Legumes bring good luck in Italy and the best example is the classic “cotechino e lenticchie” at New Year’s Eve where the lentils are said to promise good fortune (literally, money!) in the coming year. Generally Italians also prepare a broad bean and pecorino cheese dish for May 1st to bring good luck, but to expand our “fave” repertoire, here is another Italian recipe using broad beans.
While the legume itself might be healthy, the rest of this traditional Roman dish isn’t but it was made back in the days of Italian nonne who weren’t so concerned about their figures. For ingredients, this traditional Italian cooking recipe uses: 300 gr of sausage, 300 gr of pork cut for casserole, 500 gr of broad beans, 50 gr of lard, six slices of stale bread, chopped parsley, sage, mint, oil and salt and pepper.
To prepare, fry the lard in a little oil and then add the chopped herbs. Remove the skin from the sausage and break it up a little, then add to the lard, browning slightly. Add the pork as well and cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes. If it dries out, add some water.
If using dried broad beans, they need to have been soaked in water, otherwise use fresh ones with the skin removed. Add to the meat mixture and dust with a little salt and pepper. In the meantime, toast the bread and add a little olive oil. Remove the casserole from the flame and serve with the bread on the side.
If you were lucky enough to spend your Italian Easter in Naples, you may have had the chance to taste this traditional Neapolitan recipe from Campania - ricotta pie. Called la pastiera, the Italian dessert is made from shortcrust pastry, ricotta, candied fruits and the unusual ingredient of aroma of orange blossoms.
According to Barbara on Italian Notebook, you can buy the orange blossom aroma from pharmacies in Naples, while the ingredient itself is meant to represent “innocence, chastity, eternal love, marriage and fruitfulness” (from the days of the recipe being developed by nuns of the San Gregorio Armeno convent in Naples). The recipe is key to Neapolitan traditional cooking for Easter.
The recipe uses cooked durum wheat, otherwise you can buy it already pre-cooked. Ingredients for two pies are: 500 gr of flour, 250 gr of sugar, 250 gr of butter, three eggs and some vanilla powder or essence (for the pastry). For the filling: 500 gr of ricotta cheese, 275 gr of cooked durum wheat, 200 gr of milk, half a tablespoon of butter, five eggs, 250 gr of sugar, half a tablespoon of lemon zest and the same of orange zest, 25 gr of strega liqueur and 25 gr of rum.
Italian pasta recipes can get creative and while it might seem like a strange combination to some, there is more than one example in Italy of pasta and potato served together. As summer in Italy approaches and we’re in a heat wave right now, pasta is still a great dish to serve as long as you keep it light. This fresh, summer feeling and experimental dish uses the traditional Italian product of pesto sauce, with linguine and potatoes.
For four people, you’ll need: 300 gr of linguine, 300 gr of broad beans, 300 gr of potatoes, one large bunch of basil, one bunch of rocket lettuce, two tablespoons of pistachio nuts, one clove of garlic, four tablespoons of grated pecorino cheese, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.
Wash and clean the rocket and basil, peel the garlic clobe and put it through a food processor with the pistachios and some salt and pepper. Add the basil and rocket and mix again. Blanche the broad beans slightly in some boiling salty water and take off the skin. Peel and chop the potatoes and boil for ten minutes. Boil the linguine pasta with the broad beans in some water, drain but keep the water aside.
Toss the pesto sauce through the pasta and add some of the water if it’s too dry. As a last flourish, add the pecorino cheese and serve. This would do with a nice bottle of Italian white wine, possibly from the Liguria region as this regional cuisine is home to the pesto sauce.
Photo | Flickr
This regional Italian dish comes from the south of Italy and is particularly famous in Campania. I was very tempted to write “bloody” cake in the title but thought better of it. In any case, the name “torta di sanguinaccio” reflects the colour of the ingredients used in this sweet pie from Italy’s regional cooking.
