Monthly Archives: August 2017

ZUCCHINI AND SPINACH PASTINA..FROM MY KITCHEN TO YOURS

397224_3628916283922_1247137950_n Stop stressing over what to do with “all those zucchini” your garden is producing.  Remember the Winter will come and you’ll be looking at a bleak frozen patch of ground soon enough wishing Summer’s bounty was still showering you with fresh produce.  I get it though.  Most people have only a few zucchini recipes they use and it could be tiresome eating/cooking the same old same old.  A Food Obsession will help you out.  Zucchini is pretty much a neutral tasting and fairly quick cooking vegetable.  So many possibilities and combinations.  One of my favorites is with pasta.  During a visit to Italy we were served a local pasta with a sauce of Zucchini, Clams, olive oil, basil and garlic.   Amazing.  Hopefully that gives you some ideas to run with besides the usual Fried Zucchini, Zucchini Pie, Zucchini Bread options.  I love it combined with Pastina, the little star shaped pasta that is pure ItalianAmerican comfort food.  Add some fine diced zucchini and spinach to a pot of pastina with butter and grated cheese and you have a delicious dish in front of you. Summer is short so let’s get cooking this dish I created with my ItalianAmerican roots.

TIME:   45 minutes                        SERVES: 6

1 Box (12 oz) PASTINA

6 cups water or chicken stock

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 cups finely chopped  spinach, Baby spinach is ideal.

2  medium sized  zucchini diced small

2 thin sliced cloves of garlic

Olive oil

1/2 cup Grated Pecorino Romano (Locatelli Brand) or Parmigiano, your choice

 

First make the vegetables.  They will take the longest.  In a heavy pan add some olive oil (about 2 tbs) and bring to medium heat.  Add the zucchini and season with salt. Saute this until the zucchini is soft, stirring occasionally. When the zucchini is soft (about 10 minutes ) add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant.  Remove from heat.  Move to the back of the stove.

Cook a box of Pastina according to the package directions.  When the Pastina is cooked add the butter and season again with salt and pepper. Blend well.  Add the zucchini and the spinach (yes, add the spinach raw..it will wilt nicely in the hot pastina) and blend well.  Now add the grated cheese.  Blend.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve.  That’s it.  Elevates a pot of pastina to a more substantial meal with good vegetables.

The beauty of this dish comes from the tiny dice and chop of the zucchini and spinach.  My preference is using Pecorino because that’s how I grew up…pastina and every other pasta/macaroni was showered in Pecorino.  Only once in a while would Mom buy Parmigiano.  Harkens back to the cooking traditions of the late 1800’s /early 1900’s in Southern Italy.  Today’s Italy North and South uses Parmigiano in most recipes.  Me, I like to hold onto the tastes of my family’s kitchen.  The choice is up to you.  Enjoy it either way!!  Buona Cucina!!!

 

 

 

 

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HAWAIIAN COMFORT FOOD. The Hawaiian Plate Lunch. 

Aloha readers and friends!!! Blogging from the road for the next few weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii. Flew out on Friday morning which after our Kayak found cheapest flights meant 2 stops (remember. Cheap means you have to eventually pay for it somehow. Lol ) we landed in Kona at 6:45pm. Translate that to our real East coast time of 11:45pm. Basically a very long day as we left our home at 4:30am. Too tired this morning to do the math. Lol.  However my food centric sites were determined to find spot to eat after we settled in.  There’s no late night eating here so we were crunched for time.  About 15 minutes from hotel by shuttle is a  shopping and eating complex.  We decided on the Food court because it made sense. Ippy’s Hawaiian Barbecue caught my eye. Perfect!! The first item on the menu was the Hawaiian Plate. This is a traditional island food that’s more popular as a lunch usually known as the Plate Lunch.  I fell in love with it during previous visits to Hawaii. What’s not to love???  A Hawaiian meat or fish choice always served with 2 scoops of steamed rice and a scoop of American macaroni salad (the elbow macaroni and Mayo style). Here at Ippy’s they make their plates with 2 choices.  What to do??  Here’s my thinking process. In my head what do I think is most Hawaiian. Best answered by a Hawaiian but this mainlanders decided the Kalua Pork Is going to be my “most Hawaiian” choice.  This is the pork that’s traditional slow cooked and then shredded. The smoke from the cooking process and some Hawaiian salt are the general ingredients. Forvmy other choice I went with the beef teriyaki.  Superb. Thin shaved beef cooked with Teriyaki. BOOM. They were served in a bed of shredded cabbage. Topped with green onions. Aloha. This type of Plate is also known as a Mixed Plate since it has more than one entree. Now what do I really love about this Plate besides its components and that I’m on vacations???  Surely that makes everything taste better.  There’s an amazing story behind the origins of the dish. You know me. I love immigrant stories. It is said that in Order to cheaply feed the immigrant Japanese girls workers families devises this sort of Bento box meal that could be eaten in the fields and was heavy on the carbs to keep the works full of energy. As Hawaii became more of a melting pot various groups like the Chinese, Filipinos, Portuguese, Koreans All added their touches to the plate’s cast of characters. It’s evolved into the one of Hawaii’s iconic dishes. Now for all you who are horrified by that carbload in the dish that should make you understand why it is the way it is.  It reflects historical economics and ethnicity.  Fantastic.  Try making a Plate Lunch at home.  Grilled teriyaki fish. Chicken. Pork. Beef. Shredded pork. Shrimp. Linguica. Kalbi. Just some of the entree choices. But the 2 scoops of steamed white rice and American Macaroni Salad are constant. Enjoy a taste of Hawaii in your kitchen.  Download that Don Ho on your Spotify app. Mahalo!!!

