Recipe of the Month May: Roasted Diced Potatoes with Gorgonzola

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Buon giorno!

Potato, Po-tahhh-to, as they say. Lately growing tired of the usual cuts, I have been on a tear for preparing diced potatoes. On the surface you might think it wouldn’t make a difference how they were cut before roasting – but it does. Potatoes in this tiny shape carry more of the roasted flavor than the usual larger slices. Each little bite is FULL of flavor! I have served them more recently in all sorts of ways, but the ROASTED DICED POTATOES WITH GORGONZOLA seem to have launched the siren call in my world for the perfect side to outdoor summer dining and grilling.

My accomplished gourmet friend, Eric, consulted with me the other day on a potato suggestion for his very special dinner of Duck Confit. Immediately, my passion for the little diced spuds came to mind to compliment his luscious and ambitious French effort, and I decided that I needed to share this one with you as well.

These potatoes can be made ahead and reheated successfully. As a matter of fact, I suggest making extra, just for the purpose of having them left over for breakfast the following day served with a lovely poached egg! With that in mind, I also highly recommend using them for a special Brunch with the same poached or fried eggs – maybe served on a small bed of greens?

The great thing about these “dicey” wonders is that you can put your pearls on and serve them with a fancy beef or pork dish or “git down” in your favorite jeans and offer them with burgers, spiedies, barbecue, or a myriad of outdoor grilled items. They just seem to fit in with the occasion.

So pour yourself a glass of Brunello and start dicing!

ROASTED DICED POTATOES WITH GORGONZOLA

Serves 4-6

Prep 15 minutes

Cook 30-35 minutes

Ingredients

6 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes

4 oz. Chopped uncooked Pancetta

1 Chopped Sweet Onion

1/2 C. Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Coarsely Ground Black Pepper

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

1/2  Cup Crumbled Gorgonzola (or a creamy Blue) Cheese

(Don’t use the pre-crumbled cheese as it can be very dry – It is best to buy a small block and crumble your own)

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl except the cheese.

Roasted Potatoes with Blue Cheese 1

Spread the diced potato mixture out in a single layer on a shallow baking pan lined with foil.

Roasted Potatoes with Blue Cheese 2

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes and stir.

Cook 15-20 more minutes adding the crumbled cheese in the last5-10 minutes of cooking.

You can make these  potatoes ahead – early in the day and warm them just before serving.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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March: Roasted Pears

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Buon giorno!

Italians have long ended their meals with a simple fruit or fruit and cheese. They seem to like their sweets or “dolci” in the morning with an espresso. With our ROASTED PEARS, we take our fruit dessert to another level with little sweetness from the added Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts.

Not a drop of sugar is needed during the preparation of these pears, making them a very nutritious dessert when enjoyed with no added embellishment. The pears sweeten themselves through caramelization during roasting. A lovely slice of Gorgonzola would be enough to add for any Italian looking for a light finale.

The crema, very much like a French Crème Anglaise,  is a luscious liquid custard, made from egg yolks, and in this instance is laced with Bourbon. It is a beautiful accompaniment to the caramelized pear. It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.

The Candied Walnuts add some crunch and interest. The recipe makes about 8 oz so there are plenty of these leftover for use in salads, other desserts, or just for a snack. They are fabulous alone in a bowl with cocktails.

Even with the added crema and candied nuts, this remains a light and interesting finish to a meal.

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These are such favorites at my house that roasted pears are usually always found in our frig for those moments when the craving for a sweet drives us crazy, but we don’t want to bust the diet. They are simply fantastic served over salad greens.

 

ROASTED PEARS

Serves: 4

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients

4 Bosc or Red Pears

Olive Oil

Instructions

Make sure your pears are clean and free of grocery stickers. Leave the skins on.

Slice off each end. Then slice in half vertically.

Using a spoon, gently scoop out the core.

Place the pears face down on a foil lined pan sprayed with Pam.

Brush each pear half with olive oil.

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Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until a fork slides through easily.

Cool .  They keep for days in a closed container refrigerated. I like to warm them a little in the microwave before serving.

BOURBON CREMA

Makes: about 2 cups

Prep: About 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 C. Whole Milk

1 C. Heavy Cream

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/2 C. Sugar

4 Large Egg Yolks

Pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. Bourbon

Instructions

Cook the Milk, Cream, and extract in a saucepan until bubbles form on the sides. Remove from heat and cool a little.

Creme 1

Place the sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a bowl. Whisk them together well.

Creme 3

Then add a little of the slightly cooled milk and cream to the yolk mixture and whisk quickly to blend so that egg yolks do not cook. Add a little more and whisk again.

Then add this all back to the remaining milk mixture in the pan and whisk.

Heat this, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, so that it makes a line that holds when you run your finger down the back of the spoon.

Creme 4

Remove from heat and add the Bourbon – Stir and let cool. Strain through a fine sieve to get any solids out.

Refrigerate this custard in a bowl or covered container.

The next day the custard should be much thicker. This will keep a few days in the refrigerator.

CANDIED WALNUTS

Makes: 8 oz.

Prep: 25 minutes

Ingredients

8 oz. Walnut halves or pieces

2 large Egg Whites

1/2 C. Sugar

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Pinch of Nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

2 Tsp. Vanilla extract

Instructions

Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, pepper, spices, and extract in a bowl.

Candied Walnuts 1

Add the walnuts and toss, coating well.

Spray a piece of foil to cover a sheet pan with Pam.

Pour the walnut mixture out on the foil, spreading into a single layer.

Candied Walnuts 2

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, turning with a spoon or spatula about half way through cooking.

Remove from oven and toss a little with a fork. The nuts will crisp as they cool.

Candied Walnuts finish

Once cooled, keep them in a covered container. They keep several weeks.

The ROASTED PEARS  are so easy and can be prepared ahead. The finished dessert is beautiful to serve and memorable.

SERVING IDEAS: Serve the roasted pears simply or with a slice of Gorgonzola or a creamy Blue Cheese. OR – Drizzle each pear with a little Bourbon on a plate and light it for a little flambe!

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OR – if served with the Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts – drizzle with a little Dark Chocolate or Balsamic Glaze. The Bourbon Crema is also delicious with pound cake. The Candied Walnuts are wonderful on salads or with cocktails.

So many options! You will love this one!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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February: Mini Frittatas

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Buon giorno!