Ingredients required are: 350 g of pork blood (best to check with your butcher about just how you might procure this - Italians never throw away anything of the pig), 250 g of cooked rice, 250 g of bread crumbs, 200 g of fig jam, some cocoa powder, 150 g of sultanas, 150 g of mixed walnuts and almonds, 150 g of sugar, 20 g of ground cinnamon and finally seven to eight cloves. For the pastry you’ll need: 500 g of flour, two tablespoons of oil and some salt.
Prepare the pastry by mixing and kneading together the ingredients. Roll it out quite thinly and place it in a pie dish. Mix all the above ingredients together to create a smooth mixture and then cook over a low heat in a casserole dish while stirring constantly. Leave it to cool and then place in the pie dish. Bake in the oven at 180° for half an hour.
Foto | Flickr
Italian cooking will also celebrate 150 years of Italian unification this year, but the regionalism associated with traditional Italian recipes and dishes nearly always outweighs a nationalist interpretation of Italian cuisine. Over recent weeks, as Italy celebrated the date of March 17, there has been much debate over whether Italians can be unified at the table, so to speak.
The ’soft’ conclusion is that while Italy has a multitude of regional dishes and styles, it’s all celebrated in a common spirit. But is there one dish that represents Italy? Not really. There are many dishes, Italian wines, and different cooking styles which all represent different parts of Italy, although the Italians in the culinary business at the moment are claiming a unified spirit.
Coincidentally, 2011 is also the centenary of the death of Pellegrino Artusi - considered the pioneer of what is called Italy’s enogastronomic renaissance and author of the work Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well (La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene). The work was the first to start collecting what could be considered Italian recipes, written in Italian and collected from across the Belpaese - from Sicily to Piedmont.
It’s a work that can be rivisted in times when Italian people still associate more with their local regions and territories, than any national definition of their culture and therefore culinary traditions, despite festivities for unification this year. Can turnip tops and octopus from Puglia be just as Italian as ossobuco and Panettone from the north? There is a world of Italian cooking to be discovered and while it doesn’t unite us as such, it’s all to be enjoyed at the table of one of the world’s greatest cooking traditions.
Source | Gustoblog.it
Today is the fourth annual International Day for Italian Cuisine and this year’s focus is the regional Italian cuisine dish of pesto from Liguria. Genoa is the home of Italy’s famous pesto sauce and this edition follows the previous celebration of local Italian products and cuisine after carbonara pasta sauce, Milanese saffron risotto and Bologna’s old favourite tagliatelle with ragù were showcased in previous years.
We already published our traditional homemade pesto sauce and when done well, with fresh, Ligurian basil, it’s a delight. The international day and its pesto sauce making worldwide competition stipulates that chefs must use Ligurian basil, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, Pecorino cheese and sea salt.
The day ultimately aims to help protect Italian traditional cooking and ingredients, which are often subject to imitations that attempt to cash in on the industry and tradition. While there is obviously a business case to be made in protecting the Italian culinary industry, the country is also concerned about protecting its cultural heritage. Look out for some traditional pesto dishes in your local restaurants today!
Source | Italymag
Photo | Flickr
Winter in Italy has got particularly cold of late and so here is a perfect Italian recipe to warm us up: soup with chickpeas, bread and scamorza, or smoked cheese. It’s a typical dish from the tiny Molise region and while I’m not personally a fan of scamorza, the cheese certainly lends a lot of flavour to this soup. Ingredients to make a soup for four people are: 200 g of dried chickpeas, eight slices of bread, two eggs, one small onion, as much smoked cheese as you like, some extravirgin olive oil and salt.
After soaking the chickpeas for sufficient time (our recipe tells us that two whole days are good, changing the water every 12 hours), boil them on low heat in plenty of salty water for about two hours. Drain them but keep the water, setting aside for later. In a pan heat some oil and fry the onion until slightly golden, and then add the chickpeas. In the meantime, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and then toss in the slices of the bread, already toasted.
Lay out four slices of bread in an oven dish, cover with some chickpeas and a few slices of scamorza, and pour over some of the broth from the boiled chickpeas. Repeat the operation with the rest of the bread slices and then place in the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. The thick soup can then be divided or if you prefer, you can bake in separate portions, using one slice of bread and then making another layer on top, dividing the eight slices equally among four people.
