wanted a simple sauce so I didn’t cook it at all. This pasta can be on your table in about 30 minutes.

Just pop the San Marzanos in boiling water to loosen the skin and peel them. Roughly chop the tomatoes and let them marinate with extra virgin olive oil, basil and garlic for 30 minutes while the pasta water comes to a boil.

When the pasta is cooked add the marinated tomatoes and toss to coat the pasta well. Top each serving with a ripped basil leaf, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a light shower of grated parmigiano and eat.

You can use any fresh tomato for this pasta sauce. As long as they’re ripe and sweet, cherry, pear or heirloom tomatoes work well too. The heat of the pasta will bring out their full sweet flavor.

I didn’t make my own pasta. I bought some fresh pappardelle at the market but you can use long or short dried pasta too. Make it with penne or another short dried pasta and serve it at room temperature or slightly chilled and you have an Italian pasta salad for your summer buffet table.

I love the pure raw flavors of the sweet tomatoes and basil bathed in the garlic-infused olive oil. The toothsome pappadelle captures it all and adds a nutty wheat note to every bite.

If you want to have a quick cooked fresh sauce check out my San Marzano sauce with choke the priest pasta video episode.

Buon appetito!

Uncooked Fresh San Marzano Tomatoes with Pappardelle
 
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An uncooked fresh San Marzano tomato sauce marinated for 30 minutes with basil and garlic served over your favorite pasta. Simple and delicious.
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves roughly torn
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh pappardelle or your favorite fresh or dried pasta
Instructions
  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Score the top of each tomato with a cross and put them in the boiling water for about 20 seconds to loosen the skin. Remove the tomatoes to a bowl.
  3. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle peel off the skin.
  4. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds.
  5. Cut the halves into strips and roughly chop the tomatoes.
  6. Put the tomatoes in a bowl with the basil, garlic and olive oil. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix all the ingredients well.
  7. Set the bowl aside and let the tomatoes marinate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir occasionally.
  8. Add sea salt to the water and bring the water back to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente so that it is tender but still has a toothsome bite.
  9. Drain the pasta and put in a large bowl. Add the marinated tomatoes and mix to coat the pasta well.
  10. Add a fresh ripped basil leaf, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of grated parmigiano to each plate of pasta.
  11. Serve immediately.

 

Orecchiette with Arugula

Orecchiete with arugala in a garlic infused olive oil sauce
Orecchiete with arugula in a garlic infused olive oil sauce

I snagged some baby arugula at the Petaluma farmer’s market yesterday.

Simply drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a drop or 2 of red wine vinegar and sea salt, the tender peppery arugula is a summer treat.

But arugula isn’t just for salads.

I have more arugula that I want to eat now and I’m in the mood for a simple pasta. This quick recipe fits the bill. The pasta is on your table in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

I like a small short pasta for this dish. I used orecchiette (little ears) but you can use dried cavatelli, ditali or your favorite pasta shape.

What a treat to be able to use this just-cut arugula. I don’t want to lose any of its fresh goodness so I just let the arugula wilt in the heat of the pasta and garlic-infused olive oil.

The orecchiette is bathed in the thick mellow sauce. The lightly toasted garlic slices add a nutty note to the peppery arugula enhanced by light heat from red pepper flakes.

You won’t believe the full flavor from so few ingredients. Simple, quick, healthy and delicious.

Buon appetito!

Pasta with Arugula
 
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Just-cut arugula warmed by the heat of the pasta with garlic-infused olive oil. A simple summer pasta treat.
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 pound dried orecchiete or your favorite short pasta
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt for the pasta water and more to taste if needed
  • 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
Instructions
  1. Put on a large pot of salted water to boil. (5 quarts water, 2 tablespoons sea salt)
  2. When the water is at a rapid boil add the pasta, stir occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick and cook until the pasta is just al dente.
  3. While the pasta is cooking make the sauce.
  4. Put a skillet or pan large enough to hold the pasta over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook until the garlic just starts to take on color.
  6. Reduce the heat to low to keep the sauce warm while the pasta finishes cooking.
  7. When the pasta is cooked reserve a cup of the cooking water, strain the pasta and add it to the sauce.
  8. Add some cooking water to thin the sauce and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  9. Add the arugula, toss well and cook until the arugula starts to wilt.
  10. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of grated parmigiano.

