Calabria is a region in southern Italy, forming the “toe” of the Italian Peninsula. Calabria is one of the oldest regions of Italy with the first evidence of human presence dating as far back as 700,000 BC. It was the Greeks who occupied the shores of Calabria and Eastern Sicily forming Magna Grecia or Great Greece. The area was home to the poet Theocritus and mathematician and inventor Archimedes, and it remained part of the Greek Empire until the Romans annexed it in the 3rd century B.C.
The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro. The most populated city and the seat of the Calabrian Regional Council, however, is Reggio. It is bordered to the north by the region of Basilicata, to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and to the east by the Ionian Sea. The region covers 5,822 sq mi and has a population of just under 2 million. The area is seismically and volcanically active.
The Pollino Mountains in the north of the region are rugged and form a natural barrier separating Calabria from the rest of Italy. Parts of the area are heavily wooded, while others are vast plateaus with little vegetation. These mountains are home to a rare Bosnian Pine and are included in the Pollino National Park. The area boasts numerous lakes and dense coniferous forests.
In general, most of the lower terrain in Calabria has been agricultural for centuries and exhibits natural scrub land as well as introduced plants such as the prickly pear cactus. The lowest slopes are rich in vineyards, citrus fruit orchards and olive and chestnut trees. The region boasts the second highest number of organic farmers only after Sicily. The region is the second-highest for olive oil production The Bergamot orange is intensively cultivated, since the 18th century, exclusively the in coastal area of Reggio, where it found its optimal geological and weather conditions.
Along the coastlines, the climate is Mediterranean with average low temperatures of 8 °C (46 °F) in the winter months and average high temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer months. Along the Apennines and in the inland areas, the climate is mountainous (continental) with cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers with occasional thunderstorms.
Calabria is one of the least developed regions in Italy. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Calabria is represented by service industries (28.94%), financial activities and real estate (21.09%), trade, tourism, transportation and communication (19.39%), taxation (11.49%), manufacturing (8.77%), construction (6.19%) and agriculture (4.13%).
The 485 miles of its coast make Calabria a popular tourist destination during the summer. The low industrial development and the lack of large cities in much of its territory have allowed maintaining low levels of marine pollution. In fact, the region is considered by many a natural paradise, which attracts a number of tourists from all over Italy. The most popular seaside destinations are: Tropea, Capo Vaticano, Pizzo, Scilla, Diamante, Amantea and Soverato.
The interior of Calabria is rich in history, traditions, art and culture that attract a number of tourists. Fortresses, castles, churches, historic centers and cemeteries are common elements in the interior of Calabria.
Some mountain locations attract tourists even in winter. Sila and Aspromonte are two national parks that offer facilities for winter sports, especially in the towns of Camigliatello, Lorica and Gambarie.
The cuisine is a typical southern Italian Mediterranean cuisine with a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant) and fish.
Pasta is also very important in Calabria. Pasta dishes that include peppers, onions and sausage sauteed with or without sauce are very common. Frittatas made with pasta and sausage mixed into the eggs are also prevalent.
Calabrians have traditionally placed an emphasis on the preservation of their food, in part because of the climate and potential crop failures. As a result, there is a tradition of packing vegetables and meats in olive oil, making sausages and cold cuts (Sopressata, ‘Nduja), and, along the coast, curing fish- especially swordfish, sardines (sardelle rosamarina) and cod (Baccalà). Tomatoes are sun-dried, octopi are pickled, anchovies salted and peppers and aubergines packed into jars of oil and vinegar.
The chilli pepper is popular here and is crushed in oil and placed on the table with every meal to sprinkle over your food. The chilli was once considered to be a cure for malaria which probably accounts for its extensive use in this region.
