Category Archives: Italian

Gnocchi with Pancetta and Snap Peas in Blush Sauce

Gnocchi pasta with blush sauce
Gnocchi with Pancetta and Snap Peas in Blush Sauce

Ingredients for 4:

2 pounds of potato gnocchi,
4 oz sliced and chopped pancetta,
2 garlic cloves, chopped,
1 shallot, chopped,
1 cup snap peas,
2 tablespoons olive oil,
1 cup pasta sauce,
1/2 cup 18% cream,
1 heaping tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese,
salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe:

1. Saute the garlic and shallot with the olive oil in a large heavy pan for 2 minutes.

2. Add the pancetta and snap peas and saute for 5 minutes more.

3. Add the pasta sauce and the cream and cook at medium heat for 5 minutes or until the desired consistency is achieved.

4. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

5. In the meantime, boil the gnocchi according the package instructions in a large saucepan with at least 4 liters of water. I usually boil them for about 3-4 minutes, or 1 minute after they all swim up to the surface of the water.

6. Strain the gnocchi with a colander and immediately toss them in the sauce. Serve and enjoy.

Cooking tip: I like my snap peas to have a little crunch, but if you like them softer you can blanch them before adding them to the frying pan.

Italian Escargot Recipe

Escargot in mushroom caps
Italian Escargot

Ingredients for 4 appetizers:

20 large escargots from a can,
20 small mushrooms, stems removed,
3 tablespoons butter,
3 garlic cloves, chopped,
1 oz. white wine,
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley,
1/4 cup grated mozzarella,
chopped chives or lemongrass (optional),
salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe:

This escargot recipe is similar to the Escargots à la Bourguignonne recipe with the major difference of using mushroom cups for serving it instead of the snail shells.

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy pan and saute the garlic for 1 or 2 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms and the escargot and cook until the mushrooms are soft.

3. Deglaze with the white wine and add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve the escargots in the mushroom cups, top each one with a little grated mozzarella cheese and drizzle the butter-garlic sauce from the pan over the escargots.

5. Broil each bowl under the broiler briefly until the cheese is fully melted and serve with garlic bread.

Did you know that some people consider the escargot as seafood, therefore suitable for vegetarians?

Mussels Marinara Recipe

Mussels marinara
Mussels Marinara

Ingredients:

1 kg fresh mussels,
3 tbsp. EV olive oil,
1 small yellow onion, chopped,
3 garlic cloves, chopped,
1 1/2 cup tomato passata,
1 cup diced canned tomato,
salt and pepper to taste,
1 teaspoon sugar,
1 tbsp. butter

Recipe:

Start by buying a kilo of fresh mussels. Make sure you check both, the harvest date and the best before date of your mussels. What I do after I get home is fill a saucepan with clean cold water, add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to it and let the mussels stay in the water for about 10 minutes. This re-invigorates the mussels and lets them get rid of any impurities within their shells, such as sand, mud, etc. If any mussel is open, tap on it and if it doesn’t close, discard it. If your mussels are fresh all of them should be alive, and closing fast when tapped.

1. Pour the rinced mussels in a colander and let them drain properly while yo are sauteeing the onion and garlic in the olive oil.

2. Add the mussels in the hot frying pan and saute for 4 minutes or until all of the mussels are open. Stir frequently.

3. Add the tomato passata, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook at high temperature for 5 minutes. Add the butter and sugar and cook for a couple of minutes more.

This mussles marinara recipe is very easy and extremely delicious. I find that by not using any herbs and not even white wine for cooking the mussels really reveals the subtle flavours of this amazing seafood.

Cooking tip: Make sure that you start sauteeing the mussels in a very hot heavy frying pan. That’s the only way to seal all the juices and enjoy the flavor that I’m describing. And, as I said above, don’t use any herbs and white wine that may disguise the flavor of the mussels. Enjoy.

