Tag Archives: Peppers

From Italy to Iran with love: Pepper and Pancetta Tortiglioni

Peppers and pancetta tortiglioniI have been fortunate enough to be asked by lovely Azita to write a guest post that she has published on¬†her wonderful blog, Fig and Quince. If you don’t know Azita yet, do yourself a favor: go check her blog out and enter her enchanted Persian world.

This is the original guest post that I wrote for Azita, which contains a few differences (in the story, not in the recipe!) compared to that which Azita published: in other words, this is the director’s cut, if you will. ūüėČ

I have been lucky enough to get to meet Azita in person a¬†few months ago. I don’t remember how we found each other on the blogosphere but I remember how I felt at the beginning of our “relationship”‚Ķ cautious.

I have always been a big¬†introvert and extremely good at keeping my distance from people –¬†a huge¬†disappointment due to¬†a friendship that fell apart¬†a couple of years ago didn’t help,¬†and actually¬†ended up making¬†me even more skeptical, if possible, when it comes to meeting new people,¬†either in person or over the internet.

However, when I started reading Azita‘s posts, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the cheerfulness, the lightness and the language richness of her writing style.

There is no doubt that her country, culture and culinary traditions are fascinating in and of themselves,¬†but she is astonishingly capable to write about them in such an articulate and eclectic way that every time I read one of her posts I have the impression of reading one chapter of “One Thousand and One Nights”,¬†where flavors, aromas, perfumes and ancient customs all blend¬†in together¬†to give birth to something magical.

And yet, her posts are always funny and cheerful and modern and colorful. Even her pictures and her compositions speak for the talented artist that she is. Her attention to details is impressive to say the least and her comments to other people’s posts are always brilliant with a touch of graciousness.

When I was about to meet her in person, I was nervous. I’m always nervous when I have to meet new people. It is¬†simply not¬†my thing! ūüėČ As soon as she stepped into my house, she came toward¬†me and she hugged me and kissed me as if¬†we had¬†known each other for years. I will never forget that hug. Why? The warmth that her hug gave me as a human being was totally unexpected and yet so refreshing and fulfilling!

When I had to pick the dish to be published on Azita‘s wonderful blog as a guest post, I immediately went for a pasta dish with peppers. Why? Well, I’m Italian and pasta is one of the emblems of my culinary tradition. So no doubt there! ūüôā The reason I picked peppers is because I think they represent Azita in her fullness. Their color is so vibrant that they bring cheerfulness and happiness in your life as soon as you look at them and their taste is so strongly flavorful and overwhelming that as soon as you eat them your taste buds are literally pervaded by their richness the same way I was by Azita‘s hug that Sunday afternoon.

So from Italy to Iran – one way – with love!

Peppers and pancetta tortiglioni

2 Servings

Ingredients:

2 peppers
4 oz, chopped pancetta
1 leek
4 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
6/7 oz, pasta of your choice
2 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
four/five thyme stalks
Ground black pepper
Salt

Directions:

Peppers and pancetta tortiglioniPreheat your oven to 400F.

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Rinse the peppers under cold water, dry them and place them on a baking sheet (I always put some parchment paper on my baking sheet to be sure that nothing sticks ūüôā ). Bake for about 20 minutes (or until the peppers are cooked), take them out of the oven and, with the help of a knife and fork, remove the skin of the peppers.

In the meantime, cut off the green top of the leek and its root. Discard the outer layer. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse the halves well under water. On a chopping board, slice the leek thinly and evenly. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil, add the leek slices, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add some water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside.

In another skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil, add the pancetta and fry, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta gets golden and crispy. Set aside.

Put a large pot of salted water over the stove to boil. While the water is warming up, place the peppers, the leek slices, some thyme leaves and 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a blender or a food processor. Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and blend everything until you obtain a smooth sauce. Transfer the sauce to a pot and warm it on a very low heat.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and put it in the pot where you warmed the sauce and toss to coat. Add the pancetta and toss to coat.

Put the pasta into the serving plates, dust the top of each plate with some Parmigiano cheese and garnish the plate with some thyme leaves.

Love,

Francesca Xx

Of Puppies, Peppers and Potatoes

I want to thank all of you for your words of encouragement¬†about my first steps into puppyhood. I think Chef Mimi is the one that best described what I was about to go through. She said “You are about to experience the worst times in your life, as well as¬†the best times in your life“. She was absolutely right! Only, in my¬†opinion, the worst times outnumber the best times by far!!!¬†