Here it is! if you are looking for a healthy snack or breakfast – quick and great for “on the go” – MINI FRITTATAS are your new best friend! It’s a no brainer really. So you like Frittatas – why not make small individual ones ahead so you can just grab one – or two when you are hungry or when you need something fast. This has really saved me in my pursuit of healthier eating at the start of the new year. Making them ahead and having them ready to eat cold or warmed in the microwave has made life so easy for me.

I have always loved Frittatas, coming from an Italian household. In our house, growing up, Frittata was a more involved undertaking – making a large one for the whole family and, of course especially at Easter, with the traditional partially fried and baked one inverted onto a platter and usually served cold or room temperature on the holiday table.

Having these little ones ready to go at any time in just the right size is a great assist to a busy life, especially when they contain all the ingredients I love: eggs, spinach, sweet tomatoes, and Parmigiano Reggiano. If I want a change I can always switch to a new green or something different like adding scallions, swiss chard, or even meat like ham or sausage.

Lately I have just kept them simple and healthy with the ingredients you see here. For example, notice the egg whites instead of all whole eggs. You can, of course, use whole eggs if you wish for a richer result.

For a fun make ahead Brunch item, you can’t beat these little wonders stacked on a platter. They are bright and colorful and will delight your guests — but you better make extra!

Have fun with these! Mix it up and try different ingredients. Check out the other Frittata ideas on LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE. You will love having these to grab quickly from your frig.

 

MINI FRITTATAS

Makes: about 9

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: about 15-20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

3 Whole large eggs

7 Large egg whites

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Salt and pepper to taste – for egg mixture

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach

10 Campari Tomatoes – chopped

Salt and pepper to taste – for vegetable mixture

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the eggs and egg whites in a large bowl and whisk together along with the basil, grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a fry pan, add 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, garlic, baby spinach, Campari Tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add this vegetable mixture to the egg mixture in the bowl.

Spray a muffin tin with Pam.

Ladle the frittata mixture into each muffin cup filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 degres for 15-20 minutes until firm. They will puff up but will go down some once they cool.

Now just turn the pan over and pop out the frittatas!

Either serve or refrigerate for later use or to grab on the go like I do!

Eat cold or warmed in the microwave.

My refrigerator is never without them!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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October:Bolognese Sauce

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Buon giorno!

One of my favorite regions of Italy is Emilia-Romagna – an area perhaps most prominent as a source for the most common and revered of Italian cooking ingredients. This is the land of Parma Ham, Balsamic Vinegar, tortellini, sfoglia, Parmigiano-Reggiano and on and on. It is no wonder that it is often called the “gastronomic heart” of Italy. Many of its signature recipes are rich in butter in lieu of olive oil and lean less on tomatoes. Strangely, you find fewer of Italy’s well known wines coming from this region.

Perhaps the most famous recipe of the region is Bolognese Sauce  – a sauce that has become one so notoriously ill-prepared in the US. So often, it is portrayed on menus as the real deal when the resulting sauce contains no more than tomato sauce and ground beef. Do NOT be fooled! These imposters do not even come close to the complexity of flavor in an authentic Bolognese Sauce which traditionally has very little tomato and includes a combination of meats, butter, and even milk or cream – all cooked “low and slow” – only to deliver the richest flavor one can imagine in a sauce for pasta.

Recipes for this sauce will vary in their use of bacon, pancetta, or sausage. This recipe calls for both Pancetta and sausage. You will notice that the authentic recipes for this sauce do not use tomatoes – but opt for tomato paste instead.

Traditionally, this sauce is served over Tagliatelle Pasta or Bucatini. In my view, this sauce is best served over homemade Tagliatelle!

When made properly, this sauce is one of Italy’s most memorable. In short, it is splendid!

BOLOGNESE SAUCE

Makes: sauce for about 1 lb. pasta

Prep: about 30 minutes

Cook: about 1 3/4 hours

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/4 lb. chopped Pancetta (or bacon)

1 onion, chopped small

1 Carrot or 5 baby Carrots, chopped small

1 Stalk Celery, chopped small

2 Cloves, fresh garlic, chopped finely

1/2 lb. Ground Pork

1/2 lb. Ground Beef

1/4 lb. Loose Sweet Italian Sausage meat

1 cup Dry White Wine – Dry Vermouth is good

1/4 Cup Tomato Paste

1 Cup Beef stock or broth

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

2 Tbsp. Butter

Salt if desired

Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley – chopped coarsely for garnish

Instructions

In a pot,cook the Pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, in the butter and oil until the vegetables are tender.

Bolognese Sauce 1

Then add all of the meats, browning them, while breaking them up with a fork.

Bolognese Sauce 2

Add the wine, scraping the bits from the pan bottom and cook a couple of minutes at medium high.

Add the beef stock or broth, reserving a little of it to mix with the tomato paste to dilute it – Then add the paste and broth to the pot also.

Bolognese Sauce 3

Stir well and cover. Bring to bubbling and reduce the heat to low, covered, letting it simmer for 1 1/2 hours. For a denser sauce with less liquid, uncover the last 1/2 hour!

Now add the cream and let cook on medium-low for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and allow to melt in, stirring.

Taste for seasoning. Salt to taste – you may not need any!

Pour over cooked pasta: tagliatelle or bucatini (perciatelli) are traditional choices.

Garnish with fresh Italian parsley.

I like to serve Barbera d’Alba with Bolognese Sauce.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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September:Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

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Buon giorno!

With fall upon us, we turn our attention to heartier dishes, vegetables, and flavors that remind us of home and comfort. Butternut Squash is one of the vegetables that seem to relate to this time of year. Its sweetness and richness upon roasting put us in that “zone” we think of as satisfying and just like Mama used to make. Risotto and Butternut Squash are one of those matches made in heaven, and Risotto Al Zucca is a signature dish of the Northern regions of Italy most notably Lombardia.

With ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO, we take this great authentic dish to another level by roasting the squash and enhancing the dish with a couple of different ingredients. Satisfying the “itch” for that great flavor combo, sweet and savory, this dish fills that need perfectly. Our savory flavors of the squash, sage, broth, onion, and parmigiano are matched with the sweetness of the roasted version of the squash and the addition of a finish or garnish of Balsamic Glaze, Candied Walnuts, and Ricotta.

BOOM! That, my friends, is an explosive combination which entertains your palate in a way I cannot clearly describe. This is a flavor load not to be believed.

This is a dish that served in a smaller amount as a first course sets the stage for a great fall menu of roasted meats perhaps. Regardless of how you follow this course – this starter will definitely inform the guests at your Italian table that they are in for a very special meal indeed!

