Insalata Caprese – Authentic recipe

Insalata Caprese finished dish

Insalata Caprese finished dish

campania crestFrom Campania. This salad is named after the island of Capri, in the Gulf of Naples, near to Sorrento. Versions of this dish can be now be found in “Italian” restaurants all over the world. It is extremely simple, just “mozzarella”, tomatoes and good extra virgin olive oil.

As always, the quality of the ingredients is very important. First the “mozzarella”. The name should technically be reserved for buffalo milk cheese. Cows milk cheese is known as “fior di latte”. The milk used is not as important as the freshness. In fact Accademia Italiana della Cucina recommends using a cow’s milk cheese from Agerola or Sorrento. Most people here insist on eating it on the day it is made. Mozzarella made the day before is only good for pizza. If all you can find is supermarket cheese with a shelf life of up to a month, it wont be worth making this dish, make a pizza instead :) Slice into fairly thin slices, about half a centimetre or a quarter of an inch.

Next, the tomatoes. Again, use the best you can find. Try to find them about the same size as the cheese. This makes the presentation nicer. Slice crossways into slices of about the same size as the cheese.

Arrange them on a plate, alternating the tomato and mozzarella. Add a generous amount of fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil. You can season with a little salt if you like.

The Academia suggests an alternative method where the cheese and tomatoes are diced.

The salad will taste much better if you serve it at room temperature, not straight from the fridge.

Unlike most salads in Italy, this is served as a main course, rather than a side dish.

Insalata Caprese ingredients

Insalata Caprese ingredients

 

Potato pizza with ham and spinach

Potato pizza finished dish

Potato pizza finished dish

Bari crestPizza di patate e prosciutto. From Bari. This is a more complicated version of the traditional potato “pizza”.  They call it a pizza here, but that name is quite confusing as it does not contain any bread or flour. To confuse matters further it is also known as Torta di patate or Gateau di patate in various regions. It is basically a potato pie filled with ham and spinach. The ham can easily be left out to make it vegetarian (if you are careful about what cheese you use of course). It can be eaten warm or cold and will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. It also freezes well. Serves about 8 as a main course.

Potato pizza ingredients

Potato pizza ingredients

  • 1.2 kg floury potatoes.
  • 250g scamorza, provola or mozzarella, grated or thinly sliced.
  • 500g fresh spinach
  • 150g cooked ham
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 70g grated parmesan
  • Dry bread crumbs
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Nutmeg 

Cook the potatoes in their skins in lightly salted water. Drain and peel when cool enough to handle.

Potato pizza cooking potatoes

Potato pizza cooking potatoes

Mash the potatoes and mix with the egg yolks and parmesan.

Potato pizza mixed with cheese

Potato pizza mixed with cheese

Fry the whole garlic clove for a few minutes in a little olive oil. Remove and add the spinach. There should be enough water clinging to the leaves after washing. Add a little salt and couple of grates of nutmeg. Cook over a medium heat until the spinach has completely wilted. Leave to cool and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Potato pizza cooking spinach

Potato pizza cooking spinach

Grease a 24cm cake tin and dust with bread crumbs. Use 2/3 of the potato to make the base of the pizza. Build up the sides a little to contain the filling. Add the spinach.

Potato pizza with spinach

Potato pizza with spinach

Add the ham

Potato pizza with ham

Potato pizza with ham

Cover with the cheese

Potato pizza with cheese

Potato pizza with cheese

Close the pizza with the remaining 1/3 of the potato. Cover the top with bread crumbs and dot liberally with knobs of butter.

Potato pizza ready for the oven

Potato pizza ready for the oven

Bake in an oven preheated to 200°c for 50 minutes.

Rice Croquettes

Rice croquettes finished dish

Rice croquettes finished dish

puglia crestFrom Puglia. This is a puglian version of the more well known Sicilian dish arancini. It is very simple to make however. There are versions that use other chesses and cured meats, but this one uses the easily available (abroad I mean) salami, ham and mozzarella. Serves at least 6 as an antipasto.

