Venetian style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta)

Baccala' alla Veneta

Baccalà alla Veneta (Venetian style Cod fish) is salted cod: codfish that has been dried and preserved in salt.  In the past it was considered the food of the poor, because cheap and not fresh.  The truth, though, is that nowadays is quite an expensive kind of sea food and well cooked baccalà is a delight: firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor.  Baccala' alla Veneta

I made Baccala’ this past Christmas Eve because it’s a traditional Christmas Eve’s dish in the Northern Italy, but I found the courage to post it only today, not because it’s hard to prepare, but just because it was a  little tricky to me explaining in English the method!

As I told already, Venetian Style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta) is actually stock fish or dried cod. What the rest of Italy calls stoccafisso the “Vicentini” call baccalà, simmered in milk until it becomes libidinously creamy. However, my recipe is unique* because as a child I’ve lived at the border between two Italian “counties” (province): Vicenza and Treviso, so my mother’s styled Baccala’ it’s a mix of the traditional recipes of these two areas.

Before starting with ingredients and method, be aware that Baccalà requires soaking ahead of time,  since it is heavily salted for preservation. Many Italian delicatessens sell pre-soaked baccalà on Fridays, but I recall my mom preferring to buy it and soak it herself, because cheaper, and because she could select the piece she wanted and tailor the soaking to fit it.

Here in Mid West I could easily find a “salted codfish” stored in 1 lb. sized wooden box. To prepare it, I rinsed the salt off and soaked it in cold water for 12 or more hours, depending upon its thickness (remember to keep it refrigerated during soaking,) changing the water 2 to 3 times. Once it has soaked, this kind of cod fish is ready to be cooked.

DIRECTION for a very big pan of baccala’

2 lbs. sea salted cod – 1 kg. baccala’

1 clove garlic – 1 spicchio d’aglio

1 lb. white onion  – 500 gr. cipolle bianche

1 pinch nut meg  – 1 pizzico noce moscata

about 1/4 gal. whole milk – 1 litro di latte intero

1 tbs. Italian parsley to taste – prezzemolo quanto basta

14 oz. Extra Virgin olive oil – 1/2 lt. olio extravergine di oliva

flour for breading – farina per la panatura

1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese – 100 gr. Parmigiano gratuggiato

7 anchovies – 7 acciughe

DIRECTION

First of all make sure to have all the ingredients ready to go: peel and finely chop the onions, peel the garlic, wash and finely chop the parsley, grate the parmesan and pat dry the anchovies. Bread the cod fillets, previously pat dried.

In a very large nonstick pan heat about  8 oz. (250 ml.) Extravergin olive oil and garlic and then cook the cod filets on all sides until brow, at high heat. It will take about five minutes.

Once browned, throw the garlic away, move the cod filets in a plate, add a little of Extravegin olive oil to the same pan and cook the mix of onions, parsley and anchovies for about 5 minutes at lower heat, stirring every now and then to avoid burning.

After about 5 minutes, add the browned cod filets to the onion and keep cooking until the onion becomes translucent and the cod starts breaking in smaller pieces. Add the parmesan and the nutmeg and keep stirring occasionally until the onion is completely cooked. It will take about 8-10 minutes.

Warm up half of the milk (a couple of minutes in the microwave), move the mix in a oven pan, cover the mix with the milk and bake at 360 F (180 C) for about one hour. If after 30 minutes the cod seems too dry, add the rest of milk (previously warmed up). When done, your cod fish will have a yummy crunchy crust on top.

Let the cod cool off a few minutes and serve still warm, possibly sided with polenta.

OMG, this dish is simply heaven! Your house will smell delicious and not “fishy” at all!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS AND FACTS:

– Venetian style Cod Fish usually crumbles on the plate when served and I wasn’t able to get a decent picture to post. That is why I used the one from the cook book my mom’s has taken as inspiration*, as feature image (sorry about that!). The book I am talking about  is called “Cucina e Tradizione nel Veneto“, it’s very old and probably not on the market anymore. It’s a collection of Venetian recipes written by the “ISTITUTI ALBERGHIERI DEL VENETO” and this is the cover’s picture:

– Venetian style Cod Fish is a very rich food (think about the quantity of olive oil needed). That’s why it doesn’t require special side dishes but polenta (or maybe a simple salad).

