Abruzzi is located in the mountains along the Adriatic region of Italy and the cuisine is known for simple but hearty meals. A typical meal prepared in Abruzzi will feature diavolicchio, a combination of olive oil, tomatoes and chili peppers. Chili peppers are used often to spice up recipes, typical for much of Southern Italy. Rosemary, garlic and wine are also used extensively in Abruzzi cooking. Despite being more expensive per gram than truffles or caviar, saffron is used in many recipes and most of Italy’s saffron is produced in Abruzzi.
Abruzz’si cuisine is famous for artichokes and cardoons, legumes and potatoes and they are often enjoyed in soups. Cacio e Uova is a soup made from vegetables and salt pork and sometimes lamb, in a chicken base that relies on grated pecorino and eggs for a thick, creamy texture. Zuppa di cardi combines cardoons, relatives of the artichoke, with tomatoes and salt pork. The tiny mountain lentils are cooked with fresh chestnuts, pork and tomatoes with herbs to make zuppla di lenticchie. The traditional Christmas lunch begins with chicken broth, cardoons, tiny lamb meatballs and raw egg scrambled into the broth or fried chopped organ meats added to the soup just prior to serving.
Abruzzi recipes feature fresh seafood from the Adriatic, such as, Brodetto, a peppered seafood soup. Port cities also prepare fresh fish in a salty vinegar based dressing. Octopus is cooked in tomatoes and hot peppers and called “polpi in purgatorio”. Garlic, peppers and rosemary are used to season an anchovy and monkfish dish, called coda di rospo alla cacciatora. Fish and crayfish also come from inland freshwater ways.
The countryside of Abruzzi is dotted with herds of sheep and goats, making the preferred meats, lamb and kid. These meats are simmered slowly in sauces to serve over platters of polenta or pasta and served family style. Large pieces of spit roasted lamb are frequently eaten in Abruzzi, especially on special occasions. Another lamb dish of the region, agnello alle olive, is slowly cooked in a sealed clay casserole dish along with olives, lemons, hot peppers and oregano.
While beef is not as popular as in other areas of Italy, many households have their own herds of free ranging pigs. This yields meat for curing. Mortadellina, ventricina and salsicce di fegato pazzo are locally made table ready sausages that are enjoyed with bread. Abruzzi recipes such as ‘Ndocca ‘ndocca make use of the ribs and other parts of the pig that might otherwise be wasted, such as skin, ears and feet. This stew is flavored with vinegar, rosemary, bay leaf and peppers. Pork sausage is also enjoyed baked into the savory pizza rustica along with cheese and eggs.
Abruzzi cuisine begins many meals with a pasta course. Maccheroni alla chitarra, or guitar pasta, is a classic Abruzzi dish. This egg dough is cut into the classic quadrangular shape with an instrument resembling an acoustic guitar. This is traditionally served with a lamb and tomato sauce seasoned with tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic and bay leaves. Lasagne Abruzzese layers sheets of pasta with spicy meat and tomato sauce.
Abruzzi cooking often calls for a crepe called scrippelle. These crepes are filled with flavorful ingredients and then used in other dishes. With scrippelle ‘mbusse, the crepes are served in chicken stock with grated pecorino cheese. In timballo di crespe, the crepes are placed in elegant molds with vegetables, cheese and meat and baked.
Spaghetti with Garlic, Olive Oil and Hot Pepper
Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino is a traditional recipe from the Abruzzi region of Italy.
Ingredients for 4 people
- 14 oz (400 grams) spaghetti
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 peperoncino ( hot peppers)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water.
A few minutes before draining the pasta, heat 1/4 cup of oil, add the garlic and the peperoncino and cook slowly until the garlic turns golden. Add the sauce to the drained spaghetti, toss well and serve immediately.
Chicken and Peppers Abruzzi-Style
- 3 1/2 lb chicken; cut into 8 pieces
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh hot chili peppers; chopped
- 4 whole cloves garlic; peeled
- 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves; chopped
- 24 cherry tomatoes
- 12 small black olives
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a deep ovenproof skillet with a lid that is large enough to contain all the chicken pieces in one layer without crowding, add oil, garlic and rosemary to the pan – turn the heat to high. Add the chicken and arrange the pieces with the skin side facing down in one layer. When well browned, turn the pieces and brown on the other side. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and chili peppers and transfer the chicken to a large plate, skin side up.
Add the onion and the bell peppers to the skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the olives and cherry tomatoes and, once the tomatoes are hot, pour in the wine and simmer over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Cover the pan and braise in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer dish to a large warm platter and serve at once with crusty Italian bread.
Timballo di Patate
- 5 pounds potatoes
- 1 pound shredded mozzarella
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
- Chopped parsley
- Salt, pepper to taste
Cook potatoes whole, in water, peel them. Mash potatoes mixing in mozzarella, eggs, grated cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.
Place mixture in a 12x9x2 inch (or 9 inch round) pan, of which the inside surfaces have been oiled (or buttered) and sprinkled with flour to prevent sticking. Heat at 425 degrees F. in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Serves 12.
Easter Ricotta Tarts with Saffron
During Easter time the Abruzzi people celebrate the holiday with traditional sweets called soffioni or “big puffs”. The name refers to the look these mini tarts get while baking. Their filling is made with fresh ricotta and flavored with citrus zest and saffron. The expensive spice is a local ingredient from the fields around the small town of Navelli. It takes the inner part of 150 flowers (called crocus) to yield 1 gram of dry saffron and the brief harvest occurs once a year, when the flowers bloom around mid October.
For the dough:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus some extra for the work surface
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium eggs plus 1 egg yolk
For the filling:
- 1 pinch of saffron threads
- 4 medium eggs
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 cups of sheep’s milk ricotta or cow’s milk ricotta, well-drained
- Zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated
- Vegetable oil or butter for coating
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Prepare the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, olive oil, eggs plus the egg yolk and salt. Work the dough just until it comes together in a smooth and firm ball. Wrap it with plastic and let rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature while making the filling.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare the filling:
If you have an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, use it to make the filling. Remember to clean the bowl and the beater before beating the egg whites.
In a small bowl, crush the saffron threads with the back of a teaspoon.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the yolks in an electric mixer with the sugar until light and pale colored. Add the saffron, ricotta and lemon zest. Continue to beat until the mixture is fluffy. Set aside.
In another bowl or in a clean electric mixer bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until light and fluffy. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk and ricotta mixture.
Take the dough out of the wrap and roll it on a lightly floured surface into a square, about 1/8 inch thick. Using a fluted pastry cutter (or a knife), slightly trim the edges and then cut the pastry evenly into 12 squares.
Coat a 12 cup muffin baking pan with vegetable oil or butter and lightly dust with flour. Press the pastry squares into the muffin cups, making sure to leave the four corners hanging over the edges. With a spoon divide the ricotta filling among the 12 pastry cups without overfilling and then fold the corners over the center of the filling. They should not seal but remain partially separated from each other.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 320 degrees F and continue baking for another 15 minutes until the tarts are golden.
