Tag Archives: olives

My goodbye to summer: tomato, olive and eggplant spaghetti

Tomato, olive and eggplant spaghettiIt is time for me to let it go. Summer is my favorite season. It is when I feel my best. Every day I pick a pretty dress (preferably with a floral pattern) and a pair of ballet flats (I have way too many of them!) even if I just have to go grocery shopping. Oh by the way, is there someone out there that can explain to me once and for all why men (including my beloved husband) think that only women wearing high heels are sexy and feminine? How can’t they possibly understand that flats are very difficult to wear because they do not elongate the leg but it’s the leg itself that must be proportionate? Does the name Audrey Hepburn ring any bell? Wasn’t she feminine and chic with all her flats? I believe she was one of the most glamorous women on earth!

But I’m digressing. Back to summer. I drink lots of water and I eat tons of fruit and vegetables. I can easily follow a very healthy diet and lose a few pounds. This year I managed to lose about 14 pounds which – of course – I’m going to regain in the next few weeks because that’s just how my body reacts to the cold weather. I feel like mama bear preparing for going into hibernation, and I need a layer of fat to keep myself warm! 😉

Unfortunately, mother nature has her own agenda. Everything is turning brown and orange and temperatures are lowering. Don’t get me wrong: fall is a wonderful and colorful season, but I’d rather enjoy it from the warmth of my house. 🙂

So, I have decided to kiss my summer goodbye by sharing a recipe where tomatoes are the main character. I’m talking about those incredibly red tomatoes, so juicy and flavorful and whose scent is able to capture your nostrils from a distance. In Italy we called them “sauce tomatoes” and all by themselves they manage to turn the simplest tomato sauce into a winner! Of course, I couldn’t find sauce tomatoes in October, but the tomatoes that I used were really decent and so I said to myself: What the heck! Let’s draw the curtains over summer in style!. 🙂

Tomato, olive and eggplant spaghetti

Ingredients:

1,5lb, fresh tomatoes
2 garlic clovers
5 Tbsp and 1/2 cup, extravirgin olive oil
10 leaves, basil
1/2 cup, black pitted olives, cut in half
6/7 oz, spaghetti
1 eggplant
salt

Directions:

Wash the tomatoes and cut them up into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Rinse the basil leaves and shred them. Set aside.

Tomato, olive and eggplant spaghettiUsing a citrus zester, cut some strips out of the eggplant skin. Add some salt (to taste) and set them aside.

In a large skillet, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the tomatoes, the garlic, the basil, some salt (to taste) and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Remove the garlic from the skillet and add the olives. Keep cooking on a low heat until the water from the tomatoes has completely evaporated. Remove the skillet from the stove and add 2 Tbsp of olive oil.

Put a pot of salted water over the stove to boil. While the water is warming up, in a small pot, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant strips and cooked them until they brown. Remove the strips from the pot and place them on some paper towel.

When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the spaghetti, put them in the skillet with the tomato sauce and toss to coat.

Put the spaghetti into the serving plates and add some eggplant strips on top of each plate.

I wish you all a great end of the workweek and a wonderful weekend!

Francesca Xx

Sea Scallops as a Valentine? Why Not!

Potato and Olive ScallopsI’m about to say something that, as a cook and a food blogger, I shouldn’t say, but I am who I am and, at my age, changes are small miracles.

So, the ugly truth is… I’m not a fish fan, quite the opposite actually. I haven’t eaten fish during the last two decades and I’m not planning on starting again any time soon.

I know, I know. It’s very healthy. Plus, I have a little one who needs all the nutriens that are in fish and a husband who was born in Genoa which means that sea water runs in his veins as much as blood runs in mine.

Bottom line: cooking fish is both a struggle and a challenge for me but I have a secret weapon… my parents. They are both from the south of Italy and both of them cook fish wonderfully.

As the entire world knows, Valentine’s Day is upon us. Being the least romantic person on the planet, I can honestly say that I have no recollection of me celebrating this day ever and this year is not going to be any different. However, this year I was determined to do a nice thing for the people I love the most and, thus, I asked my mom to share her sea scallop recipe. Et voila’! If I could do it, anyone can do it. 🙂

Potato and Olive ScallopsIngredients:

3/4 of 1 cup, extravirgin olive oil
6 sea scallops
8 grape tomatoes
1/3 cup, capers
1 cup, green pitted olives
1/2 cup, black pitted olives
3 potatoes
1 Tbsp, olive spread
1 Tsp, dry oregano
Salt

Directions:

Put the capers in a small bowl with some water and let them stay for half an hour. Rinse the capers under running water and put them aside.

Cut the tomatoes and the olives in half and put them aside.

In a non-stick medium/large skillet, put the olive oil, the scallops, the tomatoes, the olives, some salt (to taste) and start cooking them on low/medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters (depending on the size of the potatoes), roughly the same size, and add them to the skillet.

Put the olive spread in a glass, add some hot water and, with the help of a spoon, stir the spread until you obtain a mixture. Pour the olive mixture in the skillet and toss to coat. Finally, add the capers and the oregano and keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

*  *  *

I wish everyone who celebrates Valentine’s Day to have a wonderful one!  🙂

Green Bean, Olive and Goat Cheese Quiche

6 Servings

I have a confession to make: I’m a party girl and any excuse is good for me to host one! That’s not because I’m this fabulous socialite, quite the opposite to be honest. I’m more on a bear hibernation status, except that mine is kind of perpertual. The reason I like to throw parties is for the inner pleasure of hosting: getting the house ready, picking and arranging the flowers (my mother taught me that the right flowers are one of the key components for a successful party), cooking my signature dishes and… enjoying some alcohol of course!

Stefano makes sure that our guests are offered a captivating selection of wines, often starting off with some bubbles to set the mood of the party. So people wind down, relax and enjoy chatting and eating.

Well, Halloween is around the corner and who said that only kids should have fun? Let’s just say that Halloween is the opening of my party season.

When I throw a party, I like to serve food that my guests don’t cook at home on a regular week day. That’s why a quiche is always appreciated. It’s a casual yet chic dish, it has a wonderful look, it’s very satisfying for the palate and goes beautifully with the right glass of wine.

As for the ingredients, you can put basically whatever you like in a quiche and have fun trying out different combinations. Quoting Chef Gusteau from the Disney movie Ratatouille, “your only limit is your soul”.

The following recipe of a green bean, olive and goat cheese quiche is just meant to be a suggestion to get you started. Oh, and just so you know personally I love single-portion quiches: they are the perfect size for one guest and they look great on the plate. That’s why, for this recipe, I used a 6-tart pan, with each individual well having a diameter of 4 ½ inches.

Ingredients:

1 ½ sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
8 oz fresh green beans
3 ½ Tbsp of extravirgin olive oil
1 leek
3 eggs
ž cup whole milk
ž heavy whipping cream
0.3 lb crumbled goat cheese
24 pitted seasoned kalamata olives
salt
ground black pepper
nutmeg

Directions:

Wash the green beans and cut off both ends. In a medium pot, heat some water until it boils, add the beans and keep boiling for 4 minutes. Strain the beans, rinse with iced water (to stop the cooking process and retain the green color) and cut them into ½ inch pieces. In a medium skillet, heat 2 ½ Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, add the beans, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add 2 Tbsp of water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside.

Cut off the green top of the leek and the root. Discard the outer layer. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse the two halves well under water, being careful to leave them intact. Place each half, with the flat side facing down, on a chopping board.

Slice the leeks thinly and evenly with your knife so that you end up with thin strips. In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, add the leek, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add ½ cup of water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside.

In a bowl, put 3 eggs, the whole milk, the heavy cream, add some salt and season with black pepper and nutmeg (to taste).

Whisk until you obtain a smooth mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the pan wells with butter.

Lay the sheets of pastry on a floured surface. If there is any crack in the pastry, press together to seal and roll over the sealed part so that you have a smooth sheet.

Cut each pastry sheet into four 5×5″ squares. Place the pastry squares in the tart wells, neatly shaping the pastry into tart shells. Cut off any excess pastry with a sharp knife.

Using a spoon, put some leek into each tart shell, spreading it out evenly. Then, add some beans, spreading them out evenly. Cut 4 olives in half and put them on top of the beans. With a spoon, add some goat cheese and finally pour the egg mixture.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, let the quiches cool down a little and serve while they are still warm. Enjoy!  🙂

Prosciutto and Fennel Salad

2 Servings

Prosciutto… just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

During my non-cooking, crazy-working days, I used to come home from the office, late at night, and I was so tired that the last thought on my mind was making dinner. I used to open the refrigerator and, to my relief, my lifesaving dinner option was always there waiting for me: some prosciutto, a buffalo mozzarella, some ripe red tomatoes and a
chilled bottle of white wine. I was as happy as a kid opening her presents on Christmas day!

Even nowadays that my lifestyle is quite different from what it used to be, I make sure that some prosciutto is always in my refrigerator, like some sort of Linus’ security blanket, and no day goes by without me eating at least a slice of it. What can I say? I’m addicted to prosciutto.

That’s why I came up with a number of recipes that include prosciutto as one of the key ingredients.

Here is a recipe for a delicious prosciutto and fennel based salad, that can be made in a short time, looks great and can be served as an appetizer.

So, with my mouth watering, shall we?

Ingredients:

4 cups of baby romaine or baby lettuces
10 thin slices of prosciutto
1 bulb of fennel
24 pitted seasoned kalamata olives
1 egg yolk
3 spoons balsamic vinegar
Âź cup extravirgin olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:

Put two plates on your kitchen counter and place the salad on each of them.

Rinse the bulb of fennel with water, dry it and, on a chopping board, cut the stalks and fronds off the bulb. Discard the outer layer. Cut the bulb in half from top to bottom and place each half with the flat side facing down on the chopping board. Slice the fennel thinly and evenly with your knife and place the slices over the salad.

For each plate, put 10 pitted olives on the fennel slices, spreading them out evenly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk with the balsamic vinegar. Add the olive oil, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and keep whisking for one minute.

Pour one spoon of dressing on the salad, spreading it out evenly.

Add the prosciutto slices so that the salad is covered by them. Cut the remaining four olives in half and put two of them on top of each plate to garnish. Add the rest of the dressing, spreading it out evenly.