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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

beating the heat - soups, salads and berries
Alice Ann Pazzaglia
(return to food)

In the summer time in Italy, we eat entirely differently than other seasons. It is so hot that we don't want to bake or fry or even go near the stove if we can avoid it. We eat fresh summer produce and foods with lots of water to replace what we have lost in perspiration. Below are mix and match suggestions for hot summer lunches and dinners. Please note that we eat soup at dinner. Buon Appetito!


Insalata Russa - Russian Salad
This is one of my favorite salads in Italy but, strangely, I have never seen it on the menu in Italian restaurants in San Francisco. Most Italians, including myself, have never made it, however, because we buy it at the salumiere just before we serve it for lunch.

2 large potatoes
2 carrots
160 gr of green beans
150 gr of fresh shelled peas
4 eggs
4 or 5 small cucumbers
about 10 mushrooms in oil
10 tiny onions in vinegar
a handful of capers
the juice of one lemon
2 or 3 green olives (without pits)

Insalata Russa is one of the most typical cold antipasti. It is prepared easily and, to save time, you can use the frozen mixed vegetables. In this recipe, I use fresh vegetables because they seem to give better results.

Peel the potatoes and wash them; cut them first into large slices , then into match sticks and finally, into tiny cubes. Peel the carrot and cut in half, then divide each half into match sticks and then into tiny cubes. Remove the ends of the green beans and cut them into small pieces. For the peas, you can use either the fresh or the frozen ones, even the canned ones but they will not need cooking. Cook each vegetable separately in salted water. The potatoes should be immersed in cold water which warms up slowly while the other vegetables can be put together in a large pan. In the meantime, boil 2 of the eggs by plunging them into boiling ater for then prepare the vegetables in vinegar. Cut the cucumbers into half rounds. Do not cut the smallest vegetables, capers and mushrooms- unless some of them are larger.

Put all the vegetables (except the olives) together and mix in a tiny bit of oil. Prepare the mayonnaise (of course, also in this case you can use the prepared kind but the result will not be the same). Break the uncooked eggs, gather only the yolks in a small bowl (the whites can be used for something else); add a pinch of salt, a few drops of lemon juice and begin to stir the sauce with an electric beater or with a wooden spoon. Or, if you prefer, with a food processor. As you work, add oil a drop at a time until you have obtained a bowl of sauce. At the end, ad more lemon juice. Put two or three teaspoons of mayonnaise on the vegetables and mix well then transfer the salad onto an oval serving plate so that it covers the whole surface of the plate. Cover the whole surface with the mayonnaise using a plastic scraper. Decorate with pieces of boiled eggs and green olives and serve.

Prosciutto e Melone - Prosciutto with Melon

1/4 to 1/2 pound of Prosciutto crudo cut paper thin
1 or 2 Cantalope and/or Honeydew melons

Cut each melon into 8 thin pieces and remove the rind. Serve the Prosciutto and melon in separate dishes or wrap the Prosciutto around each piece of melon.



With the exception of the Minestrone Roman Style, most of the following soups are easy and quick to prepare. Some don't need any cooking at all. They are all perfect for hot weather consumption.

Minestrone Romano A Crudo - Raw Minestrone, Roman Style
This soup can be a whole meal. Served at room temperature, it is wonderful in hot weather.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional olive oil for the table
3 fresh tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped coarsely
1 potato, peeled and diced
1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced, plus the leaves, chopped
1/4 pound butternut squash, diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves and stems
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley 1 large carrot, scraped and diced
1/2 pound green cabbage, finely shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 pound fresh cranberry beans, shelled, or 2 cups drained, canned pinto or pink beans, rinsed and drained
12 cups water
2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
plenty of freshly ground milled black pepper
1/4 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths (about 1 cup)
2 small zucchini, cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup conchigliette ("little shells") or ditalini ("little thimbles") pasta
4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
freshly grated parmigiano

