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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with oregano

22Aug 12

Veal Parmesan

Veal Parmesan

This recipe is a hearty favourite of mine. Pasta itself is filling, but with the breaded red meat and strong cheese, I recommend that you make this only when famished!

This is more of a lunch item as well. My wife and I prefer the Mediterranean diet, so we normally eat a substantial lunch and a lighter dinner. Eating a heavier lunch gives us the energy we need and allows time for proper digestion.

I lent this recipe to a friend of mine who wanted to show off his  culinary skills. He proudly served it as dinner to his family. Later, his wife confided to us that although it was tasty, their young son suffered from fairly vivid nightmares all night. We all know that there are a number of things that can affect your dreams, but my personal suspicion is that it was the heavy meal right before bedtime.

I serve a side salad with lettuce and tomatoes, drizzled over with oil and vinegar. The lettuce aids in digesting the meat. You could also try this summer salad with pears and cheese. Or save that option for your light dinner before a peaceful night’s sleep.

Veal Parmesan
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
With breaded red meat, pasta and cheese, I recommend this for when you are famished!
Ingredients
  • 300g fettucine
  • 2 veal cutlets
  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 120ml red wine
  • 250ml passata
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 100g Parmesan cheese
  • 2 slices Mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Wrap the cutlets in clingfilm and use a mallet to flatten them.
  2. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, setting aside a separate bowl for flour and for the breadcrumbs.
  3. Cover the cutlets in flour by dipping them in the corresponding bowl.
  4. Next drench them in the beaten eggs and coat with breadcrumbs.
  5. In a frying pan on medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the veal cutlets until golden on both sides. This should take 2-4 minutes on each side.
  6. Remove the veal from the heat and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  7. Pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the same frying pan to sweat the onions.
  8. Once translucent, add the garlic for another minute.
  9. Pour in the wine and let it evaporate for 2 minutes.
  10. Stir in the passata, basil, oregano, parsley and almost all of the green onion, setting some aside for garnishing later. Let it all simmer together for 10 minutes or so. The sauce should begin to thicken and emit a pleasant aroma.
  11. When almost to the perfect consistency of your liking, place the veal cutlets on top of the sauce, but spoon out a few tablespoons on top of the veal.
  12. On top of that layer of sauce, equally distribute the Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses.
  13. Let this simmer for another 10 minutes on a low heat so that the veal is warmed up again and the cheese begins to melt.
  14. During those 10 minutes, you can prepare the fettucine according to instructions on the packet.
  15. On a plate, serve the fettucine, sauce and veal cutlets, garnished with the leftover green onion.

 

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07Aug 12

Aubergine Parmigiana

Aubergine Parmigiana
Aubergine Parmigiana
or La Parmigiana Melanzane originates from the beautiful coastal province of Puglia, set in the heel of Italy. It’s a great way to serve up aubergines, layering them with tomato and cheese, almost like the classic lasagne, minus the pasta.

Serve with fresh garlic bread and a rocket salad. Perfect accompanied with a classic northern Italian red wine, such as Villa Casetta – Barbera d’Alba. Divino!

Aubergine Parmigiana
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A delicious, warming aubergine dish layered with cheese and tomato
Ingredients
  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes, or 500g of fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 leaves of shredded basil
  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 1 ball Buffalo Mozzarella, sliced
  • Splash of wine vinegar
  • Handful of Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of dried breadcrumbs
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Salt and ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. If you use fresh tomatoes, which will be sweeter if they are in season, you first need to de-skin them. Prick the skins and put them in a pan of boiling water for 40-50 seconds. Spoon them out and drop them into a bowl of cold water. Leave for 30 seconds, then remove their skins. Cut up the flesh, removing the seeds.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan. Add the garlic, onion and dried oregano and gently cook for 7-8 minutes until the onion is soft and the garlic turns a golden brown.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cinnamon and simmer for around 15 minutes until you have a thickened sauce. Season with the basil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  5. Whilst the tomato sauce is simmering, slice the aubergines lengthways about 1cm thick. Brush both sides with oil and a little salt. Pan fry or chargrill, turning a few times until tender. It's important to get the aubergine as tender as possible, so give it time, but don’t burn them! Put them to one side.
  6. Now take an ovenproof dish and spoon a layer of the sauce in the bottom of the dish, cover with aubergine and then the Mozzarella. Repeat 3 or 4 times and finish with a thin layer of tomato sauce.
  7. Sprinkle with Parmesan and breadcrumbs and bake for 30-40 minutes until the dish is bubbling and the Parmesan and breadcrumbs are golden brown.

