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Fried-Bread Panzanella with Ricotta and Herbs

Fried-Bread Panzanella with Ricotta and Herbs

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Drifters Wife Chef Ben Jackson amps up traditional panzanella by frying thick slices of bread in olive oil on only one side, achieving a magical combination of crisp and soft that soaks up all the tomato juices without getting soggy. Drifters Wife in Portland, ME, is our No. 9 Best New Restaurant 2018.


  • 6 oz. fresh ricotta, preferably sheep’s milk
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1½" pieces
  • ½ small shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ small garlic clove, finely grated
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 2 1"-thick slices sourdough bread

Recipe Preparation

  • Mix ricotta and 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

  • Toss tomatoes, shallot, garlic, basil, parsley, and vinegar in a medium bowl; season with salt. Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a skillet large enough to fit bread in a single layer over medium. Fry bread until deep golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle fried side with salt, and cut into 1½" pieces. Toss into tomato mixture.

  • Spread ricotta mixture over plates and top with salad; drizzle with more oil.

Recipe by Drifters Wife, Portland, MEReviews SectionThe perfect use for peak summer tomatoes! Made this for dinner last night and it was great. I mixed the ricotta in instead of spooning it onto the plate and putting the salad on top, which was good. I don't think I'll be able to have panzanella without fried bread from now on. So good.AnonymousBerkeley, CA08/05/19Hi! I made this and it was delicious but I omitted the parsley bc A: I don’t think it would add/mix well with other flavors and B: based on the photo there’s clearly no parsley in this. The photo looks like chives. Can you clarify for me so I make it right the next time? Thanks!AnonymousLos Angeles 10/17/18

List of Italian dishes

This is a list of Italian dishes and foods. Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine has its origins in Etruscan, ancient Greek, and ancient Roman cuisines. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century. [1] [2] The cuisine of Italy is noted for its regional diversity, [3] [4] [5] abundance of difference in taste, and is known to be one of the most popular in the world, [6] with influences abroad. [7]

Pizza and spaghetti, both associated with the Neapolitan traditions of cookery, are especially popular abroad, but the varying geographical conditions of the twenty regions of Italy, together with the strength of local traditions, afford a wide range of dishes.

Potato and Broccoli Cakes

1 lb. of Yukon gold potatoes

1/2 cup of grated parmesan, divided

6-8 oz. of steamed broccoli (about 1 cup finely chopped)

1 1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, divided

avocado or olive oil for cooking

Peel the potatoes and boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and remove to a mixing bowl, along with the butter, cream, salt and pepper. Let them cool down slightly. Mash everything until smooth. Whisk in the eggs and 1/4 cup of the parmesan. Make sure the broccoli is super, super well chopped, stir that into the potato mixture. Add 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs. It should look like meatball dough - damp but holds form.

Mix the breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl.

Heat a generous slick of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Form small, 3 x 1” thick patties out of the potato mixture, dredge it in the parm breadcrumbs to get a little coat, then pan fry them for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, adding a fresh slick of oil to the pan between batches. Makes 8 cakes.

Serve warm or room temperature with yogurt sauce

Queen cucina: Anna Del Conte - Britain's indisputable authority on Italian cooking - shares a few of her top tips

Spaghetti should never go with bolognese, and salad should be tossed 33 times in its dressing.

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The woman regarded by Nigella Lawson as "beyond doubt, the best writer on Italian food" shook her head when describing the British approach to the cheap, tasty dishes of her homeland.

Yards of shelf-space in every supermarket are devoted to pasta and there may be a pizza parlour on every high street but we just don't get it. "The main lesson you've got to learn is simplicity," said Anna Del Conte. "It's important what you put in, but equally important what you leave out. Somehow, the British use more sauce with pasta than it needs and you tend to add too much parmesan. It should always be used with discretion."

Her interviewer, who applies parmesan with a notably heavy hand, felt a pang of recognition. I also discovered that I often use the wrong pasta shape for puttanesca sauce, the spicy quintessence of comfort food. "It may be all in the mind but I can't enjoy penne alla puttanesca. For me it's just the wrong shape." Spaghetti is fine for puttanesca but not for ragu alla bolognese. Like other foreign dishes the British have taken to their hearts, spag bol is a culinary solecism.

"A lot of Italian food actually came from America," Del Conte explained. "Spaghetti bolognese originated in New York. The clever immigrants put them together to suit American taste but ragu is never served with spaghetti in Italy. Spaghetti keeps the sauce on the outside, so it's better for oily sauces like pesto. Tagliatelle is more absorbing because of the eggs it contains, so it's ideal for meat ragu – but don't use too much.

For every 400g of dried pasta, there should be no more than 350g of meat ragu. In Britain, we have ragu with pasta. In Italy, it's pasta with ragu." Italians relish pasta for its own sake. Del Conte writes that "one of the best possible ways to serve linguine" is with the "simplest of all dressings": garlic, olive oil and chilli flakes.

