Campania faces the Tyrrhenian Sea and includes one of the finest coastlines in Italy. Naples is the regional capital. Other important cities are Caserta, Benevento, Salerno and Avellino. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region in Italy. Campania is rich in culture, music, architecture and archaeological sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius.
Campania, mainly, produces fruit and vegetables, but has also expanded its production of flowers grown in greenhouses to become one of the leading producers in Italy. Campania produces over 50% of Italy’s nuts and is also a leader in the production of tomatoes. Animal breeding is widespread and the milk produced is used to make dairy products, such as mozzarella cheese. Olive and fruit trees cover a good portion of the agricultural land and wine production has increased, as well as, the quality of the wine.
The region has a dense network of roads and motorways, a system of maritime connections and an airport (Naples Airport), which connect the region to the rest of the country. The port connects the region with the entire Mediterranean basin and brings tourists to the archaeological sites, the cities, the beautiful coastal areas and the well-known islands.
Campania is home to several national football, water polo, volleyball, basketball and tennis clubs. The fencing school in Naples is the oldest in the country and the only school in Italy in which a swordsman can acquire the title, “master of swords”, which allows a graduate to teach the art of fencing. The “Circolo Savoia” and “Canottieri Napoli” sailing clubs are among the oldest in Italy and are famous for their regattas. The region is also home to water polo teams. Many sailors from Naples and Campania participate as crew in the America’s Cup sailing competition.
Campanian cuisine varies within the region. While Neapolitan dishes center on seafood, Casertan and Aversan dishes rely more on fresh vegetables and cheeses. The cuisine from Sorrento combines the culinary traditions from both Naples and Salerno.
Pizza was conceived in Naples. Historical and original pizzas from Naples are pizza fritta (fried pizza); calzone (literally “trouser leg”), which is pizza stuffed with ricotta cheese; pizza marinara, with just olive oil, tomato sauce and garlic and pizza Margherita, with olive oil, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. Neapolitans were among the first Europeans to use tomatoes not only as an ornamental plant but also as a food ingredient.
The cheeses of Campania consist of Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarella) a mozzarella made from buffalo milk, fiordilatte (“flower of milk”) a mozzarella made from cow’s milk, ricotta from sheep or buffalo milk, provolone made from cow milk and caciotta made from goat milk. Buffalo are bred in Salerno and Caserta.
Spaghetti alla puttanesca, a spicy pasta dish made with a sauce of tomatoes, olives, anchovies and capers is a dish that originated in Campania. Ravioli di ricotta di pecora, also called “ravaiuoli” or “slim ravioloni”, are an ancient traditional specialty of Campania: handmade ravioli filled with fresh sheep ricotta.
Campania is home to seafood-based dishes, such as “insalata di mare” (seafood salad), “zuppa di polpo” (octopus soup) and “zuppa di cozze” (mussel soup), that are very popular. Other regional seafood dishes include “frittelle di mare” (fritters with seaweed), made with edible algae, “triglie al cartoccio” (red mullet) and “alici marinate” (fresh anchovies in olive oil). The island of Ischia is famous for its fish dishes, as well as, for cooked rabbit.
Campania is also home to the lemons of Sorrento. Rapini (or broccoli rabe), known locally as friarielli, are often used in the regional cooking.
Several different cakes and pies are made in Campania. Pastiera pie is made during Easter. Casatiello and tortano are Easter breads made by adding oil and various types of cheese to the bread dough and garnishing them with slices of salami. Babà cake is a Neapolitan delicacy, best served with rum or limoncello (a liqueur invented in the Sorrento peninsula). Sfogliatella is another cake from the Amalfi Coast, as is zeppole, traditionally eaten on Saint Joseph’s day. Struffoli, little balls of fried dough, are dipped in honey and enjoyed during the Christmas holidays.
Traditional Recipes From Campania
Mozzarella in Carrozza (Mozzarella in a “Carriage”)
This is a classic recipe from Naples served as an appetizer.
- 8 slices white bread, crusts removed
- 1 pound fresh Mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Marinara Sauce
Place 4 slices of bread on the counter. Top with the mozzarella, trimmed to fit the bread. Cover with the 4 remaining slices of bread, making 4 sandwiches in all.
Spread the flour on a plate. Dip the four edges of each sandwich in the flour. Then coat the sides lightly in the flour. Place them in a baking dish or on a plate with sides..
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the salt. Pour the mixture over the sandwiches and set aside for 10 minutes.