– Leftovers can be frozen and taste absolutely the same when thaw. I usually freeze it in small portions to have just enough for one meal.

– Some fancy Italian Bars serve Baccala’ as appetizer, scooped in small cups over a polenta serving. It warms the tummies and goes very well with “SPRITZ“.

– As I told you, while you soak the cod the previous day, you’ll have to keep it refrigerated. Well, if the baked cod smells delicious, the dried one smells terribly, so I would suggest to cover it with a plastic foil, and – if cold enough – to store it in the garage or in a second refrigerator away from kitchen and living room (LOL).

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE YOU EVER EATEN BACCALA’?

WOULD YOU TRIED IT, AFTER READING MY POST?

I HOPE SO !!!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

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Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

Baked sea scallops au gratin: with shells is so much fancier!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice week (at least we finally had some sunny days here in IOWA).

Today I would like to share with you my recipe for baked scallops au gratin (Cape Sante gratinate). Maybe some of you don’t know that in Italy (and in other parts of Europe for sure) scallops are sold at fish markets still in their shells and in all their parts (not only the “abductor muscle”, the white meaty part but also the orange “coral”), and even when you go to eat sea food in Italian restaurants, scallops are always served in their shells and with their orange part (the roe or coral) still attached. I’ve surfed on the  web to try to find out the reasons why scallops in the Mid West are sold only out of their shells and without the roe, and some are economical (is much cheaper to commercialize scallops without their shells and inflated with water) and others are apparently for safety reasons. Anyway, in my opinion whole fresh scallops in their shell is something that should absolutely be tried at least once in life, because the taste is much better and intense (the roe is delicious, in taste it is very similar to the scallop muscle itself, only a bit more briny; which to some, is a major bonus)  and because – and I think you could agree with me – they look much more appealing!

By the way, you all know I live in the USA, so, to overcome my problem (sea scallops without the shell)  I bought the shells online and prepared my scallops the Italian way. Once again you will forgive me if the quantities of ingredients I will provide are just merely indicative because this recipe is one of those where I always eyeball the ingredients.  Remember to rinse your scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel before to place them in the shells. Preparing them will take just few minutes and baking time is approximately 20-30 minutes.  It’s the perfect appetizer for impressing your guests, or for a romantic dinner (don’t forget their aphrodisiac attributes).

INGREDIENTS FOR 12 SCALLOPS (4 servings)

12 scallop’s shells

12 fresh scallops washed and patted dry

fresh parsley finely chopped

about 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil

2-3 tbs. Brandy or Cognac

sea salt to tast

about 2/3 tbs. plain crumble bread

powdered garlic to taste (optional)

lemon slices for decoration

DIRECTIONS

Rinse you fresh scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Arrange the shells in a big (or two smalls) oven sheet and place the mollusks in the “corner” of each shell (this way the dressing you are about to add, will cover completely the scallops).

Prepare the dressing: in a 8 oz. sized bowl mix 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil, 2-3 tbs. cognac (or brandy), 1 pinch sea salt, a couple tsp. finely chopped parsley, 1 pinch powdered garlic and – one at a time – two or three tbs. crumbled bread.

Cover the scallops with about two tbs. of the dressing  and keep adding it until it’s all gone.Bake at 400 F. (200 C.) for about 20 to 30 minutes. Your scallops will be ready when the dressing starts to become golden and crispy. 

Serve you scallops still hot with few lemon slices (some of your guests may like the idea of sprinkling few drops of lemon on top of their scallops) and don’t forget to warn about the temperature of the shells! They will be super hot!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – some people panfry the scallops in butter or oil before baking them because apparently it gives it extra taste. In my humble opinion, if the scallops are really fresh, there is no need to add extra fat on them, they will be super tasty just baked!

