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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

giving grazie
italian recipes for your thanksgiving table

by Alice Ann Pazzaglia
(return to food)

A monthly meal for the Italian table

November is brightened by Thanksgiving a most heartwarming and unique holiday in America. It is shared by everyone around the table with family.

Although there is no Thanksgiving holiday (Il giorno di ringraziamento) in Italy, that does not exclude Italian food. The colors and flavors of Italian dishes contribute to the festive mood. A word of caution: go easy on pasta as a first course unless you have lots of really big eaters in your family. Generally, Americans look forward to the turkey. Side dishes are usually quite filling so a first course should be a very light soup and/or antipasti. I have included a lasagna recipe which you can use for another meal. Italians do not carve turkey or any other meat at the table.

Here are some Italian recipes you can use for your Thanksgiving meal and beyond. Happy Thanksgiving and Buon Appetito!


Antipasto Misto Mixed Antipasto
For the marinade
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
3 large carrots, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 small fennel bulbs (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
2 red bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips
2 yellow bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips
a 12-ounce jar peperoncini (pickled Tuscan peppers), rinsed and drained well
3/4 pound black or green brine-cured olives or a combination
1/4 pound sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and cut into strips
3/4 pound marinated or plain bocconcini (small mozzarella balls, available at specialty foods shops and some supermarkets)
1/2 pound pepperoni or soppressata (hard Italian sausage, available at Italian markets, some butcher shops, and, some specialty foods shops), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and the slices quartered
two 7-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves plus, if desired, parsley sprigs for garnish

Make the marinade:
In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, the vinegars, the rosemary, the basil, the oregano, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the marinade until it is emulsified.

In a large saucepan of boiling water blanch the carrots and the fennel for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender, drain them, and plunge them into a bowl of ice and cold water. Let the vegetables cool and drain them well. In a large bowl toss together the carrots, the fennel, the roasted peppers, the peperoncini, the olives, the sun-dried tomatoes, the bocconcini, the pepperoni, the artichoke hearts, the marinade, the minced parsley until the antipasto is combined well and chill the antipasto, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight. Transfer the antipasto to a platter, garnish it with the parsley sprigs, and serve it at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8

Bell Pepper Rolls
6 large bell peppers (2 each red, green and yellow)
1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 oz. olive paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup extra vergin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped parsley
anchovy fillets packed in oil, for garnish (optional)

Wash and dry bell peppers. Bake them in preheated oven 350 for 30 minutes. Turn them carefully 4 times until easily pierced with a fork. Rub them one by one with a teatowel to remove the skin. Cut each pepper in half and remove the seed and ribs. Cut the peppers into 1 1/4 inch strips and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Soak the bread in the vinegar and squeeze it to remove excess vinegar. In a bowl, combine the bread, olive paste and garlic until a thick cream forms. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the oil and spread the mixture on the pepper strips and roll them up. Arrange the rolls on a serving dish and drizzle the remaining oil over them, Sprinkle with the parsley.

Capanota with Basil
2 medium eggplant (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion
1 stalk fennel or celery, chopped
1 pound chopped plum tomatoes, or diced canned tomatoes
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
3 tablespoons wine vinegar or part Balsamic
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios
1/4 cup minced fresh basil and additional basil leaves for garnish
Crackers, sliced baguettes, or lettuce leaves

Cut the eggplant into 1-inch chunks, salt it lightly and let drain in a colander for half an hour; rinse and pat dry. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and saute' the onions and eggplant until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the fennel, tomatoes, capers, and vinegar, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the fennel is still slightly crunchy. Chill several hours. Garnish with nuts and basil. Serve with crackers, baguettes, or on lettuce leaves as a salad.

Makes 8 to 10 appetizer servings.