I was speaking to this astute, youthful, restrained 88-year-old – Lawson describes her as "a cool Milanese" – before the launch of the third edition of her masterpiece, The Gastronomy of Italy (Pavilion, £30), which, as she says in the introduction, "has been thoroughly – I can truly say exhaustively – revised". Her two-year rewrite, combined with a reshuffle of the contents, has resulted in an addictively readable encyclopaedia/cookbook running to 500 pages.

Her knowledge and assurance are reminiscent of Elizabeth David, while her scope and flashes of humour bring to mind Alan Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food. The Gastronomy of Italy certainly deserves a place alongside their magisterial works. Del Conte explained why she felt the urge to write this in-depth guide, which first appeared in 1987. "Unlike France, very little was written down about Italian food. It's all word-of-mouth. Ask an Italian about food and they know everything, though it's not always right."

Every page glitters with information, tips and background for the gastronomic Italophile. I learnt why my rendition of the Venetian classic risi e bisi (rice and peas) never matches the one I had near the Rialto bridge ("should be made with very young peas"), why the gorgeous Tuscan bean soup ribollita tastes even better with keeping ("it should be prepared a day in advance to allow the flavours to develop before it is reheated, hence its name 'reboiled'") and why the strands of my cooked spaghetti lack life after draining. (It does not have the requisite goccia or a drop of moisture: "Experts never drain through a colander but lift it out of the water with tongs. spaghetti should be quite moist when the sauce is added".)

In How to Eat, her great advocate Nigella Lawson writes that Del Conte taught her how to overcome the "invasively metallic" taste of tomato purée. Here's the advice in The Gastronomy of Italy: "[It] should be used sparingly and allowed to cook in the sauce for some time. A small amount of sugar helps the process."

If the British screw up the restrained harmony of simple Italian dishes through excess, there are areas where we underdo it. "In salads, there's a lack of oil and too much vinegar. It should be four parts of olive oil to one or two of wine vinegar or lemon juice," said Del Conte. "In Italy, we say you need four people to dress a bowl of salad. A generous person to pour the oil, a wise person to sprinkle the salt, a miser to add the vinegar and a patient person to toss it – 33 times is said to be the minimum. Where pasta dishes call for butter, I don't think you use enough. One chef was amazed at the amount I used."

Pasta al fuso, where the sauce is merely melted butter, "which may contain two or three sage leaves and a bruised garlic clove", is a favourite dish from her native Milan. Born in 1925, Del Conte grew up in a middle-class household, though her mother was a fine cook who instilled in her children an appreciation of the value of food. Del Conte still detests waste. "As children, we were not allowed to throw away the smallest piece of bread," she writes. "If we did, our fate in the next life would be to go around with a bottomless basket picking up all those crumbs thrown away by us and other wicked children."

Still a teenager, Del Conte had an eventful war, including two brief spells of imprisonment. As was pointed out when she appeared on Desert Island Discs, not many of today's food writers have been strafed by machine-gun bullets. In her autobiography, she recalls diving into a patch of nettles to avoid the fire from allied aircraft. "I often remember that burning sting when I go out, here in Dorset, to collect nettles to make one of my favourite spring dishes – risotto with nettles."

Del Conte came to England as an au pair in 1949, married and started writing about food in the Seventies. Her late husband, Oliver, was "the ideal taster and tester. He did not have a very discerning palate. If he described a dish as 'rather bland' I knew it would not be appreciated by the average English eater." According to Del Conte, the Italian condiment company Sacla increases the quantity of garlic in its pesto destined for Britain. Contrary to popular belief, she says, "the Italian use of garlic is very moderate".

Though this diminutive figure was given the magnificent title Ufficiale dell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 2010 for informing the British about the true taste of Italy, she admits that her television trials were "a disaster. so I had to delete a few noughts from the books I was likely to sell and many pounds from my bank account". When I asked Del Conte how she felt about the chains like Carluccio's and Jamie's Italian spreading across Britain, she answered with her customary finesse. "They're not perfect, but they are popularising simple dishes and that's the main thing. They are quite good for what they are – perfectly decent."

What's the best pizza she's ever had in this country? "To tell the truth, I eat food in particular places. I'm very subject to atmosphere. Of course, I eat pizza in Naples, but here, very seldom. When I go to Pizza Express with my grandchildren, I like the simplest pizza, a margherita. I'm very old-fashioned in my food tastes."

Italian restaurants may be more commonplace here, but the very idea would be baffling to Italians. "Italian food only exists abroad," said Del Conte. "In Italy, we always think of the food of a certain region. The cooking of Milan and Naples are utterly different, but items have spread across the country, such as Genovese focaccia and Sicilian arancini. It's still nice to go where dishes came from and eat the original version. The best recipe comes from where the ingredients are best.

The red mullet of Livorno is better than anywhere else – that's why triglie alla livornese [red mullet in tomato sauce] is so good. The same applies to the clams of Naples in spaghetti alle vongole and Venetian scampi in risotto di scampi. You find the best risotto near the rice fields of the Po valley. The best basil is grown in Liguria, which explains why pesto came from that region."