– don’t try to speed up the baking process by heating the oven at more than 400 F. The excessive heat will burn the oil and the scallops will be ruined.

– Sea scallops can be a very nice appetizer but when I prepare them (my kids won’t touch them) for my husband and I, twelve are enough to fill up our bellies!

– The scallop dressing is absolutely delicious so when you serve them, don’t forget to leave on the table a big bread loaf… you’ll need the bread to clean up the shells! YUM!

– The shells I bought are dishwasher proof, so I can wash and reuse them each time!

Tell me, have you ever eaten scallops in their shells? with or without coral ?

How did you like it the most?

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, leave a comment to support my blog! And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my weekly recipe directly at your email address!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

 

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10 Italian meals ideas to obseve Lent in a relaxed way

I’ve already told you that most Italians are catholic (even though the number of atheists has increased a lot lately), and because of our historic legacy with Vatican, Italians have grown up being taught mainly Catholicism. I am catholic as well, and I do observe fasting from meat starting from Ash Wednesday and every following Fridays until Easter, so I would like to share with you some of my favorite recipes that I prepare to make sure my family follows this religious tradition every year. These recipes will make your menu appealing (and different from the boring “FISH AND CHIPS”) even for your possible guests or member of the family that doesn’t follow any religious rule, without spending a fortune, and variating from seafood to vegetarian dishes.. I would add that skipping meat every now and then is also very healthy, so even if you don’t plan to follow Lent fast, well, you may enjoy this “meat free” list anyway!

1. TUNA FISHBALLS : Easy, fast, kids friendly and perfect for a cold lunch or light supper. 2. TUNA PASTA SALAD  : Fill the bellies of those more hungry with a delicious and fresh pasta, ready in 20 minutes, light and cheap.

3. OVEN BAKED SALMON: Baked in twenty minutes, kids friendly, super tasty and healthy.

4. BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PORCINI RISOTTO: make sure you use vegetable stock and here you go a filling meal, perfectly suitable for a fancy  “meat free” dinner.

5. WHITE WINE RISOTTO: If you are fond of “risotto”, this options is absolutely perfect even if you promised to give up drinking alcohol for Lent. All the wine will evaporate while cooking, but the risotto will keep the wine aftertaste. And if you need to review the rules for a perfect risotto, give a quick look here.

6. EGGPLANT LASAGNA: you will load your plate with a scrumptious “meat and carbs free” entrée, and enjoy it to the very last bite.

7. CAULIFLOWER AU GRATIN: Another delicious way to bake veggies in a healthy way and that will conquer even the more demanding palates.

8. ITALIAN COLORS SANDWICH: In case you need a meal to go, this sandwich is perfect and delicious, and, obviously, meat free. 9. ITALIAN BRUSCHETTA: while watchin a sports match, or just on a lazy (cooking free) Friday night. 10. VEGETABLE SOUP, BUTTERNUT SOUP, PORCINI SOUP, LEEKS SOUP: Very good for detoxing, energizing, fasting, of course soups are always a smart meal to warm up yourself and stay light.

I could go ahead and list more menu ideas, but first I would like to know if you found this one useful at all… Did you? If you’d like more Italian idea for a good “meat free meal” just leave a comment, and I will collect more good recipes just for you! 

Talk to you soon!

Silvia

Oven baked, bacon wrapped, cod fish. Light, crunchy, and so good!

Many times you have heard me complaining about how much I miss seafood living in Midwest. When we lived in Italy we could easily have access to seafood market twice a week just down the stairs of our apartment, along the alleys of the our middle-age walled hometown (Cittadella, PD, Italy). Anyway, place you leave, new habits to develop! And this super easy, fast, light recipe fits perfect our crave for sea food, satisfying even my little ones, which love the light taste of cod, and adore the aftertaste of baked bacon.     One curiosities about Italy is that in the Region I come from (Veneto), cod fish is very popular, and some of the most popular recipe with cod fish are “baccala’ mantecato” and “baccala’ alla veneta“.

