Tag Archives: Pine nuts

Pasta con i “Broccoli” (Pasta with “Broccoli”) – Vrocculi Arriminata

27 Apr

This tasty primo piatto (first course) is typical of Sicily, but it’s not uncommon to find variations in the ingredients if you eat it in another province. Perhaps it is better known by its name in Sicilian dialect pasta with vrocculi arriminata, which translated into Italian means pasta with broccoli in the pan. I should specify that in Palermo they call broccoli what, in other parts of Italy, we call cauliflower. This appetizing pasta recipe is prepared with cauliflower sweetened with onion, raisins and pine nuts, and colored with the king of spices, saffron (see pasta with saffron ). The type of pasta which I commonly use is bucatini, because it goes well with this type of sauce.Bucatini is a thick, hollow, spaghettilike pasta. Anyway, spaghetti is a good substitute for this recipe, in case you cannot find bucatini. The taste of this dish, savory and sweet, reminds me of the Arabic traditions. In fact, Sicilian cuisine was strongly influenced by the Arab domination and shares close historical, cultural and “flavorful” ties to it.

PASTA CON I “BROCCOLI” (PASTA WITH “BROCCOLI”) – VROCCULI ARRIMINATA

Preparation time: 25 min. Cooking time : 10 min. Servings: 4

Pasta con i "Broccoli"
INGREDIENTS
340 g (12 oz) bucatini
1 medium cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets in oil, finely chopped
80 g (½ cup) toasted pine nuts
80 g (½ cup) raisins
4-5 saffron threads
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Trim the tops of the cauliflower. Wash under running water and cook for 6-8 minutes until al dente. Drain with a slotted spoon. Set aside and keep the cooking water for the pasta
2 . In a pan heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic at medium-low heat for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Add the anchovies , raisins , toasted pine nuts and the cauliflower. Dissolve the saffron in 50 ml of water in which you cooked the cauliflower and add it to the sauce. Mix (arrimina) with a wooden spoon and cook for 5 minutes. Remove garlic cloves. Season with salt and pepper.
3 . Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the cooking of cauliflower you get salty. Cook the pasta al dente for about 10 minutes (follow the cooking time indicated on the package ). Strain and pour into the pan with the sauce. Stir and serve hot .

Note: To give an extra of sweetness, add the ” muddica atturrata ” prepared as follows: in a nonstick frying pan toast 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs over medium heat. When it is well colored remove from heat and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. When oil is well absorbed, add a tablespoon of granulated sugar and serve over the pasta. Paola

Advertisements

Insalata con Avocado, Clementine e Pinoli (Avocado, Clementines and Pine Nuts Salad)

5 Feb

This colorful and nutritious salad is a real treat for the eyes and for the palate, something I usually prepare in winter when clementines are juicy and delicious in Italy. The addition of toasted pine nuts give a crunchy, sweet and nutty flavor to this fresh dish. The dressing is prepared with lime that adds a further note of freshness. This salad can be a great side dish for grilled meat (tagliata) while the addition of goat cheese makes this recipe a perfect dish for a light and nutritious lunch.

The avocado is a fruit that was not used in the past in our Mediterranean diet originally from Mexico, but nowadays it is getting more popular because it is tasty and is beneficial to one’s health and beauty. Hemingway called it ” food that has no rival among the fruits, the real fruit of paradise.” It is rich in vitamin A and E (which have high antioxidant properties ), minerals and fatty acids, and it provides a lot of energy. It is a “panacea” for health, and we should not forget that is also an aphrodisiac!

INSALATA CON AVOCADO, CLEMENTINE E PINOLI (AVOCADO, CLEMENTINES AND PINE NUTS SALAD)
Preparation time: 10 min.                   Servings: 4

Insalata Avocado

INGREDIENTS
8 cups mixed salad greens
½ red onion, thinly sliced
4 clementines
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 avocado, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)
Juice of one lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. In a small bowl prepare the dressing by mixing olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Set aside
2. Wash and dry the salad. Set aside
3. In nonstick pan over low heat toast the pine nuts for 3-4 minutes. Set aside
4. Clean clementines, cut them into wedges
5. Clean the avocado, removing the skin and the central core. Cut it into small pieces and sprinkle with a few drops of lime juice to prevent darkening
6. In a large bowl, toss the salad with the dressing and garnish with avocado , clementines, onion and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