Until 30 years ago, she says, pesto was virtually unknown in nearby Lombardy. "We always had pesto made with the mild olive oil of Liguria when we > were on holiday." Her entry for this now-ubiquitous sauce suggests a yearning for the days when it was a rare treat. Ligurian basil is "sweeter yet more aromatic than anywhere else thanks to the perfect balance between humidity and hot sun. It is indeed odd that the only speciality from Liguria that genuinely needs a local ingredient should be the one that has travelled all over the world".

Understandably, Del Conte has a soft spot for the dishes of her Lombard homeland. Her favourite risotto is alla milanese, simply flavoured with saffron. "Not too much," she stresses. "In Italy, we use saffron powder that dissolves very easily. I always bring back some little envelopes of the powder."

Other homegrown favourites include minestrone (traditionally made with rice rather than pasta), snails simmered in white wine and served with fried bread ("utterly delicious") and a pork and cabbage casserole called cassoeula. The ingredients include two pig's trotters, one pig's tail (optional), one pig's ear (optional) and 250g pork rind. "In Italy, we say, 'The pig is like the music of Verdi – there is nothing to throw away'." (A somewhat more lyrical view than our 'everything but the squeak'.) Del Conte recalled her mother's rendition of this autumnal treat. "She normally cooked well but she did cassoeula extremely well. Every year, she didn't change it at all. It was practice and knowing what works."

The Gastronomy of Italy also finds room for the unconventional dishes that originated in Milan as part of the Futurist campaign in the Twenties to shock Italy. Devised by the movement's arch-polemicist Filippo Marinetti, fragolamammella consists of two mounds of Campari-tinged ricotta shaped like breasts. Half-hidden strawberries act as nipples. Del Conte writes, "The recipes worked and were not too bad, but I wonder if I enjoyed adapting them far more than my guests did in eating the dishes". The same thing happened to me when I made the startling strawberry breasts for an article on Futurist cuisine a few years ago. After nibbling a rosé bosom, my wife said, "Quite nice, though I prefer my Campari with soda".

The book draws tantalising, often unexpected recipes from every region of Italy. From Rome, Del Conte recommends spinaci alla romana (sautéed with sultanas and pine nuts) and the wonderfully named suppli al telefono, rice croquettes containing prosciutto and mozzarella (the cheesy strings are like telephone wires). Morseddu is a peppery dish of pork scraps eaten by Calabrian labourers for breakfast. Del Conte's recipe for panzanella, the deeply satisfying Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes, came from a neighbour of her holiday home near Sienna. Another Tuscan speciality is salviata, a sage-imbued egg custard. "But the sage has to be young and fresh," she said. "You have to wait for the spring."

"What about using imported herbs?" I asked.

"No, they taste totally different."

On page after page of The Gastronomy of Italy, there are dishes that urge the reader beyond the country's familiar fast food. Peperonata, a southern stew of pepper, onion and tomato, "is now popular everywhere. Excellent with a plain frittata. If any is left over, it makes a delicious sauce for spaghetti". Lamb in horseradish sauce may sound like a variant on our Sunday roast but it actually results from the Austrian influence on Friuli in north-east Italy. "It's very, very good. I'd forgotten how excellent it is."

Del Conte may seem a purist, but she is not implacable. Discussing the great Milanese veal dish ossobuco, she admitted, "It's a bit hard to find veal here. I'm afraid I do ossobuco with leg of pork. It's not proper but more tasty". Taste is everything. At one stage in our afternoon meeting, she offered coffee. Unthinkingly, I suggested cappuccino, strictly a morning drink for most Italians. "You mean espresso!" said Del Conte, and so I did. It was just perfect. Another case of less is more.

Fried-Bread Panzanella with Ricotta and Herbs - Recipes

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Fried-Bread Panzanella with Ricotta and Herbs - Recipes

The following list includes names of famous traditional dishes LAZIALE (For a list of desserts from the Lazio region see Italy Revisited/List of Desserts by Region).

o Bruschetta, garlic bread
o Calzone alla ricotta, ricotta calzone
o Crostini alla Provatura, bread and cheese skewers
o Crostini gustosi alla Roman, baked cheese and anchovy toast
o Cuscinetti di Pandorato, fried bread with cheese
o Pandorato, egg bread, sometimes described with mozzarella and prosciutto and sometimes without cheese
o Pani di noce e mozzarella, a sandwich with walnut and mozzarella
o Panzanella, savory bread salad
o Pizza con fungi, with mushrooms
o Pizza pasquale, pizza dough made with lots of eggs, flavored with pork cracklings
o Pizza Romana, pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella

o Crespelle di ricotta e prosciutto, crepes
o Crostini alla mozzarella, mozzarella skewers
o Frittata di carcifi, artichoke frittata
o Frittata alla menta, fresh mint frittata
o Frittata di pane, golden bread fritters
o Frittata di pepperoni e patate, sweet peppers and potato omelet
o Frittata di Zucchini, omelette with zucchini
o Spiedini di Provatura, grilled cheese with anchovies
o uova al Tegamino con pomodoro, baked eggs with tomatoes
o Uova in trippa alla Romana, eggs cooked to resemble tripe