Going back to the recipe, this one could really be perfect for any kind of meal, even if you want to impress your guests, and the ingredients are so simple that (besides the cod), you probably already have them all at home! This time I chose a 4-5 servings dose (about two pounds) to feed my numerous family, but ingredients could be easily reduced or increased according to the amount of people you intend to feed ! Moreover, considering the delicate taste of the cod, you can pick whichever side dish to pair with it (a simply salad would be great), but if you have some “extra time” and you like baked potatoes, you can bake them while you bake the cod, only for a longer time. 

INGREDIENTS for 4-5 (adults) servings

2 pd. fresh cod fish loins

2-3 tbs. dried or fresh thyme

about 1 pd. slices of smoked bacon

plain bread crumbs

Panko bread crumbs

about a cup milk

optional: 1 pd. red potatoes peeled and cut in cubes

olive oil and sea salt to taste

Directions

In case you decided to make bake potatoes along  with the cod, peel and cut them in cubes, spread them with olive oil and panko bread. Arrange the potatoes in a baking sheet previously covered in parchment, keeping the cubes pretty far to each other to obtain a “crunchy” result.   Preheat the oven at 420 F. (200 C) – Convection. Be aware that the potatoes will need about 45-60 minutes to get ready, while the cod will need only 30 minutes. So, start baking the potatoes ahead of time, flipping them about every 20 minutes, and start baking the cod only 30 minutes before the potatoes will be done. Remember to salt the potatoes before to serve them.

Back to the cod: Mix the different kinds of breadcrumbs and the thyme to prepare the breading. Cut the cod fish loins in pieces of the quite same dimensions.

Drench the cod pieces in the milk one at a  time and bread them in the crumbs mix. Wrap the cod in bacon and arrange it in an oven sheet previously covered with parchment.

Bake the cod for about 15 minutes and then, flip the slides and bake for the same amount of time. Serve still warm with some fresh vegetable and (if you like) with a slice of lemon and/or if you had the time to made the potatoes, with them!

YUMMMMM!   LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tip: – baked cod leftovers will be still good, only not as crisp as just baked.

– to make this recipe you can use even frozen cod, but remember to thaw it ahead of time, and that probably the frozen fish will release a lot of water while baking, so the result will be less crunchy than with the fresh one.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,
share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe to  receive every week one new recipe for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Baked Salmon and potatoes, let’s give this Easter a different taste!

I know Sunday is going to be Easter, so many of you have probably already chosen the menu for this special holiday. So why am I suggesting to you a different option?

Colomba Pasquale
Colomba Pasquale

To begin with, I should inform you that, in Italy, the typical Easter meal is a baked lamb (as a Catholic tradition), with many side dishes and a special dessert called “Colomba Pasquale” (Easter Dove). It’s no wonder that, every year at this time, many animal rights associations start advertising against this practice, and suggest vegan or vegetarian alternatives.

When I moved here I learnt that a typical Midwest Easter meal is a huge baked ham, which I had the chance to taste at a friend’s house- it was definitely delicious!!! And I have to admit that, so far, I haven’t heard any kind of animal rights association protest in defense of piglets’ rights. (Why in the world would they inspire less pity than lambs?!?!) Anyway, I am curious- is baked ham also part of the Easter tradition in your area?

Since both the dishes I’ve listed above require many hours to be prepared, they could jeopardize the time you get to spend celebrating the holiday with your family. So perhaps, instead of missing all the fun of Easter morning so you can cook, you could opt for a quick but fancy lunch!

This baked salmon and potatoes will be ready in about one hour, will make a colorful and festive impression to your family, and for sure will make everybody happy (the potatoes will turn out as chips, but more healthy!).

