November 27, 2010
Gnocchi di patate con burro e salvia – Gnocchi with butter and sage
Recipe n. 27
After all this cooking and eating on Thanksgiving, probably the last thing you want to do is cook some more. This is a super easy and quick dish, suitable for those days when you are in a hurry, but still want to have a home made (or at least a semi-home made) dish. Of course, it would be ideal if you would have the time to make your own fresh gnocchi in advance, but since we are talking about being quick and easy, I’m sure that you can get pretty good quality fresh made gnocchi from your favorite food store. There are a couple of places here in the city where I go to buy gnocchi and I’m quite happy with the quality and freshness. I like this dish because even if it’s very easy to make, it still tastes and looks like a fancy course which you could order at any good Italian restaurant. It’s a classic italian recipe.
- 3/4 to 1 lb of fresh gnocchi
- A few leaves of fresh sage (about 10) shredded
- 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of milk ( I like to use rice milk because it’s sweeter and lighter than regular milk)
- Grated or shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Salt and Pepper
In a medium sized pot bring the water with some salt to a boil. Add the gnocchi gently and as soon they start to float to the surface, turn the heat to low and drain the water out. Put them back in the same pot and now add the butter, sage, milk and some parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix it all together gently until you have obtained a creamy sauce coating the gnocchi. Transfer to a dish and finish with some shaved Parmesan cheese on top.
October 30, 2010
SPAGHETTI ALLE VONGOLE VERACI E POMODORINI – SPAGHETTI WITH CLAMS AND CHERRY TOMATOES
Recipe n. 26
Growing up on an island in the mediterannean I ate quite a lot of fish as you can probably imagine. It’s a totally different experience to buy some fish in Sicily compared to New York City. In the little town where I come from, which is by the sea, una piccola borgata di mare, there are lots of local ‘pescivendoli’. You can smell the fresh fish from a distance and while I know quite a lot of people are bothered by this smell but it gives me a strong sense of connectedness with the sea. In Sicily they would never sell you a ‘fillet’. You have to buy the whole fish, from head to tail, maybe they will clean it a bit for you but that’s about it. I have also noticed that there is a big difference in terms of flavor. The fish from the Atlantic has a milder flavor while the fish from the mediterranean has a much stronger sea flavor and it’s saltier. Despite these differences, here in New York I feel very lucky to live close by one of the best fish places in town (even if it’s not by the sea) which happens to be in Chelsea Market. This recipe will be ideal if you want to cook a tasty and easy meal for dinner for your guests, it makes a perfect ‘spaghettata’.
- 450g (1 pound) spaghetti or linguine
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Good pinch of dried hot chilli flakes
- Small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1kg ( a bit over 2 pounds) of small clams, scrubbed and degritted
- 10 cherry tomatoes ( pomodorini pachino)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil and gently sauté the garlic, chilli and half the parsley for a couple of minutes. Add the clams and wine, turn up the heat, then cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the clams have opened.
Remove the clams and the juice and set aside. In the same pan add about 4 spoons of olive oil, the chopped garlic and hot chilli pepper flakes. After the garlic turns gold, add the cherry tomatoes. Let them cook for a few minutes and then crush them with a fork. Add the clams, the rest of the parsley and slowly add the juice which you previously cooked with the clams. Let the juice evaporate for a few minutes and then add a sprinkle of wine and keep the heat high. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in all the spaghetti with the clams and the juices and the remaining parsley.
August 30, 2010
MINESTRA ESTIVA DI ZUCCHINA LUNGA SICILIANA – SUMMER SOUP WITH LONG SICILIAN SQUASH
Recipe n. 24
A funny coincidence happened last week: I received two ‘super long funny looking squash’ from two different friends. They are typically grown in Sicily around this time of year. It must have something to do with the meaning of my last name in sicilian dialect: ‘cucuzza which means zucchina’! We use the zucchina and its leaves when they are available (which are called tenerumi), to make a simple yet deliciuos minestra which can be eaten hot or cold. I was sure that I would have never found them here in New York, but I was wrong. Apparently every wednesday at Carmine st. and Bleecker st. there is a local farmer who is selling them, along with delicious fruit and vegetables. I dedicate this recipe to my dear friend Amy, who cycled all the way to our place on her bicycle, together with her young son and the zucchina lunga siciliana. She was also very excited with the new discovery…not to mention that she had dressed the zucchina in a beautiful red silk ribbon! What more could one ask for?
