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!!!
BROCCOLI 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. There’s a 95 year old photo of Andrew D’Arrigo, “Andy Boy” the face on the familiar label. How 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. 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.
2 sliced cloves of Garlic
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.
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.
PASTA ALL’ARRABBIATA…translated it means ANGRY MACARONI. A descriptive term referring to the spicy heat in the dish from the PEPERONCINO, or dried crushed red chiles that are used all over the world including many regions of Italy. The dish is said to have originated in Rome and often it’s catalogued in La Cucina Romana (Roman cuisine) but Southern Italy has so many instances of chile-infused oil , or lard based , or tomato based sauces for pasta that it’s really a tough call. What is generally thought of as the right pasta to serve with Arrabbiata sauce is PENNE, or PENNETTA. Perfect when some of the tomato and chile flecks get caught inside of the penne. I also love it with spaghetti…as illustrated in this ridiculous poor quality grainy Selfie.. Don’t be bullied. Penne is the most popular pasta used for a reason, it’s just a great match. But Spaghetti and any other pasta you like works too. Shh..just don’t say that in Italy. LOL. In the town of Marigliano outside of Naples in Campania the beginning of July is given over to a Sagra, or a Celebration in honor of PENNETTA ALL’ARRABBIATA. Imagine? A feast celebrating a dish of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, hot peppers and penne? This year’s announcement for the Sagra. Music, Drink and Pennetta All’Arabbiata. I think I like the sound of this. The sauce for Arrabbiata, like SO many of Italy’s pasta sauces is a simple affair. Olive Oil, Chiles, either Fresh or dried, garlic (some use onion), Italian Tomatoes, basil or not..Salt, and Penne. Really. That’s it. From what my amateur research has gathered, recipes calling themselves “true” Roman recipes all use fresh chopped chiles. Southern Italian recipes and Italianamerican recipes use Peperoncino, the same pepper, but dried. While they may be the same vegetable they do have different tastes. One imparts a fragrant fresh taste with it’s heat and the other gives a deep earthy flavor and heat. One day I will try this dish with fresh chiles, for now I use the dried. While it’s a very quick dish to make the best way to get maximum chile flavor and heat is to slowly “fry” it in the Olive Oil rather than add it to the simmering sauce or only when ready to eat. For dinner for 4-5 here’s how I do it.
TIME: 1 hour or less SERVES: 4-5
1/2 cup good quality Olive Oil or Extra Virgin, preferably Italian
1 TBS. PEPERONCINO (crushed dried red hot pepper flakes), plus more for serving
2 sliced cloves of Garlic, or 1 small onion finely diced
2 28 oz cans SAN MARZANO DOP TOMATOES (or Italian Plums) crushed with your hands
1 pound Penne (I use imported ITalian Pasta )
4 Basil leaves
In a large pan or heavy pot heat the olive oil to medium. Add the peperoncino and let this sizzle and pop on medium heat for a good 4 minutes. This releases the oils in the dried peppers and helps to carry all of it’s flavor through the sauce. Add 1/2 tsp of Kosher Salt. Add the garlic and (tricky here) saute’ until you just bring the slices to where they begin to get golden color than add the Tomatoes. Blend well and bring to a boil, then back down to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken, this will take some time, maybe 1/2 hour. Then taste for seasoning. If the sauce is thick enough (not watery) add the basil leaves and stir. If it needs more time, keep it on low simmer until you get a thicker sauce. Arrabbiata’s beauty is that it’s not “supposed” to be scorching…unless you want it to be. At this point you can add more peperoncino to taste. I find when feeding the family, less is more. I’ll add more on my dish when I sit down anyway to get it to my heat threshold. While the sauce is cooking , during the last 10 minutes, make a pound of Penne or Spaghettti till just al dente. Drain and add to the sauce and let it cook in the sauce for only 3 minutes. Tear in the Basil leaves…mix, taste for seasoning, then serve.
Dress the pasta with some Grated Pecorino Romano, a drizzle of Olive Oil, and more Peperoncino. GET ANGRY!!! ARRABBIATA!!!!! A grating of Pecorino or Parmigiano if you like! I like.
