Panzanella: Summer Tomato & Bread Salad

Panzanella: Summer Tomato & Bread Salad
Panzanella: Summer Tomato & Bread Salad

A few days ago in a post on my pasta e fagioli video episode, Markus asked that I make panzanella, a simple Tuscan peasant summer salad.

I said I would when the summer tomatoes hit the farmers market. The first crop of Early Girls won’t be in for a few more weeks and the big heirlooms won’t be ready until the end of the summer. I thought I wouldn’t be making panzanella for a while.

But I couldn’t get panzanella out of my mind since Markus’ post. So when I saw a huge selection of tomatoes at Bruins Farms booth at the Ferry Building Farmers Market yesterday I had to buy some and give panzanella a go.

If you’ve been to Tuscany in the summer you’ve enjoyed panzanella. It’s made with days-old dark salt-free Tuscan bread. Recipes for this peasant dish date back to the days of Michelangelo according to Tuscan food maestro Giulliano Bugialli.

This is my modern San Francisco version. While you’ll see recipes with peppers, cucumbers and all sorts of other ingredients in today’s panzanella recipes, I keep it simple.

Tomatoes and a good crusty rustic bread soaked in the olive oil and tomato juices are the stars. My mix today is Lemon Boy, Black Zebra and Beefsteak.

These tomatoes are grown about 70 miles inland from San Francisco, in greenhouses on the farm a bit west of Sacramento where it’s sunnier and warmer than it is here in the City.

Panzanella only has a few ingredients so you have to make sure you’re using the best. These Bruins Farms tomatoes fit the bill and that makes it easier to wait for the big field-grown heirloom tomatoes later this summer.

Make panzanella with day-old rustic bread or switch it up and make it with taralli, those small boiled then baked crunchy rings. You can buy taralli in North Beach at Molinari Deli on Columbus or at A.G. Ferrari’s stores around the Bay Area or online.

The onion and basil round out the flavor of the sweet tomatoes and the juicy, creamy bread cubes perk up each mouthful with a lingering acidic vinegar tingle.

Serve panzanella chilled or at room temperature as an antipasto or as a side for grilled meats or poultry.

Find out more about New York City’s Little Italy, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. If you’ve been disappointed with what’s left of Little Italy in lower Manhattan visit Arthur Avenue. You’ll find everything you’re looking for.

Buon appetito!

Panzanella: Summer Tomato & Bread Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A peasant Tuscan ripe summer tomatoes, basil and day-old bread moistened by the best extra virgin olive oil and tomato juices.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • ½ red onion
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 3 thick slices of day-old rustic bread
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the tomatoes into 2-inch cubes and put them in a large bowl.
  2. Quarter the onion and slice each quarter very thin and put them in the bowl.
  3. Rip each basil leaf into large pieces and add them to the bowl.
  4. Add the olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and mix all the ingredients well. Set the bowl aside. (The salt will start to draw the juices out of the tomatoes.)
  5. Cut the bread into 2-inch cubes and put them into the bowl with the tomatoes. (Remove the crust if you want but I leave it on to add more texture to the salad.)
  6. Let the salad sit for an hour or so on the counter or in the refrigerator to develop the juices that will be absorbed by the bread.
  7. Mix the salad well before serving.
  8. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

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
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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.

 

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
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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.

 

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
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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.

 

Farro with Tuna & Tomato

Farro with Tuna and Tomato
Farro with Tuna and Tomato

Farro is the new kitchen darling. A few years ago most people didn’t know anything about this nutty, nutritious ancient grain. I just love it.

I usually make cold farro salads of one kind or another. But, here’s a delicious hot dish that you can serve as a first or main course.

Farro is easy to make. Cook farro as you do rice or barley. Dress it up like pasta and it’s ready to enjoy. Fast and easy.

This dish is from Puglia, the southern Italian region on the Adriatic.

The nutty, toothsome farro is enrobed in a sweet tomato sauce flavored by briny cured tuna and capers. The red pepper flakes add a hot sparkle at the end of every bite.