o Risotto alla Trasteverina, rice with ham and chicken livers
o Risotto con le seppie, risotto with squid
o Rondelli di polenta con salsa di noce, polenta rounds with walnut sauce
o Suppli al telefono, rice croquettes with mozzarella
o Suppli alla Romana, rice croquettes

o Baccalo fritto, fried codfish
o Baccala in Guazzetto, stewed salt cod
o Calamaretti fritti, fried squid
o Calamari con piselli alla Romano, squid with peas
o Filetti di baccala fritti, fried salt cod
o Mazzancolle al coccio, prawns cooked in clay containers
with brandy and lemon
o Seppie affogate, stewed squid

o Abbacchio alla cacciatora, baby lamb with rosmary and anchovies
o Abbacchio alla romana, braised lamb in white wine
o Abbacchio arrosto, roast lamb with potatoes
o Abbacchio o capretto brodettato, baby lamb or kid with egg sauce
o Animelle al prosciutto, sweetbreads with prosciuto
o Braccioletti d'Abbacchio panate, breaded lamb chops
Coda alla vaccinate, braised oxtails with tomatoes
o Bracioline di agnello con carciofi, baby lamb chops with artichokes
o Coda alla vaccinara, braised oxtail shepherd style
o Coda di bue alla vaccinara, oxtail ragout
o Coppiette, beef and pork with cheese and pinenuts
o Cosciotte di agnello arrosto, pot roasted leg of lamb with herbs
o Costarelle con la panuntella, pork chops
o Coste di maiale con carciofi, pork chops with artichokes
o Fagioli con le cotiche, beans with pork sausage
o Frittura di cervella, fried brains
o Frittura piccata, veal scallopini
o Garofolato, beef stew with cloves
o Garofolato di Manzo, braised beef with cloves
o Garofolato e sugo d'umido, beef casserole flavored with cloves
o Lombello arrosto, broiled pork fillet
o Manzo garofolato, braised beef with porsciutto, cloves, tomatoes
o Pollo al vino bianco, chicken in white wine
o Pollo alla diavola, broiled chicken served in a white wine sauce
o Pollo alla romana , chicken in white wine, and tomatoes
o Pollo in padella alla Romana, fried chicken
o il polpettone, meat loaf
o Quaglie al brandy alla Romana, quail in brady with peas and prosciutto
o Quaglie con pancetta, quail with pancetta
o Rognone in umido, stewed kidneys
o Salsicce con broccoletti, sausages with broccoli
o Saltimbocca, veal cutlets and Prosciutto
o Saltimbocca alla Romana - Veal cutlets, Roman-style topped with raw ham and sage and simmered
o Spezzatino di maiale al pomodoro, pork stewed with tomatoes and onions
o lo stracotto, meat sauce with beef, mushrooms, carrots and Marsala wine
o Stufatino, beef stew
o Trippa alla romana, tripe roman style with tomato sauce
o Trippa alla Trasteverina, tripe stew
o Uccellini di Campagna, birds and veal dish

o Bucatini al' amatrician, bucatini with bacon and tomatoes
o Fettuccine Alfredo, with cheese and basil, sometimes uses cream sauce
o Fettuccine alla Papalina, with eggs and cheese
o Fettuccine al Tripolo Brro Maestose (all Alfredo), with Parmesan cheese and eggs
o Fettuccine alla Romana, with tomatoes, mushrooms and tomatoes
o Fettuccine alla Travesteverina, with clams and shrimp
o Frittata di spaghetti, omelette with spaghetti
o Gnocchi alla romana, made with egg yolks and tossed with Parmesan cheese
o Gnocchi di patate, potato gnocchi
o Gnocchi di semolino alla romana - semolina dumpling, Roman-style
o Lasagne, filled with hard boiled eggs, ricotta and served with tomato sauce
o Maccheroni con la ricotta, macarani with ricotta and sugar
o Manicotti, filled with meat and cheese
o Nociata, pasta with walnut sauce
o Pasta e broccoli, pasta with broccoli and tomato sauce
o Pasta e ceci, pasta with chick peas
o Pasta e patate, pasta with potatoes
o Pasticchio di maccheroni, baked pasta with truffles
o Penne all'Arrabbiata, macaroni with spicy tomato sauce
o Peperoni in Padella, fried peppers and onions
o Ravioli con la ricotta, ravioli stuffed with ricotta
o Rigatoni alla Carbonara, with eggs and cheese
o Rigatoni con la pagliata, macaroni with tripe and tomato sauce
o Spaghetti a cacio e pepe, with cheese and pepper
o Spaghetti all Amatriciana, with tomatoes and white wine
o Spaghetti alla carbonara, spaghetti with bacon, eggs and pecorino
o Spaghetti alla crrettiera, with tuna and porcini mushrooms
o Spaghetti alla prestinara
o Spaghetti alla puttanesca
o Spaghetti cacio e pepe, spaghetti with cheese and pepper