Let cool at room temperature and then carefully remove the tarts from the muffin pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
- The Cuisine of Italy – L’Aquila (jovinacooksitalian.com)
Marcella Hazan was born on this day, April 15, in 1924 in the village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna. She earned a doctorate in natural sciences and biology from the University of Ferrara. In 1955 she married Victor Hazan, an Italian-born, New York-raised Sephardic Jew, who subsequently gained fame as a wine writer. The couple moved to New York City a few months later and Marcella was a newlywed who did not speak English, transplanted to a country whose knowledge of her native cuisine was not much more than spaghetti covered with what, to her, tasted like overly spiced ketchup. The culture shock was substantial. She found canned peas and hamburgers appalling and for coffee – she described it, “as tasting no better than the water we used to wash out the coffee pot at home”.
Hazan had never cooked before her marriage. As she recounted in the introduction to her 1997 book, Marcella Cucina, “… there I was, having to feed a young, hard-working husband who could deal cheerfully with most of life’s ups and downs, but not with an indifferent meal. In Italy, I would not have wasted time thinking about it. My mother cooked, my father cooked, both my grandmothers cooked, even the farm girls who came in to clean could cook. In the kitchen of my New York apartment there was no one.” She began by using cookbooks from Italy, especially Ada Boni’s cookbook, The Talisman Italian Cookbook, – also my first Italian cookbook. Soon after she realised that she had an exceptionally clear memory of the flavors she had tasted at home and found it easy to reproduce them in her kitchen. “Eventually I learned that some of the methods I adopted were idiosyncratically my own,” she recalled, “but for most of them I found corroboration in the practices of traditional Italian cooks.”
In October 1969 she began teaching Italian cooking classes that were as much about Italian culture and history as about food. She taught students that Italian cooking was really regional cooking, from the handmade noodles and meat sauce of Bologna to the fish and risotto of Venice to the linguine and clams of Naples.
Her recipes tended to use only ingredients that would actually be used in Italian kitchens (with some concessions for ingredients that are not readily available outside Italy). Mrs. Hazan embraced simplicity, precision and balance in her cooking. She emphasised careful attention to detail. In her third book, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, Hazan laid out her “Elementary Rules” with some 22 commandments. Among them are:
- Use no Parmesan that is not Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Never buy grated cheese of any kind; grate cheese fresh when ready to use.
- Do not overcook pasta. Do not pre-cook pasta.
- Unless you are on a medically prescribed diet, do not shrink from using what salt is necessary to draw out the flavor of food.
- Dress salads with no other oil than olive.
- Do not turn heavy cream into a warm bath for pasta or for anything else. Reduce it, reduce it, reduce it.
- Choose vegetables that are in season and plan the entire meal around them.
- Soak vegetables in cold water for half an hour before cooking to remove all trace of grit. Cook them until they are tender, but not mushy, so that they have a rich flavor. Cooking brings out the taste. If you cook vegetables too little because you want them crunchy, they all have one thing in common: They taste like grass.
- When sautéing onions, put them in a cold pan with oil and heat them gently; this will make them release their flavor gradually and give them a mellower taste than starting them in a hot pan.
- Although some types of pasta, like tagliatelle, are best made freshly at home, others, like spaghetti, should be bought dried. Pasta should be matched carefully to the sauce.
- Olive oil isn’t always the best choice for frying; in delicately flavored dishes, a combination of butter and vegetable oil should be used.
- Garlic presses should be avoided at all costs.
Bibliography of Marcella’s books:
- The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating (1973)
- More Classic Italian Cooking (1978)
- Marcella’s Italian Kitchen (1986)
- Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (1992)
- Marcella Cucina (1997)
- Marcella Says: Italian Cooking Wisdom from the Legendary Teacher’s Master Classes With 120 of Her Irresistible New Recipes (2004)
- Amarcord: Marcella Remembers (Gotham Books, 2008)
In her honor, the International Culinary Center (ICC)—the only school at which Marcella taught—is launching a scholarship in her name, sending worthy aspiring chefs to the seven-month Italian Culinary Experience, a program that begins at ICC’s campus in New York or California, then continues in Marcella’s home province of Emilia-Romagna in Italy, including staging (apprenticeships) in top restaurants in Italy. To access information and the application, click on the link below.
Recipes for some of Marcella Hazan’s pastas.
Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta
(From Marcella Says)
- 1 medium eggplant or 2 small eggplants
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1/4 lb mozzarella, cut into thin strips
- 1 lb short tube pasta, such as rigatoni or penne
- 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
- Torn basil leaves
Boil 4 quarts of salted water in a large pot.
Remove the tops of the eggplant and cut into 1-inch dice.
Heat a 10-inch saute pan and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the eggplant. Cook about a minute, turning the eggplant frequently. Add tomatoes and chili flakes. Turn heat to low and simmer until the oil floats to the top of the sauce. Season with salt and remove from the heat.
Drop pasta into boiling water. When the pasta is nearly done, turn the heat down on the sauce and add the mozzarella, stirring until it dissolves into the sauce.
When the pasta is done, drain and transfer into a large warm bowl. Pour sauce over. Add pecorino cheese and torn basil leaves. Toss and serve at once.
Pasta with Abruzzi-Style Lamb Sauce
(From Marcella Cucina)
Serve 4 to 6.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 1/2 pound boneless lamb, cut into very fine dice
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juices.
- 1 pound penne, ziti or rigatoni
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
Put the oil and onion in a large skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is pale gold. Add the pancetta and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta fat is rendered; the pancetta should remain soft.
Add the lamb and cook until browned, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Add the wine and simmer until evaporated, 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until the fat begins to separate from the sauce, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse salt, cover and return to a boil.
Add the pasta to the pot and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Cover and bring back to a boil. Uncover and cook the pasta, stirring frequently, until it is al dente.
Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to a warmed bowl. Toss with the lamb sauce and the 1/3 cup of grated cheese. Serve at once, passing additional cheese at the table.
Pasta With Fresh Clams
(From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
- 18 littleneck clams
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced paper-thin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh hot red pepper or crushed dried red pepper to taste
- 1 ripe plum tomato, seeded, diced and drained
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound spaghettini or spaghetti
- Several basil leaves, torn up.
Wash and scrub the clams, dunking them in several changes of fresh water until there are no traces of sand. Discard any that remain open when handled. Place them in a dry skillet in one layer, cover the skillet and turn the heat to high. Cook, checking and turning occasionally to remove each clam as it opens; the total cooking time will be about 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Remove each clam from its shell and swish it in the cooking liquid to remove any remaining sand. Cut the clams into two or three pieces each, then put them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover and set aside. Pass the cooking liquid through a strainer lined with paper towels or cheesecloth and set aside.
