It is very easy, and immensely pleasurable, to fall into the spell of the Mediterranean – the vibrant colours, the shimmering sea, the warmth of its people, the gnarled olive trees, the intoxicating sweetness of its figs, the lusciousness of its vegetables…
When it comes to Italian food then, there is a misconception that it is all olive oil, garlic, basil and tomatoes, so to speak. In fact, at least one third of the Italian peninsula, from the plains of Emilia Romagna up to the Northern Alps, is bathed in butter and lard and cooks much of its food, at least traditionally, “in bianco” – that is to say, without tomatoes.
This homely supper dish, which emanates from the Emilia Romagna repertoire, makes the point.
In classic Italian cookery, when something is cooked “alla pizzaiola” (pizza-style), it means it has tomatoes and origano (sometimes garlic too), as in the most basic topping for pizza.
Patate alla pizzaiola belongs to that army of homely dishes that are the backbone, almost the unsung heroes, of Italian cookery: simple affairs, often vegetarian, quickly assembled, generally rather economical and immensely satisfying.
This is not “a recipe”, just, I would say, “a way with” potatoes – once you understand the idea, you can really play with it. Continue reading
A typical autumn and winter dish that one will find, in some guise or another, in many areas of Northern and Central Italy. Continue reading
This is a good summer dish from Puglia, a vegetable and rice bake, rich with oil and pecorino cheese, at least in my book. Tiella comes from the Latin tegella, which basically meant “oven tray”. Continue reading
Another classic way for stuffing tomatoes. I only marginally adapted this recipes from one by Ada Boni’s Il Talismano della Felicità (1929) Again, as in the previous post, a long and slow roast is recommended.
Now that is super hot even in London, I tend to cook this sort of dishes early morning, to be then eaten in the evening. The nutmeg is not a personal touch, but, surprisingly, recommended in the original recipe. Continue reading