The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline considered to be Italy’s most scenic on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy. The Amalfi Coast is a popular tourist destination for the region and Italy as a whole, attracting thousands of tourists annually. The Amalfi Coast has a Mediterranean climate, featuring warm summers and mild winters.
The roads along the Amalfi Coast are famously winding, narrow and challenging to drive. All the towns of the Amalfi coast are connected by the scenic SS163 road built in the first half of the 19th century. Following the natural course of the coastline, the route is full of curves, nestled between the rock and the sea cliffs, giving spectacular views at the exit of every tunnel or hairpin bend. Before the construction of the coastal road, locals reached the region’s 13 towns via mules on footpaths that still exist.
The cuisine, abundant in fish, seafood, fruit and vegetables ripened to perfection in the Mediterranean sun; will also appeal to meat eaters and cheese lovers, thanks to the protein-packed delicacies produced in the Lattari mountains. Not only is the world’s undisputed best pizza made in Naples but the region is also home to gelato, paccheri pasta, eggplant and sfogliatelle pastries and each village in the region has its traditional cuisine and specialized recipes.
The Amalfi Coast is known for its production of Limoncello liqueur, as the area is a major producer of lemons, known as sfusato amalfitano in Italian, which are grown in terraced gardens along the entire coast between February and October. Amalfi is also known for making a hand-made thick paper which is called bambagina. Other local products are a particular kind of anchovies (alici) from Cetara and colorful handmade ceramics from Vietri sul Mare
An Amalfi Inspired Dinner For Four
Appetizer: Stuffed Calamari
- 8 small squid with tentacles
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 eggplant, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 balls fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 15 green olives
Rinse the squid inside and out and set aside.
Heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the eggplant, bell pepper and zucchini. Season with salt and black pepper and remove the pan from the heat. Cool slightly. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, making sure it doesn’t melt.
Gently stuff the vegetable cheese mixture into each calamari. Don’t overstuff the calamari because when they cook, they will shrink, and the stuffing will pop out. Seal the opening by threading the tentacles through the body with a toothpick a few times.
Heat the remaining olive oil with the garlic in the frying pan. Add the stuffed calamari, cook about 1 minute and then add in the capers, tomatoes and olives.
Remove the garlic and add a pinch of salt. Cook about 3 minutes longer and serve immediately.
First Course: Spaghetti Mare e Monte
Spaghetti from the Sea and the Mountains
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
- 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Kosher salt to taste
- 16 small fresh shrimp, cut in half
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
Pour the olive oil into a large skillet placed over medium-high heat and add the chili pepper flakes. Heat and add the garlic and zucchini. Saute 1 minute and do not let the zucchini get brown.
Add the cherry tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook until the zucchini and tomatoes soften. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute.
Add the cooked spaghetti and toss with the ingredients in the pan. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Second Course: Lamb in Tomato and Red Wine Sauce
- 4 tablespoons (56 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- One whole bulb of garlic, cut in half
- 3 lbs (1.35 kg) lamb rib chops
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 lb (450 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups (450 ml) red wine
Season the lamb chops generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until very hot and put the garlic halves face down, so that the cut sides are in the oil.
Add the lamb and rosemary sprigs and sear the lamb on all sides.
Add in the wine and let that cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the cherry tomatoes, lower the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer for half an hour.
Transfer the chops to dinner plates and serve with the sauce.
Green Bean Salad
- 2 lbs (900 g) green beans, cleaned and trimmed
- 5 tablespoons (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 8 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons (28 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Boil the green beans for three to five minutes until tender crisp — slightly soft but still with a bit of crunch.
Drain them well, pat dry with a clean towel and put them in a mixing bowl with a cover.
Add the olive oil, mint, red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
Gently toss the beans in the dressing. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the salad to room temperature, sprinkle on the lemon zest and serve.
Dessert: Lemon Granita
- 2/3 cup superfine sugar
- 2 cups water
- Juice of 6 large lemons, plus the zest of 2 of the lemon, minced
- Mint garnish, optional
Heat 2 cups water in a saucepan and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Let cool, and then add in the lemon juice and zest.
