I visited friends a few weeks ago and, instead of bring the customary dessert, I decided to bring these fried squash flowers, called fiori di cocuzza. I think it’s safe to say that they were well received. In fact, anytime we make these, even people that are a little skeptical at first, end up loving them. The most common flowers to use are zucchini flowers and the best way to get them - other than a visit to my dad’s garden - is to grow them yourself. These are highly perishable and available only when in season, so they are not often found in grocery stores. Try farmer’s markets, farm stands, or a quick google search if you’re not able to grow them. If you do grow them and plan on making this recipe, pick them in the morning - the flowers close up in the afternoon, making them harder to wash and prepare. I promise, you won’t be disappointed with this recipe. It’s fast and impressive. These flowers make a good side to just about anything and are delicious in a sandwich with a slice of cheese!
My mother calls this dish zucchini pie for no good reason other than there are zucchini in it and it's baked. At the first sign of zucchini in the garden, we get excited to break out this recipe. I'm not sure how to explain it, but this light, fluffy pie seems to taste like summer. It makes an excellent addition to a cookout or brunch, can be served as a appetizer or side dish, warm or cold. On top of that, it can easily be made ahead of time, transports well, and is a true crowd pleaser.
Over the years, my family has had many discussions around our Fourth of July menu. A day for cookouts, sunshine, and all-American pride, my father insists that a little pasta is required and pasta with Sunday Sauce at that. Our compromise to include this pasta salad instead came from a now famous line delivered by yours truly to forever end the pasta argument – "Why can't we just be American two times a year, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving!" And on that note, here is our Italian pasta salad for your American Fourth of July.
I’ve been away for a while, so I thought as a comeback I would deliver the mother load of Italian recipes — Sunday Sauce! Sunday is family lunch day and unless there’s something substantial happening, then we have pasta with meat sauce; hence Sunday Sauce. The type of pasta may vary and what’s in the sauce might change from week to week, but Sunday Sauce it is, religiously (pun intended). This is something to look forward to all week long. A hot dish of pasta, topped with fresh mint and cheese, followed by some variety of meat cooked slowing in the sauce along a salad. Perfection!
Saying that meatballs or polpette are a staple in our house is an understatement. Growing up, every Sunday we had meatballs and, then, every Monday we had meatball subs for lunch. Today, all my nieces and nephews are crazy about meatballs. On Sundays, they charge to the table and wait, fork-in-hand, for nonna’s polpette to hit the table.
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.