Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Italian recipes’

Sunday Lunch, Puglia Style

Sunday lunch in Italy means family, friends and lots of extraordinary food. We made ours in California as we put the final touches on our Pascarosa Insider's Food and Wine Tours for October 2017.

Read more

Hole in One

It's raining in California, with storm after storm pounding the coast. We're holing up with osso buco, Italy's hole-in-one braise that satisfies the bone-weary among us.

Read more

Candelora

Candles in Taranto's Cathedral of San Cataldo

Candles in Taranto’s Cathedral of San Cataldo

Italy’s answer to the United States’ Groundhog Day came and went yesterday, confirming that we can expect another six weeks of winter here. This isn’t altogether bad news. We’re hoping for a proper freeze, enough to exterminate any dormant olive fly larvae wintering over in the soil of local olive groves. Nothing too extreme, though, since extreme cold at the wrong time (like early spring) represents another kind of trouble for olive farmers. So we’re hunkering down, but consoling ourselves with long walks, recipes that involve a long stove-top simmer and the occasional crunch of chiacchiere, those crackling, light-as-a-feather Italian carnevale sweets that are impossible to stop eating. Read more

Le Feste

Cartellate, the iconic Pugliese Christmas sweet, is everywhere we look these days. And it's very, very hard to resist.

Cartellate, the iconic Pugliese Christmas sweet, is everywhere we look these days. And it’s very, very hard to resist.

Like just about everything else in Puglia, the holiday season arrives in exactly the same way it always has. From l’Immacolata (December 8th) to the vigilia (the night before Christmas) to Christmas Day itself, the growing excitement is palpable. Christmas markets in town squares are erected seemingly overnight, municipalities organize fanciful light displays and shops are open—gasp!—on Sundays to facilitate holiday gift buying. But unlike the U.S., the holiday spirit doesn’t flag on December 26th. In Italy, there is Santo Stefano (December 26th), San Silvestro (New Year’s Eve) and l’Epifania (the Epiphany, or more colloquially, la Befana) on January 6th still to celebrate. It’s an embarrassment of riches, particularly at the table. Read more

Tiella Tutorial

Mussels from the Mar Piccolo near Taranto are briny, sweet and lie at the heart of tiella alla Barese.

Mussels from the Mar Piccolo near Taranto are briny, sweet and lie at the heart of tiella alla Barese.

Summer seemed to fly by in Puglia this year, and not only because of the weather. Along with partner Nancy Harmon Jenkins, we’ve been busy planning AmorOlio in Puglia, our food-focused tours that start this fall. We were almost too focused to notice the late spring rains and capricious thunderstorms that blew into Italy in June, effectively putting summer on hold. When it finally arrived in mid-August, the southern heat settled in as if to make up for lost time. So we took a time out and did our best to maximize the long, sunny days and balmy nights here. Aperitivi on the roof terrace, lunch at the beach and as many bike rides as we could manage, but only when the thermometer stayed on the cooler side of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. And we dove deeply into the sea of summer produce that swells the markets in late summer. We’re still making all our favorite fair weather dishes as often as possible before the gorgeous fruits and vegetables disappeared for another nine months. Read more

Ramasole

Regina tomatoes strung together like a bunch of grapes is called a ramasole in Puglia. They're preserved like this all winter long, surviving until the next season's harvest begins.

Regina tomatoes strung together like a bunch of grapes is called a ramasole in Puglia. They’re preserved like this all winter long, surviving until the next season’s harvest begins.

It’s a little trickier than it looks. You need nimble fingers, perseverance and a patient teacher. We had at least one of these attributes when we joined a workshop at La Casa degli Uccellini last week to learn how to make ramasole, Puglia’s iconic tomato bunches gathered together with thick cotton strings for long preservation. Thanks to cultural historian Teresa Acquaviva, the founder of an organization that develops events like this to acquaint Italians with their agrarian past, the evening we spent learning about this seasonal pastime was inclusive, engaging and lots of fun. It represents the very best kind of tourism in a place that deserves so much more focus in Italy and beyond for its culinary traditions among so much else. Read more

Endless Summer, Italian Style

Nothing says summer in Italy like the clear, blue sea.

Nothing says summer in Italy like the clear, blue sea.

It’s August 15th, the day when ancient Romans rested, the Virgin Mary’s sinless soul and uncorrupted body ascended into heaven and modern Italians take to the nearest body of water to escape the inevitable August heat wave. Called Ferragosto today in a nod to its origins in antiquity during Emperor Augustus’s rule, this holiday marks the pinnacle of the summer season in Italy. And like every holiday here, it is celebrated en masse in exactly the same way all over the country. Read more

Kilometro Zero

All that's left of our favorite summer pasta.