  • 400g risotto rice
  • 100g sliced salami (Milanese or similar)
  • 100g sliced cooked ham
  • 200g mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • 40g grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 40g buttter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • Bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying
Rice croquettes ingredients

Rice croquettes ingredients

Boil the rice in plenty of salted water until done, about 10 minutes. Drain and add the butter. You could substitute vegetable stock for the water if you prefer. Allow to cool completely. You can prepare it the day before if you like.

Roughly chop the salami and ham. Combine with the rice, the mozzarella, the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and finally add the eggs and mix well.

Rice croquettes formed

Rice croquettes formed

Form the mixture into cigar shapes, about 50g each. I find it easiest to use my hands.

Rice croquettes ready to fry

Rice croquettes ready to fry

Coat them in breadcrumbs and deep fry them in hot oil until golden.

Panzerotti

Panzerotti. From Bari. These are one of the most famous and popular dishes from Bari. They are deep fried pockets of dough stuffed with a variety of fillings. Two of the most common are mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and oregano and ricotta forte (also called skuanda), cherry tomatoes, onion and anchovies. Ricotta forte is a bit of a “Marmite” ingredient. By that I mean it is very strongly flavoured and you either love it or hate it.  I am in the first camp, lovely stuff. Rather than cherry tomatoes, “appesi” are more traditional. These are small tomatoes which are picked when still not completely ripe and hung up for later consumption. As these are hard to find, you can use any type. I went to a party here and a lady was employed just to make panzerotti all evening. The last round was filled with Nutella! The size of the panzerotti varies, but I made 12 with this recipe.

Panzerotti ingredients

Panzerotti ingredients

For the pastry

  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 100 ml tepid milk
  • 1 cube of fresh yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 10 g salt

Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the milk to the flour, oil and salt along with enough tepid water to make a smooth dough.

Oil the dough, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for up to 2 hours.

Separate the dough into 12 portions and roll into small balls. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for a further half an hour.

Panzerotti balls of dough

Panzerotti balls of dough

Take one ball of dough and roll it into a large disc. Place a large tablespoon of filling in the middle of each one. Fold the dough over to form a half moon shape. Press down well and try to exclude as much air as possible. Either fold over and crimp the edges or cut off the excess pastry with a pasty wheel and seal the edges with a fork.

Panzerotti ready to cook

Panzerotti ready to cook

Deep fry the panzerotti until they are lightly golden. Some people use extra virgin olive oil and some people use regular vegetable oil. You can also bake them in an oven at 200 °C for 15 minutes, but the result is quite different.

Panzerotti finished dish

Panzerotti finished dish

Fillings

  • 200 g mozzarella
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes
  • Oregano
  • Chop and drain the tomatoes. Cube the mozzarella.  Mix together with a generous amount of mozzarella.
  • 50 g ricotta forte
  • 100 g cherry tomatoes
  • 50 g onions
  • An anchovy
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Fry the onion in some oil, bone and chop anchovy. Spread each disc of dough with ricotta forte. Add a piece of tomato, some onion and a piece of anchovy. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 100 g ricotta forte
  • 20 g grated pecorino romano
  • 2 cherry tomatoes for each panzerotto
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • Mix together the ricotta forte and the pecorino. Some people like to add an egg yolk to the mixture. Place a tablespoon of the filling and 2 chopped tomatoes in each panzerotto.
  • Radicchio and gorgonzola.
  • Fried minced pork mixed with parmsan and mozzarella. This is traditional on shrove Tuesday.

And of course the very untraditional but popular with children young and old:-

  • Nutella :-)
Peppina at the party

Peppina at the party

Aubergine parmigiana

Parmigiana di melanzane. From Puglia. This is a really common dish here. It takes a bit of time to prepare, so it tends to be a celebration dish. It’s worth the effort though. Lots of people, even Jamie Oliver, assume it’s a northern dish because of it’s name. It is in fact named after the cheese not the city and is a southern dish.He also says to grill the aubergines rather than fry them. I’ve tried it this way and although the dish is undoubtedly less calorific,  I think the taste suffers considerably.  The dish is claimed by Puglia, Campania and Sicily and possibly other regions as their own.  I’ve seen similar recipes from the states called “eggplant lasagne” even though it contains no béchamel sauce or … erm … lasagne. Even though it’s a vegetarian dish it’s quite heavy so I wouldn’t recommend eating it too often. Serves at least 6 as a main course, many more as part of an antipasto.