Freeze the lemon mixture in a metal bowl, stirring every 20 minutes, until the liquid has become granular but is still slightly slushy, 3 to 4 hours.
Serve the granita in dessert bowls with a sprig of mint.
Many families go out to dinner on Mother’s Day. However, a home cooked dinner is a better way of honoring the greatest mother in the land-yours!. Let spring produce and warmer weather influence your menu decisions.
A Mother’s Day Menu
- 16 each Red and Green Grapes
- 8 ounces Sharp Cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
- 8 each Strawberries
- 8 each Wooden Skewers
Cut strawberries in half. If they are extra large you may want to cut them in quarters.
Cut cheese into 1 inch cubes
Thread each skewer with the grapes, cheeses and strawberries alternating between the ingredients.
Pear and Cranberry Bellini
- 1 cup pear nectar
- 1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
- 1 bottle Prosecco or other dry sparkling white wine
In a small pitcher or large liquid measuring cup, combine pear nectar and cranberry juice cocktail.
Pour 1/4 cup juice mixture into each of eight champagne glasses. Dividing evenly, top with Prosecco or other dry sparkling white wine.
Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup
- 6 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 (1-pound) bunch asparagus, woody stems snapped off and discarded; spears cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Heat 1/2 cup of broth in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add leek and garlic and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add remaining broth, salt, pepper and potatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in asparagus and broccoli and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside to let cool slightly.
Puree soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer soup to a blender and purée in batches until smooth. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chives.
Roasted Chicken with Warm Tuscan Bread Salad
- Two 3 1/2-pound chickens—cut in half, backbones discarded
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 cubes
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 4 small rosemary sprigs
- 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
- 4 oz crusty Italian bread, such as ciabatta, torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1 fennel bulb, cut through the core into 1/2-inch wedges
- 4 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 tablespoons sage leaves
- Romaine lettuce torn into bite-size pieces, about 6 cups
- 4 anchovy fillets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3/4 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
- 2 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
On a work surface, cut the wings off of the chickens at the second joint, leaving the rest of the wing attached to the breasts.
Season the chickens liberally with salt and pepper and arrange skin side up on two rimmed baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the chickens and top each half with 2 cubes of the butter.
Scatter the thyme, rosemary and garlic over the chickens; let them return to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden but still slightly chewy.
Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.
Fit the fennel, scallions and sage around the chicken on the baking pans. Roast in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh registers 165°F; switch the pans halfway through roasting. Let rest for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, toss the bread with the roasted vegetables, romaine, anchovies, capers, vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Fold in 1/4 cup of the cheese shavings and season the bread salad with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the bread salad to a platter and scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese shavings on top. Cut the chicken into serving pieces and arrange on top of the salad.
Lemon Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce
- 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup butter (melted)
- 16 oz lower fat cream cheese (2 packages, room temperature)
- 1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 lemon (juiced and zested), reserve 1/4 teaspoon of zest for sauce
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Cook blueberry sauce ingredients in a small saucepan on medium heat about 4 minutes stirring occasionally; cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the crust:
Mix the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together.
Press the mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 8 or 9-inch springform pan and chill.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, cream together the cream cheese and sugar.
Add the eggs, yogurt, lemon juice and zest and mix until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the crust.
Place the cheesecake on the middle rack of the oven.
Add a pan of water on the lower rack.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes being careful not to open the oven while the cheesecake is baking.
Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool for 30 minutes in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
Remove the cheesecake and continue to cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
Serve slices of cheesecake with the blueberry sauce.
A Mother’s Love…
How precious is the love
of a mother’s heart!
Even as a child… It’s there from the start.
A mother’s love knows
no boundary or limit.
It’s often shown by how
much the mother gives it!
Whether her children are
young or growing old…
And whatever circumstances
in life may unfold…
Her love is continually
a solid foundation…
That can’t be removed, torn or shaken.
Her love is what is
a “guiding force…”
Even if her children’s lives
stray “off course.”
I’m thankful for the love
my mother’s given…
It’s surely influenced
the way I’ve been livin’!
To all of our mothers across
our great nation…
May we show them our love
Their love has stood and
endured the test of time…
I’m so glad that one of them is MINE!