In a large pot, combine the three tablespoons oil, the tomatoes and juice, onion, potato, celery and leaves, squash, the two teaspoons rosemary, the three tablespoons finely chopped parsley, the carrot, cabbage, cranberry beans (reserve canned beans, if using), water, salt, and pepper. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with the lid askew, and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the cranberry beans are cooked. Add the green beans, zucchini, cauliflower, and pasta; cook for eight minutes. Stir in the garlic, the three tablespoons rosemary, and the three tablespoons chopped parsley; if using canned beans, add them at this point. Continue cooking the soup, uncovered, over medium heat, until the pasta is not quite al dente (it will not remain so, since it soaks in the hot soup, so it is best to undercook it somewhat), about eight minutes. Serve the soup at room temperature with abundant freshly grated Parmesan, a dribble of olive oil, and pepper to taste.

Zuppa di Prezzemolo - Parsley Soup

3oz butter
2 big bunches flat-leaf parsley, washed, stalks and leaves separated
stalks chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 pintslight vegetable stock
salt and pepper
5floz double cream

Melt the butter in a stainless-steel or enamelled saucepan and gently sweat the parsley stalks, uncovered, for 20 niinutes. Add the potato and the vegetable stock, salt and pepper and simmer, still uncovered, for a further 20 minutes. Coarsely chop the leaves of one bunch of parsley and add to the soup. Simmer for 2 minutes. Blanch the remaining leaves in fiercely boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and refresh immediately under cold running water, then gently squeeze dry in a tea towel. Liquidise the soup with the blanched parsley to make a vivid green puree. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan, add the cream, reheat and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serves 4.

Zuppa di Cetrioli e Cipolle - Cucumber and Onion Soup
Cucumber, like melons, has a refreshing taste - just what is needed on a hot evening.

1 large cucumber
1 large yellow onion
cold chicken or vegetable stock enough for 4 bowls of soup
a little parsley
olive oil

Chop the cucumber and the onion and place in a blender with the cold stock. Place in a soup tureen and stir in a little olive oil. Serve cold.

Serves 2 to 4.

Zuppa di Melone - Chilled Cantaloupe Soup
Herb and fruit flavors blend in this refreshing light first course or hot summer day or evening.

6 to 8 medium tomatoes, peeled
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon fresh-grated lemon zest
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Place all ingredients in the blender. Can be made one day in advance. Serve cold. Garnishes with yogurt and fresh mint.

Minestra con fiori di zucca - Soup with Zucchini Flowers

1 lb. zucchini flowers
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small celery stalk,diced
1 small onion
diced pepper
1 qt. chicken broth
1 garlic clove, minced

Wash the zucchini flowers and drain them. Chop them fine. Leave 4 to garnish the soup adding them to the cooking broth during the last 5 minutes. Saute onion, garlic, and celery with the oil and continue to cook until nearly tender. Add broth, already hot, then add the zucchini flowers. Continue cooking at a simmer for 30 mins. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves 4.



Below you will find cheese, bean, pasta, potato, rice and seafood salads which are quick and easy to prepare.

Mozarella e Pomodori - Mozzarella and Tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella and tomatoes is about the quickest and easiest and prettiest combination imaginable.

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered, seeded, and coarsely chopped
A fresh mozzarella, weighing about a pound, diced
1/4 pound pitted black olives (the sweet variety cured in brine) or to taste, chopped
1 tablespoon salted capers
1/4 cup olive oil
3 - 5 fresh basil leaves, hand-shredded
Salt and pepper

Combine the tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl with the olives. If the capers are very salty, rinse them lightly; otherwise stir them in too, together with the olive oil and the basil. Season with black pepper, check seasoning, and if necessary add more salt (keep in mind that the capers are salty). Chill and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Insalata di Finocchi e Gorgonzola - Fennel and Gorgonzola Salad

6 tender fennels
juice of 1/2 lemon
7 oz creamy gorgonzola
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
4 oz shelled walnuts
1 tbsp white vinegar
olive oil and salt

Finely slice the washed fennels and place in a salad bowl. Mix the lemon juice, white vinegar and gorgonzola in a bowl, adding the olive oil slowly so as to obtain a fairly creamy liquid. Pour onto the fennel and toss. Decorate with walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4 to 6.

