Asti is a province in the Piedmont region of northern Italy and is an important area for the production of fine wines. Perhaps the wine most famously associated with Asti worldwide is the sparkling Asti (DOCG). The name is usually shortened to “Asti” in order to avoid associations with the many wines of dubious quality, which are labelled “Spumante”.
Asti is typically sweet and low in alcohol (often below 8%) and is made solely from the moscato bianco, a white muscat grape. A premium version known as Moscato d’Asti (DOCG) is sold outside Italy. Moscato d’Asti is a “Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita”, a sparkling white wine produced mainly in the province of Asti, is considered a dessert wine. Grown on Asti hilltops, Moscato d’Asti is made by small producers in small batches. Moscato is so named because of its earthy musk aroma. The petite berry grape ripens early and produces a wide range of wine styles: light and dry, slightly sweet and honey-like.
While technically a white grape, there are strains of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains vines that produce berries that are pink or reddish-brown. When the differing grape color is stable, the wines are typically classified as separate grape varieties: Muscat Rouge à Petit Grains for red skin color and Muscat Rose à Petit Grains for pink skin color.
While Asti province became famous around the world thanks to Martini and Rossi and Gancia and Riccadonnafor for their commercial Spumante wines, it is now becoming famous internationally for its classic red wines, such as Barbera d’Asti, Freisa d’Asti, Grignolino d’Asti, Bonarda and Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato. These wines and many other local wines can be sampled during the week-long Douja d’Or wine exhibition which is held at the same time as the Palio and Sagre races.
Asti is also famous for its Asti’s Festival of Festivals, held in September, a week before the Palio race. During the festival, most of the towns in Asti’s province meet in a great square called “Campo del Palio”. Here, they offer local cuisine for which they are known and on the Sunday of the Sagre race all the towns involved stage a parade with floats with everyone in costume all along the Asti roads.
Asti province becomes a gourmet delight from October to December when the white truffle or “tartufo bianco” is in season. Some of the best truffles are found around Asti’s hills and every weekend there is a local truffle festival.
Among local vegetables, the cardo gobbo (artichoke)and the “square pepper” (bell pepper) of Asti stand out, and both are regarded as essential ingredients for bagna cauda (a garlic and anchovy dip).
The area around Asti is also renowned for its cheeses, such as robiola of Roccaverano and robiola di Cocconato.
Typical provincial dishes include agnolotti, potato gnocchi, ciotola di trifulau (cheese fondue with polenta and a sprinkling of truffles) and boiled meats.
Local desserts include amaretti (almond cookies), canestrelli (semolina biscuits), finocchini of Refrancore (fennel cookies) and hazelnut cakes.
Pearl Barley Soup with Moscato d’Asti
Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 oz. smoked cooked ham, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1 medium leek, halved crosswise and thinly sliced
1 medium parsnip, finely chopped
1⁄2 small celery root, finely chopped
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups chicken stock
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Moscato d’Asti, for serving
Finely chopped chives, to garnish
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the ham and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the carrots, onions, leek, parsnip and celery root and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the stock and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the barley is half-cooked, about 35 minutes.
Add the potatoes to the soup and cook until tender, about 25 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the cream and ladle the soup into serving bowls. Add a splash of moscato to each bowl and sprinkle with chives before serving.
Braised Leg of Lamb with Polenta
Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy
12 oz. lamb bones
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1⁄2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves
For the Braise and Polenta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-lb.) bone-in leg of lamb
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1⁄2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
10 sprigs rosemary
1 bunch thyme
3 cups coarse-ground polenta
1 cup (4 oz.) grated robiola cheese
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Make the lamb stock:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the lamb bones on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the bones to a large saucepan along with half each of the celery, carrots, and onion; the juniper berries; bay leaves and 12 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until the bones have released their flavor, about 3 hours. Pour the lamb stock through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard the solids.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. In a roasting pan over two burners, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a platter and add the remaining celery, carrots and onion to the pan along with the rosemary and thyme. Cook the vegetables, stirring, until browned and soft, about 6 minutes. Return the lamb to the pan along with the lamb stock and bring to a boil. Cover the roasting pan with foil and place the lamb in the oven. Braise the lamb until very tender, about 3 hours.
In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. While whisking, slowly pour the polenta and the 2 tablespoons salt into the water and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring steadily, until the polenta is tender and smooth, about 1 hour. Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter. Season with pepper and keep warm until ready to serve.
Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and pour the pan juices through a fine sieve into a bowl. Skim and discard the fat and pour the juices into a small saucepan. Bring the juices to a boil and cook until the sauce reduces to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Heat the broiler. Transfer the lamb to a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning, until browned and crisp on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a large dish and serve with the polenta and sauce.