Place the remaining oil and the garlic in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta later and turn the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring, for a few seconds, then add parsley and chili pepper. Stir once or twice, then add tomato. Cook for a minute, stirring, then add the wine. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until it is very firm to the bite, just short of being fully cooked (it should be so firm that you would not yet want to eat it). Drain it, turn the heat to high under the skillet and add the pasta to the skillet, along with the filtered clam juice. Cook, tossing and turning the pasta, until the juice has evaporated. The pasta should now be perfectly cooked; if it is a little underdone, add some water and continue to cook for another minute.
Add the cut-up clams with their oil and the basil leaves; toss two or three times, then serve.
Marcella Hazan’s Spaghetti Carbonara
(From Essentials of Italian Cooking)
- 1/2 pound cubed pancetta or slab bacon
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated romano cheese
- 1/2 freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 1/4 pound spaghetti
Mash the garlic with a fork and saute in the olive oil in a pan on medium heat while you cook the spaghetti. Saute until the garlic becomes a deep gold color, then remove and discard it.
Put the onion and cubed pancetta or bacon in the pan and cook until onions are golden and the pancetta is crisp at the edges. Add the wine and let it bubble for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Break the eggs into a serving bowl in which you will toss the pasta. The serving bowl can be warmed in the oven, if it is oven proof. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, add the cheeses, a liberal grinding of pepper and the chopped parsley. Mix thoroughly.
Add cooked drained spaghetti to the bowl and toss rapidly, coating the strands well. Briefly reheat the onion and pancetta over high heat. Turn out the contents of the pan into the pasta bowl and toss thoroughly once more. Serve immediately.
Penne with Creamy Zucchini and Basil Sauce
(From The Classic Italian Cookbook)
- 1 lb penne
- 2 lb zucchini
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- One bunch of basil, chopped finely
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Set a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente.
Meanwhile, slice zucchini in thin strips.
Heat butter and olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir. Before garlic starts to brown, add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and starting to brown a bit.
Add cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on medium-low heat until thickened a bit and let simmer until the pasta is done.
Just before mixing with the pasta, stir basil into the sauce and turn off the heat. Toss with pasta and parmesan cheese.
- Marcella Hazan 1924 – 2013 (ecookbooks.typepad.com)
The National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, has one of the world’s best collections of Greek and Roman artifacts, including mosaics, sculptures, gems, glass and silver and a collection of Roman erotica from Pompeii. Many of the objects come from excavations at Pompeii, Herculaneum and nearby archaeological sites. The collection includes works of the highest quality produced in Greek, Roman and Renaissance times. It is the most important archaeological museum in Italy. Charles III of Spain founded the museum in the 1750s. The building he used for it had been erected as a cavalry barracks and later was the seat of the University of Naples until it became the site of the museum.
Some of the highlights include:
A major collection of ancient Roman bronzes from the Villa of the Papyri is housed at the museum and includes the Seated Hermes, a sprawling Drunken Satyr and a bust of Thespis.
Mosaics covering the period from two centuries BC until the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD and mosaics that were parts of floors and walls in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae are displayed. Many of the mosaics include figures from Greek paintings. The most well-known are the mosaics from the House of the Faun in Pompeii. The museum’s collection also includes a number of important mosaics recovered from the ruins of several Vesuvian cities. This includes the Alexander Mosaic, dating circa 100 BC, and depicts a battle between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. Another important mosaic is of the gladiatorial fighter depicted in the mosaic found at the Villa of the Figured Capitals.
Secret Cabinet – This room was created in the early 1800′s to house the museum’s many sexual items. It was closed for many years but reopened in 2000. The Secret Cabinet (Gabbinete) or Secret Room is the name the Bourbon Monarchy gave the private rooms in which they held their fairly extensive collection, mostly derived from excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Access was limited to only persons of a mature age. After the revolution of 1848, the government of the monarchy proposed the destruction of these objects, fearful of the implications of their ownership, which would tarnish the monarchy’s reputation. The, then, director of the Royal Bourbon Museum had access to the collection terminated and the entrance door was sealed with three different locks, whose keys were held respectively by the Director of the Museum, the Museum Controller and the Palace Butler. This censorship occurred in 1851 when even nude Venus statues were locked up. The entrance was eventually walled up in the hope that the collection would vanish from memory.
In September 1860, when the forces of Garibaldi occupied Naples, he ordered that the collection be made available for the general public to view. Since the Royal Butler was no longer available, they broke into the collection and restored viewership. Censorship was again imposed during the era of the Kingdom of Italy and continued into the Fascist period, when visitors to the rooms needed the permission of the Minister of National Education in Rome. Censorship persisted through the postwar period up to 1967, abating only after 1971 when the Ministry was given new rules to regulate requests for visits and access to the section. Completely rebuilt a few years ago with all of the new criteria, the collection was finally opened to the public in April 2000. Visitors under the age of 14 can tour the exhibit only with an adult.
Frescoes come from the walls in Pompeii. Covering a period of about two centuries, the frescoes are excellent examples of Roman painting. They cover a variety of themes, including mythology, landscapes and scenes of daily life.
Temple of Isis is a special exhibit that holds wall paintings removed from the temple in Pompeii, as well as artifacts from the temple.
Pompeii Model was made in the 19th century and is a model of the city that helps the visitor visualize what it looked like before the eruption.
Sculptures of Greeks and Romans are housed in a large collection at the museum.
Coins and Metals are displayed in six rooms containing more than 200,000 coins and medals from Ancient Greece, Rome, medieval times and the Bourbon era.
Prehistory and Early History rooms cover objects related to the Bay of Naples from paleolithic times to Greek colonization in the 8th century BC. There’s a section on Etruscan occupation of the area.
The museum has the third largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Italy, after the Vatican Museum and the Museo Egizio in Turin. It is made up primarily of works from two private collections, assembled by Cardinal Borgia in the second half of the 18th century and Picchianti in the first years of the 19th. In the recent rearrangement of the galleries the two collections have been exhibited separately, while in a connecting room other items are on display, including Egyptian artifacts from Pompeii and other Campanian sites. In its new layout the collection provides both an important record of Egyptian civilization from the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 B.C.) up to the Ptolemaic-Roman era.
Museo di Capodimonte is located in the Palace of Capodimonte, a grand Bourbon palazzo in Naples, Italy. The museum is the prime repository of Neapolitan painting and decorative art, with several important works from other Italian schools of painting and some important ancient Roman sculptures This museum has the largest collection in Italy aside from the Uffizi — and yet you don’t have to vie for space in front of its masterpieces. The Capodimonte contains pieces by Caravaggio, Raphael, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Titian, Bellini, El Greco, Artemisia Gentileschi, even an Andy Warhol painting of Mt. Vesuvius erupting… among others.
