Butternut squash and porcini mushrooms noodles. Different. Fast. Easy. Delicious.

Porcini mushrooms and butternut squash noodles

Hello everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving week, or just a wonderful week for those that live out of the United States! Butternut squash and porcini pasta

Today I would like to share with you the recipe of a super easy and fast pasta recipe, that my family enjoys very much and that is typical in fall and winter in the Alps area where porcini mushrooms are very popular and appreciated. Here in Mid-west porcini are impossible to be found fresh, but the dried ones, if soaked in warm water for a little time, can substitute the fresh ones quite fine.

Porcini mushrooms and pumpkin are two ingredients that get along very well together, and that I like to use also to prepare my favorite soup and favorite risotto.   So if you’d like to try a vegetarian noodles recipe that can be prepared in 30 minutes and tastes delicious, follow the directions below!

4 servings ingredients

1 pack or 60 gr. dried porcini mushrooms

1/2 medium sized butternut squash peeled and chopped in small cubes

1/2 medium sized white onion

4 tsp. rosmary (better if fresh)

1 cloves garlic

about 2+3 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. sage

pepper to taste

sea salt to taste

1 package or 1 lb. noodles or tagliatelle

DIRECTIONS

First, soak the dried porcini in a cup of warm water for at least 15 minutes, or follow the packaging directions if different. Take away the butternut squash skin and seeds and chop in very thin cubes. Cut the onion very thin. Peel the garlic and take away its “stem”.

Drain the mushrooms, but keep some of the water used to soak them. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve or even coffee filter to avoid sand. If some mushrooms looks too big in size, feel free to cut them in two with a kitchen scissors. Heat a big pot of salted water where you will cook the noodles (or the other kind of pasta you picked) as soon as the water will start boiling, rigorously the Italian way ;-).

In a skillet heat 2 tbs. of olive oil, then add garlic, rosemary and the chopped onion and cook them until the onion becomes translucent (be careful not to burn). At this point, add the porcini, a pinch of sea salt and 1 tsp. nutmeg. Let the mushrooms cook for about ten minutes at medium heat, being careful not to burn them, stirring once in a while. You’ll know they are cooked once they become tender.

In the meanwhile, in a pan, add 3 tbs. olive oil and when the oil gets hot, add the chopped butternut squash, 2 tsp. rosemary, 1 tbs. sage, and a pinch of sea salt and cook until  becomes brownish and tender. It would take about  ten to fifteen minutes at medium heat, stirring occasionally, and always be careful not to burn.

Now that mushrooms and squash are cooked, move the mushrooms into the squash skillet.  Probably the noodles will be cooked, so dry those very well in a colander, then toss it into the mushrooms and squash dressing, mix it very well and serve still warm. YUM! So delicious!

LEANR IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – usually noodles are very fast to get cooked, so if you feel a little nervous with this recipe, I would suggest to prepare first the two “dressings”, and then the noodles.

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and If so, please don’t forget to like it, share it or leave a comment! And if you’ll decide to subscribe, you will be informed weekly and for free about any new recipes I will post!

MUCH LOVE,

SILVIA

If you’d like to experiment more “mushrooms recipes” you may want to have a look to:

1) Velvety dried porcini soup;

2) Butternut squash and porcini in disguise soup;

3) Butternut squash and porcini risotto.

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   

 

 

5 Favorite comforting but light Italian wintery soups

Fall is such an hard season for me: on one side, I love it, with all the colors, the mild temperatures and Halloween, but at the same time I loathe it, because the end of summer makes me sad, I  would say it kind of depress me, and (it may be good or bad) it makes me crave for food, and inevitably makes me gain weight! However, I have a strategy to “contain” the food cravings (and the number of extra pounds, LOL) which  is warming myself up and satisfying my appetite with delicious but healthy homemade soups. top five most popular italian soups

Here is my favorite top 5 Italian soups list that I prepare every week, alternating one to another weekly to not get bored, and that all my family members appreciate and enjoy with me (well, not all of them, precisely 😉 ):

Italian light vegetable soup 1) VEGETABLE SOUP: this is the easiest to make, few and cheap ingredients are required, if you skip the potatoes (and minimize the olive oil) it’s like zero point on the weight watchers, and can be enjoyed all week long (if refrigerated). It can also be frozen, so you can prepare a big pot of it and storage in one serving containers if necessary.