Potato and Scallion Fritters
Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy
2 1⁄2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (9 oz.) rye flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large russet potato, peeled and boiled until tender
3/4 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the rye and all-purpose flours with the butter, 1 teaspoon salt, the egg, and 3/4 cup lukewarm water. Knead on medium speed until the dough comes together and is smooth, about 6 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Halve the dough and shape each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grate the cooked potato on the large holes of a box grater and reserve 1 cup; use any remaining potato for another recipe. Place the potato in a medium bowl, mix with the ricotta and scallions, and season with salt and pepper.
On a floured work surface, roll each dough disk into a 1⁄8-inch-thick circle. Drop 1-tablespoon-sized dollops of the ricotta-potato filling evenly spaced over 1 dough circle. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the dough with water around each dollop of filling. Drape the second dough circle over the first and gently press the dough between the mounds of filling to adhere. Position a 3-inch-round fluted cutter over 1 mound of filling and stamp out the round. Repeat, stamping out all the rounds.
Pour enough oil into a 6-quart saucepan to come 2 inches up the side, attach a deep-fry thermometer, and heat to 350°F. Working in batches, add the rounds to the oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the fritters from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season the fritters with salt and serve while hot.
Skillet Cake with Berry Compote
Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy
1 1⁄2 cups fresh or frozen lingonberries or cranberries
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons. fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
1 cup (4 oz.) “00” pasta flour
4 large eggs, separated
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
2 tablespoons. unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Toasted, flaked almonds, to garnish
1 sprig mint, to garnish
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup lingonberries, 3 tablespoons sugar, the white wine, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt over medium and cook, stirring, until the berries burst and the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Purée the sauce in a blender, scrape into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Stir in the remaining 1⁄2 cup lingonberries and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
In a large bowl, whisk the milk, flour, egg yolks and vanilla seeds until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, pour in the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and whisk until soft peaks form. Scrape the egg whites into the batter and fold until combined.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter over medium and cook until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the skillet and cook, undisturbed, until set on the bottom, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until set, about 5 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a cutting board and tear into large pieces. Transfer the pieces to a serving plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Sprinkle with almonds, garnish with the mint and serve warm with the lingonberry compote spooned over the top.
The province and metropolitan city of Messina are located in the northeast corner of Sicily on the Strait of Messina and sits on two different seas. It is also the 3rd largest city on the island of Sicily and the 13th largest city in Italy. Messina was originally founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC. In 1908, a devastating earthquake hit Messina, along with a tsunami, which destroyed much of the historical architecture of the city. One of the major landmarks lost to the earthquake was the 12th century Cathedral of the City, which was rebuilt in 1919. The city was also victim to significant damage from bombing raids during the Second World War.
Among the top attractions of Messina are the Cathedral of Messina, the Orologio Astronomico (the Bell Tower with an Astronomical Clock) and the Annunziata dei Catalani Church. The cathedral has largely been rebuilt following the earthquake damage and the bomb damage but some of the original building still remains, including a 15th century Gothic doorway and some 14th century mosaics. The attractive Bell Tower is home to one of the world’s largest astronomical clocks and its motorized figures emerge every day at noon to depict scenes of local history. Also, in the Piazza Duomo is the 16th century Fontaine de Orione.
The province’s main resources are its seaports (commercial and military shipyards), cruise tourism, commerce and agriculture (wine production and cultivating lemons, oranges, mandarin oranges and olives).
Just off the coast are the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and they are a popular tourist destination in the summer, attracting up to 200,000 visitors annually. There are beaches and coves with black sand, pumice stone and tiny pebbles, steaming craters, bubbling mud baths, sulfur springs, strange-shaped grottoes, crystal-clear turquoise waters, craggy cliffs, and archaeological sites on the coastline and the adjacent islands.
Fish: fried, baked or grilled, is the province’s most popular food. The preparation can vary, but what matters most is its freshness. Swordfish from the Messina Strait is cooked in multiple ways. Crustaceans and mussels make a popular soup and are often used as a topping for rice and spaghetti.
Vegetables and fruits are important components of Messinese cooking. Caponata, eggplant with cheese and potato fries are three of the best known local vegetable dishes.
Dairy products include canestrato cheese in sweet or spicy versions, sheep pecorino cheese and provola cheese, all made according to ancient traditions.
Olive oil, honey, hazelnuts and pistachios are all part of the cuisine.
Local pastries are well-known classics: cannoli, cassate, almond paste, martorana fruit and pignolata.
The D.O.C. wines of Etna, the Malvasia di Lipari and citrus liqueurs are all produced here.