The collection can trace its origins back to 1738, when King Charles VII of Naples and Sicily (later Charles III, king of Spain) decided to build a hunting lodge on the Capodimonte hill, but then decided that he would instead build a grand palace, partly because his existing residence, the Palace of Portici, was too small to accommodate his court and partly because he needed somewhere to house his Farnese art collection, which he had inherited from his mother, Elisabetta Farnese, the last descendant of the sovereign ducal family of Parma.
Over the years the palace was enlarged and filled with more art. In 1787, on the advice of Jacob Philipp Hackert, a laboratory for the restoration of paintings was created. After the palace passed in 1861 to the House of Savoy, further pieces were added to the art collections, appointing Domenico Morelli as consultant for new acquisitions. They also added an extensive collection of historic firearms and other weapons. In 1866, the boudoir of Maria Amalia of Saxony was transferred to Capodimonte from the Palace of Portici and in 1877 a Roman era marble floor was brought in from a Roman villa on Capri. After the end of the monarchy, the palace became a national museum in 1950.
The Cappella Sansevero (also known as the Capella Sansevero de’ Sangri or Pietatella) is a chapel north of the church of San Domenico Maggiore, in the historic center of Naples, Italy. Its origin dates to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore, after recovering from a serious illness, had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence, the Palazzo Sansevero. The building was converted into a family burial chapel by Alessandro di Sangro in 1613 (as inscribed on the marble plinth over the entrance to the chapel). The Prince of Sansevero also included Masonic symbols in its reconstruction. Until 1888 a passageway connected the Sansevero palace with the chapel.
The museum contains works of art by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century including sculptures of the late Baroque period. The chapel houses almost thirty works of art, among them sculptures made of a marble-like substance that, in whole or in part, was invented by Raimondo, who also participated in the design of the works of art in the chapel. The Veiled Truth was completed by Antonio Corradini in 1750 as a tomb monument dedicated to Cecilia Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Aragona, mother of Raimondo. A Christ Veiled under a Shroud (also called Veiled Christ) was completed in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino. It is a masterpiece of expression — even though there is a veil covering the face.
The ceiling, the Glory of Paradise, was painted by Francesco Maria Russo in 1749. The original floor (most of the present one dates from 1901) was in black and white (said to symbolize good/evil) in the design of a labyrinth.
In the basement there is a painting by the Roman artist, Giuseppe Pesce, Madonna con Bambino, dating from around 1750. It was painted using wax-based paints of Raimondo di Sangro’s own invention. The prince presented this painting to his friend Charles Bourbon, King of Naples.
There are also “anatomic models” of 18th century people whose skeletons, arteries and veins have all been preserved to this day. However, analysis of the “blood vessels” indicate they are constructed of beeswax, iron wire and silk.
Ask any Italian where the best pizza in Italy comes from and the answer will be — begrudgingly — the same: “Napoli.” Here’s where pizza was invented and, since the 19th century, the Neapolitans have raised it to a fine art.
Pizza is far from the only food Naples does well. Its fritti (fried offerings), seafood and pastas are top-notch, too. But the one thing you can’t miss are the baked goods. Thanks to Naples’ mixed heritage — from the 12th to 19th centuries, the French, Spanish, Austrians and Bourbons all claimed control at some point — its pastries have picked up the best of all foreign influences, such as baba, zeppola, sfogliatelle or around Easter time – the pastiera.
Naples-Style Pizza Dough
- 2 tablespoons sugar (⅞ oz.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (½ oz.)
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 5½ cups “00″ flour, (1 lb. 12 oz.)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt (¾ oz.)
Combine sugar, oil, yeast and 2 cups cold water in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let sit until foamy, 8-10 minutes. Mix flour and salt in a separate bowl.
With motor running, slowly add flour mixture; mix until a smooth dough forms, 8-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
Divide dough into 4 balls; transfer to a greased 9″ x 13″ dish; brush tops with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 48 hours.
Salsa di Pomodoro Fresco
- 2 (28-oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes, packed in purée
- Kosher salt, to taste
Remove each whole tomato from the can and reserve 3 cups of the purée. Cut the tomatoes in half and, using your fingers, remove and discard the seeds (don’t rinse).
Place the tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until just crushed but not puréed. (Alternatively, crush the tomatoes by hand or pass them through a food mill.)
Transfer the tomato sauce to a bowl and stir in the reserved 3 cups of purée and salt.
- 1 recipe Naples-style pizza dough
- Fine semolina, for dusting
- 1 recipe Naples-style pizza sauce
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 16 fresh basil leaves
- Olive oil
Place a pizza stone under the broiler; heat for 30 minutes.
Working with the 4 batches of dough, dust 1 ball dough with semolina. Using your fingertips, press dough into a 10″ circle about ¼” thick, leaving a 1″ crust around the edges.
Hold dough straight up, and with fingertips circling crust, slide fingers around crust in a circular motion as you would turn a steering wheel until dough in the center is stretched to about ⅛” thick; transfer to a semolina-dusted pizza peel.
Spread ½ cup sauce over dough and distribute a quarter each of the cheese and basil leaves; drizzle with oil. Slide pizza onto the stone; broil until the cheese melts and the crust is puffed and charred in spots, 3-4 minutes.
Lasagne alla Napoletena
Also known as carnival lasagna, a traditional southern recipe from Naples.
- 6 oz. (gr.170) lasagne (fresh homemade lasagne pasta, if possible)
- 8 oz. (gr.225) Italian sausage
- 4 oz. (gr.115) mozzarella cheese
- 8 oz. (gr.225) ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 10 oz. (gr.300) ripe tomatoes or whole canned, chopped
- 2 tablespoons (gr.30) butter
- 4 tablespoons (ml.60) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Small bunch of basil, minced
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
In a saucepan heat the olive oil and brown the onion. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes at low heat. Add the minced basil.
Brown the Italian sausages in a skillet on all sides. Set aside to cool. After cooling, remove the casing and thinly slice the sausage.
Dice the mozzarella cheese. Slice the hard-boiled eggs.
In a mixing slightly beat the egg together with the Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Oil the bottom of a lasagna pan and lay 3 noodles crosswise. Spread with some of the tomato sauce, some diced mozzarella, some ricotta, a few tablespoons of the eggs and cheese mixture, some slices of the hard-boiled eggs and some pieces of the Italian sausages. Repeat the layering procedure until all ingredients are used.
For the last layer cover with just the noodles and spread the top with softened butter. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and bake the lasagna for 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and let lasagna rest for 5 minutes. Cut and serve.
Neapolitan Zuppa di Pesce
The Neapolitan version will almost always include one or more kinds of mollusks such as squid, baby cuttlefish or octopus, clams or mussels or both, and a variety fish with fins. The fish was usually the local catch, so many local varieties of fish, most of them small and some quite bony but flavorful, can be added to the pot. Larger fish can be cut into serving or even bite-sized pieces. The most typical fish of all is scorfano, called ‘scorpion fish’ in English. (Scorfano is also typical of the Tuscan cacciucco and some of the Adriatic brodetti.) Triglie—red mullet—is also a common addition. But any firm-fleshed fish that lends itself to simmering will do: monkfish, snapper, catfish, sole. Less typical of this kind of fish soup are sea scallops and shellfish but they are nice additions.