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
- 1 zucchina lunga siciliana
- 1 white medium size onion,
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 2 small potatoes,
- 1 cup of vegetable broth (optional) or regular water
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
- 5 fresh basil leaves
- pinch of salt and pepper
- pinch of hot chilly pepper (optional)
- Olive oil
1 cup of spaghetti (broken in small pieces) to cook separetly and then add to the minestra (optional)
Cut the 2 extremities of the zucchina, peel it and cube it. Try to get rid of most of the seeds, if you can. Rinse all the pieces and let them dry in a colander.In the meantime wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Peel the potatoes and cut in small pieces (same size of the zucchina). Place about 3 tbsps of olive oil in a large pot and let the onion, previously chopped, cook for a few minutes together with the hot chilly pepper and the cherry tomatoes. As soon as they soften, crush them slightly with a wooden spoon and then add the zucchina lunga siciliana. After cooking for a few minutes at medium/high heat, take the hot chilly pepper out and lower the heat. Now add 1 cup of water (or broth). While it’s cooking, the zucchina will also release its own water contained in the vegetable. Let it cook at medium heat until the broth will be slightly evaporated and the zucchina will look tender and soft. Adjust with salt and pepper and add some chopped basil leaves. Just before serving add some grated cheese to the minestra and a few spoons of cooked spaghetti , if you wish.
July 3, 2010
INSALATA DI PASTA CON PESTO, POMODORINI E OLIVE – PASTA SALAD WITH PESTO, SWEET CHERRY TOMATOES AND OLIVES
Recipe n. 22
I love Summer time and with it the fruits and vegetables available during this season. Soon we are going to spend some time in Italy to visit my family and I can’t wait to eat all the simple and tasty dishes made with some of my favorites ingredients: fresh tomatoes, basil, capers and olives. I’m also looking forward to picking lemons from our trees and fresh herbs and sitting outside in the evening, when finally after a hot day spent at the beach, sometimes there is a light and pleasant breeze in the air which brings up the wonderful scents of the plants and flowers in our garden. I really miss all of that. Meanwhile, while we are still here in the city I try to anticipate this memory of summertime in Sicily during my childhood, cooking the same kinds of dishes. Yesterday I cooked ‘insalata di pasta’ and had dinner with my family on the sun terrace of the building where we live.
- 1 fresh bunch of basil (about 2 cups)
- 1 clove of garlic
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- Sweet Cherry tomatoes chopped (you can use any kind of tomatoes)
- Pitted black and green olives sliced in roundels.
- Short Pasta (I like to use whole wheat fusilli)
- Salt and Pepper
In a food processor place 1 garlic clove and pulse until chopped. Add the basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times. Add the olive oil slowly until you obtain a creamy pesto. Transfer to a large salad bowl and mix with Parmesan cheese. Add the chopped olives and tomatoes.
In a medium stockpot with salted boiling water add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, transfer to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well before serving. Keep it refrigerated if you’re not eating it right away.
Recipe n. 21
Here I am again. I know I disappeared for quite a few days now. The truth is that I had been very busy planning my son‘s birthday party. (I have to admit that even when I planned my wedding it didn’t take as long as it took me now to think about all the little details). I just couldn’t stop myself adding one little thing after the other. Of course very few people probably paid attention to all these little details, but preparing my son’s birthday party is still very gratifying. Anyway, I still had to feed my family in between so that’s something that hasn’t changed in the past days. Here is another simple and healthy recipe from Iose’s kitchen. Among all the grains I regularly use, farro (Emmer wheat) is by far one of my favorites. It goes well with soup or to make a perfect Summer salad or it can be used with some dishes instead of rice. Today I cooked farro and mixed it with sautéed vegetables.
