If you are trying to eat less meat, substituting pasta dishes made with vegetables are not only healthy but quite satisfying. Vegetables that are especially good in pasta are frozen or canned artichoke hearts, mushrooms, broccoli/broccoli rabe, cauliflower, zucchini, peas and fresh tomatoes.
Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Capers
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs made from Italian bread with crusts removed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
- 1 1/2 pound head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (5 to 6 cups)
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- Snipped fresh thyme or fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
Bring a 5- to 6-quart pot of salted water to boiling.
In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-low heat. Add bread crumbs to the hot oil; cook about 3 minutes or until crumbs are crisp and golden brown, stirring frequently (reduce heat and stir constantly if bread crumbs are becoming too dark). Stir in 1 clove of the minced garlic; cook and stir until garlic is fragrant. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the lemon peel; set aside.
In the same large skillet heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt; cook about 3 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the 1 teaspoon thyme and the remaining 2 cloves minced garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds.
Add cauliflower, broth and capers; cover and cook about 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Stir in lemon juice and pepper.
Meanwhile, in the large pot cook spaghetti according to package directions, except cook for 2 minutes less than the time given on the package.
Drain spaghetti. Return to the pot and add the cauliflower mixture to spaghetti. Cook about 5 minutes more or until spaghetti is al dente.
Divide spaghetti mixture among six shallow serving bowls. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. If desired, garnish with additional snipped fresh thyme or thyme sprigs.
Baked Rigatoni with Spinach and Cheese
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
- 2 cups (about 1 pound) ricotta
- 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 6 ounces fontina, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
Heat the oven to 450°F. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rigatoni until almost done, about 12 minutes. Drain. Put the pasta in the prepared baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Meanwhile, squeeze as much of the water as possible from the spinach. Put the spinach in a food processor and puree with the ricotta, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in half of the fontina cheese.
Stir the spinach mixture into the pasta. Top with the remaining fontina and Parmesan cheeses. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the top. Bake the pasta until the top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Creamy Fettuccine with Spring Vegetables
- 8 ounces dried fettuccine
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
- 4 ounces fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered (you can leave these out if you are not a fan)
- 1 ½ cups fresh broccoli florets
- 8 fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups milk, plus extra if needed
- 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the saucepan. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes; keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add asparagus, Brussels sprouts, if using, broccoli and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables from the skillet; set aside.
In same skillet, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Gently stir in pasta and vegetables. Stir in additional milk, if the sauce needs thinning. Sprinkle with lemon peel and additional shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve.
Baked Ziti with Pesto
- 1/2 pound ziti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
Heat the oven to 350°F. Oil an 8-by-8-inch square or oval baking dish.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta for 7 minutes. It will be partially cooked. Drain.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, salt and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Remove the bay leaf.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, about half the Parmesan, the pesto and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Put half of the cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with about a third of the tomato sauce. Spread the ricotta mixture on the sauce in an even layer. Cover with the remaining pasta and then the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Linguine with Sweet Bell Peppers
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 pound red, green, yellow, orange bell peppers, sliced thin
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound linguine
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and bell peppers, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
Add the cooked linguine, pasta water, tomatoes and basil to the skillet and toss over moderate heat for 1 minute; then serve.
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.
Tips on grilling fish:
- A hot fire is key. You want to cook seafood quickly to retain the natural juices and flavor.
- A clean grill rack is equally important. Fish will stick to a dirty rack and make turning the fish difficult.
- Oil the rack when the barbecue grill is hot, just before you’re ready to cook. Also, oil the fish whenever possible. Use a high-temperature oil, such as grape seed, peanut or plain olive oil.
- Skin side up or down? Conventional wisdom says to cook the skin side first, but doing the opposite gives a nicer, crusted surface on the non-skin side and the skin helps the fillet hold together for turning. The result is a moist, more appealing fillet.
- Fish will hold together better and be less likely to stick if you leave it alone during grilling. Cook it for the estimated time, then try lifting it carefully. If it pulls away easily, it is ready to turn.
- A wide, thin spatula is essential for turning and removing fish from the grill.
- If you’re grilling thin fillets, you can place them in a double-sided, long-handled grilling rack used for hamburgers and steaks. There are also specially shaped ones made for grilling whole fish.
- A good rule of thumb is to grill fish for a total of 10 minutes per inch of thickness (measured at the thickest point.) So if you have a half-inch thick fillet, grill it for about 3 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Avoid sugary marinades or glazes, especially with thick fillets or whole fish, as the sugars can burn and turn bitter before the fish is fully cooked.