For the tomato base:
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 peperoncino (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
- Olive oil
- A can of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
- Salt and pepper
- A splash of white wine
- 1 bunch of Italian parsley, chopped
For the seafood (in the order they should be added to the pot):
- An assortment of mollusks, such as squid, baby cuttlefish or octopus, cut into bite-sized pieces
- An assortment of firm-fleshed fish of your choice, such as monkfish cut into large chunks
- Shrimp, crayfish and/or sea scallops
- Clams and/or mussels
Sauté the garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the peperoncino. When the garlic is just barely beginning to brown; add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper (going light on the salt since the shellfish will be salty) and add some of the chopped parsley. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, or until the sauce begins to reduce. Add a splash of white wine.
Add the seafood starting with the varieties that take the longest to cook, then progressing to those that take less time. Begin with the mollusks, since they will take some time to cook. With baby cuttlefish, let them simmer about 10 minutes before adding any other fish. Octopus or mature squid (cut up into bite-sized pieces) will take much longer, usually about 30 minutes. Then add the fish and let that cook for another five minutes. Finally, add the clams and mussels and simmer them just until they open. Sprinkle with a bit more finely chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread.
Ricotta Neapolitan Easter Pie (Pasteria)
- 1 qt whole milk
- 3/4 cup Arborio rice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter, for the pan
- All-purpose flour, for pan
- 3 lbs fresh ricotta cheese, drained 3 hours or preferably overnight
- 3 large whole eggs
- 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Boil milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in rice, cinnamon, salt and the vanilla bean. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 30 minutes or until rice is very tender and has absorbed all the liquid.
Remove pan from the heat. Stir in ¾ cups granulated sugar. Cover. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Discard vanilla bean.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, mix the rice mixture, ricotta, whole eggs, egg yolks and remaining ½ cup sugar. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until golden on top and almost set in the center. Cover with foil if starting to brown too much.
Transfer pan to a cooling rack. When cake has completely cooled, run a knife around edge to loosen. Gently remove ring.
Transfer cake to a serving platter. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
- Life and death in Pompeii (bbc.co.uk)
The Jewish community of Ferrara is the only one in Emilia-Romagna with a continuous presence from the Middle Ages to the present day. It played an important role while the Duke Ercole I d’Este was in power. The situation of the Jews deteriorated in 1598, after the Este dynasty moved to Modena and the city came under papal control. The Jewish settlement, located on three city streets, formed a triangle near the cathedral and became a ghetto in 1627. Between 1627 and 1859, the Ferrara Jews were restricted to the ghetto, a self-sufficient small town within the larger one. With a population of about 1,800, the ghetto had its own synagogues, schools and old age homes. In 1848, King Carlo Alberto proclaimed the emancipation of the Italian Jews, granting them equal rights. Today, the old ghetto area, with its small attractive stores and refurbished colorful houses, is an essential part of the itinerary of all guided tours.
In 1799, the city was taken over by the Republic of France, which established a small garrison there. Shortly after, Lieutenant Field Marshal Johann von Klenau approached the fortress with his military forces consisting of Austrian cavalry, artillery and infantry men, augmented by Italian peasant rebels, and demanded its capitulation. The commander refused. Klenau blockaded the city. For the next three days, Klenau patrolled the countryside, capturing the surrounding strategic points. The French attempted two rescues of the beleaguered fortress and, finally, a column led by Pierre-Augustin Hulin reached and relieved the fortress. Klenau took possession of the town, though, and garrisoned it with a light battalion. The Jewish residents of Ferrara paid 30,000 ducats to prevent the pillage of the city by Klenau’s forces, thus, saving the city from being sacked.
Although Jews lived in several towns of Emilia-Romagna, including Modena, Bologna, Parma, Reggio and Emilia, the Jewish cuisine that seems to have survived or prevailed is the one from the city of Ferrara. Their influence in the region’s cooking is mainly Sephardi, with dishes such as buricchi, which is reminiscent of Spanish and Portuguese empanadas and can have both sweet and savory fillings.
An old saying from Ferrara goes, “Dell’oca non si butta via niente”, which translates as “Nothing gets thrown away from a goose”. Inspired by the Italian pork cold cuts, the Ferrara Jews recreated similar cuts using goose. All the parts of the goose were eaten: its fat was widely used in cooking as it was full of protein and calories and was cheap to buy. Its meat was used to make ‘prosciutti’ and goose sausages or salami. For centuries the word ‘sallame’, spelt with two ‘l’s instead of ‘salame’ was used within the Jewish community in order to distinguish the goose salami from the forbidden pork one. Foie gras was made from the goose liver and it was very expensive. Sometimes it was even used for payment in illegal betting and smuggling.
Goose was widely used in Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Piedmont until modern times, when it was replaced by turkey, as turkey is more tender, less fatty and cheaper. Many recipes from the Jewish community of Ferrara have goose and turkey as their main dish entree and turkey meatloaf is still a popular dish. A well-known and interesting goose dish is the ruota del faraone or Pharaoh’s wheel. It is made with fresh tagliatelle, goose salami, pine nuts and raisins. It’s ingredients represent the Egyptian soldiers and chariots being caught up in the waves of the closing Red Sea, while chasing the Jews who were escaping from Egypt. This dish and many other old traditional recipes are laborious and few people make them today, if at all. Testine di spinaci – the stems of spinach – and guscetti – the husks of green peas were dishes created at the time of the ghettos, when living conditions were particularly poor and creativity was a necessity in the kitchen.
During Passover, foods containing chametz, that is leavened bread or anything else made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye are not allowed. The Ashkenazic tradition also places kitniyot in the list of prohibited Passover foods: rice, corn, soy, millet, beans, peas, any other legume or anything derived from those products, such as corn syrup, tofu or soy oil fall under this category. Similarly, seeds, mustard, sesame and fennel are also avoided during Passover. This restriction includes peanuts, even though we think of them as nuts, they really are classified as legumes. People from a Sephardi or Mizrahi background do not have the kitniyot restriction.
Look on products like matzah flour, juices, wine, oil, candy and soda for the “Kosher for Passover” certification. That can help you be sure.
Serves 4 to 6 as appetizer
- 11 matzahs, broken into small pieces
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons of matzah meal, plus more to dust the gnocchi
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon kosher approved extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 leeks
- 1 clove garlic
- 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
- Pinch of sugar
Soak the matzah in cold water or broth for at least 1 hour or until soft. Drain, squeeze well and place into a clean bowl; add the eggs, salt and pepper, parsley, nutmeg and matzah meal. Mix all the ingredients together.