Here’s a variation…PASTA ALL’ARRABIATA con SPINACI SALTATI. Saute’ some fresh spinach with garlic and olive oil. Serve on top of the Sauced Pasta. Then mix it all in after you’ve taken a nice pic for Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook…ok Twitter and Pinterest too. Here’s a tip regarding Italian tomato sauces from South to North…only a handful are more complex requiring a sizable list of ingredients. The vast majority are but a handful of ingredients. What makes people NOT angry with this Arrabbiata is that you control your anger..an anger management of sorts LOL. The amount of peperoncino heat is up to you but it needs to be more than just a pinch since it’s not just Sugo di Pomodoro or Marinara, but a wake up call for the taste buds..feel the burn!!! Happy Cooking!!
Summer, love it, can’t wait for it to start and hate when it’s over. This is my happy time. Even the food changes for the most part as I migrate to being outside versus inside and what better way to start of the month of June than with a recipe of mine that is best when cooked on a charcoal or gas grill. CHICKEN PATTIES…now don’t think a dry hockey puck of plain chicken with some seasoning, i understand that fowl (get it?? please lol) version is a thing. Mine though reflects my world, that ItalianAmerican world of NYC and NJ that has a particular love for ItalianAmerican cuisine. Every Summer growing up starting with Labor Day the local Salumerias (Pork Stores) would start selling certain meats just made for the Summer months. The Cheese and Parsley ring on the crisscrossed skewers and the chicken patty made with Provolone and Parsley, sometimes Basil too, sometime diced peppers and onions in the mix too but my preference was/is the provolone/parsley and basil blend. Easy to make, easy to cook and wonderful to eat. These patties of my youth and current life are delicious. You need a good sharp chef’s knife and a food processor. What? What about ground chicken? It will be too dry. It will be too processed and the texture will be off. Your end pattie should have some chicken texture. Trust me, it makes for a better pattie.
The recipe makes 4 patties.
TIME: 45 minutes YIELD: 4 PATTIES
3 FULLY TRIMMED BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST, ORGANIC IF POSSIBLE
1 FULLY TRIMMED BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGH, ORGANIC IF POSSIBLE
or use all breast, or all thigh, if all thigh it will take longer to cook.
1/4 CUP FINELY DICED SWEET ONION
1 TSP WHITE WINE
1/4 CUP DICED PROVOLONE (AURICCHIO BRAND IMPORTED FROM ITALY PREFERRED)
1/8 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO
2 CHOPPED SPRIGS OF ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
2 BASIL LEAVES
1 TSP COARSE ITALIAN BREAD CRUMBS
1/2 TBS. OLIVE OIL
1 TSP KOSHER SALT
1 TSP CRACKED BLACK PEPPER
Chill the blade and bowl of a food processor for 10 minutes. Then Pulse the meat and cheese no more than 3 times. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse JUST until everything is blended. Turn out the mixture into a bowl and form into 4 equivalent patties. Place on wax paper and cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
On a well oiled grate, grill the patties on medium heat (whether it’s gas or charcoal) and grill on each side for at least 5 minutes per side, certainly make any time adjustments for your grill. A too high grill will burn the outside and keep the inside close to undone. A too low grill will steam the patties. Yes, all these different temps and methods change how the end product tastes!! When they are done, place on a platter and tent with foil. Leave them sit for 5 minutes. Then serve on Rolls or on their own.. A very delicious taste of my “Summer”. Enjoy.
