Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs (Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa)

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Broccoli rabe, or rapini, is a bitter green that comes into season in autumn. It is a member of the turnip family and you will find it at selected greengrocers in bundles of large leaves with broccoli-like flower heads opening into small yellow flowers.   It’s earthy and rustic – a peasant-style Puglia dish to get you through the day.  In Puglia the main meal is lunch at around 1:30. Stores close at 1.  After lunch  they take a nap (penneca) since nothing is open anyway again until 6pm.  Carmen who does my nails at her home always asks what i made for lunch and we talk about food. She gave me her way of doing this classic Puglia dish and went home and made it as it sounded so good!

Ingredients

  • 400g cime di rapa or 1 pound
  • 200g pasta of your choice (the tradition is orecchiette)  I go veggie heavy and pasta light and make up for it all with the fresh pressed olive oil I helped produce.
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • half cup fresh bread crumbs – at the bread counter in Italy (i make crumbs out of stale bread and keep in freezer)
  • 4 anchovies (optional but they make the flavor jump!)
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes or preferably a whole dry chili broken in half and tossed in
  • Parmesan, grated, to serve
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Wash the Cime di Rapa well, slice the lower part of the stalks into 2-3 cm pieces, keep the leafy tops whole. Drop the greens into the water.  You will add the pasta to the same pot when the Cime is almost done and a knife slices easily through it
  2. Meanwhile gently heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan (must be big enough for the finished dish) and slowly cook the garlic until fragrant but not burning.  Add the bread crumbs and dried chilli, cook gently for 2 minutes until the crumbs are toasted and golden. Cut the heat and save for later
  3. Drain the pasta and greens together when the pasta is still al dente (it will keep cooking as you finish) keeping a cup of the water for later in case it’s too dry.  Dump the drained mixture into the  bread crumb pan, add the anchovies if using and stir it all together fast while on medium heat adding some of the pasta water if needed and drizzle of good olive oil. Serve piled into shallow bowls and finish with plenty of grated Parmesan and more good olive oil.  I love fresh cracked black pepper on everything but in Italy you don’t put chilli peppers and black pepper together ever! But in the end I do what I want and like.

Authentic Italian Eggplant Parmesan Melanzane di Parmigiana

eggplant-parmesan
the layering- add grated parmesan to this
my eggplant parm pic
not yet cooked- take basil off and shred over finished dish

Eggplant – about 3 pounds sliced lengthwise in ¼ inch slices

8 oz fresh mozzarella ripped into 1 inch pieces

1 cup flour

2 cups extra virgin olive oil – EVOO – can use virgin oil

Parmigiano Reggiano – 1 cup freshly grated

Tomato sauce – recipe below

Salt sliced eggplant and leave with a weight on top for an hour in a colander over sink to rid of excess moisture. Then wipe off salt and pat well with paper towels.  (You can skip this step if you use small Japanese eggplants or eggplants that don’t exude bitter juices)
Flour them lightly then fry in ½ inch hot EVOO (extra virgin olive oil- which has a higher smoke point than virgin olive oil). 2 minutes per side placing on paper towels when done. Use paper towel to absorb excess oil – (or just drink that liquid gold haha ). Make sure not to crowd eggplant when frying as it lowers the oil temp. Insure oil is hot but not smoking between batches.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce (Recipe below) on bottom of 8x9ish baking dish, layer fried eggplant slices with more tomato sauce, grated REAL Parmigiano cheese then a good soft mozzarella ripped in small pieces. Repeat layers until all eggplant is used. Finish with mozzarella on final layer. It won’t be covered with sauce or cheese but it all melds together in the oven. Bake at 400° for 20 – 30 minutes or until bubbling- let rest 10 minutes before serving

Tomato sauce recipe:

1 onion chopped

2 cloves garlic – chopped

28 oz can tomatoes: Stateside I use Muir Glen or Hunts , in Italy it’s Mutti or Pommi

Fresh basil

Chili pepper– optional if you like a kick – whole in pieces or flakes

Sauté onion and garlic in EVOO until onion is soft with optional Chili pepper, add tomatos and cook about 10 min. Blend all with an immersion blender. Turn off heat and add fresh basil ripped into pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Crispy and light fried squash blossoms

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In Italy squash blossoms are in all the markets in summer but here they have been hard to find. I went to the Atlanta huge Buford market and found my source! As I was buying several people asked me what I do with them.
They are tasty and pretty in salads or in pasta but my favorite is dipped in an ice cold batter and fried in olive oil. In Italy I always used extra virgin olive oil “When in Rome do as the Romons” right? But here with oil more pricey I mix olive oil with corn oil ( because a restaurant in Italy who made the crispiest fried calamari ever used this combo.

recipe:

1 inch of oil olive oil and oil mixed corn or other frying oil- depends on pan size
1 cup all purpose flour – or rice flour which is very light
1/2 cup sparkling water – ice cold
sea salt

clean the flowers by removing the center pistol of the flower and dabbing with a damp cloth.
Keep the stem as it makes a great holder!
Trim the green excess on outside of flower bud
mix your flour and water together to make a batter with a pinch of salt.
Heat the oil until hot but not smoking
dip the flower into the batter and place in the hot oil.
Fry until golden, flipping over half way thru.
Don’t crowd the pan or the temp. of oil will reduce and absorb the oil.
remove to paper towels and sprinkle salt on them while hot.
Eat immediately!