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Orange buttenut squash soup2) ORANGE CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP: besides the pain of cutting the squash in pieces,  this soup is super easy, absolutely creamy and delicious and if you cook in it small pasta’s kinds (like farro) it looks like macaroni and cheese, without cheese! Not to mention all the benefits of orange food: abundance of antioxidant, vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients, good for your skin, eyes and heart.

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Leeks, potaotes and broccoli velvety soup3) LEEKS, POTATOES and BROCCOLI VELVETY SOUP: This one is really fast to make, the broccoli taste blends perfectly with the potatoes and leeks and somehow you can barely recognize their taste, it’s delicious and my favorite one when I feel like I have to detox after the holiday’s binges.

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butternut squash and porcini mushrooms soup4) BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND PORCINI IN DISGUISE SOUP: add a pack of dried porcini mushrooms, some nutmeg, and a mushrooms bouillon to your butternut squash soup, and you will obtain a scrumptious porcini mushrooms soup “in disguise”.

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Dried porcini mushrooms soup5) VELVETY PORCINI SOUP: This one is the one my kids have refused to try (I hate when they decide they don’t like a food without even giving it a try!), maybe because of the its brownish color, but to be honest, it’s so delicious that my husband and I are quite happy to keep it all for ourselves! This last soup it’s not that light, it’s not fast to be made, has not cheap ingredients (make the butternut squash “in disguise soup” instead if you want). But believe me, once you’ve tried it, you will place it in your top soups list!!!!

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Now that I’ve refreshed your memory with my favorite winter soups, I wanted to apologize for not posting new recipes lately (yes, it’s always my new home bakery business’ fault), but I promise I will try my best to share new contents soon, but in the meanwhile I’d like to hear from you:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FALL-WINTERY SOUP?

WUOLD YOU BE WILLING TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE WITH ME?

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I really hope you liked my post this week, and if you did,

please  share it, like it, and support my blog!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   

Italian Pumpkin Flowers Fritters: at the Pumpkin Patch don’t forget to pick up those flowers too!!!

Last week I went to a field trip to the Pride of the Wapsy Pumping Patch with my preschooler, and , fun thing, while the children (mine included) where walking trough the field to find the perfect pumpkin I was picking those beautiful “male” pumpkin flowers that made the patch yellow and bright!   Few minutes before, indeed, the farmer was explaining us how the “female” flowers fall from the pumpkin when it grows meanwhile the “male” ones – which are not attached to any fruit – keep blossoming during the season.

Well, long story short, in Italy those flowers (and the zucchini flowers) are very well known as a delightful ingredients for amazing fritters. When the farmer told me to help myself, I harvested a bag of those, took them home, and prepared this very popular Italian recipe, which is also a very common finger food you can find at wedding’s buffets, and fancy restaurants.how a pumpkin flower fritter looks like

Super easy, just three ingredients (plus the peanut oil for frying) and get ready to try this deliciousness!!! Just to be clear, this is my family recipe, but I know for sure other Italians may tell you that the batter needs also eggs, or baking soda, or freezing water. Nothing to say about those other recipes: to me, my mom’s one works perfectly. The flowers will taste crispy and tasty, they won’t absorb too much oil, and be perfect for an “alternative” snack or as a finger food appetizer.  One last thing, depending on your preferences, you can drizzle the flowers either with sugar (if you are more for sweet treats) or sea salt (if you are more a “savory food” lover), and in this latest case, you can also decide – before to immerge the flowers in the batter – to stuff it with Provolone or Asiago cheese, to make it even more appealing!

INGREDIENTS FOR ABOUT 15 FLOWERS

7 oz. (100 gr). all purpose flour

7 oz. (200 ml.) beer (any kind works but better a blond one)

peanut oil for deep frying

DIRECTIONS

When you pick up and bag your flowers it may be that during the ride home some bugs come out. Don’t freak out, it’s quite common finding bugs in flowers. Once home, just was the flowers well but delicately,  pat them dry and take away the stems and pistils.

Prepare the batter by hand whisking the flour and beer, and let the batter resting in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.  In a medium sized pot, pour enough peanut oil to fry the flowers, and bring it at 350-350 F.  (170-180 Celsius).

Meantime take a flower at a  time and deep into the batter making sure is well covered all around. Once the oil reaches the right temperature, fry the flowers (not more than two-three at a  time to not bring the oil temperature down) for about a minute for side, then using a holed ladle,  take them out into a plate covered in paper towel (to absorb any oil in excess).