Time to discuss one of my favorite food subjects…the MEATBALL. Let’s start out with this tidbit, there’s no such thing as the “ITALIAN MEATBALL”. Why you ask? Because I said so. And here’s why…there are meatballs of all shapes and sizes and ingredients made all over Italy. Most likely you’re assuming the meatball in the big pot of sauce is the “Italian Meatball”. Well that’s certainly one of many. Meatballs as a cocktail party or party food are fantastic since they are small. They work well at a party and are generally a one bite affair. For parties one of the meatball recipes I’ve developed is the SAN MARZANO COCKTAIL MEATBALL. What is that all about? Scenario, you’re at a party…you’re dressed up..nice suit, shirt, dress, whatever. You pick up the meatball out of the pan or platter and it’s dripping with sauce. YIKES! Big sauce stain on your tie…or your chest and the shirt. Down your blouse or onto the front of your dress or skirt. Now you’ve done it!! But you really want that delicious sauce flavor with the meatballs right? Let’s mix this up a bit…for a cocktail party…or any party..add the sauce TO the meatball mix, then make the meatballs and simply serve on a tray, platter or bowl with toothpicks. This recipe is made in two parts. first the sauce, then the meatballs. To start:
THE SAUCE (which becomes one of the ingredients in the meatballs)
1 28oz Can SAN MARZANO DOP Tomatoes, or any good variety of Imported Italian Plums or Domestic Plum Tomatoes
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
1 SMALL FINE DICED ONION
3 FRESH BASIL LEAVES
In a sauce pan heat the olive oil and then add the onion, season with salt and peperoncino. Let this cook until the onions are translucent and soft. TIP: if you get impatient the onions will never really soften in the tomato sauce and you’ll have crunchy onions in the mix. Be patient. Take your time. No rush. Once your onions are soft add the tomatoes which you will crush with your hands first in a bowl, then add them to the pot. Add one basil leaf and bring this to a boil, stir, then to a simmer and let this reduce for 1 hour, stirring frequently, until it’s reduced by about 1/2. Add the remaining 2 basil leaves, taste for seasoning and let it sit off the flame to cool completely. Should take about 2 hours.
MEATBALLS (makes about 30 ish)
3/4 lb GROUND CHUCK
1/4 lb GROUND VEAL
1/4 lb LOOSE SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE MEAT
1 JUMBO EGG, beaten
handful of chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dry italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of the Sauce you made (that recipe above ^^^^)
3/4 cup freshly grated PECORINO ROMANO
2 FINELY (stressing the FINELY) MINCED GARLIC CLOVES
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
1/2 CUP ITALIAN WHITE WINE
In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, parsley, S & P, Sauce, Garlic together. Let this sit for 20 minutes. Why? we want the sauce to hydrate those breadcrumbs. Your Panada (write it down, it’s the Italian word for a breadcrumb/bread mix moistened with eggs, herbs, oil,liquids like milk or water, etc. which forms the binding for the meatballs. See, we are learning…I love teaching and sharing my food with you!!) Since there’s a significant amount of liquid in the sauce (which is why we reduced it) you want those breadcrumbs to suck up all that moisture which in turn doesn’t steal moisture from the meats and balances the end product…dry crumbs on their own suck moisture from the meat and other sources.
Blend all the meats together. Then add to the Panada after it’s sat for a while. If it’s still too loose, add more breadcrumbs, but only a little at a time. Mix gently with lightly moistened hands (lightly, or you’re adding more water to the balls). When fully mixed let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. NOW start rolling walnut sized meatballs and line them on a parchment or waxed paper lined tray. Chill for 10 minutes. In a heavy skillet add 2 tbs. olive oil and heat. Fry the meatballs for at least 5 minutes on each side without overcrowding. Fry in batches.. Add more Olive oil as needed letting the oil get hot before adding more balls in the pan. (why? the balls will soak in the oil..frying actually prevents that from happening). When finished frying all the meatballs, deglaze the pan with the White Wine and gently add the meatballs back and simmer until the wine has evaporated. Done. Now serve with toothpicks to hungry guests OR let them cool…wrap them in pans and you can reheat them on trays in the oven for serving at your event/ party/dinner. Meatballs and sauce all together No drip. No stains. No mess. It was great cooking with you…hope to come into your kitchens again real soon!!!
Seasonal dishes, they define our lives. Whether it’s Thanksgiving Turkey or Candy Canes at Christmas or King Cake at Mardi Gras one can often tell the season by its specialty dishes. Growing up in a Southern Italian American home there were and still are many dishes/foods that are like a calendar smacking you in the head telling you what Holiday or season you are celebrating. Spring. Primavera (it’s the Italian word for Spring, not just a type of Pasta, lol). Easter. Passover. Just a few holiday/seasons that March into May brings to us and in my home, on Good Friday the traditional family RICOTTA PIES would be prepared and baked post 3:00pm and NOT TOUCHED UNTIL 12:00AM EASTER SUNDAY. This is maddening, although, we are modern now. The Catholic Church’s first Easter mass is around 4pm on Saturday before Easter so feel free to cut into the pie. Certainly, you may stick to tradition and wait till that clock changed from night to midnight.