Cannelloni Recipe

Cannelloni

Ingredients:

12 cannelloni shells,
1 lb. lean ground beef,
3 tablespoons olive oil,
1 yellow onion, chopped,
2 garlic cloves, chopped,
1 carrot, grated,
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese,
1 tablespoon chopped parsley,
1 pinch chili flakes,
1 tablespoon fresh basil,
1 whole egg,
salt and pepper to taste
2 cup tomato sauce

Recipe: In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the chopped onion, garlic and grated carrot for 5 minutes. Add the lean ground beef and broun it. Add the parsley and chili flakes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the egg, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Boil the cannelloni shells according to the package instructions. Season the filling and stuff the cannelloni shells. Pour some tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and arrange the cannelloni in it. Pour some more tomato sauce over them. Bake the cannelloni until the filling gets cooked, about 20 minutes. The canneloni can be served as an appetizer or a main course. Cheers.

Spaghetti Puttanesca Pasta Recipe

Spaghetti Puttanesca pasta
Pasta Puttanesca

Despite the notorious name and the story of how this name came about, spaghetti puttanesca is a great Italian pasta dish that is easy to make.

Ingredients:

1 lb. package of spaghetti (or linguine),
3 tbsp. EV olive oil,
1/4 cup sliced red onion,
3 garlic cloves, chopped,
5 anchovy fillets,
4 ripe plum tomatoes,
1 sprig of fresh basil,
1 teaspoon sweet paprika,
1 tbsp. capers from a jar,
1/4 cup Kalamata olives,
chili flakes to taste,
freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste,
salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Boil the spaghetti in a large pot of water and a teaspoon of salt until ‘al dente’. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan and saute the onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add the anchovies, chili flakes, diced tomatoes, paprika, chopped basil and capers. Stir well, then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes more. Add the olives, and cook just until heated. Season the putanesca sauce to taste. Strain the boiled spaghetti and toss them in the pan with the sauce. Serve the Spaghetti Puttanesca and sprinkle with some chopped basil and Parmesan cheese. This recipe yields 3 dinner entrees.

Arancini – Italian Rice Balls Recipe

Arancini Italian rice balls

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked risotto rice,
1 roasted red pepper, chopped,
1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives,
1 tbsp. “Italian Herbs” mix,
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella,
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder,
1 tbsp. chopped onion,
3 large eggs,
1/2 cup all-purpose flour,
2 tbsp. softened cream cheese,
1 cup each, Italian and panko breadcrumbs,
salt and white pepper to taste.

Recipe: Mix all the ingredients, except the eggs, breadcrumbs and flour, in a mixing bowl and season to taste. Use the mixture to make balls the size of a small lime. Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl. Pour the flour and the breadcrumbs in two separate mixing bowls. Bread all arancini balls by dipping them in the following order: flour-egg-breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the arancini until golden and crispy on the outside. I served the Arancini di Riso with roasted red pepper and garlic mayo for dipping. Enjoy.

The arancini are a great choice for a party appetizer and can be passed around on trays as finger-food.

Quattro Fromaggi – Four Cheese Pizza Recipe

Pizza quattro fromaggi
Quattro Fromaggi Pizza – Four Cheese Pizza Recipe

Ingredients:

