Recipes

piadina romagnola

Piadina Romagnola

Piadina is a traditional flatbread from the Italian historical region of Romagna. The name piadina (plural: piadine) is a diminutive form of piada (used interchangeably to refer to the same preparation), which originates from the Greek pláthanon: “long dish, baking tray.” Since 2014, ‘piadina’ is registered as Protected Geographical Indication (Indicazione Geografica Protetta, or IGP, in Italian.) Traditionally, piadina is made … Continue reading “Piadina Romagnola”

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Mascarpone Cream on Panettone

Mascarpone Cream – How to Make Panettone Divine

Growing up in the province of Milan, the presence of various panettoni in the house was reliably the earliest indicator that the Christmas season had returned. My father would receive a couple of panettoni as a gift from his workplace, my mother would bring one or two home she received from some the people she … Continue reading “Mascarpone Cream – How to Make Panettone Divine”

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mascarpone tomato gnocchi

Buckwheat Gnocchi with Mascarpone Tomato Sauce

This recipe was inspired by a dish I had last summer at Farmer’s Apprentice, a great Vancouver restaurant. For my interpretation, I made rustic gnocchi by mixing in some buckwheat flour, and used mascarpone as a base for a creamy tomato sauce. The result speaks for itself! The dish is really easy to make, but … Continue reading “Buckwheat Gnocchi with Mascarpone Tomato Sauce”

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oven-roasted vegetable stripes

Oven-Roasted Vegetables Stripes

Roasted vegetables are nothing new, but this particular arrangement makes for a truly spectacular dish which can be served as a main course, accompanied with fresh and aged cheese, as well as a side dish. When I lived with my parents, this preparation was a common Sunday meal feature. However, it didn’t start in my … Continue reading “Oven-Roasted Vegetables Stripes”

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chard and spinach gnudi

Chard and Spinach Gnudi, the Naked Ravioli

This recipe was adapted from Domenica Marchetti’s “Swiss Chard and Spinach Ravioli Nudi”, part of her great cookbook The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, entirely dedicated to the prominent role of vegetables in Italian food. I chose this recipe because I wanted to recreate the gnudi I tasted in a restaurant in Florence during a recent … Continue reading “Chard and Spinach Gnudi, the Naked Ravioli”

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passato di verdure

Passato di Verdure (Strained Vegetables Soup)

Growing up, I was used to my mother’s soup made from chunky vegetables in clear broth. I can’t say I loved it – certainly not as much as I enjoy it now – but I clearly remember liking its strained variant: the “passato” (passed through, strained), the first time I tasted it. This memory goes back to when I … Continue reading “Passato di Verdure (Strained Vegetables Soup)”

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squash risotto

Squash Risotto, a Comfort Dish for Winter

Squash risotto (or risotto con la zucca), is a traditional risotto common in all northern Italy. The squash gives an especially mealy texture, and a sweeter flavor to it, along of course with a beautiful orange color. But what is squash, exactly? Along with melon, watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, and gourd, squash belongs to a … Continue reading “Squash Risotto, a Comfort Dish for Winter”

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pesto alla trapanese

Pesto alla Trapanese, with Almonds and Fresh Tomatoes

I’m from northern Italy – only been to Sicily once – and I only had heard about this dish before moving to Canada. Thanks to my friends food-bloggers, however, this dish tickled my attention, I starting making it, and I think it has already become part of my repertoire! What I love about Pesto alla … Continue reading “Pesto alla Trapanese, with Almonds and Fresh Tomatoes”

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spätzle-style passatelli

Spätzle-style Passatelli Sauteed with Radicchio, on Cheese Fondue

Passatelli are a variation of “stracciatella”, an ancient soup that can be found in various parts of Italy. To make stracciatella, a mix of egg, cheese and (optional) breadcrumbs is whisked into boiling broth, resulting in bits of ripped dough that resemble small tore rags (“straccetti”). To make passatelli, instead, the dough is forced through … Continue reading “Spätzle-style Passatelli Sauteed with Radicchio, on Cheese Fondue”

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zuppa di cipolle alla valdostana

Alpine-style Onion Soup (Zuppa di Cipolle alla Valdostana)