Delicately flip the sandwiches over and set aside for another 10 minutes. The purpose is to allow the bread to soak in the egg as much as possible.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and pour enough olive oil in to cover the bottom of the pan.
Add the sandwiches and cook until brown; turn and brown the second side. Remove the sandwiches to serving plates, cut in half and serve with hot marinara sauce.
Paccheri con Ricotta e Salsa di Pomodoro (Macaroni with Ricotta and Tomato Sauce)
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino or a combination of both, plus extra for serving
- 1 pound paccheri or other large tubular pasta, such as rigatoni
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A few leaves of finely cut or torn fresh basil
Heat the marinara sauce.
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water until al dente. Before draining it, scoop out about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve it.
In a pasta serving bowl, combine the ricotta and the grated cheese. Mix them together with a spoon or fork until well blended.
Pour about half of the hot tomato sauce into the cheese mixture in the bowl. Stir well.
Add the drained, hot pasta to the sauce, then add black pepper to taste. Toss well, adding hot pasta cooking water by the tablespoon if a looser, creamier texture is desired. The sauce tends to thicken as it cools in the plate, so 2 or 3 tablespoons are usually a good idea.
Serve immediately, preferably in hot bowls, each portion topped with a little more tomato sauce and with additional finely cut basil, if desired. Pass grated cheese and the peppermill.
Braciole Alla Napoletana (Pork Loin Braciole)
- 1 lb. boneless pork loin
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 oz. capers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or one 14-1/2-ounce can of Italian tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Slice the pork loin into ¼ inch thick slices and flatten slightly with a wooden mallet.
Chop 2 cloves of garlic very finely and mix with the sundried tomatoes, pine nuts and capers. Place a small amount of this mix on each slice of pork and roll up the slices of pork. Tie with kitchen string.
Brown the remaining garlic in the olive oil and then remove it. Add the pork braciola, brown on all sides and add the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover the pan and cook for 25 minutes over a low flame. Sprinkle with parsley, remove from heat and serve.
Casatiello (Neapolitan Stuffed Bread)
This version is made without the whole eggs added to the dough prior to baking. At Easter time, whole eggs are added to the dough and baked.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2 pound chunk provolone or scamorza cheese, cut into cubes
- 1/2 pound chunk mortadella, salami or boiled ham cut into cubes
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a 10 inch tube pan with a removable bottom and set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and let rest until foamy.
Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix it into the flour with the paddle attachment; add the cheese and enough additional warm water to make a soft ball of dough. Cover and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place or until it doubles in size.
Knead the dough on a floured surface and roll out into a large 18 by 14-inch rectangle. Scatter the cheese and mortadella over the surface to within an inch of the edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Starting at the longest side, roll the dough up as for a jellyroll, making sure to tuck in the ends and place it in the tube pan. Tuck the two ends together.
Cover and allow to rise for about 1 hour or until the dough is 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pan.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack then run a butter knife along the inside edges of the pan, loosen the bottom and remove it.
Turn the bread out. Serve warm; cut into wedges.
There are approximately 350 different dried pastas produced in Italy that are made from durum wheat and semolina flour. Penne is a tube-shaped pasta that originated in Campania, a region in Southern Italy, and comes in two main varieties: penne lisce and penne rigate, with the rigate having ridges on each noodle. The name “penne” comes from the Italian word for “pen” (penna), a reference to the angled ends of the tube, which resemble the tip of a quill pen.
This pasta can be used in a wide assortment of dishes, from casseroles to soups. The tubes are relatively short, around the length and width of a pinkie finger. Cooks may also hear penne pasta referred to as mostaccioli, in a reference to an Italian dish that traditionally features this pasta.
And, there is also ziti, which are hollow long wands, with a smooth texture and square-cut edges. When they are cut into shorter tubes, they are called cut ziti. Telling the difference between penne variants can be difficult, especially in countries outside of Italy, because there is a tendency to name ridged and smooth penne subtypes the same. Basically, the difference is penne is cut on the diagonal and is longer and thinner than ziti.
Penne is probably one of the more well-known pasta shapes, available in most markets and grocery stores that stock pasta. Dishes made with it are frequently on the menu at Italian restaurants, especially in the United States, where consumers have a fondness for this shape.
Whole wheat and multigrain versions are available, along with gluten-free pastas made from rice, corn or other ingredients. Many producers also make flavored varieties by adding ingredients, such as spinach or sun dried tomatoes. The best tasting penne is made with durum wheat because it will remain chewy and resilient throughout the cooking process.
