I have always wondered what was “cooking” behind the kitchen door of a great restaurant. This time I had the privilege (and what a privilege) to witness some of the most delicious recipes – and secrets – of the Southern Italian cuisine.
Posts from the ‘Vegetarian’ Category
One of the things that I discovered in Italy is this wonderful combination of flavours: the sweet taste of red peppers and the acidity of capers. While in Puglia, I remember eating a salad that mixed red peppers, capers, and the taste of earthy and creamy potatoes. Being inspired by these three ingredients and wanting to add a spicy flair to an appetizer, I came up with the following recipe.
We all pour tomato sauce over pasta, don’t we? If you browse through the Internet, you’ll find a lot of recipes with tomato sauce over spaghetti, or fresh tomato and garlic sauce over angel hair pasta, or creamy tomato sauce over penne pasta. I wonder why tomato sauce is always on top and…not in the bottom?
In the last 3 – 4 days, it has been really hot in Rome. Temperatures went as high as 40 °C (104 °F) and I have been feeling suffocated and literally dehydrated. Not even water quenched my thirst and just the thought of eating anything that it’s not fruit or salad made me sick!
“Tita was the last link in a chain of cooks who had been passing culinary secrets from generation to generation since ancient times, and she was considered the finest exponent of the marvelous art of cooking”.
From the Novel Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.
“Can you cook me some pasta tomorrow evening? I really feel like pasta. It’s been a while since I have eaten it”: my Italian husband said.
Having been living in Italy for more than 10 years, and specially having been married to an Italian, I discover that pasta is for Italians what rice and beans are for Hondurans. We gotta have it – if not daily – almost every day of the week.
There are some recipes that scream “Summer”, such as the one I am about to present. However, I will not take credit for it since I got my inspiration from an appetizer I ate about a year ago (yes I happen to remember what I ate last year!!) at Duke’s Restaurant in Rome (www.dukes.it). Unfortunately, this year that appetizer is not on the menu anymore!! Therefore, I decided to make my own version of it.
When Summer arrives, my husband asks me to cook spaghetti con la crema di peperoni arrostiti – spaghetti with roasted pepper sauce, one of his favorites dishes. Even though it is a simple pasta recipe, results vary depending on the quality of ingredients one chooses.
Is there a definitive recipe for a traditional dish? Is it ok to claim that there is only one way to cook some classics? When it comes to Eggplant Parmesan in Italy, it is a tough call. There are three Italian Regions bragging rights to the real Parmigiana di Melanzane: Campania, Emilia Romagna, and Sicily.
Have you ever gone back to basics in the kitchen to see if you can still cook a traditional, simple recipe? In our global and multicultural society, we are so into cooking new recipes to experiment on exotic food pairings (mango with tuna steak or potatoes, capers and coffee ), or just trying to impress our friends with recipes from Michelin-starred chefs. This is fine (and so much fun!!), as long as we do not forget that simple recipes with few, high quality ingredients, often means more.