Let’s not talk about Sofia’s bathroom accidents or the every hour or so that we have to walk her out in this freezing cold weather or the sleep deprivation because she¬†doesn’t sleep through the night. Let’s talk¬†about the chewing and the nipping instead. Just a few descriptive adjectives: constant, unstoppable, devastating. My once lovely and perfect kitchen is a¬†total mess and my once beautiful and spotless hardwood floors are always dirty. Sofia is a bundle of energy that needs constant supervision and training. Every evening, after a seemingly endless day, when she finally falls asleep and I use my last drops of¬†strength to vaguely tidy up my once perfectly organized house, I can’t help but notice a new “gift” left by Sofia’s sharp baby teeth on a piece of furniture.¬†Needless to say, most of the times, it is a piece of furniture that I am particularly attached to because either it is fairly expensive or it took me¬†forever to find. So I go to bed every night with this¬†physical pain in my chest, in a kind of mourning for my¬†cabinet or a chair’s leg, as the case may be, repeating to myself “try not to think about it because Sofia will be up in the blink of an eye”.¬†

Potato and Pepper Side

When I got pregnant with Her Majesty, I did not read any books about babies and/or motherhood nor did I attend any preparatory class. I entered that hospital labor room thoughtless and clueless. Same thing with Sofia. That sneaky husband of mine did all the puppy reading and disclosed to me only 10% of what he had learned, knowing that, had I been well informed, I would most likely have changed my mind again.

So if I may, let me give a word of advice to anyone of you that is considering getting a puppy: make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Beside the workload that is required of you which, believe me, is humongous, I have come to the conclusion that your heart must have a special disposition to sacrifice yourself, your time and¬†your things for the sake of the happiness of your puppy. Does my heart have it? The jury is still out on that! ūüėČ

Potato and Pepper SideI guess by now and with the¬†above being said, you have started realizing that cooking has not been one of my priorities lately. I simply cannot afford to devote more than 30 minutes to make a dish. Like this peppers and potatoes side dish. As you may notice, it is a pretty basic one, with only few ingredients. When I want to spice it up, I add some tomatoes and harissa, but I cannot do it when my mom is around because my family recipe does not call for them and my mom does not like when I‚Ķ “tamper”¬†with her recipes. Once again, the quality of the¬†ingredients is paramount in this dish as there is no seasoning other than salt.¬†

Ingredients:

1 cup, extravirgin olive oil
5 potatoes
5 peppers
8/9 cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 Tsp, harissa (optional)
Salt 

Directions:

Peel the potatoes and slice them (about 1/4 thick). Cut the peppers into halves and slice them as you would with an apple.

In a large skillet, pour the olive oil, add the potato slices, the pepper slices and some salt (to taste). Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10/15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the harissa and keep cooking for another 10/15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Et voila! Ready by the time of one of Sofia’s naps!¬†

I wish you all a super fun and relaxing Super Bowl weekend! 

Stuffed peppers and the misconception of a silly girl

Stuffed bell peppers

Cooking and eating peppers is something relatively new in my house. The reason? Okay. I’m going to spit it out but please do not judge me too harshly. The ugly truth is that, when I was younger, I thought peppers where not sophisticated enough. When you are young, everything is either black or white and, consequently, the world was divided between what was chic and what was not, of course according to my own criteria, which I applied pretty much to everything, including food.

I used to go to the newest restaurants and indulge in the new trend – the huge misconception that rustic food was not cool.

They say that changing your mind is a sign of intelligence and that one of the advantages of aging is getting wiser. Well, especially when I look at my wrinkles, I like to flatter myself by thinking that I totally fall into both categories of clever and wise people. ūüėČ

Anyway, regardless of what I think of myself :-), the bottom line is that I “opened up” my mind to peppers and I was amazed to find out how great their taste can be. Their full texture can satisfy any kind of palate from the more basic to the chicest. I’m so regretting all those years when I simply dismissed them as not “worthy”!!! Such a waste of time! ūüôĀ

We are having a gorgeous weather where I am in Italy and I think that the vibrant colors of the peppers go very well with the brilliant colors of the landscape that surrounds me right now. That’s how I picked today’s dish, whose recipe – once again – comes from my mommy’s kitchen.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer.

Stuffed bell peppers

Ingredients:

6 peppers
2 leeks
about 21 oz, ground beef
2 eggs
3 white bread slices
1/2 cup, whole milk
8 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
8 Tbsp, grated parmigiano cheese
2 cups, tomato sauce
some parsley leaves, finely chopped
Salt
Ground black pepper

Directions:

Cut the tops of the peppers off and set them aside. With the help of a knife, remove the seeds and the membranes and rinse the peppers under cold water. Place the peppers in a large casserole, add 6 Tbsp of olive oil in the casserole and set aside.

Cut off the green top of the leeks and the root. Discard the outer layer. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise. Rinse the 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. In a skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil, add the leeks, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add some water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside and let the leeks cool.

In a bowl, pour the milk and soak the bread into the milk.

In a large mixing bowl, using your hands combine the ground beef, the eggs, the chopped parsley and the Parmesan cheese. With your hands, squeeze the bread and add it to the meat mixture. Add the leeks, some salt and pepper (to taste) and combine with your hands.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture, place the pepper tops on the meat mixture and pour the tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers.

Put an aluminum foil on top of the stuffed peppers and bake them for 35/40 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and keep baking for an additional 10/15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Buon appetito!