Insalata Caprese (literally, the salad from Capri) is the perfect summertime dish for cooks in a hurry; slicing is the hardest part. The salad was created in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzo for regulars out for a light lunch. They’d order a just-picked tomato and fresh fior di latte (cows-milk mozzarella — no buffalo on Capri). The salad has evolved on the island to include a few leaves of rughetta (wild arugula) and a pinch of dried wild oregano, both local products; everywhere else in Italy it takes the form of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. The dressing is always a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil — only. Vinegar would destroy the delicate flavor of the cheese and is never used. Sometimes I add Italian black olives to the salad for a change but it is not traditional.
2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup packed fresh basil or arugula leaves, washed well and spun dry
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled if using arugula instead of basil
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
On a large platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Sprinkle salad with oregano and arugula and drizzle with oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.
1 lb turkey breast cutlets
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, cubed
Minced fresh parsley and lemon wedges for serving
Flatten turkey to 1/4-in. thickness. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In another shallow bowl, beat egg and water together. In a third shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and cheese.
Dredge turkey in flour mixture, then dip in the egg mixture and coat with crumbs. Place on a plate and let stand for 5 minutes.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook the turkey cutlets for 2-3 minutes on each side or until meat is no longer pink and the coating is golden brown. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced bell peppers
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste
1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the sausage and cook for 8 minutes, or until brown on all sides. Add the garlic, crushed fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and cook for one minute. Pour in the heavy cream and, then, stir in the tomato paste. Bring to a low boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt, and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package for al dente. Drain and add to the sauce, stirring to coat the pasta. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce.
Off the heat, stir in the basil and the Parmesan. Serve hot in shallow bowls with grated Parmesan on the side.
Serve with a green salad.
For every two servings:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon fennel seed
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
4 cups thinly sliced bell peppers, all colors
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
12 oz sustainable, harpoon-caught swordfish or mahi-mahi, 2 inches thick
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic, fennel seed, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and the garlic starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in oregano, thyme, and paprika. Add bell peppers, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes. Add capers and vinegar and cook for 2 minutes more.
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Brush fish with the remaining tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill the fish, turning once halfway until the flesh is opaque, 12 minutes total, depending on thickness. Transfer the fish to a clean cutting board and cut into 2 portions.
Arrange the fish over the Peperonata and top with basil.
Spaghetti Squash Cacio e Pepe
1 small spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Kosher salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400° F. Oil an 8-inch square baking dish.
Halve the squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard seeds from the middle of each half.
Arrange squash in the prepared baking dish, cut sides down. Bake until just tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Rake a fork back and forth across the squash to remove its flesh in strands that will look like spaghetti.
Heat the oil and butter. Add the pepper. Pour over the squash and toss. Add the cheeses and toss again.
This classic Italian sauce is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian. Recipes may differ according to preferences; for instance, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies, unlike the Lazio version. Spices are sometimes added. In most cases, however, the sugo is a little salty (from the capers, olives, and anchovies) and quite fragrant (from the garlic). It is usually served with spaghetti but we like it with seafood.
Seafood in an Italian Spicy Tomato Sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 fish fillets,(I used sea bass) (about 1 1/2 inches thick 4 ounces each)
4 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
26 oz container finely diced Italian tomatoes (I used the Pomi brand)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon capers
2 1-inch-thick slices Italian bread brushed with olive oil and grilled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
For the sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet.
Add the anchovy paste and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and continue to stir.
Pour in the tomatoes, oregano and basil and heat to a simmer. Add the olives and capers and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
For the fish
Season the fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Lightly flour the fish shaking off extra flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Brown the fish fillets and shrimp on both sides.
Pour a cup to 1 ½ cups of sauce over the fish in the small skillet and cover the skillet. Heat for 2-3 minutes. Save the remaining sauce for pasta.
Place a piece of grilled bread in each serving bowl. Divide the fish evenly and place it on top of the bread. Spoon the sauce over each portion and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
Italian Sausage, Cannellini Beans and Greens with Grilled Garlic Bread
This dish is versatile. It can be vegetarian by leaving out the sausage (or use a veggie version) and vegetable broth instead of chicken. You can simplify the process if time is short and use canned beans and broth. Just be sure to add the same seasonings. The dish will be almost as good!
Homemade Chicken Broth
1 whole chicken carcass (leftover from roasting or use chicken bones)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion (about 6 oz.), cut into 1/2-inch wedges
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of parsley and a bay leaf
Add enough cold water to submerge the chicken carcass (about 5 quarts) in a large stockpot. Add the carrots, celery, onion, 1 1/2 tablespoons. salt, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Cover the pot, with the lid slightly ajar. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours If at any time the water level drops below the solids, add water to cover and return to a simmer.
Remove the carcass from the broth and discard. Strain the broth through a fine sieve set over another pot or a bowl large enough to hold the broth. Gently press on the solids with a large spoon to squeeze out any remaining broth. Measure out 6 cups of broth and set aside.