Ridged penne pasta pairs very well with many pasta sauces, because the ridges can be used to hold thin sauces or to support thick, chunky sauces. Its hollow nature also helps distribute the sauce, ensuring that pasta dishes are evenly and appealingly sauced.
Penne is traditionally cooked al dente and served with pasta sauces such as pesto, marinara or arrabbiata. In addition to being plated with sauce, penne holds up well when baked in a casserole. You will also find penne used cold in salads, added to soups or used as a side dish.
Dried pasta is essentially indestructible as long as it is stored in a cool, dry place. This makes it a useful staple to keep around the house, because as long as the pasta is not exposed to moisture, it will be perfectly usable.
Healthy Penne Dinners
Whole-grain Penne with Onions and Walnuts
Ricotta salata (also called “hard ricotta”) is a firm white Italian cheese made by salting, pressing and drying sheep’s-milk ricotta. In flavor, it’s like a very mild, less tangy feta, which makes it a good addition to pastas and salads (it can be grated). Look for ricotta salata in specialty stores, Italian markets or any supermarket with a good cheese department.
- 7 medium onions (about 4 lbs.), peeled and thinly sliced
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 3/4 cups walnuts
- 10 ounces whole-grain penne pasta
- 1 pound ricotta salata, crumbled
- 2/3 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet over high heat, cook onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil with the sugar and 2 teaspoons salt, stirring and turning often, until onions begin to release their juices and turn golden, 10 to 13 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions turn a caramel color and become quite sweet, 35 to 40 minutes more. If onions begin to stick to the pan or char during cooking, reduce heat.
Meanwhile, in a dry small frying pan over medium-low heat, toast walnuts, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Pour walnuts into a zip-lock plastic bag and lightly crush with a rolling pin. Set aside.
When onions are nearly done, cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender to the bite, 9 to 12 minutes or according to package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.
Mix caramelized onions with pasta, walnuts, ricotta salata, parsley, reserved cooking water, lemon juice, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season to taste with salt.
Sirloin Steak Over Penne and Vegetables
- 2 cups uncooked penne
- 1/4 pound green beans, trimmed
- 3/4-pound boneless sirloin steak, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon salt-free garlic-pepper blend
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese, optional
While the broiler preheats, bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add pasta; cook 5 1/2 minutes. Add beans and cook 3 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain well.
Sprinkle steak with the garlic-pepper blend. Place on a broiler pan; broil 3 inches from heat for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices.
Combine onion and next 8 ingredients (onion through black pepper) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Place steak slices on top. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.
Penne with Spinach and Shrimp
- 12 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 1/2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onions
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté 2 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside.
While you make the pasta sauce, cook penne according to package directions. Drain well; return to pan. Stir in spinach; toss well until spinach wilts.
Melt the remaining butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring often. Stir in broth, vermouth and lemon zest. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 8 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium. Add cream cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg and pepper; remove from heat. Stir in shrimp to rewarm. Add mixture to pasta and spinach; toss to combine.
Penne with Sausage and Eggplant
- 4 1/2 cups cubed, peeled eggplant (about 1 pound)
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 6 cups hot cooked penne (about 10 ounces uncooked)
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely diced mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Cook eggplant, sausage and garlic in olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until sausage is browned and eggplant is tender. Be sure to stir often to keep eggplant from sticking to the pan.
Add tomato paste and the next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add tomato mixture, cheese and parsley; toss well.
Penne with Greens, Almonds and Raisins
- 8 ounces uncooked penne
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups coarsely chopped, trimmed greens of choice (kale, swiss chard, escarole, etc.)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Cracked black pepper
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Retain 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain.
While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain.
While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender.
Stir in pasta, raisins, almonds, salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine. Moisten with pasta cooking water. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper according to taste.
- Baked Ziti (cozycuisineblog.com)
- Braised Short Ribs with Penne Pasta (prep2eat.wordpress.com)
- Crockpot Pesto Ranch Chicken with Whole Wheat Penne (ginamartin93.wordpress.com)
- Pasta alla Norma (saltnchili.com)
- Hearty Italian Baked Ziti: The Ultimate Comfort Food (hardlyperfectmom.wordpress.com)
- Pasta with Walnut Sauce Gluten Free – Forget What You Know About Wheat(c) 2014 (kitchenwisdomglutenfree.com)
The recorded history of Naples begins in the 7th. century BC, when the nearby Greek colony of Cumae founded a new city called Parthenope. Precisely why the inhabitants of Cumae decided to expand is not known for certain, but the Cumaeans built Neapolis (the “New City”) adjacent to the old Parthenope. At about the same time, they prevented an invasion attempt by the Etruscans. The new city grew thanks to the influence of the powerful Greek city-state of Syracuse in Sicily and, at some point, the new and old cities on the Gulf of Naples merged to become a single inhabited area.