Local desserts are typically fried, honey-sweetened pastries (Cudduraci, scalille or scalidde) or baked biscotti-type treats (such as ‘nzudda) served during holidays. Ice cream or fresh fruit is mainly served for dessert and melons,particularly watermelons, are abundant in Calabria
Some local specialties include Caciocavallo Cheese, Cipolla rossa di Tropea (red onion), Frìttuli and Curcùci (fried pork), Liquorice (liquirizia), Lagane e Cicciari (a pasta dish with chickpeas), Pecorino Crotonese (Cheese of Sheep), and Pignolata.
Some vineyards have origins dating back to the ancient Greek colonists. The best known DOC wines are Cirò (Province of Crotone) and Donnici (Province of Cosenza). 3% of the total annual production qualifies as DOC. Important grape varieties are the red Gaglioppo and white Greco. Many producers are resurrecting local, ancient grape varieties which have been around for as long as 3000 years.
Sun Dried Tomatoes
This particular recipe is Calabrian; before you begin check the weather forecast because you’ll need several days of hot dry weather with intense sunlight.
- 2 pounds (1 k) ripe plum tomatoes, as many as you want
- Freshly shredded mild or hot pepper to taste
- Olive Oil
Wash the tomatoes and pat them dry.
Slice the tomatoes lengthwise, set them on a rack, dust them with salt, put them out where the sun will shine on them all day (if where you live has a lively insect population cover them with fine netting).
Leave them in the sun until dusk and then bring them inside.
Continue putting them out in the morning until they are dry. Depending upon the humidity where you live this could take 2 or more days.
When they have dried, rinse them with water and vinegar. Mince the herbs in the proportion that suits your taste, and then layer the dried tomatoes in a jar, sprinkling the herbs and some salt over each layer. Press down well, then fill the jar with olive oil, shaking repeatedly and tapping the sides of the jar to make sure no air pockets remain. Seal, and let the tomatoes sit in a cool dark place for a few months, at which point they’ll make a fine antipasto, over slices of crusty bread or sliced and served as a garnish for main dishes and vegetables.
Linguine with Sun Dried Tomatoes
At times, Calabrians add seafood to this dish.
- 1 pound (450 g) spaghetti or linguine
- 1/4 pound (100 g) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup basil leaves, cut thin
- 1 tablespoon oregano, chopped
- 1 hot pepper
- A bunch of parsley,finely chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons of oil the tomatoes were packed in
Chop the tomatoes and heat them for 3-5 minutes in a skillet with the oil, the garlic, the basil, the hot pepper and a pinch of salt. Don’t overcook or the tomatoes will dry and toughen. Turn off the heat and keep warm.
Cook the pasta in abundant salted water. Drain it’s al dente, transfer it to a bowl, pour the tomato mixture over it. Mix well. Garnish with the minced parsley and oregano.
Calabrian Marinated Tuna
- 2 1/4 pounds (1 k) fresh tuna, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
- 8 ounces (200 g) pitted black olives
- One lemon
- Garlic (2 cloves)
- Fresh hot pepper (chili flakes)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Pat the fish dry and grill it, basting it lightly with olive oil; turning it once. Figure a total cooking time of 5-7 minutes.
In the mean time blend the remaining ingredients with more oil to make a sauce. Marinate the fish in the sauce for at least an hour before serving it.
Spicy Calabrian Grilled Pork Chops
- 6 pork chops with bone
- Crushed or powdered hot pepper to taste (Calabrians like things hot)
- Fennel seeds
Lightly pound the chops to flatten them out, sprinkle them with salt and then rub fennel seeds and hot pepper into them.
Grill them over medium hot coals or medium high on a gas grill, turning once, until the internal temperature is 145 degrees F, about 15 minutes.
Transfer chops to a platter. Loosely tent with foil to keep warm; let stand 5 minutes before serving.
For an easy and economical alternative to fresh fish, consider canned fish. There are advantages in using canned fish: safety, hygiene, nutrition and flavor. Moreover, in the kitchen, canned fish is ideal for making salads, pasta and rice dishes and appetizers
Skipjack and albacore are good varieties to buy. Wild Planet brand is sustainably pole-and-line-caught. Mix it into a salad with fresh chard and white beans; use it for fish tacos; stuff it in tomatoes.