Use the remaining broth for other recipes or freeze in small containers for future use.
1 ½ cups dried cannellini beans
Pinch baking soda
1 large carrot or 2 medium, diced
1 large celery stick or 2 medium, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
The night before serving, rinse the beans picking out any bad ones and place them in a large bowl. Cover with water, add a pinch of baking soda and let soak at least 12 hours.
The next day, drain the beans, rinse and drain well. Place the beans in a heavy stock pot with the vegetables, garlic, and Italian seasoning, cover with water about 4 cups and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender about 60-90 minutes. Add salt to taste. Measure out 3 cups of cooked beans with their cooking liquid and vegetables and set aside. Save the remaining cooked beans for other recipes.
1 lb (6 links) (3 hot and 3 sweet) Italian pork sausage
Cut the sausage into ¼ inch thick slices. Cover the bottom of a Dutch Oven with olive oil and brown the slices of sausage.
Finishing the dish
3 cups cooked escarole or swiss chard
2 cloves garlic, one chopped and one whole
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 Parmesan cheese rind
6 cups homemade chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked cannellini beans
Italian bread or use the recipe below
Chop the greens into small pieces and add the greens to the Dutch Oven with the browned sausage. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir. Add the reserved beans, salt, and chicken broth. Stir gently and add the cheese rind.
Bring the ingredients in the stockpot to a low boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, until all the ingredients are hot, about 20 minutes
Slice the bread (See recipe below) and grill or toast lightly. Rub the peeled garlic clove over the surface of the grilled bread and serve with the stew.
Homemade Italian Country Bread
2 teaspoons SAF (instant) yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the warm water in an electric mixing bowl. Add honey. Mix until the honey is dissolved.
Add the 4 cups of flour and salt and mix. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour.
Using the paddle attachment on number low speed, mix the dough until a dough forms that holds together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and continue kneading for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is soft but supple.
Shape the dough into a ball. Spray the mixer bowl with olive oil cooking spray and place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 60 minutes.
Place a sheet of parchment paper in a 9 or 10-inch pan or shallow dish. Turn the dough out onto the parchment pan or dish. Gently shape the dough into a round and cover with greased plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes or more.
At the same time put a covered Cloche pan or Dutch Oven in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Do not grease or spray the Cloche pan or Dutch Oven.
After the dough has risen for 30 minutes and the oven temperature is at 500 degrees F, open the oven and take the lid off the cloche pan.
USE A THICK POTHOLDER BECAUSE THE LID IS VERY HOT!
Transfer the dough while on the parchment to the bottom of the hot cloche pan. Cover with the cloche lid.
Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and remove the cloche lid.
Bake 15 minutes more, or until the bread is crusty and brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place the bread on a wire cooling rack.
Eggplant is probably my family’s favorite vegetable and it is certainly a major food in Italian cuisine. It is versatile and can be prepared healthy or anyway you like it. I prefer to bake the eggplant slices instead of frying them and then I can use them in any number of ways: parmesan, lasagna, “meatballs” or as below – rollatini. This dish is delicious as a main entrée or as an appetizer. Grilled Italian sausage is an excellent side dish as are the green beans.
If you choose, you can also coat the eggplant slices in egg and breadcrumbs and bake as described below. If you want less carbs, leave out the crumbs.
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into very thin slices, to get about 14-15 slices
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups prepared marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and place them on a large baking sheet.
Roast (or broil) in a 400-degree F oven for 20 minutes, turning the eggplant slices halfway through cooking.
Place on paper towels to cool.
For the filling:
Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella, egg, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.
When the eggplant has cooled about 10 minutes, place about 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture on each slice.
Spread it over the eggplant slice and then roll up into a cylinder. Repeat with all the eggplant slices.
Coat the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish with 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Place the eggplant rolls in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the eggplant rolls. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 400-degree F oven for 30 minutes.
Let rest a few minutes before serving.
Grilled Italian Sausage
1 ½ lbs Italian pork sausage
Heat an outdoor grill for both direct and indirect cooking. Oil the grill grates.
Brush the sausage lightly with olive oil.
Place the sausage on the indirect side of the grill and close the cover.
Cook for 15 minutes and turn the sausage over. Cook for 15 more minutes. Slice and serve.
Skillet Green Beans
1 pound green beans, washed, trimmed and cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, smashed flat with the side of a knife
A little coarse salt
1/4 cup water
Black pepper to taste
Heat the skillet on medium and add the oil.
Add garlic and cook 30 seconds or until lightly golden, stirring.
Add the beans, turn a few times to coat well with the oil. Sprinkle with salt.
Stir in the water. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Cover and cook 2 – 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are slightly wilted but still crunchy.
Uncover and increase the heat to high.
Cook 2 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are cooked but still bright green.
Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Add black pepper and transfer to a serving dish.
The Province of Campobasso is a province in the Molise region of Italy and is situated in eastern Italy on the Adriatic coast. It is bordered in the north by Abruzzo, in the southeast by Apulia and in the south by Campania. The terrain is varied and extends from the mountainous Apennines, down through hills, lakes and inland rivers to the Adriatic coast.