However, if you prefer to make this dish the main event, it is hearty enough to stand up and out as a comforting entrée that ushers in the memories of fall meals past and the season of bountiful ingredients and flavors to come.

This dish will simply bring you boundless return!

…and now, a drum roll please…

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO

(with Candied Walnuts and Ricotta!!)

You can make your Candied Walnuts days ahead if you like and also roast the squash ahead of time.

Serves: 4 as entrée or 6 as a first course

Prep/Cook: about an hour

Candied Walnuts

This recipe makes about a cup although you will not use them all in this recipe. Save the rest for salads – yum!

In a pan, place 1 cup of walnut halves or pieces, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. Butter, and a dash of Cayenne Pepper. (2 dashes for more spice!)

Candied Walnuts 1

Heat and let the sugar melt in, while stirring constantly – takes just a couple of minutes.

Candied Walnuts 2

When melted and well covered, pour the walnuts onto parchment paper or wax paper and quickly spread the mixture out with a spatula. This hardens almost instantly. When cool, break into small pieces and store in a covered container.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Toss 3 cups cubed Butternut Squash with some Olive Oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Spread this out on a sheet pan and bake/roast at 400 degrees for about 15- 20 minutes until just fork tender, turning with a spoon about 1/2 way through. You can do this ahead also.

Set aside.

Risotto

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 chopped sweet onion

6 –7 Cups WARM Chicken Broth (can substitute vegetable broth)- you might not use it all

2 Tbsp. Chopped Sage

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago Cheese

2 Tbsp. Butter

The roasted butternut squash from instructions above

Several Candied Walnuts – instructions above

Chopped Fresh Sage for garnish

4 heaping Tablespoons of Whole Milk Ricotta, beaten a little with a spoon to make fluffy

Balsamic Glaze or reduction of Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

Heat the butter and olive oil in a wide shallow pan (best for risotto). Add the chopped onion and cook at medium – medium high for 5 minutes.

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Then add the rice – Cook another 5 minutes tossing to coat in the butter and oil.

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Begin to add the warm broth with a large ladle – one ladle at a time, letting the rice absorb each addition before adding the next. This process can take about 30 minutes or more.

Add the chopped sage during this process.

You know you are finished when the rice is tender to the bite and creamy.

When rice is finished cooking, turn off the heat. Add the grated cheese and the additional butter. Stir in.

Add the roasted squash and toss gently.

Beat the ricotta a little with the back of a spoon to make it fluffy. Add several dollops of this to the risotto or 1 to each individual serving, letting each guest stir it in.

Add the candied walnuts.

Garnish with additional fresh sage and drizzle with a little Balsamic Glaze.

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This ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO is so flavorful and rich, you will make it your go-to fall dish! This one is special!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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July:Frutti di Mare On the Grill

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Buon giorno!

There is no shortage of recipes for Frutti di Mare. Literally it means “fruits of the sea” – more to the point: seafood! The term and recipes are most closely associated with the Amalfi Coast and Bay of Naples, although you can find them from other regions sometimes given different names. the term, Frutti di Mare, is more often seen in recipes for spaghetti and linguine but the preparation is similar also to the Italian fish soup, Zuppa di Pesce.

In the featured recipe here, we are taking the traditional idea of Frutti di Mare and cooking it on the grill in packets – thus, FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL!  If you love seafoood, will be right at home with this one especially after you see the ease with which you can prepare it. The flavor is amazing and you will be transported immediately to the Italian coast with the resulting aroma. It is simply…divine!

Part of the fun of this recipe is choosing the seafood. It is totally up to you as to what you ultimately select. Choose your favorite shellfish items or even chunks of cod or haddock. It is your “oyster” – choose everything you love!

The key to this recipe is organization – having everything ready to go and distributing the ingredients into the assorted packages. This is sooo easy and everyone will love you for it! It is not only fun to serve but your guests and family will have a ball with it – each person focusing and plowing through his packet – noting with hoots and hollers about all of the favorite seafood items inside.

Although you can serve it any time of year, the recipe cries out for a balmy patio evening, a gentle breeze, and an amazing wine – perhaps a Rosato! But please don’t forget the Italian songs that will lull your guests so beautifully into thinking they are dining on a high patio overlooking the fabulous Amalfi Coast.

FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL

Serves: 4

Prep: About 30 minutes

Cook: About 20 minutes

Ingredients

4 Large Pieces of Foil – about 18 “

CHOOSE ANY ASSORTMENT OF FISH YOU LIKE BUT THIS IS WHAT I LIKE!

1/2 lb. Calamari (Squid) Tubes (tentacles also if you like) cut into rings

16 Large Fresh Shrimp, cleaned and shelled

12 Fresh Mussels, with outside of shells cleaned with a brush under running water

20 Small Clams  ( I like Littlenecks or Cockles for this dish but any will do!) – outer shells brushed under running water to clean

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2  6-8 oz. Lobster Tails, each cut in half with meat loosened from the shell

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS

2-3 Italian Sausage Links – cut into rounds

2 Large Cloves Fresh Garlic, chopped finely

3-4 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes – cut up in small pieces – skins on (I like to microwave these for a couple of minutes first to begin the cooking process.)

1 Fennel Bulb, sliced thinly

4 Springs Fresh Tarragon

1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil – chopped

4 Slices Fresh Orange + 1 Squeeze of fresh juice per packet

Dash Red Pepper Flakes per packet

Pinch of Saffron per packet

Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper to taste

About 1/2 Cup Crushed San Marzano tomatoes per packet

Splash of Dry White wine per packet

Splash of Clam Juice per packet

Dash of Sambuca per packet (optional but a great addition!)

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil per packet

Instructions

DON’T  be discouraged by the number of ingredients here. This recipe comes together 1-2-3! Enlist your guest to help!

Get all of your ingredients ready and lined up to go.

Lay out the foil sheets and evenly distribute the seafood, sausage, potatoes, fennel, and garlic on the bottom half of each sheet.

You might want to curl the foil edges upward a bit so that liquid does not run out.

Then top these ingredients with the tomatoes next – followed by the herbs, orange, orange juice squeeze, red pepper, saffron, salt, pepper, wine, clam juice and Sambuca.

End with a nice drizzle of Extra Virgin.

Frutti di mare 1

Fold the top half of foil sheet over the bottom half with the ingredients on it and quickly roll up the edges around 3 sides tightly!

Place them on a platter and take them to the grill.

Frutti di mare 2

The grill should be very hot – around 450 degrees. Close the top of the grill and cook 20 minutes.