Aioli With Fresh Vegetables
2 eggs
1 cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
10 cloves garlic, finely minced Assorted fresh vegetables

In a blender, combine eggs, olive oil, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, mustard, salt and sugar; cover and blend 5 seconds. With blender on high speed, pour 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a very slow, thin stream; stir occasionally until thickened. Stir in garlic; chill. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables for dipping.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Mushroom Crostini
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 baguette, about 8 oz , cut diagonally into about 16 slices
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 oz unsalted butter
6 oz fresh ceps or cup mushrooms
2 floz dry white wine
1 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This is a good alternative to the more mundane garlic bread.

If you can get them, use fresh ceps instead of or as well as the fresh mushrooms. They are a delicious topping for crostini.

  1. Use 6 tablespoons of the olive oil for brushing: brush a baking sheet with the oil and brush both sides of each baguette slice with olive oil. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet and place under a preheated grill. Brown both sides carefully - try not to overcook them, as they burn easily. Remove and cool.
  2. Mix the coriander and garlic. Melt the butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook gently to reduce it by half. Lower the heat and stir in the chopped coriander, garlic and season. Continue to cook gently for about 2 minutes more.
  3. Remove from the heat, allow to cool and chop the mushrooms finely. Stir in Parmesan, if using, and set aside until ready to use.
  4. Crostini are good served cold but even better warmed. Spoon some of the mushroom mixture on to each slice, then heat in the oven until the Parmesan has melted. Serve immediately.


La Minestra

Serving a light broth before a large meal aids digestion. Here is a quick broth idea for busy people.

Buy 3 kinds of Ravioli all the same size i.e. white with lobster filling, orange with crab filling and green with spinach filling. Boil them gently in chicken or vegetable broth and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Milanese Roasted Vegetable Lasagne
A wonderful vegetarian meal in itself, this could be served with a salad.

12 sheets of lasagne, precooked in boiling water, then drained sliced tomatoes, to garnish

Milanese Tomato Sauce: 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green pepper, cored, deseeded and diced
4 oz field mushrooms (porcini if possible), chopped
8 basil leaves, torn into peices
1 bay leaf
6 floz full-bodied red wine such as Barolo
2 tbsp tomato puree
14 oz cans chopped tomatoes
8 oz fresh tomatoes, skinned, seeds removed and chopped

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large eggplant, quartered
2 large zucchinis, quartered
1 large red pepper, cored, deseeded and quartered
1 large yellow pepper cored, deseeded and quartered
1 fennel bulb, quartered
2 red onions
1 tbsp dried basil or similar herb
salt and freshly ground black pepper
one whole garlic head, roasted with the vegetables and squeezed into the filling after roasting

Cheese Sauce:
1 1/4 pints milk
3 oz butter
2 oz unbleached plain white flour
1 egg yolk (optional)
2 oz strong Gorgonzola, crumbled
2 oz very sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp sour cream (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato sauce:
Use the ingredients above and make it the day before or use your own recipe or buy a ready made tomato and basil sauce.

For the filling: First you will roast the vegetables separately. Brush a large glass dish with olive oil; brush each piece of vegetable with oil and arrange on the baking sheet. Add a dash of white balsamic vinegar. Season with dried herbs, salt and pepper. Roast in a pre-heated oven,400F, until cooked, about 40-60 minutes. Set aside to cool. When cool, you may wish to cut the vegetables further.

Make the cheese sauce by warming the milk in a large heavy saucepan. Melt the butter in another saucepan, add the flour and cook for a few minutes without letting it colour. Then gradually add the warmed milk, stirring constantly to keep the mixture smooth. When all the milk has been added let the sauce simmer very gently for about 10 minutes. Stir in the egg yolk, , cheeses and seasoning. Add freshly grated nutmeg and remove from the heat. Add the sour cream and adjust the seasoning, it necessary.

To assemble the lasagne, brush the bottom of a 5 pint ovenproof dish generously with olive oil. Place 4 sheets of lasagne on the bottom of the dish and top with half of the tomato sauce, half of the roasted vegetables and one-third of the cheese sauce. Top this with 4 more sheets of lasagne and repeat the process until you have one-third of the cheese sauce left, with which to top the remaining layer of lasagne. Garnish with the tomato slices.