SAUSAGE AND BROCCOLI RABE PIZZA FROM NAPLES….SALSICCE E FRIARIELLI

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABROCCOLI RABE,  SAUSAGE AND PIZZA.  Sounds amazing and it is and it’s a classic.  Long before the tomato was introduced from the Americas to Europe Pizza was made using whatever the cook found in their pantries and gardens.  Most pizza reflected the local ingredients and this pizza we will make is one of the oldest Pizze in Napoli.  Naples, storied home of the modern pizza (tomato, mozzarella, basil) is also the land of the FRIARIELLI which is grown all around Naples is almost revered with a religious fervor.  I’ve never been able to ascertain whether it’s the same as our American Broccoli Rabe or a member of the family of similar greens (Cima di Rape being another one used in Puglia and Basilicata, Broccoletti in Rome) but in the USA I’ve never seen it marketed as Friarielli.  The popularity of Broccoli Rabe in America is due to this religious cult of worshiping the delicious bitter greens that the Italian Americans from Southern Italy,  Naples and Puglia in particular brought with them during the great Immigration from 1880-1930.  Every ItalianAmerican grew up with Broccoli rabe, marketed by the Andy Boy Corp who planted the seeds in California and began a huge business off of his forms of Broccoli.  Look at the label on your broccoli rabe.  Most likely it’s the Andy Boy brand, named after one of the founder’s sons. The founders were immigrants from Messina, Sicily, Stefano and Andrea (Andrew) D’Arrigo.  The family still owns the company.  We owe our American broccoli and broccoli rabe eating to them.  0001  There’s a 95 year old photo of Andrew D’Arrigo, “Andy Boy” the face on the familiar label.  0002How many of those labels did I see my mom take off of the Broccoli Rabe or Broccoli before she washed (and washed, and washed and washed) them prior to slicing them down for her various dishes.  That bitter, sulphury aroma of broccoli rabe cooking with garlic, peperoncino and olive oil is one of my most favorite sentimental food smells.  Brings me back to Mom’s kitchen with the first whiff.  Friarielli grow in certain regions around Naples and up into Avellino and Benevento, neighboring Provinces.  They are hallowed in those parts and great care and pride is taken with their preparation for eating.  This pizza is part of La Cucina Napoletana, the great cuisine of Naples which has given birth to much of what is part of the global and the Italian American cuisines. Sausage and Broccoli Rabe pie Naples style traditionally is without tomato.  That proves it’s an ancient dish.  The ingredients and preparation are simple and straight forward.  IMG_2069 The Broccoli Rabe (Friarielli).

An old Napoletana saying is  ” A SASICC E’ A MORT  RE FRIARIELL”.  Sausage will die without Broccoli Rabe.  They are meant for each other!!  Let’s make A’PIZZ…

 

1 Pizza Dough (homemade or bakery bought, don’t use the commercial brands, too many additives)

Risen for 24 hours.  Press into a well Olive Oiled pan till it hits all the sides of a standard baking  1/2 sheet.  I prefer the heavy gauge restaurant supply ones, They heat up more evenly.

1 head of Broccoli Rabe, well rinsed and dried, then chopped discarding the thicker stem ends.

Olive Oil

2 sliced cloves of Garlic

Peperoncino

Salt

Water

3 Sweet Italian Sausage with fennel Links , remove the meat from the casings.

2 cups of diced PROVOLA Cheese, or a blend of diced Mozzarella and Provolone.

While the dough is resting in the pan, heat 2 tbs of olive oil, add the garlic and peperoncino (to taste), pinch of salt.  When the garlic is fragrant add the Broccoli Rabe and cook this for at least 10 minute on medium.  Add 1/8 cup of water and just continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is soft.  Make sure the water has evaporated.  Drain.

In another pan heat 1 tbs olive oil and add the sausage meat.  Cook over medium stirring ocassionally until the meat is almost cooked.  Drain and add to the Broccoli Rabe.  Pre heat oven to 500 degrees F.guancialeravioli 022

Drizzle some olive oil over the pizza dough and then place one cup of the cheese over the top.  then the Sausage and Broccoli Rabe mixture.  Then the remaining cup.  Place on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes,  Then rotate the pan and bake for an addition 5-10 minutes being careful not to over cook.   When done slice into squares and let it sit for a few minutes.  Serve.  FANTASTIC!

The lead picture is the first time I had Friarielli.  We were on a family vacation on a MSC Italian Line cruise around Italy.  The cruise ship kitchen was decidedly Napoletana and the daily foods reflected this.  Other regions were represented as was the rest of the world’s cuisines, but the bulk of the meals were Napoletana and southern Italian.  I asked a server if I could talk to the chef or a cook and get this recipe for that picture.  I was shown the Friarielli which were on my bucket list and was told how to make this pizza.  I was also told how the sausage and friarielli combo is near and dear to Napoletana hearts and I shared how my ItalianAmerican world back in the USA is in love with that combination as well.  So you’ve just enjoy part of that wonderful vacation around Italy my family had by reading this and hopefully you’ll create this beloved pizza in your own kitchen.