Just one suggestion: when it is time to pick the salmon, consider spending a little more for a “wild caught” instead of a “farm raised” (7 reason to avoid farm raised salmon), so you’ll be sure to eat food which is good for you!

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INGREDIENTS FOR 4 to 6 SERVINGS

1 big salmon fillet (better if fresh)

4-6 medium red potatoes (I usually consider 1 potato per person)

1/2 medium sized white onion

2 tbs. canned diced tomatoes (drained)

2 tsp. thyme (fresh or dry)

3 tsp. rosemary (fresh or dry)

1 tbs. crushed red pepper (optional)

4 tbs. olive oil

sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

 Marinate your salmon by brushing it with a couple tbs. of olive oil, dusting it with the herbs (2 tsp. thyme and 2 tsp. rosemary) and if your family likes spicy food, add also the crushed red pepper. You can cook the whole filet or cut in in slices. In a separate bowl, drain the diced tomatoes from all their water.

In the meanwhile,  peel the skin off the potatoes and cut them very thin (I would say about 0.3 inch). If you want them to be perfectly the same thick, use a slicer.  Peel and cut the onion into very thin crescents.

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In a big bowl, combine the potatoes with the sliced onion, 1 tsp. rosemary, a couple of pinches sea salt, the diced tomatoes, and the remaining olive oil. (I’ve suggested you a quantity but of course, the more olive oil you use to dress your potatoes, the more crunchy and tasty they will be.)

Heat the oven to 420 F. Cover a baking  sheet with parchment and arrange the potatoes as spread-out as you can on the sheet you have, leaving a spot for the salmon (you may need a second baking sheet for the extra potatoes, if the salmon takes up a lot of room).

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Since the potatoes take longer to bake, you will put the trays with *just the potatoes* in the oven and cook them for about 35 minutes first. After 35 minutes they should look golden on the top, so take them out of the oven, flip them upside down (for cooking them also on the other side) and then place the salmon in the spot you left for it.

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Cook in the oven for about another 20 minutes. Here two pictures with the whole filet or slices, the first with no herbs at all (how I have to cook it to get my kiddos to eat it!!!), the second marinated as suggested!

Doesn’t it look delicious?! I promise IT IS delicious!

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

– Don’t overcook the salmon or it will become dry and tough. You can tell that the salmon is ready when it changes shade of pink, and form a kind of white coating. If you picked a frozen salmon, you may check it after 15 minutes because it could cook faster than a fresh one.

– If you want to be sure that your potatoes get super crunchy, the last 15 minutes of baking use the “broil” option of the oven if you have it.

– Be sure to serve your salmon with some extra sea salt (if somebody would add a bit), and serving it with some sauces aside like mayo or cocktail sauce would be a nice touch, as well.

– Just to be completely informed about Italian Easter Tradition, you should know that (brace yourselves!) we don’t have an Easter Bunny and we don’t do Easter Egg Hunts. I know, what a waste of fun!! Nevertheless, kids receive from parents and relatives huge chocolate eggs, with a surprise hidden inside (usually a toy). Italian Easter Eggs look like these:

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks, and have a Happy Easter!

Silvia

Italian Flag Colors Sandwich: an impressive appetizer!

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As much as I like cooking, I love parties even more! Unfortunately, it is uncomfortable going to parties at someone else’s house if you have young kids to bring along. And sometimes, those same young kids also makes it difficult to prepare really delicious food for friends you might invite over to your house. So, I have found that the alternative to becoming an hermit until your youngest kid reaches an appropriate age, is to have an arsenal of recipes that you can make in advance, and that also look and taste amazing. That is why I LOVE this recipe!

This is a really, really fancy and tasty appetizer, which can be prepared even a couple of days in advance, and will make a buffet absolutely attractive and colorful: the “Italian Flag Colors Sandwich.” With just a few easy ingredients- like white and whole wheat bread, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, some herbs, and a slice of salmon- you can create this impressive loaf of deliciousness!

