Meatless Monday Radicchio Risotto

The wonderful Holidays are behind us and we are off to a wonderful 2014.

I don’t know why but I feel like this year is going to be fantastic, it’s an even number and I love the way it’s starting out. I feel positive and happy!

Tomorrow is my Monday because here in Italy it was Epiphany today, “which pretty much means a ton of candy, chocolate and of course another big family meal.”
With that being said I will be doing my Meatless Monday tomorrow and I thought that this Italian recipe was perfect. I love rice and I love veggies so this Risotto is a must in my book!

Let me know what you think and how you like it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 small head of Radicchio

200 gr. Rice

1 Shallot

3-4 cups Vegetable Broth

1 tbsp. EVOO

Splash white wine

Salt

Parmiggino Reggiano, grated

Wash the radicchio and slice thinly. Get your shallot and slice finely; place in a sauce pan with the EVOO allow to get golden and then add the radicchio and cook until it wilts.

Add your rice and incorporate with all the ingredients, add your splash of white wine mix and allow it to evaporate.
Add your hot vegetable broth to the pan mix and allow to cook for about 20 minutes or desired doness.
Once it’s ready sprinkle some parmiggiano mix well and serve.

Cherry Tomato & Asparagus Strozzapreti

Asparagus season has been taken full advantage of this year in my house. I have consistently incorporated it for the past month in as many meals as possible, which I’ve mentioned in my other post here. Whether it was the star or the side it was there.

I tried to be as creative with it as possible. Not just steaming, grilling or blanching it and serving as a side veggie but I really tried to let it shine on its own and give the dish that amazing, subtle flavor that it so pleasantly has and which I love.
My darling Husband loves his pasta. Sometimes I think that he is more Italian than I am when it comes to this food in particular; he could eat it everyday (like most Italians). So, of course I made a delicious pasta dish that incorporated his favorite (Fresh Tomato and Basil sauce mainly known here as Salsa Fresca) with a twist of Asparagus in it. It turned out nicely and was easy as can be. Let’s not forget HEALTHY as well!

I used Strozzapreti in this dish but any pasta will be just fine.
Strozzapreti meaning Priest Strangler in Italian is a typical pasta from my region in Italy, Romagna. Known for being the poor man’s pasta, it requires discreet and simple ingredients, it’s cut into strips about 1-1.5cm wide and about 5cm long.
There are several legends about this pasta and where the name derives from one of them being that the women would stay home and prepare this homemade pasta and offer it to the town Priest; making the Husbands angry and wishing that the Priest choke on the pasta.   Another one is that the reason why this pasta is made without eggs is because the Priest would take the eggs away and the Housewife would have to make the pasta without eggs and while the woman was kneading the pasta she would wish the Priest would choke on the eggs that she would’ve used to make the pasta for her family.

Lot’s of theories and stories behind this pasta, I think it’s delicious and was a perfect choice for this dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Serves 2

200gr. Strozzapreti

6 Cherry Tomatoes

200gr. Asparagus

1 Garlic clove

6 Basil leaves

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (as much as you like)

Place a pot of salted water to boil.
In the meantime cut your cherry tomatoes in half. Grab your garlic clove, peel and lightly press down on it with your knife (just so it can open up a bit).

In a large saucepan over medium heat add the Olive oil, once the oil is hot add the garlic and wait about 1 minute before you add the chopped tomatoes. Allow to cook about 2 minutes.

Now grab your asparagus and chop about the same length of the pasta that you are using. Add to the tomatoes, stir all ingredients and allow to continue to cook at low flame. All in all I’d say 10 -15 minutes. Add your salt and the basil leaves. Stir and continue to cook.

By this point your water should be boiling throw in the pasta and follow cooking instructions on the package. Strain and add to the tomatoes and asparagus, mix well and serve. Enjoy.

 

Simple Handmade Tagliatelle

Oh this is one of my favorites and it’s so simple. Listen, I know that making your own pasta can seem daunting and complicated, but it’s really, really simple. It cost’s less and tastes better. It’s a win win situation.

