Rigatoni con Crema di Carciofi
1 lb rigatoni
3 – 4 large artichoke hearts, julienned
4 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, diced into small cubes
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one fresh lemon
Remove all leaves, cut in half lengthwise, and remove fuzzy choke (a grapefruit spoon works well). Immediately drop into lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Working with one heart at a time (allowing the others to remain in their lemon bath), cut into julienne strips.
Put olive oil in a heavy bottom wide pan over medium heat. Add whole garlic clove and the julienned artichokes and saute for about 5 minutes. Add bacon or pancetta and cook for another 2-3 minutes, then add wine and allow to evaporate. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Remove garlic clove and stir well with wooden spoon. Add cubed pecorino. And stir.
Meanwhile add rigatoni to rapidly boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain well and add to artichoke sauce. Serve immediately, adding additional grated pecorino if desired.
It was a mid-April day and the godlike view from Mamma Agata’s terrace was sheeted by a veil of incessant rain, but we were all in love, and so it mattered not. Or maybe we were bewitched by that exquisite lemon cake we were served upon arrival. Whatever sorcery was at play, the magic lingers in the photos and recipes we took away.
If you believe in magic (as I certainly do), contact me at email@example.com.
SPAGHETTI DEL CONTADINO
1 lb spaghetti
1 1/4 lb cherry tomatoes, chopped
1T fresh parsley, finely chopped
6 T extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
20 green olives
20 black olives
1 T capers (rinsed if preserved in salt)
1 t dried oregano
1 cup fresh arugula
Few pinches of salt
1 large pot of water for pasta
Heat olive oil and garlic cloves over low heat in a frying pan. (Do not let garlic brown.)
Add chopped cherry tomatoes and parsley to the pan, stir and add oregano, green and black olives and the rinsed capers. Cook for 5 minutes.
Bring the water to a boil in the large pot and add salt. Then add pasta and cook to al dente.
Drain and add pasta to the pan with the sauce, stirring to mix well. Add arugula.
Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil to further enhance the flavors.
MAMMA AGATA’S SECRET:
(…and this part is important!)
The riper the cherry tomatoes, the sweeter and more delicious the sauce.
In a bowl, chop the cherry tomatoes and add the finely chopped parsley. Parsley is added to the tomatoes before heating because once the parsley sautes in hot oil, it loses its flavor.
I’m bending a rule (which is a special talent of mine) with this recipe for gratineed cardoons from the kitchen of Giuliano Hazan. Although a born and bred Italian (with a pedigree that includes being the son of Marcella Hazan), Giuliano lives most of the year in Sarasota, Florida making him practiically a neighbor of mine. I took a cooking class at his home a few weeks ago where the contorno (side dish, usually a vegetable) was this simple preparation for cardoons.
2 pounds cardoons
3 tablespoons butter
Black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
1. Separate the stalks of the cardoons and remove the leafy tops. Pare away and discard all bruised parts and peel the backs of the stalks. Rinse in cold water. Cut the stalks into pieces about 6 inches long.
2. Turn on the oven at 450°.
3. Bring to a boil a pot of water large enough to comfortably accommodate the cardoons. Place them in the boiling water and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain or lift the cardoons out of the water carefully.
4. In a shallow baking dish place a layer of the cardoons. Season with salt and pepper, dot with butter and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Place a second layer of cardoons and repeat. Try not to have more than two layers of cardoons. If necessary, use two pans. Put in the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve at once.
from Daniela del Balzo of Daniela’s Cooking School in Rome
Which came first, the frittata or the omelette?
Does it matter? Less than the chicken/egg conundrum certainly.
What does matter is the distinction between the two: an omelette being a fold over envelope of sorts holding in a variety of ingredients, whereas the ingredients of a frittata are added to the egg mixture itself resulting in a kind of pie. Also note that in Italy, la frittata is not a breakfast dish (Italians don’t eat eggs in any form in the morning), but is served at lunch or dinner. Read more >>
Pasta with Scallops and Basil
Recipe adapted from Massimo Riccioli of La Rosetta in Rome
The following is my riff on Massimo’s composition.
