Monthly Archives: July 2010

Summertime Southern Cooking

Southern Italian that is. Dinner last night was fresh orecciette pasta with  roasted cherry tomatoes, arugula and shaved Parmesan. It was sensational (if I do say so myself). And I must say, I know I’m going through Italy withdrawals when all I can think about is making pasta. Yesterday, while I was running, my mind was replaying memories from Puglia, which is the region of the orecciette, and it made me ‘homesick’. So what better way to cure the blues than to slip into an apron?

First things first, wine! While oogling wines at Whole Foods I decided on a Barbera, this is afterall an Italian dish. This wine was mighty fine, although after reading the label I couldn’t help but think it was marketed just for Americans. The backside label says it pairs nicely with meats, cheeses, burgers and ribs. When’s the last time you had burgers or ribs in Italy??! My point exactly. However, still a favoloso red, and I’m kind of partial to old vines. The history on Barberas reaches back to the midieval times. Quite romatic if you ask me. 🙂

SO, pasta. If you recall, my last pasta-making post was referencing Emiglia-romagna, the region famoso for egg noodles. However, southern Italians make pasta with only flour and water. The orecchiette is a very common pasta in the south. You can find women sitting out in the sun, no doubt gossiping, while pressing little orecchiette rounds. I did a bit of experimenting with my dough. I substituted half the semolina flour for almond meal. My intention was to add a rich, nutty flavor, while boosting the healthy Omega fatty acids and protein content. I don’t know that it made much of a difference in taste, but you can rest assured that the nutritonal value is improved! And just to put you in the cooking mood, here are a few photos I took in Puglia..

 

Do you feel like you’re in Italy yet? Buonissimo!! Time to tie on that apron and pour yourself a glass of Barbera. Next..

Orecchiette with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula & Shaved Parmesan
65g almond meal (1/2 c)
100g semolina flour (1/2 c)
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz warm water
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
1 T olive oil
1 tsp Herbs de Provance
salt & pepper to taste

Mix dry ingredients, and add water to mixture a little at a time. Once it reaches dough consistency roll it out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Split the batch into two balls and roll each into ropes of 1/2″ diameter thickness. Cut 1/4″ thick slices off the rope and squeeze dough into little rounds. Let stand for 15 minutes and then flip so that pasta can dry on opposite side for 15 minutes. Next, press your thumb into center of the round. Let stand for 1 hour, then reincorporate thumb press. Let stand another 2 hours. Once dried, cook in boiling water for 6-7 minutes, strain. Cool pasta in refrigerator. While pasta is cooling, char tomato halves under the broiler for 10 minutes. Assemble: pasta, tomatoes, fresh arugula, cheese, oil and spices. Simple, elegant, and you feel like you’ve just stepped into another place in time.

Do you make a dish taht reminds you of your favorite place? Or a dish that takes you down memory lane? I’d love to hear about it!

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Filed under Healthy Cooking/Eating, Indulgences, Recipes, Travel, Wine

Thai Inspired…

Lemongrass Chicken Skewers. Do you ever go out to eat and think, I could make that, why not? Happens to me all the time! So I was having Thai with my brother and his girlfriend recently, the lemongrass chicken sounded delish (and healthier than Pad Thai. Mind you, this was not a splurge meal. I’m still on vaca rebound.) But since I figured I could make that at home I decided on the Japanese eggplant and cashews over brown rice. Yum!! Side-note, if you’re in Seattle and looking for good cheap Thai I recommend Rice & Spice.. fabulous food and they’re so darn friendly!

Okay, moving on to MY Thai. I bought lemongrass, and to my surprise it doesn’t look like grass at all. They’re thick stalks, similar to green onions but sturdier. Suddenly I’m wondering, what does one do with lemongrass?? So a little Googling, a lot sifting through my pantry, and bam!! Let the creativity begin.. (did that ‘bam’ make me sound like Emeril? Because that’s what I was going for).

Lemongrass Chicken Skewers:
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts cubed (I like organic, free range)
3 tsp Soy Sauce, low-sodium
2 tsp Chili Oil
1 tsp Sesame Oil
4 stalks Lemon Grass cut into 1″ pieces
3 garlic cloves miced
Salt, Pepper & Red Pepper flakes.. appena basta 😉 (I like it HOT)

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor and marinade chicken cubes for 1 hour. Lace onto skewers with veggies of choice, I added sweet onion and red bell peppers. Then it’s grillin’ time! About 10 minutes, turning once. This could definitely be done under the broiler, but why would you when you can just barbecue? Any ol’ excuse to light the grill makes me happy. Not to mention, we Seattleites don’t have air conditioning so keeping the heat outside is favorable!

Wild rice turned out to be the perfect accompanying grain. Did you know wild rice has higher protein, lower carbs, fat and about 25% less calories per serving than brown rice? Micronutrients like B Vitamins, sodium, etcetera vary a little, but I was excited to learn that its a great alternative. Seconds please..

When’s the last time you tried something new? Are you loving grilling season as much as I am?

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Filed under Eating Out in Seattle, Healthy Cooking/Eating