Monthly Archives: February 2009

Vegetarian? No Problem!

There’s never been a better time to be a vegetarian. Mediterranean cuisine – especially Italian cuisine – is ‘the’ cuisine. Various fusion styles have evolved giving us a plethora of mouth-watering selections to choose from.

Orzo, green bean and fennel salad with dill pesto

Orzo, green bean and fennel salad with dill pesto

From orzo, green bean, and fennel salad with dill pesto to caponata ai capperi, the choices are endless. Want something with a bit more ‘umph’? How about homemade ricotta ravioli with black truffles? Use Lucini Stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano in the filling and finish with a drizzle of lemon infused extra virgin olive oil and finely chopped fresh sage.

caponata ai capperi

caponata ai capperi

All are heart-healthy and help prevent various types of cancer. Use Lucini garlic infused extra virgin olive oil to add that ‘special touch’.

Ricotta Ravioli with Black Truffles

Ricotta Ravioli with Black Truffles

Best part is they’re all super yummy!

Fasting Italian-style

Fat Tuesday is upon us – the culmination of two full weeks of eating, drinking and decadence. And while many of us no longer follow the traditional religious rites of Lent, Wednesday signals the start of forty days of abstinence for those who do – no meat, fish, or animal products.

In Italy, quaresima is very much a part of modern tradition. Italians figured out long ago that fasting doesn’t mean ‘not eating’, it just means enjoying culinary delights that follow traditional quaresima guidelines: penne smothered in Lucini’s rich tomato-basil sauce or a mouth-watering plate of spaghetti paired with Lucini’s tomato-caper sauce.

pasta e fagioli

pasta e fagioli

Chilly nights call for heartier fare: pasta e fagioli – the perfect pairing of pasta with slow-cooked beans. Add a fresh-baked baguette drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a fresh baby-greens salad and tangy oranges to create the perfect Lenten meal. The tantalizing combinations are endless! Too bad Lent is only forty days…..

Slow Food is anything but – and easy on the pocket book, too!

Started in 1986 by 62 incredibly forward-thinking Italian food enthusiasts, Slow Food has become the international food organization. With over 85,000 members in over 130 countries worldwide, Slow Food promotes “… good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.”

Small family-owned farms play a critical role in the production of  ‘good, clean and fair food’ as they exemplify sustainable agriculture by preserving centuries-old traditions, methods and plant varieties. Extra virgin olive oil is a prime example of this: harvested by hand from centuries-old trees and cold-pressed to ensure pure, untainted flavor, the olives used today are the very same that caused Aristotle to wax poetic and Alexander the Great to conquer the known world.  The fundamental ingredient in almost all Mediterranean cooking, extra virgin olive oil is ‘Slow Food’ at its finest.

Here’s the best part: for literally pennies, it’s possible to create world-class cuisine that promotes sustainable agricultural practices and keeps you healthy. Lucini’s Limited Reserve Premium Select™ Extra Virgin Olive Oil 100% Organic helps fight cancer, heart disease, and other serious health aliments while adding immeasurable taste-value to everything you cook. The Slow Food movement didn’t start in Italy by accident, let me assure you!

Patate al forno

Patate al forno (with brussel sprouts and cubed bacon)

Patate al forno (Italian oven-roasted potatoes)

You’ll find these marvels throughout Italy. For a nice, hearty winter dish add sliced fresh brussels sprouts and cubed thick-sliced sweet cured bacon. Leaving the skin on adds nutritional value and decreases prep time.

3-4lb russet potatoes

2-3 tblsp fresh rosemary finely chopped

1-2 clove(s) fresh garlic finely chopped

Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven 350°F. Line a jelly-roll or roasting pan with parchment paper. Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush to thoroughly clean skin. Quarter each potato then slice in 1/4″ thick pieces. Evenly distribute sliced potatoes on prepared pan. Sprinkle chopped rosemary and garlic over potatoes; salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle oil over seasoned potatoes and toss to coat. Bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.

Perfect for Purim: Gifts Baskets that are Sure to Please!

Purim (9-11 March 2009) is the celebration of the miracle of salvation by Esther. Considered the happiest celebration of the Jewish calendar, Purim is full of fun, laughter, costume contests, and gift-giving.

Lucini Italia has the perfect array of award-winning  selections just waiting to be snuggled into a lovely gift basket. Extra virgin olive oil and infused oils, a vast selection of sauces, aged Parmigiano Reggiano, vinegars and vinaigrettes: the combinations are endless! Be sure to include recipes from Lucini’s Recipe collection.