Remove the packets and give each guest one of them. Caution them to open carefully as the steam coming out is HOT! If any of the clams or mussels have not opened, return the packet to the grill for 4-5 minutes. Some of these  are stubborn! If still not open, discard them.

Place a bowl in the center of the table for discarded shells.

SO MUCH FUN!

When you see how easy FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL is to make – you’ll want to make this all summer long!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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May: Saltimbocca Alla Sorrentina

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Buon giorno!

Sorrento is one of those towns that, once witnessed, becomes ingrained upon your psyche for ever more. My father, Attilio, spent the better part of his life whistling a song about this town to the point where we all wanted to reach for ear plugs. Did he not know another tune? Actually he did, but why resort to something inferior to whistling about paradise? He had it right. Once bitten by this place, and the Amalfi Coast in general, one is doomed forever to long for it. I call it the curse of Amalfi! Thus, as the song goes, “torna a surriento”.

Aside from the fragrant air, the sea, the people, the music – we must not overlook the food of this placeSALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA may be one of those dishes that is as unforgettable as Sorrento itself. The sauce alone for this recipe will have you whistling about Sorrento just as Attilio did. It is so delicious you might consider doubling the ingredients and serving it with pasta! The kicker here – is that it is very easy and quick to make. What’s not to love here?

This particular version of Saltimbocca calls for pork tenderloin. This choice of meat is lean and tender, requiring very little cooking time. For pork, I always recommend the superior humanely raised Heritage Pork Tenderloins from Circle B Ranch! You can also substitute veal or chicken if you like, but I think pork tenderloin is perfectly suited to this preparation.

Although you will see recipes using prosciutto, I like the salami. It adds a level of flavor slightly sharper and seems to give the dish more depth.

I also recommend FRESH mozzarella for this, as it is creamy and melts so perfectly rather than what I refer to as the more commercial “plastic stuff”. We are fortunate that so many markets now carry the fresh so widely.

Finally, the Campari Tomatoes: These very sweet fresh tomatoes, which are usually offered in a box in our produce sections, are an excellent choice for this dish. Most important, they are available almost all year which enables you to make this recipe, perfectly every time, with the same sweet flavor. When you taste the sauce, you will understand immediately why I chose them.

This is an elegant dish, worthy of the most important of occasions – but easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner with family. Try it out on the patio on a balmy summer evening. Bellissima!

Saltimbocca Alla Sorrentina  – a dish made in heaven? NO – but one equally ethereal perhaps – a dish made in Sorrento!

SALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA

Serves 4

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Ingredients

8 Thin slices Pork Tenderloin (about 1 1/2 lb)

Flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Cups Quartered Campari Tomatoes

3/4 Cup Dry Vermouth or Dry White Wine

1 1/2 Tsp. Oregano – dried

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 Ounces Salami – your choice: hard, Milano, Genoa etc.

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella – sliced

Fresh Basil Leaves for garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil with the butter (melt) in a pan.

Slice your tenderloin starting at a mid point on top of the tenderloin thinly.

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Dredge the slices in the seasoned flour.

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Brown the pork slices on each side in the oil and butter.

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Place them in a dish and keep warm.

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In the same pan, add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and wine – Cook about 5 minutes at a rapid simmer.

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Remove from heat and set aside.

Now place the slices of pork in a single layer in a baking dish or pan.

Top each pork slice with a slice or two of salami.

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Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Then place a slice of the fresh Mozzarella on top of the salami.

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. The cheese should be very soft and melted.

Remove from the oven and spoon the lovely sauce on top – or plate each piece and add the sauce to the individual portions.

Garnish with fresh Basil Leaves – whole or chopped.

As the Neapolitans sing it – “Vide’o mare quant’è bello…”

My parting thought: My immediate choice for a wine pairing with SALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA is Dolcetto. It has a lighter sense and somehow I feel a more delicate red is called for with this lovely dish. However, for those who look for a little more “heft” – the regional Aglianico of Campania is good choice as well as a Barbera d’Asti or even a Toscana.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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April:Creamed Spinach Italian Style

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Buon giorno!

Lately when I dine at a “fancy” steakhouse, the menu usually offers the obligatory Creamed Spinach as a traditional side to my choice of steak. This side dish is priced on the menu between $8-$12. depending… Wow – let’s hear it for Popeye’s favorite food! Who knew it would demand such a premium? I am about to save you a few bucks – you’re welcome! In addition, many recipes for this involve a number of steps and a sometimes involved process. I think I have an alternative that is easy, takes just a few quick minutes and does not cost anywhere near the usual menu price. Here it is: CREAMED SPINACH, ITALIAN STYLE. This one is so easy – you won’t believe it.

I have to agree though that this seems to be an ideal side dish for a grilled steak or chop. The restaurants have a point there. However, usually you find it with the spinach so pulverized that the substance you are served resembles a green goo. I tend to leave my spinach leaves whole for this dish. Not only does it make the process simpler, but it tastes less like baby food and more like a delicious leafy green. Go ahead and try this – and see why I have given up ordering it in restaurants and prefer to make my own at home.

What makes it even remotely Italian? As always, it is all about the ingredients: fresh spinach, fresh garlic, mascarpone cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano – Yum and done!

CREAMED SPINACH, ITALIAN STYLE

Serves: 4

Prep and cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients

20 Oz. Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves (approx. 2 boxes in your produce dept.)

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Clove Fresh Garlic, sliced into thirds

1/2 Cup Mascarpone Cheese

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste (Remember that a little salt – enhances the flavor of almost everything!)

Instructions

Heat olive oil in shallow pan. Add Garlic slices and cook just a minute to infuse. Remove the garlic!

Add the spinach leaves to the pan while the oil is very hot at medium high heat.

Creamed Spinach 1

Stir them until just wilted. I like to use tongs which make it easy to flip the leaves.

Now add the mascarpone and reduce the heat. When it begins to melt in, add the grated cheese.

Creamed Spinach 2

Heat through and stir to combine as the cheese melts in.

Taste for seasoning and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with some of the grated cheese sprinkled on top.

TIP: You will want to serve this CREAMED SPINACH, ITALIAN STYLE fairly soon after making it while its consistency is thick –  as it releases liquid if it sits awhile. It is so easy and quick – you can make it just before dining without much fuss.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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February:Amatriciana Sauce

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Amatriciana 2 with script named

Buon giorno!