- As with other methods, fish is fully cooked when it begins to flake and is opaque at the center. Some fish, like salmon and tuna, are often served while still somewhat ‘rare’, like steak.
- Tuna, salmon, swordfish, halibut, mahi mahi, barramundi, trout, mackerel, yellowtail and sea bass are some of the best fish to grill.
When most of us think of swordfish, we think…well, isn’t it endangered? The answer — at least for American swordfish — is no. It is true that swordfish stocks were hurt in the 1980s and early 1990s, but a nationwide movement to give swordfish a break worked. Now, North Atlantic stocks are on the rebound and environmental watchdog groups list them as a “good alternative.”
Grilled Swordfish With Caponata
Swordfish is made for the grill. It is firm, like steak, and many non-fish eaters will readily eat swordfish over other types of fish. Its texture also helps prevent the steaks from falling apart on the grill, a huge plus. Note: Halibut steaks or firm white fish fillets, such as red snapper, tilapia, cod or orange roughy, can be used in place of swordfish.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 swordfish steaks (see note above)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 each Italian frying pepper and orange and yellow bell peppers
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled or unpeeled according to taste
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
Mix ingredients in a large ziptop bag. Add fish, seal; turn to coat. Leave at room temperature while preparing the caponata.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers; sauté 2 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds and add eggplant, cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in marinara sauce, cover; reduce heat and simmer, stirring twice, 12 minutes or until the eggplant is very tender.
Add vinegar and capers to the caponata. Cover and simmer 5 minutes to develop flavors.
Meanwhile, heat an outdoor grill or a stove-top ridged grill pan. Remove fish from the bag; discard bag with the marinade.
Grill fish 4 to 6 inches from the heat source on an outdoor grill or in a grill pan, turning once, 10 to 12 minutes until cooked through.
Serve fish over the caponata.
Healthy sides to go with your delicious grilled fish.
Spinach & Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes
- 4 large vine-ripe tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Heat the oven to 450°F.
Rub the inside of a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the oil and set aside.
Using a serrated knife, cut off the top fourth of each tomato and discard the tops. Cut 1/8th off the bottom of each tomato, so that they’ll sit upright in the baking dish; discard bottoms.
Using a small spoon (a grapefruit spoon works the best), scoop out the seeds and pulp from each tomato and discard. Sprinkle the insides of each tomato with a little salt. Place the tomatoes upside down on a plate layered with paper towels and let them sit for 30 minutes to extract excess tomato juice, which may make the filling soggy.
Heat the remaining oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and yellow pepper and cook 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and Italian seasoning. Cook 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in rice, salt and lemon rind. Cook 4 minutes or until heated through.
Spoon rice mixture into the tomatoes and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Braised Spring Vegetables
- 1 spring onion or 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chicken broth or water
- 8 oz asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
- 1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound of peas in the pod) or frozen peas (thawed)
- 1/2 head escarole, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
In heavy 12-inch skillet, combine spring onion, garlic, oil and broth; heat to simmering on medium heat. Cover; cook about 2 minutes, or until onion softens slightly.
Add asparagus, sugar snap peas and peas and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, or until beans and peas are heated through. Add escarole and basil; sauté 2 to 3 minutes, or until escarole wilts and asparagus is crisp-tender.
Stir in lemon peel and juice. Season to taste with kosher salt.
Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with chives and grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Spaghettini with Lemon and Ricotta
- 12 oz spaghettini (thin spaghetti)
- 3/4 cup good-quality fresh whole-milk ricotta
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons
Heat a large saucepan of salted water to boiling on high. Add spaghettini; cook 6 minutes or until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix ricotta, oil and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Finely grate the peel of 1 lemon and stir it into ricotta. Season with kosher salt.
Add cooked spaghettini to ricotta mixture; stir well, adding reserved cooking water, if needed to make a sauce that coats the pasta. Season to taste.
Divide pasta among 4 plates. Finely grate the peel of the remaining lemon over the pasta and serve.
Tomato & Fennel Salad
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 pound tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
Toast pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool
Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl until combined.
Add tomatoes, fennel, parsley and pine nuts; toss to coat. Serve.
Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Anchovies
- 2 pounds broccoli rabe, stem ends trimmed and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot or Dutch oven of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until the garlic is very light brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the broccoli rabe, toss to coat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Make some healthy, delicious spring desserts with in-season ingredients like lemon, berries, rhubarb, cherries and herbs. A great way to celebrate spring.
