Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Cucina Rustica

Abundance of fresh tomatoes.

Abundance of fresh tomatoes.

When I miss Italy — and anyone who’s lived there or eaten at the family table during a visit —  will miss Italy, then this is the kind of food  I create.  Simple, fast and marvelously flavored.  Don’t compromise on the ingredients.  That means : no industrial tomatoes that lack flavor, fresh mozzarella that comes in its liquid, not a plastic shroud, and fresh fish.

Excerpts from Cucina Rustica, by Viana La Place & Evan Kleiman , Wm Morrow & Co.,1990.

Bruschetta al Pomodoro e Rucola

Grilled Country Bread with Tomatoes and Arugula, Serves 4 to 6

All over Italy, grilled country bread topped with a mixture of chopped tomatoes and arugula is the most commonly served type of bruschetta. However, we strongly associate this antipasto with Rome during summer, when Bruschetta al Pomodoro e Rucola can make a meal, served with a firm, fresh piece of mozzarella di bufala.

3 large red, ripe tomatoes, blossom ends removed, diced

2 small bunches arugula, stems removed, coarsely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 thick slices good-quality country bread

2 garlic cloves, peeled

Extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl gently mix together the tomatoes and arugula. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Grill or lightly toast bread. Rub with garlic cloves. Spoon tomato-arugula mixture over each slice of bread. Generously drizzle olive oil over the Bruschetta.

Pasta con Tonno alla Siciliana

Pasta with Fresh Tuna and Mint, Serves 4 to 6

A variation on a Sicilian dish in which a chunk of fresh tuna is stuffed with mint and garlic and braised in tomato sauce. In our recipe the tuna is diced and quickly sautéed, then added to the sauce to finish cooking. Paper-thin slices of garlic and chopped fresh mint are added at the last moment and cooked very briefly so that their flavors stay strong and bright.

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 large onion, peeled and cut into medium dice

2-1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 pound fresh tuna, cut into 1/2-inch-thick-steaks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 pound imported conchiglie rigate

Place 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and the onion in a large sauté pan. Cook over low heat until the onion is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, partly covered, until juices thicken and a sauce forms, about 15 minutes.

Cut the tuna into 1/2-inch dice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a separate medium-sized skillet. Turn up heat to medium, add tuna, and toss until tuna is cooked on the surface but still pink at the center.

When the sauce has thickened, add the tuna, mint, and garlic, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until tuna is just cooked.

Cook the conchiglie rigate in abundant salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta well. Place in a serving bowl. Add the sauce and toss gently. Serve immediately.

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