Sciusceddu ( Meatball and Egg Soup)
“Sciusceddu” is a dish that comes from the city of Messina in Sicily, where it is traditionally served at Easter. There are two theories for where the name “sciusceddu” comes from. One suggests that it derives from the Latin word “juscelleum,” meaning soup, and the other is from the Sicilian verb “sciusciare,” meaning to blow.
4 cups meat broth
7 oz veal or beef meat, chopped
2 oz breadcrumbs
3 ½ oz caciocavallo cheese, grated
3 eggs, divided
3 ½ oz ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper
Combine the minced meat, one egg, breadcrumbs, half of the grated Caciocavallo cheese (or Parmesan), chopped parsley and a little water; then form meatballs about the size of a small egg.
In another bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs with the ricotta cheese, the remaining Caciocavallo cheese and a dash of salt and pepper.
Bring the broth to the boil in a saucepan and drop the meatballs into the broth.
Cook for about twenty minutes, then add the egg/ricotta mixture, stirring vigorously for a few moments. Remove from the heat and serve the “sciusceddu” piping hot.
Pesce Spada alla Messinese (Swordfish Messina style)
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 lb (600 gr) swordfish cut into palm-sized pieces slices
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
20 capers (if salted, rinse well first)
10 black olives, chopped
4 anchovy fillets
1 cup white wine
2 cups tomato passata (sauce)
15 oz can chopped tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
A pinch of crushed dried chili pepper
Brush the swordfish slices with olive oil and set aside.
In a skillet heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the spring onions, garlic, capers, olives, chili pepper and anchovy fillets and cook until the anchovies melt into the oil and the onion is soft.
Put the slices of swordfish in the skillet and add the white wine. Burn off the alcohol and then add the tomatoes. Mix well, cover and cook for 30 minutes on very low heat.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with parsley.
Pidoni, a popular dish from Messina. are pieces of pizza-like dough, stuffed with curly endive, mozzarella and anchovy, similar to a calzone but fried.
For the dough:
400 gr (3 cups) Italian 00 or pastry flour
200 gr ( 2 cups) bread flour
300 ml (1 and 1/3 cups) water
2 gr ( 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast
40 gr (6 tablespoons) olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
For the filling:
500 gr (1 lb, about 2 bunches) curly endive which is also named chicory or frisee
600 gr /18 oz diced, canned tomato
400 gr (14 oz) fresh mozzarella
6-8 anchovy fillets
Salt and black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Twenty-four hours before you need it, make the dough. Mix the dough ingredients, oil the dough, cover it and let it rise in a draft-free area.
About half way through the proofing time, knead the dough briefly and cover again.
Make the filling.
Wash the curly endive thoroughly and chop it finely or pulse it in a food processor. Mix the chopped salad with the tomatoes, salt lightly and transfer in a colander for at least one hour.
It’s important to remove as much liquid as possible from the vegetable mixture, so squeeze it in a cotton towel if necessary.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add one tablespoon olive oil and season the filling with a sprinkle of black pepper.
Divide the risen dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball. Place each ball on a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a thin disk of about 20 cm ( 8 inches) in diameter.
Divide the filling among the 16 disks leaving a 2.5cm ( 1 inch) margin around the edge.
Place 1 slice of mozzarella and 1/2 anchovy fillet broken in 2-3 pieces over the filling and fold the disk of dough to form a small calzone.
Preheat the oil in a deep saucepan, until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in about 25 seconds.
Seal the edges of the pidoni with a fork, drop them carefully into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes per batch until golden.
Drain on kitchen towssl and set aside. Continue until all are finished. Serves 6-8
4 cups whole milk, divided
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup Pistachio Cream, recipe below
In a small bowl combine 1 cup milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Using a wire whisk, combine the ingredients to form a slurry so that all the cornstarch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 3 cups milk and the vanilla extract.
Stirring occasionally, heat the mixture to almost a boil; stir in the cornstarch mixture and let simmer from 5 to 12 minutes to thicken, stirring constantly.
Another important tip is to stir slowly, (do not whisk) which will prevent too much air from being incorporated into the custard that will produce ice crystals.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight.
Prior to using the custard mixture, pour the chilled custard through a strainer into a mixing bowl to clear out any clumps that may have formed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Whisk the prepared chilled Pistachio Cream into the strained and chilled custard. The gelato mixture is now ready for the freezing process.
Transfer the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
With Gelato, it is best to not process it until it is hard. Instead, stop the ice cream maker at soft serve consistency, then put it in a container in your freezer until stiff for a delicate flavor and texture that differentiates it from ice cream.
When the gelato is done, either serve (best if eaten and enjoyed immediately, as gelato has a shorter storage life than ice cream) or transfer to freezer containers and freeze until firmer.
Makes approximately 1 quart of pistachio gelato.
