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!

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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.

 

Grilled Swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce

Grilled swordfish with Samarglio Sauce
Grilled swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce

The Sicilian summer heat came early one morning.

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.

I couldn’t stop eating this one.

Buon appetito!

Salmoriglio Sauce
 
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Quick grilled swordfish steaks with a light olive oil, lemon, garlic and fresh parsley & oregano sauce.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian flat parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon dried chili flakes or a small hot red pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Sicilian Open Air Fish Market

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.

 

 

Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage

Sauteed broccoli rabe and roasted Sicilian & Calabrese sausages
Sauteed broccoli rabe and roasted Sicilian & Calabrese sausages

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.

Buon appetito!

Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches of broccoli rabe
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ pounds your favorite Italian sausages
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • sea salt to taste
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Put the sausages in a roasting pan large enough so that they have room between them so they'll roast and not steam.
  3. While the sausage is roasting prepare the broccoli rabe.
  4. Remove any wilted or discolored leaves and the tough large leaf from each broccoli rabe stem.
  5. Cut off the tough bottom end of each stem. (You can peel the lower end of the stem but I usually cut it at the juncture of the floret stem and the lowest leaf.)
  6. Wash the broccoli rabe and drain them.
  7. Put the olive oil, pepper flakes and garlic in a large pot with a lid and heat the oil over medium heat until the garlic just starts to turn translucent.
  8. Add the broccoli rabe and sea salt to taste.
  9. Pour in the water, bring to a boil, and cover the pot tightly with the lid.
  10. Steam, lifting the lid to stir occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is softened, about 5 minutes.
  11. Uncover and cook over medium heat until the liquid is evaporated and the broccoli rabe is tender, about 5 minutes.
  12. (If you want a milder broccoli rabe blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds and drain them before adding to the hot olive oil. Finish cooking as above.)
  13. Return the sausages to the pot to warm them through.
  14. Serve the sausages on a platter, with the broccoli rabe on the side.

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.

 

Italian Braised Beef Brisket

Italian beef brisket long braised with herbs and aromatic vegetables
Italian beef brisket long braised with herbs and aromatic vegetables

I wanted to eat some beef brisket when I was in the Big Apple last week but it was too damn hot during the 7-day Heat Dome.

I satisfied my craving when I got back home. Here’s an Italian version of what many typically think of as a Jewish dish.

Beef brisket is easy to make. After the simple preparation, the brisket just sits on top of the stove braising until the meat is fork-tender.

Serve the vegetables on the side with some garlic smashed potatoes, fettuccine or polenta topped with the pan gravy and you’ve got dinner on a plate.

The beef brisket is moist and fall-apart tender. The vegetables are soft and sweet. Serve more of the full-flavored pan gravy on the side for your guests to help themselves.

If you’re lucky you’ll have brisket left over for sandwiches. Be sure to dip your crusty bread in the rich gravy before you put the panini together and you’ll be in heaven.

Buon appetito!

Italian Beef Brisket
 
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Beef brisket long braised with aromatic vegetables and herbs is a simple but flavorful lunch or dinner all on one plate.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds beef brisket
  • 2 carrots, quartered and cut in 2 inches pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in 2 inches pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in half and quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of Italian parsley
  • 1 cup sangiovese or zinfandel or your favorite dry red wine
  • 1 cup San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1 cup water (if needed)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper all over the brisket and rub it into the meat.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large enameled pot or thick bottom sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  3. When the oil ripples brown the brisket on both sides to create a dark crust.
  4. Remove the brisket to a plate.
  5. Add the tomato paste, vegetables and herbs, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and cook until the tomato paste darkens and the vegetables start to caramelize. Scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add the wine and cook until the wine is almost all evaporated. Scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
  7. Add the tomatoes and stir well.
  8. Lower the heat to medium-low and put the brisket back in the pot along with any juices on the resting plate. Add some water if necessary so that the brisket is almost covered with the braising liquid.
  9. Put the top on the pot and braise the brisket until it is fork tender, about 60-90 minutes.
  10. Remove the parsley and bay leaf.
  11. Slice the brisket against the grain and serve on a large platter with the vegetables and topped with gravy.

 

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.

 

Couscous with Veal, Cauliflower, Red Peppers & Saffron

Couscous with veal, cauliflower and peppers
Couscous with veal, cauliflower, red peppers and saffron

Sicily has been on my mind.