When it’s cold outside, my definition of comfort food is a warm and rustic dish. This soup totally qualifies as such, especially when it’s served in individual earthenware bowls that stay hot. This preparation is characteristic of the Aosta Valley, a small Italian region at the borders with France and Switzerland, on the western Alps. … Continue reading “Alpine-style Onion Soup (Zuppa di Cipolle alla Valdostana)”

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Mediterranean Pasta with Capers, Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, and Mozzarella

This is a summer dish, but if you can find ripe cherry tomatoes, then it can be made every season. And it’s one of those pasta dishes where the sauce is so quick it can be made as the pasta cooks – my favorites when I don’t have time to plan ahead. Despite its disarming … Continue reading “Mediterranean Pasta with Capers, Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, and Mozzarella”

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Roasted Green Beans

Ah the Maillard reaction! The magic behind roasting and toasting which is responsible for the extra flavor in bread crust, pan fried eggs, seared steaks, and even maple syrup and coffee! Maillard browning is the result of the reaction between sugars and ammino-acids (the building blocks of proteins), which happens at temperatures around 150 °C, … Continue reading “Roasted Green Beans”

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Shrimp, Zucchini and Saffron Linguine

This dish is a summer classic featuring an incredible flavor combination: roasted zucchini, shrimp and saffron, in a creamy wine sauce. Like other crustaceans, shrimp tend to spoil quickly and are often frozen at sea or even sold cooked. Whole shrimp deteriorates even quicker because the cephalothorax (the “head”) contains the midgut gland (corresponding to … Continue reading “Shrimp, Zucchini and Saffron Linguine”

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Truffles Uncovered

I am very excited to announce that I have been invited to participate in a food lit event that will take place in Turin (Piedmont, Italy) this coming September. The event is titled “Turin Epicurean Capital” and will revolve around the universal meaning of food in life – naturally, a topic I feel strongly about. … Continue reading “Truffles Uncovered”

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Poppy Seed Potato Bignès

Going through my old recipe book, I stumbled upon this delicious dish – true comfort food, Italian style! It is absolutely simple to make and a guaranteed success. The only challenge lies in finishing the two components more or less at the same time. This recipe has been adapted from La Cucina Italiana (November 1997, … Continue reading “Poppy Seed Potato Bignès”

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Radicchio Risotto with Parmesan Rind

Part of the spirit of Cucina Povera (the Cuisine of the Poor) is frugality and eating anything that can still be eaten. For some ingredients, this even involves a special preparation or a process to make them more edible. And this is certainly the case with Parmesan rind, which is safe to eat, but too … Continue reading “Radicchio Risotto with Parmesan Rind”

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Home-style Pizza Competition

An unusual post for this blog, today. Three friends of mine have just competed in a pizza cook-off, and I had the honor to be the head judge 🙂 The contestants were responsible for bringing their own ingredients, including their pizza dough (which they made beforehand). To cook the pizzas, they all used the same … Continue reading “Home-style Pizza Competition”

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Stewed Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts on their stalk(1) Not everybody loves Brussels sprouts. But, unless you are overly sensitive to bitter flavors, you will find this to be a delicious side dish. Brussels sprouts are the buds of a kind of cabbage belonging to the Brassica family (along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnip, and mustard). This produce has an … Continue reading “Stewed Brussels Sprouts”

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Tagliatelle Timbale with Wine Gravy

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled to be invited by Roz from La Bella Vita to write a guest post for her blog. She asked if I could present a traditional Italian Christmas dish. I didn’t really have a dish that is only for Christmas, so I chose a recipe for really special occasions … Continue reading “Tagliatelle Timbale with Wine Gravy”

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Saffron Penne

Roasted zucchini and/or shrimp are common additions to saffron-based pasta sauces. This recipe, however, is about the simplest saffron sauce, which is just made of saffron and cream. The fat contained in the cream has the ability to bind with parts of the saffron compound that are not water-soluble, thus extracting even more saffron flavor. … Continue reading “Saffron Penne”

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Asparagus Risotto

Among the many risotto variations, asparagus risotto (‘risotto agli asparagi’) is one of the most successful, and one of my favorites. There are a few different ways to incorporate asparagus in a risotto. In my recipe, which uses red wine, diced asparagus are added in stages, from the bottom of the stalk to its top, … Continue reading “Asparagus Risotto”