1 cup hot water
8 ounces raw unsalted shelled and hulled pistachio nuts
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 teaspoons olive oil
In a medium-size saucepan, bring water to a boil.
Place the pistachio nuts, sugar and olive oil in a food processor. Blend/process, adding the hot water (1 tablespoon at a time to control the consistency of the cream) until the pistachios are a smooth, creamy consistency that spreads freely in the blender (It usually takes about 9 tablespoons of hot water).
NOTE: Stop the processor and scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during this process. When done, cover and refrigerate until ready to use in making the gelato.
Makes approximately 1 cup.
At this time of year the farmers’ markets, roadside stands and supermarkets are bursting at the seams with fresh grown produce. Take advantage of all these good things and create some seasonal recipes around fresh July produce. Here are a few ideas.
These little bites are delicious for lunch or for a summer appetizer.
- 2 medium cucumbers, peeled
- 1/2 cup chive and onion cream cheese
- 1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded
- 1/4 of a green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 small banana pepper or other spicy pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons relish
- Sweet paprika for garnish
Cut cucumbers lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds to form a hollow center.
Combine the carrots, green pepper, spicy banana peppers, relish and cream cheese.
Spread the mixture into the center of the cucumbers. Sprinkle the top with paprika.
Cut each cucumber half into 4 pieces. Chill in the refrigerator until serving time.
- 1 medium to large eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into ¼ inch slices
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
- Olive oil
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (parsley, basil)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups Marinara (tomato) sauce
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine the flour, salt, pepper and dried herbs in a shallow dish. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet.
Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour mixture and place in the skillet.
Cook until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and let cool until room temperature.
Mix together the filling ingredients and distribute evenly over the sautéed eggplant slices.
Roll up the slices from the short end and place in a greased casserole dish. Pour the Marinara sauce over the rolls and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.
Big Batch Summer Vegetable Chowder
Makes plenty to freeze for future dinners and lunches.
- 12 ears fresh corn
- 2 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 cups southern field peas
- 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 9 oz pkg fresh spinach tortellini
- Chopped fresh herbs for garnish
Slice the kernels from each corn cob into a large bowl. Set aside.
Break each corn cob in half and place in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Cover the cobs with 2 quarts of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat to low.
Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
When the corn cobs have finished simmering, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat.
Add the onions and cook until soft, approximately 2 minutes, then add the garlic, salt, pepper, dried Italian seasoning, reserved corn and remaining vegetables.
Cook for several minutes until the corn is soft, stirring frequently.
Once the corn cobs have finished simmering, remove the cobs from the broth. Add the corn broth to the soup pot. If the corn broth has reduced to less than 4 cups, add more water to equal 4 cups.
Add the chicken broth and tortellini. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the ingredients together over medium heat for an additional 15-20 minutes, covered.
- One 9 inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
- 3 small to medium vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced 1⁄4″ thick
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Spread tomatoes in a single layer on a double thickness of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let drain for 1 hour. Blot dry with more paper towels.
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Place the dough in a greased 10 inch pie dish or tart pan. You can also place the dough on a baking sheet on parchment and form the tart like a galette.
Spread the cream cheese over the crust, leaving a 1 inch border. Sprinkle the cheddar over the cream cheese.
Top with tomato and shallot slices, overlapping each slightly. Sprinkle with black pepper and chives. Fold overhanging crust up and over the edge of the filling.
Bake until golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Let the tart rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Regular or Gluten-Free Strawberry Peach Sponge Cake
The recipe for this cake can be made as a gluten-free cake or as a regular sponge cake. Any fruit filling works in this recipe – just use what is in season.
Simple Sponge Cake Mixture
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
Gluten-Free Cake Mixture
- 8 oz butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon light rum
- 1 ½ cups King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour (not gluten-free flour)
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons milk
Regular or Gluten Free Cake Filling
2 tablespoons light rum for sprinkling on the cake layers
1/2 cup strawberry syrup or jam (recipe for strawberry syrup)
6 strawberries, cut into thin slices
1 medium peach, peeled and sliced thin
12 whole small strawberries, stems removed
Whipped Cream Topping
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon light rum
Cut parchment or wax paper to fit two 9 inch round cake pans. Spray the pans with cooking spray and place the parchment circles in the pans. Spray the paper. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Directions for making the simple sponge cake:
Separate the eggs, putting whites in the large mixer bowl and the yolks in a small mixer bowl.
Add 1/2 cup sugar to the whites and beat until very stiff.
Add 1/2 cup sugar to the yolks and beat until very thick and light yellow in color.
Fold egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.
Fold flour in using 1//3 cup each time until well mixed. Do not over mix.
Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Cool for a few minutes, remove from pan and remove paper. Sprinkle each layer with 1 tablespoon of rum. Cool completely.