Aubergine parmigiana

Aubergine parmigiana

  • 1.5 kg aubergines
  • 700 g tomato pulp or passata
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g grated parmesan
  • 400 g mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • Flour
  • Basil, about 10 leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, whole
  • Olive oil
  1. Wash and dry the aubergines. Slice into 5 mm rounds. Dust with flour. Dip in the eggs and fry for a minutes in olive oil. Drain on kitchen paper.
  2. Fry the clove of garlic in 4 table spoons of olive oil until it is brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the garlic.
  3. Cover the bottom of an oven proof dish with tomato sauce. Add a layer aubergines. Add a layer of mozzarella and then parmesan. Repeat until all the aubergine is used up. Finish with a layer of aubergines covered with tomato sauce and parmesan.
  4. Bake for 1 hour at 200°c. If the top starts to get too brown, cover it with aluminium foil.
Aubergine parmigiana finished dish

Aubergine parmigiana finished dish

Ricotta and mozzarella pizza

Pizza mozzarella e ricotta. From Puglia. This was cooked for me last week by the mother of a student. Hers of course was better, but mine wasn’t bad either :-) It is called a pizza here, but it is actually a type of pie or calzone. Serves 6

Update: Mrs C Looked at the recipe and said it is slightly different than the one she uses. She adds 100 g of salami or 100g of mixed mortadella and ham cut into small cubes. She uses nutmeg instead of pepper and gives the dough 1 hour to rise. Finally, she doesn’t drizzle olive oil on the top. Many thanks.

Ricotta pizza ingredients

Ricotta pizza ingredients

Pastry for stuffed pizzas

  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 1/2 cube of fresh yeast (or 1 packet of dried)
  • 50 cc olive oil
  • 200 ml milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the tepid milk
  2. Mix together the flour, olive oil, salt and enough of the milk to form a smooth dough.
  3. Knead for about 10 minutes.
  4. The dough doesn’t require much rising. Just leave it to rest for half an hour.
  • 500 g ricotta
  • 200 g mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make the filling by beating the ricotta until it is smooth then mix in the mozzarella, eggs and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Roll out half the dough so that it is a little bigger than the pizza tin. Oil the tin and put the base of the pizza into it. Push the dough down with your fingers to exclude as much air as possible.
  3. Spread the filling inside the tin. Roll out the rest of the dough until it is a little bigger than the tin. Cover the pie with the base. Pinch together and then fold over and crimp the edges.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface and make some air holes with a fork.
  5. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for 40 minutes.
Ricotta pizza finished dish

Ricotta pizza finished dish

Potato Pizza

Pizza di Patate. From Bari.This is another recipe from Nonna Stella. Calling it a pizza is a bit misleading as no bread or flour is involved. It is basically mashed potato baked with a cheese filling. Serves about 6 as a side dish.

Potato pizza ingredients

Potato pizza ingredients

• 800 g  potatoes
• 150 g scamorza or mozzarella
• 2 eggs
• About 50 g Grana padano or Parmesan
• Butter
• Dry breadcrumbs

  1. Boil and mash the potatoes. I prefer to boil them whole and unpeeled, allow them to cool for a few minutes and then peel.
  2. Add the eggs and Grana to the potatoes and mix well.
  3. Well grease a pizza tin or spring form cake tin with butter. Dust the tin with breadcrumbs.
  4. Spread half of the potato mix over the base. Cover with the grated scamorza or mozzarella. Finally add the rest of the potato to form a layer over the cheese.
  5. Sprinke the top of the pizza with some more dry breadcrumbs and dot with small knobs of butter.
  6. Bake at 200°C for about 30 minutes. The pizza is ready when the top is nicely brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin.
  7. Can be eaten hot, warm or even cold.
Potato pizza finished dish

Potato pizza finished dish

Neapolitan meatloaf – Authentic recipe

Napoli crestPolpettone alla napoletana. This is a tasty and economical recipe. In Naples it is also known as ‘polpettone in salsetta’ – meatloaf in sauce. The sauce is used to dress pasta for the first course and the meat is eaten as the second course. The recipe calls for buffalo mozzarella and Neapolitan salami, but I’m sure it would be fine with whatever you have handy. Thank to Gino for the advice. Serves 4-6.

