Zuppa di Lenticchie Italian Lentil Soup
(as demonstrated and served at the 2017 IFAFA Conference in Rockford, IL)
Lentils are traditionally served at many New Year’s dinnersthroughout Italy. With their coin-like shape, they are believed to represent good fortune and money in the coming year. They are commonly served with either cotechino or zampone.
1 lb green lentils, rinsed and sorted
3 large yellow onions, chopped
2 leeks, white part only, chopped
1 T minced garlic (3 cloves)
3 T olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 t ground cumin (optional)
8 celery sticks, chopped
4-6 carrots, chopped
3 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
4 T tomato paste
2 T red wine or red wine vinegar (optional)
½ box ditalini (little thimbles) or other small pasta
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to serve)
A classic Easter dessert in the region of Calabria, the cuzzupa is a lightly sweetened cake with eggs nestled into it. It is a tradition to make one cuzzupa for each member of the family, and the size of each cake may depend on age and “hierarchy” of the family member– the head of the family gets the biggest cake while the children get the smallest ones! Cuzzupe are a nice alternative to chocolate and other sweets that children receive at Easter time.
Cuzzupe can be made in many shapes. They’re molded by hand into braids, rings, hearts, nests, baskets, dolls, etc. A different shape may be used for each member of the family.
Truffles are the things, I think, that illustrate more than most how much Italians love their food. I had never really heard of them before I came to live in Italy. Then I only ate them when some one else was paying.
One day ten years ago my husband came home with enough “truffle” to do two plates of pasta (a very tiny piece). He was all pleased with himself and had paid $40 – I nearly throttled him! I couldn’t believe someone would pay so much for a plate of pasta! Now I know better – people go crazy for them! So I would just like to take you through a fact-finding tour and let you know of the various truffles festivals that are held in Italy during the Autumn/Winter.
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.
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).
A handmade pasta shaped like a string bean, you can find trofie all along the Italian Riviera restaurant menus and in Ligurians’ homes. The traditional name trofie possibly derives from “strafuggià” (to rub), the movement done with one’s hands to make this kind of pasta.
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
Peel the oranges, and cut them into large rounds about 1/2-inch thick
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.)
Add 2 tablespoons water, and cook over high heat for the first 3 minutes.
Lower the heat, and cook for 4 more minutes, flipping the oranges halfway through.
Pour in the grappa, and let it evaporate.
Arrange the oranges on a plate, add the sauce from the pan, and let cool to room temperature (do not put in the refrigerator)
Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, and serve, garnished with mint. Serves 4.
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