 Note: The success of this recipe depends greatly on the choice of ingredients, especially the avocado. It ‘s very important to use a ripe avocado. At the time of purchase I suggest you apply a gentle pressure with your fingers on the surface: if it does not yield, it is not yet ripe and you have to let it mature for a few days. If it is soft, but you do not see a groove in the pulp, it is perfectly ripe. Paola

Coniglio alla Ligure (Ligurian Rabbit)

14 Sep

This summer I was cooking for some American tourists staying on Lake Como and one asked me to cook rabbit, so I thought it may be a good addition to the blog.The, coniglio alla ligure, Ligurian rabbit, is an appetizing second course from region of Italy’s Riviera; in fact, for a long time this region was home to many rabbit farms. Nowadays this delicious recipe is enjoyed throughout the entire country. It makes a perfect dinner for family and friends. I recommend roasted potatoes as side dish or if, you prefer something lighter, steamed potatoes . The delicacy of this dish is due to the mixture of the mild taste of rabbit flesh, the sweet and fruity flavor of the Ligurian olives and the gentle taste of pine nuts. Rabbit meat is rich in protein but also low in cholesterol, so it is particularly suited for low-calorie and low-fat diets. I prefer stewing instead roasting rabbit; since it’s lean meat, you need to use extra fat to keep it from drying out when roasted. In this recipe I cook the dish until the liquid is reduced to a thick coating, not at all soupy.  Did you know that the rabbit is native to Africa ? It was later imported to Europe, especially to Italy and France. The Italian name coniglio derives from the Latin word cuniculus, referring to the ability of this animal to dig warrens with many tunnels (cunicoli).

CONIGLIO ALLA LIGURE  (LIGURIAN RABBIT)
Preparation time : 1 ½ hrs           Cooking time : 1     Servings: 4

coniglio 5_2 ok

INGREDIENTS
1.6 kg (3 pounds and 9 oz) rabbit
5 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin)
1 medium shallot , finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 sprig of rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
230 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
140 g (¾ cup) Taggiasche olives
40 g (⅓ cup) pine nuts
500 ml (about 2 cups) vegetable broth warm
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut the rabbit into pieces by removing the head and entrails; to save time ask the butcher to do it for you . Wash and dry with kitchen paper
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté shallots and garlic over medium-low heat. Add rabbit, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat until meat is golden
3. Deglaze with white wine and add olives, pine nuts and a ladle of broth. Cover with a lid and cook on medium-low heat for about an hour until flesh is tender (it will separate easily from the bone). Moisten occasionally with a ladle of broth. Serve warm !

Notes: When buying rabbit make sure that the meat is fresh, with a pale or intense pink color, depending on the variety. The color of the fat should be white and that of the liver uniform.  Paola

Caponata (Eggplant Stew)

20 Aug

Caponata is a delicious dish, typical of the Sicilian cuisine made with sautéed vegetables (mostly eggplants) and seasoned with sweet and sour sauce.  Sicilians are very proud of it because it is made only native Sicilian ingredients. It can be served cold either as an appetizer or as a side dish, but you can also enjoy it as a main course with a thick slice of homemade bread. It makes a perfect dish for a summer picnic because it can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Actually, it is a handy dish to have ready in your fridge for unexpected guests or nights when you don’t know what to prepare. Like for all recipes, there is a basic recipe and many variations. I learned this recipe which contains peppers from a dear friend from Palermo (Sicily). The origin of this dish is uncertain -: The etymology refers to the Spanish language “caponata” which means “similar”.  According to the Sicilian tradition, the term caponata comes from “capone” which is the name of an expensive fish, served with a sweet and sour sauce, typical of caponata.  Poor people could not afford this expensive fish, therefore they replaced it with the cheapest eggplants.  According to other sources, the name derives from “caupone“, the name of the taverns, in which this dish was served. Regardless this recipe’s origins, the fact is that it is really tasty, definitely something to try!