Want a break from pasta? Make farro.

Buon appetito!

Farro with Tuna, Tomatoes & Capers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Farro dressed with a cured tuna, tomato and caper sauce, a wonderful mix of farm and sea. Easy to make and full of zesty, nutty flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound (500 grams) farro
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 28-ounce canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 2 6-ounce cans Italian tuna packed in olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Italian flat parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Rinse the farro and drain in a strainer.
  2. Put the farro in a pot with 5 cups of water, bay leaf, ½ teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of EVOO
  3. Over medium-high bring to a boil and stir occasionally.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and let the farro simmer with the lid ajar.
  5. Cook until the farro is tender stirring occasionally.
  6. If the water is not absorbed, pour it out and remove the bay leaf. Put the cover on the pot and put the farro aside.
  7. Pour 3 tablespoons of EVOO in a pot or large skillet.
  8. Add the garlic slices and the pepper flakes.
  9. Saute until the garlic starts to take on some color, about 2 minutes.
  10. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and the capers.
  11. Heat to a slow boil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  12. Drain the tuna and put it in a bowl.
  13. Flake it into large pieces and add it to the tomatoes. Stir well.
  14. Cook for 5 minutes more until the tomatoes are reduced and thicker.
  15. Lower heat to medium-low and stir in 2 tablespoons of EVOO.
  16. Add the farro to the pot and stir well into the tomatoes.
  17. Cook until the farro is heated through.
  18. Add the chopped parsley and stir well with the farro.
  19. Serve immediately.

 

Baked Baby Eggplant

Don’t miss the next new video recipe. Please subscribe now to my YouTube channel.

I love the small Italian eggplant now in the market.

Here’s a quick recipe that explodes with flavor. Just cut the eggplants in half and bake them in the oven topped with crushed  San Marzano tomatoes and grated pecorino. The eggplant are soft and sweet and the grated cheese forms a crispy top.

As the eggplant cools many don’t make it off the top of the stove. Pilferers grab one to make sure they turned out well. I always have to make extra so I have enough for an antipasti platter or as a side for meat that I’m serving that day. You can keep leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days.

I like the baby eggplant hot out of the oven but I like them better at room temperature.

This is one of the recipes in my Vegetable e-book. Do you have yours? Just click on the e-book on the homepage to get one.

UPDATE (2/15/14): This blog post was so popular, I decided to show you how to do it. Check out the video above!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:101]

Panzanella (Summer Tomato & Bread Salad)

I never throw away bread. I use stale bread for my meatballs, for stuffings and for breadcrumbs. I always have some hanging around.

Day-old bread inspires panzanella, a simple summer tomato and bread salad. Some of you asked for this recipe based on the classic dish from Florence. I love my rustic version. You can get fancy and make crustless croutons in the oven but who wants to turn on a hot oven in the summer. Make it my way!

I’ve been making this salad a lot since prime heirloom tomatoes hit the market. Tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced onion bloomed in red wine vinegar, basil, cubed bread, extra virgin olive oil. That’s it. Make sure you use the best ingredients. This is the time to break out your best fruity Italian olive oil.

I only make panzanella in the summer when I can get big, juicy, ripe tomatoes. When the local heirloom tomatoes are gone from the farmer’s market, the panzanella is gone from my table.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and let the salad sit for a half-hour to create the juices that moisten the bread. How easy is that?

Try to get a little bit of everything in each bite. The tomato is sweet, the cucumber crunchy and the marinade-soaked bread ties everything together.

Serve panzanella as part of an antipasti platter or as a side for fried seafood, grilled or roasted sausage or meats. (This is the salad I paired with the fried shrimp in Sunday’s post.) Sometimes panzanella with some cheese and salami or prosciutto on the side is my summertime lunch or dinner.

