Italy is loaded with wonderful vegetable combo dishes that serve either as antipasto…..as a contorno (side dish) or as a secondo or primo…first or second course. Many of these regional dishes are even amazing as sandwich fillers. Growing up Pepper and Onions and Potatoes was not an uncommon dish that would be placed in Italian bread. Long Hots, Sweet peppers, endless possibilities. In Calabria in Italy’s deep South this melange’ of Potatoes with a mix of Sweet and Hot Peppers, garlic, onions, good olive oil, herbs and it’s sort of national “regional” thing. Every Calabrian will probably make it a little different and every cook/chef will add their own twist or style to it. It’s pretty basic WHICH is one of the hallmarks of Italian Cuisine. Out of a few GOOD, WELL SOURCED ingredients comes a dish with amazing flavor. Try it as a side or addition to grilled sausage, meat, poultry or seafood items. Fantastic.
PIPI E PATATE FOR 4 TAKES 1 HOUR 15 MINUTES APPROX
2 SLICED AND CORED CUBANELLE (ITALIAN FRYING PEPPERS)
2 SLICED AND CORED RED BELL PEPPERS
2 SLICED AND CORED ITALIAN LONG HOTS OR LONG RED OR GREEN HOT PEPPER
5 PEELED AND SLICED MEDIUM SIZED POTATOES
1/2 SLICED RED ONION
2 CLOVES OF GARLIC, CUT IN HALF
1/2 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
PINCH OF GOOD ITALIAN OREGANO
SEA SALT OR KOSHER SALT
1/8 CUP of WHITE WINE
1/8 tsp DRIED CALABRIAN CHILE (or any good crushed hot pepper flakes)
In a dutch oven or heavy pan, add the olive oil and heat. Add the potatoes, season with salt, and cook over medium heat. After 8 minutes add the onions and cook until they start to soften. Now add the peppers, pinch of Oregano, and raise the heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt then add the garlic. After 5 minutes, add the wine and cover for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated and you’re left with the flavored oil. Taste for seasoning and make sure the Potatoes are tender and the peppers are like velvet. Add the Calabrian Chile and you are done. HAPPY COOKING!!! I want a sangwich of this right now!!!!
PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANI!! Potato Croquettes made Naples style, Grandma Scaramuzzi and my mom Assunta “Sue”Battaglia’s style could be one of my most favorite foods on Earth! Grandma Scaramuzzi taught her daughter (my mom) how to make these culinary delights from the city she lived in before she immigrated to Staten Island NYC to marry my grandfather. Now let’s discuss the word PANZAROTTO/PANZAROTTI (plural) shall we? In every other part of Italy a Panzarotto is a “pouch” of filled dough. They are baked or fried and depending on the region will be filled with all sorts of vegetables, cheeses, and meats. Google PANZAROTTI PUGLIESI and you’ll see what I mean. But for some reason, and this happens all over Italy one word will have a million different meanings regarding food. In the language and dialect of Naples Panzarotti means a fried Potato croquette. Growing up I watched Mom make these and she had a specific way of making them. First of all they usually were a way of using up leftover mashed potatoes. Certainly she’d make them on their own as well but NEVER with potatoes cooked the same day. Something happens to the potatoes when you cook and mash them on day one and on day two form the Panzarotti and fry them. She had some rules. Only bits of diced mozzarella, not too much. Lots of Pecorino and black pepper in the mix. Only egg yolks in the mix. The whites would be for later when breading. And the breading always PLAIN breadcrumbs, not the Italian Seasoned type. Are you with me here? Are you ready to take a stroll down the streets of Napoli and eat the foods that are sold in the Fry shops? For those who want to be further confused they are also called CROCCHE’ DI PATATE and if you go to Sicily, they are called CAZZILLI where they can be either fried without the breading or with the breading. Confused yet? Don’t be…Italian and Italianamerican cuisine has lots of variations, twists and turns. Whenever I decide to blog a new recipe or a traditional family recipe I do lots of research to see if my family simply creating these rules on their own or if they are following a hallowed ritual. Happy to report that mostly all the recipes from Napoli I’ve researched dip the floured formed Panzarotti in beaten EGG WHITES and then into PLAIN BREADCRUMBS. Moral of the story…don’t ever disagree with a Napoletana Mother and Grandmother!!!