I love any type of pasta really, and I also don’t eat it so often because I like to vary with different things like rice, quinoa, potatoes, couscous and sometimes even bread. I know that pasta has a bad rep, and honestly I don’t believe any of it. Italians eat pasta atleast 6 days a week and they are all so thin and in shape.  Have you ever heard of eating Spaghetti in a bikini? Well, come here to Italy and you’ll see people including girls at the beach eating pasta in their bikini’s with absolute pleasure. I’m not saying that this is what we should all do, but I can say that when I eat pasta I am less bloated the next day than when I eat a salad. Trust me it just depends on your body’s digestion, how much you eat and what you put on it. I wrote a whole blog about it here: Skinny Italians Eat Pasta

Anyhow, this is a step by step of how to make it with a roller, but if you have a machine (which is so much easier…but less exercise) I would suggest using it, and just skip the last few steps. You can make this authentic Italian homemade Ragù a la Bolognese to put over it. Or keep it light and follow one of my other recipes for pasta. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Serves 2*

200 gr. Flour

2 eggs

Pour your flour on a flat surface and make a well in the center with your hand or fork.

Step one- Pasta fatta in casaThen carefully crack the eggs in the center of the well.

Step 2- Pasta fatta in casa

Carefully start incorporating the flour with the fork gently scooping it into the eggs. Starting from the center towards the outside. You may start kneading with your hands until you obtain a solid ball of dough. Knead until smooth for about 3-5 minutes. **

Step 3- Pasta fatta in casa

Start rolling it out, you have to obtain a really thin layer. Could take anywhere from 15-20 minutes of rolling it out. Continue until if held up to the light you could see the light through it.

If you are using the Pasta machine then start on the thickest setting an start feeding the dough through, fold and feed again repeat this step about 5 times, folding each time.
Start reducing the settings one pass at a time. It will start getting long so be gentle and careful with it.

Step 4- Pasta fatta in casa

Now fold in half, fold in half again, and fold in half once more. but do not press down on the fold. Grab a really sharp knife and carefully slice about 1/4″ in thickness (if you want papardelle do them thicker, your choice.) just make sure that they are all even. Then try to immediately unravel on a lightly floured surface. You can do this by inserting the dull side of a large knife into each slice and gently shaking it loose. But I just use my hands, it’s easier and no risk of slicing them. And you’re done.

If you are using the pasta machine: Once you are on the last setting you may pass it through to make the tagliatelle, put over a lightly floured surface and let rest until you finish them all.

Step 5- Pasta fatta in casa

Final Step Tagliatelle

Now for the cooking, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Gently throw in your pasta and allow to float to surface, it should take about 2 minutes. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce.

Tagliatelle fate a mano con Ragu

Accompany with a Delicious Red wine

Tagliatelle con ragu e vino rosso

*This should be helpful: 100 grams of Flour + 1 egg = 1 Serving So for each additional serving you add: 100 grams of Flour + 1 egg. Easy!

** Kneading ensures a silky smooth pasta, it’s an important step.

My Gourmet Porcini with Quinoa Spaghetti

Who said that healthy equals yuck? or boring? or even tasteless? Well they have it all wrong. I find that my healthy substitutions always end up turning out to be fantastic and to top it all off I can’t even tell the difference and neither can my Husband.

Ok, I’m all about forfeiting the ingredients that aren’t necessary. I mean think about it; do you have to use butter when you can use extra virgin olive oil and make it tastier but healthier?! What about white sugar when raw sugar or honey is so much yummier. Or how about white rice when brown rice is to die for. Or in this case what about white spaghetti when Quinoa is just perfect and earthy and couldn’t marry the ingredient of this dish any better, that ingredient being Porcini.

Do you ever find that you get inspired by one simple ingredient and then have to decide your whole meal around it. Well, I randomly get inspired by what I find in the produce section, I’ll often go to the farmers (they’re everywhere here in Italy), and see what they have and what inspires me for dinner.
I recently was driving with my Husband and on the side of the road was a tiny little truck selling nothing but Porcini mushrooms picked fresh in the morning. I had my Husband pull over got out of the car and waited my turn while some other customers got their Porcini’s and left. I then ended up picking out my Porcini; by pointing them out as you are never to touch the produce here in Italy. The farmer was very proud of his Porcini’s and was careful to tell me how to clean them once home. I already knew how but was happy to see how much he cared about it.

I had no idea what I would make with them so I opened the cupboard and remembered that I had purchased Quinoa spaghetti not to long ago and had yet to use them. I love Quinoa but this was my first time using spaghetti made out of Quinoa, so this was going to be a hit or miss dinner. After cleaning the Porcini, which took what seemed like forever because you have to use a damp rag (not to wet, just damp) and delicately wipe off the dirt, never ever ever wash your mushrooms, they are sponges and will not at all taste good if they are soggy; I made a delicious meal that took all about 15 minutes. I hadn’t thought of how well the Quinoa spaghetti would go with the Porcini’s but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Quinoa being so earthy in texture and flavor would go so well with something as natural and earthy as a Porcini. I hope that you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Serves 2

250 gr. Quinoa Spaghetti

2-3 large Porcini mushrooms

1 clove Garlic

1/4 cup White wine, make it the good kind after all this dish deserves it

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil, count to 4

1 fresh Chili chopped, optional

Salt to taste

Parmigiano Reggiano, however much you like

Boil a pot of water.
In the meantime start slicing your Porcini you want them about a quarter inch in thickness and set aside. Now chop your garlic finely and set off to one side.