Some of the most memorable Italian dishes are also the cherished standards of regional cooking. These are authentic representations of the very best the region offers and need no embellishment or gilding. One such signature dish from the region of Lazio (the region of Rome) is AMATRICIANA SAUCE  – a recipe named for the town of its origin, Amatrice. I prefer to call it “magical sauce.”

On the surface, the recipe is really simple and perhaps it is not immediately evident as to why this sauce is such a big deal. If we look a little deeper at the ingredients and think for a moment, the fog lifts and it is easy to see where the magic of this dish lies. As with all good Italian cooking – the secrets are just beneath the surface in the ingredients themselves. I often opine over the importance of ingredients in Italian cooking. This recipe is a perfect demonstration of how one ingredient can make or break a dish.

The secret in this dish – Look no further than the use of pancetta. Now look at the amount used – 1/2 pound. Hmmm..really? This is one of those times when no other ingredient other than a good dose of pork fat can be substituted – not ground meat – not sausage. For absolute authenticity, guanciale is the traditional meat used in this dish. Very little of this meat packs a huge jolt of flavor to any dish. Guanciale is a cured meat product made from pork cheek or jowl. However, it is sometimes very difficult to find it. What to do? The best and closest choice of substitution is pancetta which is readily available almost everywhere – – and yes, a half pound is necessary! Case in point – go ahead and make the sauce without the pancetta and compare – the difference will be HUGE! Something happens when the fat from the pancetta is rendered into the sauce and simmers for just a few minutes. Magic? Perhaps! Whatever you want to call it, the truth is that when the sauce transforms during the simmer, it becomes something quite different from the expected.

The pasta – Traditionally the pasta of choice for this sauce is bucatini. This is the long tubular noodle with a tiny hole in the middle. Perciatelli is much the same and can be used interchangeably. When the sauce creeps into that tiny hole.. well.. oh my! Of course, if you cannot locate this type of pasta, spaghetti will do.

You will simply not believe how much flavor lurks in this sauce. If you want to really grasp the notion of “magical sauce”, try this experiment. Make the dish and serve it with no fanfare. Then wait for the raves from your guests. Take your bow!

AMATRICIANA SAUCE

Makes: enough sauce for a pound of pasta

Serves: 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb. Bucatini, Perciatelli or spaghetti prepared according to directions

4 Tbsp. Olive Oil

8 Oz. Pancetta – chopped (easier to chop when frozen) Or Guanciale if you can find it!

1 medium onion – chopped

3 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

1 28 oz. Can  Whole Peeled Tomatoes (San Marzano always best) processed lightly in blender or food processor – keep the tomatoes chunky no smooth

Kosher Salt and lots of black pepper

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese is preferable

Fresh chopped Basil for garnish

Instructions

Begin by heating your oil in a  pan. Then add the onion and cook about 3 minutes.

2016-01-28 16.19.25 (2)

Now add the pancetta, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

2016-01-28 16.21.37 (2)

Cook until pancetta releases its fat – do not brown or crisp. This takes about 8 minutes at a strong simmer. Stir frequently.

2016-01-28 16.29.26

Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, simmer at medium for approx. 30 minutes – until sauce reduces and thickens and liquid cooks off. Stir occasionally.

2016-01-28 17.00.57

Add this amazing sauce to your pasta and toss well.

Garnish with fresh Basil and serve with plenty of grated cheese.

This AMATRICIANA SAUCE is one of the very best of traditional Italian sauces. While a Toscana would be a very good choice to pair with this dish, my pick would be a beautiful Barbera. To me it is a coupling meant to be!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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January: Breakfast Pizza

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Breakfast Pizza finish with script

Buon giorno!

Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Everybody has a pizza – a dough – a fave. But – do you have a BREAKFAST PIZZA? Here is the true “breakfast of champions” – a sure bet for your  “home team”. This pizza has all the breakfast elements you might look for – dough, cheese, sausage, spinach, and of course, the EGG. Add some champagne to wash it down, and Yeah – there’s a breakfast!

Actually, this one is more of a flatbread than a pizza – as it is cooked in the oven at 450 – no charred crust – no stone, cornmeal etc.  You can make a large one or make a few “pizzettes” (small individual pizzas).

The birth of this pizza: It’s funny sometimes how recipes come to life. This one was the result of a head scratching moment trying to select the perfect birthday treat for my very sweet and deserving daughter in law, Laura. I was out of ideas at the time and asked her what she might like. Her first words were “Linda’s Pizza”. While flattered, I pointed out that we were planning on a breakfast celebration, but this did not deter our persistent and resourceful Laura. She immediately suggested BREAKFAST PIZZA! The rest is now family history. We all put our heads together and volunteered our ideas for ingredients and… talk about a BREAKFAST – WOW! We decided it was a winner and resolved to place it in the family favorites rotation.

The jewel in the crown was definitely the fried egg for the top. This is a MUST and makes this pizza amazingly rich and well.. just perfect. Note: if making individual pizzettes, simply place one fried egg on top. If you are making a large pizza to feed several as we did, you will want to serve each person a fried egg on top of his or her slice.

A little story: This kind of reminds me a little of an old family story.  My father, Attilio, was known for his perfect eggs. He would set out to make an egg for himself, after first asking if anyone else wanted one. When he had no requests for more eggs, he just made one for himself. Family members would peer over his shoulder longingly at sight of the single artfully cooked egg, and he ultimately had to share it. I can’t tell you how many times this happened. Same idea here – I guarantee that all those who opt out on the egg will surely come around, once they see how much it adds to the flavor of the slice!

Now, before we begin – do you want an egg or not? I am not sharing!!

BREAKFAST PIZZA

Makes a large pizza or several pizzettes

Ingredients

My Mother, Loretta’s, famous pizza dough. Recipe: HERE

Olive Oil

Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese – grated or sliced – 8 oz. for one large pizza

Cooked Italian Sausage, casings removed

Fresh Spinach leaves – uncooked

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Fried Eggs

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzle

Instructions

After clicking on the link to my mother’s famous pizza dough, follow the instructions to make it. If you are making one large pizza, you will want to divide your finished dough into 2 large balls – one for this pizza and one for the freezer. If making pizzettes or individual pizzas as described in the text above, divide your dough into several smaller balls. I always like to make my dough ahead and freeze it.

Roll out your dough for the pizza and brush with olive oil to seal it.

Next spoon some Ricotta in several places on the dough. Follow this with the grated or sliced mozzarella.

Now place your cooked Italian sausage over the cheese.

Place as much of the fresh uncooked spinach leaves on top as you like and follow with a sprinkle of the Parmigiano.