- 8 ounces farro perlato
- vegetable broth
- 8 mushrooms, chopped
- 6 or 8 broccoli florets, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 yellow summer squash
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 garlic clove or garlic scapes chopped (you can find them now in any green market)
- ½ tbsp dried or fresh oregano
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp of vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
In a medium stockpot place the farro and cover with water or vegetable broth and cook until the farro is cooked completely. This takes about 20 minutes. In a large sauté pan place the olive oil and heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add all of the vegetables starting with the harder ones and cook until starting to wilt for about 4 minutes. Add the oregano, soy sauce and vegetable stock. Stir well and cook until vegetables are wilted. Add farro and mix everything together. Remove from the heat and serve.
June 13, 2010
ZUPPA DI CECI – CHICKPEA SOUP
Recipe n. 20
With these sudden changes of weather in early summer it’s hard for me, to make up my mind about what to cook (and what to wear too!). When it’s rainy and cloudy like today I feel like finding some comfort in a warm and creamy soup while looking out the window at the rain coming down, but then it’s sunny and hot again and I feel like I want to eat a fresh summery crunchy salad. Today I made a soup and realized that soups are not just meant for the winter. They are good even in summertime, as long as you eat them room temperature. Usually when I make my own hummus I cook enough chickpeas to make this soup with some of my favorites herbs.
- 8 ounces dry chickpeas soaked overnight
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- Good quality olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh chives chopped
- Salt and Pepper
Farro or Rice to go together with the soup (optional)
Soak the dry chickpeas overnight. After draining the chickpeas, place them in a medium sized pot and cover them with water, cooking for about 2 hours. In the meantime in a small skillet add 4 spoons of olive oil and when it is hot add the onion and garlic cloves until softened. After 2 hours remove the chickpeas from the heat and put a few spoons of cooked chickpeas in a small bowl on the side for later. In the pot with the rest of the chickpeas add the rosemary and thyme, the onion, garlic and olive oil, salt and pepper. Use an electric immersion blender to obtain a creamy velvety soup.
Transfer to a serving bowl or dish and add the whole chickpeas and chopped chives for garnish.
May 28, 2010
LINGUINE CON PROSCIUTTO E PISELLI – PEAS AND HAM LINGUINE
Recipe n. 18
I haven’t made this dish in a while as I inevitably got bored with it because my husband keeps asking me to cook it way too often, as he likes it so much. I have decided to start making it again after kept it in ‘quarantine‘ for quite some time. What I really love about this dish is what you can make with it from the leftovers the next day.… I learnt this trick in Italy from a lovely ‘mamma Napoletana’ who told me that in Naples it’s a very common thing to do with leftover pasta. I am not the kind of person who would ever eat cooked pasta from the day before as it usually tastes like ‘glue’, but with this recipe it’s a totally different story…
- 1 lb Linguine or Spaghetti
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 lb Frozen peas
- ¼ lb Ham cut in strips
- ¼ cup Parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup of vegetable broth or plain water
- ¼ cup Fresh grounded Parmesan cheese
- Pinch of Red chili pepper flakes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 to 4 Eggs
- ¼ cup Milk (or rice milk)
In a tall pot bring the water to a boil and cook pasta until ‘al dente’. In the meantime in a large skillet or pot heat the olive oil and add the onion, salt and pepper and red chili pepper flakes. When the onion is about translucent add the peas and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the broth or just plain water and cook the peas for about 10 minutes. Add the ham and cook 5 minutes longer. Turn the heat off and add some fresh chopped parsley and mix this dressing with spaghetti. If the dressing looks a bit dry you can add some of the cooking water you used for pasta. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on each plate.
Now here comes the best part. Keep the left over pasta already mixed with the dressing refrigerated. The day after you can enjoy this great ’frittata di pasta’ at lunch or dinnertime: whisk 3 or 4 eggs in a bowl, salt and pepper and some milk (I like to use rice milk). In a skillet heat a couple of table spoons of olive oil and stir the pasta ‘to bring it to life’ again, now add the eggs and lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook until the eggs look brown on the surface. I actually finish the cooking part of this dish in the oven and broil for 2 or 3 minutes to obtain a crunchy brown frittata. Set aside, let it cool and cut the frittata in slices to serve.
