Who doesn’t love Italian food? According to recent studies of popular ethnic food, that number must be miniscule – up to 71% of Americans of all ages consume Italian dishes at least once a month. This is true even of less adventurous diners – there truly is something for everyone, especially aficionados of a healthy Mediterranean diet. Rather than relying on complexity, Italian cooking tends to incorporate few main ingredients, focusing instead on freshness and quality. What is on the menu may vary by region (northern and southern Italy), but an authentic Italian meal will typically include olive oil, vegetables, pasta, poultry and seafood, a good local wine, espresso, and, if you’re lucky, tiramisu or gelato! Buon appetito!
These ribs are cut from the blade end of the loin close to the pork shoulder. They contain no rib bones, but instead contain parts of the shoulder blade. They are primarily a grocery store or butcher shop item, and are not commonly found in restaurants. They are about 3 to 4 ounces apiece. The giardiniera must be made 3 to 4 days ahead of time, as it requires time to sit and develop flavor.
Makes about 2 cups
In a bowl large enough to hold the brine and the ribs, add and combine all the brine ingredients and stir until all the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the ribs and let brine for 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Important: do not over-brine.
Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.
Remove pork ribs from the brine and pat dry. Brush the ribs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over hot grill, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes.
To serve, place one rib on each of 4 plates. Top each rib with 2 tablespoons giardiniera.
Seasonal vegetables preferred. Red and green Melrose peppers are great in place of the bell peppers.
Salt all the vegetables in a colander with the 3 tablespoons medium-coarse salt. Place in a large, nonreactive bowl to catch any liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Drain and rinse the vegetables and the bowl well. Return the vegetables to the bowl. Toss with the vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to overnight.
Rinse and drain again. Spoon the vegetables into a pint-sized, lidded glass jar. In another bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil and oregano. Pour over the vegetables and top off with extra oil if needed. Close the lid and refrigerate for 2 to 3 more days, as the flavors will get better with additional time.
Before serving, remove the giardiniera from the refrigerator to warm it up to room temperature and allow the olive oil to return to a liquid state.
Note: You can use canola oil or a blend with olive oil if you prefer, as canola oil stays liquid when refrigerated.
The potatoes in these gnocchi are supplemented with kabocha squash, a form of squash similar to pumpkin, called zucca in Italy. Kabocha is starchy and a little bit less watery than pumpkin.
Start by cutting the skin on squash lengthwise. Scoop out any seeds or guts from the center. Place on a sheet tray with parchment paper and season with oil, salt, and pepper. Place in a 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until center is tender. Scoop out all the filling, rice it through a food mill, and reserve in a bowl.
Next, place the skin-on Idaho potatoes into a large pot of boiling water. Cook until tender. Drain water, remove skin, and rice potatoes through food mill. Cool the potatoes before mixing.
On a clean table surface, mix squash and potato mixture. Add flour, egg, salt, and pepper. Fold the dough until all the ingredients are fully incorporated and dough springs back. Do not over-mix.
Cut the dough into quarters. Lightly flour the table and roll dough into 18 in x 1/2 in logs. With a bench scrapper or knife, cut 1 in x 1/2 in pieces.
Fill up a large pot with salted water. Once at a boil, drop a handful of gnocchi into the water. When they float to the top, remove and immediately shock in ice water. Toss lightly in oil so that they don’t stick, and place on tray until ready to use. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Blanch shrimp in salted water, cook for 6 mins or until done. Shock in ice water to stop the cooking. Each piece should be cut width-wise in half.
Pick sage off stem. Bring frying oil up to 325 degrees F. Place sage in oil and leave until the bubbling stops. Put onto a towel to absorb oil and lightly season with salt.
Sauté shallots in pan until translucent. Deglaze with white wine and reduce liquid by half. Turn off heat and add butter, stirring constantly until emulsified in sauce. Season with salt.
Add shrimp and gnocchi to pan with sauce and toss to coat. Serve with pieces of burrata and fried sage.
This cake uses olive oil instead of butter, giving it a brighter, lighter – not to mention healthier – taste. For the mascarpone citrus cream, you can use zest from any of the sliced citrus you are using to top the cake.
Makes one 9” cake
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare a 9” round baking pan by lining the bottom with parchment and spraying the parchment and sides of cake pan with pan spray. Place the bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.
Meanwhile, mix your juice, eggs, and honey.
Add half of the juice mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl. Add the other half of the juice mixture and scrape the bowl again. Once all the liquid is combined, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the cake batter and mix until it is completely homogenous.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour. A cake tester should come out clean.
Combine everything except the limoncello in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip.
Whip on medium speed until soft/medium peaks are formed.
Add the limoncello.
Take the peel off of the citrus using a knife. Slice the whole fruit to see the cross section. Place a dollop of cream and some citrus slices on a slice of cake.
If you have milk that is getting close to the expiration date or some fresh milk from the farmer’s market that you don’t want to waste, making ricotta is a great and versatile way to save it. Add to that some artichoke and put it all on a crostini, and you’ve got a wonderful appetizer. The ricotta should be made ahead of time and cooled before serving on the crostini.
Yield: a little over a pound of ricotta/ 1 1/2 quarts whey
To trim an artichoke, start by pulling off the outermost leaves until you get down to the lighter yellow leaves. Then, using a serrated knife, cut off the top third or so of the artichoke, then trim the very bottom of the stem. Use a peeler to clean the stem of the artichoke. Reserve trim and leaves.
In a heavy-bottom pot (non‐reactive stainless steel or enameled cast iron), place the artichoke trimmings, olive oil, white wine, and lemon, and bring to a simmer.
Add cleaned artichokes to the pot and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool in the liquid.
Once cooled, quarter the artichokes into bite-size pieces.
Remove the artichokes with a slotted spoon and toss with parsley and mint, then drizzle a little of the cooking liquid over the artichokes (a few tablespoons). Set aside.
On low heat, in a heavy-bottom sauce pot, heat milk, cream, and salt to a simmer.
Then add lemon juice and, using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture 1 rotation around.
Allow to come to a simmer, and watch the curd and whey separate.
Once you can see the curds and whey, remove from heat, and let rest for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with cheese cloth and place a large bowl underneath. Pour the ricotta into the cloth-lined colander, and let rest 1 hour at room temperature.
The whey will collect in the large bowl and is ready to use immediately, or can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
The curds (now ricotta) are ready to be enjoyed on top of pasta, as a filling for pasta, spread onto a crostini, or for desserts.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange ciabatta slices on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Bake until golden, about 10 minutes, rotating the pan if toasting unevenly.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with good quality olive oil.
Using a spoon, place liberal dollops of ricotta on the toast, followed by the artichokes.
Drizzle a little of the marinade over the crostini and garnish with a few torn mint leaves and a small pinch of sea salt.