Insalata di polpo

Insalata di polpo

This is an excellent dish for the upcoming holidays and could easily become your all-time favorite starter. Soft and tender, this festive octopus starter is marinated with the usual suspects – oil, lemon, salt and pepper, and chopped parsley – and is best served at room temperature. The lettuce and rocket leaves complement the fresh taste and provide you with something to chew. You can also choose to serve it as a main course with boiled potatoes. And although the octopus takes some time to prepare, this time the wait is definitely worth it. But if you serve this with Vermentino Italiano DOC white wine, it just becomes unbeatable!

Ingredients: 

1 kg/ 2.2 lb fresh octopus

olive oil for frying

2-4 garlic cloves, minced

1.5 dl/ 2/3 cup dry white wine

2-3 small carrots, sliced

celery stalks, sliced 

3-4 bay leaves

olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

minced garlic

chopped parsley

different types of lettuce, rocket etc.

lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil. Toss the octopus into the boiling water, return to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Discard water.

Cut the octopus into pieces and saute in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two. Add the wine, carrot, celery, and bay leaf, and stir well. Let the mixture simmer on a low heat for 90 minutes or until all the pieces are soft and tender.

Discard all the vegetables and let the octopus pieces cool down. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, minced garlic and chopped parsley together with the octopus pieces. Arrange different types of lettuce and rocket on a serving tray and add the marinated octopus pieces on top. Garnish with lemon slices.

Insalata di polpo

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Couscous ai frutti di mare

Couscous ai frutti di mare

Couscous, a popular alternative to rice and pasta, is a grain made by rolling durum wheat flour with salted water to form tiny granules. In North African cuisines it is a basic staple that is traditionally served with a meat or vegetable stew. The texture of couscous is somewhat fluffy, and it soaks up the flavors of other ingredients making it a very easy and versatile accompaniment to many types of dishes. Preparing couscous with a typically Italian seafood sauce is actually not as far-fetched as it may seem, because these light fluffy grains spread to Sicily and beyond already in the Middle Ages. By the mid 16th century couscous was known in other parts of Italy, too. Compared to pasta, couscous provides you with less protein but has slightly less calories, and when it comes to minerals, there are only marginal differences.

Ingredients: 

2.5 dl/ 1 cup water

olive oil

salt to taste

250 gr/ 9 oz couscous

a piece of butter

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

280 gr/ 10 oz tomatoes

1.5 dl/ 2/3 cup dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

fresh flat leaf parsley

500 gr/ 17 2/3 oz seafood mix

200 gr/ 7 oz frozen peas

Instructions: 

Pour 2.5 dl or 1 cup of water into a pan, add a bit of olive oil and salt, and bring to a boil. Take the pan from the heat and add the couscous grains. Stir very well and let the couscous stand for about 2 minutes. Add the butter and reheat the couscous over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion softens. Add the chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat. Let the tomatoes simmer for about 10 minutes. Then, season with salt and pepper, parsley, and add the wine and the seafood mixture. Let the sauce simmer for further 10-15 minutes. Add the frozen peas almost at the end. Check the taste and add some seasoning, if necessary. Serve this dish hot, or alternative you might let it cool down for a few minutes.

Couscous ai frutti di mare

Crostini di vongole

Impress your guests with this delicious, and at the same time visually attractive, starter! Crostini – Italian for little toasts – are small slices of grilled or toasted bread that are served with different types of toppings, like vegetables, savory spreads, cheeses, or olive oil and herbs. The best bread for crostini is white Italian or French bread with a little bit hard crust. Like bruschetta, it is thought that crostini originated in the medieval times when peasants typically ate their food on bread and didn’t use any ceramics. Crostini are a great and sophisticated appetizer with a drink, especially if you offer several different toppings. Here, the crostini are prepared with fresh clams and herbs. The fresh clams will open in the pan within minutes and the minced garlic and the fresh parsley will top the taste off.  Delicious!

Crostini di vongole

Ingredients: 

200-300 gr/ 7-10 oz clams

olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

4 slices of crostini bread

Instructions: 

Rinse the clams under cold running water. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the clams for a few minutes until the shells fully open. Remove the pan from the heat, and with the help of a spoon, scoop the clams out. Remove the clams from their shells and discard any clams that have remained closed. Keep the cooking liquid.

Mix the clams in a small bowl with the minced garlic, parsley, 6 tbsp olive oil and 4 tbsp of the cooking liquid and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Slice the bread and put a couple of spoonfuls of the clam topping on each slice. Bake in the oven, preheated to 180 C/355 F, for 5 minutes. Let the crostini rest for a few minutes before serving.

Crostini di vongole

Strawberry Salad

Strawberry Salad

Strawberry, or garden strawberry, is a hybrid species first bred in France during the late 18th century via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis from Chile. Prior to that, this red, juicy and conically shaped fruit had been growing wild for centuries. The fruit, which botanically speaking is not a berry, is widely appreciated for its aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. Strawberries are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are a good source of folate and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and manganese. Choose brightly colored, plump berries that still have the caps attached to them and avoid soft or moldy berries. Strawberries can be combined with practically anything, from bananas and basil to lemon and lime. Here the sweet strawberries go well together with the creamy mozzarella and compliment the peppery and pungent taste of the rocket salad.

Ingredients: 

rocket salad, lollo rosso, Swiss chard etc.