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Rice and Parsley (Ris e Erburin)

Having some more Italian (flat-leaf) parsley in my fridge, not an easy find in Vancouver, and looking for something quick to make for dinner, I naturally went back to my childhood for a dish where parsley is the absolute star of the show: a simple soup of rice and parsley. I remember very well my … Continue reading “Rice and Parsley (Ris e Erburin)”

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Vodka Pasta (Made Vegetarian)

I’ve been away for so long that I feel almost ashamed of myself! Luckily, this is not sufficient to stop me from posting again 🙂 As you can see from the pictures below, I’m cooking in a different kitchen 🙂 – this is part of the reason for my prolonged absence: we have moved to … Continue reading “Vodka Pasta (Made Vegetarian)”

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Egg and Smoked Scamorza Pasta

This vegetarian dish is inspired by the renowned Carbonara. I would not call it “Vegetarian Carbonara” though, as there is no such thing in Italy. If you are interested in the original Roman dish, many Cannolo Award winners have recipes for it (for instance the excellent La Carbonara by Due Spaghetti). Aside from how it should … Continue reading “Egg and Smoked Scamorza Pasta”

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Summer Minestra

For a summer meal, soup is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But it’s in the summer that we have the best local vegetables and that the body needs fewer calories and more hydration. A soup can actually make for a great summer dish, especially if served lukewarm. This recipe is for … Continue reading “Summer Minestra”

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Two Kinds of Crostini: Cannellini and Radicchio

Crostini (plural of: ‘crostino’, from bread crust) are rustic appetizers where toasted bread slices are used as a support for various toppings. In a way, a ‘bruschetta‘ can be considered a kind of crostino, but it’s generally not seen that way because of its stronger identity. Crostini may be also served as a snack or … Continue reading “Two Kinds of Crostini: Cannellini and Radicchio”

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Handmade Tagliolini with Mushrooms

Most Italians would be perfectly happy to eat pasta every day, and some probably do. Everyday pasta is normally dried durum pasta, delicious when of good quality and properly cooked, and also convenient as it can be stored for months in the cupboard. Fresh pasta, on the other hand, is generally regarded as more sophisticated, … Continue reading “Handmade Tagliolini with Mushrooms”

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Tiramisu, the Uplifting Dessert

Tiramisu (or Tiramisù, as spelled in Italy) is arguably the world’s most popular Italian dessert after gelato. Featured by many Italian restaurants in North America, Tiramisu is for the Italians more of a homemade party cake, and an unpretentious dessert found in pizzerie and trattorie. Even though Tiramisu is a modern creation and many claim … Continue reading “Tiramisu, the Uplifting Dessert”

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Egg Pasta with Green Beans and Mushrooms

Here is another vegetarian recipe with amazing depth of flavors. The earthiness of the mushrooms perfectly marries with the green beans, which also add texture to the dish. But the secret star of the show is the wine – its complex aroma is essential to bringing all the flavors together, as it often does in … Continue reading “Egg Pasta with Green Beans and Mushrooms”

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canederli

Canederli, the Italian Knödel

Canederli are bread dumplings only found in the north-east of Italy (Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli, and part of Veneto), where they are served as a first course or as a main entree. Variations of this dish are common in all south-eastern Europe, where they are also served as an accompaniment to meat stews and roasts. The … Continue reading “Canederli, the Italian Knödel”

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amaretti and amaretto

Amaretti and Amaretto

Amaretti cookies and Amaretto liqueur are both well known in Italy, and have been gaining popularity worldwide. The word ‘amaretto’ comes from the Italian ‘amaro’ (bitter) in reference to the sharp flavor of bitter almonds. Despite the name, both products are predominantly sweet, and their bitterness only enhances the flavor depth. Amaretti cookies are a … Continue reading “Amaretti and Amaretto”

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Polenta Taragna

In previous posts, we talked about Cucina Povera, the cuisine of the poor, now becoming “fashionable” in high-end restaurants. This is the case also for polenta – one of the simplest dishes ever conceived. Now traditionally made with cornmeal, different types of polenta have been feeding the masses since Roman times, well before the discovery … Continue reading “Polenta Taragna”

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Caldarroste (Roasted Chestnuts)