All that’s left of our favorite summer pasta.

We always appreciate the scale of our town in Italy when summer rolls around.  Just about everything we really need is a short walk away from our front door. But we are especially grateful for all this proximity when the relentless Pugliese summer sun beats down, sapping every ounce of energy from our limbs. Then we summon ourselves into action early in the morning, making the rounds of the bar for a quick caffè ghiacciato (iced coffee), the pescheria (fish market) or the maccelleria (butcher) and, best of all, the fruttivendolo (fruit and vegetable shop) that is so mercifully close to us that we call down our order from our balcony. Italians call this shopping a kilometro zero, literally sourcing products at zero kilometers of distance. We call it incredibly lucky and we take advantage of the ease every single day. Read more

Piatto Forte

Peperoni Ripieni can be part of a selection of appetizers—or eaten all by themselves.

Peperoni Ripieni can be included as part of an appetizer selection—or eaten all by themselves.

Everybody has one. Whether you are a world class chef or a home cook with a week’s worth of dinner menus on regular rotation, you are inevitably known for one special dish—the one you never get tired of making. Friends always want the recipe, you count on it to be great every time you serve it and you can make it in your sleep. It’s your signature dish—your piatto forte.

An earlier contender for piatto forte: Braised Leeks.

Braised Leeks are a favorite piatto forte that rival Peperoni Ripieni for requested appearances.

You probably can’t remember how you came to be associated with your piatto forte. Maybe you found a recipe that intrigued you so much that you just had to try it. Your initial effort was met with enthusiastic approval, so you found yourself recreating the dish for guests, growing more confident with its execution with every repetition. Or maybe you learned it from your grandmother, adjusting the recipe over time to make it your own. By now, you never even look at the recipe, though, so ingrained is the process of crafting your signature dish. You can reproduce it when you’re away from home in someone else’s kitchen, even without access to familiar, go-to ingredients. Whether your piatto forte is as basic as guacamole or as complicated as paella, you’ve made it your own and the world is a happier place because of it.

My piatti forti always seem to come from the antipasto (appetizer) category. I love the way appetizers tease the palate, making way for the main

La Scarapaccia, a hybrid frittata from Tuscany, is another contender for piatto forte status. I make it every chance I get when zucchini is plentiful, especially when I can find zucchini flowers.

La Scarapaccia, a hybrid frittata from Tuscany, is another contender for piatto forte status. I make it every chance I get when zucchini is plentiful, especially when I can find zucchini flowers.

meal to come. Antipasti are a great vehicle for in-season vegetables, too. The best ones offer contrasting textures and flavors along with visual appeal. And antipasti can be designed to comprise an entire meal, offering intriguing tastes without overwhelming guests.

Peperoni Ripieni are versatile, easily prepared from readily available ingredients and very, very good to eat.

Peperoni Ripieni are versatile, easily prepared from readily available ingredients and very, very good to eat.

I have already shared my family’s all-time favorite—Braised Leeks— in another post, but Peperoni Ripieni (Stuffed Peppers) run a very close second. I learned how to make them when we visited Puglia for the first time almost 20 years ago and still make them for Italian friends here—a very tough crowd. Now that shiny, fleshy red and yellow peppers are dominating our local vegetable market, I am rediscovering why this recipe lives at the top of the list, ticking off all of the elements that transform a recipe into a piatto forte. Peperoni Ripieni can be made well in advance. Their baking time is flexible and they can be eaten hot from the oven or, even better, at room temperature. Their filling is equally flexible, rendering them highly customizable, which is how they could easily become your own personal piatto forte, too. Don’t be tempted to skip the pepper roasting and peeling process, though. In addition to creating one of the most addictive kitchen aromas ever, the flavor of freshly roasted peppers just cannot be replicated with jarred or canned peppers.

Peppers are abundant in the vegetable market now, making stuffed peppers are a perfect summertime piatto forte.

Peppers are abundant in the vegetable market now, making stuffed peppers are a perfect summertime piatto forte.

Peperoni Ripieni—Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:

4 large red and/or yellow peppers

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. roughly chopped capers

2 Tbsp. toasted, roughly chopped pine nuts

1 salt-packed anchovy, boned, rinsed and roughly chopped (If necessary, substitute 1 scant teaspoon of anchovy paste or leave it out altogether for vegetarians.)

½ cup toasted breadcrumbs

½ cup finely chopped Italian parsley

1 Tbsp. fresh oregano or marjoram (optional; if you don’t have any fresh herbs, just omit them)

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Roast peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet under the broiler until they're blackened on all sides.