In a second bowl, place some more matzah meal. With a wet tablespoon or a small scoop, take some of the mixture and place it on top of the matzah meal. Using your hands, roll the mixture evenly over the matzah meal and shape it into a ping-pong size ball. Proceed with the rest of the mix and place the rolled gnocchi on a piece of wax paper.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; drop in the gnocchi and scoop them out as they rise to the surface using a slotted skimmer. Place them in with the tomato sauce and serve.
Prepare the sauce:
Heat olive oil and add thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts) and a whole clove of garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, and discard the garlic.
Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon . Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cook for about 10-15 minutes uncovered, allowing the sauce to thicken.
Passover Rolled Turkey Breast With Mushroom-Spinach Stuffing
FOR THE STUFFING:
- 2 tablespoons kosher-for-Passover olive oil
- 2 leeks, white part only, chopped
- 1 pound mushrooms, chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 6 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups matzah meal
- Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE TURKEY:
- 1 Kosher whole turkey breast, boned, with skin (4-5 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon kosher-for-Passover olive oil
- 3 cups reduced-sodium Kosher chicken or vegetable broth, divided
- 1 cup kosher-for-Passover dry white wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
TO PREPARE THE STUFFING:
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil. Saute leeks and mushrooms until leeks are tender and mushrooms are browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, Italian seasoning and spinach and stir until spinach wilts. Remove to a large bowl to cool slightly. Sprinkle with lemon juice and stir in matzah meal. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
TO PREPARE THE TURKEY:
Lay turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board or wax paper. Trim any excess skin. Holding a knife parallel to the meat, make lengthwise cuts on both breast halves, cutting away from the center, so meat is of a consistent thickness (creating a rectangular shape). Cover with wax paper and pound to 3/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread with the spinach stuffing mixture, leaving about a 1/2-inch border. Starting from the left side, roll into a cylinder. Tie at 1-inch intervals with kitchen string and secure open edges with toothpicks.
Place turkey on a rack, seam side down, in a roasting pan. Brush with oil. Combine 2 cups chicken broth with the wine and pour over the turkey. Roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, basting with stock mixture every 15 minutes (add broth if evaporating too quickly) or until temperature registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and juices run clear.
Remove from roast the oven and let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Skim fat from the roasting pan and pour pan juices into a small saucepan with the remaining stock and season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly thickened. Remove toothpicks and string, and slice turkey into 1-inch-thick slices. Serve with sauce.
These latkes are oven fried.
- 1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, about 3 medium potatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons Matzah meal
- Kosher approved vegetable oil for the baking sheets
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray two large cookie sheets with rims with cooking spray.
Grate or shred the potatoes. You can use the fine shredding attachment on a processor or mixer. Wrap the grated potatoes in a cotton dish towel (a flour sack towel works well), and twist the towel closed at the top. Bring the potatoes to the sink and squeeze them, wringing as much liquid as possible from them.
Shred or grate the onion. Don’t use the finest shredding disk of your food processor, as it will turn the onion to mush; the medium shredding disk is preferable.
Combine the drained potatoes, onion, egg, salt and matzah in a bowl, stirring until everything is thoroughly mixed.
Pour a thin layer of oil into each baking pan. It should be deep enough that when you tilt the pan, you can see it move. For easier-to-clean pans and slightly less greasy latkes, heat the pans in the oven briefly, to warm the oil.
Drop the pancake batter onto the sheets by the 1/4 to 1/3-cupful. Space them far enough apart so that you can easily get a spatula between them to flip them over when the time comes.
Bake the pancakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven, turn the pancakes over and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom.
Remove from the oven and drain the pancakes on paper towels. Serve with applesauce and sour cream, if desired.
Roasted Root Vegetables
- About 3-4 pounds, in any combination: turnips, parsnips, carrots, celery root, shallots, golden beets, butternut or kabocha squash
- 1/3 cup kosher approved olive oil
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 6 sprigs thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Peel all the vegetables and dice into 1 inch pieces.
Combine al lthe ingredients in a mixing bowl and transfer to two rimmed cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment paper.
Roast about 20-30 minutes, until very tender.
Discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Serve with the turkey roast.
Italian Almond Passover Cake
Dress this simple cake up by dusting the top with confectioners’ sugar and topping it with fresh fruit.
- 2 tablespoons matzah meal, plus more for coating the cake pan
- 2 cups whole blanched almonds or 2 cups packaged finely ground almonds
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup kosher approved extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease a 10-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment or wax paper and grease the paper. Evenly coat the bottom and sides with matzah meal, tapping out any excess.
If you are using whole blanched almonds, pulse the whole blanched almonds in a food processor with 2 tablespoons of matzah meal and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar until very finely ground. If using packaged finely ground almonds, mix by hand: packaged ground almonds with the matzah meal and the 1/4 cup sugar.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the brown sugar and the remaining granulated sugar at high-speed until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. At low-speed, gradually add the ground almond mixture, the extracts, the olive oil and the lemon zest.
In a medium bowl, using clean beaters, whip the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form. Beat 1/4 of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it; then quickly fold in the remaining whites.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Run a small, sharp knife around the side of the cake, transfer it to a rack and let cool completely in the pan. Remove the side of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Remove the base of the pan, then carefully peel off the paper. Garnish according to taste.
- Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Matzo Brittle – Recipes from The Kitchn (thekitchn.com)
- Passover in Israel (401j.wordpress.com)
- Passover Primer (boiseweekly.com)
- Passover Chocolate Cake (adinamenashe.wordpress.com)
- Pesach Strategies for Eating Healthy & Shopping Smart (nourishingisrael.wordpress.com)
Although they may be cheap, lentils are very nutritious, filling and very flavorful. From a nutritional standpoint, they are rich in fiber and in iron and are, consequently, ideal for people suffering from anemia.
Lentils have been a source of sustenance for our ancestors since prehistoric times and lentil artifacts have been found on archeological digs dating back 8,000 years. As a plentiful source of protein, lentils were found on the tables of peasants and kings alike and the poor, who could not afford fish during the season of Lent, substituted lentils.
Thought to have originated in the Near East and/or the Mediterranean area, lentils are small disks resembling a flat baby pea. When halved, dried lentils resemble their split pea cousins. They grow two to a pod and are dried after harvesting.
In Italy two major types of lentils are grown: the hiemal strain matures in late summer and produces larger seeds that are more delicate in flavor, whereas the minus strain matures in the spring and has smaller seeds.
In addition to playing an important role in soups and other first course dishes, lentils are a traditional Italian accompaniment for sausages. Lentils are served on New Year’s Day in Italy because their shape brings to mind tiny coins and people eat them in the hope that they won’t want for cash during the rest of the year.
There are hundreds of varieties of lentils, with as many as fifty or more cultivated for food. They come in a variety of colors with red, brown and green being the most popular. Lentils have an earthy, nutty flavor and some varieties have a slight peppery taste.
Select lentils that are dry, firm, clean and not shriveled. The color of lentils you choose will depend on your usage, but in general, the color should be fairly uniform. Canned lentils are also available, but it is just as easy to cook your own.