Nicknamed ‘caldarroste’ in Italian, roasted chestnuts are a great segue in the series of seasonal classics. Traditionally, caldarroste are fire-roasted in a holed pan, but they can also be made at home – in the oven or, as described in this recipe, on the stove. Cooked chestnuts have an unique mealy texture thanks to their … Continue reading “Caldarroste (Roasted Chestnuts)”

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Vin Brulé (Mulled Wine)

Most European countries have their variation of the British mulled wine, a drink made with red wine and spices, served hot during winter. Northern Italy’s version, popular around Christmas and especially in Christmas markets, is called Vin Brulé (from the French word brûlé, burnt). The practice of mulling wine goes back to medieval times, probably … Continue reading “Vin Brulé (Mulled Wine)”

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Pomegranate with Grappa

If you’ve only tasted grappa a few times and you found it a bit too dry, you will enjoy this spectacular after-dinner treat of pomegranate seeds soaked in pure grappa. The sweetness and the tartness of the pomegranate perfectly balance the harshness of the grappa, which becomes sweeter and more palatable. In return, the grappa … Continue reading “Pomegranate with Grappa”

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Baked Shells Pasta with Ricotta and Spinach

As mentioned in the Pasta 101 article, baked pastas have an important role in Italian cuisine. For this cooking style, larger cuts of pasta are layered or stuffed with filling and baked in a pan along with a sauce. The most known examples are lasagna (sheets of egg noodles, layered with Bolognese sauce and Parmigiano), … Continue reading “Baked Shells Pasta with Ricotta and Spinach”

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The Boom of Limoncello

Limoncello (pronounced: lee-mon-chel-low) is a sweet lemon-flavored liqueur made by soaking lemon peel in pure alcohol to extract its aromatic oils. Straight chilled limoncello is served after dinner as a digestive, or to accompany a dessert. When mixed with tonic water or sparkling white wine, limoncello can also make for a refreshing aperitif. The origins … Continue reading “The Boom of Limoncello”

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Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma is a staple Italian first course almost unknown in North America. The dish, native to Sicily, is especially known in southern Italy, but can be found all around the country. Alla Norma sauce (likely named after the opera “Norma“, by Sicilian composer Vincenzo Bellini) can be recognized from other eggplant-based sauces for … Continue reading “Pasta alla Norma”

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Frittatona di Cipolle

This is probably one of the least blogged recipes – it doesn’t look too good in picures and no Italian would make it for their guests. But this simple dish is one of the favorite things that Italians make for themselves when nobody is watching! ‘Frittata di cipolle’ (or ‘frittatona’ when it’s big, as “Fantozzi” … Continue reading “Frittatona di Cipolle”

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Saffron and Leek Risotto

Leeks (‘porri’, in Italian) have thickening properties and a more complex flavor profile than onions, thanks to the cabbage hints of their upper leaves(1). When replacing onion for leek in a risotto, the resulting dish is creamier and with more depth. Saffron brings an additional element to this first course, and the brighter color makes … Continue reading “Saffron and Leek Risotto”

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Bell Pepper Pasta

Italians rarely get tired of a good tomato sauce, but when they do they often resort to a tomato sauce variation. This recipe is based on the simple addition of roasted bell peppers, and of chili for some heat. The resulting sauce is great on pastas, but it also doubles as a tasty dip for … Continue reading “Bell Pepper Pasta”

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Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans Pasta

This article is about pesto, the second most famous Italian pasta sauce, of course after tomato sauce. However, this is not about the super-traditional way to make “Pesto Genovese” – using a mortar; there’s plenty of good resources on that (as greatly summarized on Food Lover’s Odyssey). This article is about the more modern way … Continue reading “Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans Pasta”

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panino, the italian sandwich

Panino, the Italian Sandwich

In Italy, just like in all Europe and North America, a sandwich is a popular lunch option, and in some cases also a quick dinner alternative. Italian bars often press-grill their sandwiches to enhance the flavors, turn the bread more fragrant and crunchy, and melt any cheese. However, at home, or when bakery-fresh bread is … Continue reading “Panino, the Italian Sandwich”