I recalled a remarkable day on the northern coast where I learned of 2 new ingredients for my Italian-American cooking, couscous and saffron.

We spent a delightful day in San Vito lo Capo lounging on the soft pink beach, swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea with Tunisia on the horizon and exploring the annual couscous festival in the small town that hugs the coast.

As the sun began to set we headed back to our hotel in the hills overlooking Palermo. We stopped in a tavola calda in Monreale for a quick meal.

I asked the owner Filippo if he could grill swordfish for me simply seasoned with olive oil, oregano and lemon. It was one of his favorites and he was happy to make it for me.

We talked as he brushed the fresh swordfish steak with oregano-infused olive oil, laid it on the hot iron grate over the open fire and sprinkled it with sea salt. It was on the plate in a jiffy with wedges of lemon. Simply delicious.

On the way out we thanked Filippo for the wonderful meal. He went to the counter and came back with “Zafferano: Giallo il Colore della Felicita” (Yellow: The Color of Happiness), a booklet with dozens of Sicilian recipes made with saffron. He autographed it as a gift for me.

This is one of those recipes and the dish includes saffron and couscous, 2 ingredients that I added to my Italian-American pantry after that wonderful day in Sicily. It can be on your table in about 45 minutes.

The saffron bathes everything in a golden hue. The crusted veal is tender and moist, the vegetables soft and sweet and the nutty couscous absorbs the flavors of it all. Another delicious Italian dish influenced by North African cooking.

Buon appetito!

Couscous with Veal, Cauliflower, Red Peppers & Saffron
 
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Veal with cauliflower, red bell pepper and saffron served over couscous.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound veal, cubed
  • 1 onion
  • ½ cauliflower
  • 2 tomatoes cut into 2 inch pieces or 12 small cherry or pear tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 carrot, cut in ½ inch slices
  • 1 red pepper, cored and seeded, cut 2-inch strips and then in 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup couscous
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • pinch of saffron (the dish is almost as good without saffron)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a enamel or heavy-bottomed pot put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the veal and brown all over.
  3. Add the vegetables and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the vegetables begin to brown.
  4. Pour the white wine, scrape the bottom of the pot and cook until the wine is evaporated.
  5. Continue cooking until the vegetables are knife tender, about 20 minutes. Add some vegetable broth or water if the pot is too dry.
  6. Add the saffron and gently mix all the ingredients well. Reduce the heat to low to keep the stew warm.
  7. Meanwhile, pour the couscous in a bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  8. Put the vegetable broth in a pot and bring it to a boil.
  9. Pour in the couscous, stirring gently.
  10. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the couscous rest for 2 minutes.
  11. Add the remaining butter, stir and cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring the couscous with a fork.
  12. Remove from heat, cover the pan and let cool for about 8 minutes.
  13. Place the couscous on a platter and top with the veal stew.
  14. 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.

 

 

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.

 

Braciole–Neapolitan Stuffed Beef Rolls

Beef roll-ups with a zesty bread stuffing in a San Marzano tomato sauce
Beef roll-ups with a zesty bread stuffing in a San Marzano tomato sauce

These braciole are beef rolls filled with prosciutto, provolo and a bread stuffing with chopped egg, parsley, garlic and pecorino.

The braciole braise in San Marzano tomatoes to create a sauce with deep rich flavors and a brick red color.

In Italy the sauce is typically used to dress pasta as a first course followed by the braciole accompanied by a vegetable.

The sauce fills the house with the aroma of sweet tomatoes, garlic and oregano. You know long before the meal that you’re in for a treat.

The braciola is fork tender. The prosciutto and provolo add salty zest. Every bite is a surprise, a sweet raisin here, a crunchy pine nut there, all hidden in the rich bread and chopped egg filling.

I quickly sauteed baby spinach in extra virgin olive oil with a touch of butter and a smashed garlic clove, the spinach a mellow interlude to the complexly flavored braciole and oregano-scented tomato sauce.

I love meat roll-ups. Watch me make another kind of beef braciola and a pork braciola as part of my Sunday Gravy video episode. And here’s a tasty recipe for quick veal scaloppine bundles stuffed with mozzarella and basil.

Buon appetito!

