Tag Archives: extra virgin olive oil

Pesto

Why flax seeds?  I have been reading a lot about omega 3 lately and trying to work it into my diet more often (rather than relying solely on supplements).  One of the best sources of omega 3 is ground flax seeds and thinking about the groundness of the seeds led me to pesto – the root of the word is the same as pestle and both derive from the Latinpestâ” (to pound or crush).  It seems that many people have negative connotations for flax seeds – that the texture is weird or flavor will be unpleasant.  But, i’ve tested this recipe on some discerning palates and everyone thought that the nuts used were either 100% walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and pine nuts.  Be sure to taste before and after adding the salt – I usually avoid salt in pesto recipes, but because the Lucini Stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano is so rich and flavorful and has less of a salty profile than generic Parmigiano Reggiano, I do add salt to this preparation.  As always find it better to start with a little less – you can add more, but if you start with too much, fixing the taste is difficult.

pesto

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Grind the flax seeds.  Combine the garlic, flax seeds, walnuts and salt in a food processor (or a mortar and pestle, for a more ‘authentic’ consistency) and blend until the mixture forms a paste.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending slowly.  Add the Parmigiano 1 tablespoon at a time, blending for short beats until the mixture forms a thick paste.  The pesto can be put in a container, topped with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil and then stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Without this preservation layer, the pesto discolors very quickly and the garlic flavor will turn bitter in a matter of days.

Italian Comfort in a Jar

This yummy bean recipe is  from Art Smith’s blog:

TUSCAN BEANS IN A JAR
Makes 8-12 servings

2 pounds Tuscan beans, soaked in water overnight in the refrigerator
10 Roma tomatoes
¼ pound pancetta, diced
2 small onions, diced
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer Lucini brand)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Drain the beans and rinse. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cut an X on the ends of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the water in batches, if necessary. After 40 seconds, remove and plunge into an ice-water bath. Leave in the ice water for 40 seconds and drain. The skins should peel right off. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Place a large Dutch oven over high heat, toss in the pancetta, and render until it begins to turn brown and crispy, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain off some of the fat and toss in the onions, sautéing for 4 minutes or until the onions begin to look translucent. Reduce the heat to medium and add the beans, sautéing for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 2½ hours. When the beans are done, add the basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately or let cool, then ladle into jars and refrigerate for later use. They will keep for up to three days.

Spring Break – Yes, it’s that time again!

Weather Channel predictions aside, Spring Break is only five weeks away. Are you ready? Whether you’re headed for Ft. Lauderdale, San Diego, or points beyond, shorts, sleeveless dresses, flip-flops and sandals will definitely be the attire of the week.

So, I ask again – are you ready? I know I’m not! This winter has been just a bit much and the weight seemed to just appear out of nowhere. Cold winter nights just go too well with Lucini’s Umbrian Lentil or Rustic Minestrone soups, carbonara con coniglio, risotto con bresaola e valtellina casera,

carbonara con coniglio

carbonara con coniglio


risotto con bresaola e valtellina casera

risotto con bresaola e valtellina casera

and all the other heavy taste treats of winter.

All good things must come to an end, though, and my winter eating has ended! Luckily, oranges, grapefruit, clementines, and all the other delicious citrus are in season and better than ever. Paired with a traditional basil-tomato sauce over pasta and presto! you have the perfect ‘get in shape’ meal.

Insalata di arancia alla siciliana

Insalata di arancia alla siciliana

One of my personal favorites is insalata di arancia alla siciliana (recipe follows) served with Lucini tomato-basil sauce over spinach and ricotto ravioli with grated Lucini stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano

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Spinach and ricotta ravioli with Lucini Tomato-Basil sauce

Spinach and ricotta ravioli with Lucini Tomato-Basil sauce

Another preference of mine is insalata di pomodoro con mozzarella (recipe follows) and a pan-fried chicken breast (I use just a teaspoon of Lucini’s extra virgin olive oil to ‘fry’ the breast). Or try pasta al dente – any type – drizzled with Lucini’s extra virgin oil olive and dusted with Lucini’s stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano and mixed baby greens with a drab of Lucini Tuscan Balsamic vinaigrette. The ‘light’ possibilities are endless…..and delicious, too! And don’t forget to exercise….

Insalata di arancia alla siciliana

3-4 large navel oranges peeled and sliced in thirds

1-2 large pink grapefruit peeled and sliced in thirds

2 green onions chopped

1/4 cup Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teasp salt

1/4 teasp red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients together and toss. Leave standing at room temperature until served. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Insalata di pomodoro con mozzarella

1-2lbs cherry or sweet grape tomatoes

fresh mozzarella in water (boccincini)

2-3 fresh basil leaves torn into small pieces

1 1/2 teasp dried oregano

1/4 cup Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and toss. Leave standing at room temperature until served. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Easter: Sicily’s Holiday

Easter in Sicily is like no other holiday: pageants, processions, historic icons, age-old societies, and food food food!

Torta Pasqualina

Torta Pasqualina

In a country that relishes its traditions and bountiful harvests, Sicilian tables feature a combination of seasonal and symbolic ingredients that welcome in spring as much as celebrate Easter.

Farfalle Saporite con Asparagi

Farfalle Saporite con Asparagi

Tender green vegetables play an important role whether they appear in delicate savory tarts as starters or in the form of sauces or stuffing for first courses. The most classic tart is the Torta Pasqualina, layers of puff pastry covering a ricotta and artichoke mixture with the added surprise of whole eggs baked into the filling. Asparagus – both cultivated and wild – is a favorite in pasta as well as a side dish.

The main course will almost inevitably be lamb, at its most tender and succulent at this time of year.

Agnello Arrosto

Agnello Arrosto

Whether it’s the traditional arrosto di agnello (roast leg of lamb marinated in white wine and roasted with rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil), or the impressive corona di carré d’agnello (rack of lamb shaped into a guard of honor),

Corona di Carre' d'agnello

Corona di Carre' d'agnello

or a mouthwatering casserole with artichokes, lamb provides a delicious highpoint for an extremely important holiday.

Colomba

Colomba

For dessert you’ll find an assortment of mignon dolce (bite-sized pastries) and Colomba, a delicate dove-shaped sweet cake that originally came from Lombardy. This yeast dough-based dessert is filled with fragrant candied fruit and topped with a crunchy topping of almonds and sugar.

Uova di Pasqua

Uova di Pasqua

And please don’t forget the chocolate Easter eggs!

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.