Directions for making the gluten-free sponge cake:
Cream the butter and sugar together in the large electric mixer bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the rum.
Fold in the baking flour and baking soda, a little at a time. When completely mixed, add the milk slowly until the batter is fluid.
Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. Sprinkle each layer with 1 tablespoon of rum. Cool completely.
Directions for making the whipped cream topping:
Combine the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl and with the whisk attachment beat the mixture until stiff.
Directions for assembling the cakes:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate and top with the strawberry syrup. Arrange the sliced fruit on top of the strawberry syrup layer. Spread half of the whipped cream over the fruit.
Place the second cake layer on top of the whipped cream. Spread the cake layer with the remaining whipped cream. Place the whole strawberries evenly in a circle around the cake.
Chill in the refrigerator until serving time.
Cremona is a province in the Lombardy region of Italy and occupies the central section of the Padana Plain, so the whole territory is flat, without mountains or hills, crossed by several rivers and artificial canals, most of which are used for irrigation. The river Po, which is the longest Italian river, is a natural boundary adjoining the Province of Piacenza. The area is about an hour south of Milan by train.
The city of Cremona has a strong musical tradition. The cathedral, built in the twelfth century, provided a focus for musical activity and, by the sixteenth century, the town was the musical center of the region. Even now it attracts people to hear performances by ensembles and attend the many musical festivals and concerts. The city of Cremona is the birthplace of Stradivarius. The town became renowned for the violins and other musical instruments that were made here by many members of the Stradivari, Amati, Guarneri and Bergonzi families of luthiers, who were all prominent citizens of Cremona.
The principal economic resources of the province are agricultural. Rice is grown with the help of water drawn from the canals. Other crops include maize (corn) and barley and to a lesser extent, soya and sugar beet. Grapes are cultivated, wine is produced and there is also a silk industry. The farms in the province are some of the most productive in the country. Beef and dairy cattle are raised here. Beef serves as a main ingredient for local dishes and the milk is used to create traditional cheeses, as well as butter and cream. The area is famous for its food specialities, such as nougat (Italian: torrone) and mustard, the famed Mostarda di Cremona, a sweet and spiced fruit preserve, served with the classic stew called bollito misto.
Cremona’s location at the border of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna brings influences from both: charcuterie like cotecchino and salame; grana padana cheese; stuffed pasta specialties like marubini and tortelli di zucca and the tramezzini sandwich, made on spongy, white bread stuffed with ham, tuna, eggs and artichokes and slathered with mayonnaise.
Rice became known in Europe, after being imported from Egypt and west Asia. It was known to Greece (where it is still cultivated) by returning soldiers from Alexander the Great’s military expedition to Asia. Large deposits of rice from the first century A.D. have been found in Roman camps in Germany and the Moors brought Asiatic rice to the Iberian Peninsula in the 10th century. Records indicate it was grown in Valencia and Majorca. In Majorca, rice cultivation seems to have stopped after the Christian conquest, although historians are not certain.
Muslims brought rice to Sicily, where it was an important crop long before it is was grown in the plains of Pisa (1468) or in the Lombard plains (1475), where its cultivation was promoted by Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, and demonstrated in his model farms. After the 15th century, rice spread throughout Italy and then to France, eventually reaching all the continents during the age of European exploration. Rice is a main component in Italian cuisine.
Veal and Rice Croquettes
- 2 cups (440g/14 oz) short-grain rice
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup (50 g/l⅔ oz) grated Parmesan
- All-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Dry breadcrumbs
- 1 dried porcini mushroom
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 125 g (4 oz) minced veal
- 2 slices prosciutto, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) white wine
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Cook the rice in boiling salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, without rinsing and cool.
Put the rice in a large bowl and stir in the egg, egg yolk and Parmesan. Stir until the rice sticks together. Cover and set aside.
To make Meat Sauce: Soak the mushroom in hot water for 10 minutes to soften, squeeze dry and finely chop.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the mushroom and onion; cook for 2–3 minutes until soft. Add the meat and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes until browned.
Add the prosciutto, tomato paste, wine, thyme and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the parsley. Set aside to cool.
With wet hands, form the rice mixture into 10 balls. Wet your hands again, pull the balls apart and place 3 heaping teaspoons of the meat sauce in the center of each.
Remold to enclose the filling; roll in flour, beaten egg and then breadcrumbs. Chill for 1 hour.
Deep-fry the croquettes in oil, two at a time, for 3–4 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm while frying the remainder. Serve immediately.
Insalata di Riso
- 1/2 kilo / 1 pound of rice
- 1 jar Italian condiriso (or half cup of canned corn and some chopped green olives and cocktail onions), drained
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of lemon
- Salt & pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
Bring chicken broth and enough water to fill a pot large enough to cook all the rice, to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the rice and cook until tender. Drain.