Look for sockeye or the milder pink variety. The small pin bones are often cooked with the fish, adding extra calcium. Make salmon burgers or fish cakes; put it in a creamy chowder; try it smoked—Patagonia sells pouches that are perfect for hiking and camping.
These tiny fish have a bold taste and are dense with omega-3 oils. Bela brand offers them smoked in different flavors. Add to an antipasto platter; top crostini; delicious grilled.
Small and salty, they’re not just for Caesar dressing—toss on Puttanesca pasta sauce; stir into fish stew; wrap around olives.
While there are many subcategories and fine distinctions in the area of canned crabmeat, there are a few main categories. Knowing these will help you save money when deciding what type of crab meat to purchase for the meal you’re planning.
Lump crabmeat is best for fancy, impressive-looking dishes where appearance matters, like Butter-poached Crab, Crab Cakes or Crab Louis, where you want big chunks that will hold together with minimal binders.
Backfin grade is made up of smaller, broken chunks of lump crabmeat mixed in with flakes of white body meat. It’s less expensive than lump crab meat. Good for salads and pasta dishes.
Claw Crabmeat is the least expensive and most flavorful grade. It is pinkish-brown rather than white and has a hearty crab flavor that doesn’t get lost under seasonings. Great for soups, crab meat stuffing, tacos, stir-frys, etc.
While overfishing has been an issue for some species that find their way to the market, that’s not the case with clams. Harvesting of both the Atlantic surf clam, also called the sea clam, and the ocean quahog have been well within the quotas, according to statistics from the National Marine Fisheries Service. Minced and chopped clams are good in chowders and pasta dishes.
Crabmeat Artichoke Appetizer
- 1 can(6 oz) Lump Crabmeat, drained
- 1 can (13.75 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- ½ cup shredded Italian Fontina cheese
Place the drained crabmeat in a glass bowl and cover with cold milk. Set aside for 10 minutes. Drain well. (This technique gives canned fish a fresh taste.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a 1 1/2 quart baking dish, combine crab, artichoke, mayonnaise, yogurt and seasoning. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until hot. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.
Artichokes with Bagna Cauda
Makes 6 servings
- 3 heads of garlic, cloves separated, papery skin removed (but cloves left unpeeled)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 2-ounce tin anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 large artichokes, stems trimmed, top 3/4 inch removed, tips of remaining leaves trimmed
Place unpeeled garlic cloves in small saucepan. Add enough water to cover garlic cloves by 1 inch. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until garlic is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain; transfer to plate. Chill garlic cloves until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Squeeze garlic cloves from their peels and place cloves in a small bowl. Using fork, mash garlic cloves until smooth.
Melt butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat. Add anchovies and sauté 1 minute. Add mashed garlic and olive oil. Simmer over low heat 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm before serving, stirring occasionally (bagna cauda will separate when served).
Add artichokes to large pot of boiling salted water. Cover and cook until just tender when pierced through stem with fork, turning occasionally, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on their size. Drain.
Place 1 hot artichoke on each of 6 plates. Divide bagna cauda among small bowls or ramekins. Serve artichokes with warm bagna cauda. Pull a leaf off the artichoke and dip it into the sauce.
To separate garlic cloves quickly, place the head of garlic on a work surface, then push against the top or bottom of the head of garlic with the palm of your hand.
Use kitchen scissors to cut off the tips of pointed artichoke leaves.
Spinach Salad with Sardines and Crispy Prosciutto
- 1 lemon, zested, plus 3 tablespoons juice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 3-inch pieces
- 8 cups baby spinach (6 oz)
- 1 can (4.25 ounces) sardines, packed in olive oil, drained
- 2 tablespoons freshly minced chives
Whisk the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of the oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir in raisins.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange prosciutto in a single layer and brush with remaining tablespoon of oil. Bake, rotating halfway through, until crisp and deep golden brown, about 9 minutes.
Arrange spinach on a platter and top with sardines, prosciutto, lemon zest and chives. Drizzle with dressing and adjust seasoning as necessary.
