Posted by: Kerry & Jim | 18 November 2013

From our Italian cucina

We have been trying some lovely italian recipes at home in our kitchen and thought you might like to see some of them. They are all delicious and well worth a try.

Borlotti Beans with Pasta (Fagioli Borlotti con Pasta)

Borlotti beans are popular here when in season. Their colouring is so lovely; it is such a shame that they don’t look that great when they are cooked. Thanks for the recipe Debra.

500 gm fresh borlotti beans (or tinned or dried beans)
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 can tomatoes
250 gm small pasta tubes

Peel and cook the fresh beans in boiling water until just tender.

Saute the onion, carrot, celery in a little olive oil for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper. Add stock, tomatoes, beans and pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente.

Serve with grated parmesan and bread.

As an alternative, you can add extra liquid and serve as a hearty soup which is also very good.

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Tomato Sauce for Pasta Dishes (Salsa di Pomodoro per la Pasta)

With so many beautiful ripe fresh tomatoes available here making your own tomato sauce is easy. These beauties came from Cherry’s garden. You will need:

1 kg ripe tomatoes diced – a variety is best including cherry tomatoes
1 glove of garlic, crushed or finely diced
8 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
Small bunch of fresh basil, chopped

In a saucepan heat 4 tablespoons olive oil then add tomatoes and garlic and simmer, stirring frequently, until well cooked until sauce has thickened and the flavour has intensified. Add the basil and remaining oil and simmer for a further 2-3 mintues.

Serve with freshly cooked pasta topped with parmigiano.

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Eggplant Bake (Melanzanna Forno)

Whether baked or grilled eggplant is a great accompaniment to any main. We had it with a salad for lunch. Yum! The eggplant is also from Cherry’s garden and the tomato sauce is the recipe above.

3 medium eggplants
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 large eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon salt
plain flour, for coating eggplant
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
freshly ground pepper
½ cup vegetable oil, or as needed
½ cup olive oil, or as needed
Home made tomato sauce
2 cups Parmigiano, grated
Mozzarella cut into slices 1/3-inch thick
12 fresh basil leaves
Lemon for baking

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Trim and peel eggplants in strips, leaving about half the peel intact. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices,drain thoroughly and pat dry. Use flat containers for whisked eggs and salt, the flour and breadcrumbs. Dip the eggplant slices in flour, shaking off the excess, then the egg and coat in the breadcrumbs.

Pour half of the oils into a pan and heat over med-high heat until it sizzles when crumbs are added. Fry the eggplant slices in batches, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 6 minutes. Add more oil as necessary. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Heat the tomato sauce to simmering in a small saucepan. Ladle enough sauce into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with grated cheese and top with a layer of fried eggplant, tear a few leaves of basil. Continue layering in this order ending with a top layer of cheese. Top with mozzarella. Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminium foil and poke several holes in the foil with the tip of a knife. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top layer of cheese is golden in spots, about 15 minutes. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

Serve with the juice of a baked lemon for additional flavour.

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Pasta with Pistachio Sauce and Prawns
(Paccheri con Crema di Pistacchi e Gamberi)

This is a very quick and easy pasta to prepare. Unfortunately our little blender did not have the strength to whizz everything into a smooth paste, nevertheless it did taste great.

500 gm mezze maniche pasta
300 gm pistachios
100 gm almonds
1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
400 gm prawn tails
Parsley
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup warm vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Purée the pistachios, garlic, parsley, olive oil and the warm vegetable stock.

Sauté the prawns in a little oil, add the cooked pasta and the sauce, mix and serve with freshly ground black pepper.

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Fig & Gorgonzola Salad (Fico & Gorganzola Insalata)

Figs in season are a delight for the taste buds. These lovely figs were given to us by Agostino & Carla from their garden up on the hill.

This one is very simple. All you need is figs, gorganzola and lettuce leaves arranged on a plate. I used a thick balsamic glaze as the dressing and it was delicious.