Breakfast pizza 1

(If you like a little spice, add a little dried red pepper flakes.)

Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Because, as the post describes, this is more of a flatbread than the traditional pizza – Bake it in a 450 oven for about 30-40 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is cooked.

When finished, remove it from the oven. If you are making one large pizza, make a fried egg for each slice, and serve it on top of the slice. If making smaller individual pizzas or pizzettes, make one fried egg for each pizza and place the egg in the middle as shown in the photo.

Prepare for eating noises of satisfaction as each yolk is broken, and your guests bite into this breakfast delight.

So – your BREAKFAST PIZZA awaits! Don’t forget the champagne chaser – Not explainable but definitely worthy – It just tastes better!

Breakfast Pizza Promo

PARLA COME MANGI!

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November: Stuffed Quail With Orange Sauce

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A Whale of a Quail!

Quail finish 2 with script

Buon giorno!

Long thought to be a luscious item reserved for hunting households and gourmet menus, STUFFED QUAIL WITH ORANGE SAUCE has been missing from many tables over the years. In many regions of Italy, where they hunt for sport and sustenance, quail has been part of the menu along with other game birds – partridge, pheasant etc. Until more recently, in the US, it was unavailable in markets. However, during the 80’s farms developed to provide these game birds to the average household. It began with special orders, and now quail is available frozen, in many local markets. These birds have actually been of high quality and are clean and ready to prepare.

Many are unfamiliar with these tiny birds. They are very tiny and can be eaten easily by just picking them up in your fingers. If not overcooked, they are juicy and tasty. You can stuff them as you see here or simply roast or broil them. They are often served with some sort of fruit – or fruit sauce as shown. It is a perfect choice for cooking with dried fruits. Italians often enjoy serving their quail over polenta.

I enjoyed quail and other game birds during my growing up years with my family. My father, Attilio, was a passionate hunter, and hunted many types of game birds as the seasons dictated. He brought them all home to be eaten by the family. The birds were immediately plucked and cleaned in our kitchen and then sometimes frozen for later use. We loved the quail, in particular, because of their size. These little birds were tender and actually fun to eat. You could eat more than one for a meal or just one for a first course or starter.

My father was a great cook as well as a hunter and really knew how to prepare these birds. He always used bacon to wrap them, as fat is missing from these wild ones. The bacon kept them moist while offering great flavor. Most often, he stuffed the quail using sausage and onion and worked fruit into them somehow – either in the stuffing or the sauce or both. The resulting meal was one we relished and remember to this day how wonderful they were. He was always proud of them! Here he is preparing one of his famous quail recipes.

You can prepare most of the recipe a day ahead following the instructions. This makes the recipe so easy. Then stuff and cook the quail on the day you serve. The Orange Sauce is beautiful, with just a little sweetness and a slight hint of piquant. You can also use the sauce on Cornish Game Hens or even chicken. Plan for one quail per person as an appetizer or as a first course. Plan on two per person for dinner – but one per person will do if it follows a hefty first course. Buon appetito!

Dad - birds 2

STUFFED QUAIL

Makes: 4 Quail

Prep: 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook: about 40 minutes for roasting

Stuffing Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/2 lb. Mild Italian Sausage – out of the casings

1/2 Onion – chopped

1 Tbsp. Fresh Sage – chopped

1/2 C. Chopped Roasted Chestnuts (these can be purchased now roasted and packaged)

1 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese  grated

1/2 C. Fresh Breadcrumbs

(1/2 C. Currants – optional)

1 Large egg

Stuffing Instructions

On medium high – cook sausage, onion, and sage in the olive oil until sausage is browned and onion is tender – About 8 minutes. Break up the sausage with a fork as you cook.

Quail stuffing 1

Remove from hear and add the chestnuts, grated cheese, chestnuts, and breadcrumbs – mix together. (Add currants if using)

Quail stuffing 2

Add egg and mix.

You can make the stuffing a day ahead. If you do, you should not add the egg until just before you stuff your quail on the day you serve.

Orange Sauce Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Onion – chopped

1 cinnamon Stick

1/2 C. Cognac

2 Tbsp. Honey

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1 Cup Orange Juice

Zest of 1 orange

Pinch Red Pepper Flakes

1 Sprig Fresh Tarragon

1 Bay Leaf

2 Cups Chicken Broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 Can (11 oz.) Mandarin Orang slices drained.

Orange Sauce Instructions

You can make this a day ahead.

Cook the onion and cinnamon stick in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.

Sauce 1

Then add the cognac – stirring and continuing to cook another minute.

Add the honey, vinegar, orange juice, zest, red pepper flakes, tarragon, Bay Leaf and broth. Add a little salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Sauce 2

Cook for 20-30 minutes at a strong simmer. It will cook down some and thicken slightly. Remember – this is a sauce and not gravy. You can add a little water if it has cooked down too much.

Remove from heat and add the butter and stir in.

Pour all into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Add the orange slices and serve or refrigerate until the next day.

Sauce 3

This is not a thick gravy. It should be a smooth velvety sauce.

Plan to drizzle a little sauce over each stuffed quail before you roast them. Reserve the remaining sauce for serving.

The Quail Ingredients

4 Quail if using as a first course, appetizer, or if your quail follows a heavier first course. Plan on 8 (2 per person if not serving a first course) You can find them frozen at most markets.

4 slices Bacon

The Quail Instructions

Pat the quail dry.

Cut them up the center of the back and open them up. This is where the stuffing will go. This is easy as they are so small and delicate. Any pair of kitchen scissors should work.

Quail stuffed 1

Stuff the inside and secure with two or three toothpicks.

Quail stuffed 2

Turn them over, breast side up, secured side down, and place them on your pan. Repeat this process with each quail.

Drizzle a spoonful of orange sauce over each quail.

Cut your bacon slices in half and fold two halves over the breast of each quail.

Take a small bit of string and tie the legs together as you see in the photo.

Quail stuffed 3

Roast the birds in a 425 degree preheated oven. for about 10 minutes. Then reduce the oven temp to 325 and continue to roast for another 30 minutes.

If there is left over stuffing just bake it at 325 degrees a few minutes and serve a little with each bird.

I like to nest the birds in a small pool of the sauce with oranges. Bellissima!

Quail finish 1

***Another preparation which I credit to my father was to roast the birds, breast side down,  wide open without securing them at all. He simply piled the stuffing on the the open birds and topped them off with a slice of bacon. This is the way he prepared them for the photo above.  For these, you would simple roast them at 350 for 30-40 minutes! This is not as “cute” – but less labor intensive – and just as delicious!

