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Filtering by Tag: recipe-veggies

Eating Green in Tuscany, Carpaccio di Zucchine

Beth Ribblett

My personal meat platter at Castello di Verrazzano
One of the things I love about foreign travel is immersing myself in the local culture.  Not only eating what they eat and drinking what they drink but also doing those things the way they do them.  Downing a shot of espresso in the afternoon with a half a pack of partially melted sugar in the bottom of the cup while standing at a bar in Cortona, eating a decadent brioche con crema for breakfast in Rome, drinking the simple but delicious house table wine made by the owner of the osteria in Montepulciano, enjoying a daily sweet, creamy gelato in Positano - I live 49 weeks of the year in America but for a few precious weeks I get to experience the joy of eating and drinking like an Italian!  I tell people who travel with us to leave all of their American habits at home because the best way to truly experience a place is to live it like a local.  After all, why spend the money and the time to come half way across the world to a country steeped in thousands of years of culinary traditions to eat a hamburger and french fries covered in ketchup and washed down with a Budweiser? 
Pasta with saffron cream, prosciutto and zucchine
But I must admit I do have one gastronomic complaint about Central Italy - as much as I love going to Tuscany every year the thing I crave by the end of our trip is fresh green vegetables! This part of Italy is about meat + pasta + cheese and many amazingly different and unique combinations of all of them.  Of course there is also an abundance of ripe juicy tomatoes in every size and shape, deeply flavored roasted eggplant, marinated artichokes, delicately fried zucchine flowers, but sometimes a girl just wants a SALAD!!! 

Truffles foraged in Umbria
So one of the American traditions that I enjoy on a regular basis has slowly and reluctantly crept its way to Tuscany.   Each year we go, as the Italians try to cater more to American tourists, I have noticed salads are making their way onto restaurant menus.  Thankfully these are not salads as we know them - there are no bottled gloppy dressings or fake processed cheese, no stale croutons that came out of a can or "salad in bag" stuff here.  It's their spin made of course with fresh local ingredients that change with the current season's offerings. Like crisp lettuce topped with the thinly sliced, small pears that were ripening on the trees and shaved with the local pecorino cheese from Pienza just a few towns away or the local figs that grow wild on the hillsides combined with strips of sliced prosciutto over freshly picked arugula....

Fufluns frolicking on the left
All of these wonderful food memories are bringing me to one such salad we had on our last trip - not once, but twice!  There is a great little pizza place off of Piazza della Republica in Cortona called Fulfuns (fittingly the Etruscan God of vegetation, gaiety and wine!) that we tested out on my family the first week and then brought our Swirl guests the following week.  Not knowing what it would be but assumed it would be "green"  Kerry and I ordered the "Carpaccio di Zucchine"; the epitome of Italian flavor and simplicity!  Freshly grown local lettuce and basil topped with very thinly sliced zucchine ribbons and shaved parmigiana cheese, a sprinkle of roasted pine nuts served with half a lemon and Tuscan olive oil to dress it.  I've made it a few times at home now and while it will never be as good as it is in that medieval hill town washed down with a pitcher of local Trebbiano, it brings me back to sitting outside on that cobblestone street with family and friends enjoying the food and flavors of Tuscany.

Carpaccio di Zucchine, Fufluns Cortona

Carpaccio di Zucchine  (serves 2 hungry Americans craving greens)
1 fresh head of local lettuce or Boston Bibb lettuce if not in season
2 baby zucchine sliced very thin on a mandolin 
1 handful of fresh basil torn into pieces
2 T. toasted fresh pine nuts 
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
shaved parmigiana or grana padana
Salt, pepper
1/2 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil  

Take a large flat bowl, add the lettuce an torn basil leaves.  Top the greens with the zucchini, salt and pepper, and pine nuts; Serve with 1/2 lemon on the side and olive oil.  To dress, put a fork in the lemon half to break the fibers and squeeze the juice all over the salad.  Follow with olive oil, toss and enjoy!
Buon Appetito!!
I didn't have pine nuts this time so I used roasted almonds, preferred the pine nuts!

Zucchine Marinate

Beth Ribblett

During our annual trip to Campania this year, we had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Cantine Antonio Caggiano, one of the most highly regarded producers in the Taurasi region.  This ruggedly beautiful area sits just east of Mount Vesuvio, benefiting from the volcanic soils that produce the best Aglianico grapes in the world. 
Lunch with Antonio Caggiano, beside me at the head of the table

We spent a wonderful afternoon with Antonio, his son Pino and winery manager Angelo (click here for my post on our visit to Caggiano), touring the winery and having a relaxing 4 course lunch under the arbor in the Aglianico vineyards.  While all of the food was spectacular, these was a contorno (side dish) of marinated zucchini that was just really fresh and delicious, made with the tender baby zucchini from their garden.  We all loved it and I've been thinking about it ever since, so here is my attempt at recreating it!  That day it was served with the Caggiano Greco di Tufo which was a match made in heaven.  

Marinated Zucchini 
-2 medium or 6 baby zucchini thinly sliced on a mandolin
-kosher salt
-1 garlic clove crushed
-3 T. of lemon juice
-3 T. of high quality EVOO
-2 T. chopped fresh mint

Slice the zucchini as thin as possible, sprinkle with salt and let stand in a strainer for 20-30 minutes.  In the meantime make the marinade using the lemon, olive oil and garlic with a little salt and pepper to taste.  When the zucchini are ready, rinse and dry them, then put in a bowl with the marinade.  Refrigerate for 4 hours, giving the lemon enough time to soften the zucchini.  Remove the garlic, add the mint and adjust the seasoning.
Serves 3.

