Catching Up With Cooking Italy

What with the year-end jewelry rush and the holidays, we have been eating well but I have been remiss in posting my Cooking Italy assignments.  As most of you who have been reading this blog know, Cooking Italy is a group founded by Angela of Spinach Tiger and our goal is to learn regional cooking using Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking as a guide.  Here are a couple of recipes we have enjoyed in the past month or so, with more to come soon!

Minestrone alla Romagna is a wonderful soup of vegetables.  This recipe was originally assigned as a bonus recipe in August because of the bounty of fresh vegetables available at the time.  However, served with a loaf of country bread it is a hearty wintertime meal.  Here is an adaptation of the recipe on p. 84:

½ c olive oil

3 T butter

1 c onion, sliced thin

1 c diced carrots

1 c diced celery

2c peeled, diced potatoes

¼ lb green beans, diced

3 c shredded Savoy or regular cabbage

1 ½ c canned cannellini beans or ¾ c dried beans, cooked

6 c meat broth

2/3 c imported Italian plum tomatoes, with their juice

salt

1/3 c freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Optional – crust from a 1-2 lb piece of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, scraped clean

  1. Use a large, heavy pot.  Add the oil, butter and onions.  Cook until onions are golden.
  2. Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes; then add in sequence the celery, potatoes, green beans and zucchini, cooking each vegetable for 2-3 minutes before adding the next.  Add the cabbage and cook another 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, tomatoes, cheese crust and salt.
  4. Cover the pot and cook at a gentle simmer for 2 ½ hours. At any point during the cooking, add a little water if the soup is getting too thick.
  5. Add the cannellini beans and cook an additional ½ hour or until soup is quite thick.  Remove the cheese crust, if one was used, and add the grated cheese.

The soup is time consuming to make and cook – but well worth it!  It tastes even better the next day and freezes well, so make plenty.

Minestrone alla Romagna

Minestrone alla Romagna

The next recipe, equally delicious to eat, minutes to make – Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic and Hot Pepper.  Again, adapted from Ms. Hazan’s book, p. 185:

½ c extra virgin olive oil

1 T garlic chopped very fine

2 T chopped parsley

chopped hot red chili pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

salt

½ c dry unflavored breadcrumbs, lightly toasted in the oven or a skillet

1 lb bay scallops (or sea scallops cut into smaller pieces)

1–1 ½ lbs pasta, thin spaghetti or spaghetti

  1. Rinse the scallops in cold water and pat dry with a towel.
  2. Cook the pasta.
  3. Add the oil and garlic to a saucepan and cook on medium until the garlic is light gold.
  4. Add the parsley, hot pepper, scallops and salt.  Turn the heat to high and cook the scallops for about 1 ½ minutes, stirring all the while.  The scallops will lose their shine and become white.  Do not overcook or the scallops will toughen.  If the scallops shed a lot of water, remove them with a slotted spoon, boil down the watery juice and return the scallops to the pan to finish cooking.
  5. Add the scallops to the cooked pasta, mix, add the breadcrumbs, toss again and serve immediately.

This dish was another winner!  I’m glad Ms. Hazan mentioned what to do about the “watery” scallops, as that happened to my scallops.  I followed her instructions and the scallops turned out fine.  The breadcrumbs were a touch of genius.  They added a great texture and absorbed the sauce so that not a drop was wasted!

Note on the scallops – if you can get fresh, all the better.  However if you have the good fortune to live near a Trader Joe’s try their frozen bay and sea scallops – they worked well for this recipe.

Scallop Sauce

Scallop Sauce

Well, that’s it for now.  I will soon be posting a meat sauce recipe and two lasagna recipes – along with some new charms for my Canis Collection.  Looking forward to lots of new adventures in 2010!

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5 Responses to Catching Up With Cooking Italy

  1. Gabriele January 4, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Keep up with a good job!

  2. Kayte January 4, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    The minestrone looks so good on this cold day here in Indiana. We loved it and I have made it a time or two since. The scallop dish was really wonderful. So simple, so easy, so few ingredients, and what a punch for such a little! I was amazed by what a big addition those little breadcrumbs were…they gave it a little something something! Lovely job on all of it. Happy New Year, Maria!

  3. Angela@spinachtiger January 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    Wonderful Maria. I STILL need to make the ministrone and that’s not happening this week, But I wish for a bowl right now. It never stays cold enough here in Nashville. Of course, it’s in the 20’s but still doesn’t feel cold to me. LOL.

  4. Dee February 4, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    yummm, could use some of that ministrone this week…looks like soup my grandma used to make!!

  5. Bruce May 19, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    The minestrone looks so good on this cold day here in Indiana. We loved it and I have made it a time or two since. The scallop dish was really wonderful. So simple, so easy, so few ingredients, and what a punch for such a little! I was amazed by what a big addition those little breadcrumbs were…they gave it a little something something! Lovely job on all of it. Happy New Year, Maria!