Strucolo de spinaze in tavaiol ovvero strudel di spinaci e patate come lo fanno a Trieste (Potato and spinach strudel from Trieste, boiled and baked)

A  savory strudel from Trieste,  almost an Italian hot savory pudding.
A potato gnocchi-dough roll filled with spinach and ricotta,  boiled, sliced, showered with Parmigiano and baked. Comfort  food. It looks impressive but it is not that difficult to make. It is a dish firmly rooted in the Italian home cooking repertoire and something one is unlikely to find in restaurants.
Traditionally, it would be served with sugo d’arrosto (i.e. the juices left after roasting a piece of meat), with ragù and, my favorite, with butter and Parmigiano; I have also served it with a tomato sauce and some melting cheese – rather untraditional but delicious.   Continue reading

Giardiniera rossa piemontese (Sour-sweet vegetable chutney from Piemonte)

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Giardiniera is the classic Italian mix of assorted, pickled vegetables, preserved either in  vinegar or in extra virgin olive oil. It is traditionally made in late spring and summer, when lots of good vegetables are at their best and abundant- giardiniera being  a clever way of preserving the bounty from the vegetable patch (orto, in Italian).  It is generally used as an antipasto, to accompany salumi (charcuterie) but it also goes well with lesso (mixed boiled meat) and it can be used in panini (sandwiches). 

This one here is slightly different though: it is a mix of summer vegetables cooked in a thick, unctuous, sour-sweet tomato sauce, flavoured with bay leaves and cloves – a sort of Italian chutney, beautiful to look at and to eat. Continue reading

Mulinciani‘mbuttunati (Buttoned up aubergines, a.k.a stuffed Sicilian aubergines)

Stuffed aubergines img_0892A delicious, “culinary joke” from Sicily. Mulinciani ‘mbuttunati is a typical summer dish of whole aubergines cooked in tomato sauce, with a twist though. A deep slit is made into the aubergine belly (turning it into a “button hole”) and the usual suspects of much Southern Italian cooking are inserted into it, garlic, pecorino cheese, basil/mint (the “buttons”). Here you have it: buttoned up aubergines!

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Parmigiana di zucchine (Courgette Parmesan)

Parmigiana di zucchine/courgette parmesan is the lesser known cousin of aubergine Parmesan. The basic idea is of course the same: to alternate layers of fried or grilled courgettes, mozzarella and grated Parmigiano or pecorino, interlayered with tomato sauce. From this basic starting point, many variations have been devised: sometimes it is made in bianco, that is to say without tomato sauce, scamorza can be used instead of mozzarella, prosciutto cotto and/or sliced boiled eggs could be added, or béchamel sauce for a richer dish. It is a lovely, homely spring-summer dish that makes a perfect piatto unico,  one meal dish, served with a a tomato salad, perhaps. Continue reading