Photo | Flickr
This yummy Italian Christmas recipe comes from Umbria and is a kind of walnut crunch called “le nociate”. Walnuts are frequently to be found in Italian cooking in various regions, including “nociate romane” from Rome and “copete ternane” from Terni, also in Umbria. This is a particularly simple version of this Italian dessert that many families from Perugia use.
Ingredients are: 1 kg of honey, 1 kg of crushed walnuts (the weight refers to the crushed quantity), some bay leaves. The method isn’t difficult and will fill your house with these lovely spicy perfumes. Melt the honey in a large saucepan, but be careful not to burn it. It needs to cook slowly for about a quarter of an hour. Add the crushed walnuts and mix together. Tip over a work surface (preferably marble) oiled with a little olive oil and then roll out with a rolling pin until obtaining a sheet about half a centimetre high.
Cover with bay leaves (washed and dried first) which form where you’ll cut the sheet along diamond-shaped lines. Leave the mixture to cool completely and then after you can cut this. The walnut crunch can then be eaten. Some recipe versions add a spicy touch of grated orange peel to the mix. The soften bay leaves help to eat the crunch and give it perfume, while also working as an excellent digestive to that big Christmas dinner.
Source | Gustoblog.it
Photo | Flickr
Today we’re going to look at this traditional Italian Christmas recipe from Bologna called the certosino. It’s a kind of cake or sweetbread which is also called panspeziale or ’spiced bread’. It’s made from a series of ingredients including dried fruit, almonds, dark chocolate and pine nuts and goes back to the Medieval period when it was made by apothecaries, before the recipe was taken on by the Carthusian monks.
The Certosino di Bologna is one of those hearty Italian desserts which will wash down nicely with a strong dessert wine or port. It’s much closer to a traditional Christmas cake or fruit cake for us than other desserts we’ve seen so far and it’s perfect for a snowy winter evening. Ingredients for this version are: 500 grams of white flour, red or white wine (or half and half), 500 grams of honey, 50 grams of walnuts, 50 grams of hazelnuts, 50 grams of almonds, 200 grams of dark chocolate, 100 grams of dried figs, one heaped teaspoon of sugar, 100 gr of sultanas, 100 gr of mixed dried fruit, 20 gr of yeast, a pinch of salt, and a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg.
From these ingredients you should be able to make about four “loaves”. Don’t try and make less and bigger loaves because otherwise the cooking time isn’t right and you risk having an uncooked centre. To start, mix the honey, flour and wine together to create a thick mixture. Add all the other ingredients, making sure that the figs are sliced, and add the yeast or rising agent last.
You can easily decorate the loaves with some of the dried fruit, for example walnut and almond halves. Place the loaves on an oven tray covered with oven proof paper and bake at 130°C for 90 minutes. Leave the loaves to cool completely in the oven before taking them out. This is the perfect recipe to create a couple of cakes which you can take with you on your Christmas visits or use for a hamper.
Photo | Flickr
In a famous scene from one the funny Italian films from Enzo Turco, Miseria e Nobilità, our protagonist, Totò describes what good mozzarella is like. And if it’s not good, “desisti”! Italy’s best buffalo mozzarella comes from the cuisine of the region of Campania, but if I’m living in Rome, where can I find this traditional Italian product?
Visiting Rome mostly involves the famous tourist attractions and getting to know Rome can take a lifetime. There are some secret spots where you can enjoy traditional Italian cuisine, including the 500 types of pasta at Pastateca. If you want traditional mozzarella, try Gargani in via Lombardia, which has some top-notch stuff. Many will tell you that Roscioli in via dei Giubbonari has got the best, but it’s probably a bit overrated. These are the creme de la creme of Roman food stores so you’ll have to be prepared to pay.
While the Coppelle market is not exactly a place to save money either, you do get some choice and can find the mozzarella gem you’re looking for from Leandra, who often has it. A new food store in Rome, Erzinio, has opened in via del Plebiscito and it has excellent products with no pretense in serving you or presenting what it’s got.