- 3 cans or pouches (5 oz) tuna, drained and flaked
- 2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) chicken broth plus water to equal 4 cups
- 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) ready-cut Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
- 1 can (15-1/4 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Italian dried herb seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 cup dry small shell pasta
- 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, Italian green beans, etc.)
- 3 cups fresh romaine lettuce cut crosswise in 1-inch strips
- ½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine chicken broth mixture, tomatoes with liquid, kidney beans, tomato paste, herb seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and frozen vegetables; simmer 8 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tuna and romaine. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.
Salmon and Potato Gratin
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cleaned and unpeeled
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 pound canned salmon, boneless, drained
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Grease a 12 inch oval baking dish or a 9 x 13 inch rectangular baking dish with butter.
Cut the potatoes crosswise in 1/4 inch slices.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes on the bottom of the dish in concentric circles. Sprinkle with 1/2 the cheese. Sprinkle with salmon and thyme. Layer remaining potatoes on top. Season potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle remaining cheese.
In a medium bowl combine cornstarch, milk, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour the mixture evenly over the potatoes.
Cut butter into pieces and dot over the top.
Bake until potatoes are tender and the top is golden, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
Linguine with Clam Sauce
- 1 pound linguine
- 2 cans (6.5 oz) minced clams with liquid drained – reserve the liquid. I like the Bar Harbor brand.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt to taste
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
Cook linguine in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
In a large deep skillet add the oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and the drained clams. Cook on low about 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to very low and stir in the reserved clam liquid and the parsley.
Remove from heat and add the cooked pasta. Mix well and serve.
Although the ancient Greeks and Romans did not use the word “salad,” they enjoyed a variety of dishes with raw vegetables dressed with vinegar, oil and herbs. Pliny the Elder, in Natural History, for instance, reported that salads (acetaria) were composed of those garden products that “needed no fire for cooking and saved fuel, and which were a resource to store and always ready” (Natural History, XIX, 58). They were easy to digest and were not calculated to overload the senses or stimulate the appetite.
The food writer, Marcus Apicius, of the first century C.E. offered several salad recipes, some of which were unusual. His recipe for bread salad:
Cover the bottom of a large salad bowl with bread, then add layers of sliced chicken, more bread, sweetbreads, shredded cheese, pine nuts or almonds, cucumber slices, finely chopped onions, then finish with another layer of bread. A dressing made of celery seed, pennyroyal, mint, ginger, coriander, raisins, honey, vinegar, olive oil and white wine is poured over the salad.
Another dressing Apicius used on lettuce was a cheese sauce that included pepper, lovage, dried mint, pine nuts, raisins, dates, sweet cheese, honey, vinegar, garum (fish sauce), oil, wine and other ingredients.
Other Roman salads were similar to present-day ones, such as lettuce and cucumbers or raw endive dressed with garum (fermented fish sauce), olive oil, chopped onion and vinegar or a dressing of honey, vinegar and olive oil. Roman salad dressings eventually became more complex. Apicius gave a recipe for one containing ginger, rue (herb), dates, pepper, honey, cumin and vinegar.
With the fall of Rome, salads were less important in western Europe, although raw vegetables and fruit were eaten on fast days and as medicinal correctives. In his 1699 book, Acetaria: A Discourse on Sallets, John Evelyn attempted with little success to encourage his fellow Britons to eat fresh salad greens. Mary, Queen of Scots, ate boiled celery root over greens covered with creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil and slices of hard-boiled eggs.
The United States popularized mixed greens salads in the late 19th century. Several other regions of the world adopted salads throughout the second half of the 20th century. From Europe and the Americas to China, Japan and Australia, salads are sold in supermarkets, at restaurants and at fast food chains. In the US market, restaurants will often have a “Salad Bar” laid out with salad-making ingredients, which the customers will use to put together their individual salad.
While we may not want to make Apicius’ salad, adding some different ingredients can bring new life to your old salad.