*1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
*1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
*1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
*2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 small peeled garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 # scallops, dice about 6 into small pieces, leaving remainder whole
1/4 cup white wine
2-4 tablespoons vegetable broth
caciocavallo cheese, shaved
1. Bring at least 5 quarts of water to boil in a large pot.
2. Using a mortar or food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and lemon juice. process into a paste.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic in non-stick skillet. (Do not allow garlic to brown.)
Add whole scallops to skillet. When they’re beginning to brown, add the chopped scallops and stir to prevent sticking.
4. Remove garlic, turn heat to high, and add wine. When wine has evaporated, add a few tablespoons of vegetable broth and stir. Taste and add salt if needed. Turn off heat.
5. When water reaches a boil, add salt and then pasta, and cook to al dente.
6. Drain pasta and add to scallops in skillet along with the basil paste, mixing well.
plate the pasta before adding shavings of caciocavallo cheese* and fresh basil leaves for garnish.
* If, like me, you live where it’s impossible to find caciocavallo, a mild provolone is an acceptable substitute.
Recipe serves 4.1.
PRALINES WITH GOAT CHEESE, WALNUTS, & HONEY
(Little Honeyed-Up Goat Cheese Balls)
This recipe was the opener of a cooking class I took from Chef Renato of Ristorante Renato & Luisa near Campo de’ Fiori in Rome, included in my Best Restaurants in Rome 2010. Renato has been a lot of things in his life– army helicopter pilot, law student, ull into the kitchen. Without formal training, Renato has become one of Rome’s most creative and celebrated youngkarate expert– but this son of a famous Testaccio butcher eventually followed the gravitational pull into the kitchen.
I never stop preaching about using quality ingredients – and that golden rule of Italian cuisine is even more important when a dish is as straight forward as this one. Gustiamo warehouses and will ship the 2 essentials for Renato’s recipe – prized honey from the sweet, unpolluted air of Sardinia and balsamico from Emilia-Romagna, the only place on earth continuing the centuries-old method of production. And keep in mind, your bottle of balsamico, unless you feed the masses, can last for years.
Goat cheese soft enough to be rolled into a ball
Finely crushed walnuts
Good quality honey
Aged balsamic vinegar
Slivers of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padana
1. Roll goat cheese into ping pong size balls
2. Cover with crushed walnuts
3. Drizzle with honey
4. Place wedges of parmigiano or grana padana on top
5. Drizzle plate with balsamic and dust with leftover walnuts
I’m remembering a dish prepared for me by a Roman chef. So in honor of him and zucchinE, I offer the following recipe.
3 T olive oil
1 # shrimp
1 large garlic clove diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 medium zucchine, about 2 cups diced
1 1/2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 small chili pepper (peperoncino) or red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt to taste
1 # linguine
1. Place large pot of water on stove to boil.Wash, peel, and de-vein shrimp.
2. Chop about half of the shrimp into small bits.
3. Combine and toss chopped shrimp, parsley, and garlic.
4. Place olive oil in wide bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and
add cubed zucchine, tossing to coat.
5. When almost soft, add tomatoes, stir for a few minutes. Add salt.
Then add chopped shrimp, parsley and peperoncino. Cook and stir so shrimp doesn’t stick, over medium heat.
6. At the very end of the process, add whole shrimp, turning from side to side quickly so they don’t overcook. Check for salt.
7. In the meantime, add salt to pot of boiling water (adding salt to cold water slows down the boiling time), and cook linguine to al dente stage. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water.
8. Add linguine to sauce in skillet and stir to completely coat with sauce, adding pasta water as necessary.
NOTE: Be careful to not add all the pasta immediately. You want the linguine to remain silky and not soak up all the sauce even with the addition of the pasta water.
