Insalata Caprese

March 13, 2018

Recipe n. 42

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It’s a classic. Mostly a Summer dish, served as an appetizer or as a salad to accompany another dish.  Even if the ingredients are not in season yet, I decided to publish it now because I was asked by one of my sons’s teachers to visit their classroom to do a ‘cooking’ demonstration about a traditional Italian food.

I picked this dish because it is easy to assemble and it doesn’t require any cooking. It’s also delicious and resembles the colors of the italian flag!

There are many legends around the origins of the Caprese salad. One of the most accreditated stories goes back to after world war II, when a laborer, who was very patriotic liked to include the colors of the italian flag in his ‘panino’ for his lunch break. Legend also has it that this dish appeared during dinner around 1920 in a hotel in Capri (the famous island off the coast of Naples) to please Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the poet and founder of the futuristic cultural movement.

One more story includes the Egyptian Sovereign Farouk.  In 1951, he went to visit the island of Capri with his family. It was a very sunny afternoon and he requested to have a quick meal prepared to satisfy his hunger. On that occasion he had the chance to taste a crunchy sandwich with pomodoro, mozzarella e basilico.  He fell in love when tasting these three fresh local ingredients together!

The dish was improved when the traditional mozzarella  from cows started to be replaced with bufala (buffalo) mozzarella, a dairy product typical to Campania.No matter where and when it was exactly created, this dish has become a signature Italian dish around the world.

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Reference:
http://www.italyheritage.com/traditions/food/insalata-caprese.htm

December 1, 2015

FLOURLESS  SPINACH  and  RICOTTA QUICHE

RECIPE N.31

This is what I made yesterday for dinner. I love this dish because it’s quick , easy to make and tastes delicious!    Plus you sure are going to get all your proteins and vegetables at the same time. It’s a complete meal. However, I like to serve it with roasted vegetables of your choice on the side, just to add some more colors to your plate  (a very important component when you are eating according to ancient Ayurveda, along with the six tastes) and also to give  your quiche ‘some company’!

 

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© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights Reserved

 

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© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights Reserved

 

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© 2016 Iose’ Cocuzza All Rights Reserved

 

Ingredients

(Serves 4 people)

  • 2 bunches of Spinach
  • 1 cup of fresh ricotta
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • Salt
  • Pepper

 

In a large pot bring 2 inches of water to the boil, add the spinach (previously washed) and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the water and squeeze out the remaining water from the spinach. Put on the side and let it cool. In the meantime beat the eggs in a large bowl and add all the other ingredients except the ground flaxseed. Cut the spinach coarsely and add it to the mixture.

Pour everything in a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with  some parmesan cheese and the ground flax seeds to form a nice crust on top.

Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes.

Tip: You can also bake it in a mini muffins pan and obtain fancy mini quiches to serve as an appetizer.  Your guests will love them and  for sure there won’t be any left over.

 

 

June 3, 2014

TAPENADE   

Recipe n.29

Today I’m going to share with you my ‘secret recipe’ to make  a delicious tapenade. I have been making a batch a week of tapenade for my kids sandwich for school for the past 2 years. It’s an easy fix delicious and nutrient alternative sandwich, instead of the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

My 2 kids just love it!

Tapenade  is very versatile and can be used a number of ways: you can use it for a great appetizer or as a snack on a piece of toasted bread or as a dip with carrots and celery sticks.

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 Ingredients (classic version)

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups whole, pitted kalamata olive
  • 1 or 2  anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons capers rinsed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
My personal touch:
  • lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

In a food processor, chop the garlic first and then combine all the other ingredients except the olive oil. Using the pulse button, process until coarsely chopped and well blended. Continue to process, slowly adding the olive oil. Refrigerate in a covered container. Use as needed.Transfer to a clean container and refrigerate until needed. Will keep three to four weeks.

Perfect Appetizer…

September 26, 2010

FUNGHI RIPIENI – STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Recipe n.25

I find that most of the time when cooking you don’t have to work very hard to make a delicious dish. Sometimes we go to too much trouble to find the most exotic ingredients in order to obtain a unique dish. In the end it doesn’t taste anything like it should, and my palate is not satisfied as it could have been if I had eaten a tasty and simple dish from my mom’s kitchen. I truly believe that the secret to Italian cooking is based on the fact that we use very simple ingredients in wonderful combinations.