Super Easy Super Delicious Fruit Crostata from Rome – family Garassini

20150523_17043620150523_162730 20150523_161222 My good friend Laura Garassini in Rome gave me this family recipe from her sister Carla.  I made this and brought it to friends tonight and they loved it!  I loved it! And it is so easy!  You just have to have a good marmalade since that’s the main ingredient.
Italian Fruit Crostata
Crostata di Carla ( Laura’s sister)

2 cups al purpose flour
2 sticks butter – cut in cubes at room temp
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp Marsala or Sherry
1 jar of your favorite marmalade

Make the dough:
In food processor mix flour, salt and sugar.
Then add egg yolks.
Mix until forms a ball adding water if needed.
Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 min. to an hour in fridge.
Remove half of dough from fridge.
Preheat oven to 400
Roll out to fit tart pan.
Poke holes in bottom crust.
Mix the Marsala into the marmalade.
Spread onto bottom crust.
Take other half of crust and roll out to make strips.
Make strips both ways across the marmalade, pressing on the edges to seal.
Bake for 20-25 minutes

Indicazione in Italiano:
Fare pasta frolla – durante l’impasto se risulta troppo secco aggiungere 1 dito d’acqua – e lasciare riposare in frigo ,coperta per ½ h, 1 h.
Ne stendo metà, o ¾ e bucherello il fondo con una forchetta. Ricopro la pasta con la marmellata. Faccio le strisce da mettere sopra con il resto della pasta e il bordo. In forno, ½ h a 200°.

Easy Fresh Beet Pasta

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Fresh Beet pasta with sage

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Fresh Beet Pasta- so pretty and so tasty and healthy too!

Don your gloves for the beets unless you want bright red hands.
Cooking the fresh beets in the microwave make it easy to peel and cood with the fuss.

Ingredients:

1 fresh beet – or you can use canned – need 1/3 cup
2 cups semolina flour
3 oz warm water or as needed

Method:

Put unpeeled , washed beets in microwave and cook about 4 minutes per beet (covered with 1/4 cup water)
Throw the cooked beets in the food processor and puree.
Add the semolina and mix.
add water through feed tube until dough comes together into a ball.
Turn out onto a semolina floured counter.
Knead 4-8 minutes until soft and silky.  If sticks to your hands just add more flour.
Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Can store 1 day in fridge or freeze.

Remove from plastic and roll out to desired thickness. I used 5 on pasta machine.
Cut into fettucine or whatever you like and let dry for up to 3 days or use immediately.

Cook in well salted boiling water 1-2 minutes fresh- a little longer if dryed,and longer if frozen. (don’t thaw first if frozen)

Store in zip lock bags in pantry.
You can also freeze noodles instead of drying.

Have fun and expect to get rave reviews from your friends!

Good sauces for this are brown butter sage sauce or

rosemary garlic sauce.

Just saute the herbs and garlic in a few spoons of olive oil or butter and pour over cooked pasta.

Most Asparagussy Asparagus Risotto you’ve ever Tasted!

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I love this risotto because it is so asparagussy! Is that a word? You get this by blending all but the tips with it’s cooking liquid and using it as your stock. Then you add vegetable or chicken stock as needed.

Recipe:
Asparagus Risotto

2 pounds asparagus
300 g or 1 ½ cups Vialone or Carnaroli rice are best but Arborio is easiest to find
50 g butter or 3 T
1 cup of white wine or prosecco
1 onion finely chopped
4 T freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
salt and fresh ground pepper

Break the tough end off the asparagus spears and discard. Break off the tops and put to one side.
Roughly chop the rest of the spears and cook in lightly salted boiling water.
When cooked, use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the asparagus with their water to make a thick stock. Keep simmering on low heat.
Heat half the butter and gently cook the union until soft. Stir in the rice and let it begin to absorb the butter before adding the wine and when that evaporates a ladle of stock. Keep adding the stock, a ladle at a time, taking care not to “drown” the rice, until the rice is cooked. You may have to use some boiling water if the stock runs out. The rice usually takes about 25 minutes to cook over medium heat.
When the rice is ready stir in the remaining butter and the cheese, beat with a wooden spoon, cover and leave to stand 5 minutes.
Check salt and serve with black pepper.