May 17, 2010
PASTA CON CREMA DI SPINACI – PASTA WITH SPINACH SAUCE
Recipe n. 15
When my son was still learning colors, among his big collection of trains from ‘Thomas the tank engine and his friends‘, there was one train in particular which was green. It is a very dark green and for this reason every time we refer to this train we emphasize it calling it the ‘deep dark green train’, exactly the same color as this delicious creamy sauce for pasta, which reminds me of that train. I have been making this sauce for pasta for years. By now it has became part of our recurring family menu. It’s an easy and quick recipe and a light dish to enjoy for lunch or dinner. Sometimes I make this sauce in big batches and freeze it to have it handy on days when you don’t have much time to cook but you don’t want to end up eating take out food.
- 1 lb fresh spinach washed
- ¼ cup rice milk (I like to use rice milk instead of regular milk because it’s lighter and gives a sweeter taste to the sauce with no need to add any butter or cream)
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup fresh ricotta, optional (I usually make this sauce without ricotta, unless I ‘m having a guest for lunch and want to obtain a richer taste and consistency)
- ¾ lb your favorite short pasta
In a medium sized pot bring the water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Take the spinach from the pot and drain excess water. Put to the side and let it cool. In a food processor add the spinach, rice milk, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix to obtain a creamy consistency. Bring again to a boil the same pot with water you have used to cook the spinach and add pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the water and in a large bowl mix pasta with the spinach sauce. Add some extra Parmesan cheese to garnish.
May 1, 2010
PASTA con BROCCOLI, NOCI e UVA PASSA – PASTA with BROCCOLI FLORETS , WALNUTS and RAISINS
Being Italian you would guess that I eat pasta everyday. I used to, especially when I was living in Italy, but now that I have also embraced other ways of cooking I eat pasta dishes less often. Since we also eat less meat, I’m always trying to add protein to our dishes from other sources such as nuts. I remember the day I came up with this recipe, it wasn’t that long ago: the evening I made this for the first time I was happily surprised looking at my son finally eating broccoli and enjoying it!
- 1 lb pasta (I use short whole wheat pasta)
- 1 large broccoli head
- 2 garlic cloves thinly chopped
- ½ cup raisins ( I like to use dried Zante currants)
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- olive oil
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
Wash and chop the broccoli into florets. In a large pot with water, where you are also going to cook pasta, place a steamer on top with the broccoli florets. Bring to boil and after the florets are steamed put to the side. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. In the meantime in a large skillet with olive oil add the garlic, florets, raisins, walnuts , red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes and remove from the heat. Drain pasta when it is cooked, and in a large bowl mix the pasta with the broccoli dressing and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.
April 26, 2010
PASTA e PATATE – PASTA and POTATOES
I get a feeling of comfort when I eat this dish especially when it’s rainy and stormy outside. I cook this dish during those days or when I forgot to go to the grocery store the day before and my refrigerator is half empty. It’s also a dish that cooks almost by itself without requiring my full attention while I’m preparing it. It’s easy to make and delicious to eat. It’s a typical dish of southern Italian cooking, born originally in Naples. It is considered ‘un piatto povero’ and yet it’s a very popular dish with a rich taste, made with simple ingredients, potatoes and mixed pasta. There are many ways of making it out there. This is my version:
- ½ lb short mixed pasta
- 3 large potatoes peeled and cubed
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 garlic clove thinly chopped
- vegetable broth (or just water)
- 1 Bay leaf
- Parmesan cheese (1 Crust plus grated)
- olive oil
- red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil in a large pot and add the potatoes. Cook for a few more minutes and add enough broth to cover the potatoes. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a crust of Parmesan cheese. Cook until the potatoes are soft and add the pasta, with more water if necessary, and cook until ‘al dente’. Remove from the heat and let pasta cook while it’s sitting in the pot. Add fresh chopped parsley and adjust with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Tip: You can use any kind of short pasta that you have already opened in your cupboard and mix them together, as long as they hold the same cooking time. I like to mix some broken spaghetti with short pasta.