PANZAROTTI NAPOLETANA NAPLES STYLE POTATO CROQUETTES YIELD ABOUT 24
3 LBS RUSSET BAKING POTATOES PEELED AND CUT INTO QUARTERS
3/4 LB MOZZARELLA DICED SMALL
1/2 TSP. KOSHER SALT
3/4 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PARMIGIANO (MOM USED THE PECORINO)
1/2 TSP. GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1/4 CUP FINELY MINCED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
1 WHOLE EGG AND 2 YOLKS, RESERVING THE EGG WHITES FOR BREADING
1 CUP UNSEASONED ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS
1/2 CUP TIPO 00 FLOUR OR 1/2 CUP SIFTED AP UNBLEACHED FLOUR FOR DREDGING
3 CUPS OLIVE OIL, PEANUT OIL, OR CORN OIL (WE PAN FRY OURS)
First we make the potatoes. In a large pot filled with well salted water and bring to a GENTLE boil then simmer for at least 15-20 minutes. Do not overcook. When a fork easily pierces the potatoes they are done. Drain the potatoes and place on a FLAT pan in one layer. Let this cool to room temperature, then cover with foil and refrigerate for no less than 5 hours, preferably overnight. Trust me. Then bring them back to room temperature and mash or rice them. Beat the whole egg and yolks. After you’ve mashed the potatoes, add the eggs, the cheeses, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend well making sure your mixture isn’t too wet or sticky. If so a little flour will tighten that up, just a little. Now form the mix into about 24 equal sized panzarotti. About 3 1/2-4 inches long in the shape of a cylinder. Place on a baker’s pan lined with parchment. Loosely cover and chill for 1/2 hour. Now set up a station of the flour….then the beaten EGG WHITES…then the breadcrumbs. Gently dredge the croquettes in the flour,, then into the eggs carefully letting the excess drip off, then into the breadcrumbs, make sure they are completely coated. Line back up on a parchment paper coated tray. Heat 3 /4 in of oil till it gets to hot, about 350 degrees F or when you place a cube of bread in it the cube sizzles and starts to brown. Gently add the croquettes no more than 5-6 at a time DO NOT CROWD THE PAN!!! Use a heavy high sided wide one. When one side is done, takes about 2 1/2 minutes or less per side, turn gently. When all golden brown you are done. Transfer to either a cooking rack or lots of paper towels. Add more oil and wait between batches to let the oil come up to temperature again. There’s a nice amount of mozzarella in there so you maybe have a little mozzarella burst thru but if you don’t overfry you should be fine.
Serve them immediately, or you can reheat them when ready to serve uncovered in a hot oven for only a few minutes. Here’s some other ingredients you can add….Provolone, thin strips or fine dice of sopressata, dry sausage, salami, prosciutto. If using the cured meats just a small bit will work and the finer you dice/mince the better. What a treat to have these on their own in a paper cone from a Friggitori in Naples or on your own table at home. Now you’ve made NU BELL PANZAROTT o CROCCHE’. Eat like a Napoletano!!!
Pasta comes in many shapes and sizes and there are special ones made to be used in soups. Tubettini, Tubetti, Orzo, Acini di Pepe, Stelline, Pastina, Seme di Melone, Funghetti, Ditalini, Farfalline are just some of the names and shapes that are created to go in Minestre or Zuppe. The Pasta part of Pasta e Fagioli uses any of these shapes as one of it’s star ingredients. I love using these shapes the same way one would use rice, couscous, barley, farro, etc. Mixing it with a few ingredients will give you a hearty side dish, or a substantial main dish. Your choice. Here’s a recipe I developed and the family loved it so I have to blog it for you. I think you’ll like it too.
TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 4-6
1 lb. TUBETTINI (COOKED AL DENTE, ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE DIRECTIONS)
2 TBS. OLIVE OIL
2 MEDIUM ZUCCHINI, SMALL DICE
1/4 LB. SLICED PROSCIUTTO, THEN DICED, FOR THIS SMALL PASTA YOU WANT THE PROSCIUTTO TO BE SAME SIZE AS THE PASTA
2 SLICED GARLIC CLOVES
KOSHER SALT, CRACKED BLACK PEPPER
1/8 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, MORE FOR ADDING WHEN SERVED
Let’s start out with noting the absence of an herb here. It’s superfluous. You will loose the nuance of the prosciutto here, so let the cheese be the additional flavor with the garlic and oil. Sometimes American Italian food is over “greened” with unnecessary herbs, especially that parsley garnish. Want to cook more “Italian”? Let’s start with the less is more approach. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While that is happening in a wide heavy skillet/pan, add the olive oil and heat it on medium. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with some salt and let this cook for a good 10 minutes. Shake the pan a few times to move the zucchini around to cook on all sides. Then add the prosciutto. Make sure you’ve taken care to cook the pasta only to the Al Dente point, then drain, reserve 3 tbs of the starchy cooking water. Cook the prosciutto for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, cooking another 3 minutes. Now Add the drained Tubettini and coat well with the zucchini and prosciutto, Add the reserved water and cook for only 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 1/8 cup of the grated cheese now. Blend well. TASTE now and see if any more salt is necessary, If so, lightly add more, and add the black pepper as well. Toss well. We are ready to eat! You may want to add just a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top…and more grated cheese. That’s what I would do.. You do as you like and I hope you like this visit with me in my kitchen. Happy Cooking!