Sprinkle with sea salt or sugar (depending if you’d prefer a savory or sweet treat) and serve still warm. YUMMMMM!This is how a pumping flower fritter looks like

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!!!!

TIPS: – Ideal would be frying the flowers the same day you picked them up. But If you don’t, seal them in a container and keep them refrigerated until it’s time to fry them.

– Even if they look withered when you pick them up, they will taste great anyway. Just be carful they don’t are rot (black and bad smelling).

– these flowers are delicious even in risotto or noodles, and they match perfectly with squash (of course!), cheese and other vegetables.

– When I prepare this batter, if I don’t have pumpkin flowers, I fry sliced zucchini, or sage leaves, or broccoli and carrots, and they all turn out amazing!

Have you ever tried pumpkin flower fritters? What do you think about it?   

I really hope you liked my post this week, and if you did,

please  share it, like it, and 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

(almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

       

 

IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   

 

 

“Pesto alla Genovese sauce” recipe: ten tricks for the best result

Buon giorno a tutti! Now that I am back to my routine, I catch myself thinking about my Italian vacation pretty often, and of course many of these memories are about food and one in particular sounds perfect for this time of the year: my family’s “Pesto Alla Genovese sauce” recipe, which my mom prepared for us right after having harvested her beautiful basil from her garden.

Before starting with ingredients and method, I should share with you those 10 simple tricks that would make your pesto the best one ever: the whole point, of course, is using the fresher basil possible,  but there are other factors that would help your sauce to be more tasty and bright, avoiding it to turn darker and sour:

  1. If you grow a garden, harvest your basil only few minutes before preparing the sauce;
  2. If you can choose, use basil with small leaves, or big and large leaves but avoid the type with long and narrow leaves because it tastes a little like mint;
  3. I know it sounds gross, but if you grow your own basil and don’t use chemical, don’t rinse the leaves under water because you will loose a lot of its taste and perfume. You can  just  pat gently the leaves with a clean cloth trying not to break them: the more you press, the more you’ll ruin the leaves, more likely your basil will get black spots (oxidize) and give your pesto a sour aftertaste.
  4. Even if the ancient would use a mortar and pestle to prepare the sauce (which for sure will be the more authentic way to prepare it), it’s ok to use the food processor. BUT – always to contain the chances of oxidation – keep the food processor’s blade in the refrigerator or freezer for at least half an hour before preparing your sauce.
  5. Use only coarse salt: it will help the chopping process.
  6. Don’t process the sauce too much: it has to be crumbly and not too smooth. And be fast at preparing it: one of the causes of oxidation is the exposition to oxygen… the faster your work, the less chance you have to oxidize your sauce.
  7. Commonly the Genovese pesto requires the use of pine nuts, but don’t be surprise if you’d hear from other Italians that you should use walnuts instead: every Italian family has – in the years – modified the original recipe.
  8. Commonly Pesto sauce requires Pecorino cheese as main ingredient, but personally I prefer using  only Parmesan, or possibly Parmesan and Pecorino. Your choice, follow your taste!
  9. If you can, take away the interior part of the garlic clove (in Italy we call it the garlic “soul”), because that part itself is a little sour and would leave that taste to the sauce.
  10. Use the best Extravergin olive oil available: the sauce is raw, so the taste of the oil will not be covered by anything. The best the oil tastes, the best your pesto will taste as well!

Now that I’ve annoyed you with my mom’s tip for the best pesto sauce ever, here the ingredients to dress about 1.5 lbs of pasta or 6-8 pasta servings (P.S. I had to spy on her and force her to weight the ingredients because – of course – she always eyeballs those!!!)

INGREDIENTS for a sauce which would dress 6-8 servings of pasta

1 pinch (about 10 gr. – 0,3 oz.) coarse salt

about 3.5 oz. (100 gr.) fresh basil

2 garlic cloves peeled an deprived of the “soul”

about 3.5 (100 gr.) parmesan (or half parmesan half pecorino)

about 3.5 oz. (100 gr.)  extravergin olive oil

about 1 oz. (30 gr.) pine nuts

DIRECTIONS

In your food processor with a freezing cold blade, place IN ORDER the basil, garlic and coarse salt and nuts first: chop intermittently for few second (the heat of the food processor could oxidize the basil). 

Next add the pecorino or parmesan grated or cut in cubes and keep chopping until your sauce looks even but still crumbly (again, chop intermittently, few seconds at a time).

