As much as I love the thought of making "grand meals", with fresh pasta I've made by hand, in Italy, no less…Well, what I usually end up fixing are very simple meals, requiring only a few ingredients. It's also a good way to clean out the fridge.
What can I say? I cook meals in Italy just like I do at home. Sigh. Someday I'll get with the program. Plus, just between you and me…..all I ever really want to do is eat out somewhere. Have the professional take care of the cooking.
Is that so wrong?
All kidding aside….
Since the days are long, without all those pesky hours spent at work, I do spend more time cooking here, and enjoy it more. I'll start something early in the day, to finish up later, or cook up a bunch of something that we can enjoy for a couple of days.
Artichokes, for instance.
"Carciofi"(car-cho-fee), as they are called here, come in various shapes and sizes, and I am most fond of the lovely purple types I buy at the farmers market.
They usually sell these by the dozen, but I'll just go for six at a time. That's about all I can fit in the big pot here. They are so beautiful, and get even prettier as you peel away the outer leaves….
Once I get them down to this stage, I like to cut them back by half, and clean the stem part up. I always cook up the stems, too. They are just as good as the heart...
Here, the locals cook them in water with lots of olive oil, garlic and bunches of wild mint found all over the fields. It's not like any mint at home…in taste or appearance. The leaves are tiny, fuzzy and sage colored.
I stick to my way, though, and cook them in water with lots of garlic and a few bay leaves. When I shared my recipe with locals, I was surprised that they questioned this preparation. It seems so Italian to me, but I guess it's a California thing.
AND... I wouldn't even think about mentioning the mayonnaise element...
|California style Carciofi.|
Here, we enjoy our carciofi with good olive oil, of course!
|Sadly, the color changes with the cooking.|
Another favorite veg in the markets are the these other-worldly Romanesco cauliflower/broccoli. We see them in the states for a short period when in season, but there are stacks of them in the markets here. I can't resist the odd and wonderful look of these!
|Don't stare too long, or you'll get hypnotized.|
I like to break them up, throw on some olive oil and herbs and roast them.
|Add a Caprese salad with unbelievably good fresh mozzarella,|
and you have dinner. Wine, too, of course.
Sometimes I'll throw together a nice soup, with the vegetables from Yolanda's, our local market specializing in fruit and veggies.
At home, I rarely make soup from scratch, but on cold days here, like a few weeks ago, I made several pots….I start with carrots, celery and onion, and just go from there. I like to add beans at the end, too.
|Lunch time "zuppa".|
I'm always roasting vegetables, and it's my "go to" dish to bring to a dinner with friends. We were recently invited to a dinner with some wonderful Canadian pals we've met here, so I cooked up a dish to share.
|Potato, fennel, red onions and black olives.|
Lots of garlic, herbs and olive oil.
Our friend Katia gave me the most beautiful eggs from her Grandma's chickens, which was a treat. She told me that now, this time of year, they are producing about forty eggs a day! Lucky, lucky!
I had some leftover pasta, made with Katia's own tomato passata (just cooked & pureed tomatoes, and nothing else added), that she had canned in the summer. This sauce is so good, all the flavor of summer tomatoes..I just embellished with garlic and herbs.
Anyway, there wasn't enough pasta left for dinner for two, but I'll make a frittata out of anything, so…..
|Add some onions, cook up the leftover pasta...|
|Grate some excellent parmesan...|
|Must be excellent….|
Just whip up those beautiful eggs, add them to the pan (olive oil in pan, no butter), get the bottom nice and browned..Then I like to add lots of the parmesan on top, and stick the pan under the broiler until you just can't stand to wait any longer.
|Yum. Yes, it's a pasta frittata.|
Don't knock it until you've tried it!
Another regular dish I like to make is a crouton and tomato salad. The bread here goes hard in about four minutes, so there is always a chunk of hard bread hanging around.
I like to cut it up, toss it with way too much olive oil that has been cooked with loads of garlic and some herbs, then toss it all in the oven to brown up a little…..
|Grate some parmesan on top, while still warm...|
|Cut up Yolanda's perfectly ripe tomatoes….|
|Add a chopped cucumber, and toss together with good oil and vinegar.|
I like to throw in some lettuce and arugula, too...
|Home cooking, My style!|
Another great lunch or dinner for us. A chunk of cheese on the side, perhaps…. a piece of onion/sage "pizza" from the local baker..the requisite glass of wine at hand.
Who says I don't cook at home?
Oh, it was me. I guess I do my share.