Buon appetito!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:100]

Crispy Succulent Shrimp (Gamberi Fritti)

When I was a kid on a steamy summer Friday night in Jersey, fried fish was one of my favorite dinners. My Mom lightly dredged an array of fish in flour and quickly fried them in olive oil. We ate the fish hot out of the oil with just a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt.

I liked the crispy sweet shrimp the best. I’d grab one from the stove and shove the whole thing in my mouth. If I tried to get another my Mom always shooed me away. “Save some for the table!”

The fat white Gulf prawns at the fishmonger this morning were just right for today’s lunch. I’m eating at least a half dozen with abandon.

A quick meal with the pristine taste of the sea. Fry the shrimp and serve them hot out of the oil with a squeeze of lemon. The shrimp are paired here with my version of panzanella, a summer tomato and bread salad. Just add a bottle of crisp, chilled pinot grigio to the table and eat.

Fry up your favorite fish as well. I really like a nice piece of fried sole. You can quickly fry up some squid too, as I did in my calamari fritti video.

Buon appettito!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:99]

Summer Heirloom Tomatoes Are In

Caprese Salad

I returned from NYC to find the first decent crop of local heirloom tomatoes. A big, fat golden and red orb in the farmer’s market had my name on it. The ripe tomato had a sweet aroma and was just firm to the touch. You don’t mess we these babies in their prime. Keep it real simple.

Tomato and mozzarella salad is a riff on the traditional Caprese, slices of tomato, fresh mozzarella separated by a basil leaf and drizzled with EVOO.

I like the chunky pieces of tomato and smaller bocconcini mozzarella balls cubed and sprinkled with torn basil leaves, EVOO and sea salt.

I let the salad marinate for a half hour before serving to bring out the sweetness of the tomato and infuse the olive oil with the basil. All of the juices create a marinade to coat everything with flavor.

Tomato salad is a refreshing start to any summer meal or as a side for grilled or roasted sausage or other meats. Just make sure you have a good hunk of bread to soak up all the juices.

Enjoy the summer bounty. Buon appetito!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:98]

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms (& Friends)

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms & Friends

I made baked stuffed mushroom caps to accompany prosciutto and smoked mozzarella on my antipasti platter. That’s them in the front of the plate.

Stuffed mushrooms are quick and easy to make and pack a lot of flavor. Serve them hot out of the oven or at room temperature. Parmigiano, garlic, parsley and EVOO flavor the breadcrumbs and the grated cheese creates a golden crust on top of the mushroom caps. Every bite is a zesty and crunchy delight. Sometimes I can’t help myself. I stuff the whole cap in my mouth and eat it in just one bite.

You can add the stuffed mushroom caps to almost any antipasti platter you create. The caps are a compact package that you can even pass around as your arriving dinner guests sip on a bubbly prosecco.

So what’s that other stuff in the photo?

I had breadcrumbs left over so I stuffed an artichoke and a couple of baby heirloom tomatoes and sprinkled the remaining flavored breadcrumbs on red bell peppers and baked them too. They each have their own special texture and taste and they are all delicious and I wanted to show you them all.

Use the artichoke as a first course. Add the roasted stuffed tomatoes and red bell peppers sprinkled with the flavored breadcrumbs to an antipasti platter or serve them as a vegetable side dish with lunch or dinner. I tell you how to handle the peppers and tomatoes in the recipe below. If you don’t know how to clean an artichoke, watch me do it. It’s fun.

Be sure to keep this versatile flavored breadcrumb recipe around. You’ll use it often with roasted vegetables or as a light topping for baked fish or roasted chicken.

Buon appetito!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:97]

Friday Recipe: Roasted Pork Tenderloin & Toy Box Tomato Salad

Roasted Pork Loin & Toy Box Tomato Salad

The toughest part of this meal is cutting the toy box tomatoes in half. You can be eating dinner in about an hour.

The crusty, tender slices of pork tenderloin are bathed in a pan sauce scented with garlic, sage and rosemary. The marinated toy box tomato and cucumber salad served over a bed of baby arugula is the perfect simple side.