Only at the end pour the olive oil a  little at a time, activate the food processor for a few seconds. And you are done.. dress your pasta… and enjoy this deliciousness!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:  – IF YOU HAVE TO, you can store the fresh made sauce in a sealed container for not more than 2-3 days making sure the top of the sauce is completely covered by a layer of olive oil.

– The sauce can be frozen, and should let thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature (no microwaves please!).

– Pesto sauce can be used also on top of pizza, or with bruschetta. There are really many ways to eat it!

– In LIGURIA (the Italian Region where pesto tradition comes from), they sometimes dress the pasta with both tomatoes sauce and pesto. OMG it’s delicious!

– Always in LIGURIA they cook the pasta (usually the short kind called “trofie” – see picture below) with potatoes cubes and green beans, and when cooked they mix it with Pesto sauce…. OMG this is even better!

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What’s your favorite or traditional pesto recipe?

I hope my (or better, my mom’s) little tricks will help you mastering you pesto sauce! 

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, and 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 (almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

        IN CASE YOU DON’T KNOW,

my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more!   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summery fast and easy tomatoes salad: ready in five minutes!

Hi everyone! Yes! It’s still summer and during my five weeks in Italy I suffered the heat a lot! Oh Lord, it seems impossible that even your appetite can be jeopardize by the extremely high temperatures!

Of course Italians have their ways to make you hungry even if you are hot 😉 and this salad is the perfect example of a light meal full of taste and vitamins and at the same time very refreshing: in other words, perfect as a light lunch or side dish. Not to mention that it’s so colorful and bright that it will light up your table and be perfect also as appetizer or side dish during a cook out!     Grab some tomatoes, capers, green olives, red onions, fresh basil and Italian dressing, and your colorful salad is ready!   For this recipe you don’t need quantities… just fill your plate with sliced tomatoes (better if the heirloom kind)  as much as you want and decorate it with the other ingredients… I hope you will like it as much as I do!

INGREDIENTS

 ripe heirloom tomatoes

green olives (deprived of their water)

capers (deprived of their water)

fresh basil

sea salt to taste

olive oil to taste

a sprinkle of red wine vinegar

finely sliced red onion

optional: black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Wash the tomatoes, take away the stem and slice them  1/4″  thick.

Arrange the tomatoes nicely in a dish, and spread on top the red onions first, then the capers, green olives, and basil.

Dust with a pinch of sea salt (and black pepper if you’d like), sprinkle with red wine vinegar, “give it a round” of extravergin olive oil and serve it!

It’s impressive how such a simple dish it’s so delicious!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVE IT!

TIPS: – If you don’t like the idea of a vegetarian salad, you can pair this dish with hard boiled eggs or tuna in olive oil… it would turn even better!

– This salad can be prepared all year long but of course it’s better if made during the tomatoes season… seasonal produce always have a better taste!

How about you? Do you have a favorite summer salad that you like to enjoy in the most hot days? Please, feel free to let me know you thoughts by leaving a comment… I really enjoy learning others tastes and recipes! 

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, and 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 (almost) weekly recipe directly at your email address!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

 

 

Farro, tomatoes and olives salad: a vegetarian refreshing, light and high protein meal

Do you remember the recipe of my famous Italian rice salad (Insalata di riso)? That Italian classic very popular in summer at parties, pick- nick and cookout? Today I’m posting a very similar one, but in a vegetarian version and prepared with a  hulled wheat which is not gluten free but with a high nutrition value (over 16% protein): FARRO.       The reason I haven’t posted this recipe before  (even if it is absolutely one of my favorite in the warm season) is because I thought FARRO was impossible to find here in Mid West or at least too expensive.    Guess what? Yesterday I found it at my local groceries store, at a very affordable price and few hours after I was already cooking it!         For those who are not familiar with FARRO I can add that it’s a simple grain of 28 chromosomes that pre-dates spelt. It is prepared like brown rice and cooks in about 40 minutes (or can be soaked overnight to reduce the cooking time). It makes a fabulous pilaf, grain salad, risotto, addition to soup, or sprouted for breads and salads. When cooked, its dark, plump berries add sweet, full-bodied flavor, chewy texture, and high nutritional value (as already told) to every meal. It is a lovely, versatile grain very used in the Italian cousin.

