Submitted by John on Sat, 08/29/2020 - 18:36

Salmoriglio on SwordfishSalmoriglio is a classic Sicilian sauce for grilled fish and meats. It showcases flavors typical of Sicily and Greece (2500 years ago, Sicily was a major part of Magna Graeca). 

This is great with strong flavors like grilled beef and oily fish like swordfish (shown here). In the fridge, it solidifies to a spreadable consistency, but then it melts into seasoned olive oil when spread on hot food.  

Swordfish alla Messina

Submitted by John on Mon, 08/24/2020 - 17:01


Swordfish MessinaMessina is in northeast Sicily, at the point closest to the boot of mainland Italy; that's where the ferries come in from Reggio di Calabria.

Swordfish alla Messina is a classic local dish. Every summer when the swordfish pass through the Strait of Messina, the local fishermen go out in specially-modified boats called feluccas to bring them to the table fresh daily.

When we went to Italy in 2018, we stayed a night in Chianalea, a fishing village along the waterfront of Scilla, on the east bank of the Strait of Messina. The village is built on the swordfish fishery, and you get the freshest fish there. I enjoyed a very memorable [[nodetitle:Pistachio-Crusted Swordfish]] that night!

This dish brings together some of the classic flavors of Sicily: almonds, capers, and tomatoes. If you were in southern Italy or Sicily, you would use the celebrated oblong sweet red onions of Tropea, just north of the toe of the boot, but regular red onions work OK too.

Pasta con i Cavolfiori

Submitted by John on Sun, 08/09/2020 - 20:14
Pasta with Cauliflower

I found some beautiful green cauliflower at Beth's Farm Market in Warren, Maine, so I knew that it was time to make this interesting and delicious veggie pasta dish that I'd had my eye on. It includes golden raisins and pine nuts, and a little bit of saffron, like many Venetian recipes.  

This is a Sicilian recipe, and Sicily produces some enormous cauliflowers in purple, green, and golden colors. At Beth's the green one looked the best, so that's what I used for dinner for the two of us, but if I were making a bigger batch I'd like to mix colors and see how that looks. 

Haddock with Snow Peas

Submitted by John on Sun, 08/09/2020 - 19:41

Haddock with Snow PeasThe original Italian recipe called for John Dory or Pomfret, but we don't find that in our local fish markets so I tried it with haddock, and I recommend it. 

This recipe is a little different from most fish recipes here so far because the haddock is pan-fried. Haddock around New England is traditionally sold with the skin on, but you don't really have to skin it as long as you remember to tell your diners which side is up! 

This should work equally well with cod. 

Cipolline d'Ivrea

Submitted by John on Sun, 08/09/2020 - 18:59

Cipolline d'IvreaThese braised onions from the northwestern foothills of the Alps are simple and delicious, especially since perfectly good pearl onions are available frozen year round.

Serve this with any meaty dish, especially those from the Piedmont and Lombardy regions, and substitute appropriate stock for the vegetable stock. On the other hand, you can make this vegan by following it as written and substitute the more oil for the butter. 

Risotto with Tiny Maine Shrimp

Submitted by John on Sun, 08/09/2020 - 15:51
Risotto with tiny Canadian shrimp

One of the tricky things about trying to cook Italian recipes in New England is that many of the ingredients are different, especially with regard to seafood. Most of Italy is far closer to where the crops are grown than New England is to California's Central Valley, so their produce tends to be fresher all year round. But for seafood, the fish and shellfish in our waters are in most cases very different from Mediterranean waters.

This recipe calls for Maine shrimp, the delicious little cold-water shrimp from the Bay of Fundy that are not the same as "salad shrimp" that you can get at some food service outlets. Italy has shrimp of all sizes, including little shrimp like these, but I doubt that they are the same species in those warmer waters. Nevertheless, they get us closer to the way this recipe would be made in Venice or Genoa.

Pesto Genovese

Submitted by John on Sat, 08/01/2020 - 02:55

Genoese PestoA favorite pasta dressing from Genoa.

This was great with boxed penne pasta, but it was absolutely sublime when made with all the best ingredients to dress Mandilli a Saea (see Fresh Pasta ) for a birthday dinner!

Pasta al Rosmarino

Submitted by John on Sun, 07/26/2020 - 23:42

Spaghetti ai RosmarinoIn much of Italy and in some parts of this country, rosemary grows year-round and people have hedges of it, but in Plymouth this is one of those taste-of-summer dishes.

It's an easy and flavorful vegetarian pasta dish. It's mostly just chopped tomatoes with a blast of fresh rosemary, a great combination.


Salsa Bianca

Submitted by John on Sun, 07/26/2020 - 16:58

Pappardelli alla BiancaHere's a subtle and delicious creamy white pasta sauce that is easy to prepare in just the time that it takes to cook the pasta. 

You want to use good pasta, because the flavors are not strong and a good pasta shines through. We used Garofalo pappardelli in this photo, but I think it would work fine with most types of pasta.

This is a good primo dish before chicken or fish main dishes.

Bell Pepper Sauce

Submitted by John on Sun, 07/26/2020 - 16:49

Bucatini with Bell Pepper SauceHere's a light sweet blast of summery fresh flavor for long pasta, like the fat round bucatini shown here.

As with many Italian recipes, there are not many ingredients, and quality is paramount. In this case, the usual olive oil, garlic, and onion are accompanied by garden fresh red and yellow bell peppers, a little cream, and a pinch of fresh marjoram (or oregano if you can't get marjoram). 

Use farm-fresh peppers if you can; they have more flavor than the supermarket variety because they can be sold within a day or two of harvesting instead of spending a week in a refrigerated truck! 

Stuffed Sole in Saffron Sauce

Submitted by John on Sun, 07/26/2020 - 16:33

Stuffed Sole with Saffron SauceI found this elegant recipe in the excellent [[nodetitle:Classic Food of Northern Italy]] by Anna del Conte. It's not hard to make, it cooks quickly, and it's fine enough to serve to guests as a course at a fancy dinner.

You have to use good saffron to get the full effect of this dish. The sauce is exquisite as it pairs with the delicate sole. 

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Olives

Submitted by John on Mon, 07/20/2020 - 15:31

Green Beans with Tomatoes and OlivesHere's a simple, sturdy vegetable dish with what Americans might think of as a peculiar mix of flavors, but they go well together. I especially love how olives are transformed when they are cooked into a dish!

The original recipe calls for fresh beans and tomatoes. I tried it with frozen beans and canned tomatoes and it came out fine, and it was much less work!

The original recipe also called for quartering the olives, but I left them whole and didn't even pit them; as I said I really like cooked olives in a dish and I prefer the flavor blast of getting them whole (and it makes it easier for Lorna to pick them out!) 

This reheats well, so the next time I make it, I will double or triple it and have the leftovers with lunches, where I really should get more vegetables. 

Mushroom Risotto

Submitted by John on Sun, 07/19/2020 - 15:11

Mushroom RisottoThis is a full-flavored fall dish, bursting with mushroomy goodness.

It's not as rich and decadent as Barolo and Porcini Risotto, so you don't have to save it for a special occasion. It's great with big beef dishes and hearty dry red wine from the Piedmont!

The best flavor here comes from a mix of mushrooms, both fresh and dried, with their soaking liquor. There's a real boom in mushroom cultivation now, so it's much easier to find good fresh mushrooms of interesting varieties than it was even a few years ago.