Plate and place several whole shrimp on each portion, sprinkle with more chopped parsley, and serve.
This classic recipe, of Sicilian origin, from the kitchen of Roman chef Daniela Del Balzo.
2 eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
2 – 3 tablespoons Canola oil, or Canola oil spray, for frying eggplant
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with back of knife
2 cups fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, and roughly chopped or small can (14.5 oz)San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
1- 3 tablespoons tomato puree (called passata in Italy)
2 – 4 tablespoons ricotta salata, grated
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Place large pot of water on stove to boil.
Place the eggplant slices on a plate or other flat smooth surface, sprinkle with coarse salt and let set for 30 minutes to remove the bitterness. Wash slices under cold water, dry well with paper towels.
In large non-stick frying pan, heat oil and fry eggplant on both sides until golden brown. (Turn heat to medium low after oil has heated to prevent burning.) Remove slices and let rest on paper towels.
To frying pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the crushed garlic for about 2 minutes (do not let burn). Then add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, and pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for 15 – 20 minutes or until the sauce reduces slightly. Add eggplant and chopped basil. Cook and stir over medium heat until eggplant softens.
To boiling pot of water, add liberal amount of salt and rigatoni.
Cook rigatoni until al dente and drain.
Add rigatoni to sauce and mix well.
Place in individual serving bowls and top with grated ricotta salata and additional whole basil leaves if desired.
(Sweet and Sour Onions)
From The Williams-Sonoma Food of the World series, “Rome”, recipes & text
by Maureen B. Fant
* 1 pound small, flat onions or small boiling onions
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. To peel the onions, cut off the root end and remove the papery skin and, if it is blemished, the outer layer. (Holding them under cold running water as you work helps prevent tears.) Alternatively, bring a pot three-fourths full of water to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the onions, boil for 1 minute, drain, and immerse in cold water to cool. Cut away any tenacious skin at the top. Rinse to remove any residual skin or dirt.
2. Place the onions in a heavy saucepan or deep frying pan large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. pour the oil over them, add the sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, vinegar, wine, and 1/2 cup water, and stir just to mix.
3. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until much of the liquid has evaporated and a thick sauce remains in the pan, abut 1 hour. The onions should be quite tender and golden brown.
4. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm or at room temperature. They will keep nicely, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for a few days.
Prosciutto, Fontina and Pear Tort
(Adapted from Fabio Campoli, one of Italy’s most famous chefs, celebrity chef on RAI TV )
Shortbread Crust for Torta
NOTE: It could take some practice to perfect this crust.
*2 cups flour – pastry or cake flour works best or sift all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup sugar
*2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
*1 egg and 1 yolk, lightly beaten with fork
*grated zest of a half a lemon
1. Combine the flour and sugar.
2. Add softened butter using a pastry blender or two forks until butter is well incorporated into the flour and sugar. Add eggs and lemon zest and work well into mixture.
3. Gather dough into your hands and press firmly into a round, slightly flattened shape. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least one hour. Dough can be kept for several days before using.
4. Dust the top with flour and place wax paper on top before rolling out. Do not overwork or dough may become crumbly.
5. Immediately and carefully transfer to buttered quiche or spring form pan.
*6 slices prosciutto
*6 slices Fontina cheese
*1 large pear, ripe and juicy but not mushy, cut into small chunks
*1-2 tablespoons finely diced sweet onion
*5 whole eggs
*1 pint plus 1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1 pint heavy cream and 1/2 cup half and half))
*dash of nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
1. After placing dough into buttered quiche or spring form pan, poke holes into it with fork to prevent bubbling.
2. Line crust with prosciutto, then fontina, then pears.
3. Lightly beat eggs into cream, add onions and nutmeg and pour over ingredients in quiche or spring form pan.
4. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until set.
5. Allow to cool to finish setting.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature. Add a green salad and you have the perfect lunch menu.