One of the constants of Italian cuisine is using what you have and what’s in season; it seems like a simple thing…but think about the other culinary modalities in the world and in your daily life where getting ingredients from a far flung corner of the world is just part of the deal.
This concept works well even with foods you wouldn’t think of as being traditionally Italian per se; in this case, we had some locally made bread, some of my late grandmother’s pickled beets, and some goat cheese from a local artisanal producer.
The wife blended the beets with garlic, olive oil, goat cheese, and some onion. It makes a creamy topping with a crazy pink color that looks like a savory cake icing. Put it on the bread with a bed of sauteed arugula and stuck it in the oven to brown. Instant dinner! Perhaps not what you think of as being Italian cuisine, but in terms of concept and execution, quintessentially Italian!
Not a typically Italian preparation given my ingredients list but I’ll share it here anyway as it’s ridiculously tasty.
Olive oil, a pat of butter, and minced garlic in a stainless skillet. Warm it up and toss in the ahi tuna fillets and warm them up. Sprinkle of salt, ground black pepper, and a splash of teriyaki. Wet the butter and oil with a few ounces of sherry. Flip the tuna to cook evenly and add a few capers and a pinch of red curry paste for some spice. When it’s ready to serve toss in the spinach and wilt it, and serve.
Finally got some pics downloaded from the pasta making demonstration we gave for the local “Gourmet Gals” MeetUp.com group. A good time was had by all and everyone’s interest in traveling to Italy was piqued by the discussion…and the tasty grub.
Perhaps some confirmation bias on my part, but I was glad to read this. I don’t bother peeling or seeding either. My pomodoro sauce is world famous (by “world” I mean my one and two year old and wife can’t get enough of it), and I use the whole tomato. Just seems like more trouble than it’s worth, and nutritionally I’m a fan of using as much of the plant as I can. A good pomodoro is a blend of sweet and bitter, savory and spicy–the flavor contrasts come together to really hit you, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to learn that seeing/peeling tomatoes is one of those venerable but dispensable myths.
Decided to slack off tonight and use the whole grain semolina noodles from Barilla instead of making homemade, and I feel guilty over it already. But it was tasty!
I like to chop the facon (fakon? fakin?) pretty small as it mixes better. It really does taste better with homemade noodles, but it was late and the kids were cranky, so the rare box of Barilla was broken out. If you make it with homemade noodles make sure to leave them firmer than al dente as they’re going to absorb a lot of moisture from the egg and cheese and the heat from the pan will keep them cooking, and you don’t want mush. But like most rustic, peasant inspired Italian dishes, it just tastes better with the homemade egg noodles.
My harshest critics, however, found tonight’s pasta quite satisfactory.
Sitting on Grandma’s lap, eating my pasta! Sitting here apparently made it taste way better than actually sitting in the high chair.
This is a great recipe–it’s interesting how Italian cuisine is often presented here in the US as expensive, prepared for the erudite, upper-crust food served with refined linens and exotic presentations by guys wearing tuxedos. That sort of thing certainly has its place, but one of the best parts of the food you’ll experience in Italy is the rustic, simple, and non-wasteful element. Some of the most flavorful dishes are peasant-inspired recipes passed down over generations by people who couldn’t afford to waste food.
Fresh basil, stale bread…delicious! Think we’re making this tomorrow.
Check out Mama Isa’s carbonara recipe. It might be sacrilegious but I make a vegetarian version with fake bacon that works out just fine (I crisp it in oil with some garlic and shallots and it tastes plenty rich).