o Brodetto Romano, broth made with lamb and chicken and toamtoes
o Brodetto pasquale, Easter soup
o Minestra alla Viterbese, vegetable soup
o Minestra di fagioli, thick beean soup
o Minestra di fave, bean and tomato soup
o Minestra di riso e fave, rice and broad bean soup
o Pancotto con l'olio, bread soup
o Pasta e broccoli con brodo di arzilla, broccoli and pasta soup, wit sting ray
o Stracciatella alla Romana, Ragged egg broth, made with eggs and Parmesan
o Stracciatella con pasta, egg soup with noodles
o Zuppa di vongole, clam soup

o Broccoletti in Padella, fried turnip tops
o Broccoletti strascinati, turnip tops and garlic
o Broccoli a crudo, broccoli with wine and garlic
o Bucatini all'amatriciana - bucatini with guanciale, tomatoes and pecorino
o Carciofi al Tegame, fried artichokes
o Carciofi alla giudia - artichokes fried in olive oil, typical of Roman Jewish cooking
o Carciofi alla Romana - artichokes Roman-style outer leaves removed, stuffed with mint, garlic, breadcrumbs and braised
o Carciofi con limone, artiches in lemon sauce
o Carciofi coi piselli, artichokes with peas
o Carciofi fritti, artichoke fritters
o Cipolle al forno, baked onions
o Cipolline in agrodolce, sweet and sour onions
o Crocchetti di spinaci , spinach with cheese croquettes
o Contorno di carciofi e piselle, artichokes and peas
o Fagioli con le cotiche cannelini, beans with prosciutto, flavored with herbs
o Fagioli freschi con pomodor, white beans in tomato sauce
o Fagiolini in Padella, snap beans with tomatoes
o Fagiolini stufati, stewed green beans
o Fava al Guanciale, fava beans with bacon
o Fave col guanciale, beans with bacon
o Fave fresche stufate, braised fresh beans and lettuce
o Fondi di carciofo trifolati, artichoke hears sauteed with garlic and parsley
o Fritelle di cavolfiore di tuscana, cauliflower fitters
o Fritto di fiori di zucca, fried squash
o Funghi porcini al tegame, mushrooms with garlic and mint
o Indivie intere a crudo, endive flavored with garlic
o Insalata di ceci, chick pea salad
o Insalata di finocchi, fennel salad
o Olive condite, olive and blood orange salad
o Patate in umido, potato stew
o Peperoni al guanciale, sweet peppers with toamtoes and bacon
o Peperoni ripieni, stuffed peppers
o Piselli al prosciutto, peas with prosciutto
o Pomodori al forno, stuffed tomatoes
o Pomodori farciti, stuffed tomatoes
o Pomodori ripieni di riso, tomatoes stuffed with rice
o Sformato con fungi, mushrooms with Marsala wine
o Spinaci alla Romana, spinach using bacon, pine nuts and raisins
o Tortino di patate, potato pancake
o Zucchini imbottite con la carne, zucchini stuffed with meat
o Zucchine ripiene di carne, uzzhini stuffed with meat

Italian Meats and Fish

An extensive coastline, unspoiled woods, rolling pastures and centuries of fishing, hunting and livestock rearing. Italy’s geography and traditions are what make Italian meats and fish so appealing and diverse.

In Italy it’s never just “meat and potatoes” ! Regional traits and seasonal availability provide an amazing selection of scrumptious dishes, lovingly prepared with the freshest choice ingredients and according to tradition

Champion staples include slow-cooked favorites such as mellow brasato al Barolo, beef simmered in one of Piedmont’s most exceptional wines. In Lombardy you can have Milanese ossobuco (literally bone with a hole!), veal shank and bone marrow with a zesty gremolata.

Italian Meats Recipes

A special treat you can easily master and make at home is saltimbocca alla romana. Thinly slice your veal and top each slice off with slices of good prosciutto and leaves of fresh sage. Then coat one side of your slices with a little flour, sauté them in butter until golden, sprinkle with a little white wine and reduce. Your friends will love you!

If you’re a fish and seafood gourmand make sure you don’t miss fritto misto di pesce, a delectable spread of deep-fried fish and seafood.

Another fish must-try is catch of the day all’acqua pazza, (literally “crazy water”!) which dates back to the Middle Ages when fishermen used to cook their fish in seawater seasoned with a bit of olive oil and tomato.

Vegetarian Italian Recipes

Italy’s mild climate, neatly groomed fields, orchards and thick woods yield sun-kissed fresh produce, glorious mushrooms and scented truffle… No doubt there are so many superb vegetarian Italian recipes to choose from!

After all Italian’s best traditional dishes come from la cucina contadina, the farmers’ kitchen. Seasonal local peasant’s fare – i.e. vegetables, pulses and grains – offer a rich selection of ingredients for mouth-watering vegetarian Italian recipes.

Among the most renowned and adored are eggplant Parmigiana – a luscious casserole made of layers of grilled or deep-fried eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese – and Caprese salad – thick slices of mozzarella cheese and fresh tomato topped off with basil and olive oil.

