Pesto Genovese…Basil Pesto

This is one of the most important pasta recipes ever! Really….. I was reading last months issue of the Italian food magazine Sale e Pepe where there happened to be a dedication to Basil.   Among the basil related recipes was “THE” recipe for Pesto Genovese, this is the recipe recognized by the Consorzio del Pesto Genovese (yes there is a an actual consortium for pesto Genovese  and other Italian protected food types!).  I am so happy to have found, and to share this recipe with you  Pesto: The Magnificent  7 (ingredients). Let’s cook!

 

Pesto Genovese, Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: super easy
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In the original recipe they use a mortar and pestle, feel free to use either a food processor or blender, I tried both and got great results

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Ingredients

The Magnificent 7 

2 packed cups of basil leaves (just the leaves and the baby leaves work the best)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, if you can find oil from Riviera Ligure better yet!

6 Tbls parmesan reggiano

2 Tbls pecorino romano imported

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbls pignoli nuts

Sea Salt course grind

1 lb of pasta, linguine or trenette

Directions

With a mortar pestle, blender or food processor combine the above ingredients, mix or blend until creamy and ingredients are incorporated.  Set aside, if making ahead, cover or seal in an airtight container to keep the top layer from browningIMG_1333.JPG

-Add water to a pasta pot, bring to boil,  add the pasta cook to al dente indication on package….drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  In a pasta bowl, add the pasta and mix with the pesto, if necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy pasta.

Serve

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

 

 

Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Peppers, Oh My!

A classic pasta dish in Italy, loved by all, quick, easy and made with few ingredients, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (Garlic, Olive oil and Hot Pepper).   It is hard to believe a plate so simple can be so full of flavor. For a different twist,  I added sweet peppers to the original recipe.  Nothing could be better to serve on a quiet Saturday night, open a bottle of red wine and your all set!  Lets cook!!

Linguini with Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Sweet Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Simple yet flavorful,  this pasta dish is always a big hit

Ingredients

1 lb imported linguine or spaghetti

3 cups of mixed sweet peppers, red and yellow finely diced

6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed

6 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 hot pepper chopped *heat index as you prefer, note this is a spicy, snappy dish

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped

3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

    -Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil while you prepare the sauce

    -Add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper in a wok style skillet large enough to finish off your linguine, on low heat lightly brown the garlic

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  • When the garlic is lightly brown, add the sweet peppers, stirring on a medium heat until the peppers start to break down and soften, add salt and freshly ground pepper
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    -Add the parsley, at this point you can take the sauce off the heat while you wait for your linguine

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    -Add sea salt to the boiling water then add your package of linguine

    -Cook your linguine 1 minute less than package indicates, you will finish it off with the pepper sauce

    -With a spaghetti fork, lift the linguine out of its water, draining as you lift, and mix into the pepper sauce, on a lively heat continue mixing.  Once the linguine is in the pan, add the parmesan cheese, mix well, then serve

Buon Appetito

Mickey

 

 

Bicolor Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

We love this salad as a side to beef or chicken dishes.

Bicolor Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Love this salad with my Beef Paillard recipe, the perfect side

Ingredients

1 head of romaine lettuce

1/2 head of radicchio of Chioggia (round shaped)

10-12 small baby heirloom tomatoes

1 red onion or 2 knobby white onions

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil  (to taste)

1 tbls red or white wine vinegar (to taste)

sea salt fine

black pepper ground

Directions

-Clean and dry both lettuces chop or cut into bit sized pieces add to salad bowlIMG_1142.JPG

-Thinly slice the onions add to salad bowlimg_1143.jpg

-Wash and cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters (depending on the size) add to salad bowlIMG_1144.JPG

-season with salt and pepper to taste

-add oil and vinegar (note- this is also to taste, the above amounts are a guideline) toss well and serve

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

Catch of the day, Gilt head Sea Bream (Orata) Simply Grilled

In Venice we love fish, there is nothing to say.   Growing up in Pittsburgh my fish knowledge was limited, we ate fish, but it was not the mainstay of our diet.  When I moved to Venice,  this was an area in my culinary knowledge that really needed ramping up.  So, to do that,  I ate lots of fish, tried lots of recipes, and then went to cooking school to learn about fish preparation ….(can’t wait to share all the great recipes with you!!)

This is a really simple, easy, healthy  way to grill any fish.  I know cooking a whole fish can be scary, but leaving the body intact is worth it, it ensures a more  flavorful fish….believe me!!

 

Simply Grilled Sea Bream

  • Servings: 1 per person (small)
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This is so easy, have your fish vendor clean and scale a whole fish for you it can elevate the backyard bbq!!

Ingredients

-Sea Bream or any whole small to medium sized fish cleaned and scaled

-sea salt gross grain

-extra virgin olive oil

Directions

-Heat the grill on high heat indirect

-generously sprinkle sea salt on the fish

-turn the grill down to medium low direct heat

-place the fish on the grates

-with grill lid down, cook  the fish for 8-12 minutes per side, noting the cooking time will  depend on the size of each fish (note- the fish will release easily from the grill grate when they are ready to turn, wait, or you will destroy the outer skin,  start checking around the 8 minute mark, if the skin is still sticking the fish is not ready to turn)IMG_0698

-place the fish on a large platter and dribble with  olive oil

-the fish will be easy to clean  remove the top outer skin and make incisions along the two sides and pull back the top.

Buon Appetito !!

Pasta 101

Before we go any further,  I think it is time to get down to some basics and one of them is Pasta.  Pasta….is a basic here in Italy.  Sometimes the easiest dishes are the hardest to get perfect.  Pasta seems easy, but when not cooked properly it  can end up a soggy, starchy mess.   The following recipe Pasta 101, will walk you through a step by step method for cooking dried pasta and ensuring it is al dente (firm to the bite) every time !

I will accompany the Pasta 101 recipe with a nice,  Springtime  fresh chunky tomato sauce with thyme.  

Lets get started!!

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Pasta 101

  • Servings: 2-3
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This is one of my Basic recipes and can be used  for all types and sizes of pastas.

Ingredients

-1/2 pound or 250 grams of pasta

-water

-sea salt

-sauce to accompany pasta

Directions

-In a large pot fill 3/4 with cold water and place on high heat burner, bring to rolling boil, add between 1 and 2 tablespoons of gross grain sea salt (note- salt is our friend in Italian cooking, and we aren’t afraid of it!! )

-Add the pasta, stirring.   Please respect the time indicated on the pasta package.  (note- pasta companies are not misleading you, they are pretty accurate with their cooking times so use your timer)

-Set time for 1 minute less than  time indicated, you will finish  cooking your pasta in the  hot skillet with it’s accompanying sauce. (note- keep the pasta water until you have finished the dish, we will use the water to elongate the sauce if needed)…..Cold sauces and  sauces mixed with drained pasta we will discuss later!!

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-depending on the type,  use one of these tools to take the pasta out of it’s boiling water and into the sauce of choice.FullSizeRender 7

The fork for all your long pastas, spaghetti, fettucini, bucatini etc… and the draining spoons for penne, rigatoni, and those types.

-When the timer sounds, pick the pasta out of the water,  give it a few seconds to drain over the pot…. you don’t want to carry lots of excess water  into the sauce.

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-with a lively flame or on a medium setting ,stir the pasta with it’s sauce for another minute, if you need more liquid use the hot pasta  water, taste for doneness, it should be al dente.  (note- the cheese can be added while the pasta is cooking to combine all of your flavors)IMG_0717

Buon Appetito!!

 

Springtime fresh chunky tomato sauce with thyme

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe can be easily adjusted just add more tomatoes and thyme!!

Ingredients

1-2 large ripe tomatoes chopped

-1 clove of garlic

-1 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt and pepper

-2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions

-In a wok style skillet, large enough to hold your quantity of pasta add the olive oil and garlic clove. On a low heat lightly brown the garlic.IMG_0710

-Add the chopped tomatoes,   sea salt, pepper and thyme.   Stir and let simmer while your pasta is boiling.FullSizeRender copy 2

-When the pasta is ready (see above) add to the skillet and stir cooking for 1 minute with a lively heat…adding pasta water if the sauce seems to be dry…. taste for salt.  Either add cheese on or off flame.

Buon Appetito !!

It’s Artichoke Season!!!! Artichokes 3 Ways

In Italy one of the most exciting seasons  is “Artichoke season”….We love, love, love our artichokes, prepared in every which way.  To start today, I am cooking with  3 different types of artichokes , preparing them in 3 different ways…..The first, a spiny leafed artichoke with a long stem attached is from the Italian Island of Sardinia.  Carciofo_14476198380142

Next,  the  Roman Artichoke, this artichoke is similar to what we find in our American grocery stores.  In my following recipe I will only be using the bottoms of these Roman artichokes.  In Italy, we can easily find artichoke bottoms at our vegetable vendor.  There is a technique for cutting away the artichoke while keeping it’s bottom intact,   you are welcome to try it…..I will give a lesson on this in a upcoming blog.FullSizeRender 6

And finally, the third type are the small flower top blooms which we call Bottoli, in America we call them “baby artichokes”.FullSizeRender 4

The following recipes are fast, easy, and healthy, don’t forget Artichoke have tons of health benefits sooooooo  eat up!!!

Buon Appetito

Basic Baby Artichokes

  • Servings: 15 baby artichokes
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe is one of my   “BASIC” recipes, meaning the recipe is used as a base for other dishes ie….Risotto con Carcofi or Pasta with Artichokes.

Ingredients

-15 baby artichokes  (bottoli)

-3  garlic cloves peeled and smashed with a knife

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-3/4 cups of water

-small knob of butter (optional)

-fresh parsley, chopped fine

-sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

-First,  pull off all the outer leaves of the artichokes, cut the tops straight across where the last spiny tipped leaf ends.  Then with a paring knife peel the outer layer of the stem and cut the very bottom of the stem.  When finished they should look like the photo below.

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-In a heavy bottom pot, like a Le Creuset  enameled,add the olive oil and the smashed garlic cloves, on med/low heat lightly brown the garlic.

-Add the artichokes, water,  a palm of parsley, sea salt, pepper and if you like a small knob of butter.  Cook covered on low heat until  artichokes become tender.  They should cook in  15-20 minutes depending on their size and the amount of outer leaves they have.

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Artichoke Bottoms with Fried Parsley and Garlic Chips

  • Servings: 6 artichoke bottoms
  • Difficulty: easy
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A great side dish or vegetarian entree.

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Ingredients

-6 artichoke bottoms

-3 large garlic cloves

-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

-1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped fine

-sea salt and pepper

Directions

-In a pot large enough to fit your artichoke bottoms cover with water, add sea salt and bring to a boil.  Boil until a fork is easily inserted through the thickest part of the bottom. Drain and plate.

-Peel the 3 garlic cloves and slice thinly as possible

-Chop the parsleyIMG_0681

-While boiling the bottoms, in a small heavy skillet add the olive oil and the garlic chips making sure that they are not overlapping.  On low heat bring the oil to a boil and watch carefully as not to burn the garlic (note-once the garlic browns you can turn the heat off noting that it will continue to brown until the oil cools).  Add the parsley into the boiling oil when garlic is golden brown and cook another minute.IMG_0685.JPGIMG_0686

 

– On the plated artichoke bottoms, divide the garlic chips and parsley and  the seasoned olive oil.

Buon Appetito !!

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Simple Grilled Artichokes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Easy, easy, easy and so good!!

Ingredients

-4 large artichokes with stems

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

-sea salt large ground

-3 large garlic cloves pressed

Directions

-with a paring knife, peel the outer layer of the stem, and cut of the bottom end.

-cut the artichokes in half,  remove the fuzzy, spiny  pulp in the center of the choke, careful not to remove the heart.  Remove the outermost leaves, then, cut  the top of the artichoke in a place where the pointy tops are all cut off (note-this will make sense when you see the artichoke without the outermost leaves)

-Place all the artichokes in a large enough pot to boil without having to cut off the stems or bend them add sea salt and bring to boil.  Boil for 8-10  minutes until the artichokes soften. Drain and place on a paper towel while you heat the grill.IMG_0651

-while the artichokes are boiling, clean the garlic and using a garlic press, press the garlic into the olive oil and set aside.

-on a hot grill direct  medium heat,place the artichokes  with a brush, paint the garlic oil mixture on the artichokes and add the sea salt being generous.  Turn and do the same with the other side.  Cook until the artichokes are golden brown.

Plate and enjoy

Buon Appetito!!