The province’s mountains offer beautiful views and the forests are a natural habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including wolves and rare birds of prey. The province is also known as the perfect location for mountain climbing and for exploring a network of caves that have been carved into the limestone. Among the province’s most renowned places is Campitello Matese, part of the Municipality of San Massimo and a leading ski resort with outstanding courses and modern lifts.
Campobasso boasts two nature reserves, the LIPU Oasis in Casacalenda and the WWF Oasis of Guardiaregia-Campochiaro. Those who love the seaside will appreciate the 24 miles of Adriatic coastline with its host of resorts.
Beans, potatoes, grapes and olives are primary crops of the region. Durum wheat is also important to the region, so pastas are both hearty and abundant. Polenta dishes are common throughout the region. Because animals have been generally raised for sale, recipes are often vegetarian or use very small amounts of meat. Most dishes are prepared simply and use few ingredients.
Appetizers include soups made with legumes grown in the area, such as lentils, pearl barley and beans, especially fava.
Caponata is the dish that best characterizes Campobasso’s cuisine. It is made with wheat (tarallo) dampened with water and vinegar and flavored with tomatoes, celery, peppers, anchovies, black olives and boiled eggs.
Crioli con le noci is another specialty, dried cod cooked with chopped nuts, as is tacozze e fagioli, homemade pasta sauce with beans and pork rind.
Campobasso is also home to delicious sausages and cured meats: capicola or seasoned pork, ciccioli pork rinds, ham, pork sausage, salami, torcinelli (roulade, essentially of the “rest of the pig”), and pork belly.
The area’s woodlands are ideal for producing a variety of mushrooms, among them porcini, field mushrooms, gallinaccio and, of course, the renowned truffle.
Cheeses include caciocavallo, burrino, mozzarella and pecorino. Among the province’s most famous wines are Biferno (white, red and rosé) and Moscato.
Bread with Broccoli Rabe
- 14 oz (400g) stale durum wheat bread
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ¼ lbs (1000 g) rapini or broccoli rabe
- Pinch salt
- Black pepper or chili pepper
Slice the bread into ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick slices.
Wash and clean the broccoli rabe.
Boil for 3 minutes in water to cover, add the bread and drain immediately.
Arrange the bread in layers along with the broccoli rabe. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or red chili flakes).
- 1 ham bone
- 1 cup bite-sized ham pieces
- 2 large onions, halved
- 1 whole large garlic, skinned and cloves smashed with the side of knife
- Fresh or dried basil or both (to taste)
- 5 large bay leaves
- 5 large carrots, sliced
- 2 whole celery stalks and 4 stalks sliced
- 3 medium potatoes, cubed
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 lb dried navy or great northern beans, soaked overnight
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- Salt & Pepper
Simmer in large soup pot approximately 1 1/2 hours: the ham bone with enough water to cover, onions, garlic, basil, bay leaves, 2 whole celery stalks, salt & pepper to taste.
Drain beans and place in a large pot covered with water by three inches. Add the baking soda. Simmer for 45 minutes, then drain and change the water. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add more water if necessary. When the beans are almost cooked add 1 teaspoon of salt, drain and set aside.
Strain the ham broth and discard the bone and vegetables. Add the broth to the cooked beans, ham pieces and all the remaining ingredients. Simmer for approximately one hour.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pork is preferred in the mountains, while the coastal areas are mainly characterized by seafood dishes.
- 10 ½ oz (300g) fresh egg pasta, Tagliolini
- 3 oz (80g) ham, julienne or peeled medium shrimp
- 1 hot chili pepper, minced
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 ¾ oz (50g) olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
Cook the pasta al dente and reserve some of the pasta cooking water. Drain
In a skillet, heat the oil and fry the chili with the onion. Cook at moderate heat till soft, stirring often with a wooden spoon.
Add the ham or the shrimp and heat it quickly.
Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water, the minced parsley and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Serve.
Old Style Ricotta Pie
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 pounds ricotta cheese
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup shortening plus 1 tablespoon shortening, chilled
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
For the filling:
Beat the 12 eggs, the 2 cups sugar and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta cheese. Set aside.
For the crust:
Combine the flour, baking powder and the 1 cup sugar together. Cut in the chilled shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Mix in the 4 beaten eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Divide dough into 4 balls, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease two deep-dish 9 inch pie plates.
Roll out 2 of the balls to fit into the pie pans. Do not make the crust too thick, as it will expand during cooking. Do not flute the edges of the dough.
Roll out the other 2 balls of dough and cut each into 8 narrow strips for the top of the crust.
Pour the ricotta filling evenly into the two pie crusts. Top each pie with 8 narrow strips of dough. Brush the top of the pie with milk. Place foil on the edge of the crust.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes; remove foil. Rotate pies on the rack so they will bake evenly. Continue to bake until a knife inserted in the center of each pie comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes more.
Cool completely on wire racks. Refrigerate until serving.