Live the local with these stunning summer recipes

The Kitchen serves its summer succotash over cherry tomato sauce with a fillet of salmon.

Steve Redzikowski / Courtesy photo

Oak at Fourteenth's tomato and peach salad includes fresh mozzarella balls and an olive caramel that pulls the flavors together.

Just because it’s back to school this week, doesn’t mean summer is over. Especially not in Colorado, when it doesn’t get its start till well after school is out in the spring.

We’ve had local sweet corn, Rocky Ford cantaloupes and vine-ripened tomatoes only for a couple of weeks, for goodness sake.

Eat a lot of all the short season has to offer and enjoy every bite.

The nice thing is that even after the school routine kicks in, the days are still long, and the beauty of the produce means it doesn’t take much to make a meal memorable enough to dream about when the mercury falls below zero in a few months.

We asked some local chefs to share their favorite summer dishes. All are simple enough for home cooks to make. And thanks to local farmers markets, we have access to the same great ingredients chefs do.

Here are some of their favorites:

Steve Redzikowski, chef, co-owner of Oak at Fourteenth: One of the most popular items on Oak’s menu is its farmers market salad.

“We’ve run it for the last three seasons at Oak and at Acorn (in Denver). It’s the only thing that we’ve ever put on the menu that rivals the kale salad (in popularity),” Redzikowski says.

The recipe is simple, but with a twist or two. Its most vivid components are two of the season’s favorites: peaches and tomatoes. But not just any peaches and tomatoes. The peaches are from Palisades, and this time of year they often are the lusciously large freestone variety the tomatoes are heirlooms from local farms. Redzikowski’s favorites include Purple Cherokee and Green Zebras, as well as red and yellow heirlooms.

In addition to the tomatoes and peaches, Redzikowski uses peppery arugula and lemon verbena basil from Red Wagon Farm. A couple of cheffy twists accentuate the produce. Fresh balls of mozzarella tossed in olive oil add an creamy touch. A bit of salt and sweet is introduced via an olive caramel &mdash a simple syrup made with Kalamata olives and pureed &mdash which is painted on the plate to bring the elements together. Fried bread &mdash Redzikowski puts the bread in the freezer for 10 minutes to enable thin, even slicing &mdash before frying it and using it as a garnish on the salad.

Simple in the best way possible.

Eric Skokan, chef-owner of the Black Cat, as well as Bramble and Hare: Since Skokan has his own farm in Niwot, he gets to play with ingredients on the growing side and the cooking side. To wit, Japanese baby corn. The corn itself, the freshly grown version of the tiny canned things you find in Asian dishes, is amazing stuff, according to Skokan.

“Blanched fresh, it’s stunningly sweet,” he says. “The husks are edible. We are roasting it and making a sweet and sour miso sauce to go on it. The whole roasted corn cob (which is edible) is as big as your finger.”

Skokan expects to have the corn at the farmers market for the next week or two.

Another thing he sells at the market and the item that brings the most questions are squash blossoms. At Black Cat, Skokan stuffs the blossoms with smoked ricotta cheese. The restaurant makes the ricotta, adding a glug of cream to make it richer, and hangs it in its smoker to add a kiss of smoky goodness. Skokan then stuffs the soft cheese into the blossoms and heats them for 2 to 3 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven.

“It just barely melts,” he says. “It’s kind of the goal to have a warm, gooey cheese bite” while not wilting the blossom too much.

At Bramble and Hare, Skokan uses the squash blossoms as croutons, by frying them in a light tempura batter. The batter is equal parts rice flour and finely ground corn meal (from the farm’s polenta corn).

A note for those who have squash vines at home. Skokan explains that the male blossoms are the ones to pick. (They already have done pollination duty and can be eaten.) You can tell the males because they are on a stem the female blossoms are close to the plant.

Another of Skokan’s favorites is a dish of snap beans, blanched quickly in salty water and shocked in an ice bath to stop cooking. He serves the fresh beans with a pistachio or almond tarator sauce. Skokan lightens the rich, garlicky sauce with a bit of lemon juice for the summer.

Kyle Mendenhall, executive chef of The Kitchen restaurants: The restaurants have made their name on their fealty to seasonal, local food. And, while winter vegetables have plenty to offer, summer is, well, special when it comes to produce.

“Colorado is one of the fun, more interesting states when it comes to weather,” Mendenhall says. “We get so many months of cool, dry, snow, things like that. When summer hits, it’s an exciting time.”

One of the first things he thinks of, come summer, is the restaurant’s summer succotash. The dish, a melange of corn, green beans, zucchini and onions, sits on a bed of vibrant sauce made from cherry tomatoes, cooked simply with olive oil and run through a ricer. A salmon fillet is the protein in the dish, although it’s difficult to say that even a perfectly cooked piece of salmon is the star of a dish when the vegetables are so superb.

At the Kitchen Upstairs, the same tomato sauce is served with a chitarra pasta (named for the guitar-like chitarra on which the pasta is cut on the strings), a bit of smoked ricotta and torn basil.

