Pasta with Swordfish*

Sometimes I crave for a dish that is completely out of season but so good that I have to make it, against my rule that all the ingredients should be seasonal.
It happened the other day, when I suddenly remembered the delicious recipe that a friend of mine had sent to me before Christmas. Caught in the Holidays rush, I had forgotten about it for weeks but, as soon as I remembered it, my mouth began watering at the idea of trying it before sharing it with you.
I must premise that, because of its history and location, Sicily has one of the best culinary traditions of Italy. Over the centuries, the island has been under Greek, Roman, Germanic, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, and even Spanish rule before it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Each culture has left its footprint on the Sicilian gastronomy that, as a result, is a unique blend of exotic and traditional, local and foreign flavors.
Moreover, the island climate allows an incredible variety of crops, which vary from citruses, almonds, olives and pistachios along the coast to mushrooms and berries in the mountains; the Mediterranean seafood is outstanding but, as you move towards the interior, it’s replaced by venison, meat and poultry cooked in distinctive ways, with unique combinations of ingredients. Then are the cheeses, the sweets, the preserves, and the strong wines …
Every bite makes you wonder how somebody came up with such a dizzying mixture of flavors in just one dish. It feels like each new invader wanted to add its own flavors to the local cuisine; then, over the centuries, nobody wanted to renounce to them and they all became part of the Sicilian cooking style.
In Sicily, every meal is a feast or, as a friend of mine likes to say, a challenge because you would like to eat everything.
Just read this recipe and you’ll understand why I’ve classified it under the “indulgence” category. It’s probably not strictly Biological, but certainly worth trying!

*Recipe by Letizia and Max Arcidiacono

ps8

Ingredients:

(serves 4)  S  B  Gf (with rice pasta)

  • 10 oz. of short pasta, preferably Penne
  • 8 oz. of swordfish
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 10 oz .of organic tomato sauce (see my recipe)
  • 1 mature red tomato red round onion
  • one medium round eggplant
  • 6 Tbsp. of Evoo
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup of sweet white
  • 1 Tbsp. of chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp. of chopped parsley
  • 1 oz. of grated Ricotta Salata cheese
  • Salt and black pepper Continue reading

Ravioli with Spinach and Ricotta

The incredulous looks on people’s face when I tell them what I cooked for my birthday have convinced me that I must be one of the very few persons who cook on their own birthday.
As you might have inferred by now, not only I like to cook but also I like to eat. Unfortunately, I must do it with even more moderation and caution than the average person because of my age and my food intolerances.
Strangely, though, I don’t like to eat most of the things I make. This oddity can be explained by the fact that I have a very refined sense of smell and I can stand only very natural odors for a very short time. Therefore, when something has been cooking for longer than a few minutes in my kitchen, I’m already so nauseous that I don’t feel like eating it anymore. Continue reading

Pasta with Pesto Sauce

Let’s make a nice pasta dish, for a change. This is how they make it in the Italian Riviera, not just with the pesto sauce but with potatoes and green beans as well.
The result is surprisingly pleasant.

Ingredients:

(serves 4)    Sp  Sr  V  B  Gf (with rice pasta)

  • 8 oz. of durum semolina short pasta (penne or rotini)
  • 1 big potato or two medium yellow organic potatoes
  • ½ lb. organic green beans
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt

For the pesto sauce:

  • 25 leaves of fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. of pine nuts
  • 4-5 Tablespoons of Evoo
  • 1 ounce of pecorino cheese

Make the pesto sauce.
Wash the basil and remove the leaves from the stems. Combine 1 Tbsp. of pine nuts Continue reading

Pasta salad or Penne à la Checca*

Planning your Easter Brunch? This recipe is ideal because you won’t have to worry about the pasta getting cold. For an even healthier version, make it with whole grain pasta. The Barilla brand is my favorite, but there are others that are as good or better.
Only one recommendation: please make it with fresh mozzarella.
Mozzarella is not that gummy cheese sold already shredded in plastic bags or in shrink-wrapped sticks. Continue reading

