Here's a basic boiled-beef recipe, called a brasato in Italian.
There are many brasati, with regional specialties and differences for the seasons and holidays. This is an everyday recipe that's good for any season. The beef is cooked with onions, which provide the braising liquid and ultimately become a sauce for the beef.
This is a simple and satisfying recipe when you can get fresh trout.
You cook the cleaned fish in a skillet with oil and some seasoned breadcrumbs for a filling. When the fish is ready, it is tender and succulent, and flakes easily away from the skin so you can serve the whole fish or just the fillets.
This is a rich Ligurian frittata that features two flavors that we don't often see paired in the United States.
It also includes cheese and breadcrumbs, so it's a hearty dish. It's good served hot or cold, as for a picnic.
You can try this the traditional way in an omelette pan, flipping it by sliding it onto a plate and then flipping it bac into the skillet, but this has so much "stuff" in it that it breaks easily. It's easier to just bake it in a moderate oven.
This omelette is best made in late summer at the height of tomato season. If you can't get fresh ripe in-season tomatoes, in my opinion you're better off using good quality canned tomatoes; at least they were ripe when they went into the can!
I especially like this with some nice flaky sea salt.
We had an intimate surf & turf dinner for St Valentine's Day 2021 because, after 9 months of all-fish-all-the-time during the Covid lockdown, I was on strike. So instead of our usual lobsters and champagne, Lorna had a lobster and I had a steak!
It went like this:
- Aviation cocktail
- The Sultan's Onions
- Frosted Green Beans
- plus a lobster for her and a steak for me
This is wonderfully delicious and worth the time it takes to cook it.
It calls for dried Porcini mushrooms, as pretty much all traditional Italian dishes do. Porcinis are the same as King Boletes (I've bought those in Polish markets) and Cepes (the French name).
You can use other types of dried wild mushrooms if you cannot find Porcinis, but the combination or Porcini mushrooms with red wine is a classic flavor of the Italian Northwest so it's worth the search.
This is just a quick pick-me-up drink for a cold afternoon when you are cooking pasta.
The pasta water already has salt, and some starch from the cooking pasta. You add a full-bodied inexpensive red wine, a pinch of pepper, and maybe a few flakes of dried red pepper if you like.
This is particularly welcome after shoveling snow when you come in cold and wet and you smell dinner cooking!
This is about a simple as it gets, and it's delicious in its simplicity. You must use fresh sage for this.
I have seen photos of this with the sage leaves visible in the finished frittata, but I have never yet had the patience to try one that picture-perfect when it will be in my belly in 5 minutes...
Here's one of those hearty rib-sticking dinners that must surely be unhealthy but it's mighty comforting on a cold January night!
This uses two very different cheeses: the Taleggio adds robust flavor, but you can substitute Italian Fontina or Parmigiana-Reggiano), and the Scamorza brings a stringy-zingy cheesy fun to the dish (a smoked Scamorza is just at stringy and adds a nice smoky flavor for a snowy night).
It's especially used in the winter and in interior areas where it's harder to get fresh fish. Stockfish (stoccafiso) has to be refreshed just like Salt Cod (and many of the recipes are the same), but stockfish is even dryer so it must be refreshed for a coupe of days or more.
There are lesser grades used in West African cooking, but for Italian cooking you want the expensive Grade A. I got this bag from an importer in Houston, so the dried fish travelled thousands of miles to get to my kitchen!
This is an easy dish with fine simple flavors, especially if you use farm-fresh peppers and tomatoes in the summertime.
It would be easy to jazz this up with some basil or marjoram, or some olives or chili peppers... but the simple flavor of the peppers is wonderful with the sole and it really should be allowed to come though in its own simple glory.
Amatrice is a small city in very central Italy. Occupied since prehistory, it was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in 2016. Right after that tragedy, many Italian-American restaurants added this as a special to help raise funds for the stricken community.
It's a simple, delicious dish, but not quite as quick as it looks. Pancetta is rendered and then cooked with onions and tomatoes long enough to become soft and mellow, then it's tossed with pasta, typically spaghetti or bucatini.