1 pound pizza dough (recipe below),
1 cup pizza sauce (recipe below),
1 cup grated mozzarella,
1/2 cup grated provolone cheese,
1 pinch dry basil,
1 pinch dry oregano,
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese,
1 oz. grated Parmigiano cheese,
1 teaspoon olive oil,
1 teaspoon garlic flavored oil,
salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Sprinkle some flour and semolina mix on your kitchen counter and stretch the pizza dough to approximately 16 inches in diameter for XL pizza. Grease a pizza pan with the olive oil and place the pizza over it. Brush the pizza with the garlic flavored oil and apply the pizza sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella and provolone on top and season with the dry herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Cook in a preheated oven at 450 F until the edges and bottom of the pizza are golden, and the cheese is bubbly. If you notice that the top of the pizza is cooking faster than the bottom, remove the pizza pan and cook the pizza directly on the oven rack. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese on top 5 minutes before the three cheese pizza is ready, and the Parmigiano cheese right after it comes out of the oven. Cooking tip: Drizzle 1 teaspoon of pesto sauce over the pizza before cutting, if desired. If you don’t have a pizza oven, then it might be better to first half-cook the crust and then apply the toppings anf finish cooking the pizza, otherwise the bottom might still be quite under-done until the top is cooked. Slow proofing: If you would like to proof your pizza dough slowly, such as when you prepare it days in advance to using it, you can make your pizza dough with cold water and keep it in the fridge up to 5 days.

Pizza dough

Pizza Dough Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose white flour,
1 portion instant active dry yeast,
2 cups lukewarm water,
1 teaspoon salt,
1 teaspoon sugar,
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

Recipe: Pour flour, salt, sugar, yeast and olive oil in a mixing bowl or food processor and knead until you have smooth dough. Cover the pizza dough with plastic wrap in a bowl and leave it in a warm place to proof until it doubles in size. Use as much dough as you need. If there is leftover pizza dough, put it in a zip bag and store it in the refridgerator for up to 4 days. Fresh pizza dough can be frozen before proofing. Cut the dough to individual portions, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer until needed. Thaw the frozen pizza dough at room temperature. Once it is thawed, it will start proofing again. Freezing the pizza dough will not affect its quality once thawed.

Pizza Sauce Recipe:

Pizza sauce

Ingredients:

1 can (500) gr. crushed tomato passata,
1 can (4 oz.) tomato paste,
2 garlic cloves, chopped,
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil,
2 teaspoons sugar,
1 small onion, chopped,
1 tablespoon EV olive oil,
1 teaspoon dried oregano,
1/2 teaspoon chili powder,
salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes and add the rest of the ingredients except the basil. Simmer the pizza sauce for about 15-20 minutes. Cover the saucepan with a lid and stir often. Add the chopped basil 5 minutes before the sauce is ready. This pizza sauce recipe yields enough pizza sauce for about 4 medium size pizzas. Cooking tip: With the same ingredients you can prepare a pizza sauce without cooking. Simply blend briskly all the ingredients with a stick blender and let the sauce sit for half hour before using, in order to mix flavors. For the uncooked pizza sauce you can substitute the chopped onion with onion powder. If you chose to make the cooked pizza sauce, let it cool down a little bit before using it so your pizza cooks more evenly.

Stuffed Conchiglie – seashell pasta recipe

Conchiglie pasta
Stuffed Conchiglie – seashell pasta in spinach-cream sauce

Ingredients:

24 large seashell pasta – conchiglie,
1 cup gourmet mushroom mix, (agaricus, shitake, oyster mushroom)
1/2 package cream cheese,
1 small egg,
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese,
1/2 teaspoon onion powder,
1 cup 18% cream,
1 1/2 tablespoons butter,
2 chopped shallots,
1 garlic clove, chopped,
1 handful fresh baby spinach,
salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Boil the conchiglie until slightly al-dente, then train and cool them down in a ice bath. Heat the butter and saute briefly the mushrooms. In a mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese, egg, sautéed mushrooms, onion powder, ricotta cheese, and season the filling with salt and pepper. Stuff all seashells with the cream cheese filling. In a large skillet, heat the rest of the butter and saute the chopped shallots and garlic for 3 minutes, then add the cream. Bring to a boil and add the stuffed seashells. Lower the heat to simmer and cover with lid. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the stuffing is cooked. Add the spinach to the sauce 5 minutes before the seashell pasta is ready. If the sauce becomes too thick during the cooking, add some water or chicken stock in the skillet. This recipe is for 4 portions. I have added some asparagus to the sauce, but this is optional. Enjoy.