CAPONATA (EGGPLANT STEW)
Preparation time: 2 ½ hours   Cooking time: 30 minutes    Servings: 8

Caponata (2)


INGREDIENTS
900 g (2 pounds) eggplant
2 medium onions, finely chopped
450 g (1 pound) celery, finely chopped
110 g (⅔ cup) pine nuts
150 g (1 cup) green olives
3 tablespoons cucunci capers (preserved in salt)
450 g (1 pound) peppers
450 g (1 pound) tomatoes S. Marzano, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
110 ml (½ cup) white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
5-6 leaves of fresh basil
Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut eggplants into pieces about 2,5 cm (1 inch) long, put them in a large colander and sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow to stand for at least two hours under a weight to remove their bitter liquid. To aid the removal of the liquid, try putting the colander in a slightly inclined position. After two hours, remove salt from the eggplant with a kitchen brush and dry by patting them with paper towels. Fry in hot oil olive. Set aside
2. In a pan with high sides, sauté onions, celery, peppers, capers, olives and pine nuts in olive oil for about 7-8 min. Add tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes over low heat until celery is tender
3. Add eggplants, basil leaves and sugar dissolved in vinegar. Mix well and cook over medium-low heat for about 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
4. Let set for a few hours serve at room temperature.

Note: The caponata can be stored in the refrigerator for several days in a glass or ceramic container closed with a lid. Before consuming, leave it at room temperature.  -Paola

 

 

 

 

Pan dei Morti (Bread of the Dead)

28 Oct

The Pan dei Morti are traditional Italian cookies prepared for the Day of Dead (Commemorazione dei Defunti) celebrated on November 2nd, the day following All Saint’s Day (Ognissanti).  On these two holy days Italians honor the souls of deceased relatives and loved ones, and many believe that the spirits return to Earth to visit those ones they have left behind.  In fact, the use of other cookies (amaretti and savoiardi) or left over sweets as ingredients clearly symbolizes the transmutation of the old into the new.  It is also interesting to note that dried fruit and figs, also fundamental in this recipe, were always present in pre-Christian offerings to dead people. Cacao is a modern acquisition to render these sweets as dark as the earth in a burial ground.  In ancient times, honey, browned on the stove with a little butter, was used to get the same result for color and sweetness.  The Pan dei Morti recipe has as many variations as there are regions in Italy, and this particular one is a specialty of my own region, Lombardia.

This version has the advantage of being easy to prepare, but at the same time it is delicious and fun to eat.  The cookies are dense, chewy and moist, with a little crunch from the ground cookies and toasted pine nuts to remind of dead people’s bones.  (My husband remarks that the ghoulish background to these cookies makes them perfect for Halloween, too.)

PAN DEI MORTI (BREAD OF THE DEAD)

Preparation time: 40 min.               Baking time: 15-20 min.

INGREDIENTS
150 g (5-6 oz) dry amaretti cookies
350 g (12 oz) ladyfingers (large Italian savoiardi are best)
130 g (1 cup) blanched whole almonds, toasted
130 g (1 cup) pine nuts, toasted
120 g (4 ¼ oz) dried figs
120 g (4 ¼ oz) raisins, soaked in Vin Santo
300 g (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
300 g (about 1 ½ cups) sugar
10 g (2 teaspoon) baking powder
60 g (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 large eggs (4 egg whites and 2 whole eggs)
100 ml (½ cup) Vin Santo
Powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 170°C (350°F)

  1. Toast the pine nuts and the almonds separately for about 5 to 6 minutes on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 170°C (350°F) or stirring constantly in a non-stick skillet on the stove.  Keep separate and set aside
  2. Soak the raisins in Vin Santo
  3. Using a mixer, finely grind the ladyfingers and amaretti cookies, and place them in a very large mixing bowl
  4. Finely grind the almonds, and then separately grind the figs as well.  Add both to the cookie mix (the damp figs may clump together; just add the clumps into the dry ingredient mix). Add raisins.
  5. Sift together the flour and the baking powder, then add to the cookie-almond-fig mixture.  Stir in sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and pine nuts.  Toss until completely blended
  6. Pour the eggs and the Vin Santo over the dry ingredients and mix well until smooth and doughy
  7. Line the baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper
  8. To form the cookies, first flour your fingers.  Scoop out a ball of dough of a size somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball.  Using as little flour as possible flatten the ball into an oblong shape with pointed edges, about 4 ½ -5 ½ inches (12-14 cm) long and about 2 ½ inches (6 cm) wide.  Use just enough flour to work the dough and keep the cookies from sticking to the baking paper.
  9. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, leaving some space between each.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly puffed, with a brown color and crisp look
  10. Dust with powdered sugar sprinkled on top
  11. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.