 

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29Jun 12

Salsiccias with Polenta and Spicy Tomato Salsa

Salsiccias with Polenta and Spicy Tomato SalsaIn Italy there’s a plethora of sausage varieties; but here in our neck of the woods, the easiest salsiccias to get hold of are simply known as… ‘Italian Sausages’. You can generally take your pick between ‘hot’ and ‘sweet’, the hot variety containing hot red pepper flakes in the mix of spices. The other magical ingredients which bump up the distinctive flavours of Italian sausages are fennel and anise. You may discern one, or a mixture of both.

It goes without saying that I’m talking Italian salsa di pomodoro here (tomato sauce), and not the Mexican salsa we often associate with the word. And as a twist from my usual tack of making everything up from scratch, I’m suggesting for once that you buy a really good quality ready-made tomato and chilli sauce. And the reason for this tangent? Well, sometimes you have all the time in the world to do it all yourself; and sometimes well, you just don’t.

So this recipe is here to offer you a delicious Italian inspired meal that’s simple to put together and is still going to dance a salsa on your taste buds. If you want to stick to making your own sauce, which as you know, I always prefer when time allows- find my basic tomato sauce recipe and spice it up with a little chilli.  For another quick to make,  Italian-inspired meal, take a peek at this mushroom lasagne with mozzarella and tomatoes.

Salsiccias with polenta and spicy tomato salsa
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Italian sausages piled onto polenta, swimming in a sauce that will dance a salsa on your taste buds
Ingredients
  • 4 -6 Italian sausages
  • 10ml chilli oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp Marsala
  • 1 large jar of top notch tomato and chilli sauce
  • 100ml water
  • Chicken stock, sufficient to cook the polenta
  • 175g instant polenta
  • A little olive oil
  • A sprinkling of fresh oregano to garnish
Instructions
  1. Fry the sausages in the chilli oil over a medium to high heat in a frying pan. Seal and colour them for around 5 minutes then add the Marsala and the garlic, and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes more.
  2. Add the tomato and chilli sauce and the 100ml water and simmer the sausages in the spicy juice for around 15 minutes or until cooked throughout.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the polenta in hot chicken stock rather than water; it will give it a wonderful flavour. Follow the preparation instructions on the packet. Remember, we’re talking easy for this meal.
  4. Swirl the olive oil over the polenta when it is cooked, stirring it in with a fork.
  5. Serve the sausages over the polenta and cover with the spicy sauce and a sprinkling of fresh oregano.

 

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21Jun 12

Italian Classics – Spaghetti Bolognese

spaghetti bolognese
You know I’m a linguine lover, but there are some days when only a classic Bolognese will do, and that means classic spaghetti. I use fine spaghetti rather than the usual thicker stuff – but go for whatever shape strikes your fancy.  So here it is, my classic spaghetti Bolognese.

There’s something really satisfying about twirling the strands of spaghetti in your fork, isn’t there? And I still like those odd moments when you have to suck in a strand that’s left dangling from your mouth. It takes me back to being a boy and lapping up my mum’s spaghetti Bolognese. This might not be the ideal thing to serve up on a first date – though it could be an ice-breaker if you’ve both got a good sense of humour! If you fancy a bolognese with a difference, take a peek at my favourite bolognese recipe, lamb and linguine bolognese.

