Insalata Caprese

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

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Minestra con il Romanesco e spaghetti spezzettati 

Recipe n. 41

I made this delicious soup the other day.

I was looking in my fridge for some inspiration for a simple, light and nourishing dinner and voilà, there it was: this amazing pointy green broccolo, which looks like a sculpture from nature.

In Sicily during winter the green broccolo is probably the most popular vegetable that you see at the market. It’s a pretty picture to look at: lots and lots of bright green broccoli. The romanesco is not as common as the plain green one, but they are very similar in taste.

I followed my mom’s old fashioned technique to prepare the spaghetti for this soup. Nowadays you can purchase a bag of broken spaghetti everywhere, but there is something ‘therapeutic and mindful’ in breaking your own spaghetti, especially if done in the way my mom taught me when I was a child.

You don’t need much, just half bag of long regular spaghetti (I like to use wholewheat pasta) and a kitchen towel, where you first would place the spaghetti broken into large pieces and then after wrapping them inside the towel,  you start crushing them on the counter with the strenght of one of your arms, using the palm of your hand in a motion movement until they become about 1 inch long or less.

In my moms version of this soup there is no garlic or tomato paste, but I thought adding these simple ingredients would give a little kick to the soup and oh boy they did the job, especially  when you add some hot chili pepper flakes.

I could have eaten the enire pot, no kidding!

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Ingredients:

  • 250 grams of whole wheat spaghetti (broken)

  • 1 romanesco

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 1 to 2 tbsp of tomato paste

  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes

  • olive oil

  • salt

  • pepper

Wash the romanesco and cut in small pieces. In a large pan sautee the garlic, hot chili pepper flakes in olive oil. Add the tomato paste and the romanesco. Let it mix well for a few minutes with all the ingredients and slowly add enough water. Add some salt and pepper and bring it to a boil.

As soon as the romanesco is well cooked, you can add the broken spaghetti. If the water evaporated too much you can add some more.

Once the pasta is cooked serve immediately and enjoy.

Go for seconds with zero guilt: it’s all good!

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RAW CABBAGE SALAD with peanuts and poppy seeds –

Insalata di cavolo cappuccio con arachidi e semi di papavero

 Recipe n. 37

It’s finally Summer and it’s time to eat more raw and refreshing food. You might have noticed already  that your body is not craving for earthy soups or stews and needs to eat less fat in general, while instead  you are now craving for juicy and raw food, especially on those very hot days. Your body knows what is right for it and when to ask for a specific food.

For me this is the time of year I eat more salads. I like both simple salads dressed with a nice vinaigrette or more elaborate ones with many different ingredients in them. The salad I’m going to present to you today is definitely one of my favorite salads and it’s definitely  NOT a nut-free  salad, so watch out for those who have a nut allergy! 

You can eat it alone:  your hunger will be satisfied  with no need to add extra calories from other food.  It is a perfect meal for vegetarians and for all salad lovers!

 

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Ingredients

  • 1/4  of white cabbage head and a 1/4  of red cabbage head, shredded (I used only the white cabbage, but it looks more colorful when you add the 2 cabbages together)

  • 2 to 3 tbsp of sesame oil  (toasted or plain)

  • 1 or 2 handfuls of peanuts

  • cilantro

  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds

  • salt and pepper

 

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Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl, pour the sesame oil on top and be sure to coat the cabbage well, add the peanuts, poppy seeds, sea salt and pepper and finish up with cilantro leaves on top ( I like to add a generous amount of cilantro leaves to this salad as they are not just supposed to garnish, but they are one of the main ingredients of the salad itself ).