Gujarati Vegetables

Beth Ribblett

Thinking Inside the Box, Recipes for Your Hollygrove Box of Fresh Local Produce

As much as we've been loving all of those winter root vegetables in our Hollygrove box, sometimes it's difficult to think up new and different things to do with them.  I've always loved Madhur Jaffrey's Gujarati Carrot recipe, so we decided to do the same with a combination of kohlrabi, cabbage and carrots and it was delicious!  Tangy, earthy and naturally sweet, we served it with a dollop of yogurt along side our vegetable sambar last night.

This is a quick stir fry, the veggies should stay crunchy.  You can find all of the spices listed at the international market in Metairie.

3 T. Coconut oil
1/2 t. mustard seeds
1/4 t. asafetida
1/2 of a large kohlrabi, peeled and grated
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 small head of cabbage, purple or green will work, core removed and finely shredded
3 hot green peppers, seeds and ribs removed, sliced into thin strips
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. turmeric
1/2 t. ground coriander
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

Heat the oil in a wok or large fry pan over medium heat.

When hot add the mustard heats and as soon they pop add the asafetida. Stir to mix.

Add kohlrabi, cabbage, carrots, chillies, salt, turmeric, coriander and lime juice. Stir and fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat while carrots are still crunchy.


Vegetable Sambar

Beth Ribblett

We absolutely love this dish and eat it at least twice a week right now.  Delicously healthy and exotically spiced, I could probably eat it every day and not get tired of it...Sambar is type of Indian stew made with vegetables, dahl (legumes) and sambar spice powder.  Making this recipe will require a trip to the International Market in Metairie or any store that specializes in Indian spices and products.  One of the must have ingredients for southern Indian food is fresh curry leaves.  Having no relation to the mixture of curry spice powder, these are small, fragrant, green leaves from the kari tree that are available in Indian food markets.  They usually come in a bag and can be stored in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks.  Some recipes say that you can substitute bay leaves but that totally changes the flavor of the dish so I would say if you can't find curry leaves, omit them entirely.  But as I said, most Indian markets have them.

Curry leaves
The first step in this recipe is the most time consuming because you have to make your own sambar powder.  But once you do this it can be store for a few weeks in a jar and used to make the sambar stew recipe at least 4 times.  But I should warn you that this is a spicy dish!  On a scale of 1-10 I would probably put it at a 7 in terms of spicy heat.  We love hot spicy foods, so I don't even think about the heat when I'm eating this, but I know we are propably not the norm...

Sambar Powder

This recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey, with my only addition being a piece of cinnamon stick.

Sambar Powder

    * 1 tsp. vegetable oil (I use coconut oil, available at whole foods)
    * 5 Tbs. coriander seeds
    * 1 tsp. whole mustard seeds
    * 1 tsp. moong dal
    * 1/2 tsp. chana dal
    * 1/2 Tbs. urad dal
    * 1-2" piece of cinnamon stick
    * 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
    * 1 tsp. black peppercorns
    * 1/4 tsp. ground asafetida
    * 1 tsp. cumin seeds
    * 20 fresh curry leaves, if available
    * 12 hot dried red chilies

Heat the oil (yes, only 1 tsp.) in a large, heavy frying pan or wok over medium heat. Put in the coriander seeds, mustard seeds, split mung dal, split chana dal, urad dal, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns, asafetida, and cumin. Stir and roast for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the curry leaves. Stir and roast for a further 5 minutes. Add the dried chilies and continue stirring and roasting for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the chilies darken. Empty the spices into a bowl to cool, then, in small batches, grind as finely as possible in a coffee grinder. Store in a tightly closed jar, away from heat and sunlight. You can also buy sambar powder at an Indian grocery store, but it is not nearly as flavorful as this.

Vegetable Sambar

One of the things I love about this recipe is that you can change the fresh veggies to incorporate what you have in your refrigerator.  You can use any combination of carrots, green bean, zucchini, onion, fresh greens like spinach or kale, tomatoes, etc. 

An important steps in southern Indian cuisine is the "tarka" added at the end of the dish.  A tarka is a popping of seeds or spices in hot oil and then poured over the dish to add the final flavorful touch.

Serves 4

*3⁄4 cup toor dahl or channa dahl (yellow split lentils)
*3 tbsp. coconut oil
*1 fresh hot green chile, halved
*3 cups of fresh vegetables (I used the following: 2 sliced carrots, 1/2 vidalia onion sliced, handful of fresh green beans chopped into 1" pieces and a big handful of chard sliced into 1/2" wide ribbons, nos stem)
*1-1/2 tsp. tamarind concentrate mixed with 3 T. water
*2-1/2 tbsp. sambar powder
*1 tsp. salt
*1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
*1 large tomato diced
*1⁄2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
*15 fresh curry leaves (optional)
*3 tbsp. Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Combine dal and 2 1⁄2 cups water in a saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until soft, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, mash with a fork, and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chile and fry, stirring, until it begins to whiten around the edges. Stir in veggies, reduce heat and cook until they are soft.

3. To the mashed dal, add tamarind paste, sambar powder, salt, turmeric, veggie mixture, tomatoes and 2 cups water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

4. Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and sauté until they pop. Stir in curry leaves, if using. Pour over sambar. Garnish with cilantro leaves.