These desserts can fit any occasion, whether you are entertaining guests or as a delicious ending to a family dinner.
Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Strawberry Sauce
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar or sparkling sugar
- Strawberry Sauce, (recipe below)
- Fresh basil leaves and/or fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 x 1-1/2-inch round cake pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, milk and olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture and snipped basil until combined.
Pour batter into prepared cake pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Remove cake from the pan. Turn cake, sugar side up. Cool completely on a wire rack.
To serve, cut cake into wedges. Serve with Strawberry Sauce and garnish with fresh basil leaves and/or fresh strawberries.
- 2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
In a blender or food processor, combine strawberries, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the white balsamic vinegar. Cover and blend or process until smooth.
If desired, stir in additional white balsamic vinegar to taste. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours. Stir before serving.
Rosemary and Lemon Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 ¾ cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Lemon Glaze (recipe below)
Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Line fifteen 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set aside.
In a medium bowl combine cake flour, rosemary, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, lemon extract and vanilla. Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping bowl.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture; beat on low after each addition, just until combined. Stir in the lemon peel and lemon juice.
Spoon batter into prepared cups to three-fourths full.
Bake 22 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.
(Bake 36 mini cakes 15 to 18 minutes; 6 jumbo cakes 25 to 30 minutes.) Cool in the muffin pan on a rack 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan; cool completely.
Spoon Lemon Glaze on cupcakes. Let stand 10 minutes. Makes 15 (2-1/2-inch) cupcakes.
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 5 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of finely shredded lemon peel
In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and enough of the lemon juice to reach spreading consistency. Stir in lemon peel.
Cherries Poached in Red Wine with Mascarpone Cream
- 2 1/4 cups red wine
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1-by-3-inch strip orange zest
- 2 pounds sweet cherries, halved and pitted
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
In a medium stainless-steel saucepan, combine the wine, sugar and orange zest. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Add the cherries and bring back to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the cherries are just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour into a glass or stainless-steel serving bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone with the honey. Remove the strip of orange zest from the cherries. Serve the warm cherries and syrup in bowls or stemmed glasses, topped with a large dollop of the mascarpone cream.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut up
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons fat-free milk
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
- 1 recipe Honey-Yogurt Cream (below)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 tablespoon honey
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl stir together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.
In a small bowl beat egg lightly with a fork. Stir in milk, 2 tablespoons of the honey, 2 tablespoons yogurt and the lemon peel. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.
Using a large spoon, drop dough into 8 mounds onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer shortcakes to a wire rack; let cool.
To serve, split the shortcakes in half horizontally. Place bottom halves on serving plates. Evenly top bottom halves with the Honey-Yogurt Cream and blueberries.
Top with shortcake tops and drizzle evenly with the remaining 1 tablespoon honey. Serve immediately.
- 1 ounce of plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 cup of whipped cream
In a medium bowl stir together yogurt and honey. Fold in whipped cream.
Buckle Is a type of cake made in a single layer with fresh fruit added to the batter. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.
For the cake
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray, for cake pans
- 1 pound plus 10 ounces rhubarb, trimmed and cut 1/2 inch thick on the bias
- 2 cups sugar, divided
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
For the crumb topping
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup light-brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the oven rack in the center position.
Coat two 9-inch square cake pans with cooking spray and line them with parchment, leaving an overhang on 2 sides.
Stir together rhubarb and 1 cup sugar; set aside to macerate.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat together butter, remaining 1 cup of sugar and the lemon zest until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Make the crumb topping:
Stir together flour, brown sugar and salt. Add melted butter; stir to combine.
Divide batter between the pans. Top with rhubarb mixture and sprinkle with crumb topping.
Bake until golden on top and cooked through, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks, then lift cakes from the pans using the parchment overhangs.
Remove parchment. Before serving, cut buckle into 2-inch squares.
The Upper Midwest
As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout the various regions of the United States, many brought with them a distinct regional Italian culinary tradition. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for the townspeople and later for Americans nationwide.
The growth of the automobile industry resulted in the increase of the Italian population in Detroit during the 20th Century. By 1925 the number of Italians in the city had increased to 42,000. The historical center of Detroit’s Italian-American community was in an area along Gratiot Avenue, east of Downtown Detroit. There were larger numbers of southern Italians than those from the north. However, Armando Delicato, author of Italians in Detroit, wrote that “Unlike many other American cities, no region of Italy was totally dominant in this area”.