Once you water is boiling throw in a large sprinkle of salt followed by your Spaghetti, follow cooking time on the package stirring occasionally.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat drizzle your olive oil and add your garlic. Once your garlic is golden throw in your Porcini along with the chili. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Throw in your wine and allow it to reduce about 8 minutes and sprinkle in your salt. Continue to cook at low heat.

Your spaghetti should be cooked, strain and add to the saucepan with the mushroom and incorporate fully. Turn off and serve, sprinkle over your parmigiano. Finito

 

 

 

 

 

Tuscany: Food, Wine and “Le Terme”…Need I say more!

Wine tasting in the Banfi Castle, a Fiorentina steak in Montalcino, a fountain/cascade bath in Saturnia and more typical things to discover about Tuscany.
Let me bring Tuscany to you and discover some of the most delicious food, recipes and of course; wine (if you’re a wino like myself you will truly appreciate), and a few other surprises I discovered and wanted to share with all mythineaters.

It all starts in Montalcino the home of “Brunello di Montalcino” a luscious, deep red wine that has to be aged at least 5 years (or 6 years if it’s a Riserva) by Italian law and only made with Sangiovese grapes from the Montalcino vineyards.  If you like it just a little younger there is “Rosso di Montalcino” also luscious and deep red but more subtle, it only has to be aged about a year, still made with Sangiovese grapes from the Montalcino vineyards. Both amazing. The process is quite long, so there are about 2 weeks a year to be exact when the grapes are picked, generally the last week in September and the 1st week in October, then they are selected carefully, placed in these huge tins for fermentation, then moved into wood barrels and for the remainder of the aging they get placed in the bottle and when ready labeled and off to be sold. There are about 300 “Cantine” that you could visit, with some of the most famous in the world known as Banfi, Biondi Santi Franco, Brunelli, Campana, Colombaiolo, Il Poggiolo, Belpoggio, Barbi and Poggio Antico just to name a few.

                                    

The wine is paired beautifully with the Bistecca Fiorentina which is a loin cut from the male cow raised only in the Tuscany-Umbria region called Chianina . The bone has a “T” shape know as a T-bone steak in the USA, the smallest you could order is about 1 lb and 9 oz. and 2.3 inches thick. They cook it rare about 3-5 minutes per side (and don’t try to ask well cooked or they will give you a dirty look).  You salt it only at the end when you serve it; we accompanied the steak with some stewed veggies. It really was delicious and melted in our mouth.

               

Another famous dish around here is the “Ribollita” which means re-boiled, because every time you re-heat it, it tastes better. It’s derived from back in the day when the farmers only cooked on Fridays, so they used to get vegetables and old bread, cook it in a huge pot and then reheat it the rest of the week. The two most important ingredients are black cabbage and beans. You top it off with some Extra virgin Olive oil and Bread.

Then you have a lot of boar, that’s the meat they use for their Ragu sauce served with Papardelle.  I had Bresaola made from the Chianina cow served with rucola; and of course I had a delicious fresh Porcini soup. Crostini with Pesto, Patè or Pecorino toscano. And something very simple yet amazing, Ricotta Balls with just a bit of olive oil and Parsley.

                       

After all this delicious food there is of course endless desserts, but myself not being a sweet tooth decided that I would opt for the more simple cookies, afterall this is what Tuscany is known for. You’ve all heard about the world-famous Cantucci aka Biscotti in the USA. Then there is one that I particularly love called Brutti ma Buoni which means ‘Ugly but Good’ (in this case Delicious). It’s simply made with ground Hazelnuts, egg whites, sugar and powdered sugar.

  

Yes, I ate and drank all of this and still managed to go to Saturnia a town about 60 km south-west of Montalcino known for their Terme, which is pretty much a natural Cascade of Sulfur water that is at a normal temp. of 99,5 degrees Farenheit. It’s extremely therapeutic and highly recommended for the skin, bones and any circulatory issues one could have not to mention the relaxing benefits you get from the water. It is the most unique waterfall cascade/spring that I have ever laid my eyes on, supposedly the sulfur causes coves and that is how all theses little pockets are created. I loved every second of it and needed some detox relax after all that drinking.

