When thinking up this recipe, I wanted to bring together sweet and salty. Prosciutto and fig were an obvious start because it’s one of my favorite pairings. Next, I thought about how well brie and fig go together, so that was my choice for cheese. I added arugula as a peppery and fresh balance to the saltiness of the prosciutto. For the bread, I wanted a crunchy artisan type bread that could stand up to the journey of flavors you experience as you eat this sandwich, so I looked for French bread with a crunchy crust.
Alongside pain au chocolate, one of the most memorable things I had in Paris was the simple jambon-beurre sandwich. As is a common theme for my travels with my cousin, we fall in love with something and tend to stick to it while also trying as many things as possible. We had this sandwich almost every day in Paris. I will say, at first it sounded a little weird (butter on ham?), but I learned very quickly not to doubt the French when it comes to food!
I'm going to be right up front you, as you read this recipe you'll likely have the same reaction I did when it was first served to me, "Well, that's going to be weird!" I need you to trust me on this one. You're going to love it!
In Italian, this dish is called spaghetti con vongole e pomodori. In my family, it's called na'spaghettata con clamese. What language is that, you ask? Well, that's my parent's Neapolitan dialect sprinkled with English words that have been morphed into something that sounds like Italian by adding vowels and emphasizing certain syllables. Whatever you want to call it, this dish is light, fresh, and a great replacement for our usual heavier Sunday meat sauce. To make it, we usually embark on quite the adventure (you can read about it here) because no effort is too great for the perfect spaghettata.
This cabbage salad is inspired by a side my Zia Rosa made for lunch during my last visit to Italy. It's simple, tasty and works well when you're pressed for time or want to eat a little on the lighter side. Zia Rosa used green cabbage and served it raw. I use savoy cabbage (because it's easier on the stomach) and cook it slightly to bring out the sweetness.
Rabe with shrimp is a great meal during the week, course for a dinner party, or side anytime. This dish also makes an appearance during our Christmas Eve extravaganza (teaser!). I used the rabe my dad sneak-attack planted in my backyard; however, store-bought rabe works just as well.
The first vegetable from my garden this year, fresh garlic! I planted them in early-mid May and they are ready to go. Garlic is as basic as it gets in the How to Develop a Green Thumb 101 handbook. Buy garlic at the grocery store, don't refrigerate it, separate the cloves carefully so the peels stay intact, and plant them root side down. Within a few weeks you have fresh garlic and can make this yummy, quick frittata!
Carne alla Pizzaiola is a recipe my mother used to make for us all the time when we were young. "Alla Pizzaiola” translates to “in the pizza style”. The description “alla pizzaiola” is used because the dish contains tomato sauce with oregano, used on pizza, instead of basil, typically used for a classic tomato sauce. This dish is easy enough to make during the week or when you don’t have a ton of time. The meat slices are thin so they tenderize pretty quickly.
I have a lot of family in Italy and have been blessed with visiting about every two to three years. My last trip was in September 2016 when I got to go with both my parents. I had only been to Italy with my dad when I was three years old and going back with him was something I had been wanting to do. When I heard my parents were going, I saw it as my opportunity and quickly hopped on board. While there, one of my cousins, an amazing cook, put together this super simple dish which completely blew us away.