Insalata di Fagioli di Alice - Alice's Bean Salad

one jar of 3 bean salad
1 cucumber
some olive oil
artichoke hearts in oil
fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

Drain beans and artichokes in a collander Skin and cut cucumber once lengthwise. Remove the seeds and then cut across to form chunks chop parsley fine cut artichoke hearts. Put all in a salad bowl and mix with olive oil.

Serves 2.


Insalata di Pasta dell'Ortolano - Garden Pasta Salad

1 12-ounce pkg. rotelle pasta
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup seeded and diced red bell peppers
2 cups fresh green peas or cooked packaged peas
1 cup carrots, grated into large pieces
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup Italian vinaigrette - 3 parts olive oil to 1 part white wine vinegar
1 bunch parsley, minced (optional)
freshly ground white pepper

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Chill the pasta in a colander under cold running water. Drain well and place in large mixing bowl. Toss all the ingredients together. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Serves 4.

Insalata di Conchigliete, Olive, Finnochio e Cipolle arrostite - Shell Pasta Salad with Olives, Roasted Fennel and Sweet Onion

Shredded Romano cheese
Crushed red chili peppers

1 pound small pasta shells, uncooked
1 1/2 cup fennel bulb, cut in half lengthwise
1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick
2 tsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 cup plum tomatoes, diced
3/4 cup Calamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup fresh assorted herb leaves, finely chopped (such as basil, dill or parsley)

2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tbsp. barbecue sauce
2 tbsp. lime juice

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water, set aside. Heat oven to 375� F. Toss garlic for dressing, fennel and onion with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Spread on a cookie sheet and roasted in the oven until lightly browned and tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Set aside fennel and onion.

In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, barbecue sauce and lime juice in a bowl. Squeeze garlic out of its peel, dice and whisk into dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Dice onion, fennel and tomatoes and add to pasta. Add olives, herbs, and dressing and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. To serve, sprinkle with Romano cheese and crushed red chili peppers.

Serves 8.


Insalata di Patate - Italian Potato Salad
Please note that this salad will be more flavorful if it is made the day before it is served.

1 lb. new red potatoes
1/4 c. water
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
several sliced ripe black olives (optional)
1 small cucumber, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 c. dressing - 3 Tblsp olive oil, one Tblsp white wine vinegar, garlic powder
2 T. snipped fresh Italian parsley

Scrub potatoes; cut crosswise into 1/4 in. slices. Place in 1 1/2 qt microwave safe casserole. Add water. Cover with lid. Microwave onhigh for 9-10 min. or until potatoes are tender; stirring once. Drain and cool. Add onions, olives, cucumber, tomato, dressing and parsley. Mix lightly to coat evenly. Refrigerate until chilled. Stir before serving.

Insalata di Patate al Rosmarino, Limone e Caperi - Potato Salad with Rosemary, Lemon and Capers

2 1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 tablespoons sliced green onions

Cook potato rounds in pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Cool potatoes slightly. Whisk oil, lemon juice, capers, rosemary and garlic in medium bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Layer 1/4 of potatoes in bottom of medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons green onions over, then drizzle with 3 tablespoons dressing. Repeat layering 3 more times with remaining potatoes, salt and pepper, green onions and dressing. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)

Serves 6.

Insalata Mediterranea - Mediterranean Salad

3 medium-sized potatoes
3 carrots
4 1/4 oz. Caciotta cheese
1 1/2 cups peas
1 cup green olives
6 artichoke hearts
1 tbsp. capers
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
6 tbsp. extra-vergine olive oil
3 tbsp. wine vinegar
1 finely chopped anchovy fillet preserved in oil
freshly ground white pepper
1 cup black olives

Peel and boil the potatoes and carrots in lightly salted water. When they are tender, drain, cut them into pieces, along with the Caciotta, and put them in a large salad bowl. Cook the peas in boiling water, drain and add to the bowl. Pit the green olives and add them as well. Cut the artichoke hearts into pieces and add them, along with the capers and chopped parsley, to the salad. In another bowl blend the oil, vinegar and chopped anchovy fillet. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the salad and blend well. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving it garnished with the black olives.

Serves 6.


