lunedì 26 ottobre 2015


Pasta entree - Vegetarian - Can be vegan, lactose and gluten free (READ footnotes)

I LOVE pasta with vegetables. In this case I cooked peas with pasta, so it can absorb part of the nutrients released in the water (something I do more times than I can actually count), and sauteed the other 2 veggies. If you're on a diet, it's a perfect dish: you can load the dish with zucchini and onions and reduce the pasta, so it will look fuller. If you don't want to sautee, you can just substitute the oil with water (in full or in part) and the deal is done!

1 lb Italian spinach-egg fettuccine
4 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen peas
3-4 tbsp pesto
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it boils add salt and peas, then bring back to boil. When it's rapidly boiling, add your fettuccine. Wait about 1 minutes, before stirring your pasta, so it won't break.

In the meantime, in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil (a couple tbsp should be enough) and sautee zucchini and onions until tender, use a few tbsp of water, if necessary.

When fettuccine are al dente, about 4-5 minutes, drain them and transfer to the skillet with the vegetables. Sautee for about 1-2 minutes and remove from heat.

Toss with pesto, until uniformly coated. If pesto is too thick, use a little bit of the cooking pasta water to thin it.

Serve immediately.

This recipe serves 4-6

- Always reserve some of the pasta cooking water, you never know when it can become handy ;-)
- Given the fact that pesto already has parmigiano (or pecorino or both), it's not advised to use more. But then... it's your dish so serve it as you please!
- It's vegetarian. Can be vegan & lactose free, if you avoid using cheese in pesto. Can be gluten free if you use GF pasta, like the one we sell here.

lunedì 19 ottobre 2015


Entree - Lactose free - Could be gluten free (READ footnotes)

Shirley, one of our friends, asked me my recipe for limoncello chicken... ehm... I don't have any, so I started talking with Luciano (of Luciano's Restaurant here in Reno) and then with two other FB friends Giovanna and Eleonora, both Italian living in California. This is the very rewarding result. I can assure you it's beyond easy!!!

1 chicken breast, sliced quite thin (about 6-8 slices total)
1 lemon, juice and grated zest
1 tbsp Sicilian capers, packed in salt and rinsed
1/3 cup limoncello
Italian 00 flour to dredge
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt
Few leaves of lemon and bee balm, chopped.

Roughly chop the capers. Pound the slices, if they are too thick, then dredge in flour on both sides, shaking off the excess.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil then briefly sautee capers and lemon zest. Add chicken breast slices and sautee until golden on both sides, season with salt.

Pour both lemon juice and limoncello, lower to medium heat and cook until done, turning slices once. It shouldn't take longer than 4-5 minutes per side, by then the cooking juice should be thick enough.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with the herbs, with a nice salad or sauteed/steamed vegetables.

This recipe serves 3-4.

- This is a very delicate recipe, DON'T use capers in vinegar or brine: the aftertaste will ruin the final result. The capers packed in salt don't have that aftertaste; anyway, since they are pretty strong, don't use more than 8-10 pieces.
- I used both lemon and bee balm leaves because they are "lemoney" and pair perfectly with this dish. You can also use parsley, if you like it; I wanted to prepare something totally different.
- This is really easy and quich to prepare, the final result is slightly sweet, due to limoncello. If you think you may not like it, use a little more lemon and a little less limoncello.
- If, when meat is ready, your cooking juice is not thick to your desire, just turn heat on high and boil for a minute or two.
- It's lactose free and, in order to have it gluten free, use corn starch instead of flour.

lunedì 12 ottobre 2015


Soup - Vegetarian/vegan - Lactose free - Can be gluten free (READ footnotes)

It's really not cold enough, for soups, but you can always enjoy it lukewarm or at room temperature. I love soups anytime... even in summertime (which is exactly the feeling here, being unseasonably HOT in Reno right now).

2 14-oz can Italian chickpeas (ceci), drained and rinsed
1 lb Italian small pasta
1 cup Italian peeled San Marzano tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 10-12 oz. bag of frozen spinach (or fresh)
1 10-12 oz. bag frozen green beans
1 medium potato, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
4 sage leaves, 1 rosemary and 1 satureja sprigs
8-10 cups vegetable stock, hot
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian sea salt

Tie the herbs together. Set aside half of the chickpeas.

In a saucepan (with lid) pour 8 cups of the stock (keep warm the remaining ones); add all the vegetables, the San Marzano and the other half of the chickpeas.

Bring to a boil then season with salt, if needed, and add the herbs; cook until vegetables are tender (about 20-25 minutes); remove the herbs.

Blend with an immersion blender (ora a regular one), until you obtain a creamy consistency. Bring back to boil and add the reserved chickpeas and the pasta.

Cook until pasta is "al dente", stirring in more broth, if the soup is too thick. Remember to stir pasta constantly or, because of the tickness, it will stick to the bottom and burn.

Serve in individual bowls drizzled with Italian extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe serves 6-8

- If, while cooking, you see that the soup becomes too thick, add a little warm broth. Do that every time you need.
- You can use Italian farro, instead of pasta.
- San Marzano tomatoes are the best peeled tomatoes (and the ones we carry have no salt - no "nothing" added!!!).
- This soup is great also at room temperature. It can also be frozen, in order to have a good quick AND HEALTHY dinner.
- Satureja is a herb that smells like oregano... it is great to fight the chickpeas and beans (not so welcome) side effects ;-). Try to find it...
- It's vegetarian/vegan, and lactose free! For a gluten free version, either use a GF pasta or Italian carnaroli rice.

lunedì 5 ottobre 2015


Entree - Can be lactose and gluten free (READ footnotes)

This recipe is the application of the risotto (you can find it here) into a pasta sauce. I LOVE squashes, butternut squash more than others...

1 lb Italian penne pasta
1 sausages, casing removed and crumbled
8 oz white mushrooms, diced
2 cups butternut squash, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup brandy
2 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil
Italian Sea salt

Bring water to a boil, then add salt and pasta; stir for the first minute or so, to avoid sticking.

While you wait for the water to boil, prepare the sauce.

In a large saucepan, warm the extra virgin olive oil and sautee onions and sausages until onions are translucent and sausages are lightly browned; now add mushrooms and butternut squash and sautee for 2 more minutes.

Deglaze pan with brandy, when it's evaporated, add a few tbsp of water to keep cooking vegetables, stirring.

Melt the cream cheese with a few tbsp of water and stir it in the sauce, "smashing" some butternut squash pieces with a fork; stir until it's completely incorporated.

Drain pasta al dente (o a little earlier, actually) and transfer it to the saucepan with the sauce. Sautee for a couple minutes, so pasta absorbs the sauce flavor.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

This recipe serves 4-6.

- Always remember to save some cooking water, before draining pasta: it will help in case the sauce gets too thick.
- I prefer to use sausage without fennel seeds (bratwurst) because they are overwhelming flavor.
- I used fat free cream cheese, to give a creamy texture.
- For a lactose free version, blend some squash with the pasta cooking water, in order to have a creamy texture. For a gluten free version, use GF Italian pasta (as the one we carry).