“We serve it at the end of August around here when the tomatoes are coming on full force. We’re right on the cusp,” he says.

Also during tomato time is The Kitchen’s tomato and bread salad, its take on panzanella, the Italian classic made with tomatoes and day-old bread. If you’ve tried to make panzanella before and ended up with mush (albeit good-tasting mush), pay heed to a couple of techniques in the recipe. First, the bread is dried in the oven and then run under the broiler to achieve a golden brown. Second, the tomatoes are salted for 90 minutes and give up some of their liquid before being combined with the other ingredients. The restaurant serves the salad, enlivened by fresh basil and mint, with a roasted chicken breast.

And, parents, as for that end-of-summer nonsense, allow me to make a suggestion. Next week, as your young ones are firmly contained in the classroom, schedule a day off for yourself. Spend it in glorious solitude or with your spouse and make one of these quintessential summer dinners. Your little darlings &mdash who you really do miss now that they’re back in school &mdash don’t have to know a thing about your day of indolence.

Food and memory

Summers, past and present, occupy a vivid spot in our headspace. Amid the long, bright days and trips to the pool are the special foods that marked our childhoods then and those of our children now. Here are the summer food experiences that linger in the imaginations of this week’s chefs:

Strawberry picking

Oak’s chef, Steve Redzikowski knew they were special because his family drove and hour and a half to Long Island to pick them. That, and the taste.

“They were night and day from anything you’d get in the supermarket,” he says of the tiny, oh-so-sweet fruits.

Looking forward to those berries, sprinkled simply with sugar and served on vanilla ice cream, may have helped the long, and very sticky, drive home.

He and his younger brother ate their fill as they picked, just as you would expect. But they also used some of the ripest berries as projectiles. During their strawberry wars, they covered each other in strawberry juice and pulp, denying all the while to their parents &mdash despite being caught red handed and red shirted &mdash that they’d done anything other than pick berries.

On the farm

Eric Skokan spent his childhood summers on his grandparents’ farm.

“When I was tall enough to be able to step over the electric fence that kept the rabbits out, I could eat all the beans I wanted or search for carrots or dig for potatoes,” he says. “The whole world opened up.”

He remembers lunch in the kitchen, always in the kitchen, around a table with a large lazy susan on which rested salted vegetables of one kind or another &mdash radishes, spring onions, cucumbers. His grandmother would salt the vegetables, wash off the salt and make a quick creme fraiche out of their farm- fresh cream.

“The thick, gloppy homemade sour cream and vegetables. We’d eat that with beef tongue, chilled rye bread and horseradish,” he says. “I had that lunch maybe 500 times growing up.”

And he remembers eating a lot of corn.

His grandfather threw the ears, husks on, into the outdoor barbecue pit.

“He’d let the outer three or four or five layers char and burn into ash. Then he’d fish them out, let them cool,” Skokan says.

They’d peel them and we’d eat them with salt and butter.

“Everything was smoky and sweet,” he says. “We’d always eat standing up in front of the barbecue.”

Peach cobbler

For Kyle Mendenhall, executive chef of The Kitchen restaurants, the peak of childhood summer eating was his mom’s cobbler.

In fact, the memory has extended into adulthood he had some just a week or so ago at the family cabin near the Grand Mesa National Forest.

One of his mother’s tricks was to use tapioca instead of cornstarch to thicken the fruit, which was the star of the dish. Otherwise, she often used a mix to put together a biscuit crust.

Of his most recent cobbler experience with luscious Western Slope peaches, he says: “We were waiting for it to come out of the oven. We skipped the dinner and went straight to the cobbler. We didn’t want to fill up on anything else.”

Oak’s Farmers Market Salad

3 tablespoons pitted Kalamata olives

Small balls fresh mozzarella

Palisades peaches, cut into wedges

Local heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges

Fresh lemon verbena basil (or sub regular basil)

Directions: For the olive caramel: Bring sugar, water and olives to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved. Cool and blend.

For the mozzarella: Toss mozzarrella in good-quality olive oil and sprinkle on Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

To assemble the salad: Paint plate with olive caramel. (Alternatively, you may put it in a squeeze bottle and squeeze dabs on top of the finished salad.)

Line plate with arugula. Place tomato and peach wedges on top of greens. Add mozzarella balls and fresh herbs.

Source: Steve Redzikowski, Oak at Fourteenth.

Eric Skokan’s Squash Blossom Croutons

Male squash blossoms (see note)

1 part very finely ground corn meal

Directions: Mix rice flour and corn meal.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat oil for pan frying, about ¼ inch or more.

Drizzle the soda water into flour mixture until it is the thickness of pancake batter.

Dip in squash blossoms and fry in hot oil, turning to cook batter on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately as a crouton on a salad or other dish.

Note: Male squash blossoms are the ones that grow on a long stem. The female blossoms, which produce squash grow close to the plant.

