Monday, July 18, 2011

Italy lately

Well, in the past few weeks I have learned that I will need to blog much more often in order to keep up with all the new experiences, tastes and culinary adventures I've had. My kitchen has seen a lot of new foods this month, and I'm sure my google history is full of searches for ways to use my latest market impulse purchase. For example, I had been eyeing some Italian Squash in our commissary for a few weeks, and finally gave in. It looks like a cross between pumpkin and butternut squash so I assumed it could be cooked the same (it can). For my first attempt I just roasted it with a little olive oil and salt and pepper because I wanted to get a sense of it's natural flavor as best I could. It almost had a sweetness like carrots, to me. I also think this would be wonderful mashed with a little butter and cinnamon...and brown sugar.

And I can't forget about the garlic! Our house has smelled like garlic for the past 3 weeks I am certain. My first use was in what I call Italian Salsa- just chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, s&p. I eat it by itself but it can served on top of toasted bread like bruschetta. I've grilled fish with garlic (well Chris has), roasted whole garlic cloves, made garlic vinaigrette dressing, a delicious balsamic mushroom sauce (recipe to come), and a traditional Panzanella (Tuscan bread salad, which is a way to use leftover-almost-stale bread). I'm even freezing some garlic as an experiment to see how it holds up. A funny sidenote (and this is either the dietitian or the hypochondriac in me; I'm not sure which): I stubbed my toe on a cabinet yesterday and it wouldn't stop bleeding. I think garlic (a natural blood thinner) is affecting my ability to clot blood. Hmm..maybe Italians have more durable bandaids.

Italian Salsa 

 (Pre) Grilled Salmon with lemon, dill and garlic

 Panzanella (bread salad)

Balsmic Chicken and Mushrooms (my fave!)

 And while I can sing praises of Italian food all day, I must be fair and say I've had my share of dislikes. The seafood that everyone raves about was, well, not to my taste. I'll try anything once- so seafood risotto sounded so promising! But after a few bites of octopus (not in the form of fried calamari), my stomach informed me that I was done. For some odd reason, it began to resemble intestines.  

Seafood Risotto
Now it's just rice with octopus..eww.
Another dislike: I'm still not loving these Italian so-called breakfasts. During our recent trip to Rome, our hotel boasted of a "breakfast buffet." I should have known better, since I have yet to see a breakfast that doesn't look like a pretty dough-nut, but again, the word 'buffet' reeled me in. Below is our breakfast buffet:

But I must end on a good note, because at the end of the day, right down the street I can get the absolute best Pasta Siciliana at a cute local restaurant near our home. It's penne with eggplant and tomato sauce, and Naples' buffalo mozzarrella cheese. It is just delightful!

Pasta Siciliana

1 comment:

  1. heather, that pasta siciliana looks amazing! I'm moving in next door to you next month ;)