1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

200 gr/ 7 oz shrimp

6-8 strawberries, halved

Dressing 1:

6 strawberries

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp honey

salt and black pepper to taste

Dressing 2:

olive oil

black pepper

Instructions: 

Arrange the rocket, lollo rosso and Swiss chard leaves on the plate. Put the raw and untreated shrimp in the middle. Arrange the mozzarella slices around the shrimp, and decorate with the halved strawberries.

Prepare the dressing by crushing the strawberries with a fork. Then, mix with all the other ingredients. Alternatively, just drizzle some good quality olive oil over the salad and season with freshly ground black pepper. This is an excellent recipe for this summer.

Strawberry Salad

Risotto gamberetti e zucchine

Carnaroli rice – nicknamed ‘the caviar of rice’ – is grown in the Italian towns of Novara and Vercelli, located between Milan and Turin. Carnaroli is traditionally used for making risotto, differing from the more common Arborio rice due to its higher starch content and firmer texture. Carnaroli keeps its shape better than other types of rice in the slow cooking process, making for a more textured dish. The extra starch in the Carnaroli rice is responsible for the creaminess of the risotto, so it is important not to wash the rice grains before cooking them. In this particular dish, the chili flakes add a welcome punch to the creaminess of the rice and the onion, and the bite-size zucchini slices should remain firm while the inside is soft, hot and juicy.

Risotto gamberetti e zucchine

Ingredients: 

olive oil

500 gr/ 1 pound large cooked and peeled shrimp

2.5 dl/ 1 cup dry white wine

3-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 onion, minced

2.5 dl/ 1 cup risotto rice (Carnaroli)

5 dl/ 2 cups vegetable stock

1 zucchini, sliced

1 tsp dry chili flakes

fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Instructions: 

Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the large shrimp lightly together with minced garlic and white wine. Set aside but keep the juices the shrimp have released.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Saute the minced onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion softens and becomes golden. Add the risotto rice and continue frying until the grains become glassy. Little by little, pour some vegetable stock and liquid from the pan you used to fry the shrimp. Keep stirring. Add the zucchini slices when the risotto is nearly ready. For Carnaroli rice it takes about 15 minutes to be al dente. At this point, add the already sauteed shrimp and mix without cooking any further. Season with chili flakes and sprinkle flat leaf parsley on each plate.

Risotto gamberetti e zucchine

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare

Spaghetti ai frutti di mare (Spaghetti with Fruit of the Sea) is one of the dishes that is known all over Italy, but the best versions can be had on the coastal regions, where fresh seafood is readily available. Nothing beats locally sourced seafood that has been prepared with the reddest tomatoes of the season, and is offered to you with a glass of beautiful white wine. Fast and easy to prepare, the pasta sauce simmers in its own juices, some white wine and fresh tomatoes. You only need to cook spaghetti, sprinkle some parsley on top, and you will have a night to remember. This is a proven success story.

Ingredients:

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

olive oil

500 gr/ 1 lb seafood mix (mussels, shrimp etc.)

1.5 dl/ 2/3 cup dry white wine

5 tomatoes, sliced

fresh flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper to taste

spaghetti or spaghettini

Spaghetti ai frutti di mareInstructions: 

Heat olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic. Fry for a moment without burning the garlic cloves and add the seafood mix. Lower the heat and add the sliced tomatoes and the dry white wine. Let the sauce simmer on a low heat until it thickens. Season with fresh flat leaf parsley, and salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti al dente in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Drain the pasta and mix it thoroughly with the sauce. Garnish each plate with some parsley and serve immediately.

Paella

Paella

Paella, a rice dish similar to risotto, originates from Valencia on the Spanish east coast. Contrary to a popular belief, it is not a Spanish national dish, but rather a Valancian fare deeply rooted in its regional culture. There are three different types of paella: paella valenciana with rice, chicken, rabbit and beans, paella de marisco with rice and seafood without green vegetables, and paella mixta with a combination of meat and sea food together with a variety of vegetables. Paella’s popularity spread in the 20th century and the dish acquired influences from other food cultures outside Spain. Now a mixed paella can include a wide variety of ingredients, such as meat, sausage, seafood, vegetables and seasonings. The mixed paella and its numerous variations remains very popular all over the world, although in Valencia, only the Valencian and the sea food paella are considered authentic. This particular paella mixes the grill taste of the chicken drumsticks with the refined sea food taste and the yummy vegetables. If you have leftovers, serve them cold the next day. Paella’s taste doesn’t improve by reheating it.

PaellaIngredients:

4-6 chicken drumsticks

125 gr/ 4.5 oz bacon

olive oil for frying

3 dl/ 1 1/3 risotto rice

1 onion, sliced

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

5 dl/2 cups chicken stock

3-5 tomatoes

white pepper

paprika powder

3-4 bay leaves

1 red bell pepper

200 gr/ 7 oz peas

140 gr/ 5 oz large cooked and peeled shrimp

200 gr/ 7 oz mussels

freshly ground lemon pepper

fresh lemon, in slices

Instructions: 

Fry the chicken drumsticks slowly in oil and bacon. Add the risotto rice and continue frying until the rice grains become glassy. Add the sliced onion and minced garlic, mix well, and continue frying until the onion softens. Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes. Let the mixture simmer on a low heat and season with white pepper, paprika powder, and bay leaves. Once the chicken is cooked through, and the rice is cooked al dente, add the bell pepper and the peas, and at the end the already cooked shrimp and the mussels. Check the taste and garnish with slices of fresh lemon. Serve immediately.

Paella