Meatloaf ingredients

Meatloaf ingredients

  • 500g minced beef
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g cooked ham (about 2 slices)
  • 50g Neapolitan salami (optional)
  • 40g parmesan, grated
  • 40g pecorino, grated
  • 50g buffalo mozzarella, sliced (not too fresh)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, whole but lightly crushed
  • Flour
  • 100g stale bread
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 50g concentrated tomato puree
  • A large sprig of basil, torn
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hardboil 2 of the eggs and allow them to cool.Slice them thinly.
  • Moisten the bread with a little cold water and break into small pieces.
  • Mix together the meat, the raw eggs, the bread, the parmesan, the pecorino and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Knead with your hands until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Spread the paste on a square of kitchen paper to form a 2cm thick rectangle.  Cover with the slices of ham, the salami, the mozzarella and the sliced eggs.
Meatloaf with filling

Meatloaf with filling

    • Using the kitchen paper to help, roll up, pressing together firmly, to form the meatloaf.
meatloaf ready to cook

meatloaf ready to cook

    • Dust with flour and fry the loaf in olive oil in a large pan until it is browned on all sides. Lower the heat, cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
    • In a seperate pan, fry the garlic for a few minutes in 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, the tomato puree mixed with a little water, the basil and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
    • Add the tomato sauce to the meatloaf and cook for a further 30 minutes.
    • When the meatloaf is cooked, remove it from the sauce and allow it to cool slightly. Slice into 1-2cm slices and serve with a little of the tomato sauce.
Meatloaf with tomato sauce

Meatloaf with tomato sauce

Spaghetti with courgettes

Spaghetti con le zucchine. Serves 4

  • 360g spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion,peeled
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 350g courgettes, thinly sliced
  • 150g mozzarella, diced finely
  • 25g parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • Heat the oil in a pan. Add the whole garlic clove, the whole onion, the sage leaves and the stick of celery and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and increase the heat to medium. When boiling add the courgettes. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for around 15 minutes.
  • Remove the garlic, onion, celery and sage and discard.
  • Cook the spaghetti, drain and the toss first with the sauce, then the mozzarella and finally with the parmesan.

Rigatoni baked with aubergines and meatballs

After yesterday’s simple recipe, I’m going to the other extreme today. This takes quite a while to assemble but is worth it in the end. Real Italian ‘comfort food’  ;-)

Serves 4

  •  500 g Rigatoni
  • 1 Aubergine
  • Olive Oil
  • 100g Provola cheese
  • 1 Mozzarella
  • 100 g Cooked ham
  • 400 ml Tomato sauce (if you have time, make your own. As you can see from the pic, I cheated.)
  • 100 g Grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

For the meatballs

  • 450 g Minced beef
  • 25 g White breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • 15g Grated parmesan
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Clove garlic, finely chopped
  • White pepper
  • Heat the oven to 180°C
  • Make the meatballs by mixing all the ingredients and forming small balls with the mixture.
  • Rigatoni with aubergines and meatballs

    Rigatoni with aubergines and meatballs

  •  Boil the rigatoni in salted water until cooked. Drain. Cut the aubergine into slices 1cm thick. Grill until soft.
  • Grate the provola, slice the mozzarella, chop the ham.
  • In a baking dish put a layer of rigatoni. Place in order a layer of aubergine and then a few meatballs. Cover with tomato sauce, cheeses and ham. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. Scatter grated Parmesan over the surface.
  • Bake for about 25-35 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and the top is golden.
Rigatoni with aubergines and meatballs

Rigatoni with aubergines and meatballs

This is adapted from a recipe collected by Matthew Fort in his book Eating Up Italy(excellent foodie porn). The original included sliced hardboiled eggs and he fried the aubergines. I didn’t think my arteries could cope with that :-)