 

 

Raw & Cooked Salad

A simple and complex salad to welcome summer
Raw & Cooked Salad

Summer just arrived and I’m starting to get in the mood for the bounty slowly hitting the market.

This simple yet complex salad is my bridge to the new season.

Insalata cruda e cotta is an interesting mix of fresh and cooked vegetables and will be on your table in about 30 minutes.

Sweet roasted onions, just tender green beans, crunchy lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and exploding creamy potatoes, complex flavor and texture in every bite. The oil and vinegar dressing with perky capers and briny black olives elevates this simple salad to a whole new level.

Serve insalata cruda e cotta as part of an antipasti course , a light lunch or as a side for meat or fish.

Buon appetito!

Raw & Cooked Salad
 
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Cooked and raw vegetables tossed together with black olives, capers, oregano, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. A perfect simple summer treat.
Author:
Recipe type: Italian
Cuisine: salad
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound sweet onions
  • ½ pound red potatoes
  • ½ pound green beans
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 head butter or Bibb lettuce
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted and roughly chopped (I like Gaeta or oil-cured olives)
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ teaspoon dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel the onion and cut into ¾ inch slices.
  3. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes until the onion is softened and lightly carmelized on the edges, turning them over once at midpoint.
  5. Break the slices into rings and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water.
  7. Bring the pot to a boil and cook just until the potatoes are knife tender.
  8. Take the potatoes out of the water and cut into 2 inch wedges.
  9. Put the potatoes in the bowl.
  10. Trim the beans and cook them in the boiling water until they just start to soften, about 4 minutes.
  11. Strain the beans, cut into 2 inch pieces and put them in the bowl.
  12. Put the olives, capers, the rest of the olive oil, vinegar in the bowl.
  13. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste and mix all the ingredients well.
  14. Cut the tomatoes into 2 inch wedges and add them to the bowl.
  15. Rip the lettuce leaves into bite size pieces and add them to the bowl.
  16. Toss with the other ingredients to coat everything well with the dressing.

 

 

Escarole 2 Ways

Escarole sauteed in olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sea salt
Escarole sauteed in olive oil with garlic, chili flakes and sea salt

The escarole in the market today was gorgeous, light green heads with fresh, tender leaves. I get 2 uses from a head of escarole.

Save the yellow-green inner leaves for a simple salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon or red wine vinegar and sea salt. Serve the escarole salad as a first course or as an accompaniment for meat, fish or pasta.

Another favorite for the rest of the darker green outer leaves is to quickly saute the escarole with olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sea salt (scarola in padella).

The escarole is sweet and tender bathed in the garlic-infused olive oil with a bit of chili heat. Healthy and delicious. Serve the sauteed escarole as a side for meat or fish.

Sometimes for a light meal, I’ll just have a bowl of sauteed escarole with a hunk of crusty bread that I dip in the olive oil broth.

This is an easy dish and a universal cooking method for most green leafy vegetables that I use often. Add it to your repertoire.

Buon appetito!

Escarole 2 Ways
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 head escarole, remove the core, (optional: save the tender yellow-green inner leaves for a salad), cut the head in half, and cut in 2 inch ribbons
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup water (if needed)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put the EVOO, garlic and red chili flakes in a cold pan.
  2. Heat over medium-high until the garlic takes on a bit of golden color.
  3. Add the escarole and toss so that all the leaves wilt.
  4. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. If there is no liquid in the pan add some water to help steam the escarole.
  6. Saute for 3 minutes or until the escarole is tender.
  7. Place the escarole in a bowl and drizzle with a little very good EVOO.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

Veal and Spring Peas from Naples

A Neapolitan classic, veal with spring peas
A Neapolitan classic, veal with spring peas

We trained to Naples from Rome and settled in to our apartment in the Spanish Quarter high above Via Chiaia and Via Toledo, Naples major shopping streets.

We have a half floor of an old palazzo and our landlady Filomene lives right next door. She gave us a tour of the apartment and the well-appointed kitchen. I have to light the stove with one of those sparking tools.

Filomene recommended an osteria around the corner for our first midday meal, an informal family run place. We were hungry and we went to eat before we even unpacked.

The owner welcomed us as he opened the door with his baby in his arms. We felt like we were eating in their dining room. The food was superb, a warm welcome to Napoli.