If your recipe calls for a lentil that will retain its shape when done, common brown lentils are the usual choice. Brown lentils still have their seed coat and have not been split. Most red, yellow and orange lentils tend to disintegrate with long cooking because the hulls have been removed. Slightly sweet in flavor, these are best reserved for pureed soups or stew thickeners. Other choices include French lentils which are olive-green and slate-colored. These will cook up the firmest. Persian green lentils will turn brown as they cook and become tender while still retaining their shape. Considered the most flavorful (and most expensive) are the French Puy lentils, which also retain their shape.
You may be able to find lentil flour in some specialty markets. It is used in India to make a fermented dough for bread.
Dried lentils have an indefinite shelf-life, yet another reason why our ancestors kept them as a staple food. With age, the color may fade a bit, but the flavor will not deteriorate. Store lentils in a sealed package or airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Cooked lentils may be refrigerated up to one week in a sealed container. Cooked lentils may also be frozen up to six months. However, they may fall apart when reheated, if not handled gently.
These measures will help you determine how many lentils you need for your recipe.
• 1 cup dry lentils = 2-1/2 cups cooked
• 1 pound dried lentils = 2-1/4 cups dry
• 1 pound dried lentils = 4 servings
• 1 pound dried lentils = 5 cups cooked
Lentils are a natural in soups and stews and also make a great cold salad. The high protein content in lentils makes them an excellent meat substitute.
Lentils need no pre-soaking and cook much more quickly than other dried legumes. To cook lentils, simply pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils, rinse and drain. Cover with water or broth and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Add salt once the lentils are completely cooked. Acidic ingredients such as wine or tomatoes can lengthen cooking time. You may wish to add these ingredients after the lentils have become tender. Older lentils will take longer to cook because they have lost more moisture. Do not mix newly purchased lentils with old ones. They will cook unevenly.
Lentil and Herb Salad
Lentils are popular across Italy, where they are grown in Umbria in the north and Puglia and Sicily in the south. Technically not a “bean,” lentils are legumes. Unlike beans, lentils require no soaking, so this salad is quick and easy to prepare. Serve as a side salad or add a cup of diced mozzarella and it makes a light main dish.
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Place lentils in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
Place lentils in a large bowl. Stir in onion and next 4 ingredients (through pepper). Add vinegar and oil; toss well. Serve at room temperature.
Italian Lentil Soup with Rice and Spinach
- 1 cup (200 g) short-grained rice
- 1 cup (200 g) lentils
- 1 bunch spinach, washed and cut into strips
- 2 cloves garlic
- One whole onion
- 1 rib celery, cut in half
- 1 cup plain tomato sauce
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the lentils and cook them for 30-45 minutes in 2 quarts of water with the onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the lentils with a slotted spoon and strain the broth, discarding the celery. Reserve the broth and onion separately.
Slice the onion and sauté it with the oil and the garlic for 3 minutes; add the tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes more. Add the lentils, the spinach and the lentil broth. When the soup comes to a boil add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is done, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Lentils with Italian Sausage
- 1 pound dry lentils
- Cold water
- 2 pounds fresh italian sausage, sweet or hot
- 3 cups homemade or low sodium canned chicken broth
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste, diluted in a little water
Wash lentils well by soaking them briefly in water and changing the water at least once. Put them in a 2-1/2-quart saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook until not quite done, about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, pierce the sausages in several places and then put them in a small saucepan. Add the chicken broth and place over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 40 minutes. From time to time, skim off and discard foam and fat that rise to the top. When sausages are done, remove the pot from the heat and let them sit in the broth while you finish the lentils.
Warm the oil in a medium skillet and saute the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and sage in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are done.
Drain the sausages, saving their liquid. To the lentil pot, add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and add the tomato paste. Mix gently using a wooden spoon. Add 3/4 cup of the broth in which you cooked the sausages. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
To serve, arrange the sausages on a platter next to the warm lentils.
Pasta with Lentil Bolognese
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 small carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1- 28 to 32 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped (juice reserved)
- 1 1/4 cups dried green lentils
- Coarse sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 pound shaped pasta, such as cavatappi or rigatoni
- Pecorino cheese, grated or shaved
- Fresh basil, chopped
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook slowly until the vegetables soften and turn golden, about 20 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the tomato paste. Cook until the mixture dries out a bit, about 3 minutes. Pour in the reserved juice from the tomatoes and cook, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid has reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the lentils, tomatoes, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Season with the oregano,crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and simmer until the lentils are tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the lentils. (If the sauce begins to dry out, add additional water as needed.) Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain. Serve with the lentil sauce, sprinkle with the pecorino and garnish with basil.
Seafood Stew with Lentils
For the Fish Stock:
- 1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 celery stick, sliced
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 2 and 1/4 lbs (1 kg) white fish or white fish bones and heads, gills removed
For the Stew:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 and 1/2 oz (100 grams) cooked lentils
- 9 oz (250 grams) fish and seafood cut into serving pieces, such as sea bass fillets, prepared squid, peeled prawns, peeled langoustines (small lobsters or use lobster claws) and scrubbed clams
- 28 oz can crushed Italian tomatoes
- 1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, chopped
- 1 fresh basil sprig, chopped
- Salt and pepper
Prepare the Fish Stock:
Pour 3 pints (2 liters) water into a large saucepan, add the herbs, onion, carrot, celery and peppercorns and season with salt.
Gradually bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat, let cool.
Add the fish bones and return to the heat, bring just to the boil; lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the fish bones cool in the stock for a stronger flavor. Strain the stock.
Prepare the Stew:
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet and add 1 tablespoon each of the celery, carrot and onion and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Stir in the lentils and cook for a few minutes more.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a shallow saucepan and add the remaining celery, carrot and onion and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add the sea bass and the squid. Increase the heat to high and cook for 1 minute, then add the prawns, langoustines, clams and lentil mixture.
Pour in the strained fish stock, tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the fish is tender.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley and basil. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
Braised Chuck Steak with Savory Lentil Stew
Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 2 pounds beef chuck blade steaks, cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-1/4 cups water
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup uncooked lentils, rinsed
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Heat a large deep skillet with a cover over medium heat until hot. Add the beef to the skillet and brown evenly. Season the beef with salt and pepper to taste.
Add water, onion and bay leaves to the skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer 1-1/4 hours.
Add lentils, carrots and Italian seasoning to the skillet; return to a boil. Continue simmering, covered, 30 to 45 minutes or until lentils and beef are fork-tender.
Discard bay leaves before serving.