A little history with this pie I’m blogging about, in the old days Lent meant no eggs, no dairy, no meat, no sugar, no NOTHIN!!! Southern Italians devised dishes that were accessible and celebratory for breaking the fast. Ricotta pies which are known as PIZZE (Pizza is a word for pie…the tomato and cheese one is just another version) are made in both sweet and savory types. Let’s confuse you further! Every town and region developed it’s own types of foods..while this confuses many ItalianAmericans because we often think only the way that our family makes something is the right way..there are many versions of all these Easter pies. Mine comes from my Grandmother’s town of CASTEL BARONIA , PROVINCIA D’AVELLINO not far from Naples. We call isSWEET PIE, or PIZZA DOLCE and it’s a wonderful baked ricotta pie scented with cinnamon, lemon, orange and anisette. There are similar pies made in the Avellino area withouth the lemon and orange zest and without the glaze on top. That glaze is used in baked goods from my Grandfather’s town of Grassano, Provincia di Matera in neighboring Basilicata. I wonder if Grandma Scaramuzzi’s version melded a few things she picked up from Grandpa’s family. It’s how recipes evolve but the basic pizza is pure Avellinese. The crust is a typical PASTA FROLLA, the dough used for many Southern Italian pastry/baked goods. The first thing we need to do it make the dough. You need time for this, Rome wasn’t built in a day!!
2-1/2 cups SIFTED all-purpose UNBLEACHED flour
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
10 Tbs. good unsalted butter, chilled
1 Xtra Large Egg, beaten
4 Tbsps. milk
Mix all the dry ingredients well. Cut the butter into a small dice and work it into the dry ingredients until the mix resembles small peas. Now add the egg which you’ve beaten with the milk then add to the flour and butter mixture and stir it all with a fork or wooden spoon until it will hold its shape. Knead this until it’s smooth then stop. Form the Pasta Frolla into a disk and wrap in “Saran Wrap” or Plastic wrap and into the fridge for 1 1/4 hours. Don’t get scared, those are disks of pasta frolla for a few pies.
Now we will make the Ricotta filling.
1-1/2 lbs. WHOLE MILK RICOTTA which you’ve drained overnight or earlier in the day in a sieve. You can also , if available, use the Ricotta which comes in a tin already drained, That’s what I generally use but it’s not available everywhere.
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/8 TBS ANISETTE EXTRACT
1 TSP. PURE VANILLA
3 TBS DICED CITRON
1 TSP. CINNAMON
1 TSP. LEMON ZEST
1 TSP ORANGE ZEST
Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and beat, add the extracts, beat. Now mix in the Ricotta, cinnamon, the zests, and the citron until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to fill the pastry.These instructions are for a 9 inch pan. I double recipe and make it in a larger rectangular. Up to you. Lightly butter the pan. From the Pasta Frolla disk, remove about 1/3 for later. The remainder you will roll out to about 14 inches and line the buttered 9 inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You want some of the dough over the sides of the pan. Press the dough into the sides and then pour in the ricotta mixture. Roll out the remainder of the dough for the top. With an egg wash of 2 eggs and 1/8 cup milk brush the rim and then place the top over it.. press the sides to the lid forming a crust and cut away the excess. Brush the top with the egg wash. If you truly want a Grandma Scaramuzzi Sweet Pie, turn those bits you just cut off and make a B and a P out of them. Place them on center of the pie and coat with egg wash. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. What does BP mean? BUONA PASQUA! Italian for Happy Easter..that makes it a real Grandma memory. To test for done. use a sharp knife and place in the center going straight into the bottom of the pie. If it comes out clean, your pie is done. Let this cool for 1 hour to 2 hours. While it’s cooling it’s time to make the glaze.
1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Orange Juice
1/2 tsp. milk
1/2 tsp. Anisette Extract
1 tsp mixed Lemon and Orange Zest
multicolored “confetti” or non pareils
Mix all except the confetti until you can drizzle it. cover with wrap until ready to use.