This recipe doesn’t belong to my family tradition, but instead comes from one of my favorite Italian Food Websites (Giallo Zafferano), and since I really like this different way to arrange a sandwich, I made some modifications, I translated the quantities for you, and, of course, as usual I’m showing you how I make it step by step!

Please, give this sandwich a shot… you (and your family and friends) will love it!

INGREDIENTS for a loaf pan size sandwich

1 bag white bread

1 bag whole wheat bread

1 slice frozen or fresh salmon

2 to 3 tbs. tomato sauce (better if concentrated)

 9 oz. cream cheese for herbs sauce

5 oz. ricotta cheese for salmon sauce

7 oz. ricotta cheese for pesto sauce

5 oz.  Genovese pesto

2 tbs. thyme (better fresh)

2 tbs. parsley (the Italian one, better fresh)

2 tbs. chives (better fresh)

salt

DIRECTIONS

For the “herbs sauce”

Chop chives, parsley and thyme as thin as you can and mix it very well with 9 oz. cream cheese. Save this herbed cream cheese for later.

Do not rinse the food processor, and go ahead and use it for the next sauce.

For the salmon sauce

Boil the salmon in half a inch of water. In the food processor combine the salmon with sea salt (to taste) and two tbs. of tomato sauce (better if concentrated) and 5 oz. ricotta cheese. Keep the sauce apart for later.

For the “pesto sauce”

Combine the 5 oz. pesto with 7 oz. ricotta cheese and stir very well until smooth. Keep this sauce, in few minutes you will use it!

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To arrange the sandwich:

Once you are done preparing the sauces, you are ready to build up the sandwich.

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Cover the loaf pan with abundantly plastic wrap (once the sandwich loaf is assembled, you will need the extra plastic to wrap it up).

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Remove the crust from the loaves of bread. Then cover the bottom of the pan with several slices of whole wheat bread. Spread the salmon sauce evenly over the top.

 

Now is the turn of the white bread. After removing the crust, make a layer with this one and spread evenly the herbed cream cheese.

 

Now again make another whole wheat bread (no crust) layer and cover it with the pesto sauce.

Finish your loaf by covering with a layer of white bread.

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Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the loaf and let it rest in the coolest part of your refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving, or not more that a half-hour in the freezer.

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Before serving, flip the loaf onto a cutting board, and cut it into 1/2 inch slices using a very sharp serrated knife.

If you like, arrange it in a nice tray and ENJOY!!!!

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LEARN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:

  • If kept refrigerated this sandwich loaf can last up to 4 or 5 days.
  • Serve the sandwich slices still cool.
  • This sandwich variation could be a fun way to entice your kids to eat salmon, as well as an excellent addition to your lunch box menu!
  • If you have leftovers, keep them refrigerated and enjoy later!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Tuna, cappers and lemon juice pasta salad

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This tuna, cappers and lemon juice pasta salad is one of those dishes that reminds me of my youth. Picnics, summer parties, and quick summer lunches at home were all frequently characterized by a pasta (or a rice) salad.  I can not give a specific origin of this recipe, and I cannot even say that it’s a typical Italian dish; I just know that my mom always made it for my brother and me, so here I am, sharing it with you!

This recipe is one of my favorite summer meals for many reasons:

1) It is super fast to make (not more that 15 minutes).

2) Few ingredients are required.

3) It is pretty light (not too high in calories).

4) It’s refreshing and delicious!

The cappers and lemon juice in the pasta salad help to balance and tone down the typically strong taste of tuna, and the lemon juice acts as light dressing, giving to the dish a pleasant, fresh aroma- perfect for summer!

I can confirm that this dish is ideal for picnics, cook-outs, or a lunch box, and can be prepared a day before. The ingredients do not spoil quickly (like many of the typical American salads made with mayonnaise), so it’s a safer option when food will be sitting out in the heat for a bit.

It can be prepared as a cool dish, like a salad, or still warm immediately after mixing all the ingredients together. I personally love the second option, but this is just my humble opinion. Why don’t you try it both ways and let me know which is your favorite one?