Just marinate the tenderloin as you make the tomato salad. Brown the pork on top of the stove and roast in a hot oven. Slice and serve with the tomato salad on the side. Add a crusty loaf of bread and a bottle of sangiovese, aglianico or other zesty red and you’re all set. Buon appetito!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:59]

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:60]

Friday Recipe: Halibut Roasted in Parchment

Halibut roasted with cherry tomatoes, potatoes and olives

A simple healthy dish that can be made in a jiffy any time of the year.

Choose the fish you like best–usually halibut or cod fillets for me. Quickly roast the potatoes and tomatoes put all the ingredients in a parchment or foil pouch and roast in a hot oven for just 15 minutes or so until the fish just starts to flake. Dinner’s ready!

If you like fish you’ll love this dish. Everything is bathed in the sauce created in the pouch while the fish roasts. The fish is moist and flavorful. The tomatoes add sweetness offset by the tangy olives. The creamy potatoes absorb all the flavors and bring the whole dish together.

How easy is this? And clean up’s a snap!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:50]

Friday Recipe: Tomato & Onion Focaccia

Cherry Tomato & Young Onion Focaccia

Off to a friend’s birthday party. He asked me to bring an appetizer. I had a hard time coming up with one that would work–too messy, won’t travel well, can’t serve it at room temperature….

It had to be something special–this was my birthday gift. I needed the inspiration I knew I would find at the North Beach Sunday Farmer’s Market. There they were–in the last stall at the bottom of the street.

The tiny tomatoes glistened like jewels. They inspired a gift to celebrate late August in San Francisco–a red and gold cherry tomato and young onion focaccia. These little gems burst with sweet tomato flavor when you pop them in your mouth. The gold ones were especially sweet.

They probably don’t need it but I knock the flavor up a couple of notches with an EVOO marinade. The tomatoes and onions will caramelize while baking on top of the focaccia for more sweetened intensity.

This focaccia recipe is simple and quick to make –especially if you don’t count the time it takes the dough to rise.

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:45]

Cut Up Red & Gold Cherry Tomato and Young Onion Focaccia

Guess the focaccia turned out good. Several plates didn’t last long at the party. The crust was crunchy at the edges and the interior airy and light. The tomatoes and onions were reduced to their sweet essence. I drizzled some of the marinade on top to moisten the scattered dry oregano as soon as the golden focaccia emerged from the oven.

Ah you gotta love the late August bounty even if everything is 2 or 3 weeks late this year. It’s been a chilly summer. My tomato guy says he’ll have the first crop of San Marzano tomatoes next Sunday if they get some good sun and heat this week. He only watered them once all month. They’re gonna be meaty. I can’t wait.

Bistecca alla Pizzaiola (Steak in a Spicy Tomato Sauce)

A classic from Naples – it’s fast, spicy, delicious, and is named after the pizza-maker since the sauce is one that is always at hand in a pizzeria.

Traditionally, a thick slice of chuck or round is used. You can use these cuts if you have time to braise the meat for 2-3 hours to tenderize these tougher cuts. Usually I’m too hungry to wait that long so I make it with thinly-sliced ribeye steaks. You can make this dish in about 45 minutes.

I felt generous when making the dish so I added two contorni (side dishes) to accompany the steak: sauteed escarole and roasted potatoes.

Don’t miss this episode if you want to see my version of Italian ketchup.

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:20]

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:21]

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:22]

Fresh Pasta: Ricotta Ravioli in a San Marzano Sauce

With San Marzano tomato sauce.

This is a favorite of mine. My mother made the best big fat tender ravioli stuffed with creamy ricotta and mozzarella. My brother ate 13 one Sunday afternoon dinner! I could do maybe 4. The filling is really simple and quick to make. Depending on their size you should get about 20 ravioli. If you want fewer ravioli use 1 pound of ricotta not 2, and 1 egg not 2, plus the other ingredients as listed. (I used 1-pound of ricotta and 1 egg in the video.)

