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14Aug 12

Peperoni Ripieni

 

This is one of my favourite dishes.   It is very simple,  healthy and that takes very little time to prepare.

It is eaten throughout the year in Puglia and there are many variations depending on the the region, the town or the family. Everyone has their own idea which is  best!

So I leave it up to you to experiment and decide. Pepper fans might also want to try out Chicken marinated in herbs and garlic with roasted red peppers.

As always use the freshest ingredients you can find and a good quality extra virgin olive oil and you can’t go wrong. If you want to make it authentic go easy on the garlic.  Although Italians  use garlic in many dishes it is always used sparingly. In their view English cooks tend to over garlic everything. There should be just a slight touch that brings out the flavour of the other ingredients not masks them.

Also try to use freshly grated breadcrumbs if possible. It gives the final dish a much better taste and texture in my opinion.

Serve at room temperature, or even better, the next day cold with some good bread.

 

 

Peperoni Ripieni
Author: 
Recipe type: Antipasto, contorno
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6
 
A colourful, healthy and tasty addition to the table. It can be eaten as part of a selection of antipasti or served later as a vegetable side dish. Simply delicious.
Ingredients
  • Red or yellow peppers
  • A few cherry tomatoes finely chopped
  • A handful of salted capers, rinsed
  • A handful of parsley finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic very finely sliced
  • Breadcrumbs, freshly grated
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped (optional)
  • Salted anchovies (optional)
  • Greated pecorino (optional)
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Cut the peppers into quarters or as flat as they will go
  2. Arrange in an oven dish
  3. Scatter chopped tomatoes, capers, parsley, garlic and chilli and anchovies (if you choose) over the peppers
  4. Sprinkly lightly with breadbrumbs and some grated pecorino (optional)
  5. Drizzle with olive oil
  6. Place in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until soft and golden
Notes
There are many variations of this dish so you can experiment with the chilli and anchovies as well as add olives should you wish. This will depend on how salty or spicy your tastes are. The olive oil and tomatoes act to sweeten the dish. I always use fresh breadcrumbs, never bought. I conserve old bread and grate it when I need to. The bread should be Pane di Altamura or sometimes known as Pane Pugliese. It is important that it is made with hard wheat and is durable.

 

 

 

 

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23Jul 12

Zucchine al pomodoro

 

This is another simple summer dish. Once again the marriage of mint and courgettes gives this dish a slightly exotic, North African flavour,  so common in Pugliese cooking.

The secret however  is in the quality of the olive oil.  ‘Supermarket own’ just won’t cut it, I’m afraid.

If you are after a truly authentic Italian experience you will have to invest some time and money trying to source the best extra virgin olive oil you can find.

The main olive oil producing regions are Puglia, Tuscany, Liguria and Sicily.  Each with it’s own unique character and flavour.  Therefore your choice will depend very much on your taste (a little like wine) however I think it goes without saying that I would recommend using good quality extra virgin olive oil from Puglia,  if you wish to create the real thing.

This therefore may require a trip to a good Italian delicatessen. However once you have discovered your favourite oil you can usually buy it five litre cans making it far more cost effective.

The effort however will be well rewarded, I promise.

This recipe is made with fresh tomatoes and if you have any left over, you could always use them for a delicious Spicy Tomato Chutney.

Zucchine al Pomodoro
Author: 
Recipe type: Main dish, side dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A colourful summer dish that maximizes the flavour of fresh tomatoes, if these are not available however good quality canned tomatoes work just as well.
Ingredients
  • 2 courgettes per person
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g fresh ripe tomatoes/ or good quality canned Italian tomatoes
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Top and tail the courgettes (but keep them whole)
  2. Slice down the middle
  3. Insert a slither of garlic and a couple of fresh mint leaves
  4. Sautè the whole courgettes in olive oil, turning frequently until golden brown on the outside
  5. Add chopped fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  7. Cover and cook over a medium heat until the courgettes have softened

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19Jul 12

Zucchine alla poverella

Zucchine alla poverella
Author: 
Recipe type: Antipasto, Side dish (contorno)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A simple summer dish of fried courgettes which can be eaten as part of a selection of antipasti or as an accompaniment to a main dish of meat or fish
Ingredients
  • 800g Courgettes
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • White wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Slice courgettes thinly
  2. Fry in olive oil until gold and slightly crispy
  3. Drain on kitchen paper
  4. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with freshly torn mint leaves and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Add a glass of white vinegar to the cooking pan and cook slowly over a low heat for 10 minutes
  6. Pour the liquid over the courgettes and let them marinate for a few hours
  7. Serve at room temperature
Notes
If possible, weather permitting, the sliced courgettes can be left in the sun to dry for a few hours. This is the traditional method and gives the dish a slightly more intense flavour.

 

My first few posts will focus on the humble courgette or as it is known in Italian ‘zucchine’.

This vegetable is the one of the main stays of the Pugliese diet and is readily available in northern Europe too during the summer months although in colder climes it has a more delicate flavour. My father for example grows them in abundance in his garden in Somerset.  However they are usually only destined to be boiled as an accompaniment to a main dish.

In Puglia however I never cease to be amazed by the sheer variety of ways courgettes can be prepared and they are always incredibly simple, nutritious and deceptively delicious.

Just a little knowledge will turn this highly underrated vegetable into culinary alchemy. The most important requirement is that you use only the freshest and highest quality ingredients available.

This dish which can be served either as antipasti or an accompaniment to a main dish  requires little more than a few finely sliced courgettes (which can be left to dry in the sun for a few hours before hand  – sun permitting – to eliminate excess liquid and give a slightly sweeter intense flavour).

These are then sauteed in extra virgin olive oil until crisp and golden. Remove from the frying pan,  and place in a bowl and  sprinkle with some torn fresh mint leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Add to the frying pan (and residue olive oil) a glass of white wine vinegar and cook gentle for 10 minutes creating a intensely sweet  liquid that is then poured over the courgettes  and left to marinate for a couple of hours.

Serve at room temperature.

If you’re looking for something else to do with your courgettes, what about Courgette and Leek Fritters?

 

 

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