Place in a preheated oven, 350F and bake for about 45-55 minutes, or until the top is golden. Allow the lasagne to stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Il Tacchino - Turkey

Turkey fillets are eaten at least once a week, if not more often in Italy . It is used to substitute for the more expensive veal and many veal recipes work well for turkey . Therefore, it would not be considered especially festive to serve it on a holiday. Here are two recipes for whole turkeys which are, however, less less common.

Since these turkeys are small, you might wish to save the recipes for a small, quick turkey in mid July !!!

Arrosto di Tacchino al Forno - Oven-Roasted Turkey
1 turkey weighing 3 lbs.
extra-vergine olive oil
several strips lean bacon

Preheat the oven to 375� F. Tie up the turkey with kitchen string and put it on a large baking dish. Sprinkle the bird with salt and pepper and baste with olive oil. To prevent the breast from drying out, arrange several strips of bacon over it and tie in place with string.

Put the turkey in a 375� oven and roast for 2 1/2 hours. Fifteen minutes before the bird is done, remove the bacon so that the breast can brown. When it is brown, the breast should be sprinkled with a bit of flour. Scoop up a bit of the cooking juices and baste the breast, taking care that the flour is not carried away. Roast a few more minutes, then repeat the operation four or five times before serving

6 servings

Tacchino Stufato - Stewed Turkey
1 turkey weighing 3 lb.
1 carrot
1 onion
1 stalk celery
1 bunch parsley
3 1/2 oz. guanciale or bacon
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
1 cup dry white wine
4 Tbsp. tomato concentrate
1/2 cup dried mushrooms

Tie the turkey with kitchen string. Chop the carrot, onion, celery, parsley and bacon. Heat the butter in a large pot, add the condiments and brown them lightly. Add the turkey to the pot and brown on all sides. When the turkey has begun to brown, pour over the wine. Cook over moderate heat until the wine evaporates. Dilute the tomato concentrate in water sufficient to cover the turkey in the pot. Add the solution to the pot, cover it with a lid and cook over moderate heat for 20 minutes. Clean the mushrooms and soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture and add the mushrooms to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Continue boiling the turkey until it is completely cooked. If the sauce should become too thick during the cooking, add a bit of water. Serve the turkey basted with the sauce

for 6 persons


Fried Peppers, Onions & Sausages
1/4 cup olive oil
6 large green or red bell peppers, cut into strips
2 medium onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 pounds hot Italian sausage

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, garlic and vinegar and saute' 10 minutes. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook sausages in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown and cooked through, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer to platter. Surround with peppers.

4 servings


Vegetable Polenta Pie
This can be a meal in itself or a great side dish to accompany the Italian sausage recipe above.

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for preparing pan
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup diced crookneck squash
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
Red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, crookneck squash, zucchini and bell pepper and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside. Bring vegetable broth and water to simmer in saucepan over high heat. Whisk in cornmeal in slow, steady stream to avoid lumping. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring frequently, until polenta starts to pull away from sides of pan, about 2 minutes. Add cooked vegetables, salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter and stir until smooth. Pour into lightly oiled pie plate, spreading evenly. Let cool to room temperature. (Polenta can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered.)

To serve, transfer to serving dish and cut into wedges. Serve at room temperature.

6 to 8 servings.

Tortino di Verdure - Vegetable Torte
2 ounces Parmesan cheese cut into 1-inch pieces
10 ounces Swiss cheese cut into 1-inch pieces,chilled
6 medium zucchini [about 2 pounds total, trimmed and cut tofit the feed tube vertically
12 medium carrots about 2 pounds total, peeled and trimmed
1 large fennel bulb about 3/4 pound, trimmed and quartered
1 stick unsalted butter4 ounces cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Drop the Parmesan through the feed tube of a food processor with the metal blade in place and the motor running. Process until finely chopped, about 45 seconds. Reserve. Finely chop the Swiss in the same manner. Reserve.