Naples became an ally of the Roman Republic against Carthage. The strong walls of Naples held off Hannibal’s attack. During the Samnite Wars the city, a bustling center of trade, was captured by the Samnites. However, the Romans soon took it from them and made Neapolis a Roman colony. Neapolis was respected by the Romans as a place of Hellenistic culture, where people maintained their Greek language and customs and where elegant villas, aqueducts, public baths, theaters and the Temple of Dioscures were built. A number of Roman emperors, including Claudius and Tiberius, maintained villas in or near Naples. It was during this period that Christianity came to Naples and the apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, are said to have preached here.
In the sixth century Naples was conquered by the Byzantines and it was one of the last territories to fall to the Normans in 1039. In 1266 Naples and the kingdom of Sicily were given by Pope Clement IV to Charles of Anjou, who moved the capital from Palermo to Naples. In 1284 the kingdom was split in two and stayed that way until 1816, when they would form the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In between, Naples had been under the rule of Spain, Austria and the Bourbons and, briefly, a Jacobin republic. Finally, in October 1860, it became part of the new Italy.
During World War II, Naples was more heavily bombed than any other Italian city. Although the Neapolitans did not rebel against Italian fascism, Naples was the first Italian city to rise up against German military occupation and achieved liberation by October 1, 1943. The symbol of the rebirth of Naples was the rebuilding of Santa Chiara which had been destroyed during an Allied air raid. Special funding from the Italian government helped the economy to improve somewhat, including the rejuvenation of the Piazza del Plebiscito and other city landmarks.
Naples is rich in historical, artistic and cultural traditions with its own distinct cuisine. Neapolitan cuisine was influenced by Arab, Norman, Spanish and French cultures since all ruled Naples at some point in time. What has resulted is a unique half-sophisticated, half-folk cuisine. Many Neapolitan recipes are elaborate, take time to prepare and use seasonal produce. New World food imports added potatoes, peppers, beans, coffee and, especially, tomatoes to the cuisine. The pizza originated here and is eaten, like so many other delicious local foods, out on the street.
Flattened flour cakes — early pizzas — were made out of wheat flour, olive oil, lard and herbs and garnished with cheese. As for a much later ingredient, the tomato: after the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Spaniards brought them to Europe. In southern Italy tomatoes were easy to cultivate. The earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692.
Considered a peasant’s meal in Italy for centuries, modern pizza is attributed to Raffaele Esposito of Campania, Naples. In June 1889, Esposito baked a pizza in honor of visiting King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Italian flag inspired Esposito’s recipe and contained green (basil), white (mozzarella) and red (tomatoes). Moistened with splashes of extra virgin olive oil, it was named Pizza Margherita to flatter the Queen, and it set the standard for pizzas to come. Consequently, from 1889 on, Naples became the “pizza capital of the world”.
Naples isn’t only about the pizza. With delicious food that ranges from fried treats to decadent desserts, the food of Naples can satisfy any food lover. The fertile volcanic soil of Campania combines with a perfect climate to produce the best fruit and vegetables in Italy. Dishes like eggplant parmesan, stuffed peppers and pasta e fagioli have been around for hundreds of years. Rich sauces like Neapolitan Ragu have been used to create some of the best pasta dishes in Italy. Like most of Italy, though, pastas mixed with vegetables, instead of expensive meats and seafood, helped feed people during hard times.
Regular red and yellow peppers are widely used, and a local variety of small green peppers (not spicy), peperoncini verdi, are usually fried.
Salad is a side dish, especially seafood ones. Lettuce, and more often the incappucciata (a local variety of the iceberg lettuce but more crispy), is mixed with carrots, fennel, rucola and radishes, traditionally the long and spicy ones, which today are more and more rare; almost completely replaced by the round and sweeter ones.
Black olives used in Neapolitan cooking are always the ones from Gaeta.