I had fiori di zucca as my appetizer, zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy, dipped in a light batter and fried. Next spaghetti a ragu, a flavorful dark red tomato sauce. Beef braciola, a beef roll stuffed with garlic, pecorino and parsley ended my meal.

I was out today to shop in the outdoor markets in the streets around our apartment. I couldn’t get vitello e piselli out of my mind, so that’s today’s recipe.

Tender cubes of veal with sweet spring peas in a garlic and oregano infused tomato sauce. This is one of my favorite comfort foods that my Mom made often.

Veal and peas is quick and easy if you use a good cut of veal. It can be on your table in about 30 minutes.

Buon appetito!

Veal and Spring Peas from Naples
 
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A classic veal and spring peas dish in an oregano and garlic infused tomato sauce from Naples.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound veal loin, cubed
  • 1 pound peas in the pod, shelled
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups tomato passato (sauce from Italy) or San Marzano tomatoes crushed well by hand
Instructions
  1. Put a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the olive oil.
  3. When the oil is hot and starts to ripple add the veal and cook until browned all over.
  4. Add the garlic, oregano and peas and mix well.
  5. Cook until the garlic is translucent and the peas start to turn bright green.
  6. Add the tomato and stir well.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the veal and peas are tender, about 12 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

A Surprise Guest in My Roman Kitchen

Giulia, my Roman home cook guide
Giulia, my Roman home cook guide and the video crew devouring the last of the saltimbocca

Giulia, the petite and effervescent aunt of my Roman producer, stopped by the apartment as we were setting up for the video shoot.

She was doubtful that a guy from San Francisco could cook Roman dishes and she wanted to see for herself.

Giulia does most of the cooking when her extended family gathers. I was glad she was with us. I was sure she would teach me a thing or two.

She really liked my sautéed chicory and the spring vegetable stew. Now we were best kitchen buddies and I tried to absorb all she told me in Italian.

As we talked about what was next up for me to cook, I had an idea. Maybe Giulia would show me how she cooked these dishes. I’d be her assistant.

After a bit of hesitation, she agreed to go on camera, as long as she could freshen up a bit first.

What an unexpected gift to have a Roman share her family veal saltimbocca and spaghetti cacio e pepe recipes with me.

When we post the Roman episodes you can make these dishes your own too.

Buon appetito!

Roman Kitchen Inspiration

Roman spring bounty at the Campo di Fiori market
Roman spring bounty at the Campo di Fiori market

I met up with Alessandro, my produce vendor friend in the Campo di Fiori farmers market as the sun began to break through the early morning clouds.

I was especially interested in what he harvested from his garden and from the wild. He had these wispy asparagus stalks no bigger than a thin straw that poke up from the ground for a brief spell this time of year.

I had to buy some for a frittata, a thick Italian flat omelet, the eggs flavored with grated pecorino, salt and freshly ground black pepper that would tide us over as we set up for the video shoot in my Spanish Steps apartment kitchen.

Fans suggested that I make on camera some of the classic Roman dishes that I made in North Beach to get ready for my trip.

Alessandro had wild cicoria, tender chicory shoots that inspired the first episode. It’s an easy dish but a universal method for preparing green leafy vegetables in a pan with olive oil, garlic and dried chili.

The second episode was vignarola, the Roman spring vegetable stew with baby purple artichokes, fava beans so young and tender they could be cooked right out of the pod and sweet spring peas.

Antica Norcineria Viola (pork store) right behind Alessandro’s stall had guanciale, cured pig jowl, to flavor this classic spring vegetable dish. Benedetto was my 4th generation Norcineria guide that his family opened in 1890.

I checked off the last item on my shopping list and we headed back to my apartment to cook.

In my next post you’ll meet Giulia, a wonderful Roman home cook, who happened to show up in my kitchen as we were shooting the video episodes.

In the meantime if you’re in the mood make an asparagus fritatta for yourself.

Buon appetito!

 

A Working Roman Holiday

Campo di Fiori Rome
Campo di Fiori Rome

Campo di Fiori, the farmer’s market in the historical center of Rome was ablaze in the morning sunshine.

The stalls were overflowing with spring bounty. Peas, artichokes, fava beans, chicory and other leafy treats, even early tomatoes, were everywhere.

I was scouting the market as I waited for Luca, my producer to show up with his video crew so we could plan tomorrow’s shoot. I wanted to see what I would cook in my apartment kitchen.