 

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings

2 cups Penne Rigate (or other kind of short pasta you like most)

the juice of half lemon

1 tsp. cappers

2.5-3 oz. canned tuna (in water or in olive oil)

optional: a handful of chopped green olives

 

 

DIRECTIONS

Bring 3 quarts of water to boil, add 2 tbs. of coarse salt (for more details, check out “How every Italian cooks pasta”) and the penne rigate (or whatever kind of pasta you chose).

In the meanwhile, prepare the following: in a bowl combine the tuna, the lemon juice, and the cappers. (Before combining the capers, be sure to squeeze them out using your hand.)

When the pasta is cooked (according to the package instructions, or your desired degree of tenderness) drain and RINSE IN COLD WATER.

Mix all the ingredients together, and serve. Or, if you wish to serve it as a cold pasta salad, place it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Here we go- now you’re off to your summer picnic to relax and enjoy the company of good friends and great food! Enjoy!!

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

 

TIPS: If you like GREEN OLIVES, chop a handful of them and add it to your pasta salad… it will be even better!

 

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

Tuna meatballs, or should I say Tuna “fishballs”?

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Did you know that almost all Italians are Catholic? Truth to be told, lately the numbers of the atheists has increased a lot, but still, Italians who are religious are Catholics.

Our religious tradition comes probably from the fact that Vatican’s territory is located in Italy, so Italians have grown up being taught just Catholicism. But, why am I talking about Religion?

Well, one very popular Catholic Tradition is the Fridays of “fasting and abstinence,” which includes not eating meat on Fridays, and in other words, choose sea food instead.  The most traditional foods that people usually cook to celebrate Friday, though, were (and are) Baccala (dry cod cooked in a special way), Sardine in Saor (Sardines salted), Anchovies Spaghetti,  and very cheap sea food in general, which, as you can image, was (and still are!) rarely liked by kids!

What my grandma and my mom used to prepare (and make their kids eat also) on Fridays were these meatballs (fishballs) which I’m talking about today. A tender and tasty mix made with canned tuna, cappers, anchovies, eggs, and bread crumbs, where every single ingredient melts with the others to give life to a yummy and attractive meal.

The recipe is pretty easy because it requires only to mix all the ingredients together, make balls an olive size, and brown them few minutes in oil, and there we go! I would say, 15 minutes in all.

INGREDIENTS for 5 servings (about 40 fishballs)

5 oz. tuna in oil – un scatoletta grande di tonno in olio di olive

7 0z. ricotta cheese – 200 gr. ricotta

4-5 anchovies – 4/5 acciughe

4-5 cappers – 4/5 capperi

2 eggs – due uova

5 oz. parmesan cheese – 50 gr. grana

about 1 cups breadcrumbs (better if homemade) – circa 170 gr. pan grattato.

5-8 tbs. vegetable oil to fry (I prefer always olive oil) – olio di oliva per friggere

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, put together tuna, ricotta, chopped anchovies, cappers, eggs, parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Mix all the ingredients very well, and form small balls the size of an olive (if for some reason you need to prepare the mix in advance, just keep it refrigerated until it’s time to make the balls).

Brown the balls in a very small amount of oil, letting the balls in the oil just for few minutes until brown on each side.

Already done? YEP! Now just enjoy!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – About the quantities: usually to fill up an adult belly, consider that you will need at least 8-10 balls.

        –  If you have leftovers, these balls are even better the day after without the need to be reheated, this is why they could be the right meal for on-the-go, as an appetizer, for a picnic, or for a lunch box.

        –  If you are afraid that your kids won’t like the recipe because of the anchovies and the cappers, before you prepare the mix, blend the anchovies, the cappers, and a little bit of tuna, and then mix them with the rest of the ingredients. In this way there will be no trace of these items in the dough, but just their delicate aroma.