Meat is not used as frequently in Neapolitan cooking as in the cuisine of Northern Italy. The most common kinds of meat used in Neapolitan cooking are:
- sausage or pork liver, rounded in a net of pork’s fat and a bay leaf
- trippa (tripe) and other more humble cuts of pork or beef, like pork’s foot and cow’s nose
- braciole, pork rolls stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and parsley, fixed with toothpicks and cooked in ragù
- lamb and goat are roasted, usually with potatoes and peas, typically around Easter
- rabbit and chicken, often cooked alla cacciatora or pan-fried with tomatoes
- beef or other red meat with tomatoes, cooked for a long time to tenderize an inexpensive piece of meat, as in Carne Pizzaiola
Neapolitan cooking has always used an abundance of all kinds of seafood from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Recipes use either less expensive fishes, in particular anchovies, or fishes of medium and large size, like spigola (European seabass) and orate (gilt-head bream), presently sold mainly from fish farms.
- Cicenielli, baby fishes, very small and transparent, prepared either steamed or fried in a dough
- Fravagli, few centimeter long, typically fried
- The baccalà (cod) and stockfish, imported from northern Europe seas, are either fried or cooked with potatoes and tomatoes.
- Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, as well as crustacea (mainly shrimp).
- Shellfish cozze (mussels), vongole (clams), cannolicchi, sconcigli are used in many seafood meals.
And let’s not forget the desserts. Struffoli, sfogliatelle and pastiera cheesecake all come out of Naples.
Make Some Neapolitan Inspired Recipes At Home
Cauliflower, Olive and Caper Salad
A traditional Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner always begins with a family version of the following salad, which is actually an antipasto.
It can also be made with any of the following: tuna, pitted black olives, mushrooms, artichokes packed in oil, capers, peppers and cornichons, and a dressing made with lemon juice and olive oil.
- Coarse salt
- 2 lbs. whole cauliflower, washed and drained
- 3/4 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives
- 1/3 cup capers, rinsed and dried
- 3/4 cup pitted green olives
- 1/2 cup red peppers packed in vinegar, rinsed, dried, and sliced into julienne strips
- 8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and cut into pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fill a large saucepan with water; add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the cauliflower head gently into the water.
Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
Test the cauliflower – it should be al dente, not overcooked.
Drain, cool, and break into flowerets.
Put the cauliflower in a large bowl and add the black olives, capers, green olives, red peppers, anchovies, and pepper to taste.
Mix together the lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the salad.
Toss gently, being careful not to break the flowerets.
Taste for salt and add more, if necessary.
Note: This may be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
Pasta Caprese with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella
- 1 1/2 lbs. fresh, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and shredded
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb pasta, preferably penne
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- A pinch of hot red chili pepper
An hour before your meal:
Using a wooden spoon, mix the mozzarella, tomatoes, oil and vinegar, garlic and hot pepper in a deep bowl. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with a clean dishcloth and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
Cook the pasta, al dente, drain the pasta and return to the warm pasta pot.
Add the basil to the tomato mixture, toss well and pour the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Mix well. Check again for seasoning, pour into serving bowl and serve.
Spicy Neapolitan Fish
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 lbs. fish fillets
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup kalamata olives or cracked green olives, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers
- 1 cup chopped artichoke hearts
Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.
Add half the fish to the skillet and sauté until just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer fish to a platter.
Repeat with the remaining fish.
Add parsley and crushed red pepper to the skillet; sauté 1 minute.
Add wine, tomatoes, olives, garlic, capers and artichoke hearts; sauté until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 2 minutes.
Season sauce with salt and pepper; spoon over fish. This dish is often served over spaghetti.
Neapolitan Rum Baba
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tablespoons of baking powder
- 8 oz. (1 stick) butter, melted
- 3/4 cup of milk, warmed
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup white rum
- 1 teaspoon of rum extract
Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy.
Add the flour and baking powder sifted together.
Beat in the butter and milk
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Pour the ingredients into a greased and floured bundt pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
In a small saucepan cook the sugar in the water until syrupy.
Remove from the heat and stir in the rum and rum extract.
Unmold the cake and spoon the rum syrup, slowly, all over the cake until all the syrup soaks into the cake. You can also brush the syrup on with a pastry brush.
- A Slice of History: Pizza Through the Ages (history.com)
- Italian Food by Region (planegrazy.com)
- Barbara Zaragoza’s Naples Travel Book, The Espresso Break: Tours and Nooks of Naples, Italy and Beyond, Is Now Available As An Ebook (prweb.com)