I have become more fond of mushrooms in the past few years and I like to use them in many different ways for lots of recipes. This is one of my favorite ways to eat them. My mom taught me this recipe. They really make a perfect appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 15 medium-large white mushrooms, stemmed
  • 1/2 onion minced
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup black currants ( Zante currants)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup small chunks of pecorino romano or caciocavallo chesse
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Clean the mushrooms, carefully break off stems and dry them with a paper towel. Stir the bread crumbs, cheese, onion, black currants, pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper,  and  olive oil in a medium bowl to blend. Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange the mushroom caps on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes or broil under preheated broiler, with the broiler rack 3 inches below the flame. Allow to brown lightly before serving.

MEDAGLIONI DI POLENTA  E PROSCIUTTO AL FORNO –  BAKED POLENTA MEDALLIONS  WITH HAM.

Receipe n. 14

I’ve been craving for polenta lately, despite my southern Italian origin. It’s not a very common dish where I come from. Usually polenta is eaten in the north of Italy. In the south, we sometimes call people from the north of Italy ‘polentoni’, and they have equally endearing terms for us! Last night I made this dish for dinner again and I realize that the more I make it the more I like it. I also found this great brand of organic polenta, which is really delicious and it doesn’t come from Italy but from Argentina. It’s very sweet and has a very light texture.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups polenta
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups rice milk
  • ½ lb smoked ham
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Having all the other ingredients already chopped and ready next to you, in a medium sized pot bring the water with rice milk to a boil. Turn the heat off and slowly add the polenta while stirring with a whisk, always in the same direction. Add the ham, Parmesan cheese, herbs, 1 tbsp butter, salt and pepper. Mix gently together until the polenta is thickening up but still creamy. Don’t let the polenta become hard before transferring it to a flat slightly wet surface (you need to wet it so it won’t stick). With the blade of a knife flatten the polenta and let it cool for at least an hour. Using a round cooking cutter make as many roundels as you wish and transfer them onto a baking dish.  Put on top of every medallion a tiny amount of butter and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Recipe n.6

April 25, 2010

MY ITALIAN TRICOLORE SPREADS

I love spreads in general, sweet and savory. It’s good to always have some in the refrigerator, they make a perfect appetizer or a quick delicious snack on bread or chips or a perfect base to make sandwiches. You can certainly buy them ready made in any supermarket but they don’t taste anything like healthy homemade spreads. I like to make my own spreads in big batches so that I can freeze some and have them handy when I need them. They are easy to make and you can be very creative with them. There are ‘no rules’. These three spreads are my family’s favorite and when you put them one next to the other they look just like the Italian flag!  Isn’t it pretty?

TRICOLORE SPREADS

Ingredients

Green spread:

  • 2 cups Frozen Peas
  • ½ cup Fresh Mint
  • 3 cups Vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper

White spread (Hummus):

  • 8 ounces dry chickpeas
  • 2 Tbsp Tahini (Sesame paste)
  • 2 Garlic  cloves smashed
  • ¼ tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Red spread

  • 10 ounces of sundried tomatoes from a jar (in olive oil),  drained and chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme or basil
  • 2 Garlic cloves, smashed
  • ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Let’s start with the ‘green spread’: cook the peas for about 6 minutes in boiling water with the vegetable stock.  Drain the water and let it cool down for a few minutes. In the meantime chop the mint slightly and place it in a food processor. Add the peas, salt and pepper. Blend until it reaches a creamy consistency.

For the ‘white spread’: after you have  been soaking the dry chickpeas overnight, rinse them well under running water. In a big pot cover the chickpeas with water and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and  cook for about 2 hours. Drain the water but reserve some for later. In a small skillet pan add 1 or 2 spoons of olive oil and when it is hot add the garlic. As soon as the garlic turns golden brown remove from the heat. In a food processor place the chickpeas, sesame paste, garlic with the olive oil, salt and pepper and blend  until you reach a creamy consistency. Add some of the water you cooked the chickpeas with to adjust the consistency.

For the ‘red spread’: Drain the olive oil from the sundried tomatoes jar and place the chopped tomatoes, garlic, thyme , salt and pepper in a food processer and blend until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the extra virgin olive oil.

Transfer the spreads to 3 different bowls and arrange  slices of toasted bread on a platter to serve the spreads on.

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