Pesto alla siciliana

Pesto alla siciliana

Have you perhaps grown tired of the typical green basil pesto? In that case this recipe, Sicilian pesto, is ideal for you. Ingredients that are typical for this region are used: fresh and ripe red tomatoes, ricotta, pine nuts and of course basil. When put together, these ingredients create a paste that is at the same time light, fresh and nourishing. There is a myriad of regional recipes, and some of them call for almonds or dry tomatoes, or even pistachios, but the common denominator remains ricotta. This recipe is especially good on a hot summer’s day, but it can be had all year round. Prepare long and dry pasta, like spaghetti, casareccia or penne, with it for the best results. The leftovers can be had the next day as a spread over bread.

Ingredients: 

ca. 20 leaves fresh basil

250 gr/ 9 oz tomatoes

25 gr/ 1 oz pine nuts

2 garlic cloves, minced

50 gr/ 1 2/3 freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano 

75 gr/ 2 2/3 ricotta

salt and pepper to taste

75 ml/ 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

dry pasta of your choice

Instructions: 

Rinse and dry the basil leaves. Wash the tomatoes and cut them in two. Remove the inner part including the seeds and all excess liquid with a spoon. Put the tomatoes in a blender and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add the basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, ricotta and the grated parmigiano and continue the process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the oil and check the taste and consistency.

Meanwhile, prepare the pasta by cooking it in salted boiling water until al dente. Combine with the pesto and serve immediately.

Pesto alla siciliana

Risotto all’affumicata

Risotto all'affumicata

The full and delicious taste of this risotto will undoubtedly warm your heart and soul. In this recipe the smoked pancetta is combined with another smoked item, Provola affumicata cheese from Southern Italy’s Campania region. Smoking is actually a process to preserve, flavor and cook food by exposing it to smoke from wood or other burning or smouldering materials. Different types of meat, like pancetta, and fish are the most common smoked foods, although cheese and vegetables can be smoked, too. Smokehouse temperatures for cold smoking are typically between 20-30 C/68-86 F. Cold smoking can be simply used as a flavor enhancer because the food is smoked just long enough to give it some flavor, and the foods are still cooked, either by baking, grilling, roasting, or sautéing, before eating.

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

100 gr/ 3.5 oz smoked pancetta, in cubes

2.5 dl/ 1 cup risotto rice

1 liter/ 4 cups vegetable stock

80 gr/ 3 oz smoked Provola affumicata cheese, thinly sliced

250 gr/ 9 oz champignon mushrooms, sliced

salt and peper to taste

Risotto all'affumicata

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Saute the smoked pancetta, 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 into the pan. Keep stirring. After about 15 minutes the risotto rice is cooked al dente. Add the sliced smoked cheese and mix well.

Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms lightly in a pan until they release their juices. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the risotto rice without cooking it any further with the mushrooms. Serve each plate immediately with a pinch of ground black pepper.

Insalata di pasta ai tonno

Delicious, portable, healthy – pasta salads are perfect dishes for versatility, because they are easily portable and can be served in a myriad of ways. The ingredients used vary widely by region, season, and/or preference of the cook. Pasta salads can be very simple, or as elaborate as several short pastas tossed together with a variety of fresh, preserved or cooked ingredients. These can include vegetables, legumes, cheeses, nuts, herbs, spices, meats, poultry, or seafood. Even though pasta salad is often regarded as a spring or summertime meal, it can be easily served year-round. Here, penne pasta is combined with fresh tasty tomatoes, tuna, anchovies, and hard-boiled eggs. By avoiding fattening and calorie rich dressings, you can enjoy the true taste of the ingredients with a touch of raw olive oil.

Insalata di pasta con tonno

Ingredients: 

100 grams/ 3.5 oz penne rigate or penne pasta

100 grams/ 3.5  oz green beans

280 grams/ 10 oz tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

2 tins of Rio Mare tuna

2 hard-boiled eggs

8 anchovies fillets

a handful of capers

back olives (optional)

olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool down.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise.

Cook the trimmed green beans in salted boiling water for ca. 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

On a large platter, arrange the tomatoes side by side. Mix the cooked pasta together with the drained tuna and shredded basil leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Put the pasta mix in the middle of the platter, and add the green beans and anchovies fillets. Set the halved eggs right in the middle of the salad. Drizzle some olive oil and season with black pepper. Garnish with capers and basil leaves. Serve as a lunch or dinner.

Insalata di pasta ai tonno

Hamburger di salmone

Hamburger di salmone

This salmon burger recipe is an original, quick and easy alternative to the classic meaty hamburger. You can serve it with a fresh salad, French fries, or boiled potatoes, but you can also have it in the hamburger style. If you refrain from adding mayonnaise and other calorie-rich dressings, you have a tasty and healthy dinner at your fingertips. Some are already calling salmon a super food, and this fish undoubtedly has deserved its reputation as a healthy food, and not only because of its unusual omega-3 fatty acid content. Intake of salmon has been connected to a decreased risk of numerous cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Salmon contains particularly high levels of vitamin D and selenium, which is also associated with prevention of certain types of cancer. It also contains high levels of DHA (decosahexaenoic acid) which is the main structural fatty acid in the central nervous system and retina. Feeding salmon to preschool children also aids in the prevention of ADHD and can even boost academic performance. If that’s not enough to convince you, this might: The omega-3s found in salmon lock moisture into skin cells, encouraging the production of strong collagen and elastin fibers, which contribute to more youthful looking skin.

Ingredients: 

500 gr/ 1.1 lb salmon fillet

1 onion, chopped

dill, chopped

2-4 dry chilies (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

olive oil for frying

Hamburger di salmone

Instructions: 

Chop the salmon fillets into very small cubes. Put the cubes in a bowl, and add the chopped onions, dill and chili. Season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs and the breadcrumbs, and mix thoroughly.

Shape the mixture into salmon burgers. Fry each burger for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Farfalle fave, pancetta e pomodorini

Farfalle fave, pancetta e pomodorini

Simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine and fancy sauces aren’t needed because Tuscans use pure, strong flavors and the freshest ingredients. Many dishes have peasant origins, and ingredients like legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are commonly used. Different types of beans, like fava beans that are featured in this recipe, have long been a big part of the diet as well. Tuscany is also the most famous wine zone in Italy, producing wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti and Chianti Classico, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This particular recipe is an everyday pasta dish that is fast and easy to make. Pancetta provides you with something the chew, and the cherry tomatoes are a fresh addition bringing some color into the mix. Pecorino Romano cheese  is used instead of Parmigiano.

Ingredients: 

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

140 gr/ 5 oz smoked pancetta

2 small cans of broad  a.k.a. fava beans

5 dl/ 2 cups vegetable stock

farfalle pasta

250 gr/ 9 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

salt an pepper to taste

freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

fresh thyme

Farfalle fave, pancetta e pomodorini

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onion until it becomes golden. Add the pancetta cubes and continue frying for a few minutes. Add the fava beans and the vegetable stock and let the sauce simmer for 10-15  minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Drain.

Once the fava beans have softened and the liquid has been reduced, add the tomatoes. Let the sauce simmer for a minute or two, and season with salt and pepper. Mix the sauce with the cooked and drained pasta. Garnish each plate with fresh thyme and freshly ground Pecorino Romano.

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

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