The Roma Cafe In downtown Detroit’s historic Eastern Market, is the oldest Italian restaurant in Detroit, dating back to 1890. The restaurant offers a classic Italian-American menu with hearty pastas, seafood, steak and vegetable options.
The Marazza family operated a boarding house with a warm meal included for Eastern Market vendors and farmers. Mrs. Marazza’s reputation as a fine cook spread quickly throughout the Eastern Market area. At the urging of her diners, she opened her restaurant in February of 1890, called the Roma Café.
In 1918, the business was sold to John Battaglia and Morris Sossi. During their partnership, an addition was put on the building and the same building is still standing there today. The following year, John Battaglia died and Morris Sossi bought out his widow to become the sole owner of Roma Café.
Morris Sossi’s nephew, Hector Sossi, began working as a busboy for his uncle in 1940. Hector Sossi carried on the family tradition and bought out Morris in 1965 to become the next owner of the Roma Café. Mr. Sossi remains the owner with a third generation family member at the helm. His daughter, Janet Sossi Belcoure, currently manages this historic Italian eatery.
A specialty of the house, the tomato meat sauce is excellent — a little sweet, but without any acidity. And its recipe is a closely guarded secret. The recipe below is a classic version of this favorite Italian American dish.
Cheese Ravioli with Old-Fashioned Meat Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3/4 pound extra-lean ground beef
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 16-ounce can tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- Salt and pepper
- 3/4 pound purchased fresh cheese ravioli
- Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Heat the olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add ground beef and garlic and sauté until meat is no longer pink, breaking it up with a fork, about 5 minutes.
Puree tomatoes with juices in a processor. Add to the saucepan. Add canned tomato puree, herbs and dried crushed red pepper. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
Cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite. Drain well. Arrange ravioli on a large platter or in a large pasta bowl. Add just enough sauce to coat the ravioli;. Serve, passing cheese separately.
Italians first came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the late 19th century. In the early part of the 20th century, large numbers of Italian immigrants came from Sicily and southern Italy. Brady Street, the historic Third Ward, is considered the heart of Italian immigration in the city, where as many as 20 Italian grocery stores once existed on the street.
Most of the Italian immigrants found jobs working along the railroad, in factory positions and doing general municipal work for the city. Thanks to the city’s close proximity to Chicago and Lake Michigan, Milwaukee’s economy grew and decent paying jobs were available to the immigrants. The city also has an Italian newspaper called The Italian Times printed by the Italian Community Center (ICC).
Every year the largest Italian American festival in the United States, Festa Italiana, takes place in Milwaukee. Italian Americans still number at around 16,992 in the city, but in Milwaukee County they number at 38,286. Festa Italiana is held annually at the Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is the largest Italian-American festival in America and features Italian music, food and entertainment. Sponsored by the Italian Community Center, the festival is also known for its large fireworks show and a cannoli eating contest.
Capellini alla Caprese
by Milwaukee Italian chef/owner, Gino Fazzari
- 4 ounces capellini or angel hair pasta
- 2 ounces prosciutto, small dice
- 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon onion, small dice
- ½ teaspoon garlic, small dice
- ½ tablespoon Italian parsley, rough chop
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch of red pepper
- 2 ounces Roma tomatoes, small dice
- 1 teaspoon fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces chardonnay
- 4 ounces heavy cream
- 1 ounce Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
Put a large pot with plenty of water on the stove to boil. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add 2 tablespoons of salt.
In a medium sauté pan, heat extra virgin olive oil 2 minutes over medium heat. Add prosciutto, onion, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and parsley. Sauté until onion is translucent and prosciutto softens but is not crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
Deglaze the pan with the chardonnay and cook out the alcohol for about 1 minute. Add tomato, heavy cream and basil and cook for 2-3 minutes.
When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Lower heat to low, add half of the Parmigiano cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well. Serve immediately garnished with remaining Parmigiano cheese.
Elmwood Park, a village on the northwest side of Chicago, Illinois, has long maintained a large Italian-American population. The population was 24,883 at the 2010 census. One of Elmwood Park’s most notable establishments is Johnnie’s Beef, which is known for its Italian-style beef sandwiches.
In 1977 George Randazzo created the Italian American Boxing Hall of Fame as a way to raise money for local youth programs. After a successful year and a dinner honoring 23 former Italian American boxing champions, Randazzo created the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. The original location was in Elmwood Park, Illinois. The first induction ceremony honored Lou Ambers, Eddie Arcaro, Charley Trippi, Gino Marchetti, Dom DiMaggio, Joe DiMaggio and Vince Lombardi. Since its founding in 1978, over 230 Italian Americans have been inducted into this hall of fame. It is now located in Chicago.