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Quince Paste (Mele Cotogne Colla)

In October Cherry & Ethan’s quince tree was ladened with quinces so Debra and I decided to make quince paste. What a long process it turned out to be but the results were fantastic.

2 kg quince, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
1 vanilla pod, split
2 strips (1/2 inch by 2 inches each) of lemon peel (only the yellow peel, no white pith)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
About 4 cups of granulated sugar, exact amount will be determined during cooking

Place quince pieces in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the vanilla pod and lemon peel and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the quince pieces are fork tender (30-40 minutes).

Strain the water from the quince pieces. Discard the vanilla pod but keep the lemon peel with the quince. Purée the quince pieces in a food processor, blender, or by using a food mill. Measure the quince purée. Whatever amount of quince purée you have, that’s how much sugar you will need. So if you have 4 cups of purée, you’ll need 4 cups of sugar. Return the quince purée to the large pan. Heat to medium-low. Add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the lemon juice.

Continue to cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-1 1/2 hours, until the quince paste is very thick and has a deep orange pink colour. Take care as it becomes a molten, bubbling, spitting mixture.

Preheat oven to a low 125°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the cooked quince paste into the parchment paper-lined baking pan. Smooth out the top of the paste so it is even. Place in the oven for about an hour to help it dry. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in plastic wrap in the fridge.

To serve, cut into squares or wedges and present with a good blue cheese.

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Fennel & Parmesan Bake (Finocchio & Parmesan Forno)

Fennel is a very popular vegetable here and this is how we like it the most. Just as a baked vege is also delicious.

2 medium bulbs fennel, washed and trimmed
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano

Heat the oven to 200°C.

Cut each fennel bulb in half through its core; cut the halves into 2 or 3 wedges each. Snuggle the wedges, cut side up, in a baking dish. Pour the stock into the dish. Drizzle the oil over the wedges and season them with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the wedges with the Parmigiano.

Continue baking uncovered until the fennel is tender and the cheese is browned, another 30 to 45 minutes.

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We have found dining out to be relatively inexpensive here and have tried a variety of restaurants and dishes. We will continue to experiment on our return – especially making our own pasta.


Responses

  1. Wow better than any Jamie Oliver Cook Book. I can see a new business venture looming. Janet has added all your recipes to her portfolio. Jim not sure about your idea of a café at Joondalup Arena – the type of cliental may not match the food.

    • I think us ‘garlic munchers’ would love it!

  2. It’s going to be a great dinner party in the caravan, can’t wait. We expect all of the above.
    See you when you get back, cheers Janet

    • Caravan dining is limited to BBQ’s – chops and snags, beer and champers!

  3. Well you will have to not only write a book with recipes in it but a café at your residence upon your return sounds like a good idea as well.

  4. Yes please , I’ll have everything except the prawns. Yum

    • We will get together and try some of these.

  5. My mouth is watering, maybe you could set up Italian cookery lessons when you return home 🙂

    • I’m afraid I don’t enjoy cooking that much…only like eating it.

  6. all you need is ………obviously……Italian food
    Returning to Perth I do’n think you can survive

    ciao, have a good flight home, and please do return to Italy / Bagni di Lucca;
    “nice to meet you” that is an understatement on a very low level,
    I loved your company,
    agostino

    • Thank you for you kind words Agostino….we have loved spending time with both you and Carla. We look forward to meeting again…..

  7. Delicious! I also prepare quince paste, but I cook the whole, unpeeled quinces in a Crockpot, generally overnight, or at least for some 8 hours. The advantage is that you do not have problems with straining them as no water is used. The rest of the recipe is the same and yes, when the mixture of quince puree and sugar starts boiling, it can be very dangerous!
    Cherry’s garden sounds to me like the Garden of Eden!

    • Cherry & Ethan’s garden has been wonderful over the summer months. Good tip with the quince…I will try that next time.


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