Insalata Caprese

March 13, 2018

Recipe n. 42

Caprese1

 

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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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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