Pesto Sauce

  • 4 bunches of basil  40 gr Parmesan
  • 20 gr pecorino cheese
  • a handful of pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt
  • Ligurian olive oil

Wash and dry with paper towels the small basil leaves. (Be careful not to mash them when you dry them.) While the leaves are drying, chop 2 cloves of garlic with a bit of salt. After chopping garlic and salt, add the basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and pecorino cheese, and mix it all with a mortar and pestle, gradually adding the olive oil. The pesto sauce should not be too liquid.


Serves 4 people

  1. 250 gr of flour
  2. a pinch of salt
  3. water

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Start mixing the ingredients until all the flour is incorporated and the dough looks cohesive. (If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour).

Continue reading “Trofie”

Ballo Abruzzese

This suite of dances from the Abruzzi is a medley of three dances performed in a circle. Dancers and musicians don’t break between dances, and the increasing liveliness of the dances seems truly made for the pleasure of the dancer and of those who watch them. The influence of fashionable parlor dances of the past century is clearly evident. Nonetheless, it is the peasants who dance this. Continue reading “Ballo Abruzzese”

Italian Expressions and Poetry About Food

Enjoy the following regional sayings and poems which illustrate the Italians’ love for food

Quote Meaning
Quando un contadino mangia un pollo, o è ammalato l’uno o è ammalato l’altro When a peasant eats a chicken, either one or the other is sick (since chickens produce eggs, killing one to eat it only makes sense if the chicken is sick, or if it is needed to make a sick person well.)
 Insalata, ben salata,  poco aceto, molto oliata,  mille volte rivoltata.  Greens, well salted,  little vinegar, well-oiled,  tossed one thousand times!

An old expression describing the best way to prepare a salad. Notice ben salata  – the Romans liked to use a lot of salt, since salt was money and it showed that they had wealth. Both the word insalata  and our Englishword ‘salary’ come from the Italian word for salt: sale

 Il magnar non vale un’acca se alla fine non sa di vacca.  A meal is worthless if it doesn’t taste of milk at the conclusion

Lombardo expression, denoting their love for cheese at the end of a meal

 El vin bon,  l’omo bravo,  e la dona bela,  dura poco Good wine, the trustworthy man, and the beautiful woman don’t last long

–Old Proverb from Friuli


Oranges all’italiana

This is even better if you can find Sicilian blood oranges! –Jackie Capurro

  • 4 large oranges
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon grappa or other liqueur 
  • 2 tablespoons high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • mint leaves for garnish
  1. Peel the oranges, and cut them into large rounds about 1/2-inch thick
  2. Place each slice in a large frying pan, sprinkle with the sugar, and add the raisins. (You may have to do this in two batches.)
  3. Add 2 tablespoons water, and cook over high heat for the first 3 minutes.
  4. Lower the heat, and cook for 4 more minutes, flipping the oranges halfway through.
  5. Pour in the grappa, and let it evaporate.
  6. Arrange the oranges on a plate, add the sauce from the pan, and let cool to room temperature (do not put in the refrigerator)
  7. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, and serve, garnished with mint. Serves 4.

Amaretto Cake


  • 3/4 c butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c amaretto liqueur
  • 1 t finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/2 t vanilla

  • Syrup / Glaze

  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T light corn syrup
  • [1/2 c amaretto liqueur – optional]

Continue reading “Amaretto Cake”

Italian Anise Cookies

These are the cookies that I shared at the 2008 IFAFA Conference in Sacramento. -Linda Coda Brigante


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp anise extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Decoration: multicolored nonpareils

Continue reading “Italian Anise Cookies”

Penne alla Vodka

Tasted this for the first time in Toronto, prior to driving to Buffalo , NY, for the 1997 IFAFA Conference. Got the recipe from the restaurant owner! -Jackie Capurro

  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1/2 lb smoked pancetta* in one piece
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 oz brandy
  • 8 oz vodka
  • 1/2 pt. heavy cream
  • 1/4 lb parmesan cheese, freshly grated or shredded
  • 1 can of 28 oz peeled tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cut up the pancetta in small cubes and sauté in butter till crispy.
Pour the brandy over the pancetta; let simmer a couple of minutes, then flame CAREFULLY.  (Use a LONG fireplace match!)
Add the cream, then the tomatoes crushed with a fork.  Add the vodka, salt & pepper and cook for 20 minutes.
Pour over cooked pasta and add parmesan cheese.  Serve hot.

* Pancetta is Italian bacon, sometimes found at a good deli.  It is almost like unsliced bacon, but smokier. If pancetta is not available, thick-sliced smoked bacon makes an OK substitute.