With the lovely STUFFED QUAIL WITH ORANGE SAUCE, plan to serve a worthy wine of your choice. I like a lighter red wine with game birds. A beautiful Toscana or Barbera d’Asti would be just right!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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October: Gnocchi di Casentino

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Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi –

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi finish 3 with script

Buon giorno!

GNOCCHI DI CASENTINO are delicate and tender gnocchi from the Casentino Valley of Tuscany. They are very easy to make and are often found in a “ball” form unlike many other types that are formed by rolling in flour created a shell or cavatelli type shape. You can make them either way. They require very little cooking, as most gnocchi, and rise to the top of boiling water, ready to be plucked out in a matter of about 3 minutes.

Casentino? – The Casentino Valley in Tuscany also includes a beautiful mountain range. The mountains of this area have prevented much in the way of development and roads, thus leaving the area throughout history dating back to the Etruscans to its natural beauty. Because it was more difficult to access, it was left alone by conquerors. The result includes a gorgeous national park with all sorts of wildlife left to thrive undisturbed.

The typical sauce served with these gnocchi is a simple melted butter with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. A light tomato sauce – or Pommodoro Sauce is nice also.

This recipe makes plenty as the amount indicates, so they are the perfect candidate for FREEZING and saving for another meal. They can easily be made and frozen weeks ahead – only to be pulled out at the last minute from the freezer and dropped frozen into boiling salted water. This leaves you plenty of time to do other things to prepare for your meal – or just relax!

These are really heavenly! You will love them!

GNOCCHI DI CASENTINO

(SPINACH AND RICOTTA GNOCCHI)

Makes enough for 2 servings for 4

Prep: about an hour

Cook: about 3-4 minutes

Ingredients

2 Cups Flour and 1/2 C. Flour separated

2 C. Whole Milk Ricotta

1 lb. Fresh Spinach

2 Large Eggs

Pinch Salt

1/2 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese or Grana Padano

1 Stick Butter

Grated Cheese to serve

Nutmeg grated to taste

Instructions

Cook Spinach in  boiling water until tender – about 4-5 minutes. Drain it well and then after cooling a bit, press it between paper towels or a tea towel to get as much water out as possible. You want it to be very dry.

Now chop the spinach finely.

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi 1

To your food processor bowl place: 2 C. Flour, ricotta, eggs, salt, Parmigiano, and spinach. Give this mixture a few turns in the processor until it comes together. It will be sticky.

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi 2

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi 3

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board and pull together into a ball – while adding some or all of the remaining 1/2 C. Flour as needed.

Roll balls from this dough and place them in a single layer on a floured pan or surface.

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi 4

If freezing for later use – place them on a sheet pan in a single layer and freeze. When frozen, place them in a plastic bag and freeze. When ready to use – keep them frozen and add them to boiling water in thirds. Do NOT thaw! Cook 1/3 at a time in the boiling water, removing to your serving plate with a slotted spoon or Spider. Drain well.

This recipe makes plenty for 2 meals for 4 people.

When ready to serve, melt a stick of butter and pour over the gnocchi in a serving plate. Sprinkle with grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano.

Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi finish 1

Sprinkle with a little freshly ground nutmeg.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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September: Salsa di Noci

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Walnut Sauce – 

Noci Finish with script

Buon giorno!

Let’s put our “regional Italian cooking “ hats on and speed off to yet another extraordinary, yet sometimes neglected, region of Italy – Liguria! This region is often missed in the great attention given to Tuscany and Northern Italy etc. It is located on the northwest coast of Italy, with the port of Genoa, among the cities well known, and also is the city credited for ravioli. Of course, the fish and coastal dishes are big in this area and, in addition, this region gave birth to pesto! However, one of the signature dishes of Liguria is definitely a standout – a heavenly and creamy sauce made of walnuts – SALSA DI NOCI.

In Liguria, this sauce is most often served with pansotti, a triangular shaped ravioli. This dish originated in a small town called “San Martino di Noceto”. Noceto refers to walnut groves. The pansotti are traditionally filled with herbs and native greens which are not easily found in the US where pansotti are usually filled with cheese and spinach or some other market green. Here in our photo, you see the walnut sauce served with pasta fresca or fresh pasta in the form of a spaghetti.

The sauce is so rich and wonderful that it does not need much embellishment, when serving, beyond plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. The walnuts and ricotta come together to form a sauce that is simple yet satisfying and lightly sweet. It is simply a glorious sauce.

Unfortunately, the color of the sauce along with the pasta lacks contrast and does not make for a dramatic photograph. However, the drama is all in the flavor of this elegant sauce. It is beautiful beyond words, and the Ligurians rightfully claim it as their signature dish and one so worthy.

SALSA DI NOCI

Makes: enough sauce for over a pound of ravioli or dried or fresh pasta

Prep: about 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb. pasta or ravioli cooked

1/2 lb. Walnuts

1/3 Cup Pine Nuts (pignoli)

1 Clove Fresh Garlic

3 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – chopped

1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt

1/2 Cup Whole Milk Ricotta

1/2 Cup Whole Milk

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 Tbsp. Butter

3 Tbsp. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

About a cup of pasta water (water in which you have cooked your pasta)

Extra Grated Parmigiano for serving

Fresh Parsley for garnish

Instructions

Place in the bowl of your food processor: the walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, parsley and Salt.

Noci 1

Process until these ingredients turn into a paste. This takes just a few minutes.

Noci 2

Add the ricotta and milk, processing to combine.

Add the olive oil in a stream as the processor is running. The results will be very thick.

Melt the butter in a pan and then add the thick contents of the food processor. Stir into the butter along with the 3 Tbsp.of Parmigiano while heating through.

Noci 4

Add the pasta water and stir in. Add more or less of the water according to your taste. The water will thin the thick sauce.

Taste for seasoning, and add more salt as desired.

Serve with extra grated cheese.

This SALSA DI NOCI is so rich that I like to pair it with a light red wine instead of the expected white. It is most often served with a white wine of the Ligurian region called Pigato. However, for me, a light red like Dolcetto seems to stand up well with the depth of this sauce without dominating it.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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August: Zucchini Agrodolce

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Zucchini finish with script

Buon giorno!