I came across Alessandro cleaning artichokes. When I took his picture he looked up and said I had to either give him one euro or a kiss. We settled on a Roman welcome embrace.

I can’t wait to share my market and cooking experience with you. New video episodes from North Beach and Roma are coming soon.

Buon appetito!

 

 

Roman Stewed Spring Vegetables

La Vignarola, Roman stewed spring vegetables
La Vignarola, Roman stewed spring vegetables

La Vignarola, stewed spring vegetables, is a simple dish that’s a real crowd-pleaser in Rome this time of year and you can be eating some in about 30 minutes.

Quickly braise each of the 3 spring vegetables separately. Brown guanciale or pancetta with a little extra virgin olive oil. Add the vegetables to the pan along with some of the cooking liquid to make a light broth.

When everything is heated through put the vegetables on a serving platter. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and your ready to eat. Serve La Vignarola as a side-dish or as a first course with a hunk of rustic bread to sop up the flavorful broth.

The sweetness of the peas is mellowed by the meaty fava beans and tender sliced artichoke hearts. With your first bite you know spring has arrived.

I’ll be in Roma soon and my Roman friend Luca and his crew will shoot a couple of episodes while I shop the outdoor markets and cook in our apartment kitchen near the Spanish Steps. You might have noticed I’ve been cooking Roman dishes lately to get in the groove.

We shot 2 new episodes last week at Cookhouse in North Beach as a run-up to my Italy trip. Watch me making a Roman favorite for your antipasti or afternoon snack (uno spuntino) and a classic main course from Naples. We’ll post the first one real soon.

Buon appetito!

Roman Stewed Spring Vegetables
 
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La Vignarola, stewed artichokes, fava beans and peas Roman-style.
Author:
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4 small artichokes
  • 2 pounds fava beans
  • 2 pounds spring peas
  • 2 ounces guanciale or pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 green onions
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Squeeze the juice of a lemon into a bowl of water. As you clean the artichokes, put them in the acidulated water until your ready to braise them all. (This keeps the artichokes from oxidizing and turning brown.)
  2. Pull off the tough outer leaves of the artichokes until you get to leaves that are light green-yellow in color.
  3. Cut off the dark top of the artichoke.
  4. Cut off the stem evenly and peel off any green tough skin on the artichoke base.
  5. With a spoon, scoop out the choke (small purple leaves and fuzzy center) in the middle of artichoke. (If your using baby artichokes, they won't have developed a choke yet.)
  6. Shell the peas and set aside in a bowl.
  7. Shell the fava beans, remove the skin and set aside in a bowl.
  8. Put a cup of water in a small pot over medium-high heat and add the artichokes.
  9. When the water boils cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  10. Braise the artichokes until they are knife tender, about 10 minutes.
  11. With a slotted spoon, remove the artichokes to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  12. Add more water to the pot if necessary, raise the heat to medium-high and add the fava beans.
  13. When the water boils cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  14. Braise the fava beans until tender, about 7 minutes. (Don't over cook the fava beans or they'll lose their bright green color.)
  15. With a slotted spoon, remove the fava beans to the bowl with the artichokes.
  16. Add more water to the pot if necessary, raise the heat to medium-high and add the peas.
  17. When the water boils cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low.
  18. Braise the peas until tender, about 5 minutes. (Don't over cook the peas or they'll lose their bright green color.)
  19. With a slotted spoon, remove the peas to the bowl with the other vegetables.
  20. Save the vegetable cooking water.
  21. Cut the artichokes in half and cut the artichoke half in 1-inch slices and put the slices back in the bowl with the other vegetables.
  22. Slice the green onions in 1-inch pieces.
  23. Cut the guanciale or pancetta into 1-inch cubes.
  24. Put another pan over medium-high heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  25. When the oil is hot add the guaciale or pancetta and brown.
  26. Add the green onions and cook until soft.
  27. Lower the heat to meidum-low, add the artichokes, fava beans and peas to the pan along with 1 cup of the vegetable cooking water.
  28. Simmer until the vegetables are heated through.
  29. Put the vegetables on a serving platter and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste and a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil.
  30. Serve immediately.

 

Chicken Roman-Style with Peppers

Chicken Roman Style with Red and Yellow Peppers
Chicken Roman Style with Red and Yellow Peppers

I’m hosting an informal Easter dinner next Sunday. Some of the friends at the table will be with me in Rome and Naples in a few weeks so I’m serving dishes from those 2 cities.