Johnnie’s Beef Recipe
Yield: Makes about 10 sandwiches with about 1/4 pounds of meat each.
In Johnnie’s words:
Allow about 2 hours to cook and another 3 hours to firm the meat for slicing in the refrigerator, if you don’t have a meat slicer. You need 90 minutes to cook a 3 pound roast, or about 30 minutes per pound. You can cook this well in advance and refrigerate the meat and juice and heat it up as needed. You can even freeze it. This is a great Sunday dish because the smell of the roasting beef and herbs fills the house. After you cook it, you need another 30 minutes to chill it before slicing.
1 boneless beef sirloin butt roast, about 3 pounds with most of the fat trimmed off
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 6 cups of hot water
- 4 cubes of beef bouillon
- 10 soft, fluffy, high gluten rolls, sliced lengthwise but hinged on one side or Italian bread loaves cut width-wise into 10 portions
- 3 medium sized green bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, approximately
- 1 cup hot giardiniera
About the beef.
Top sirloin, top round or bottom round are preferred in that order for tenderness.
About the garlic. If you wish, omit the garlic powder and stud the roast with fresh garlic.
About the bouillon.
I have encountered lively debate on the makeup of the juice as I developed this recipe. Some insist you must use bouillon to be authentic, while others use beef stock, veal stock, or a soup base, and simmer real onions and garlic in it. The bouillon advocates have won me over on the authenticity argument, although I must confess, soup base is my favorite.
1) If you wish, you can cut small slits in the surface of the meat every inch or so and stick slivers of fresh garlic into the meat. If you do this, leave the garlic out of the rub. Otherwise, mix the rub in a bowl. Sprinkle it generously on the meat and massage it in. There will be some left over. Do not discard it, we will use it in the juice. Let the meat sit at room temp for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the grill or oven to 400° F. If you are cooking indoors, put a rack just below the center of the oven.
2) Pour the water into a 9 x 13″ baking pan and heat it to a boil on the stovetop. Dissolve the bouillon in the water. It may look thin, but it will cook down and concentrate during the roasting. Pour the remaining rub into the pan. Place a rack on top of the pan. Place the roast on top of the rack above the juice. Roast at 400°F until interior temperature is 140°F for medium rare, about 30 minutes per pound. This may seem long, but you are cooking over water and that slows things down. The temp will rise about 5°F more as it rests. Don’t worry if there are people who won’t eat medium-rare meat. The meat will cook further in step 5, and you can just leave theirs in the juice until it turns to leather if that’s what they want. If you use a rotisserie on your grill, you can cut the cooking time in half because the spear and the forks holding it in place will conduct heat into the interior.
This recipe is designed for a 9 x 13″ baking pan. If you use a larger pan, the water may evaporate and the juice will burn. If you have to use a larger pan, add more water. Regardless of pan size, keep an eye on the pan to make sure it doesn’t dry out during cooking. Add more water if necessary.
3) While the meat is roasting (mmmmm, smells sooooo good), cut the bell peppers in half and remove the stems and seeds. Rinse, and cut into 1/4″ strips. Cook the peppers in a frying pan over a medium high heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom, about 1 tablespoon. When they are getting limp and the skins begin to brown, about 15 minutes, they are done. Set aside at room temp.
4) Remove the roast and the juice pan. Let the meat sit for about 30 minutes for the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat fibers, and then place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Let it cool for about a few hours, long enough for the meat to firm up. This will make slicing easier. Slice the meat against the grain as thin as humanly possible, preferably with a meat slicer. My wife remembers that her family would cook the roast and take it to the butcher to slice on his machine. That’s a good strategy if you don’t have a meat slicer. This, of course, is against health codes today. If you don’t have a slicer, use a thin blade and draw it along the red part of the meat. If you try to cut down through the crust you will be cutting it too thick.
5) Taste the juice. If you want you can thin it with more water, or make it richer by cooking it down on top of the stove. In Chicago beef stands it is rich, but not too concentrated. Then turn the heat to a gentle simmer. Soak the meat in the juice for about 1 minute at a low simmer. That’s all. That warms the meat and makes it very wet. You can’t leave the meat in the juice for more than 10 minutes or else it starts to curl up, squeezes out its natural moisture, and toughens. If you go to a beef stand and the meat is really curly, they have committed a mortal sin. At Mr. Beef, for example, I watched them take a handful of cooked beef and dump it into the juice every time they took out enough for a sandwich. This also enriches the juice with meat protein and seasoning from the crust.