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Asparagi alla Milanese

Of simple Italian recipes that are almost unknown in outside of Italy, Milanese-style Asparagus would probably rank near the top. This dish, traditionally associated with the city of Milan, is enjoyed all around Italy as a second course, especially in late spring, when asparagus is in season. Before getting to the recipe, let’s spend a … Continue reading “Asparagi alla Milanese”

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Insalata di Riso

‘Insalata di Riso’ (rice salad) is an informal Italian dish that is especially popular in the summer as an appetizer, or as a refreshing first course, particularly for lunch. Its main component is Parboiled rice – the most appropriate for this preparation as its grains remain firm and separated when cooked, and stay soft when … Continue reading “Insalata di Riso”

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tortiglioni all'arrabbiata

Tortiglioni all’Arrabbiata

Sugo* all’Arrabbiata is a classic pasta sauce from Central/Southern Italy that can be prepared very quickly, while the pasta cooks. This sauce is traditionally quite spicy, and this is at the origin of its name (all’arrabbiata, in Italian means ‘angry-style’). If desired, a milder version can be made, but a certain amount of heat is … Continue reading “Tortiglioni all’Arrabbiata”

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Home-style Pizza

Unless you have a brick oven in your backyard, pizza isn’t exactly something that you can make at home; the regular kitchen oven simply can’t reach high enough temperatures. It is however possible to approach the flavors of a pizzeria-style pizza by using a few expedients. There is more than one way to make home-style … Continue reading “Home-style Pizza”

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Bruschetta, Properly Pronounced 🙂

Bruschetta , plural ‘bruschette’ (brus-ket-teh), is a very popular appetizer born in the 16th century in central and southern Italy, which then spread to the entire country and eventually followed the Italian emigrants around the world. Classic bruschetta can be made in several ways, but it’s always based on a salad of fresh tomatoes, garlic, … Continue reading “Bruschetta, Properly Pronounced :)”

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Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

Aglio (pronounced ‘ah-llyo’), Olio e Peperoncino (Garlic, Oil and Chili Pepper) is one of the simplest and most popular Italian pasta sauces, and one of the most delicious. Its simplicity is unmatched for showcasing perfectly cooked, high quality spaghetti, the cut of pasta that it best goes with. Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino is really more … Continue reading “Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino”

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Pasta with Gorgonzola

This quick and versatile recipe is another great representative of the cuisine of Northern Italy. With any kind of strong, creamy cheese and a handful of always-ready ingredients, this delicious sauce can be whipped together from scratch in minutes.In Italy, there is absolutely no Alfredo sauce! The most famous dish that makes use of a … Continue reading “Pasta with Gorgonzola”

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Pizzoccheri della Valtellina

Pizzoccheri is a Northern Italian dish almost unknown in North America. It originates in Valtellina (known as Valtelline or Val Telline in English), a valley at the very top of Lombardy. Despite the name, Pizzoccheri has nothing to do with pizza. It is a first course centered around a special pasta made of buckwheat flour, … Continue reading “Pizzoccheri della Valtellina”

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Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli (pasta with beans) is a delicious, hearty soup well known in both Italy and North America. In the United States it’s sometimes referred to as “pasta fazool”, carrying the southern Italian pronunciation of the first Italo-Americans. Pasta e Fagioli represents a great example of Cucina Povera (cuisine of the poor), being a … Continue reading “Pasta e Fagioli”

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Potato Gnocchi

Potato gnocchi are a common alternative to pasta in first courses. They are made by mixing riced boiled potatoes with flour and egg. There are, however, several other types of gnocchi, such as ‘gnocchi alla romana’ (typical of central Italy) which are made with semolina flour (and without potatoes). In the area near the borders … Continue reading “Potato Gnocchi”

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Basic Tomato Sauce

Even though tomatoes made their appearance in Europe in the 1700s, it took until the beginning of the 1900 for them to reach today’s popularity and central role in Italian cuisine. This recipe describes one of the most basic pasta sauces: the tomato sauce. The tomatoes, delicately flavored with salt, a hint of onion*, and … Continue reading “Basic Tomato Sauce”

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Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms

Risotto is a staple northern Italian dish obtained by toasting the rice in the pan and then slowly adding liquid and mixing until absorbed, for as long as the rice takes to cook. Even though the recipe requires constant stirring, the procedure is very easy and guaranteed to produce perfect results as long as the … Continue reading “Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms”

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