My family and I love eating “farro” in a vegetarian way,  mixed with green and black olives, tomatoes, basil, sea salt and extravergin olive oil.  This salad is perfect for a refreshing meal at home or to take away, wonderful  for parties and cookout, and can last – if refrigerated and well stored – for a few days. It can be considered a full meal (remember FARRO’s high protein content!), but – depending on tastes – can be enriched with tuna, salmon, eggs, cheese or whatever you’d like.  The method to prepare it it’s simple: cut in small pieces all the “fresh” ingredients, and toss in the Farro once cooked, drained and cooled off.

2-4 servings INGREDIENTS

7.05 oz. (200 gr.) pearled farro

6 oz. (1 can) green olives

6 oz. (1 can) black olives

2-3 handful cherry tomatoes

fresh basil

optional: 1 garlic clove finely chopped

sea salt to taste

olive oil to taste

DIRECTIONS

Farro doesn’t need to be soaked overnight before being cooked unless you want it to be ready in less that 40 minutes. The label usually describes the cooking method and the pack I bought (exactly like the Italian one) needs to be rinsed in cold water and then dried in a colander, then put in a large pot with enough water.  The proportion indicated in my farro is 25 oz. (0,75 l.) water per each 3.5 oz. (100 gr.) farro.

In our case, to cook approximately 7.05 oz. (200 gr.) farro pour it in a pot filled with 50 oz. (1.5 l.) water. Bring it to boil, then cover with a lid and let it cook at low heat for 35-40 minutes.

Drain it very well in a colander and wash it with cold water. When ready, set aside for later.

PREPARE THE DRESSING

While the FARRO cooks, you have plenty of time to prepare the dressing: wash the cherry tomatoes very well, cut them in half and take away the seeds, then cut them in even smaller pieces and let them drain in a small strainer. Then drain very well the olives and cut them in small pieces. Cut even the fresh basil as small as you prefer. If you don’t mind the taste of garlic, chop very finely a garlic clove.

Toss all these ingredients together in a nice bowl, and dress with few tbs. of extravergin olive oil and sea salt to taste (be aware: olives are quite salty, so be careful when you add the salt!). Finally, add the cooled and drained farro and mix the ingredients very well but gently to avoid smashing and pureeing the whole thing.

YOU ARE DONE!!! The only bad news is that your salad is not ready to be eaten yet: it needs to stay a few hours properly covered  and refrigerated so the flavor of the dressing will be absorbed by the Farro and make it extra tasty, and the salad will be exactly as refreshing as you would wish in a hot summer day!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – This salad is quiet easy to be made but It takes some time to get ready so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to prepare it a day before consuming it.

– Don’t underestimate the importance of draining the tomatoes. Some of them sometimes can be very watery and if not get rid off the excess of water your salad will become a disastrous bland soup!

– Be careful to not overcook the FARRO: you don’t want it to become mushy but to keep its nice  full-bodied flavor and texture.

– I usually eyeball the ingredients so it was particularly hard on me this time to give you exact quantities. So do not hesitate to add or take away some of the ingredients if they don’t match your tastes.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog again! I hope you liked my recipe and I am curious to know if FARRO was familiar to you before reading my post.. .was it?

As usually I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you did, please leave a like, a comment, or share on social media and don’t forget to subscribe to receive for free my new recipes every (or better,  almost every) week! Your help is precious to support my blog!

MUCH LOVE

Silvia

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!

Eggplant, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce pasta

Hello everyone! Before to start describing my new delicious pasta recipe, I wanted to invite my dear followers and bloggers friends to read the bottom of this post… I have an important message for you…

Bus since I don’t want to bother anyone else that could be reading this recipe, let’s talk about it: ready in twenty minutes, this pasta combine veggies and mozzarella cheese in a vey appealing way that even the kids could not resist!!! In my opinion it is a very refreshing dish, because the meat absence makes this pasta very light and enjoyable even in a hot summer day. A can of hot tomatoes sauce cooked the Italian way  will melt the mozzarella cubes and sweeten the sour aftertaste of the eggplant. I am sure you will love it!