Note: This recipe makes about 48-50 cookies.  These butter-less cookies are light and pretty healthy, and they are rich in nuts and dried fruits.  Some recipes also call for candied orange peel, another good flavor for this time of year, so feel free to throw in a handful if you wish. This “dead man’s bread” is best eaten fresh, although the cookies keep well for several days, too.  -Paola

Lasagne al Pesto (Pesto Lasagna)

11 Oct

Lasagne, one of the most popular Italian dishes, has a long and interesting history.  A popular tradition traces its origin to the ancient Greeks. In fact, the name “lasagna” is actually not Italian at all!  It comes from the ancient Greek language and means dish or bowl, but over time, the term lasagne has come to refer to layers of thin pasta that are cooked with and separated by different ingredients such as meat, fish, vegetables or cheese, as well as besciamella, or béchamel, sauce, of course.  You have may tried the traditional Lasagne with Bolognese sauce, but maybe not the Lasagne al pesto that I am going to present today.  The pesto sauce makes lasagna even more special and delicate, a tasty delight for your palate, and is an excellent vegetarian dish (remember, however, that it does contain eggs and dairy products).  You can enjoy this dish as a first course (like we Italians do) or as a main dish.

LASAGNE AL PESTO

Preparation time:  1 ½  hrs.          Baking Time:  30 min.
Servings:  4

 

INGREDIENTS
1 l (approx. 4 cups) besciamella sauce
180 g (¾ cup) pesto
6 sheets of Lasagne pasta (20 x 10 cm; 8 x 4 in)

Pesto
3 medium sized garlic cloves
60 g (2 cups) fresh Sweet basil
40 g (⅓ cup) pine nuts
70 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil (Extra Virgin)
50 g (½ cup) grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt to taste (optional)

Besciamella Sauce
1 l milk (approx. 4 cups)
100 g (⅔ cup ) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
30 g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 170°C (350°F)

Pesto (makes about 1 cup)
1.Toast the pine nuts for about 5 to 6 minutes on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 170°C (350°F) or stirring constantly in a non-stick skillet on the stove.  Set aside
2.Wash the basil and dry it.  Drop the garlic in a running food processor.  Add the basil and pine nuts until it becomes a grainy mixture
3. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on to reach the desired consistency
4. Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse until blended.  Add a pinch of salt to taste and set aside.

Besciamella Sauce (makes about 4 cups)
1. In a medium saucepan mix the milk and the flour well with a whisk until smooth.  This will prevent any lumps from forming
2. Add the salt
3. Cook 3-4 minutes (medium-high heat) stirring constantly
4. Lower the heat as soon as the mixture reaches a slow boil and then continue to cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly to the right thickness (smooth and creamy).  Add the butter.  Stir constantly to ensure that it doesn’t stick or burn
5. Remove from the heat.  Mix well the besciamella sauce with pesto.

In an 11-cup baking pan (23 cm x 18 cm; approx. 9 in x 7 in), spread a paper-thin layer of besciamella mix.  Arrange the pasta sheets side by side, covering the besciamella in the bottom of the baking pan (about 2 lasagna sheets).  Break the pasta, if necessary, to make a complete layer from side to  side.  Spread some of the besciamella (about ⅓) evenly on top of the pasta, followed by another layer of pasta.  Repeat this process until you have a total of three layers of pasta and finish with the remaining besciamella.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until top is brown and bubbly (follow the suggested baking time on the lasagne package).  Let it rest at room temperature for about 8-10 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle some toasted pine nuts on top and serve.

Note: Pesto is not too difficult to make, but tasty and fresh basil is not easy to find all year round.  Pesto is a pasta sauce which originates from Genova, in the Liguria region of northern Italy, and is made with fresh Sweet basil (Mediterranean basil) and pine nuts.  If you don’t want to make fresh pesto, then look for a  good Italian brand in the grocery cooler or with the canned sauces.  One final word of caution!  Make certain that the ingredient list on the package specifies “olive oil”!  –Paola

%d bloggers like this: