tomato

Feeling giggly about GIGLI :P

Time flies.  It’s already been two months since I moved to Italy.  From Yuen Long to the hills of Teolo and now I can finally call the small town Castelfranco my home.  I don’t know for how long but I’m definitely embracing every moment here.  Many friends asked if I like living in Italy and I couldn’t think of a better way to express my enthusiasm but to praise about its amazing fresh produce.  I’m not kidding.  Italian fresh produce is really one of the many reasons why one should take pride for living here without any doubt.  And of course there is more to love about Italy whether it'd be food, people, fashion, design, or tradition.  The list is endless.  

My everyday living seems like a fun journey and I seldom get bored.  I met a lot of cool people and got heaps of inspiration everywhere.  I sometime wonder why I appreciate living abroad so much more than before.  I did spend my entire teens and early 20’s in NY but I can't retrace the same amount of joy I have now.  My only explanation is the inevitable truth with age comes wisdom and I learn to appreciate smaller things.  And I might’ve finally found my true passion in life — food.  

I can’t remember when exactly I came across this pasta name — gigli.  All I recall is that I naturally pronounced it as “geegly.”  And the two Italians (Marco and Carlo) who heard me at that time immediately burst out laughing.  Honestly, I’m still having a hard time trying to pronounce this comical term.  It’s supposed to sound something like “GEEEEeeg’Yeee.”  Well, that’s what I’ve gathered so far.  

So gigli the pasta was introduced by my food guru aka Duccio from The Geometry of Pasta.  Gigli is Italian for lilies.  This also explains why the pasta shape is like a flower. I’ve made two different sauces to go with this pretty pasta.  Simple and delicious!  Oh and let me share some other photos I took when I was at Padova before.  

Creamy mushroom and ricotta gigli

Servings: 2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients: 

100-150g white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

50g ricotta

1 cup milk/cream

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 lemon juice and zest

1/2 glass white wine

1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp dried oregano (optional)

1/4 cup grated parmesan

200g gigli 

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Bring a pot of salted water to boil, cook pasta according to its package label.  *Drain the cooked pasta 1-2 minute earlier and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water for later.  

2) Preheat a saucepan with olive oil on medium heat, cook onion for 3-5 minutes until translucent, add mushrooms, garlic, and dried oregano.  Stir and add white wine. 

3) Let the alcohol evaporates, add milk and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook for 5 minutes with a lid on.  Add ricotta.  Stir and season. 

4) Add the cooked pasta and the pasta water to the saucepan.  Mix well.  Heat off.  Add parmesan (leave a couple tablespoon for garnishing).  

5) Garnish with some chopped parsley, a twist of lemon juice+zest, grated parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil before serving.

Gigli with tomato sauce

Servings: 2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped into chunks

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 can tomato sauce

1 handful fresh basil

1/2 glass red wine

1/4 cup grated parmesan

200g gigli

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Bring a pot of salted water to boil, cook pasta according to its package label.  *Drain the cooked pasta 1-2 minute earlier and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water for later.  

2) Preheat a saucepan with oil on medium heat, cook onion for 3-5 minutes until translucent, add the chopped basil and tomato with red wine.  Reduce heat to low after the alcohol evaporates.  Season.  

3) Cook the sauce for 3 - 5 minutes with a lid on low heat.  

4) Add pasta water, grated parmesan and cooked pasta to the saucepan.  Mix well.  Heat off.  

5) Garnish with some fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil before serving.  

Il Salone e la Piazza is known as one of the ten best markets in Italy

Vendors set up shop every morning but Sunday.  So if you want to get some ultra-fresh produce, better get there before noon.  :) 

Yes, strawberry is in season.  They taste as good as they look.  

Needless to say, my girlfriend and I had our little shopping frenzy LOL

Yeah, falling in love with Padova is easy.  

la scarpetta....

I might've mentioned the meaning of "scarpetta" once on Facebook before.  This word was introduced by Roby aka Marco's fratello when we were having this delicious bean dish that Marco made.  I were surprised by the incredibly flavored taste because the dish was made with so few simple ingredients.  While we were busy tearing and sharing the loaf of bread, Roby took the time to explain to me what the metaphor of "fare la scarpetta" meant.  This is directly translated as "to do with the little shoe," meaning by using the piece of bread in your hand as a shoe to scoop up every last bit on your plate and swipe it nice and clean.  I thought it was a really cute way of saying so the dish got stuck in my head.  I think it is indeed a good way of introducing food to kids by telling them a story.   Just a bit of imagination and explanation, we can certainly turn an unremarkable meal to an unforgettable and fun adventure.  

Of course, I went online to look up the meaning a bit more and later found that the type of bread we should use is ciabatta.  I actually like this dish with sourdough rye bread instead because that's what we had at the time.  ;)   And this is what I love about Italian cooking.  Every family has got its own ways of making food.  As Marcella Hazan wrote in one of her classic cook books, "there is no such thing as Italian haute cuisine because there are no high or low roads in Italian cooking.  All roads lead to the home, to la cucina di casa -- the only one that deserves to be called Italian cooking."  

Enjoy cooking and have a good week ahead. 

fagiolini al pomodoro 

Servings: 2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients: 

300g long green beans

150g-200g cherry tomatoes, halved

3-4 shallots, thinly sliced

4-5 garlic cloves, chopped

2-3 tbsp tomato paste

2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 glass white/red wine

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a saucepan with oil on medium low heat, add beans and stir fry for 3 minutes.  

2) Add garlic, cherry tomatoes, and shallots, stir and cook for 3 minutes.  Add vinegar, cook for 1 minute.  Add wine and heat on medium high until the alcohol evaporates.  Keep stirring to avoid burning.  

3) Add tomato paste and vegetable stock, stir and put a lid on.  Bring to boil for 3-5 minutes then reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes until the beans are softened.  

4) Add sugar and season according to your taste.  Ready to serve. BTW, I added a spoonful of pesto for more taste.  

a summery pasta is on the way...

Another summer dish that is packed with love.  This dish is high in fibre and low in calorie.  If you are concern about your carbo intake or weight, maybe you can consider having it for lunch.  As a vegetarian, a pasta dish usually fills me up and provides enough energy throughout the day.  I don't normally feel hungry until much later in the evening.  Oh, I also made a fresh juice with beetroot, orange, apple, lemon, ginger, and celery to go with my meal.  Not so shabby today.  ;)

Servings: 2 persons

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

4 large tomatoes, skin removed*, chopped

4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp caper, rinsed

1/2 lemon zest

1/2 lemon juice

1 bunch fresh parsley or basil, chopped

200g spaghetti, cooked according to the package label

extra-virgin olive oil

* To remove the skins of the tomatoes, I used a knife to mark an X at the bottom of each tomato.  Place them in hot water for a couple of minutes then peel off the skins from the bottom.  

Instructions: 

1) Preheat a frying pan with olive oil on medium-low heat, add the chopped garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.  Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes on preferably low heat to avoid burning.  Heat off after the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes are cooked. 

2) Add the capers, chopped shallots, and tomatoes.  Mix well and season. 

3) Add the cooked pasta with the tomato mixture and mix well.  Transfer to a serving plate.

4) Transfer to a serving plate.  Garnish with some chopped parsley and lemon zest.

5) Add a splash of olive oil and a twist of lemon juice before serving.