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Posts from the ‘Pasta e basta!’ Category

Pasta with vegetarian ragout & the tomatoes addiction

pasta with veggie ragoutIf you love Italian cuisine there are many chances that you love pasta. Together with pizza, pasta is certainly one of our national prides and the reason for that is simple: pasta and pizza are cheap and versatile. You can open your fridge and certainly find something that is good to put on a pizza or a pasta dish, the only thing you need is fantasy and the ability to mix different ingredients to create a magical flavour.

I’m pretty sure that you can try to cook pasta with everything on your mind, but for me pasta with tomatoes is always the best. So I have to admit: I have a tomatoes addiction and I’ve had it for so long. I wasn’t even 1 year old when my mom, coming back from work, found me in the box with all my face red with tomatoes juice. I was the first niece and the first female in the family so the truth is that my grandpa went totally crazy for me and spent hours cultivating tomatoes just for me. My grandpa was a strange man: silent and hard like the ground he cultivated, I don’t remember him saying “I love you” but I know he did love me so much. When he got older I remember all the tenderness, that he never expressed with words, in his beautiful blue eyes. Many years passed since he left this world, but in my heart I still have the image of this strong man, with his hands damaged  by hard work and the back bent to work the veggie garden. Read more

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Risotto with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese: Grandma’s Maria pantry

It occurred to me just recently that things that we consider culinary delights, not so long ago were a pure necessity. For us, modern girl that sometimes have a more stable relationship with our refrigerator than with other human beings, for us that are so used to doing our shopping in big supermarkets where you can find strawberries and tomatoes even in December, it’s difficult to imagine that our mothers grew up in houses where talking about a refrigerator seemed as strange as talking about UFO. But even if it seems strange, our grandmas DID manage the house without a fridge…so here we are with the story of Grandma’s Maria pantry, a magic room full of food.

Rodi Garganico is a small fishermen village in the south of Italy, just a white blur suspended between a blue sky and a wonderful and transparent sea. Maria lived there with her husband and her 3 children, in a white house in the center of the village. Summer has always been generous: the sea gave fishes and the fertile land gave olives, tomatoes, corn and a lot of fruit. But this generous land had known wars (my husband’s father was born in 1949, just 4 years after the II World War) and Maria’s husband had spent a lot of years far away under the army. So, gestures handed down for generations, seemed even more important. You had to work hard so that your pantry had enough food to feed the family during winter.

My step-father perfectly remembers those years and how, as a small child, he climbed the stair and entered this magic room full of food: olives, walnuts, melons, sacks of flour that Maria used to make a big bread loaf every 2 weeks..and of course tomatoes.

Sun-dried tomatoes have an ancient story: Maria made what for generations other women had done. She cut tomatoes in 2 halves and let them dry in open air over a wooden surface, under the rays of the sun. Every night she took them inside, to preserve them from humidity. Then, after a wash in water and a careful drying, they ended up in a jar covered with olive oil.

Now it’s time to open that jar…and begin to cook this risotto!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

– 400 g rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)

– 1 onion finely chopped

– half a glass of white dry wine

– sun-dried tomatoes under oil

– 200 g chèvre (goat cheese)

– 4 spoons of olive oil

– salt, pepper

– 1 teaspoon of butter

– parmesan cheese (grated)

– boiling water

Put oil and 1 onion finely chopped in a pan and fry lightly. Add rice and toast it (touch it with your finger, when it’s warm it’s ready), add the wine and let evaporate. Cook the rice adding a little bit at a time boiling water, remember to toss frequently. After 7 minutes add sun-dried tomatoes cut in small stripes. Adjust with salt and pepper. Meanwhile cut the cheese in small cubes. When the rice is cooked you can stir: add the goat cheese, the butter and the parmesan cheese. If you want you can use a pastry ring for make a nice shape. That you can put also in your fridge and eat the day after. Buon appetito!

Spaghetti all’amatriciana and the story of the beginning of a new life

If you love Italian cuisine you certainly know this. It’s a pillar and has a very old tradition but, like pretty every dish in Italy, you can ask 100 Italians for a recipe and you will always obtain different answer. There are of course the “purist” (no, you don’t have to use onions!!) and then there are all the others that cook it exactly the same  way someone teached them.

This recipe is my father’s one and, till  last December, it was just another great Italian pasta dish. But on the night of  December 12th it became really special for us …,  that was our last dinner before the night race to the hospital..my first daughter was coming to this world!

I remember how that evening seemed strange…our daughter Lucia was expected for December 9th but she was late. We chose that name because 2 of our grandma’s were named the same, but also because the name comes from the latin lux, lucis that means light. In Italy Saint Lucia is very popular and her day is the December 13th. The Saint came with gifts for the good children during the night because “Santa Lucia è la notte più lunga che ci sia” (meaning that this is the longest night of the year). So at evening of  December 12th my husband and I were  eating this so good spaghetti and we tought: maybe Saint Lucia will take a gift and finally we’ll start to be real parents…At 3.20 during that night we went to the hospital and a new life begun at midday…that is the moment of greatest light during the day and also our daughter’s name-day. Even after six months this story seems magical to me and every time I cook spaghetti all’amatricia I remember exactly that feeling of anticipation and all those joyful emotions. I hope, when you’ll cook this, to pass a little bit of that incredible happiness to you..enjoy!

Ingredients:

400 g spaghetti (uncooked)

1 spoon of olive oil

1/4 teaspoon  of red pepper flakes

1 onion chopped

4 slices of bacon, diced

1 spoon of white wine

80 g pecorino cheese

6 big tomatoes sliced

salt and black pepper

In a large sauce pan put 1 spoon of olive oil and cook the bacon with the red pepper till it takes a good color, add the white wine and let it evaporate. Take out and put it in a warm place. In the same pan add onion, fry them slightly and add tomatoes. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add again the bacon and cook at low flames for few minutes.

In the meanwhile cook spaghetti in a large pot of 4 quarts boiling and salted water. When they are “al dente”, drain them and put in the pan with the sauce. Add pecorino and black pepper and toss. Buon appetito!