4 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS 

1 can tomato sauce

1/4 small sized white onion finely chopped

1 garlic clove

sea salt to taste

1 pinch nut meg

black pepper to taste

2 tbs. extravergin olive oil

AND

1 pack (1 lb.) penne pasta

1 medium sized fresh eggplant washed and cut in cubes

about 7 oz. (200 gr.) mozzarella cheese cut in small thin pieces

4 tbs. olive oil

crushed red pepper

2 tps. dried oregano

sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the tomatoes sauce by panfry 1/4 small onion finely chopped and a garlic clove in 2 tbs. of olive oil. Once the onion becomes translucent add the tomatoes sauce, a pinch of sea salt, nut meg, rosemary and black pepper and let it cook t medium heat for about 15 minutes. You can let the sauce cook until your pasta is ready to get dressed, but be careful not to burn it! For a more descriptive recipe with pictures step by step, read my post about “the truth of marinara sauce“. While the tomato sauce is cooking, heat a big pot of salted water where you will cook the penne (or the other kind of pasta you picked) as soon as the water will start boiling, rigorously the Italian way ;-).

Now it’s time to prepare the eggplant: wash and dry the eggplant and deprive it of the stem. Cut it half a inch little cubes.

Heat 5 tbs. of olive oil in a large pan and panfry the eggplant cubes for about 5-8 minutes, stirring time to  time. Sprinkle some sea salt, the dried oregano and if you wish, a pinch of crushed red pepper.

The eggplant pieces are cooked when they change their color and become tender.  Now, cut the mozzarella slices in very little and thin pieces (this way the mozzarella will melt super easily as soon as it will get in contact with the hot pasta) and set aside.

When the penne are cooked, dry it very well in a colander, transfer the pasta in a big bowl and very quickly pour the mozzarella pieces, the eggplants and the tomato sauce.

Mix the ingredients together and serve still hot. YUM!  So tasty!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – When you are about to buy the eggplant, make sure to pick the more shiny, even and hard one. The good quality of the eggplant is the key for the best result. Often, when I buy eggplants here in Midwest, I find them not fresh, and full of seeds. So I know my pasta will be slightly bitter. But when you know it, you can deal with it! The fresher is the product, the better is its taste.

– Any kind of “short” pasta will work with this dressing: maccheroni, penne, farfalle… you choice!

– Check out also this low carbs easy lasagna with eggplants.

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Here I am apologizing with my loyal readers… I am so sorry I let you down for few months! Life has been very busy lately, my laptop decided to die leaving me with no notice and – most important – I finally took action to make real a project I have had in mind for a long time: getting the license for a home bakery!!!!! So now, not only I will be a food blogger (more or less persistent) but I will also cook for the public, which makes me feel super excited and nervous at the same time!!!! Now that you know why I disappeared for a while I hope you will consider to keep reading and following me, and supporting me as you have done so far!       I wouldn’t be where I am today without you all!! THANK YOU!

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 I really hope you enjoyed this recipe, and if you did, please feel free to share,

leave a comment and support my blog! And if you’ll try this recipe, don’t forget to take a picture of it and post it on your Instagram account with the Hashtag #beautyandfourkids! 

 Much Love

Silvia

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

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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

Homemade Ricotta and spinach ravioli: you will never use those storebought again!

Ravioli (Italian pronunciation: [raˈvjɔːli]; singular: raviolo) are a type of dumpling comprising a filling enveloped in thin pasta dough. Usually served in broth (commonly called “tortellini”) or with a sauce (typically tomatoes sauce or ragu’ sauce) they originated as a traditional food in Italian cuisine.   Traditionally, ravioli are made at home and their filling varies according to the area where they are prepared. For instance in the north of Italy the filling is usually made with beef and charcuteries (mortadella or prosciutto crudo) or pumpkin and Amaretti cookies. In the middle Italy the most common filling is  ricotta cheese, spinach, nutmeg and black pepper.  In Sardinia instead, ravioli are filled with ricotta and grated lemon rind.

Ravioli can also have different shapes: circular, rhomboid, square. The ravioli my grandma taught me to make are more “triangle shaped” and the filling she made was extremely good but everytime made with different ingredients (depending of what leftover she found in the refrigerator) so I inherited the technique to make the ravioli, but as for the filling, I had to experiment before to find my favorite one, and I have to tell you that my first choice is the classic version with ricotta cheese and spinach, which is also the easiest to prepare worldwide, since the simplicity of the ingredients needed.   I would say that once you have mastered the ability of making the pasta, to prepare this delicious ravioli won’t take more than an hour, and the good thing is that you can prepare ravioli whenever you have free time, freeze them once filled, and cooked them (still frozen) whenever you decide you would like eating them!

Ingredients for about 24 big or 48 small ravioli

FOR THE DOUGH

2 eggs and 1 yolk (about 124 gr.)

