Pasta con la mollica (Pasta with Breadcrumbs)

FrankBasilicata, Calabria, pasta, primi piatti, Puglia, Sicilia27 Comments

Pasta con la mollica (Pasta with Breadcrumbs)

All over southern Italy, breadcrumbs were considered the “poor man’s cheese”. Those who couldn’t afford the luxury of the usual grated pecorino—or throwing away stale bread—would sprinkle toasted breadcrumbs over pasta and other dishes. Cucina povera in the literal sense. And yet, as it so often turns out, necessity gave … Read More

Zuppa di cardi (Cardoon Soup)

Frankprimi piatti, Soups22 Comments

Zuppa di cardi (Cardoon Soup)

Cardoons are one of my favorite vegetables, but they’re frustratingly hard to find here in the US. So whenever I spy a bunch in the market, I grab them, no questions asked. I find their subtle flavor, reminiscent of artichokes, delightful. If you’ve never tasted a cardoon, you’ve been missing … Read More

Spaghetti al nero di seppia (Spaghetti with Squid Ink)

Frankpasta, primi piatti, Sicilia, Veneto26 Comments

Spaghetti al nero di seppia (Spaghetti with Squid Ink)

Have you ever tried squid ink? I’d venture that many of our readers, Italian food lovers that you are, haven’t, but it’s really getting to know. Squid ink has a unique “earthy” flavor, silky mouth feel and alluring jet black color that couples perfectly with pasta. I find it irresistible. … Read More

Riso alla pilota (Pilot’s Rice)

FrankLombardia, primi piatti, Risotto and Other Rice Dishes49 Comments

Riso alla pilota

A rustic rice dish from Mantova in the cucina povera tradition, riso alla pilota is named after the piloti or laborers who operating the pila, the mill where rice would be hulled and polished back in the day. (There are still some old pile you can visit today, like this one.) The Po … Read More

Zuppa di cicerchie (Grass Pea Soup)

FrankLazio, Marche, primi piatti, Puglia, Soups, Toscana, Umbria38 Comments

Zuppa di cicerchie (Grass Pea Soup)

Yes, autumn is well and truly here. There’s a definitely chill in the air, the leaves are turning color, pumpkins have been placed on doorsteps, and logs are piled high on back porches, ready for the fire. I don’t know about you, but when the temperatures drop, I start to … Read More

Bucatini alla Caruso

FrankCampania, pasta, primi piatti51 Comments

Bucatini alla Caruso

They say that tenor Enrico Caruso came up with this dish. Caruso, a native of Naples, had a love-hate relationship with his home town. After he was booed at a performance early in his career, he never appeared on stage again in his native city, saying he would return only … Read More

Fusilli primavera

FrankCampania, pasta, primi piatti37 Comments

Fusilli primavera

I had always thought of “Pasta Primavera” as a modern American invention, probably a product of the rage for “northern Italian” food in the 1970s and 1980s. I remember reading about it years ago in some gourmet magazine and asked Angelina to make me it for me. “What’s that?” she replied … Read More

Spaghetti alle cipolle rosse e alici (Spaghetti with Red Onions and Anchovies)

Frankpasta, primi piatti38 Comments

Spaghetti alle cipolle rosse e alici (Spaghetti with Red Onions and Anchovies)

What would the world be without onions? Along with their close cousins garlic and shallots, they seem to make their way into just about every savory dish. That’s certainly true of Italian cooking, at least. And yet, except maybe for onion soup, it seems onions are always the proverbial bridesmaid, … Read More

Zuppa di orzo (Italian Barley Soup)

FrankFall, primi piatti, Soups, Winter47 Comments

Zuppa di orzo (Italian Barley Soup)

Italian cuisine is known for pasta, gnocchi, risotto and polenta. More recently many people have come to know farro. But did you know that Italians also enjoy barley? Here is a simple, basic Italian Barley Soup—zuppa di orzo— that is both healthy, appetizing and, if made in a pressure cooker, quickly … Read More

Salsa di noci (Ligurian Walnut Sauce)

Frankgnocchi, Liguria, primi piatti25 Comments

Gnocchi salsa di noci (Gnocchi with Walnut Sauce)

 I would venture to say that, other than producing Christopher Columbus, Liguria is probably best known as the home of pesto genovese, or basil pesto. But the region produces another kind of pesto, known as salsa di noci or Walnut Sauce, that  deserves much more attention. The most typical use of salsa … Read More

Risotto allo champagne (Champagne Risotto)

FrankLombardia, primi piatti, Risotto and Other Rice Dishes38 Comments

Risotto allo champagne (Champagne Risotto)

Risotto allo champagne, or Champagne Risotto, is a simple but elegant first course. It is very much follows the basic recipe for a risotto in bianco but gets its particular charm from the use of Champagne instead of wine. You might think it extravagant to cook with Champagne, but you only use a … Read More

Tagliatelle carciofi e funghi (Tagliatelle with Artichoke Hearts and Mushrooms)

Frankpasta, primi piatti37 Comments

tagliatelle carciofi e funghi

In many ways, we lovers of Italian food here in the US are lucky. The current popularity of Italian food means that you can find just about any kind of Italian pantry product you like, from everyday staples like imported pasta or canned tomatoes to relatively esoteric ingredients like colatura … Read More

Spaghetti alla Nerano

FrankCampania, pasta, primi piatti48 Comments

Spaghetti alla Nerano

We’ve featured pasta and zucchini before, but this celebrated dish from the Sorrento peninsula is a bit more elaborate and intriguing. Spaghetti alla Nerano, named after the beach town where it originated, could be the child that your basic pasta and zucchini would have if it got married with a cacio e pepe. … Read More