Lucini Tomato Basil Sauce

Lucini Tomato Basil Sauce

Classic Pasta Dinner Basket

Lucini Tomato Basil Sauce

Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lucini Roasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette

500g package of premium short pasta such as Garofalo’ fusile or farfalle

Lucini Parmigiano Reggiano

Pasta Fork and Sauce Spoon

Oranges, Clementines, Dates, Dried Figs, or other winter fruit

Your Mom was Right – Eat Your Tomatoes!

I’ve written about the extensive research done with regards to the health benefts of extra virgin olive oil.  Add tomatoes, garlic, basil, and a pinch of sea salt and you have the classic and much beloved sugo di pomodoro or Lucini’s Tomato Basil Sauce. Here’s the great part – not only is this classic sauce great tasting, it’s great for you!

Tomatoes are naturally high in lycopene, a carotenoid (powerful antioxidants, protecting the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals) that has been extensively studied for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, “…the antioxidant function of lycopene-its ability to help protect cells and other structures in the body from oxygen damage-has been linked in human research to the protection of DNA (our genetic material) inside of white blood cells. Prevention of heart disease has been shown to be another antioxidant role played by lycopene.

Garden-ripe Tomatoes - Cancer prevention in a pretty package

Garden-ripe Tomatoes - Cancer prevention in a pretty package

“Lycopene from tomatoes has been extensively studied in humans and found to be protective against a growing list of cancers. These cancers now include colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers. While lycopene may play an important role in tomatoes’ health benefits, it seems that it is not the only nutritional star integral for giving this food a red-hot reputation for health promotion; recent research discussed below in the section “Protection Due to Synergy of Tomato’s Nutrients, Not Just Lycopene” describes how scientists are finding out that it is the array of nutrients included in tomatoes, including, but not limited to lycopene, that confers it with so much health value. All the while, it’s still important to understand the many benefits that lycopene provides. Lycopene has been shown to help protect not only against prostate, but breast, pancreatic and intestinal cancers, especially when consumed with fat-rich foods, such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil or nuts. (This is because carotenoids are fat-soluble, meaning they are absorbed into the body along with fats.”

Lucini Parmigiano Reggiano

Lucini Parmigiano Reggiano

Fast food doesn’t have to mean ‘bad for you’! A tasty pasta meal with a mixed green salad take about 15 minutes to prepare and you get all the cancer-preventing benefits of tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. To make it even easier, make sure you have a selection of Lucini Sauces on hand. And don’t forget the Lucini DOP Parmigiano Reggiano!

Mardi Gras or Carnevale: Yummy Either Way!

Venice, New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, three of the most famous – and infamous! – cities for mardi gras/Carnevale/Carnival. For two weeks prior to Fat Tuesday (24 February 2009), revelers from all over the world flock to these legendary cities in the hundreds of thousands to ‘party like there’s no tomorrow!’

andouille-sausageshrimp

Andouille Sausage and Shrimp with Creole Mustard Sauce

cucina-veneziana-04

Melanzane al Funghetto

cucina-veneziana-141

Cefali alla Griglia

creme fritte

creme fritte

feijoada

Feijoada

And what’s a party without food?! And what food! Andouille Sausage and Shrimp with Creole Mustard Sauce, Spicy Shrimp with Andouille Sausage on Grits, Bread Pudding with Warm Bourbon Sauce are just some of the treats you’ll find in New Orleans; the city of the Dogi – Venice – prefers Melanzane al Funghetto, Seppie in Teglia
con l´Inchiostro,
Cefali alla Griglia, and creme fritte; and the world famous dancers of Rio chew down on Brazilian Feijoada, Feyoada rice, and Papo de Anjo.

papo de anjo

Papo de Anjo

One thing’s for sure, no one leaves hungry. This is food for the hearty, not the faint of heart. Luckily, olive oil plays a prominent role in the preparation of most dishes; so does frying fat – especially in the fritte and various other deep-fried treats. It’s not called ‘Fat Tuesday’ for nothing!

Top Recommended Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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26 Supermarket Olive Oils.indd
Cook’s Illustrated rated Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil® as the “top recommended” grocery extra virgin olive oil. Now, on PBS’s America’s Test Kitchen, the same review aired and is available online (you might have to signup for free to review). What is great about this piece is that it is done by independent taste testers reviewing products available in most good grocery stores and not just the specialty food boutiques.

Previously, they tested balsamic vinegars….and the winner was Lucini 10-Year Gran Riserva came out on top!