Insalata Nizzarda – Italian Version of Nicoise Salad
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed
- Two 7 oz jars or cans of tuna in olive oil, drained and the oil reserved
- 4 salted anchovy fillets, halved lengthwise
- 3 ripe plum, cores removed, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup pitted green or black olives
- 4 cups arugula
- Extra virgin olive oil added to drained tuna oil to equal 6 tablespoons
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the eggs, and boil for 10 minutes, drain and cool in cold water.
Drain the oil from the tuna and add enough olive oil, if needed, to the tuna oil to measure 6 tablespoons. Break the tuna into chunks or coarse flakes.
Whisk the tuna oil, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and the capers in a large deep salad bowl, one that gives you enough room for tossing once you have layered all the ingredients.
Add the tuna to the dressing and turn to coat everything. Lay the anchovy fillets on top, then the tomatoes and the olives.
Pile the arugula on top. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a cool place.
To serve, shell and quarter the eggs. Gently turn the salad over a couple of times and arrange the eggs on top.
- 2 cups shelled fresh or frozen green peas
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 slices bacon
- 2 slices crusty bread, cut into small cubes
- 2 cups fresh torn lettuce leaves
- 2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
If using frozen peas just defrost them. Do not boil.
Boil fresh peas 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk well.
Cook bacon until crispy. Remove from the pan. Toss bread cubes in drippings and cook until crispy.
Combine peas, lettuce, vinaigrette and bread cubes. Top with cheese.
Strawberry Salad with Pine Nuts and Avocado
- 1 ripe avocado, preferably Hass variety, peeled, pitted and diced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup (heaping) strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil or hazelnut oil
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Combine avocado with lemon juice in a large nonreactive bowl. Add berries, oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and combine well. Place arugula on a serving plate. Top with avocado mixture and pine nuts. Serve.
Spinach, Grape and Feta Salad
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup red grapes, cut into halves
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons sliced, skin-on almonds, toasted
- 2 green onions (light green and dark green parts only), finely chopped
Whisk mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil; add salt and pepper.
Toss spinach, grapes, feta, almonds and green onions in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad, toss to combine and serve.
Chicken Salad with Zucchini and Pine Nuts
- 1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of 2 lemons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 medium zucchini (2 pounds), cut into 3-by-1/2-inch sticks
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 cups lightly packed baby arugula leaves
In a large nonreactive bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the garlic, oregano, lemon zest, half of the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the zucchini and cherries and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a large, shallow glass or ceramic dish, combine the minced shallot with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining lemon juice. Add the chicken breast halves, turning to coat thoroughly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning a few times.
In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing a few times, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Remove the chicken breast halves from the marinade, scraping off the shallot. Slice the chicken on the bias 1 1/2 inches thick and season with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken slices and cook over moderately high heat, turning a few times, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a large, shallow serving bowl and let cool slightly. Add the marinated zucchini, toasted pine nuts, arugula and toss lightly. Serve immediately
Winter is the time of year when we crave warm, home-cooked food. We love getting cozy with a variety of winter comfort food recipes, from mashed potatoes and gratins to mac n’ cheese.
Comforting or not, though, those classics are typically loaded with butter, milk, heavy cream and refined carbohydrates, piling on pounds that can stick around long past the winter thaw. But you don’t have to give up on comfort food just yet.
Hot and hearty sandwiches are the best of all worlds on chilly days: filling, warming and easy to eat. They can be delicious, yet healthy. Whether you grab a bite as you’re rushing around or fix yourself a dinner plate, the following Italian sandwich recipes will give you comfort.
- Two 6-ounce cans albacore tuna
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced basil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 ciabatta rolls, split
- Dijon mustard
- Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of Mozzarella or Fontina cheese (6 ounces)
- Sliced bread and butter pickles, optional
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a panini press or griddle.
Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and top each roll half with a slice of cheese. Spread the tuna mixture on the bottoms and add a few pickles slices, if desired.
Close the sandwiches and spread the outsides of the rolls with the butter.