FRESH, BRIGHT, GREEN. All words I long to hear when April rolls around. Living in the Northeast United States this year has held onto a really unseasonably cold Winter for way too long. Even under normal regional weather conditions for this time of the year I’m as overdone as burnt toast pleading for something green to sprout from the ground. Whether you celebrate Spring, Passover, Easter foods which have bright fresh flavors take center stage. The root vegetables will finally take a back seat and it’s back to seeing new vegetables in the markets. So to start off the Spring season and possibly Holiday cooking let’s make some Roasted Green Beans. Stop, don’t think that this is a “Spring” thing, you can get fresh green beans throughout the year so keep that in mind. When in season in your area and grown local…even BETTER. The ingredients are few, the flavor is immense. Green Beans, OliveOil, Garlic, Salt , Pepper. Are you with me?? Awesome. step into my kitchen and let’s cook!!
SERVES: 5-6 TIME: 25 MINUTES
1 1/2 lbs. TRIMMED CLEANED FRESH GREEN BEANS
2 1/2 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1-2 SLICEDor HALVED CLOVES OF GARLIC
GROUND BLACK PEPPER
ONE LARGE LEMON
Pre heat oven to 450 degrees F. Using a sturdy baking pan, lay out the green beans and coat with 2 tbs. of Olive Oil. Make sure you have them in one flat layer. Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of saltand the garlic. Now roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and give them a toss, continue to roast for 5 more minutes as they gently brown. Remove and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 1/2 Tbs. of the Olive Oil. Slice the lemon and squeeze 1/2 of it over the beans. Ovens like people are very tempermental and unique so as with any recipe YOU are the most important part of the recipe. 450 F in your oven may cook them faster or slower..just keep an eye on them. You want them to be somewhat wrinkled, tender yet not mushy. Serve with lemon slices.
Good to see green on my pages and in the stores and very soon outside! Happy Spring!!
I was thinking up a clever title for this blogpost but then said ditch that idea, just say what it is because that really will say it all. Today was National Potato Day and really, that potato needs more than just one day to be celebrated. I celebrate it all the time in all of it’s forms…however, I could write for hours discussing ways to cook and eat potatoes and cover all the world’s cuisines with that but I’m going to limit this celebration to a simple and flavorful oven roasted version. Yes, you’ve see this all before, but maybe some of you haven’t and this came out so good I want to share it. Like the picture? Please say yes, I’m sensitive and can’t handle rejection…ok, thanks for liking it. Let’s move on..Oven Roasted potatoes are not uniquely Italian, but they are made from North to South and East to West in Italy. If someone knows of a region in Italy where they are not side dish in , please leave me a comment here. In my travels to Italy the Olive Oil roasted potato perfumed with garlic and usually Rosemary, or any one of a bunch of local herbs were always served with the SECONDI, the second courses. Here in the U.S. they are a mainstay of the Italian-American kitchen, and many times are the potato standard in Restaurants..although in the NYC area the Potato Croquette is more popular.
For enough portions for 5-6 people use 2 1/2 lbs of scrubbed potatoes…peeling? that’s up to you. A “cleaner” presentation is done when you peel them, me, I don’t need “clean”, I like rustic and love the taste and texture of the potato peel. For tonight’s dish I used White Potatoes, they have a naturally thin skin so they work really well here. Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees, if you have a convection (like I do) go to 375 degrees. Cut all the scrubbed (water only, then pat dry with paper towels) potatoes in 1/2 then into 1/4 inch wedges. Easy. Put them all into a bowl. Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil with 4 cloves of finely minced garlic, and 4 tbs of a mix of chopped herbs…now you are on your own…
What do I mean? The choices of the herbs..this recipe I combined 3 herbs from my garden which is still flourishing at the end of October. I used fresh picked Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme. Think of your dinner profile..I’m going to give you ideas here that will allow you to take this recipe and fit it into your particular dinner plans…Asian/Indian? Mint, Cilantro, Basil… Mexican? Oregano, Cilantro, Thyme…so this is up to you..Tonight I made a Chicken with Cremini and Spinach in a Marsala Wine Sauce so, I went with a typically Italian profile. Once the oil is whisked, season the potatoes themselves with 1 1/2 tsp. of Kosher Salt, and 1 tsp. of ground black pepper. Now pour the oil over the seasoned potatoes and with your hands coat all of the potatoes with the oil. Pour this out onto a sheet pan …PAY ATTENTION HERE!~!! and make sure they are not on top of each other. Roasting is a wonderful way to cook potatoes but you need to have all the sides in contact with the heat, not each other.
Place into the oven and let them roast for 20 minutes. Shake the pan and flip the potatoes onto their other side and let them roast another 15 minutes. Check then, they should be done at this point but if not, shake the pan again (please..with pot holders!!!, i take no responsibility for burns!) and let them cook another 5 minutes.
They will look like this when they are done:
Let them cool for a few minutes then serve with your main course. Happy National Potato Day…it’s a day that is celebrated with all good things! Trying to think of a potato dish I don’t like..hmmm..nope..can’t think of one.