Source: Eric Skokan, Black Cat and Bramble and Hare

Eric Skokan’s Summer Tarator Sauce

1 cup toasted almonds or pistachios

2 tablespoons roasted garlic

Directions: In a food processor, combine the nuts, garlic and 2 tablespoons water. Process on high speed until very smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary.

With the motor running, slowly add the oil until fully incorporated. Season with the salt. Store in a tightly covered container in the fridge for 4 days.

Notes: Pistachios can be substituted for the almonds.

To roast the garlic, cook 1 cup peeled garlic cloves in 1 cup sunflower oil over medium heat until the garlic turns golden and softens, about 25 minutes. Using a hand strainer, remove the garlic and strain the oil. Store separately in airtight containers for 7 days in the refrigerator.

Source: Eric Skokan, Black Cat and Bramble and Hare.,

The Kitchen’s Tomato and Bread Salad with Parsley and Mint

1 cups of parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1 cup of mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 2-ounce can of anchovies (12 fillets), finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 loaf of freshly baked white bread (round or batard shaped, with a good crust)

Directions: The first step is to salt the tomatoes. This process takes about two hours to do it properly as the tomatoes absorb the salt very slowly. First, cut the tomatoes into a bite-size chunks and toss them in a bowl with 3 heaped tablespoons of salt. After about 30 minutes, transfer them to another bowl discarding any liquid that remains (it will be very salty and not usable). The tomatoes will continue to lose water and the idea is to save the liquid in the second bowl. Leave the tomatoes for up to 90 more minutes in the bowl.

Next, prepare your bread. Take your bread loaf and slice 1-inch thick slices. Then take each slice and tear it with your hands into pieces about the same size as your tomato chunks.

Toss the bread pieces in olive oil and toast in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes to dry them out a bit. Then turn the oven on to broil and bring the croutons to golden brown. Remove them from the oven, flip the croutons over, and brown the other side of the croutons back in the oven. Remove them from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

Take lemon juice, chopped parsley, mint, anchovies and garlic and add it to your bowl of tomatoes &mdash by now there should be a small pool of tomato water at the bottom of the bowl. Toss thoroughly before adding your croutons. Toss everything together and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Notes: This is my favorite summer salad, when tomato season is in full swing. This dish is also very simple and relies on the flavor of the tomatoes. Around Boulder, that means that we only serve this salad between July and September, depending on the heat. The anticipation only gets us more excited though as we count the days until we can serve it.

This salad goes great with grilled steak or roast chicken on a hot summer day.

Source: Kyle Mendenhall, The Kitchen restaurants

The Kitchen’s Summer Succotash

12 ounces (cleaned weight) summer beans, green or yellow

12 ounces corn, cut from the cob

2 tablespoons butter, optional

Directions: Cut vegetables in a small dice. Remove corn from the cobs. Sliver garlic.

In a hot rondeau or wide, shallow pan, add ¼ of the olive oil, sauté garlic and thyme for a minute, then add red onion and of the salt. Cook over high heat a few minutes until onions are softened but not mushy. Then add red wine vinegar, stir to incorporate and cook till the onions are tender and the vinegar has evaporated.

Remove onions from pan, laying out to cool. Return the same rondeau to heat. Add another ¼ of the olive oil. Sauté beans with another of salt. Remove and cool.

Repeat this process with the squash and corn. When all vegetables are cooked combine together and serve warm. If you like, you can reheat with butter and chopped parsley.

At The Kitchen, the succotash is served with the cherry tomato sauce and a salmon fillet.

Source: Kyle Mendenhall, The Kitchen restaurants

The Kitchen’s Cherry Tomato Sauce

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions: In a wide, shallow pan such as a rondeau that will fit tomatoes in one layer, simmer all ingredients together until tomatoes start to break down. The oil should start to emulsify with the tomato juice. Pass mixture through the ricer.

22 mouthwatering foods to eat in Italy that aren't pasta

And while it's a good idea to sample as many noodles as you can during your visit, it would be a mistake to limit yourself to them.

The country has plenty of other indulgent and delicious foods, like tender ossobucco and crunchy arancini.

Keep scrolling to see what else you should be sampling on your next trip.


Among the desserts in Tuscan cuisine, two standouts from Siena are Panforte, rich in dried fruit and spices, and Ricciarelli a marzipan-based biscuit. Cavallucci are typical sweets for the holidays with their nuts and spices while the Cantuccifrom Prato, dry biscuits made with almonds, are usually dipped in the Tuscan dessert wine Vin Santo at the end of a meal.

In autumn, you must try the Castagnaccio, prepared with chestnut flour (“castagna” is chestnut in Italian), walnuts, raisins, pine nuts, and rosemary.

From appetizers to desserts, Tuscany is full of healthy and tasty foods to satisfy any palate, from the simplest to the most refined. Each dish can make a perfect match with local wines from sparkling to whites, from the big reds known all over the world to dessert wines.

Are you hungry now? Join us on some of our Montalcino Food Tour. There is something to delight every palate!

Watch the video: Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon with Panzanella Salad and Rack of Lamb (August 2022).