Roast peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet under the broiler until they’re blackened on all sides.

First, roast the peppers. Set the oven to broil and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the peppers on the baking sheet, then put the baking sheet in the oven about 4 inches from the broiler unit above them. Roast the peppers until the side facing toward the broiler is blackened, then carefully rotate each pepper and broiling until each pepper is thoroughly blackened. Place the blackened peppers in a resealable plastic bag and let rest for 15-20 minutes or until cool enough to handle.

After removing the seeds and membranes, the peppers are placed on paper towels to drain while making the stuffing mixture.

After removing the seeds and membranes, the peppers are placed on paper towels to drain while making the stuffing mixture.

Carefully remove the peppers from the bag, one at a time, as you peel the blackened skin from the flesh underneath. Remove all seeds and white, pithy membranes. Lay each pepper flat on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Don’t be tempted to remove the skin by running cool water over the surfaces of the peppers; water dilutes the exceptional pepper flavor.

Sometimes the peppers will separate into sections. This is fine as long as the pieces are at least 2 inches wide. For each pepper, you should end up with four pieces, each of which will be stuffed with the filling mixture and rolled up.

Stuffing ingredients are moistened with extra virgin olive oil and mixed well.

Stuffing ingredients are moistened with extra virgin olive oil and mixed well.

While the skinned peppers are draining, mix the capers, pine nuts, anchovy, breadcrumbs, and parsley. Add the extra virgin olive oil and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If the peppers aren’t already separated in 2-3 inch-long pieces, slice them accordingly. In an ovenproof dish, swirl a little extra virgin olive oil into the bottom to coat thoroughly.

On the inside side, place a heaping teaspoon (approx.) of filling at end of each pepper piece closest to you. Carefully roll up the pepper piece to enclose the filling and place the roll, end underneath, in the baking dish. Repeat this process until all of the pepper slices are filled. Drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil over the tops of the pepper rolls.

Peperoni Ripieni can be prepared to this point earlier in the day, then baked before serving.

Peperoni Ripieni can be prepared to this point earlier in the day, then baked before serving.

Bake the rolls in a hot over (400 to 425 degrees) until they are hot, with a golden toasty appearance on the top. Serve them hot, or let them cool to room temperature and serve as part of an antipasti selection. You can also prepare them early in the day, waiting until just before serving to bake them.

Serves 4-6 as part of an antipasto (appetizer) selection.

Note: In Naples and Sicily, it’s not unusual to find currants or raisins added to the filling mixture. To do this, soak 2 Tbsp. of currants or raisins in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain, chop and add them to the filling mixture.

Afloat

As twilight approaches, sailboats appear to float on the glassy surface of the Ionian sea in this quiet bay on Paxos.

As twilight approaches, sailboats appear to float on the glassy surface of the Ionian sea in this quiet bay on Paxos.

A week ago, we were bobbing along in the turquoise waters of Paxos, wondering just how we got so lucky. The sky was a brilliant, Greek blue and the sun was strong, but not punishing. Paxos’s olives, pines and cypress trees shone in the distance above the sweetest little port town we’d ever seen. Even the fish seemed to have a little extra joie de vivre as they darted underneath our wiggling toes. It was about as close to paradise as we can imagine. Read more

The $tingy Sailor

DIY trailerable sailboat restoration and improvement without throwing your budget overboard

Gracefully Global Blog

Where travel adventures never begin with a trip to the local monument.

Italy....and Me

food. italy. wine. books genealogy. travel. wine. get. the. idea?

My Sardinian Life

photography, expat tales and short stories from a wandering waitress

Married to Italy

Big city Texan girl meets small town Italian boy. Chaos ensues.

Zester Daily

Zester Daily

Nancy Harmon Jenkins

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"

A different point of view on travelling, living and loving Italy.

In Puglia and Places

My experiences living in Puglia and other places

Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life: passionate about food & wine | random moments | and travel

News : NPR

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

outil de négociation

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Eater SF - All

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Eater Portland - All

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Food : NPR

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Chocolate & Zucchini

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Bon Vivant

Life's simple pleasures

Culinate Main Feed

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

stylishmews

A resource and running commentary on stylish London

Puglia Kitchen

sapori, profumi e visioni culinarie made in puglia

Cantine Menhir

News from Salento... where the sun warms the spirit, water refreshes the mind, food whets the palate, land feeds the soul, and the wine... awakens the passion.

What Katie Ate

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

smitten kitchen

Fearless cooking from a tiny NYC kitchen.

A Cup of Jo

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

Orangette

We begin a new life in Italy . . .

%d bloggers like this: