Olive Oil Feasts


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I don’t know if my children read this blog. If they do, I will soon be in trouble. But sometimes I’m just a kid and I like to see what I can get away with. As a mother in the food business, it can be fun to expand the offerings at home.

Now these are children who at age one ate spicy salsa in Southern California, at age 8 ate rabbit and boar in Tuscany, and at age 10 at mussels in Galway, Ireland. Sometimes, if they haven’t been told what they are eating, they are more….adventurous.

The foods of Southern Italy seem to be perfect matched to hot summer nights. Just recently we had an easy dinner of pasta with Villa Cappelli Spaghettata (from Puglia) to spice things up. If I had offered them anchovies, I’m sure the answer would have been far from affirmative. So, when I was alone in the kitchen, I tossed a teaspoonful of Colatura di Alici (from Campania) into the sauce. The Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra (also Campania) was the pasta of the night. All were combined and the dish was rapidly consumed.

There was something more….interesting….about the dish when served with Colatura di Alici. It brought out food magic with umami. Highly recommended.

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Spinach Fettucine from Scordo.com

Two of our favorite food bloggers recently wrote about their delicious creations using Pastificio Vicidomini’s Semolina Flour. Even better, CiaoChowLinda used a recipe from our favorite cookbook, Domenica Marchetti’s Glorious Pasta of Italy.

Scordo made the most glorious spinach pasta!

CiaoChowLinda made Semolina Dumpling Soup. Is there a rainy day coming up?

 

Some time ago, there was a small café in Newport, RI, called Cappuccino’s. It seemed that I enjoyed their pasta salad for days on end and eventually deconstructed it to develop a similar recipe. This has become a summertime favorite in my family. We’ve already made it twice this spring.

Cappuccino’s signature pasta was a curvy twist. My preference is Ruote (also known as Wagon Wheels). Another favorite is Festoni.  In a pinch, I’ll select Penne e Ziti Rigati or even Gnocchi Sardi.

As recipes go, this one lacking in specifics. A little more or a little less of each ingredient will be fine! You’ll be busy chopping so this is a great recipe when you have an extra pair of helping hands. My daughters are a big help for this recipe!

You’ll need to have a very large pasta bowl for this abundance of goodness!

1 package of Vicidomini Ruote Pasta, 500 grams

½ C + Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, such as Titone DOP Biologica, Gerbino Organic, or Santisi

½ – ¾ C DeCarlo Sun Kissed Tomatoes, or sliced sun dried tomatoes

1-2 C fresh broccoli flowerettes, microwaved for 2 minutes to bright green, with a nice bite

1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper, diced

½ C chopped olives, try Olives from our Savory Pantry or your favorites

1 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

½ C celery, chopped

2 scallions/green onions, chopped

½ – ¾ C canned garbanzo beans, drained

6 slices cooked bacon (or pancetta!), crumbled

¼ C basil leaves, slivered

1-2 fresh lemons, juiced (to taste)

Ravida Sea Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Other seasonings to taste

*Good Quality Mayo

Fill an 8-Qt pot with water and heat to boiling. Begin chopping vegetables! Add pasta. While pasta is cooking, microwave the broccoli and cook the bacon.  If you are really fast you can get all of the chopping done before the pasta has cooked.  Drain the pasta while still al dente and rinse to cool the pasta.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Add more olive oil as needed. If you like your salad to be a bit creamy, stir in mayo. Chill before serving.

Photo Credit: DomenicaCooks.com

My passions for Italian food and culture are carried forth in any number of ways. I visit every “Italian store” I can find (often comparing it to the store of my childhood, Bari Imports, with its barrels of baccala). If I find olive oil in the back corner of a gourmet store, I will engage the proprietor in a conversation about the oil. Sometimes I will reveal my role in the business.  Sometimes not. (Yesterday when visiting a store I found a 2009 (!) priced at $39.95 for 500 ml. I shudder to think how many remain in the back room).

In the guise of research, aka surfing the web at work, my passion for Italian food leads me to seek Italian recipes with a theme. Currently, that theme is Biscotti. No long ago we posted Nona’s recipe in a recent blog post. And we are currently enamored with these two recipes found on Serious Eats and Domenica Cooks.

The Lemon, Olive Oil, and Almond Biscotti recipe nicely references using a Sicilian Olive Oil. Full-flavored Sicilians such as Titone, Planeta, and Zisola Extra Virgin Olive Oil have the characteristics –a perfect match for these biscotti. (Titone was also recently featured in our blog post on Organic certification).  Must confess to making these with a Tuscan oil, Poggio Etrusco from Pamela Sheldon Johns’ Tuscan estate.

Rich, toasty, and crumbly, the lemon biscotti, provide for a fresh break with morning coffee or later, with tea!

Another fabulous choice: Domenica Marchetti’s Cheese Biscotti are perfect with a salumi platter or a light soup meal. I think they are divine with a rich tomato-based soup. Read the comments from others and you’ll soon be rushing off to buy her cookbooks. Hint: we have her pasta cookbook, The Glorious Pasta of Italy.

As always, use the best ingredients for the best results.

P.s. I’ve been munching on Mattei Biscotti di Prato while writing this post!

Over a dozen years ago, Francena captured the recipes she learned at her grandmother’s side and recorded them as a gift to future generations. Since that time, this charming and folksy cookbook has sold 10,000 copies.

Filled with family photos from the 1950s, you might think Francena was related to the Godfather—or my extended family. Written for the love of food and tradition, Francena’s recipes for Stuffed Mushrooms, Chicken Parmesan, or Breaded Veal will take you back to your own Nonna’s kitchen.

This will remind you of those wonderful church and community cookbooks.  It’s a family treasury of Francena’s family favorites. Perhaps your grandmother made braciole (with beef) in January, as mind did, or Cucuzza (fried zucchini) in August. These are not difficult recipes. These are friendly and achievable!

Our favorite quote: “Olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, onions, and pasta are staple ingredients I always have on hand.”

You won’t find the Braided Easter Egg Bread, Panettone for Christmas, or Polenta for any season. This is a classic Italian family cookbook with recipes from the mid-century, packed with family heritage, and filled with such recipes as Frittata, Eggplant Parmesan, Manicotti, and Baked Ziti.

Each recipe page includes a beverage recommendation, usually wine, among them such as Merlot, Pino Grigio, Sangiovese, and Asti Spumanti!

Enjoy this tribute to a grandmother to as Francena has recorded for future generations.

We have been granted permission to share Francena’s Biscotti recipe with you. You can click on the recipe image and print the recipe.

You can purchase the book for $12.95 including postage and shipping (cash, check, or money order). Please contact Francena at this link.

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Olio2go at Festa Italiana in DC on October 9. We had great fun sampling and tasting with festival guests. JoAnna is shown in these pictures. She helped out at the event and enjoyed speaking to the guests in Italian! We were very busy at the booth and served over 600 olive oil tastes!

Sampled at the show:

Santisi Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Sicily)

Rosselli del Turco Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOP Chianti Classico (Tuscany)

Trappeto di Caprafico Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, DOP Colline Teatine (Abruzzo)

and the little gem, Livio Pesle Balsamic Vinegar Wine Jelly (Fruili Venezia Giulia)

Tuscan Selections including Profumo del Chianti

Tuscan Selections including Profumo del Chianti

A Month in Medieval Volpaia Tuscany is a charming brief memoir.  Robert  and Patricia Crosby capture their full weeks in September and October. These are the slower days of late summer and early fall, after the tourists have left. Robert and Patricia provide a series of diary entries of their day to day visits to trattorias, town squares, and churches.  Each day is a peaceful adventure, full of love for their friends and experiences. 

Take a walk with the authors through their day to day experiences, along with visits to our favorite places, the olive oil estates of Volpaia and Badia a Coltibuono.  Another favorite stop is a visit to Panzano, the home of Dario Cecchini, the Dante-quoting master butcher of Chianti. (We’ve written about him before).

A Month in Medieval Volpaia is a quick read, and a perfect gift with a selection of Badia a Coltibuono, Albereto, Campo Corto, or Volpaia.

We found this book to be well produced, and charming, but occasionally repetitive.  It is perfectly written for those of us who dream of having such a month to spend in the Chianti Classico.

Pamela Marasco demonstrates her love for all of her acquired Italian heritage in her self- published family treasury, Seeing and Savoring Italy. This will be read by her family and others for generations.

She married into an Italian American family and grew close to her husband’s grandmother. Through the years this granddaughter-in-law sought to capture and recreate memories and heritage through food customs.  From olive oil, to cheese, to wine, to chocolate, Pamela is to be commended for trying to get it all into one book.

Recipes are interwoven through the chapters as she visits Tenuta di Capezzana, Avignonesi, and other places dear to us at Olio2go. Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Olives all’ascolano, and risotto, fill the pages between Sagra (festivals), wine, mostarde, and tartufi (truffles).

Well-researched and endearingly written, future editions will be improved with one more pass through an editor and graphic designer.

If you can find a copy of The Tuscan Year, now out of print, you’ll enjoy a very pleasant and well written year in Tuscany.  It fits nicely with A Month in Medieval Volpaia and Seeing and Savoring Italy.

You can see The Tuscan Year and Seeing and Savoring Italy on Our Favorite Books That We Don’t Carry on Amazon.

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