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Boast of Italian food: spaghetti allo scoglio

The spaghetti with seafood (“Spaghetti allo scoglio”) are one of the most loved summer dishes. They are cooked throughout Italy, especially in seaside resorts and during holidays, but its origins take us south: to Sicily.

Unlike what you think, the origin of the name “Spaghetti allo scoglio” is not connected to the ingredients, but to an ancient recipe of fishermen. The sauce was made with small pieces of rock, which were sautéed in the pot to detach the “rock animals” still alive. The stones were removed and the pasta added to the sauce: a dish with an intense sea flavor.

Ingredients for 4 people

  •  350 gr Spaghetti or Vermicelli (durum wheat semolina and bronze drawn)
  •  1 kg Mussels
  •  750 gr Clams or lupins
  •  700 gr (clean) Squid, cuttlefish, baby octopus
  •  300 gr tomatoes
  •  Half a glass of Cognac or brandy
  •  White wine
  •  3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Chili pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  •  Salt 
  • Chopped parsley

 Method

First of all let’s clean the fish!

The simplest ones are the clams. Rinse under fresh water to remove any sand inside.

Next the mussels: with a knife scratch the impurities on the shell and pull away the fine linen (the filaments that come out of the mussel).

Remove the octopus and squid’s head, entrails and skin (or have them cleaned by the fishmonger), and cut them into strips. Do the same thing with the prawns, finally extracting the pulp.

In a hot pan, brown oil, garlic and chili pepper.

Pour the clams and mussels into a large pot and let them open over high heat. Peel them about two thirds and filter the cooking liquid.

Take the squid and cook in another pan with a drizzle of olive oil, a clove of garlic and a little salt. Finally blend with white wine.

Also brown the prawns in a saucepan with oil, garlic and a drizzle of cognac or Brandy. When cooked, add the squid, mussels and clams and dip in the cooking shellfish broth.

Sauté the tomatoes, cut into small pieces, in oil, two cloves of garlic and a medium onion. When the vegetable water has dried, add the shellfish and crustaceans and wet with the cooking broth of the fish.

In the meantime boil salted water and pour the pasta, which must be drained halfway through cooking. Drain the pasta in the pan with the sauce and sauté adding a little chili pepper and a ladle of cooking water, in order to create a very thick and creamy mixture. Then serve it with unshelled seafood.

As per personal taste, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

With fish sauce you can prepare many variations: from risotto, to cooking in foil or crust.

Matching wine:

dry and fragrant white wine such as Ligurian Vermentino, or with Falanghina, Greco di Tufo or Bianco d’Alcamo.

Boast of Italian traditional food: pappa al pomodoro

Pappa al pomodoro: the original recipe

The dish has ancient origins, although it became famous because of Il Giornalino di Gian Burrasca (1911) and the song Viva la pappa col pomodoro.

Ingredients

  • 500 g (about 2 cups) peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 250 g (about 1/2 lb) stale bread (preferably Tuscan bread), cut into smallish pieces
  • 1 liter (about 4 cups) vegetable broth, warmed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • basil, chopped coarsely
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (you can also use seasoned or spicy oil)
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Place the stale bread in a large bowl and pour the warm broth over it, cover and set aside for at least 1 hour.
Over medium heat and in a wide pot, pour the oil and sauté the garlic. Add the tomatoes and a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Go back to your bread, which should have absorbed most of the broth. Add the bread to the pot, squeezing it a bit with your hand as you do so to eliminate any excess broth. Cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon.
Serve the pappa al pomodoro warm, adding a bit of fresh-cut basil and a swirl of good olive oil on top. And remember, always cut fresh basil with your hands, not with a knife or scissors!
Buon appetito!

Recommended wine:

Riserva Vernaccia di San Gimignano White wine with intense aroma of white-fleshed fruit and yellow flowers . Light impressions of vanilla, honey and aromatic herbs. Elegant on the palate with good acidity, slightly sapid with a mineral flint finish.

 

 

Boast of Italian traditional food: pesto alla genovese

Pesto alla genovese: the original recipe

 
A marvel of simplicity, pesto is a celebrated treasure of Mediterranean cuisine. If you’re lucky enough to experience this jewel of Liguria, sitting comfortably on the terrace of a local restaurant in any village by the sea, it would be unforgettable, dream-like even.

Ingredients

  • 100 gr of fresh Genovese basil
  • 30 gr pine nuts
  • 60 gr aged Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese freshly grated, do not compromise on this ingredient and make sure is good quality
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 10 gr Maldon flaky salt
  • 80 cc extra virgin olive oil

How to make pesto alla genovese

The marble mortar and wooden pestle are traditional tools to make pesto. In other words, try to find one.
Firstly, wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a paper towel but don’t rub them.
In a mortar finely crush the basil leaves the garlic clove and pine nuts. Add the salt and cheese to the mixture. 

Secondly, keep pounding using a light circular movement of the pestle ,add some of the Extra Virgin Olive from time to time and keep pounding.

Keep on mixing until you obtain a very fine and smooth creamy sauce. For example, pesto should not be greasy and the amount of oil used must be well absorbed and not floating on top.
The preparation must be done, certainly,  as quickly as possible to avoid oxidation problems.
You have now obtained less 300 grams of pesto which should be more than enough to dress 6 to 8 portions.

After that, you are ready to dress up your favorite pasta shape: Trenette, Linguine, Spaghetti or Trofie.

Let’s decorate your dish with a couple of basil leaves and few pine nuts on top, in addition.
Buon appetito!

Let’s meet us to cook together.

Boast of Italian traditional food: melanzane alla parmigiana

Melanzane alla parmigiana: the traditional recipe

Parmigiana di melanzane has its origin in  northern Italy. The original recipe is a great way to serve aubergines. By layering them with Parmesan and tomatoes and then baking them you get an absolutely moreish, scrumptious vegetable dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • basic tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cans peeled whole tomatoes
  • salt

Preparation

Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally. Then place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant and dry on towels.
In a saute pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking. Saute until lightly golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces. On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Sauce:

In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. After that, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.
Therefore, remember that this sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Recommended Wine: Bolgheri DOC rosé, Gioia del Colle DOC rosé, Garda DOC Classico Groppello
Characteristics: rosé wine, still, dry, medium-bodied