We’ll start with a savory deep-dish pie, Pizza Rustica filled with ricotta, mozzarella and salumi and a deep-dish ricotta with candied citrus peel pie, Pastiera Napoletana, will be the sweet ending to our meal.

Chicken Roman-Style with red and yellow peppers in a sweet tomato sauce with prosciutto bits will be the piatto secondo, the main course.

Pollo alla Romana con i peperoni is a simple recipe that is ready in about 30 minutes. I used boneless, skinless chicken breast but you can use any chicken parts that please you. If you have more cook time, bone-in pieces will add even more flavor to the dish.

The cooking method used here, insaporire, to develop flavor, is a classic Italian technique. Cook the chicken and peppers separately to develop their full flavors. Then combine them together at the end so that the ingredients absorb flavor from each other and the dish develops distinctive, yet complex flavors.

The chicken is infused with the soft sweetness of the peppers, the salty prosciutto and chunky San Marzano tomato sauce. A perfect flavor balance.

Serve some polenta or rice on the side to absorb the sauce and you have lunch or dinner on one plate.

Watch me making the Neapolitan savory and sweet Easter Pies. Make them for your spring celebration.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken Roman Style with Peppers
 
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A one-pan chicken dish with peppers bathed in a sweet tomato sauce that is ready in about 30 minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or your favorite chicken parts. You can use a whole, chicken cut into 8 pieces if you want.)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide and 2-inch long strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1-inch wide and 2-inch long strips
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 can (14 ounces) imported San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand or coarsely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the chicken breast into 4 or 5 pieces of equal size.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold all the chicken over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the smashed garlic and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes (15 minutes if your using chicken parts.)
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Remove the chicken and garlic to a bowl and set aside.
  7. Add the last 2 tablespoons of olive and oil to the pan.
  8. Add the prosciutto and 1 smashed garlic clove and cook for 1 minute.
  9. Add the pepper strips and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the marjoram or oregano, sea salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Return the chicken and any juices that collected on the plate to the pan and mix everything together well.
  12. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  13. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine mostly evaporates.
  14. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Stir well and bring to a rapid simmer.
  15. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  16. Put the chicken and peppers on a platter and serve immediately.

 

Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Pastiera and Rustica Easter Pies
Pastiera and Rustica Easter Pies

Natale con i tuoi, la Pasqua con chi vuoi, Christmas at home and Easter with whomever you wish” is an old Italian saying.

Friends are coming to my place for Easter dinner next Sunday. I’m making 2 traditional Easter deep-dish pies from Naples that will bookend the meal.

The savory Pizza Rustica will be the antipasto course and the sweet Pastiera Napoletana will be dessert. You can make them too. Watch me making Pizza Rustica and Pastiera Napoletana.

Lucky for me I’m only making one of each pie this year. The picture above shows some of the pies I made a couple of years ago when the family gathered in Virginia. I had to ensure we had enough for Easter dinner and for everyone to take some home too.

I’ll post recipes for the rest of the Easter meal this week: Stracciatella, a Roman egg-drop soup and pollo alla Romano, chicken with red and yellow peppers in a light tomato sauce.

Buon appetito!

St. Joseph’s Day Spaghetti

St. Joseph's Day Spaghetti in anchovy sauce topped with toasted breadcrumbs
St. Joseph’s Day Spaghetti in anchovy sauce topped with toasted breadcrumbs

March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph, Festa di San Giuseppe. It’s a big day in Italy and a big day among Italian-Americans.

St. Joseph’s Day is Father’s Day in Italia. Joseph was Mary’s husband and helped raise the young Jesus. St. Joseph is also Sicily’s patron saint. The story is that St. Joseph’s intervention saved Sicilians from starvation during a severe Middle Ages drought.

I make some of my favorite Italian food this time of the year in celebration of the Festa di San Giuseppe, the Feast of St. Joseph.

This year I’m making Sicilian St. Joseph’s Day dishes. First up is Spaghetti di San Giuseppe with toasted breadcrumbs that symbolize the sawdust on a carpeter’s floor.

The spaghetti is bathed in a zesty garlic, olive oil and anchovy sauce topped with nutty, golden toasted breadcrumbs. Spaghetti di San Giuseppe is a humble, simple dish with deep complex flavor. You can make the sauce in the time that it takes to cook the pasta.