Braciole--Neapolitan Stuffed Beef Rolls
 
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Braciole, slow braised beef rolls stuffed with prosciutto, provolo and a savory bread stuffing in an oregano-scented San Marzano tomato sauce.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the Braciole
  • 6 thin beef slices, about 6 by 8 inches and about ½ inch thick. Pound the beef if necessary to get the right shape and thickness. (I use thinly sliced sirloin when I want to cut the braising time. Minute or flank steaks or bottom round slices work well but will need at least 2 hours to braise.)
  • 2 cups stale bread, crust removed and cubed
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped
  • ⅓ cup grated pecorino or parmigiano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat parsley, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced prosciuto
  • ¼ pound provolo or provolone, cut into 1 inch strips
  • For the Sauce
  • 28-ounce canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into a small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
Instructions
  1. Put the stale bread in a bowl and cover with water.
  2. When the bread is soft squeeze out the water and put the bread in a large bowl.
  3. Put the eggs in a pot and cover with water. Over high heat bring the water to a boil. When the water boils shut off the heat, cover the pot and let the eggs sit in the water for 12 minutes so they're hard boiled.
  4. When the eggs are cool enough to handle remove the shell and roughly chop the eggs.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, chopped egg, raisins, pine nuts, parsley, grated pecorino, 1 tablespoon olive oil and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  6. Mix all the ingredients well.
  7. Lay the beef out on a working surface.
  8. Cover each slice with a thin slice of prosciutto. Tap the prosciutto all over with the back of a chef's knife so it adheres to the beef.
  9. Spread the stuffing evenly over all of the beef slices. (Leave an inch border around the edges so the stuffing doesn't spill out.)
  10. Place a strip of provolo near the end of the beef slice.
  11. Tightly roll up each beef slice starting at the end with the provolo.
  12. Attach a toothpick through the braciole to hold it together while cooking. Or tie the braciole tightly with string at each end.
  13. Sprinkle the braciole with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  14. Put a pot over medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil.
  15. When the oil is hot add the braciole and brown them all over. (Lower the heat if necessary so the braciole don't burn.)
  16. Set the braciole aside on a plate.
  17. Put the onions, garlic and chili flakes in the pot and sauté until the onions are translucent. (Be sure to scape up the fond, the dark bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.)
  18. Add the tomato paste and toast in the oil until its color darkens.
  19. Add the oregano and bay leaf and mix all the ingredients well.
  20. Add the tomatoes and bring the sauce to a low simmer.
  21. Put the braciole and any juices that collected on the resting plate back in the pot.
  22. Braise the braciole covered by the sauce until the braciole are fork tender, at least an hour or as long as 2½ hours depending the cut of beef you used.
  23. When tender, slice the braciole in 2 inch slices.
  24. Put some sauce on a serving platter.
  25. Lay out the braciole slices and top with additional sauce.

 

Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns

Prawns wrapped in prosciutto roasted with olive oil, sage and garlic
Prawns wrapped in prosciutto roasted with olive oil, sage and garlic

I didn’t want anything heavy for lunch. I had a hankering for shrimp but didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking some up.

Here’s a simple dish that will be on your table in 15 minutes after you peel and clean the prawns.

Flavor extra virgin olive oil with garlic and fresh sage in a baking dish. Lay in the prawns wrapped in prosciutto. Drizzle them with EVOO and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Bake the prawns in a hot oven for 10 minutes. Plate them up, drizzle the oil from the baking pan all over and eat. How simple is that?

A whiff of sage and garlic precedes each bite. The salty, crispy prosciutto enhances the sweetness of the tender, moist prawns with just a hint of heat from the black pepper. A simple, yet complexly flavored dish.

I served these prawns with steamed rice on the side to soak up the sauce and a baby field greens salad simply dressed with EVOO, homemade red wine vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. A perfect Sunday afternoon lunch.

You can also serve these prawns as an antipasto, maybe with giardiniera, my  pickled vegetables.

Buon appetito!

Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns
 
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Prosciutto wrapped prawns quickly roasted in the oven with sage and garlic infused extra virgin olive oil.
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 12 large prawns
  • 6 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel and devein the shrimp and pat them dry.
  3. Put the sage and garlic in a baking pan and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon EVOO and place in the oven for 2 minutes to flavor the oil.
  4. Take the baking pan out of the oven.
  5. Reduce the oven heat to 350.
  6. Wrap each prawn with prosciutto.
  7. Lay the prawns in the baking dish in a single layer. (Be careful the baking dish will still be hot.)
  8. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Cut the butter in small cubes and scatter over the prawns.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes.
  11. Put the prawns on a serving dish and pour the oil from the baking dish all over.
  12. Serve immediately.

 

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
 
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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.

 

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.