Spaghetti con la bottarga

Frankpasta, primi piatti, Sardegna, Sicilia, summer26 Comments

Spaghetti con la bottarga

Bottarga—cured fish roe typical of Sardinian and Sicilian cookery—is an unusual but tasty treat. It has a unique flavor that reminds me of a cross between caviar and anchovy but more delicate than either. Like a good, aged Parmesan or pecorino cheese, bottarga lends itself beautifully to grating over pasta. There … Read More

Sugo finto (“Fake” Sauce)

Frankpasta, primi piatti, sauces, Toscana44 Comments

Sugo finto

Another of the many Italian dishes in the cucina povera tradition, sugo finto is “fake” because it is basically a meat sauce (sugo di carne) without the meat that was so unaffordable for most people not too far in the past. (It is also called sugo scappato, or ‘escaped’ sauce, for … Read More

Riso in cagnone (Rice with Butter and Cheese)

FrankLombardia, Piemonte, primi piatti, Risotto and Other Rice Dishes38 Comments

Riso in cagnone

I was an atypical child. The other kids would come home from school and happily eat their milk and cookies, but I hated milk and didn’t care much for sweets. My idea of an after-school snack was a bowl of rice mixed with lots of butter and cheese. I would make … Read More

Minestra di broccoli e arzilla (Skate and Romanesco Broccoli Soup)

FrankLazio, primi piatti, Soups44 Comments

Minestra di broccoli e arzilla

I lived in Rome for over ten years, but in all that time, minestra di broccoli e arzilla, or Skate and Romanesco Broccoli Soup, somehow passed me by. I belatedly discovered this homey soup only recently, while perusing some old cookery books I picked up there years ago. Better late than never… … Read More

Minestra dei morti (Soup of the Dead)

FrankLombardia, piatti unici, primi piatti, secondi piatti, Soups35 Comments

Minestra dei morti (Soup of the Dead)

Modern Milan, political capital of Lombardy and financial capital of Italy, conjures up images of sharply dressed business people, trendy fashion shows and elegant shops. Lombardy is one of the riches areas of Italy and, indeed, the world. So it may come as a surprise that the region’s traditional cuisine is actually fairly rustic, with … Read More

Farinata di cavolo nero (Tuscan Kale and Polenta Soup)

Frankpolenta, primi piatti, Soups, Toscana57 Comments

Farinata di cavolo nero

When I think of Tuscan cuisine, first and foremost, even before the classic bistecca alla fiorentina as wonderful as that is, I think of its hearty vegetable soups. The best known of these soups is probably  the ribollita, of course. But the most memorable Tuscan soup I’ve ever had was in a small … Read More

Pasta alla gricia: The Mother of Roman Pastas

FrankLazio, pasta, primi piatti30 Comments

Pasta alla gricia

What was Italian cuisine like before the tomato arrived from America? Pasta alla gricia gives us some idea. Widely considered the ancestor of the more famous bucatini all’amatriciana, it is a simple dish that, according to at least one  legend, originated among shepherds in the mountains around the town of … Read More

Ragù d’agnello e peperoni (Lamb and Red Pepper Ragù)

FrankAbruzzo, pasta, primi piatti39 Comments

Lamb and Red Pepper Ragù

One of my regrets from my years in Italy is that I didn’t get over the Abruzzo more often. Just opposite from Lazio on the Adriatic side of the Italian peninsula, it was so close, but somehow the siren songs of Florence to the north and Naples to the south … Read More

Ravioli nudi (Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings)

Frankgnocchi, Lombardia, primi piatti, Toscana32 Comments

Ravioli nudi

Ravioli nudi, or “nude ravioli”, also known as gnudi, malfatti, gnocchi verdi, or the more literal gnocchi di ricotta e spinaci—are dumplings made with the usual spinach and ricotta filling for regular ravioli without their usual pasta “clothing”. Often thought of as a speciality of Tuscany—they are also sometimes called strozzapreti toscani—they … Read More

Vellutata di cavolfiore (Cream of Cauliflower Soup)

Frankprimi piatti, Soups27 Comments

Vellutata di cavolfiore

Here’s a dish that’s perfect for a spur of the moment meal, but is so beautiful and refined it could also serve as the starter for an elegant dinner: Vellutata di cavolfiore, or Cream of Cauliflower Soup. A vellutata—like its twin the crema, see the Notes below—can be roughly translated in English as a “Cream … Read More

Cicoria e fagioli (Chicory and Beans)

FrankCampania, contorno, piatti unici, primi piatti, Soups44 Comments

Chicory and beans (Cicoria e fagioli)

Chicory and Beans is one of those lean dishes that Angelina practically lived on weekdays. Like many good southern Italians, she was what we might call today a ‘flexitarian‘—living mostly on vegetables, saving meat for Sundays and other special occasions. Her lunch would often consist of chicory or escarole or some other … Read More

Cacio e pepe, a Roman classic

FrankLazio, pasta, primi piatti49 Comments

Cacio e pepe

When you’re in a real hurry or just too tired to cook anything too elaborate, here’s a great solution: cacio e pepe, literally ‘cheese and pepper’, a pasta dish usually made with spaghetti, bucatini or—my personal favorite—tonnarelli, a kind of square spaghetti better known Stateside by its Abruzzese name, spaghetti … Read More