My Italian roots are in Campania so I can’t forego making a Neapolitan pastry, Zeppole di San Giuseppe. We’re gathering to celebrate an Italian-American friend’s birthday tomorrow. I’m making Zeppole di San Giuseppe as my gift for the birthday boy and his guests.

Happy St. Joseph’s Day. Buon appetito!

2.0 from 1 reviews
St. Joseph's Day Pasta
 
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Spaghetti in an anchovy sauce with breadcrumbs is made on St. Joseph's Day in Italia. The breadcrumbs represent the sawdust on his carpenter's workshop floor.
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 9 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
  • sea salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅔ cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Make the breadcrumbs in a skillet or in the oven.
  2. In a skillet:
  3. Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add ¾ cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil.
  5. Cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes.
  6. In the oven:
  7. Place ¾ cup of fresh bread crumbs in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  8. Using your hands or a fork, gently combine the ingredients.
  9. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F. oven.
  10. Bake about 8 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until golden brown and crisp.
  11. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
  12. Put a large pot of well-salted water (about 5 quarts) over high heat and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of sea salt when the water comes to a boil.
  13. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water.
  14. While the spaghetti is cooking to al dente, make the anchovy sauce.
  15. Finely chop 6 anchovy fillets; cut the remaining 3 into ½-inch pieces; set aside.
  16. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  17. Add the garlic, red pepper, and finely chopped anchovies.
  18. Cook, stirring until the anchovies dissolve.
  19. Add ¼ cup of the pasta water and bring the sauce to a rapid simmer for about a minute.
  20. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  21. Stir in the parsley and remaining anchovies.
  22. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
  23. Add the pasta and ¼ cup of the pasta water to the skillet with the anchovy sauce.
  24. Toss until the strands are well coated.
  25. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too dry.
  26. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the toasted bread crumbs.
  27. Add the remaining crumbs to the skillet and toss the pasta again.
  28. Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.
  29. Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved bread crumbs.

Asparagus Frittata–Spring Has Sprung

Asparagus Frittata
Asparagus Frittata

Spring is taking hold so I thought I’d make something to celebrate, an egg pie with tender, thin asparagus.

Actually “La Squadra”, is gathering at my house for lunch. My Rome and Naples traveling companions and I need to finish planning our final week in Campania next month.

The frittata is part of my antipasti course, along with buffalo mozzarella from Campania and thinly sliced cappocolo cured locally. We  could be in either Roma or Napoli. This spring egg pie is popular in both cities. It’s popular with me too.

Don’t be intimidated. Making a frittata is not that hard. You can watch me making a frittata. If you don’t want to flip the frittata just finish it in the oven.

Frittata is a tasty antipasto or serve it with a salad and it’s lunch.

The golden frittata crust is nutty. The parmigiano perks up the tender, moist interior. The grassy, sweet asparagus scream spring has arrived.

Buon apettito!

Asparagus Frittata
 
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Frittata is an egg pie. This one celebrates the arrival of spring with tender, thin asparagus.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 5 extra large eggs
  • ¼ cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Snap off the tough end of the asparagus spear. You should be left with the tender top. If the skin seems tough, peel it.
  2. Cut off the tips and cut the tip in half. Set aside.
  3. Cut the asparagus spear on the diagonal into 1-inch slices.
  4. Put a 10-inch saute pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.
  6. Add the asparagus spear slices (not the tips) and saute for 2 minutes.
  7. Add a tablespoon of water, reduce heat to medium-low.
  8. Cover and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 2 minutes.
  9. Take the asparagus out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  10. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and swirl it around to coat the side of the pan.
  11. Return to medium heat and when the oil is hot add the asparagus tips. Cook until tender, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  12. Return the asparagus stalk slices to the pan.
  13. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.
  14. Stir the asparagus to coast with the oil.
  15. Spread the slices evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  16. Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
  17. Add the grated parmigiano reggiano and salt and pepper to taste.
  18. Mix everything together well.
  19. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus in the pan.
  20. Cook over medium-low heat until the frittata is set. Run a spatula around and under the frittata to make sure it moves freely.
  21. Place a plate over the pan and flip the pan so the frittata ends up on the plate.
  22. Slide the frittata back in the pan.
  23. Finish cooking the frittata until it is solid.
  24. (If you don't want the flip the frittata, finish cooking it in a 375 degree oven until the top sets and browns.
  25. Slide the frittata onto a serving plate and serve immediately or at room temperature.