Insalata di Riso - Rice Salad
Rice Salad is made differently in every household in Italy. Here is a salad with many ingredients. You can leave out any of the ingredients and it will still be rice salad. This recipe just shows you what can go into the rice salad - all of this or some of this.

1 cup parboiled rice (the grains should not stick)
Either: An 8-ounce can tuna, drained and shredded, and four canned sardines, boned and shredded
Or: 1 hot dog, cooked and sliced, and/or 1/4 pound of ham, diced
1/4 of a pound Fontina or Swiss cheese, diced
1 cup pitted, sliced black olives
1 pickled bell pepper, diced
2 ripe, peeled, seeded tomatoes, diced
1cup mushrooms in oil, diced
1-2 tablespoons cooked peas
1 cup pickled button onions
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced or quartered
1 tablespoon rinsed salted or pickled capers
2 pickled artichoke hearts, sliced
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 cup olive oil or mayonnaise
A tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice in abundant boiling, slightly salted water. Rinse it with cold water and let it drain. Meanwhile, assemble the remaining ingredients. Once the rice has cooled, combine everything in a bowl and chill the salad in the refrigerator overnight.

Serves 4.


Insalata di Bianchetti - Salad of Whitebait
Bianchetti are tiny fish, the spawn of sardines or anchovies, these can be fished only during certain and limited times of the year so as not to endanger the fish population. The fish must be absolutely fresh.

1 lb. whitebait (dressed)
lemon juice
salt and pepper
olive oil

Wash the whitebait well in cold salt water (in Italy, where possible, they are washed in sea water), drain and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and some olive oil. Let stand refrigerated for 1 hour and serve.

Serves 4.

Insalata di Frutti di Mare - Seafood Salad

1/2 lb. each of squid, cuttlefish, octopus, scallops, lobster, fish fillets
8 oz. mussels glass dry white wine
6 Tbs. olive oil 2 oz. chopped parsley
3 garlic clove
juice of 2 lemons
pepper, salt

Clean, poach and dice all the fish. Steam the mussels in 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 garlic clove and the white wine till open. Shell and mix with the rest of the fish and refrigerate. Prepare a battuto with parsley and garlic and set aside. Prepare the

4 Tbsp. olive oil
the juice of the lemons
salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Mix the dressing with the fish and toss well, top with a generous sprinkling of the battuto and serve.

Serves 6.

Tonno in Insalata - Tuna Salad

10 1/2 oz. can of tuna preserved in oil
6 2/3 tbsp. extra-vergine olive oil
10 1/2 oz. firm tomatoes
the juice of 1 lemon
4 hard-boiled eggs

Drain the oil from the tuna, break it into small pieces with a fork, put it in a bowl and blend in part of the new oil. Scald the tomatoes, peel them and cut them into small pieces. Combine the tomatoes with the tuna. Dress with a vinaigrette made with the remaining oil and the lemon juice. Toss the salad and cover the surface with thin slices of hard-boiled eggs

Serves 6.

Insalata di Cavolo Rosso con Tonno - Red Cabbage Salad with Tuna

canned white tuna (packed in water)
8 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/2 large head)
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Combine red cabbage, parsley and capers in large bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water and garlic in small bowl to blend. Add to cabbage mixture and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Serves 6.


Le More con Panna Montata -Blackberries with Whipped Cream
Fold sweetened blackberries into fluffy whipped cream.

Bacce Miste con Ricotta - Mixed Berries with Ricotta

1 quart strawberries
1 quart raspberries
1 quart blackberries
3 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 orange zest only
3/4 cup toasted almond slivers
6 sprigs mint

Combine berries in a large bowl. Place ricotta and sugar in a processor and mix until smooth, or mix by hand. Remove from the processor and stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve half cup of berries per person. Top with a good sized dollop of the ricotta creme. Garnish with mint sprig.

Serves 6.

Lampone al Moscato o Spumante - Raspberries Moscato or Spumante
Mound lightly sweetened washed raspberries in goblets and pour on a few spoons of chilled Moscato di Panetelleria or Asti Spumante.

If you would like more focaccia recipes, please feel free to post your request in the food forum.


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