6) To assemble the sandwich, start by spooning some juice directly onto the bun. Get it wet. Then lay on the beef generously. Spoon on more juice (don’t burn your hand). Top it with bell pepper and, if you wish, giardiniera. If you want it “wet”, dip the whole shootin’ match in juice. Be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand.
Anthony “Tony” L. Sarcone once joked that when he came to Des Moines in 1905, the only English he knew was “522 Elm Street” – his brother’s address. The feeling he experienced being a stranger in a new land led him to a life dedicated to organizing and encouraging the Americanization of the Italian immigrants in Iowa. Tony Sarcone was born in Crucoli, Italy on March 1, 1884. He worked on the railroad when he first came to Des Moines. From 1910 – 1914, he managed a shoe store. He then went to work for the city’s health department, where he served through World War I and until 1928.
Sarcone is best known as the founder of the Sarcone Publishing Company. He published the weekly Italian language newspaper, Il Risveglio (The Awakening). in 1922. In 1925, he changed the name of newspaper to the American Citizen. During the late 1920’s the newspaper gradually converted from Italian to English, reflecting the Italian immigrants’ own language transition.
Though extremely proud of his Italian heritage, Sarcone was also very passionate about the ideals of his adopted country. He dedicated a significant portion of his newspaper to encouraging his readers to pursue American citizenship. He published preparatory materials for those studying for their citizenship, provided information on naturalization classes and reported on those who recently became Americans. Source: The Italians in Iowa · A documentary about the history of Italians in Iowa.
Graziano Brothers makes only about 3,000 pounds of sausage a week and most of it remains in the greater Des Moines area, says Frances Graziano, president of the company. It was her grandfather, Francis, and his brother, Louis, who opened Graziano Brothers in 1912 at the current location on Des Moines’ South Side. For decades, their sausage was made using a meat grinder with a hand crank. Today, the grinding and mixing is done on a larger scale, but it’s nowhere near the point of being mass-produced. Whenever Frances Graziano allows herself to toy with the notion of making more sausage, she comes back to one thing: To sell more, some production would have to be moved off-premise.
The hot sausage recipe dates back to a time when Italian was spoken regularly on the South Side of Des Moines and sausage was made at home. Hot Italian sausages “were usually made in Italian homes during the winter time and hung up to dry. Pieces were cut from the sausages, cooked and eaten,” newspaper writer Kenneth Land observed in 1962 on the occasion of Graziano Brothers’ 50th anniversary. Mike Graziano, the father of Frances, spoke with pride in that newspaper article about pure pork used in the sausage. The same is true today. “We even use real hog casings,” Frances says. “That makes a big difference. We don’t use anything synthetic or fillers.” Source: Des Moines Register.
Graziano’s on the Grill
In a large skillet, place sausage links and water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove sausage and transfer to prepared grill. Grill 6 inches from the heat source for 10 to 13 minutes, turning occasionally, until no pink color remains. To grill bulk sausage, pat sausage meat as you would a hamburger and grill.
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The region of Basilicata in Italy forms the instep of the Italian “boot.” This small region is mountainous arid has two coastlines, one in the center of the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea and the other on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Potenza is the regional capital.
The population is rather small at about 611,000 people. Although Basilicata has never had a large population, there have been considerable fluctuations in the demographic pattern of the region. In 1881, there were 539,258 inhabitants but by 1911 the population had decreased by 11% to 485,911, mainly as a result of emigration overseas.
Basilicata has been victim to many devastating earthquakes over the centuries making it hard for the region to develop into an industrialized area. The effects of such earthquakes can be seen in the local landscape and are fascinating from a geological standpoint.
What little industry there is centers around chemicals and natural gas. About 55% of the population is employed in the service related fields (though many of these positions could also be considered agricultural), about 32% are employed in industry and about 13% of the work force is in agriculture. Industrial development is low, though there are some flourishing craft sectors, such as ceramic, woodwork and textile industries in the region.
Agriculture plays a major role in the region’s economy despite the fact that dry weather and limited underground water supplies make farming difficult. Olives, plums and cereals are grown and sheep and goats are raised. There is also some fishing.
The charm of Basilicata lies in the numerous small ancient villages decorating the region. There is little in the way of highways and railways because of the mountainous nature of the region. Visitors will be attracted to the ancient architecture and historical art of the region’s numerous small churches and medieval castles. The coastline is covered in some of Italy’s finest archaeological ruins. The outdoor markets of Basilicata offer an array of unique handmade items that one would not normally find in other regions.