         – If you prefer to use “tuna in water” to make your dough, remember to add to the mix 2 tbs. of olive oil.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, leave a comment, and support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

PEPPERED MUSSELS (Impepata di cozze): ready in 10 minutes

PEPPERED MUSSELS (IMPEPATA DI COZZE)
PEPPERED MUSSELS (IMPEPATA DI COZZE)

I owe an apology to all my followers for whom sea food is not a favorite food, or do not like sea food at all, but I’m writing another sea food recipe!!!

I couldn’t help myself but to buy some fresh mussels today at the grocery store, since they were super fresh (alive!), and in unmissable bargain, and here I am, sharing my Peppered Mussels recipe with you!

The recipe I’m writing about is typical from Campania Region (the Region of Naples, South Italy), usually served as appetizer, even if some people (like my husband) like them so much that they just eat all their sauce with plenty of bread, quickly filling their bellies!

I won’t suggest to try this recipe to you if you hate seafood or molluscs in general, but if you are just skeptic about trying this kind of food, because you have never tried it before, or because you didn’t know how to cook it, I PROMISE you will LOVE this dish!

Last note: “IMPEPATA” in Italian means “with a lot (and I mean “A LOT”) of pepper”, so if you are particularly sensitive to this spice, you should or substitute it with crushed red pepper, or not eat this dish at all!

 

2 small or 1 large servings INGREDIENTS

FOR the MUSSELS

2 pounds fresh mussels

2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

2/3 tbs. chopped fresh garlic

pepper 2 tbs. (or to taste)

(or instead 1 tbs. pepper, and 1/2 tbs. crushed red pepper , or to taste)

olive oil

  sea salt to taste

20/30 oz. white wine

FOR THE CROSTINI BREAD

6 slices fresh bread (prefer baguettes or Italian baked style bread)

1/2 garlic clove

olive oil

 DIRECTIONS

As anticipated in the headline, this recipe needs not more than 10 minutes to be made.

This is true, once you have cleaned up your mussels very carefully.  And the cleaning phase won’t take you more than another 10 minutes.  To do it, you can follow these instructions. What I’ve noticed about mussels here in the US is that they usually sell them already clean outside, and you just have to take off mussels’ beard.  It may sound gross, but it is really not, so keep your courage and go ahead!!!  Your cleaned mussels should look like this:

Switch on the oven at 400 degrees F.

First prepare the bread.  Cut it into slices, then rub each slice with 1/2 garlic clove to transfer the flavor (you will use the chopped garlic later, in preparing the mussels).

Then drizzle each slide with olive oil, and bake until it becomes crunchy (usually the same amount of time you need to cook the mussels).

In a big pot, pour some olive oil (I would say about 4 tbs) and the chopped garlic, and wait until the oil gets hot to add the mussels (REMEMBER to dry them very well with a paper towel).

Keep a medium heat.

Cover the pot, preferably with a transparent lid, so you may keep watch on when all the mussels become opened.

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Let the mussels cook about 5 minutes, then add the white wine, the pepper, the salt, and (optionally, the crushed red pepper).

The quantity of pepper or red pepper I gave you is an indicative amount, so feel free to measure each of these spices according to your taste,

but don’t forget that the original recipe requests a ton of pepper!

IMG_2255

Let the mussels cook for no more that 5 minutes more, add the chopped parsley and shake up the pot a little. Turn off the heat.

IMG_2256

Arrange the mussels with their sauce in one or two bowls, and serve when still hot with the “Crostini bread”.

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips:

– When you add the seasonings to the mussels, try not to “stir” but rather “shake up” the pot. If you stir the mussels, all the molluscs will probably fall out of the shells, and take away from you the pleasure of sipping them out of the shells to eat them (usually all the flavor of the mussels and the dressing remains attached to the shells!).

– When all the mussels open, in theory they are already cooked, but I usually let them stay on the flame few minutes more, because I like them a little “extra cooked”.

– Be careful not to dry all the sauce the mussels left on the bottom of the pot, because that’s the best part to eat, dipping the “bread crostini” in it!