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Posted 01/21/2015

Beets, Cucumber and Bottarga Salad

In Italy salad is one of those food items that makes it into your stomach just because “Mom has told you so!” You will rarely encounter a list of salads on our restaurant menus and in fact a handful of greens and a few chopped (or grated) carrots are all you can hope for to be served as a side dish to your steak or “rosticciana” ribs. Tuscans favor sautéed greens, roasted potatoes or vegetable stews like “Peperonata” to accompany their proteins.

Then I met Deb, and moved to Los Angeles where “People really eat salad before pasta???” The whole notion of considering salad as a stand alone dish still quite does not resonate with me, but as you can see I am adapting and making progress. However, don’t u dare ask me for salad to start your meal, you will rub me the wrong way! Continue Reading…

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Posted 07/08/2014

Speck and Mustard Green Pizza

Pizza is the perfect template for being creative with food. You can pretty much put anything you want on the dough, sweet or savory, bake it and at the very least it won’t be bad and it’s always a lot of fun. To make it really good, however, can be a little trickier.

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Posted 09/21/2012

Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Pancetta

This is how I liked Mashed Potatoes. Sure there is something to be said about preparing it with cream and butter, but this is a much lighter, healthier way to enjoy them and for my family it was also the perfect excuse to use the olive oil from our farms for another dish. Olive oil is a healthy fat and the kind we produced our farm was exquisite. This was also the only way my dad, who is Kosher, could enjoy this classic comfort food. The Kosher diet has a lot of restrictions and eating dairy is one of them. After moving to the states, I added pancetta. The salty, smokiness adds a nice contrast to the creamy potatoes.

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Posted 09/12/2012

Zucchini Trifolati: Sauteed Zucchini

It is really customary in Italy to prepare fresh, seasonal produce by simply sautéing it in a pan with a touch of olive oil, some shallots and a pinch of salt. This way of cooking embraces the natural flavors and textures of the vegetables which you never want to compromise by overcooking. This is also a really great way to prepare a wonderful, healthy meal quickly during the hot Summer when you don’t feel like turning on the oven or leaving the stovetop cooking away for hours.

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Posted 07/28/2012

Insalata Di Fagiolini Verdi: Green Bean Salad

I love string beans. It’s probably one of the first vegetables that I have ever worked with and there is one  very good reason why. I grew up with them, more specifically, cleaning them. My mother hated cleaning the tips off the beans, so in exchange for being allowed to vegetate in front of the TV, she set me up with 3 big baskets.

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Posted 05/15/2012

Roasted Beet Salad

I love beets. Can’t say the same for when I was younger though. When I was kid, I had no interest in beets and the same goes for my kids on most days, but over the years, after developing recipes around this unique vegetable and my taste buds, I have come to respect the beet as an adult flavor and acquired taste that is definitely worth the wait. Cooked or uncooked, this root vegetable has a long shelf life, are versatile and rich in folic acid, calcium and iron. Continue Reading…

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Posted 05/14/2012

Fried Olives

I really like finger foods; so much flavor packed and delivered in just one bite or two! Filled with spicy pork sausage, good parmesan cheese, breaded and deep fried, these Fried Olives certainly pack a punch and are the perfect way to tickle your guests taste buds and get them ready for the main course.

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Posted 10/12/2011

Carciofi alla Fiesolana (Braised Artichokes)

Artichokes, along with beets and mushrooms represent for me a moment of growth for my palate. I still remember clearly (you know those memories you cannot shake off) my parents trying to force me to eat those tough raw green leaves when I was a kid: they could not convince me, no matter the effort. There are many flavors you get to enjoy in life, only after you have developed a sense, an affinity for them.  I tried to convince both my daughters that Artichoke Leaves in”Pinzimonio” (eating raw vegetables dipped in evo, salt and pepper) are really good for them, and I told them of how Tuscan and traditional the whole “experience” is. They just looked at me sideways and move on. Continue Reading…

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Posted 03/09/2011

Caprese di Farro

Farro salad is a stable of any given Italian Summer; its freshness and lightness are perfect for a pic-nic or an evening appetizer, especially and if you happen to have a vegetable garden where to pick fresh Tomatoes and Basil.

There is much confusion or disagreement about what exactly farro is. Emmerspelt, and einkorn are called farro in Italy, sometimes, but not always, distinguished as farro medio, farro grande, and farro piccolo, respectively. Regional differences in what is grown locally and eaten as farro, as well as similarities between the three grains, may explain the confusion. Barley and farro may be used interchangeably because of their similar characteristics. Spelt is much more commonly grown in Germany and Switzerland and, though called dinkel there, is eaten and used in much the same way, and might therefore be considered farro. Common wheat may also be prepared and eaten much like farro, in which form it is often referred to as wheatberries. Continue Reading…

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Posted 10/11/2010

Peppers and Potatoes Stew: Peperonata Di Patate

This is the fantastic hunter’s stew. It’s somewhat of a winter dish because it is served warm, and the texture is very juicy. It requires a lot of cooking, it’s one of those dishes that Grandma puts on the stove to simmer. The smell of peperonata makes me think of rainy November/December days spend with my Grandma with foggy windows and good smells. It brings memories back.

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