San Marzano Tomato Sauce

Make the San Marzano sauce.

Fresh Pasta Dough

Fresh pasta varies greatly from the Tuscan pasta pici made with just flour and water to tajarin a rich, golden pasta with a half-dozen egg yolks or more.

This is a very versatile fresh pasta dough. It’s the one I use for lasagna, ravioli, tortelloni and other stuffed pastas. You can cut into tagliatelle. fettucine or pappardelle too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 3 Tablespoons water

Cooking Directions

  1. Put the flour in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl beat the eggs then beat in the EVOO and water to make a smooth mixture. Add to flour.
  3. With a fork work the egg mixture into the flour until it begins to form moistened clumps.
  4. Gather the clumps together with your hands to form a cohesive ball of dough.
  5. Knead the dough right in the bowl collecting anything stuck to the sides of the bowl.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured board and knead for a minute or two until it’s shiny smooth with a soft interior.
  7. Form the dough into a disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.
  8. Let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

(You can make the dough in a food processor. Use the cutting blade. Add the flour to the bowl and pulse a couple of times to aerate.. With the processor on drizzle in the egg mixture. Run the processor until a dough ball forms around the blade about 30 seconds. Then turn the dough out on a floured board and knead as above.)

Cut the dough ball into 4 pieces. Form each into a rectangle. Set the pasta machine to the widest roller setting. Pass each dough piece through a pasta machine catching the dough as it passes through the rollers. Fold each piece in thirds. Pass it through the rollers again. Reduce the setting 2 notches and put the strips through the rollers. If the sheets get too long cut them in half. Repeat until you get to the most narrow roller setting. You want to end up with long sheets of pasta about the width of the rollers. Lay the strips out on a well-floured baking sheet or kitchen towel cover with a moist kitchen towel and set aside. If you don’t have a pasta machine use a rolling pin. Roll out each piece of dough until it is about 20 inches long and about 5 inches wide. Lay the strips out as above.

Fill a large pot with water and add a tablespoon of sea salt and a tablespoon of EVOO. Bring to a full boil.

Ricotta Filling

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds whole milk ricotta drained well
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella diced into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino
  • 10 springs flat Italian parsley roughly chopped
  • Two extra large eggs beaten well
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Put the cheeses and parsley in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the beaten egg. (The mixture should be smooth. If it’s dry or lumpy mix in another beaten egg.
  3. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and mix well.

To Make the Ravioli

  1. Lightly flour your work surface and lay out a pasta strip.
  2. Put a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture just below the middle of  the strip and about an inch from the edge of the strip closest to you.
  3. Put another tablespoon of the ricotta mixture about 2 inches (the width of 2 fingers) from the last mound.
  4. Keep adding another tablespoon of the ricotta mixture at equal intervals until you reach the end of the pasta strip.
  5. Wet your finger in a bowl of water and wet the edges of the pasta strip and wet the middle of each ricotta mixture mound from edge to edge. The water will help seal the ravioli.
  6. Fold the upper part of the pasta strip over the side that has the ricotta mixture. Press the 2 edges together tightly and press down between the mounds forming the ravioli. You should have a one inch unfilled pasta rim all around the mound of ricotta filling.
  7. Cut down the middle of the space between the ravioli using a cookie cutter or sharp knife.
  8. Press the edges of the ravioli with you fingertips to make sure no air is inside and they are tightly sealed.
  9. With the tines of a fork press down of the rim of the ravioli. These tine indentations will help seal the ravioli.
  10. Lay the ravioli out on a well-floured cookie sheet or kitchen towel.
  11. Put the tomato sauce in a large flat pan and heat.
  12. Drop the ravioli into the boiling water. They will soon float to the top of the water. When they all float to the top boil for another 30 seconds. I taste one for doneness to make sure they’re fully cooked.
  13. Put the ravioli into the sauce pan and generously coat each one. Shut off the flame.
  14. Sprinkle on the Pecorino and drizzle with EVOO.
  15. Serve immediately.