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

Uova alla diavola

Uova alla diavola

Eggs are widely used in many types of dishes, both sweet and savory, and some of the most common preparation methods include include scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, omelettes and pickled. This recipe brings forth the most creative and sophisticated side of the egg – hard-boiled with a devilishly spicy, but smooth and appealing, filling. And when it comes to nutrition, eggs add protein to a person’s diet, as well as various other nutrients. Eggs supply all essential amino acids for humans, and provide several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and B, calsium, iron, and magnesium. While eggs do contain cholesterol, the health benefits from their other vital nutrients appear to outweigh the risks posed by their cholesterol content. Combine this appetizer with a strong flavored pasta plate or a main dish.

Ingredients:

6 eggs

2 small tins of Rio Mare tuna

1 tin of anchovies

ca. 10 capers

fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

2-4 dry chilies, deseeded and finely chopped

olive oil

1 tsp paprika powder

Uova alla diavola

Instructions: 

Place the eggs in a pot and cover them with water. Slowly bring water to a boil over medium heat. After about 12 minutes, place the eggs under cool running water to stop the cooking. Peel them and cut them into two equal halves. Remove the egg yolk, but save it for later. Set the halved eggs on a serving plate.

Mix the tuna, anchovies, egg yolk, some oil, dry chilies, fresh chopped parsley, capers and paprika powder in a blender until smooth. Check the taste and adjust, if needed.

With the help of a teaspoon, fill the halved eggs with the smooth mixture. Garnish with capers and sprinkle some paprika powder on top.

Uova alla diavola

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

Panzanella

Panzanella – a salad with bread and tomatoes – is a very popular rustic summer dish in Italy, especially in Tuscany and other parts of central Italy. It doesn’t require any cooking and is therefore ideal for hot and humid summer days. Originally, it was a dish for peasants who worked on the fields all day. The basic ingredients are soaked stale bread, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, salt and pepper, vinegar and oil. More modern interpretations might include lettuce, mozzarella, anchovies, celery, carrots, or tuna, but don’t offer these variations to the puritans who will most certainly disapprove! The first written reference to panzanella was already made in the 16th century when poet and artist Bronzino wrote about the incredulous taste of toast with onions, oil and vinegar. Tomatoes were only added to this recipe in the 20th century.

Panzanella

Ingredients:

300 gr/ 10 oz stale Italian bread

1-2 red onions, thinly sliced

4-6 tomatoes, in chunks

1 cucumber, in chunks

fresh basil leaves, shredded

2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Remove the crusts, and cut the bread into slices. Soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes. Once heavy with water, remove a little bread at a time and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Then break the slices apart into small, dry crumbs.

Place the bread crumbs in a salad bowl and add the red onion, tomato and cucumber chunks together with the shredded basil leaves. For the authentic feel, peel the cucumber first. Dress with a bit of oil, salt and pepper, and let the salad cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When it is time to serve, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and oil.

Panzanella

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

Pastrami Salmon

Pastrami Salmon

Pastrami is a popular delicacy usually made from beef, pork or mutton. Like curing with salt and many other techniques, it was originally created as way to preserve meat before modern refrigeration. The raw meat – or salmon in this case – is brined, partly dried, seasoned with various herbs and spices, then smoked and steamed. Even though salmon may be better known for its cured and cooked preparations, pastrami salmon is a natural extension of the traditional meaty version. Serve it as a festive starter with a piece of rye bread, or let your imagination take you to the wonderland of new culinary experiences.

Ingredients: 

600 gr/ 1 1/3 lb salmon fillet

coarse sea salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp fennel

4 tsp peppercorns (black, green, white and pink)

Pastrami Salmon

Instructions: 

Cut the salmon fillet, lengthwise, into four or five pieces. Sprinkle a generous amount of coarse sea salt on the pieces, and wrap them tightly in plastic. Let the salmon pieces refrigerate for an hour.

Remove the plastic wrapping and the salt. Fry the salmon pieces in a hot dry pan for about 10 seconds per side. Mix the spices. Sprinkle the salmon pieces with the spice mix and wrap them once again in plastic. Put these tightly wrapped pieces into the freezer for an hour. Remove the plastic and serve with e.g. rye bread.

Schiacciata (Tuscan-style focaccia)

Schiacciata

Italians take bread very seriously – for them it represents a cornerstone in their food culture. There are over 300 different types of Italian bread and vast regional differences. Schiacciata is a Tuscan version of what is known as focaccia in the North. It is a little thinner, and perhaps a little closer to a pizza.  One of the best ways to enjoy a schiacciata is to slice it in two and fill it with Mortadella, the classic cured pork sausage from Bologna. You can also drizzle some olive oil on top and enjoy it pure and simple – absolutely divine!

Ingredients:

500 gr/1.1 lb wheat flour, of which 250 gr/0.5 lb very fine “00” type, and 250 gr/0.5 lb regular all-purpose flour

1 tsp sugar

1 bag of dry yeast

1 tsp salt

1 dl/0.4 cup olive oil

3 dl/1 1/3 water

Instructions:

SchiacciataMix the two different types of flour in a bowl. Dissolve the dry yeast and the sugar in a bit of warm water and pour this mixture into the flour mix. Combine the warm, not hot, water together with the oil and salt, and add them to the flour mix. Start kneading with your hands and keep kneading until the mixture is smooth. If your dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour. Set the dough aside. Let it rise, covered, in a warm place for about 2 hours.

SchiacciataGrease a pan with olive oil and lay the dough out. Continue kneading with your hands, drizzle some oil, and work the oil into the dough. Turn it over, and repeat the same all over again. Once the dough is firm, cover it with a clean cloth and let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

With your fingertips, poke the surface of the schiacciata sheet. Bake it in a hot oven, preheated to 250 C/480 F, for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle some olive oil, and your schicciata is ready to be served.