Italian Classics – Spaghetti Bolognese
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
You know I’m a linguine lover, but there are some days when only a classic Bolognese will do, and that means classic spaghetti.
Ingredients
  • 250g lean minced beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
  • 75g Portobello mushrooms, use chestnut mushrooms if you can’t find them, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced or minced
  • 80ml red wine – we like to drink a glass while we cook together too, and chat in the kitchen
  • ½ tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • ½ -1 tsp sugar
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • A generous pinch of dried oregano or mixed Italian herbs
  • Fresh Parmesan, grated, to serve
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  • Fresh oregano or fresh basil to garnish
  • 150g dried fine spaghetti
Instructions
  1. Dry fry the mince in a pan along with the onion, garlic, carrots and celery, for around 7-10 minutes, until the beef browns.
  2. Toss the mushrooms into the pan and continue to fry for a few minutes.
  3. Shake over the flour, mixing it in well.
  4. Splash in the wine, and add the tomato purée, tinned tomatoes and 150ml cold water.
  5. Give it all a good old stir before crumbling in the stock cube, sprinkling on the sugar and shaking over the dried herbs.
  6. Twist over with black pepper, I like to use a fair bit myself in this recipe for a good old peppery edge.
  7. Stir everything together and bring the sauce up to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat and simmer on low for around 30-40 minutes. You don’t need to cover it, but do give it a stir every now and then.
  8. Boil a large pan of water, add a pinch of salt and a swirl of olive oil and add the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti for the time recommended on the packet – usually around 10 minutes. Drain to serve.
  9. For the last 10 minutes of the cooking time, turn the heat of the Bolognese sauce up a little to reduce the liquid, and it will thicken up nicely.
  10. Season again and serve the sauce piled on top of the spaghetti. Top off with the grated Parmesan and the fresh herb garnish, and tuck in!

 

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07May 12

Braised Rabbit

Braised Rabbit

Nowadays you don’t have to go out with a gun to bag your own bunny; local farmers sell it at market or in their increasingly common farm shops. Most butchers can get it easily if they don’t already have it, and some of the bigger stores might have it on the meat counter.

Farmed rabbit tends to be plumper, whilst wild rabbit is leaner, darker, and might have lead shot in it, depending on how it was killed (make sure you find out!). It’s most convenient to buy rabbit prepared. Cooking a whole rabbit should feed four modestly or provide enough for two meals if cooking for just two. (Also try this English rabbit pie.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (balsamic is best!)
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 rabbit (prepared by your butcher), chopped into nugget-sized serving pieces
  • 300ml stock (can be vegetable, chicken or lamb)
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary*
  • 1 teaspoon thyme*
  • 1 teaspoon oregano*
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

* These herbs can be fresh or dried.

Method:

1 – Season the rabbit with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron casserole dish (or similar), at a medium setting. Once the oil has heated, brown the rabbit in batches, turning to ensure that both sides are cooked. Remove the rabbit and place on kitchen towel in a bowl.

2 – Put the onions, celery and garlic into the casserole, checking that enough oil remains, and add a drop if need be. There should be some delicious residue left from browning the rabbit, so scrape it from the casserole into the veg mix. An optional pinch of salt can be added at this stage if desired. Sauté over a low heat for several minutes.

3 – Add the wine and vinegar and stir. Increase the heat to a high-medium, and bring the wine and vinegar to the boil for a couple of minutes. Next add the stock and all the herbs, save the parsley.

4 – Finally, add the rabbit, stirring it into the vegetables and broth to combine everything. Take the casserole off the heat (and remember to turn it off!), cover with the lid, and place into a preheated oven (180°C). Cook for between an hour and an hour and a half, or until the rabbit is tender. Taste, and if necessary, adjust the seasoning, finally adding the parsley. Let stand for 15 minutes, to let the rabbit meat rest, and then serve.

Serves: 2-4

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes (15 mins prep; 1 1/2 hrs cooking)

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.