While the rice is cooking, put the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice.
Add warm, drained rice to the vegetable mixture. Stir and let come to room temperature.
Taste and adjust for seasonings. Add as much pepper and lemon juice as you’d like.
Variations: You can add other herbs like basil and chives. Also add any other chopped raw vegetables, like zucchini or scallions, and/or tuna and feta cheese.
Risotto Ubriaco (Drunken Risotto)
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons/30ml olive oil
- 1 cup/250ml smoked pork belly, diced into 1/2 inch (5mm) pieces
- 3 1/2 cups/875 ml carnaroli rice, unwashed
- 2 cups/500ml full-bodied red wine
- 6 cups/1.5L light chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons/30ml butter
- 4 tablespoons/60ml grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the diced pork belly and stir to mix well.
Add the rice and toast it, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, for 2-3 minutes, until it is very hot but not browned.
Pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid is absorbed or evaporated.
Add the chicken stock, a ladleful at a time, letting the rice absorb most of the liquid before adding more stock until the rice is tender but firm.
Be careful toward the end not to add too much stock – the risotto should be creamy, not soupy. This process should take 16-18 minutes in total.
When the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano; stir vigorously to fluff. Serve at once in individual bowls.
Italian Rice and Bean Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped fine
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups cooked or 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini white beans, drained
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth or stock
- 1 cup rice
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Cook rice according to package instructions.
While the rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add garlic, onion and celery and cook until soft, for about four minutes.
Add stock, tomatoes and seasoning and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, stir in the beans and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the cooked rice and serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese,
Radicchio and Fennel Risotto
- 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock
- 90 g (3½ oz) butter
- 225 g (8 oz) fennel, finely sliced
- 6 shallots, finely chopped
- 350 g (12 oz) arborio or carnaroli risotto rice
- 120 ml (4 fl oz) dry white wine
- 175 g (6 oz) radicchio, shredded
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 15 g ( ½ oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 15 g ( ½ oz) fresh basil leaves, torn
- 75 g (3 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra to serve if liked
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan and keep hot.
Melt half the butter in a large, deep frying pan, add the fennel and shallots and cook gently for 5 minutes, until tender.
Add the rice and stir well until it is covered with butter. Add the wine and shredded radicchio and season with pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until the wine has evaporated.
Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and cook over a moderate heat, stirring, until it has been absorbed.
Continue adding the stock by ladle, stirring constantly, until it has all, or nearly all, been used and the rice is just tender. This should take about 18-20 minutes.
Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, parsley, basil, Parmesan and the remaining butter.
Cover and leave to rest for 1 minute, then stir again. Serve with more Parmesan if required.
Brindisi, a province in the Apulia (Puglia) region of Italy, is dominated by vineyards, artichoke groves and olive trees. The province is also a major sailing port for the southern part of Italy and seafood plays a big role in its cuisine. In dining tn the area’s restaurants, you will notice an abundance of dishes from the sea. Mussels, white fish, prawns and octopus are just some of the items you can expect to find on the menu.
The region is well-known for orecchiette. A type of pasta whose name comes from its shape which resembles that of a small ear and is usually served with a simple (often spicy) red sauce. Fresh vegetables, tomatoes and peppery olive oil are easily the most common local ingredients. Fava beans, eggplants and bell peppers all find their way into pastas, gratins and stews. Stuffed aubergines, lamb and pea stew and turnip greens are a few popular dishes.
Great produce markets are plentiful and you will find, daily, fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood just waiting to be cooked. Olives are another essential food in the Brindisi area. You see them everywhere. Running wild along the dry countryside roads, the olive trees grow to massive sizes.
Some of the best values in Italian wine come from this sunny, dry region. Most of the wine is red, full-bodied and pairs well with a wide variety of foods. Producers have focused on making great red wines from local grapes like Negroamaro, Primitivo and Bombino Nero. The two most popular and widely available wines from the province are Salice Salentino and Primitivo.
Half of Italy’s olive oil is produced in the dry heat of the area. The warm climate and fertile soil make it easy to grow almost anything. It is surrounded by water on three sides allowing cool breezes off the Mediterranean to moderate vineyard temperatures.
Located in the province is Torre Canne, a famous health spa. Several streams feed into a small lake that, over the ages, has deposited mud that is now used for therapeutic purposes. Its water springs are touted to be good for kidney and liver illnesses While you enjoy the spa treatment, you can stay in a luxury hotel and visit the stunning local beaches.
