Food, Italian-Style: Pasta + Tomatoes = The Basics

1 Sep

Come out, come out, wherever you are! I am postponing a rant because I just realized something wonderful: ignoring all the obvious complications of living in Italy, one of the greatest and most rewarding things that has truly changed me is the food.

Not long ago I defended American food. Now, I do believe that there are some fabulous and delicious culinary delights in the U.S., especially certain regional examples, summertime barbeque and desserts. But the last time I visited, I really felt like an Italian for the first time in seven years living abroad.  I could not eat a damn thing. My palate has completely gotten used to the fresh flavors here, and that is something to be proud of! Italian food, and well, I guess I’m talking about Tuscan food since that’s what I eat here, is super-fresh and super-simple and just plain yummy.

It’s taken me a long time to learn how to cook here and I’m still learning. Italians are very critical about food and not afraid to openly critique what they are eating. I only invited the in-laws to dinner recently since we got a new gas grill and I didn’t have to make pasta (oh the horrors of *serving* overcooked pasta – just the thought makes me break out in hives).

But I’m getting there…and the foodie revolution is getting me by. All the great food blogs are helping me out since all the recipes are photographed and reviewed, as Deb from the wonderful smitten kitchen explains in her post on this recipe that looks so good and easy that I will be making it tonight for dinner. And so should you.

photos via smitten kitchen

Because the basics of Italian cooking are pasta and tomatoes. And since we have plenty of time to meditate on more elaborate dishes, why not enjoy the simplicity of this one?

Pasta with Baked Tomato Sauce
Adapted from The Best American Recipes 2000 via Epicurious.com

The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup olive oil, but Deb found three to four tablespoons to be just right.

Serves 4

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound dried fusilli (corkscrew) or farfalline (butterfly) pasta
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil.
  2. Place the tomatoes cut side up in the dish.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheeses, and garlic and toss with a fork to mix well. Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture over the tomatoes, making sure that each cut side is well covered with the crumb mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then the final tablespoon of olive oil. Bake until the tomatoes are cooked through and starting to brown on top, about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Time the pasta so it finishes cooking about the time the tomatoes are ready to come out of the oven.

Alla prossima!

Bianca

Bad Blogging Skillz

1 Sep

Happy September!

OK so I know I need to write on here every day but it’s not going so well. I am friggin’ lazy. I guess blogging just becomes a habit. I think it’s the nice weather that’s keeping me away. And lack of inspiration. Actually, no, I have plenty of inspiration, maybe a little too much and I just can’t decide which way to go. Do I want to be a Negative Nancy and just let loose on everything that drives me crazy? Or do i want to wax poetic about the beauty of this country and all it has to offer (I am rolling my eyes as I type so that is a NO!)?

I need to find a happy medium, I don’t want to upset or insult anyone in my adopted country. Or get the dreaded “If you don’t like it then go back to your country.” Um, yeah if it was that easy I would have done that by now seeing as how I can’t even find an easy part time job let alone start a career since I’m married and fertile and companies don’t want to risk paying me maternity leave. I should be allowed to complain without consequences. It’s like bringing an Italian to Olive Garden and forcing him to finish his plate and not say a word (impossible). I am MARRIED to an ITALIAN who can’t leave his family business here! You want me to give up on love so that I can live an easier, more convenient life? Pshaw, that’s for wussies. I can take it, I’ve been doing it for awhile now, so let me just whine a little. Get back to me when you’ve done the same.

(The double edged sword of maternity and job discrimination in Italy is another topic altogether, which I hope to discuss eventually. )

Oh and my camera has been hijacked by aforementioned husband so when I get it back I’ll be taking some pics.

Ciao ciao,

Bianca

Hello world!

19 Aug

Ciao! Salve! Buongiorno! Yes, I know, there are just too many ways to say hello in Italian and it can be positively nerve-racking trying to choose one! The correct greeting is vitally important in Italy- you do not want to offend or be inappropriate…no siree, a simple “ciao” to the wrong person can garner you stares and a general feeling of guilt (which Italians do very well). But I don’t have to worry about that here, right? Here I can just say what I think without too many repercussions…like complaining about my mother-in-law?

My husband is officially banned from reading this blog.

Anyway, let me introduce myself. My name is Bianca, I am a 28-year-old Italian-American (which, upon moving to Italy, I discovered is NOT the same thing). I just married my Italian sweetheart who drives me insane on a regular basis, which you will undoubtedly hear all about. We live in the suburbs which is rife with Real (gossiping, nagging, old-fashioned, OCD) Housewives who iron their middle aged sons’ tighty-whitey’s every. single. day. Lovingly, of course.

As I don’t have an actual job and I probably won’t be getting one anytime soon (Welcome to Italy!), I decided I needed to write this blog. I have attempted a few other blogs, but it just takes too much work rounding up my favorite etsy finds and taking pictures of myself in cute outfits, so this blog will be easy since inspiration will  just materialize regularly. I can’t just sit home all day watching variety shows and vacuuming, after all. Although my mother-in-law would LOVE that!

And on that note I salute you with a taste of typical Italian television:

Ciao for now!

Bianca

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