By Jim Pemberton
Hosting a spring party soon for the mother-to-be//bride-to-be or the graduate or for a special birthday/anniversary? Spring celebrations are a great time of year for gathering with family and friends.
The first flowers of the season make perfect centerpieces. Grocery stores and home improvement stores have bulbs, like crocus, tulips and daffodils, in pots and blooming and these can add a feeling of spring to your party area.
Take advantage of the spring produce in the market. Make dishes ahead of time, if you can. Set up the drinks/cocktails in a special area. Small bites are the easiest and most functional way to serve party foods. Even if you are going to serve a main course, keep the appetizers and desserts simple finger foods. Here are some easy recipes to get you started.
- 12 ounces Italian salami, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
- One 14 -ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- Small wood or bamboo skewers
Thread 1 small or 1/2 of a large basil leaf onto a small wooden skewer. Add a piece of roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomato, artichoke and salami, arranging them in that order on the skewer so that it can stand up on the salami end. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.The skewers can be assembled ahead and refrigerated until serving time.
Crab Salad Rolls
- 1 cup olive oil mayonnaise
- 2 large celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds lump crab meat, picked over and lightly broken up
- 16 mini brioche or mini hamburger rolls, split
- 16 small Boston lettuce leaves
In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the celery and lemon juice and season with cayenne. Gently fold in the crab meat and season with salt. Fill the buns with the lettuce and the crab salad and arrange on a decorative tray. The crab salad can be refrigerated overnight. Fill the rolls just before serving.
Serve with crostini, flatbread or pita chips.
Makes 3 1/2 cups
- 1 1/2 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and very finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce, (marinara)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Place the diced eggplant in a steamer basket. Set the basket over 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and steam the eggplant until tender, about 12 minutes; drain well.
In a large skillet, combine the tomatoes with the garlic, oregano and paprika and simmer over moderate heat until thickened, 5 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and the eggplant and simmer, gently stirring a few times, until the eggplant is flavored with the sauce, no more than 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper; add the lemon zest and parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The compote can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 24 walnut or pecan halves
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup finely grated zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar, salt and egg until combined. Add vanilla, zucchini and sour cream and stir until incorporated.
Sift flour, baking soda and cocoa powder into another bowl and stir until combined. Stir in chopped chocolate.
Spray two mini muffin pans or one 24 cup mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Fill each cup with 2 tablespoons batter and top with a walnut.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes.
Let muffins cool slightly in pans on wire racks before removing. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup ground toasted almonds
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons water
- One 4-serving-size package (Jello) instant pudding mix (vanilla or cheesecake flavored)
- 1 cup evaporated whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup strawberry preserves
- Sliced strawberries and toasted sliced almonds for garnish
For the tart shells:
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and ground almonds. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until pieces are pea-size.
In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water. Gradually stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined.
Gently knead just until smooth and form the dough into a ball. If necessary, cover and chill about 1 hour until dough is easy to handle.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Divide the dough into 24 pieces.
Shape pieces into balls. Press dough evenly into the bottoms and up the sides of 24 ungreased 1-3/4-inch muffin cups.
Bake in the preheated oven about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
For the filling:
In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix, evaporated milk, vanilla and almond extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
Spoon 2 teaspoons of the filling into each tart shell. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.
Before serving, top each tart with a 1/2 teaspoon of the preserves and a strawberry slice and a few sliced almonds. Makes 24.
Yield: 20 cupcakes.
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
- 1 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs until well blended. Beat in applesauce and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in another bowl and gradually beat into the sugar mixture until blended. Stir in carrots.
Fill 20 paper-lined muffin cups half full.
Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
In a small bowl, combine frosting ingredients and beat until smooth.
Frost cooled cupcakes. Refrigerate until serving time.
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The coasts of Sardinia are generally high and rocky with long, relatively straight stretches of coastline that contain a few deep bays, many inlets and smaller islands off the coast. The Strait of Bonifacio is directly north of Sardinia and separates Sardinia from the French island of Corsica. The region’s capital is Cagliari.