Brindisi Fish Soup
- 1 1/2 lbs whole fish, large bones removed
- 3/4 lb squid
- 1/2 lb cuttlefish or octopus
- 1/2 lb mussels
- 8 oz clams
- 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- Chili pepper, diced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 slices rustic bread, stale
- Parsley, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
Thoroughly wash all the fish and seafood. Cut the fish into large pieces and the squid and cuttlefish into small pieces.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and celery in a few tablespoons of oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cuttlefish and squid and, after 10 minutes, the remaining fish and shellfish.
Add the chili pepper, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle a handful of parsley and finely chopped garlic onto each serving.
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced, plus extra leaves for garnish
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 4 small eggplant
- 3/4 cup burrata cheese, cut into small pieces
In a small bowl, combine the oil, basil, shallots and vinegar.
In another small bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the basil mixture. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Trim the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place them on a tray or a plate. Brush both sides of the eggplants with the remaining basil mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over high heat. Place the eggplant on the grill. Cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes per side. Don’t let them burn.
Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the eggplant to warmed plates. Divide the cheese among the eggplant halves and spoon the tomato mixture over each. Garnish with extra basil leaves
Cardoons are members of the thistle family, as are artichokes, and bear a strikingly similar taste to them. Cardoons are quite fibrous and the fibers run lengthwise, like those in celery stalks, and must be stripped off. Once they have been cut, they darken quickly (like artichokes) unless put in water with added lemon juice.
- 2 pounds cardoons
- 1/2 cup pitted and chopped oil cured black olives
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 2 tablespoons capers in salt, well rinsed
- 3 anchovies packed in oil, minced
- Grated Pecorino cheese
- Bread crumbs
- Salt to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
Wash and peel the outer layer of the cardoons, then cut them into 5 inch lengths. Cook them in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a small bowl combine the olives, parsley, capers and anchovies.
Place the cardoons in an oiled casserole baking dish and top with the olive and parsley mixture. Sprinkle enough grated cheese and bread crumbs over the top to cover.
Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
- 12 oz (350 gr) orecchiette pasta
- 1 lb (500 gr) plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 hot chili peppers, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently sauté the garlic and chili peppers for one minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan with two tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until a sauce consistency is reached.
Add the chopped oregano with salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for a few minutes more.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.
Don’t let your herbs go wild in the garden or get moldy in the refrigerator. There are lots of way to incorporate them into your recipes.
A general guideline for using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use 3 times as much as you would use dried herbs.
Wash herbs when you are ready to use them. Shake off moisture or spin dry in a salad spinner. Pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels.
For most recipes, unless otherwise directed, mince herbs into tiny pieces. Chop with a chef’s knife on a cutting board or snip with a kitchen scissors.
Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added toward the end in cooked dishes to preserve their flavor.
Fresh herbs can be stored in an open or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator for a few days.
After washing, you can mince the herbs and place them halfway up in the sections of an ice-cube tray. Cover herbs with cold water and freeze until solid.
Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag. Drop them into soups, stews and sauces as needed.
Some Other Ways To Use Herbs
If you love a big, green salad, add fresh herbs to the mix.
Add a big handful of fresh herbs to a basic mixture of equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil, stir and then remove from the heat. Once completely cooled, strain out the herbs (discard) and use the simple syrup to sweeten iced coffee or tea and cocktails.
Fresh herbs are a perfect in salad dressings and vinaigrettes. They round out the fatty and sharp flavors from the oil and vinegar.
Combine finely chopped herbs and room-temperature butter to make a spread that compliments bread or cooked meat or vegetables.
Summer Squash Chowder
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 medium zucchini and 2 medium patty pan squash, diced
- 1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 8 cups Summer Vegetable Stock (corn cob stock) (recipe here)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- Sour cream for garnish
Heat the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot; add the garlic, celery and onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the squash and lightly salt the vegetables. Saute for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the stock and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and partially cover and cook for 25 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand immersion blender until smooth.
Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in lemon juice, corn and herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve in individual soup bowls topped with a tablespoon of sour cream.
Creamy Herb Dip
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
This makes a great party dip with lots of fresh summer vegetables and pita chips.
It is best to process all the ingredients in the food processor with the exception of the yogurt, for the best consistency.
Use either whole or low-fat Greek yogurt and mayonnaise (but don’t use nonfat).
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 medium shallot, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
Process mayonnaise, shallot, chives, basil and lemon juice in food processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and stir in yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover dip and refrigerate until thickened, at least 1 hour. (Dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 days.
Spaghetti with Clam and Herb Sauce
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 (6 1/2-ounce) cans chopped clams in broth
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino (hot red-pepper flakes)
- 1/2 cup of white wine
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente. (or use the quick skillet method – see recipe here). Drain pasta and set aside.
Drain the clams over a large measuring cup. Set the clams aside. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of clam broth.