Slice the zucchini with the thin slicing disc. Reserve.

Cut half the carrots into lengths to fit the feed tube horizontally andshred them with the medium shredding disc. Reserve.

Cut the remaining carrots to fit the feed tube vertically and slice them with the ultra-thin [1mm] slicing disc. Reserve.

Slice the fennel bulb with the ultra-thin slicing disc. Spread 1 cup about 4 ounces, 1 110g] of the sliced zucchini on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Cover the slices with another layer of paper towels. Set aside.

Cook the remaining zucchini in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Cook the remaining vegetables separately in the same water: the sliced carrots for 1 minute; the shredded carrots for 1 minute; the sliced fennel for 5 minutes. Remove each vegetable with the slotted spoon and drain separately on paper towels.

Saute' the blanched zucchini in 2 tablespoons melted butter for 1minute. Set aside.

Saute' the sliced carrots, shredded carrots and fennel separately; 1 minute for each carrot batch, 2 minutes for the fennel, adding butter as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375�F.To assemble the torte, butter a 2-1/2 quart ovenproof glass or ceramic bowl. Line the inside of the bowl with a single layer of the raw, sliced zucchini. Layer the vegetables and cheeses in the following order

  1. half the shredded carrots
  2. one-eighth of each cheese, salt and pepper
  3. half the saut�ed zucchini
  4. one-eighth of each cheese, salt and pepper
  5. half the sliced carrots
  6. one-eighth of each cheese, salt and pepper
  7. half the sliced fennel
  8. one-eighth of each cheese, salt and pepper
Repeat the layering with the remaining ingredients. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Put the bowl in a large roasting pan. Put the pan in the center of the preheated oven and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the bowl. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the torte from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Invert the bowl over a serving platter and unmold. Reposition any zucchini slices that may have adhered to the bowl. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings.


In Italy we eat fennel 3 or 4 times a week fresh, boiled or baked. I have never seen it on the menu in Italian restaurants in the United States.

Alice's Fennel Gratine' with Parmesan Cheese
3 large or 4 to 5 small fennel bulbs
about 3 Tbs unsalted butter
salt - I don't add this
black pepper freshly ground
1/4 of a cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese - grate it into strips when you are baking
You don't need to measure the butter and Parmesan cheese because you can just grate it on top until it looks like enough
Seasoned bread crumbs
A shallow gratine' pan or dish

Cut the fennel tops where they meet the bulb and discard them. Pare away any bruised or brownish parts from the bulb and cut off a thin slice from the bottom. Cut the bulb in lenghtwise slices about 1/4 of an inch thick and wash by soaking them in cold water.

Turn on the oven to 450 degrees F

Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil and add the Fennel for 5 to 10 minutes or until it is tender. Lift the fennel out of the water with a slotted spoon and lay carefully in the gratine' dish so that they are all pointed in the same direction length-wise. They will fall apart, don't worry about it. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top. Grate the Parmesan cheese on top of that and then grate the butter . Add just a few more bread crumbs. Put the dish into the oven for 10 - 15 minutes until it golden brown.

Castagne Stufate - Stewed Chestnuts
Stewed chestnuts can be very good with a roast, especially pork. Roast 1 1/4 pounds of chestnuts roasted and peeled. Set them in a pan with a sprinkling of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a few needles of rosemary. Saut� them for a few minutes, then sprinkle them with a ladle of broth and simmer them until they are very tender, and serve.

Serving boiled meats rather than roast pork? Simmer the chestnuts with good vinegar instead of broth.

Sardinian Style Squash - Zucche alla Sarda
2 lb. 3 oz. long squash
1 onion
extra-vergine olive oil
4 oz. tomatoes
several mint leaves
grated Pecorino cheese.