The island has a Mediterranean climate along the coasts, plains and low hills and a continental climate on the interior plateaus, valleys and mountain ranges. During the year there are approximately 135 days of sunshine, with a major concentration of rainfall in the autumn and winter.
During the Second World War, Sardinia was an important air and naval base and was heavily bombed by the Allies. In the early 1960s, an industrialization effort was begun with the initiation of major infrastructure projects on the island. These included the construction of new dams and roads, reforestation, agricultural zones on reclaimed marshland and large industrial complexes (primarily oil refineries and related petrochemical operations). With the creation of these industries, thousands of ex-farmers became industrial workers.
The Sardinian economy is constrained due to the high cost of importing goods, transportation and generating electricity, which is twice that of the continental Italian regions and triple that of the EU average. The once prosperous mining industry is still active, though restricted to coal, gold, bauxite, lead and zinc. Granite extraction represents one of the most flourishing industries in the northern part of the island. Principal industries include chemicals, petrochemicals, metalworking, cement, pharmaceutical, shipbuilding, oil rig construction, rail and food.
Agriculture has played a very important role in the economic history of the island, especially in the great plain of Campidano, where it is particularly suitable for wheat farming. Water scarcity was a major problem that was overcome with the construction of a great barrier system of dams. Now, the Campidano plain is a major Italian producer of oats, barley and durum wheat. Sardinian agriculture is linked to specific products: cheese, wine, olive oil, artichokes and tomatoes that contribute to a growing export business. Sardinia produces about 80% of Italian cork and ranks 5th among the Italian regions in rice production. The main paddy fields are located in the Arborea Plain.
Sardinia is home to one of the oldest forms of vocal music, generally known as cantu a tenore. The guttural sounds produced in this form make a remarkable sound, similar to Tuvan throat singing. Sardinia is home to professional soccer and basketball teams and auto racing. Cagliari hosted a Formula 3000 race in 2002 and 2003 around its Sant’Elia stadium.
Sardinia boasts the highest consumption of beer per capita in Italy. The discovery of jars containing hops in some archaeological sites are evidence that beer was produced in the region since the Copper Age.
The Cuisine of Sardinia
Thousands of rare species of plants and animals grow and live on the island, some entirely unique to Sardinia. An excellent example of the longevity of Sardinia’s heirloom produce is the Grenache wine grape which dates back to about 1,200 BC. The Grenache grapes grown on the island today are genetically indistinguishable from their ancestors grown thousands of years ago in the same areas.
Wild boar, lamb, pork, eggplant, artichokes, tomatoes, lobsters, sea urchins, octopus, clams, mussels and squid are plentiful. Salty flavors are preferred by Sardinians, such as, bottarga (a pressed and salted mullet roe) and salt preserved sardines.
Traditional hearty Italian pastas like culingiones (spinach and cheese ravioli) share center stage with Arabic-inspired couscous dishes. Many first-time visitors are surprised by the Sardinians’ liberal use of saffron, which grows well on the island. Saffron is a particular favorite in gnocchi dishes.
A wide variety of herbs, including myrtle (berries, flowers, leaves and stems), flourish on Sardinia and flavor the local dishes. Whether savory, sweet, used for wood smoking or instilled into digestive liqueurs, myrtle is a major part of the Sardinian palate.
Cheeses are especially important and the island’s most exported food product. Pecorino sardo, Fiore sardo, ricotta, caprino, pecorino romano and the famous casu marzu are all made within the region. Casu marzu is illegal now in Italy due to its bizarre culturing and aging process involving the introduction of live cheese fly larvae into the process to bring about a poisonous stage akin to decomposition. Though obviously a risky gastronomic health adventure and definitely not for the timid, casu marzu is nonetheless a very popular black market commodity and is considered a distinctive delicacy by many locals.
For more traditional tastes, you will find local rock lobsters topped with seasoned breadcrumbs and roasted in the oven and cassòla, a flavorful seafood soup, that can have as many as a dozen types of seafood cooked with spices and tomatoes.
Fava beans are cooked with cardoons, wild fennel, tomatoes, salt pork and sausage to create the thick stew known as favata. Farro, a locally grown grain, is simmered slowly in beef broth with cheese and mint to make su farro.