Pasta with potatoes and broccoli

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

(for 4 people)   A  V  B  Gf*

  • 9 oz. of short dry pasta (like penne or rotini)
  • 1 big potato
  • 1/3 lb. of broccoli
  • Four to six quarts of cold water
  • 6 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 canned anchovies
  • 1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. of salt

Put the water to boil, in a pot big enough to cook the first three ingredients.
Meanwhile, peel the potato and cut it into small cubes (1/4 inch). Wash the broccoli and cut them into small pieces. As soon as the water reaches a full, rolling boil, add first the salt and then the first three ingredients. Gently stir ingredients immediately after adding to water. Continue reading

Ravioli with meat filling

Ingredients:

(makes about 8 dozens)

For the filling:

  • 1lb. of mixed ground meat (veal, pork, and beef)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • half yellow onion
  • rosemary
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ pound spinach
  • 4 oz. of parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 oz. of rice
  • 1 cup of milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the pasta dough:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 lbs. all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. of olive oil

 

Preparation:

Chop finely the onion, the carrot and the celery and sauté in olive oil until golden.

 

 

 

 

 

Add the rosemary and the meat, then brown the meat for 10 minutes on high heat. Add salt and pepper, then cover and cook for 30 minutes. If the meat gets too dry, add some hot water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cook the rice in milk until soft and let it cool down. If the rice absorbs all the milk, add more hot milk. The rice will make the filling lighter and smoother.
Cook the spinach in just the water clinging to the leaves after washing, for 5 minutes, then drain.
Make the pasta dough: in a large bowl, break the eggs, add the olive oil, the water, the salt and beat with a fork. Still using the fork, incorporate the flour little by little. Keep adding flour until the dough will be hard enough to be kneaded.  Knead for ten minutes with strength, adding flour every time it becomes sticky. The dough must be firm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Let it rest for 30 minutes. This passage is very important because the dough will form the fibers necessary for rolling it thin.
In the meantime, continue the filling preparation. In a food processor, put the cooked meat, the parmesan cheese, salt, nutmeg, spinach, cooked rice, and blend the ingredients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour the filling into a bowl, add one egg and stir with a wooden spoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roll the pasta dough into a sheet. I recommend using a machine because the pasta will be more uniform and the stripes will be of the ideal width for the ravioli. After many years of intense use, I still love my sturdy and simple Imperia machine, but many other models are available for purchase online or in kitchenware stores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dough can also be rolled out with a rolling pin and then cut into stripes of the desired width.
After resting, the pasta dough is sticky, so keep adding flour to roll it out.
In order to keep the pasta stripes from drying out, I recommend rolling out the dough in small quantities, keeping the rest of it in the plastic wrap.

 

 

 

 

 

In a small bowl, whisk two eggs with two tablespoons of water.
When the first stripe of pasta is ready (about 4” x 20″) brush some beaten egg on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a tablespoon of filling and, with the tip of a knife, place small mounds of filling on the top half of the sheet, fold over, and press the edges to seal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut out ravioli with a pasta cutter. First cut the longer side like in the picture below, then the single ravioli by cutting perpendicularly to the first long cut.

 

 

 

 

 

For fancier shapes, you can use a cookie cutter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat until you run out of filling. If you have some pasta left, you can cut it into fettuccine.
Place the ravioli on a flat surface, like a tray covered with waxed paper and dusted with flour.

 

 

 

 

 

The ravioli can be used immediately, or kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or even frozen. In this case, I suggest letting them dry for a few hours in a cool, dry place, remembering to flip them upside down after a couple of hours so that they dry on both sides.

Serving suggestion:

The normal portion of ravioli as a main dish is 2 dozens per person.
Cook them in abundant salted water (1 tsp. of salt in each quart of water), 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt 1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter per person, add a few leaves of sage, and grate 1 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese per person. Drain a few ravioli at a time with a small strainer, transfer them to a serving bowl that you have warmed up with hot water or directly to each plate, pour the butter on them, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.