The cuisine of Basilicata is based on simple, local products used efficiently to minimize waste.
Minimal amounts of meat are used in Basilicata recipes, however, pig farming plays a major role in the food culture. Pork from this region is noticeably leaner than in other parts of Italy, due in large part to the mountainous terrain. Many of the pigs graze in the hills alongside goats and sheep, so they tend to have less fat, more lean muscle mass and a different flavor than one would expect from most pork products. Sausage making is a primary use of pork in the region and the sausage often includes spicy peperoncini. Local favorites include lucanica (a spicy sausage), pezzente (“beggar’s” salami) and pancetta.
Other pork dishes include a popular stew called peperonata con carne di porco, which cooks several cuts of pork in a tomato and pepper sauce. Pork rind is filled with a mixture of salt pork, peppers and garlic and simmered in tomato sauce until tender. Poultry is also used in Basilicata cooking. A specialty of the region is pollo alla potentina, a chicken, onion and pepper dish gently cooked in a basil flavored wine and tomato sauce.
Basilicata produce include regional specialties, the Sarconi bean and Senise peppers. The peppers are usually fried with potatoes and eggplant and then stewed with tomatoes to make ciammotta. Another commonly eaten vegetable dish combines artichokes and potatoes and braises them with salt pork, fava beans and onions. Chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, durum wheat, artichokes, broccoli, rapini, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, carrots, olives and wine grapes are all staple crops and provide the hearty basis for countless dishes made in the Basilicata tradition. Acquasale is a tomato soup that is seasoned with onions, garlic and oil and thickened with bread. Minestra maritata has a blend of meat and vegetables simmered with pasta that sometimes contains breadcrumb dumplings. Other times, the soup may contain filling beans.
Anchovies and salt cod are usually preserved for later use, while tuna and sardines are often eaten fresh. Zuppa di pesce alla Santavenere contains a selection of local seafood in a savory soup.
Local wheat is used to make pasta and rustic bread. The bread is often incorporated into soups when stale. Basilicata is home to countless types of durum wheat pastas, some incorporating lentil flour or other bean flours. Orecchiette (“little ears”), lagane (lasagna), minuich (hand rolled tubes), firricieddi (twists), manate (tagliatelle), minuiddi (shaped like small quills), tapparelle (like orechiette but larger), rascatielli (corkscrew shaped) and lacane chiappute (a wide tagliatelle) are just a few of the pasta cuts popular in Basilicata. Most are served with a simply prepared tomato sauce that contains chili peppers, olive oil and garlic.
Equally as diverse are the different types of breads made in the region, rounding out the rustic country fare that seems to pair so well with dishes made from fresh vegetables and the cheeses of the area.
Lamb dishes are popular and sheep and goat’s milk are used to make cheese, such as canestrato. Lamb and potatoes are placed in a terracotta casserole dish with onions, peppers and bay leaves to make spezzatino di agnello.
Local cheeses also include, cacioricotta Lucano (a sheep and goat milk cheese that is particularly good grated over orecchiette pasta), Lucania mozzarella, Casieddu di Moliterno (a sheep’s milk cheese wrapped in leaves) and pecorino Lucano.
A popular treat in Basilicata is mostacciolo, an almond cookie flavored with cooked wine and sweetened with honey. Cuccia is another local favorite. It is an orange zest and honey flavored walnut pudding made with grano cheese.
It is on the upper slopes of Basilicata’s mountainous region that the finest wines are made. Basilicata boasts 4 DOC identified wines, of which Aglianico del Vulture is the most prolific. The grapes were first introduced to Basilicata by the Greeks in the 6th – 7th century. These wines have gained a significant following in the international market.
Traditional Recipes From Basilicata
Broccoli Rabe Soup Over Bread
- 1/2 pound broccoli rabe or other greens
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ¾ ounces pancetta
- 1 large onion
- 2/3 cup Pecorino cheese grated
- Salt to taste
- Bread slices
Dice the pancetta and thinly slice the onion.
Wash broccoli rabe very well, chop coarsely and boil in salted water until tender.
Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat, add pancetta and onion and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion is tender.
Stir in cooked broccoli rabe and saute for 2 minutes
Pour in hot broth. Cook for an additional 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper
Toast slices of bread in a preheated 400°F oven for 5 – 10 minutes.
Place a slice or two of bread in individual soup bowls and ladle hot soup over the bread. Serve with grated Pecorino cheese.
Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 pound thick spaghetti (bucatini) or fettuccine
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 of a large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 hot red pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 5 basil leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup shaved Pecorino cheese
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and add the onion, chili pepper and garlic.
Once the onion and the garlic have browned, add the bell peppers, salt and black pepper and cook until the peppers are very soft.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for the time indicated on the package for al dente. Save some of the pasta water for the sauce.
Drain the pasta and mix it with the peppers and onions and some of the pasta water to make a sauce. Mix well.
Garnish the dish with Pecorino cheese, basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
Basilicata Style Chicken
- 3 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
- 2/3 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 ½ tablespoons dry white wine
- Chili pepper flakes to taste
- Garnish with basil leaves or rosemary
- Salt to taste
Heat the olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add pieces of chicken and thinly sliced onion and cook until golden.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add the hot pepper. Add tomatoes, parsley, basil or rosemary and salt.
Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 hour until the chicken, adding spoonfuls of water if the sauce becomes too thick.
Remove from the heat and garnish with basil or rosemary leaves. This dish is often served with wedges of roasted potatoes.
Chocolate-Almond Cookies (Strazzate)
Makes about 34 Cookies
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for greasing the pans
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ¾ cups finely ground, plus 2 tablespoons roughly chopped, almonds
- 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup Strega or Galliano liqueur
- 1/3 cup coffee, at room temperature
Heat oven to 325°F. Grease 2 parchment-lined baking sheets with butter and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the baking powder and 1 tablespoon lukewarm water until dissolved, 20 seconds.
Combine ground and chopped almonds, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, oil and salt in a large bowl. With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in the baking powder mixture, liqueur and coffee to form a wet dough.
Divide the dough into 1-oz. portions. Using your hands, roll the dough into balls and transfer to prepared baking sheets spaced about 1-inch apart.
Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool to firm before serving.
For conscious carnivores who like beef, the best option — for your health and for the environment — is meat from pastured cattle raised on grass from start to finish. They’re rich in good fats and managed in a sustainable way. And if you use the meat as a supporting player, rather than the main attraction, you can serve more people while spending less.
For good tasting grass-fed beef, the key is to limit the exposure to high heat so that the meat juices, in limited supply, do not escape, which is what happens over extended cooking times. Keep the steak over the hottest part of the grill for no more than 3½ minutes per side.
While your grill preheats, or about 30 minutes in advance, take the steaks out the refrigerator to take off some of the chill. Use a paper towel to pat them dry on both sides and season them well with kosher salt.
Oil the grill and place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill. Set your timer for 3 minutes for rare or 3½ minutes if you like medium-rare. Use tongs to turn the steak and reset the timer for 3 to 3½ minutes. If you have a digital instant-read thermometer, check the temperature during the last 30 seconds of cooking. For rare, remove the meat at 125 degrees, for medium-rare 130 degrees. Let the steak rest for five minutes before serving.
Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Simmer vinegar in small pan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Add shallots, 1/4 cup oil, and crushed red pepper; return to simmer. Remove from heat; whisk in parsley, capers, and thyme. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
Rub both sides of steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, 2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plates. Spoon vinaigrette over each steak.
Stuffed Grilled Zucchini
- 4 medium zucchini
- 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 T chopped celery
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 chopped plum tomato
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/4-inch in the shells. Brush with 2 teaspoons oil; set aside. Chop the zucchini pulp.
In a large skillet, saute pulp, celery and onion in remaining oil. Add garlic and tomato; cook 1 minute longer. Add panko crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, basil and salt. Spoon mixture into the zucchini shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
- 2 lbs new potatoes, halved
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 2 teaspoons
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Place the potatoes, chicken stock, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and place them in a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of basil. Toss well and garnish with the remaining chopped basil.
- 2-10 oz packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons ⅓ less fat cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Salt and pepper
Heat oil in small saucepan and add garlic; cook 1 minute.
Add spinach and heat.
Make a well in the center of the spinach and add the milk and cream cheese.
Heat and stir until cheese is dissolved throughout spinach. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Carrot, Olive and Feta Salad
- 2 pounds medium carrots, trimmed, peeled and chopped
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for roasting
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- 1 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
- 6 ounces feta cheese, chopped
Mix carrots with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Spread onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Roast for 30-35 minutes in a 350°F oven until tender. The cooking time will vary according to the thickness of the carrots. Be careful not to overcook.
In a small bowl whisk together the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs.
Once the roasted carrots are cooled to room temperature, mix together the carrots, olives, feta, and olive oil mixture and place on a serving platter.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. Bring to room temperature before serving.