Place the sandwiches in the press and cook over moderate heat until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
Grilled Chicken, Tomato and Onion Sandwiches
- 3 ounces pitted mixed olives (1 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices
- 1 Vidalia onion (or any sweet onion), cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 4 crusty rolls, such as ciabatta, sourdough or hero, split horizontally
- 1 1/2 pounds thin chicken cutlets
Heat a stove top grill pan.
In a mini food processor, pulse the pitted olives with the crushed garlic and oregano until chopped. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil and pulse until finely chopped. Season with pepper.
Brush the, chicken, tomatoes, onion and cut sides of the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Grill the tomatoes and onion over high heat until they are softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onion. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes Remove to a plate.
Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and grill them, turning occasionally, until they are lightly browned in spots and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.
Cut the chicken cutlets to fit the toasted rolls and top with the sliced tomatoes, sliced onion and olive relish. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 pound red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 6 Italian chicken sausages, about 5 ounces each
- 3 long hero rolls, split lengthwise
Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Heat a large skillet and add the oil, bell peppers, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are softened and just beginning to brown, 6 minutes. Place the vegetables in a heatproof bowl, cover with foil and keep warm in the oven while you cook the sausages.
Prick the sausages with a knife and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until no trace of pink remains, about 10 minutes.
Add the sausages to the vegetables and keep warm.
Brush the rolls with oil and toast under the broiler. Fill the rolls with the sausages and peppers, cut each one in half and serve.
Eggplant Parm Sandwiches
- One 28-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the baking pan
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
- 2-pounds of eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 4 long hero rolls, cut in half and split lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes with their juices, garlic and the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the sauce with salt. Set aside.
Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil.
Put the eggs and bread crumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls. Working with 1 slice of eggplant at a time, dip the slice in the egg, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then coat with the bread crumbs. Place the slice of eggplant on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. You may need a third baking sheet.
Bake the eggplant slices until lightly brown, about 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Lightly oil a 10-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a single layer of eggplant. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Top with a few mozzarella slices and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the parmesan. Tear one-third of the basil leaves and place over the cheese.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients for a total of 4 layers, ending with a layer of eggplant and a thick layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top.
Wrap the entire pan in foil and set it on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the eggplant for about 1 hour, until heated through.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Remove the foil from the top of the pan and bake for about 10 minutes longer, until lightly browned on top.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.
Cut wedges of eggplant to fit the rolls and serve.
Pepper Pork and Fennel Sandwiches
Aleppo chili pepper comes from Syrian town of Aleppo, just east of the Turkish border. These red chilies are also known in the Mediterranean region as halaby peppers. Moderately hot, the crushed, dried peppers are celebrated for their rich, fruity flavor that’s sometimes described as a cross between cumin and cayenne. It has a moderate heat level with a hint of a vinegar, salty taste. Aleppo pepper offers a nice variation from your usual crushed red pepper flakes.
- 3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup Aleppo pepper
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large fennel bulb—trimmed, cored and very thinly sliced
- 4 cups (packed) arugula
- 6 toasted ciabatta rolls, split, for serving
Make 6 cuts in the pork, 1 inch apart, cutting most of the way through the meat. Rub the pork all over with the salt. Rub the pork with the garlic and then with the Aleppo pepper, covering the meat completely. Wrap the pork in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set the pork in a baking dish just large enough to hold it and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pork with parchment paper and then cover tightly with foil. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.
Pour all but 1/4 cup of the roasting juices into a bowl and reserve. Drizzle the pork with the vinegar, cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest, covered in the pan, for 10 minutes. Remove the pork to a cutting board.
Combine the pan juices with the reserved juices in a microwave safe bowl.
In a large bowl, stir the olive oil with the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Add the fennel and arugula and toss.
Brush the rolls with oil and toast under the broiler.
Discard any fat and gristle from the pork. Reheat the juices in the microwave or in a pan.
Shred the meat and toss with the hot pan juices.
Pile the meat on the rolls, top with the fennel salad and serve.