    

Ciao, Hope you enjoyed Tuscany as much as I did.
 

Light Summer – Bavette alle Vongole (Linguine with Clams)

So, alright you all know how much I love to eat healthy and still enjoy life. This is the perfect dish for just that! You get anything better than this, I love this meal it’s one of my favorite dishes; I honestly could eat it every week. It’s light, gourmet and perfect for summer!

So, my Brother came over for a few days and I knew that he was really good at making this dish so we went to the fish market on the canal here in Cervia, Italy (where I live); we bought some live clams and decided that this was our dinner dish. It was a lovely spring day the sun was out but there was still a little breeze and so it was perfect weather for this dish. We accompanied it with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and an evening walk after the delicious dinner. This is a dish I would suggest anyone to try if you haven’t yet, you’ll love it.

Here I explain how to clean the clams. https://mythineats.com/2012/03/04/low-fat-has-never-tasted-so-delicious-vongole-con-vino-bianco-clams/ In this recipe we actually removed the shells before making the sauce so that you don’t have to get your hands dirty while enjoying this dish but you can skip this step if you wish, I’ll explain in the recipe.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

500 gr. of Linguine

500 gr. of Clams (cleaned)

2 Garlic Cloves

Handful Parsley, fresh leaves (chopped finely)

4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup Clam water (How to in recipe)

Chili flakes, optional

Put your cleaned Clams in a small pot, fill with water and boil until the clams all open up; approx 10 minutes. Remove from heat and leave in pot. (Do not drain you will use this water in recipe)

Place a pot a water to boil for your Linguine and pour in about 2 tbsp. of salt.

Now get your clams and remove the meat from the clam shell with either a pairing knife or even a small teaspoon and place in a bowl, throw out the shells and save the juice.

Pour your olive oil in a medium saucepan, mince your garlic and add to oil allow to get golden, add the Clam meat and allow to cook for about 3 minutes, start adding your clam juice gradually. Add your parsley and chili flakes and continue to cook for about 5-8 minutes until sauce starts to thicken.

In the meantime your water should be boiling so throw in your linguine and follow cooking instructions on box. Drain and add your clams mix all ingredients together well and you can begin to serve. Buon Apettito

 

 

 

Finally Here it is: Ragù Bolognese

A lot of you have been asking me to post the recipe on how to make the real Ragù Bolognese, I had posted about Italian lunch with my family (in the link below) and you all wanted the recipe so here it is…Finally!

https://mythineats.com/2012/01/30/to-eat-or-not-to-eat-a-classic-italian-sunday-lunch/

I love a good Tagliatelle al Ragù and I have to admit, my Husband goes crazy for it anytime my Mom asks him what he would like to eat or for her to make him 8 times out of 10 it’s “Tagliatelle al Ragù”. To me it’s a perfect winter dish, or for those days that it’s cold and rainy outside and you want to make something really delicious and special. Keep in mind that everyone here in Italy has their version of making it some make it with 3 different types of meats, some make it with red wine, some white wine, some use fresh tomatoes, some swear by the naturally canned ones, some do this and some do that…well, no matter what it is always delicious. This is my recipe. Enjoy.

Also one more thing to keep in mind the way the foods are stored here and the way the meats are here is way different than in the USA, when I was there for some reason it never quite turned out the way that it was supposed to turn out (although still delicious) there was always that something missing. Anyhow, I’m sure that it will turn out fantastic and that you will enjoy it.
I recommend using this sauce on top of tagliatelle, for you lasagna and stuffed cannelloni.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

300 gr. Ground Beef

150 gr. Pancetta

50 gr. Carrot

50 gr. Celery

50 gr. Onion

5 tbsp. of Tomato sauce or (20 gr. Tomato paste)

1 cup of homemade Beef Stock

1/2 cup White Wine

200 gr. Milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

Clean the vegetables and cut finely
Cut the bacon into cubes of about 20 cm in diameter and let it melt at the bottom of you sauce pan.

When the bacon has that melted see through look, add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Let them cook and soften for about 10 minutes to allow them to absorb the full flavor.

Combine the ground beef to the vegetables and let it brown over medium-high heat, for about 7-8 minutes. When the meat starts to “brown and sizzle” pure in the wine and let it evaporate completely.

Next, add the tomato with the broth; mix well cover the saucepan and allow simmer at very low heat, for about 2 to 3 hours.  During cooking, add the milk little by little.

Almost at the end of cooking, adjust salt and pepper, remove the lid and allow to thicken a bit more.

And there you have it. Buon Appetito!