So you planted zucchini in your garden this year and now you are up to your eyeballs in green squash! Your family is tired of zucchini  – what to do? Solution: find a new and more interesting way to cook it! Italians love their zucchini – also called courgettes, and every Italian garden has it. This recipe may not be entirely new, as it is an old preparation coming from the island of Sicily, but ZUCCHINI AGRODOLCE (sweet and sour) is interesting and VERY tasty. It is not your typical zucchini accompanied by tomatoes, onions, etc. This is totally different and includes some of the favorite ingredients of Sicilian recipes – pignoli (pine nuts),  golden raisins and a tiny bit of anchovies. The anchovies are very subtle in the dish. They are chopped in tiny pieces, and as in many other dishes which include them, they melt into the sauce giving it a lovely flavor. However no one sees them, or knows they are there!

Some of my family members do not care for zucchini unless it is cleverly disguised in some way. We ALL  love this, and you will love it too!

ZUCCHINI AGRODOLCE

Serves: 2

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 Fresh Medium Zucchini

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 large Clove Garlic cut in half

1 Sprig Fresh Oregano (or a teaspoon dried)

2 1/2 Tbsp. While Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Water

2 Teaspoons Sugar

3 Tbsp. Pignoli (pine nuts)

3 Tbsp. Golden Raisins

2 Anchovies – patted dry and cut into tiny pieces

Shavings of Pecorini or Provolone Cheese for garnish (you can also use grated)

Instructions

Clean a medium fresh zucchini. Leave the skin on .

Zucchini 1

Cut off the ends and discard. Then cut the zucchini lengthwise in half – then again into quarters. If the pieces are large enough – cut them one more time so you have spears.

Zucchini 2

Heat the oil in a shallow pan, add the garlic and oregano, and cook a couple of minutes until the garlic is beginning to brown. Do not burn the garlic! Keep it moving in the pan. Then remove and discard the garlic. In this dish you only want its essence.

Zucchini 3

Now add the vinegar, water, and sugar. Mix in.

Now add the zucchini spears, tossing them in the pan to coat, cover the pan, and cook about 10-12 minutes at medium high. Stir occasionally .

Zucchini 4

When finished, add the pignoli, raisins, and anchovies. Toss a little, and cook a couple of minutes more at medium high, uncovered.

Zucchini 5

Taste and see if any salt is needed. Usually the anchovies take care of the need for salt. By the way, at this point, the anchovies are quite invisible.

Serve with shavings of Pecorino or Provolone or grated.

This ZUCCHINI AGRODOLCE is so delicious, you will want to make it again and again. It is just as suitable as a side for a fancy summer meal as it is for middle of the week dining with your family. Easy and quick – you will be using up your supply of garden fresh zucchini in no time!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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July: Amalfi Clams

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Simply the Best Clams Ever!

Amalfi Clams 3 with script

Buon giorno!

Did I just say the best clams EVER??? I did and I do! You will want these AMALFI CLAMS on your summer menus. Whether you offer them as a first course, appetizer, or main event, prepare yourself for the raves! In fact I highly recommend making twice a much as you planned. These are just that wonderful. This is truly a dish to remember.

The Amalfi coast is known for their phenomenal seafood and seafood preparations. The squid, the mussels, the crab, the clams, the cuttlefish and sea urchins – it is a treasure trove of wonder when one thinks of the bounty that comes from this area.The tiny clams, in particular, that they serve are tender and sweet.

In making the clams for this recipe, I highly recommend using Manila Clams or the small Littlenecks. You can use the larger ones but this dish is a little more delicate and I think better with the smaller clams. The clams will emit liquid, salt, and flavor. Therefore you will not see salt in the ingredients list. If you taste them, after cooking, and still think they need it – then add the salt – but this is one of those flavor experiences that is best created by the ingredients themselves. All you need to do is add them!

I would serve this dish anytime, but it just seems better in the heat of the summer when you let your senses drift to dreams of the gentle Amalfi breezes during this season. Simply taste the broth, and just float, as they say.

If you serve this one as a main course, I would suggest rice rather than pasta. This is such a delicate dish that pasta is almost too much for it. I especially love serving it, on its own, in bowls, as a first course or appetizer, with plenty of broth and a crusty grilled sliced of bread with olive oil. You need nothing else — unless of course, it is the remainder of that bottle of Prosecco you just used to make it!

Does the tiny bit of Sambuca make a difference and what is Sambuca doing in the dish anyway? Good question – who asked it? Oh! that was moi! The Sambuca gives it a slight edge. It is similar to the use of Pernod by the French in Bouillabaisse and by me in my Zuppa di Pesce! Without this little kick – it just isn’t the same – but please just a touch.

Vieni sul mar,
vieni a vogar,
sentirai l’ebbrezza
del tuo marinar.

(la – la la – la -la…)

AMALFI CLAMS
Serves: 2

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 16-18 minutes

Ingredients

2 dozen Fresh Littleneck Clams or Manila Clams

4 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Whole Shallot (usually a double bulb)

1 Cup Finely chopped Sweet Peppers – I like the mini peppers

1 Fennel Bulb – chopped

Dash Red Pepper flakes

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic chopped finely

Pinch of Saffron Threads

1 Cup Prosecco (or Cava or Champagne)

1-2 Tsp. Sambuca (or Pernod)

3 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley

A generous squeeze of fresh Lemon

Some Fennel fronds for garnish – These are the fine and delicate greens that emanate from the fennel bulb. They smell wonderful and make a great garnish.

Instructions

Scrub your clams lightly with a brush under some running water and set them aside in the refrigerator while you prepare. Do not seal them up as they are living things and need to breathe. Think about it – you wouldn’t want someone sealing you up in a ziploc bag until dinner time!

Melt your butter in the olive oil and add the peppers, shallots, fennel and red pepper flakes. Cook on Medium High about 5 minutes.

Amalfi Clams 1

Add garlic and cook another minute being careful not to brown or burn the garlic.

Add your clams!

Crush the saffron threads with your fingers and add them to the Prosecco. Now pour the Prosecco and Sambuca into the pan.

Amalfi Clams 2

Add the parsley and quickly cover the pan.

Simmer about 8-10 minutes. If your clams are large you may need a few more minutes. Make sure ALL the clams open, and discard any that do not. Larger clams might take a couple of minutes more.

Give a quick squeeze of the lemon.

There are two ways to serve the loveliness of these AMALFI CLAMS:  Serve them piled high in a bowl with a large grilled slice of crusty bread brushed with olive oil OR you can serve them over rice. Either way – you will love them and serve them often as I do. There is simply no better summertime seafood dish than this one!

Amalfi Clams finish with script

PARLA COME MANGI!

 Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.

LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

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