When the Sweet Pie is fully cooled, don’t rush it…make sure it’s cool!! Then simply drizzle the icing over the top making sure to get some into the sides. You may have more than you need, use it for something else. After you’ve drizzles add some of the confetti to the top. Now here’s some variations…you can do a lattice top if you like, just cut the top into strips. Nothing at Easter makes me think, remember, and smile about who I am, where I come from, and who loves me almost as much as this does. Grandma Scaramuzzi and my Mom are right there in the kitchen with me, guiding me as they once did to teach us this pie. It’s About Easter, about continuity and the cycles of life, rebirth, family, love. About my ItalianAmerican and Southern Italian roots and sharing that with my multicultural family. It’s fantastic and thanks for letting me share it with you.
Back to Italy we go for our dish today….follow me down south to the regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania and this recipe known as LAGANE E CECI will show up in kitchens that stick to the old ways. Certainly that doesn’t mean it’s a stodgy musty old dish, in fatto, with this recipe you will feel very Hipster Brooklyn. Get that? OK.. A dish of this LAGANE pasta which is sort of somewhere between Lasagne sheets and a wide Tagliatelle. The actual LAGANE are a rustic pasta made with no eggs and unless you make them yourself you’re out of luck in the USA finding that pasta. No worries. I’m giving you MY rendition of this delicious dish. Use Lasagne noodles. Cooked just till al dente. You want some chew to the pasta. When thinking MEDITERRANEAN DIET this has got to be a dish that shows up. It’s yet another Italian pairing of Beans or Peas and Pasta with a flavorful base. In the wooded hinterlands between Calabria and Basilicata there use to be roaming bandits called I BRIGANTI. They were known as thieves who ate copious amounts of pasta, specifically LAGANA or LAGANE and were given the name “SCOLALAGANE”. Don’t you love Food history?(the looting SCOLALAGANE in a picture from the internet). In my ancestral homeland of Basilicata often Sage or Rosemary is the aromatic herb used to flavor the dish. In my kitchen I prefer using fresh Rosemary. Up to you! Of course with roots in Calabria and Basilicata you KNOW there will be a chile component to the recipe. Diavulicchiu or Peperoncino, Calabrian hot dried peppers..any of them work. The earthy herbs and chick peas and the chewy pasta with the chiles are Italian regional food magic. It’s an addictive dish. And easy. Let’s cook!
LAGANE E CECI ALLA A FOOD OBSESSION
TIME: 1 HOUR SERVES: 4-5
1 lb LASAGNA , cooked AL DENTE, then cooled on a rack. Then slice lengthwise into 1 inch strips. OR us 1 lb PAPPARDELLE, also cooked AL DENTE, drained. OR `1 LB MAFALDE
2 CUPS COOKED CHICK PEAS (CECI), drained
3 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
3 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC
1 TBS TOMATO PASTE
SALT to taste
1 SPRIG FRESH ROSEMARY or 3 FRESH SAGE LEAVES
3/4 TBS CHILE PEPPER FLAKES (PEPERONCINO) or adjust to your heat tolerance.
GRATED RICOTTA SALATA or PECORINO , about 1/2 cup
In a wide heavy pan heat 2 tbs of the olive oil. Then add the garlic and peperoncino and let this get JUST to the point of lightly browning. Add the tomato paste and blend in. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 empty paste cans of water. Let this come to a boil after you’ve gotten all the paste, garlic and water smooth. Now add the beans and the fresh herb Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the “LAGANE” to the pan and heat through for about 5 minutes. Shut off and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the grated cheese. Blend well. Serve with extra cheese if you like and more peperoncino…
Enjoy this dish from the interior of three of Italy’s Regions. I’m sure back in the late 1890’s one of these houses on my maternal Grandfather’s street in Grassano, Basilicata had a pot of this on their stove. BUON APPETITO!!
Grassano, early 1900’s..as painted by my late cousin Professore Luigi Paone who lived and died in Grassano. This painting was given to me by his wife, the late cousin Rosetta on August 15, 2006 in their living room in Grassano. CHE BELLI RICORDI!!!