1 1/3 cup (200 gr.) all purpose flour

FOR THE FILLING

about 3 tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup (125 gr.) ricotta cheese

1 bag (8 oz. or 130 gr.) fresh spinach

1.5 oz. (50 gr.) finely grated parmesan

1 garlic clove

1/4 small white onion

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

nut meg to taste

FOR THE DRESSING

melted unsalted butter to taste

fresh or powdered sage to taste

DIRECTIONS

PREPARE THE DOUGH: In a bowl combine the flour with the beaten eggs.  Stir the mix first with a fork and once the eggs are absorbed, start kneading by hand in a floured surface for about five minutes (read my post about the secret method for a perfect home made pasta to learn the right kneading technique). You know that the dough is ready only when it looks shiny and homogenous, not too dry or too wet and sticky, and only if when you apply a hole with your finger, the dough comes up right away. If the dough sounds too wet,  add a bit of flour. If it sounds too dry, rub it with few drops of warm water and keep kneading.    When the dough it’s ready, shape it an a ball and wrap it up in plastic paper. Let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (while you are preparing the filling).

PREPARE THE FILLING:

In a pan, heat at  medium heat the olive oil, the onion finely chopped and the garlic. Once the onion gets translucent, and always at medium heat, add the spinach (previously washed and well dried), a pinch of salt and pepper and a dust of nutmeg. Let cook for about five minutes, stirring continuously to avoid burning.

Take away the garlic and let the spinach cooling off in  strainer, so they will loose all their water (apply some pressure with your fingers if necessary). Try to get rid off the ricotta water by placing it in another strainer.

Cut finely the spinach and in a bowl mix it with the drained ricotta, grated parmesan and egg yolk and – if needed – adjust with some more salt, pepper and nut meg. Mix the ingredients very well and set aside for later.

MAKE THE RAVIOLI

Cut your ball of pasta in two. Keep one half and wrap the other in plastic paper and place it in the refrigerator. With the first slice, and using a pasta roller, make two  sheets of pasta 1/8 inch thick.

Using my pasta machine, I roll the pasta slice out progressively, beginning with the dial on the first (thickest) setting (#0), then put it through again on the following numbers until one last time through on the eight (#8) setting. It’s very likely that the slice becomes too long around number five (#5): just cut the slice in two before proceeding to the next setting. When you get to the last setting (#8), dust your working surface with semolina flour so the slices of pasta won’t stick to the surface when filled with the spinach mix. Don’t skip this part, it’s very important!

Now, using a measuring teaspoon, arrange a tsp. of spinach filling along one of the pasta slice in a zig-zag pattern. Carefully and possibly by using a cooking brush, brush the area around the spinach with water and flip the other pasta slice on top of the filled one, using your finger to eliminate all the air.

Using a cooking rolling cutter, shape your ravioli. It doesn’t really matter what shape you pick, what matters is that the sides of the ravioli are very well closed and free of any air (otherwise they will break once put into boiling water to cook).

Place the ravioli in a tray dusted with semolina flour and cover in plastic wrap. Repeat the process with the other half of pasta.

COOKING AND SERVING THE RAVIOLI

Bring a big pot of water to boiling point. Poor about 15 ravioli at a time in the boiling water and let them cook for about 5 minutes. While the ravioli cooks, in a large pan melt 3 tbs. unsalted butter and few sage  leaves (or about 2 tps. powdered sage). I prefer using powdered sage because it leaves a wonderful flavor without any “piece of green” in the plate (and that is essential if I want my kids to eat the ravioli). Using an holed ladle take the cooked ravioli out of the water into the buttered pan, stir them gently to spread the butter evenly, and serve the ravioli still warm with a dust of parmesan cheese.

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS:  – You can freeze the ravioli and cook them still frozen. It will take few more minutes to get cooked, but will taste wonderful anyway.

– When you are done shaping the ravioli, and you place them in a floured (with semolina) tray, wait at least 20-30 minutes to  cook them, so they will dry a bit and more likely keep their filling when you cook them.

– You can fill the ravioli with different fillings, but make sure the filling is never too wet to avoid ruining the dough.

– Spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli have a very delicate taste, but if you’d like a more tasty dish, dress the ravioli with Italian tomatoes sauce.

I really hope you enjoyed my recipe this week, and I also hope that  (besides my bad English), I was able to explain you the method as clear as possible. Please, If you have any question, of if you just would like to give me a feedback, leave a comment, or a like, and support my blog!

Much thanks

Silvia