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.

Maple roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Dates – 5 ingredients!- Amazing and Easy!

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Maple roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Dates
Restaurant quality and Only 5 ingredients!

Who knew Brussels sprouts could that taste Amazing! I used to hate them! Caramelized and crispy, these maple infused sprouts gain a nutty maple bacon flavor from the roasting process.

Can be an appetizer by stabbing with toothpicks or a main dish

Ingredients:

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
¼ cup chopped dates
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place Brussels sprouts in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup; toss to coat. Sprinkle with bacon; season with salt and black pepper.
Roast in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy and Brussels sprouts are caramelized, 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

stir in dates and Voila`!   Everyone will want the recipe!

Fire Roasted Bell Peppers- Peperoni in Italian – On Grill or Gas Stove

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These are the baby bells but I do them the same way as the normal size bell peppers.
This is one of my Italian husbands’ favorite foods! He loves thes as do most Italians and he always notices if I don’t do them on the open flame-(under the broiler). You just don’t get that same smoky flavor.

They are so easy but my new roasting tray makes it a lot easier to clean up. I used to roast them right on the open flame of the gas burner but it makes such a mess.

Roasted Bell Peppers – Peperoni in Italian- no it’s not a meat pizza topping

Ingredients
Bell Peppers- small or large
chopped fresh garlic
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Directions
put the peppers so the flame is touching them on gas stove or grill or grill tray.
turn until black on all sides
place in a paper bag to let steam 15 minutes
remove from bad and peel what easily comes off of peppers.
I actually like the charred pieces.
I remove most of the black on the big ones and cut in half removing the seeds.
On the small ones I peel little off and leave whole. There aren’t many seeds inside. That’s why these are easier.
Then put on a serving platter with chopped garlic and olive oil drizzled over
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste