lunedì 27 luglio 2015


Appetizer or entree - Lactose free - Can be gluten free (read footnotes)

We love salads but, sometimes, they become a little boring. We love farro, richer in fibers and protein than rice and with a distinct nutty flavor that goes perfectly with lots of dishes... I combined the things, the only cooking time is for farro: you can cook a lot of it, and keep it in an airtight container in the refigerator.

4 big tomatoes, ripe but firm
3/4 cup Italian farro
1 can Italian tuna packed in olive oil
1/2 red onion
Italian sea salt

Bring a pot of water to a boil; when it boils, add salt, then farro and stir. Cook until al dente (about 25 minutes), drain and spread on a towel to cool down to room temperature.

In teh meantime, cut the top of the tomatoes, empty the tomatoes and keep both the pulp and the top, sprinkle with a little salt and arrange on a colander upside down, to drain water.

Drain tuna from its oil and crumble it; reserve the oil. Dice the tomato pulp.

Thinly slice onions and place them in a big bowl, then add farro, onions and the tomato pulp; season with salt and the tuna oil. Toss to combine evenly.

Take the tomatoes and stuff with the farro mixture, cover with the tomato "lid" and refrigerate until it's time to serve.

This recipe serves 4 (as long as tomatoes are big enough)

- You can add some freshly chopped (or dried) parsley to the farro mixture.
- You can prepare this dish one day in advance and keep them in an airtight container.
- It's great in a mixed appetizer, if small, or also as entree.
- If you have too much stuffing, serve it by the tomato's side.
- Try to get Italian tuna (like the Tonnino we have in stock): it's of a higher quality and comes in chunks of fillets!
- It's lactose free and can be gluten free, provided that you use rice instead of farro which, being a grain, contains gluten.

martedì 21 luglio 2015


Appetizer - Vegetarian - Lactose free - Can be gluten free (read footnotes)

Sunday I was talking to my sister in Italy and, as usual, we talked about food, too!! She has always been an amazing cook just like mom (no, not like grandma who was a terrible cook ;-) but we loved her anyway) and always comes up with interesting things. We were talking about zucchini blossoms that, both in my garden and in our parents', grow wildly... she suggested to bake them, instead of frying them and I tried. I realized I made a couple mistakes so the blossoms in the picture don't look great but.... they were! I'll try a couple more variations, when I'll have more blossoms ready. If you don't grow zucchini yourselves, go to a farmers' market: many times they have it; if not, just ask a seller if they could keep the blossoms for you and bring them the following week.

Zucchini blossoms (3-4 each person)
Breadcrumbs, non flavored, fine texture
Large eggs
Italian sea salt
Italian extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Arrange breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.

Dip blossoms in eggs, then in breadcrumbs making sure they are tightly sticking to both sides of the blossom (which will be flat, by then).

Lightly grease a baking dish with Italian extra virgin olive oil (otherwise you'll not be able to detach them), arrange the blossoms on a single layer (possibly not toughing each other) and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Place the dish on the rack immediatley below the broiler, turn it on and cook until top is golden (it won't take long), then flip blossoms and do the same for the other side.

The serving numbers vary depending on the number and the size of blossoms.

- I have not specified any quantities because they depend on the number of blossoms you have. In my case, for 10 blossoms, I used 2 large eggs (beaten with a little milk - which would make them no longer lactose-free) and about 2 cups of crumbs (which I like more coarse, and I make my own). I had some leftovers for both.
- It's a perfect appetizer.
- I forgot to drizzle the blossoms so the breadcrumbs "burnt" on the edges.
- Given the vicinity of the broiled, I highly suggest NOT to use parchment paper.
- It's vegetarian (even though not vegan) and it's lactose free. For gluten free, use gluten free breadcrumbs.
- For the traditional battered and fried blossoms recipe, check our post here and our video here

lunedì 13 luglio 2015


Side-dish - Vegetarian & vegan - Lactose and Gluten free

I grow rainbow Swiss chards in our backyard and they grow quite well. They are perfect this way, super quick and easy. Oh, by the way, this is the REAL Italian dressing: Extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, vinegar or lemon juice, ground pepper if you like it.

2 bunches Swiss chards
1/2 cup Italian extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Italian wine vinegar
1 tsp Italian sea salt

Separate chards' stems from leaves and thoroughly wash them.

Cut stems in pieces and leaves in strips. Start cooking stems in a little salted water and cook them until almost tender, then add leaves' strips and finish cooking (they'll cook super fast).

Drain your chards and let them cool down to room temperature.

In the meantime, prepare the REAL Italian dressing.

In a little bowl whisk together salt and vinegar, until salt dissolves, then add oil in a thin stream, whisking. This way the dressing will increase its volume. Pour on top of the chards, stir to combine evenly and let rest for 5-10 minutes, so all the flavors will distribute nicely.

Serves 4

- You can reserve the water for future use, like in soups.
- You can use either red or white wine vinegar. You can also use balsamic vinegar.
- For an extra kick, you can use a fruity balsamic (fig, honey, pear or apple) or even a thick balsamic glaze.
- Given the little number of ingredients, it's imperative that you use only high quality ones!!!
- This recipe is lactose and gluten free, vegetarian and vegan.

lunedì 6 luglio 2015


Entree - Lactose and gluten free

I find some ground turkey at a really good price, so I bought some. This is the result of some thinking... the great thing is that this recipe is gluten and lactose free!!! Oh, remember that in Italy meatballs are not usually served with pasta, but as a second course. In early 1900, Italian workers were bringing their food at work and, since they could not take too many containers with them, wives would put pasta, meat and veggies all together. That's how "spaghetti and meatballs" was born! :-)

1 lb ground turkey
2 links bratwurst, casing removed and crumbled
1 14-oz can Italian chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 or 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
A few tbsp broth, chicken or vegetable
1 14-oz can Italian San Marzano tomatoes with their juice, roughly crushed
Frozen peas
Italian extra virgin olive oil and sea salt

Blend the chickpeas with broth until you obtain a smooth cream and put it in a bowl; add turkey, bratwurst, parsley, salt and mix well to combine all ingredients.

Shape as walnut-size meatballs; lightly oil a non-stick skillet (with lid) with Italian extra virgin olive oil and pan sear the meatballs (on top and bottom).

Add the tomatoes and the peas and simmer until cooked through.

Serve immediately.

- With these quantities I made about 30 meatballs and 4 hamburger patties.
- If you have some left, you can freeze them separate and use them when you need.
- You'll see that the chickpeas give a different moist to both the meatballs and/or the patties.
- Some grated parmigiano would be perfect, I just didn't have any at home, believe it or not!!!
- This is a lactose and gluten free recipe.