Cut the squash into strips. Chop the onion. Heat some oil in a pan and brown the onion. Peel and seed the tomatoes and cut them into pieces. Add the tomato pieces to the pan. Boil for a few minutes, then add the strips of squash. Season with salt and add several mint leaves (or a pinch of dried mint). Cook until the squash is tender and serve hot, sprinkling each serving with grated Pecorino

for 6 persons

Red Potatoes and Wilted Greens
3/4 pound small red potatoes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
4 cups packed beet greens, mustard greens, or Swiss chard (about 6 ounces), tough stems discarded and remainder washed well and dried

In a medium saucepan bring potatoes with enough salted water to cover them by 1/2 inch to a boil and simmer 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain potatoes in a colander and, when cool enough to handle, cut each potato in half.

In a heavy skillet heat butter and oil over moderate heat until foam subsides and cook potatoes, cut sides down, until golden, about 5 minutes. Loosen potatoes from bottom of skillet with a metal spatula. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is pale golden. Add greens and cook, covered, 3 minutes, or until greens are wilted.

Season mixture with salt and pepper and stir until combined well.

Serves 2.

Involtini di Melanzane - Wrapped Eggplants with Goat Cheese
One large or two small eggplants
soy or peanut oil
salt to taste; Caprini cheese (2-3 oz.)

1 Tblsp mustard
4 drops Lea-Perrins
2 tsp. wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
bit of chopped garlic (optional)

Slice eggplants into 1/2 inch slices in cutlet shape. Sprinkle a little salt over the slices and let them rest for about 10 minutes so that the natural water drains. In very hot skillet put cooking oil, enough so that the dried slices of eggplant will float 3-4 at a time, and cook about one minute - do not overcook! Cut the Caprini cheese (or soft goat cheese) in about 1 inch square (about one large tablespoon's worth) and place one in center of each eggplant round. Roll eggplant around cheese like a cigarette. Whisk dressing in a bowl quickly. Gently sprinkle and pour the dressing over the eggplant and let them rest to marinate in the refrigerator for about one day.

This dish of pureed green peas, gingery butternut squash, and creamy mashed potatoes is made a day ahead, refrigerated, and then baked prior to serving. Or, if you wish, the dish can be baked immediately upon assembly, thus reducing the baking time to 30 minutes.

Trio of Mashed and Pureed Vegetables - Pure' di Verdure
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 cup chopped green onions
2 16-ounce packages frozen green peas, thawed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2/3 cup milk
1 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

In 3-quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add green onions and saut� 1 minute. Stir in peas, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cover and cook until heated through -- about 5 minutes. Transfer pea mixture to food processor fitted with chopping blade and set saucepan aside. Puree peas, adding water a tablespoon at a time if too thick to process, until smooth, stopping frequently to scrape side of container. Set pea puree aside.

In same saucepan, heat potatoes with enough water to cover to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook potatoes until tender. Drain potatoes; using potato masher or back of fork, mash potatoes with 2 tablespoons butter until smooth. Stir in milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Set mashed potatoes aside.

In 4-quart saucepan, heat butternut squash and enough water to cover to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook squash until tender. Drain squash; using potato masher or back of fork, mash squash with remaining 2 tablespoons butter until smooth. Stir in brown sugar, ginger, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Grease shallow oval 2-quart baking dish. Alternately spoon dollops of each vegetable around edge of dish and swirl vegetables decoratively toward center. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover dish and bake vegetables 45 minutes or until heated through and top is lightly browned.

Cippoline al Dolceforte - Sweet and Sour Pearl Onions
1 lb. pearl onions
3 oz very good white wine vinegar
lb. butter
2 spoonfuls sugar

Peel the onions. Cook them in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Stir in the sugar and allow it to dissolve. Add the vinegar and stir well. Cover and simmer gently over low heat for about 1 hour. If the sauce becomes too thick, add some hot water, as needed. Pearl onions prepared in this manner can be served with braised meats or venison


Cucumber & Onion Salad
Peel and slice cucumbers very thin Add sliced onions. Just add olive oil and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. If you like herbs, sprinkle some of your favorite fresh herb on top.