- Lovely Vegan lentil soup (brandyskitchen.wordpress.com)
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- Warm Lentil and White Bean Salad with Bacon and Roasted Grape Tomatoes (dishnthekitchen.wordpress.com)
- ~ Ditalini Pasta con le Lenticchie (Pasta with Lentils)~ (kitchenencounters.typepad.com)
Although the radish was a well-established crop in Greek and Roman times, one might assume that it was brought into cultivation at an earlier time, however, there are almost no archeological records available to help determine the radish’s history and domestication. Wild forms of the radish and its relatives, mustard greens and turnips, can be found over western Asia and Europe, suggesting that their domestication took place somewhere in that area. They are certainly revered and highly appreciated in Asia, particularly in Japan where the long, white daikon radish is a major food. The ancient Greeks prized radishes above all root crops, even making replicas of them in gold. The radish was a common food in Egypt long before the pyramids were built and was popular in ancient Rome as well. Columbus and the early settlers brought radishes to America where they are a favorite spring crop for home gardeners because they’re so easy to plant and they grow quickly.
There are two basic types of radishes- spring and winter. The crunchy spring varieties are ‘Cherry Bomb’, ‘Champion’, ‘Burpee White’ and ‘Crimson Giant’. Winter radishes such as ‘China Rose’ and ‘Long Black Spanish’ store better and have a more distinctive flavor than the spring varieties. The Bunny Tail is an Italian radish that is slightly oblong in shape. It is mostly red and has a white tip. The Sicily Giant radish is a large heirloom variety originating from Sicily. It has a smooth, bright red skin and tastes hotter than some other radishes. It can grow up to 2 inches across the widest part. White Icicle radishes are completely white and are carrot-shaped. These radishes come from an Italian heirloom variety. Sometimes, they are simply called Icicle radishes.
Radishes are more versatile in the kitchen than many cooks realize. Besides adding crisp radishes to salads, try them sliced into stir-fries, stews and soups. Sauté them in butter for a minute and then serve with salt, pepper and herbs (especially chervil) for a different and unusual side dish. Long radishes are particularly good for sautéing. Slice them diagonally to obtain larger pieces and cook quickly to retain crispness. Grate radishes into your favorite slaws or dice them for egg and potato salads. Radishes can even be pickled!
- 6 long, red Italian radishes (or any radish)
- 6 thin slices prosciutto
- Olive oil
Wash and peel radishes, leaving stems intact.
Carefully wrap each radish in a slice of prosciutto.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Fresh Radish Dip
- 8 ounces large radishes (about 12), cut into very thin bite-size strips, chopped or grated
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
- 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Fresh dill sprigs
- Carrot sticks, celery sticks, Belgian endive leaves and/or fresh snow pea pods for dipping
In a large bowl stir together radish strips, sour cream, feta cheese, dill, lemon peel and lemon juice. Garnish with dill sprigs. Serve with fresh vegetables for dipping.
Radish and Olive Salad Recipe – Ravanelli con Insalata di Olive
While radishes are not the most common salad vegetable in Italy, you will find them in well stocked markets. Valeriana (Valerian) is a popular salad green belonging to the Valerianella family. It has a number of local names in Italy, including soncino and is also called lamb’s lettuce or corn salad in the English speaking world. Substitute mache, arugula or wild baby lettuce for the valeriana.
- 1/4 pound (100 g) medium red radishes
- 2/3 pound (300 g) valeriana or other spring lettuce
- 10 pitted black olives
- Juice of one lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil to taste
- Salt to taste
Wash the radishes, pat them dry, remove the leaves and roots and thinly slice them. Put them in a bowl with the lemon juice and let them steep for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, wash and drain the valeriana. Drain the olives and slice them. Add the valeriana and olives to the radishes.
Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season to taste with salt (Italians rarely add pepper to salads) and toss. Let the salad rest for a minute or two before serving it.
Bresaola with Radishes, White Asparagus and Baby Greens
Bresaola is air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months until it becomes hard and turns a dark red color. It is made from top round and is lean and tender with a sweet, musty smell. It originated in Valtellina, a valley in the Alps of northern Italy’s Lombardy region.
- 25 white asparagus stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup Champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated or high quality jarred horseradish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 42 slices bresaola, sliced paper thin
- 2 cups baby greens
- 1/2 cup baby frisée
- 1/2 cup shaved radishes
- Sea salt for garnish
- Marcona almonds for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and Champagne vinegar. Cook until very tender, about 12-15 minutes, dependign on thickness. Prepare an ice bath while the asparagus cooks. When the asparagus are cooked, transfer to the ice bath. Drain the asparagus and purée in a food processor. Add the horseradish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Prepare a second ice bath. Add the basil, oregano and parsley to the water. Boil for 20 seconds, then transfer to the ice bath. Drain the herbs and squeeze out excess water. Combine the herbs and olive oil in a blender and blend on high. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
To serve, lay 7 slices of bresaola on each plate, overlapping the slices slightly. Spoon some asparagus purée on the bresaola slices. Toss the greens, frisée and radishes with the herb oil. Top each serving of bresaola with some salad and almonds. Season with sea salt and serve.
If you want a more substantial side dish add 12 baby carrots to the radishes in the recipe below and increase the cooking time to 20 minutes.
- 2 bunches fresh radishes, washed, dried, stems and tails removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a baking pan in the oven until hot.
In a bowl, mix the radishes with the oil, salt, pepper and thyme.
Place the radishes on the hot pan and put the pan back in the oven.
Every 5 minutes stir the radishes. Total cooking time should be 15 minutes, depending on the size of the radishes.
When ready, they’ll be blistered and pink with just a little bite left to the texture.
Serve as a side dish with a drizzle of fresh olive oil.
Pan-Roasted Radishes with Italian-Style Greens
Cooked radishes taste a lot like turnips, their Brassicaceae cousins, but with a milder flavor.
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced dried Mission figs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cups trimmed radishes, halved or quartered (10 oz.)
- 8 cups baby spinach
- 4 cups radish greens or arugula
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped black oil-cured olives
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
Place figs in small bowl and cover with boiling water. Plump 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add radishes, cover, and cook 3 minutes or until browned on one side (do not stir). Shake pan and cook, uncovered, 3 to 4 minutes more or until radishes are just tender. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt. Set aside.
Return skillet to heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add spinach and radish greens and cook 2 minutes or until barely wilted, turning with tongs. Add pine nuts, figs, olives and radishes. Cover and cook 3 minutes more or until greens are tender and radishes are heated through. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes
- 1 pound sugar snap peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 medium radishes, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Freshly cracked pepper
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add snap peas; cook 1 to 2 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain snap peas; run under cold water until cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, tarragon and salt until well combined. Toss snap peas and radishes in the dressing. Season with freshly cracked pepper.
Serve at room temperature or chilled.
- Spring Carrot, Radish and Quinoa Salad with Herbed Avocado (cookieandkate.com)
- Cooking With Radishes (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- From the April Garden: A Crispy Green Salad. (happylittlesurprises.com)
- Radish and Springtime Eats (brownboxsoil.wordpress.com)
- 3 unexpectedly delicious ways to use grated radishes (twospoons.wordpress.com)