Heat oil in the same pan that the pasta was cooked in over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallots, herbs, hot pepper and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring as needed, until the shallots have softened.
Add wine and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the clam broth and bring to a boil. Add the cooked spaghetti, turn the heat down and let the spaghetti simmer for two minutes.
Add the drained clams and let the mixture heat for a minute or two. Serve in pasta bowls with plenty of crusty Italian bread.
Pan-Fried Herbed Pork Cutlets
- 1/4 cup finely minced herbs (any combination of thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, sage, chives, parsley)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 pork cutlets (about 1/4 inch thick and each weighing about 4 oz)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Lemon wedges
Combine the herbs, fennel and salt in a shallow dish. Place the flour in a second shallow dish. Pat chops dry with paper towels.
Trim the cutlets of fat and pound them lightly with a meat mallet to make them uniform in thickness. Press the herbs on both sides of the cutlets and then dredge the cutlets in the flour (do not discard flour).
Transfer to a plate and let rest 10 minutes. Dredge cutlets in the flour a second time just before cooking.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the pork cutlets until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 heads tender lettuce (such as Boston or Bibb), torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup torn or chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, sage and chives
- 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
- Sliced red and white radishes
- 1 cup sliced toasted almonds
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and mustard; season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, shallots, radishes and herbs. Add dressing and toss to combine. Add almonds and serve.
Variation: The dressed salad can also be placed—open-face sandwich fashion—on top of grilled bread that has brushed with olive oil.
I look forward to this time of year because the CSA I belong to (Jeta Farms) begins its distribution of shares to its members. As you can see from the cover photo, my share contains beautiful produce.
CSAs (community supported agriculture programs), provide a direct link between local farmers and consumers by allowing members to purchase a share of a farmer’s crop before it’s produced each season. This allows the farmer to pay for seed, water, equipment, etc., up front.
Each week of the share season, the farmers deliver great tasting, healthy food to predetermined locations or members pick up their shares at the farm. CSA members share in the harvest and everyone benefits. This type of arrangement helps people to connect back to the earth and the food they eat.
Here are recipes for how I used some of the produce in my first share.
Did you know that you can make delicious vegetable stock with corn cobs? The stock can be used to add flavor to soups, risotto or any recipe calling for vegetable stock.
- 12 corn cobs (corn kernels removed)
- 2 chive stalks
- 2 stems fresh parsley
- 2 stems fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
Put corn cobs, chives, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and cold water to cover in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1⁄2 hours.
Strain, discard solids and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use the stock.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
For each ear of corn:
- 1 teaspoon butter
- ½ tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- One ice-cube
- Heavy duty aluminium foil
Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Center the corn on a piece of foil large enough to enclose the entire cob.
Dot with the butter and sprinkle on the chives. Add an ice-cube.
Bring up the foil sides. Double fold the top and ends to seal making one large foil packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.
Grill, turning frequently, until the corn is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill. Be careful opening the foil and wear oven mitts as the corn will be very hot!
Green Bean Salad
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
To make the vinaigrette: whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a serving bowl; set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil; add the beans and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water. Drain well and toss with the vinaigrette, oregano, feta and onion. Chill before serving.
Stuffed Summer Squash Boats
- 4 medium yellow squash
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup marinara sauce, heated (see recipe link here)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Cut off the stems on the squash and cut a slice off the top of each squash. I used the top and the scooped out flesh in the relish recipe below.
Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and enough flesh from each squash to create room for the stuffing.
Place the squash in a greased baking dish or in individual baking dishes and brush the cut sides of the squash with olive oil.
Season the squash lightly with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the stuffing:
In a small mixing bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, minced basil and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Combine the ricotta and mozzarella in another mixing bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Evenly distribute the ricotta cheese mixture in the squash boats.
Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumb topping mixture on top of the ricotta filled squash.
Bake the squash for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender and the topping is golden brown.
Remove the baking dish or dishes from the oven and pour some warm marinara sauce over the squash boats before serving.
Small Batch Summer Relish
Sweet-and-sour squash relish is a great condiment for burgers and summer sandwiches. You won’t believe how delicious summer squash is in this relish.
Makes: 2 cups
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 lbs zucchini and/or yellow squash
- Half a medium onion
- Half a red or yellow bell pepper
Finely dice the vegetables with a knife. I don’t like using the processor for relish because it makes the squash watery and a grater makes them too fine for relish.
In a large saucepan, heat vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, crushed red pepper and salt to boiling on high, stirring. Stir in squash, onion and bell pepper.
Simmer 60 minutes or until very tender and very soft, stirring occasionally.
Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate until cold. Store up to 1 week in the refrigerator or freeze in small containers.