Chickens are marinated with myrtle leaves and berries, boiled and eaten chilled. Other Sardinian recipes for meat are agnello con finocchietti, a stew of lamb with wild fennel, tomatoes and onion. Not people to waste food, Sardinians stew lamb or kid intestines with peas, onions and tomatoes.
Sardinians love pasta in all forms and their cuisine features specialties found nowhere else. Plump culingiones are shaped like ravioli and stuffed with chard and pecorino cheese and served with tomato sauce. The regional dish, malloreddus, are tiny semolina gnocchi topped with a garlic, basil, pecorino and saffron flavored sausage and tomato sauce.
Every village has a unique shaped bread, either a round loaf, a long cylindrical loaf or a donut shaped loaf. Sardinian recipes also include a sweet focaccia flavored with pecorino cheese and a local bitter honey. The entire island loves flatbread and crisp carta de musica or “sheet of music”, a paper-thin crisp bread. One popular way to serve this cracker style bread is to soften it in warm water, then spread it with tomato sauce, grated cheese and poached eggs.
Sardinian cooking also offers a wide selection of cookies, pastries and cakes. These desserts are usually flavored with spices, almonds, raisins and ricotta cheese. Pabassinas are pastries filled with a raisin walnut paste.
Mirto is a liqueur unique to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. It is made from the berries of the flowering Mirto (or Myrtle) plant, a distinctive plant that grows throughout the Mediterranean basin but is most prolific on the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. The berries are dark blue in color and look somewhat like blueberries but bear no relationship to blueberries in taste or other properties.
Sardinia’s wines have little in common with those produced in the rest of Italy. The Island’s remote Mediterranean location, as well as the historic influence from other cultures, gives the wines a unique character that might be considered to have more in common with Spanish wines rather than Italian wines. Production is extensive around the port of Cagliari in the Campidano area, where the little known Girò, Monica, Nasco and Nuragus varietals grow alongside Malvasia and Moscato, all bearing town names: Girò di Cagliari, Monica di Cagliari, Nasco di Cagliari, Nuragus di Cagliari, Malvasia di Cagliari and Moscato di Cagliari DOCs.
Traditionally, it is made with whatever is growing in the garden, but it always includes beans and fregula (or fregola) a toasted pebble-size semolina pasta that is popular in Sardinia.
- 1/2 cup dried peeled fava beans
- 1/2 cup dried cranberry beans or cannellini beans
- 1/3 cup dried chickpeas
- 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2⁄3 cup)
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (about 3½ cups)
- 3 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
- 1½ cups chopped fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2⁄3 cup of Sardinian fregula, Israeli couscous, or acini di pepe pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino Romano (about 2 ounces)
Soak the fava beans, cranberry beans and chickpeas in a large bowl of water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander and rinse well.
Warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery; cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 20 seconds.
Stir in the tomatoes, potatoes, fennel, parsley and basil, as well as the drained beans and chickpeas. Add enough water (6 to 8 cups) so that everything is submerged by 1 inch.
Raise the heat to high and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, uncovered, until the beans are tender, adding more water as necessary if the mixture gets too thick, about 1½ hours.
Stir in the fregula, salt and pepper. Add up to 2 cups water if necessary. Continue simmering, uncovered, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into each of four serving bowls. Divide the soup among them and top each with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese.
Notes: You can vary the beans in the minestrone: pinto beans make a good substitute for cranberry beans; great northern or cannellini beans, for the favas. Use the stalks and fronds that come off a fennel bulb for the most intense flavor. Add other fresh vegetables from the garden or market, such as zucchini, cabbage, green beans, and cauliflower or broccoli florets.
Cavatelli with Sardinian Sausage Sauce
Cavatelli pasta is shaped like a small hot dog bun with a long, rolled edge that is good for holding thick sauces.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 large pinches saffron
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cavatelli pasta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, plus more for serving
In a large deep frying pan or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a fork, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to moderately low and add the remaining oil to the pan. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mint, parsley, water, salt and 1 pinch of the saffron. Simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the cavatelli with the remaining pinch saffron until just done, 10 to 15 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the cavatelli and toss with the meat sauce, the basil, the reserved pasta water and the cheese. Serve with additional Pecorino Romano.