Grilled Salad with Mustard and Sherry Vinaigrette
1 head of chicory, pulled apart
12 leaves of rocket, or 1 head of gem lettuce
6 oz fresh sun-ripened tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced
2 oz sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 radicchio, cut into wedges
2 oz walnut pieces
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled or 2 oz freshly grated
Parmesan cheese (both optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Ttbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp snipped fresh chives
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

If you are short of time and ingredients for this salad, the radicchio grilled on its own with the vinaigrette is a wonderful treat.

Make the vinaigrette dressing well in advance, to allow the flavours to mingle, by combining the ingredients thoroughly.

Mix together the chicory, rocket or lettuce and tomatoes in a salad bowl

Toss the radicchio in half of the vinaigrette dressing and pop it under a preheated grill with the walnuts, until it is browning around the edge.

Add to the rest of the salad and sprinkle with the remaining vinaigrette and the cheese. Season to taste and serve.

Mixed Salad
1 tbsp. capers
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 sprigs Italian parsley
4 salted anchovy filets
1/2 clove garlic
1 head red radicchio, washed and dried
1 head green radicchio or 1/2 head oak leaf lettuce, washed and dried

In a blender, combine the capers, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley until smooth. Rinse the anchovy filets under cool water, debone them, and mince them with the garlic. Slice the red and green radicchio into strips, toss with the minced anchovy mixture and dressing, and serve immediately.

Serves 4


My daughters and I remember walking down Corso Cavour in Pavia on bitterly cold evenings catching the exquisite perfume of a street vendor roasting chestnuts in a portable cart. They were irrisistable. We would buy small paper bags of warm chestnuts and eat them as we walked home.

My late husband, Vittorio, loved chestnuts and he made Castagnaccio, which is a kind of not very sweet cake, at least once every autumn

1 lb. chestnut flour
4 Tbs. sugar , pinch salt
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. grated orange zest
4 Tbs. soaked squeezed raisins
2 Tbs. pine nuts
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped walnuts
milk, as needed

Sift the chestnut flour, add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Add 2 pints cold water in a thin stream beating constantly with a whisk so that lumps do not form. Add 3 Tbs. oil, orange peel, raisins, pine nuts and walnuts. Add warm milk little by little until you achieve a stiff consistency. Pour the batter into a greased pan large enough so that the mixture is1/2" thick. Dribble on some oil. Bake in a preheated 400� F. Oven for an hour. Serve warm or cold. It can also be served with whipped cream. Fennel seeds can be used instead of walnuts.

Chocolate Pear - Tart Crostata di Pere e Cioccolata
Ripe pears enclosed in a rich chocolate pastry.

21/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, chilled
cup granulated sugar Pinch salt
1 large egg
5 tablespoons water
5 firm ripe pears (about 2 pounds) Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Pulse the flour, cocoa, butter, sugar and salt with the metal blade of a food processor until combined, about 6 times. Add the egg and pulse twice. With the motor running, add the water by the tablespoon through the feed tube until the dough forms a ball.

Remove the dough and divide it in half. Flatten each half into a 1 -inch thick disc, cover with foil and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350�F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough into a 1/4-inch [6mm] thick circle. Press the dough into an oiled 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, leaving a 1-inch overhang.

Cut the pears in half lengthwise. Core and peel each half and process them with the all-purpose slicing disc; arrange them in the tart shell.

Roll out the remaining dough to a 1/4-inch thick circle. Place it over the pears and trim it, leaving a 1 -inch overhang.

Press the top and bottom crusts together and crimp the edges to seal. Cut a 1-inch hole in the center of the top crust to allowsteam to escape.

Bake the tart in the center of the preheated oven until the pears are tender and the crust is crisp, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove the side of the pan and dust the tart with confectioners' sugar.

Variation: For a richer chocolate flavor, sprinkle the bottom crust with 1 oz finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate before adding the pears. To finely chop chocolate, process chilled pieces with the metal blade for about 30 seconds.

Makes 8 servings


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