Sardinian Lamb Kabobs over Couscous
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 small head cauliflower (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into small florets
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper, divided
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
- 1 3/4 cups canned chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 cups couscous
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Light an outdoor grill or heat the broiler.
In a glass dish or stainless steel pan, combine the lamb, 6 tablespoons of the oil, the thyme and 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice.
In a large frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the cauliflower, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is golden, about 10 minutes. Add the saffron, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, the tomatoes, broth and raisins.
Simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the couscous and parsley. Bring back to a simmer. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Put the lamb on skewers. Sprinkle the kabobs with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Grill or broil the kabobs, turning and basting with the marinade, until the lamb is cooked to your taste, 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare. Serve the skewers on the couscous.
“Torta de arrosu” Saffron rice cake
- 200 gr / 7 oz rice
- 150 gr/ 5 oz sugar
- 750 ml / 1 ½ pints of milk
- 1/2 oz butter
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten
- 100 gr/ 3 1/2 oz skinned almonds
- Grated rind of a lemon
- A pinch of saffron
- A pinch of salt
- Powdered sugar for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F (180 C). Grease a 9 inch (24 cm) cake pan.
Put the milk, butter, saffron, sugar, salt and lemon rind in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until all the milk has been absorbed. Let cool and then add the eggs and the almonds.
Spoon mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for one hour. Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
Caring about our communities, the environment and our planet shouldn’t be a one day thing. Working to decrease our impact on the planet should be a continuous process. However, Earth Day is also the perfect time to make a personal pledge to start a new good habit.
Here are a few ways to make a difference:
Turn out the lights when you leave a room. It does make a difference.
Taking a shower uses less water than filling a bathtub and a water-conserving shower head is even better.
To decrease waste, purchase durable, long-lasting products that can be reused, refilled or recharged. If you do use disposables, choose those made with recycled/recyclable materials.
Adjusting your thermostat down just 2 degrees in the winter and up 2 degrees in the summer could save energy consumption.
Buy groceries such as grains, beans, cereals, pasta and snacks from bulk bins when available to avoid excess trash. Plus, being able to buy just the amount you need means no wasted food.
Use reusable cloth bags when shopping to avoid using paper or plastic bags.
Compost your food waste to reduce trash that goes to a landfill. Add the compost to your garden for nutrient-rich soil.
Plant a tree. A single tree can absorb up to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
These are just a few suggestions to incorporate an Earth Day mentality into your daily routine.
The more unprocessed foods you eat — especially plant-based foods — the healthier you and our planet are going to be. While a meat-centered diet deepens our ecological footprint and contributes to pollution, a plant-centered diet requires fewer resources and supports long-term health. But you don’t have to go completely veggie to reap the benefits; try gradually adding a few meatless dishes to your weekly menu. Try some of these delicious, earth friendly recipes.
Spinach can be used in place of broccoli.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- Flour, for rolling dough
- 2 (1 pound each) fresh or frozen pizza dough balls, thawed if frozen
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded (6 ounces) mozzarella cheese
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- Homemade marinara sauce, recipe below
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion; cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add broccoli, garlic and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Make the calzones:
Divide each ball of dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, stretch each piece out, first to a 3-by-4-inch oval, then stretch again, this time to a 6-by-8-inch oval. (Let dough rest a few minutes if too elastic to work with.)
Stir cheeses into cooled broccoli mixture; season generously with salt and pepper.
To assemble the calzones:
Spread a rounded 1/2 cup broccoli mixture over half of each piece of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border; fold over to form a half-moon. Press edges to seal. With a paring knife, cut 2 slits in the top of each calzone.
Using a wide metal spatula with a thin blade, transfer calzones to 2 baking sheets lined with parchment; reshape if needed.
Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Serve with heated marinara sauce.
To freeze: Prepare recipe through step 3. Tightly wrap each calzone in plastic; freeze until firm. Transfer calzones to resealable plastic bags; label and date. Freeze up to 2 months.
To serve: unwrap calzones, and place on parchment-lined baking sheets; bake without thawing until golden, 35 to 40 minute
Homemade Marinara Sauce
Makes about 3 cups.
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled Italian tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1⁄2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Put tomatoes and their liquid into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Set aside.
Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes along with the oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup
- 3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, (about 12), cored and halved lengthwise
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 10 garlic cloves
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 large eggplant, (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 can (15.5 ounces) no salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, for serving
- Toasted Italian bread, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. with racks on the top and the bottom.
On one rimmed baking sheet, toss together tomatoes, carrots, garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer, with tomatoes cut sides down.
On another rimmed baking sheet, toss together eggplant, chickpeas, Italian seasoning, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer.
Place both sheets in the oven (tomato mixture on top rack). Roast until tender, tossing mixtures halfway through, about 45 minutes.
Using tongs, peel off and discard tomato skins. Puree tomato mixture (including juices) in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large pot.
Stir in eggplant mixture; thin with 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Serve, sprinkled with basil and garnished with toasted bread, if desired.
Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna
- 3 pounds fresh spinach, stems removed and washed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced, divided
- 1 pound ricotta cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds wild mushrooms, (chanterelles, oyster and shiitake), trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup Madeira wine
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
- 4 1/2 cups milk at room temperature, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 one-pound package lasagna noodles, parboiled
Melt 1 tablespoon oil in large pan over medium heat. Add half the garlic; saute until light golden, about 1 minute. Add half the spinach leaves, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain spinach in a colander. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil, remaining garlic and spinach.
When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze to rid it of liquid. Roughly chop spinach; place in a medium bowl with ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the mushrooms; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute until mushrooms are softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Deglaze the skillet by pouring 1/4 cup Madeira into the hot skillet with the mushrooms and using a wooden spoon to loosen bits cooked onto skillet. Cook mushrooms until liquid has almost evaporated. Transfer cooked mushrooms to a second bowl. Repeat with another 1 tablespoon of butter, the remaining mushrooms, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1/4 cup Madeira. Add to the first batch of cooked mushrooms.
Set aside in a small bowl one-third of the cooked mushrooms to use for the topping. Add ¼ cup of chopped parsley to the remaining cooked mushrooms; stir.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add the flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Slowly add 4 cups of milk; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove pan from the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the nutmeg and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Set aside 1/2 cup sauce in another small bowl.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
To assemble the lasagna:
Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Place a layer of lasagna noodles in the pan; spread 1 cup spinach mixture, 1 cup mushroom mixture and 1/2 cup of sauce on top of the lasagna. Repeat layers several times.
For the last layer, place a layer of lasagna noodles on top; spread 1/2 cup sauce over the lasagna noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese. Bake lasagna until the top is golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.
Just before serving, heat the remaining reserved one-third mushrooms, reserved ½ cup sauce, remaining half cup of milk and ¼ cup parsley in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon some of the mushroom sauce over each serving of lasagna.
Green Bean, Orange and Feta Salad
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
- 2 navel oranges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta (6 ounces)
- 1 head romaine lettuce (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved and roughly chopped
- 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or nuts of choice
In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook green beans until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain green beans and spread on a baking sheet to cool.
Using a sharp knife, slice off both ends of each orange. Cut off the peel following the curve of the fruit. Halve fruit from top to bottom, and thinly slice each half crosswise.
In a bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add feta, oranges, lettuce, onion, nuts and green beans. Toss to combine.
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Makes about 48
- 3 egg whites
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts or other nuts, chopped and toasted
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease large cookie sheet.
In a small bowl, beat together egg whites, oil, coffee and vanilla.
In a large bowl, stir together flour and remaining ingredients until well mixed.
Pour egg mixture onto dry ingredients and stir until combined. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half.
Shape mixture into two 12″ by 1″ logs; place both on the prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cool 10 minutes.
Transfer one log to a cutting board. Slice diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick biscotti.
Arrange biscotti, cut side up, on cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining log, using a second cookie sheet, if necessary.
Bake 20 minutes; turning cookies over after 10 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight jar up to 1 month.