La Dolce Vita-Authentic Sicilian Recipes

Like millions of Italian families, we lived with my grandmother. After school, when I wasn’t playing stick-ball in the streets of New York, I was hanging out in the kitchen.  My grandmother thought, as most Italians do, that food was a way of showing love to her family.

Mom had six daughters, and handed these recipes down to them. They’re posted below.

Sausage Pasta

4 Italian sausages

1 lb of pasta- Bow ties or penne

1/2 tablespoon Italian  seasoning

1 can of chicken stock.

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 clove a garlic chopped small pieces

In a large pot,  add water half way and boil. When the water comers to a boil add teaspoon of salt.

Saute sausages over med heat until done. Don’t burn them, but they must be cooked through. Cut one of them to check their doneness.
Remove and set aside. When they are cool, cut into 1/4 pieces.

Over med heat, In the same pan you cooked the sausages, add the garlic, the Italian seasoning, and the can of chicken stock.
Cook until  the stock comes to a boil. stirring from time to time.
When the stock comes to a boil add the sausages and cook  for about 2 minutes. (Just too get the sausages hot.)

When the pasta is cooked drain. Pour some of the pasta into the sausage and chicken stock mixture and mix.

Serve with crusty Italian bread.

Sausage and Mushroom Soup

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 1/4 pound of Italian sausages

1 onion, chopped

3  cloves of minced garlic

1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms, sliced7 cups of chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon of thyme

1/4 red pepper flakes

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 pound of pasta- Any pasta will do

In a large pot, heat1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.

Add sausages and cook, turning until they are cooked through. Remove and cut into 1/4 inch

pieces. Heat remaining olive oil in the poyt over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the

onions are transparent. add mushrooms and cook until they are golden in color.

Add thyme, red-pepper flakes,  chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a boil. Stir in sausages and pasta.

Reduce the heat and let simmer until pasta is done. Taste and add additional salt or pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty Italian bread.

Porco e Fagiolo
Italian Pork and Beans
Sounds odd, but in some circles, especially in this one, that’s what this dish is called.

1 pound of Italian sausage links
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 can of roasted tomato
2 can of White Northern Beans
6-7 cups of Italian tomato sauce. (use Rosemarino or Bolognese sauce both on this tab)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves

To a large saucepan add olive oil and saute sausage links until cooked through. Remove from pan and dry to remove cooking oil.
Add the tomato sauce and the can of roasted tomato to the saucepan with bay leaves and heat until sauce begins to boil. Add sausage and the northern beans to saucepan. Mix sauce, beans and sausage together.
Sprinkle red pepper flakes and serve.

A nice Chianti and crusty Italian bread will go wonderfully with this dish.

Today, in Italy, serving pasta as a side dish is heresy. Pasta is always a separate course, and in most regions in Sicily and the Italian mainland, the first course.

Tips for cooking pasta.

Always use a large pot with plenty of water. When water boils, add salt and the pasta together. Stir pasta a few times as it is cooking. This will keep the pasta from sticking together. Do not add olive oil to the water as it will make the pasta slippery. Never rinse your pasta unless you are making lasange.  Once the pasta is cook, drain and transfer to a bowl and add gravy. Do not over gravy. Italians use the gravy as a flavoring of the pasta.

Spaghetti, linguine and ribbon pasta is best served with fish or shell food. There is no greater sin than to over-cook pasta. Check the pasta from time to time to insure you do not over-cook it.

Pasta should always be served hot, so dishes should be heated before plating the pasta. Pasta will stay hot longer in shallow plates (soup plates are perfect).  String or ribbon pastas are twirled, whereas ravioli, tortellini, farfalle, and penne are eaten with a spoon or a fork.

Seafood Cream Pasta

Any type of shellfish can be used here, but of course, without the shells. The one listed below is shrimp and scallops. Lobster can be added or substituted, however the lobster must be cooked.

1 pound of pasta-Penne, Farfalle or shells

Fill a large pot with water add the pasta when the water comes to a boil.

3 tablespoons flour

2 1/2 cups of half-half

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 small onion-chopped

2 cloves of garlic-minced

6 pieces shrimp

6 pieces of scallops

1/2 cup of parmesan cheese-shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan saute the onions chopped and with the butter. When the onions are soft, add the minced garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk the flour in with the butter, onions and garlic into a re-aux. (a light re-aux, not a dark one) Add cheese.

When the cheese has melted, add the shrimp and scallops. Drain the pasta and pour into cream sauce mixture.

A bottle of Pinto Grigio

All of the recipes posted are either my wife’s, my mothers, or one of my aunts. The one posted below is Rachael Ray’s vegetable Ragu. It may be the best non-meat pasta dish I have ever tasted. I tried this last night and it knocked my socks off. Vegetarians, this is for you!

Vegetable Ragu

1 pound of pasta- Penne, Farfalle, Rigatoni

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 can vegetable broth

2 mushrooms-portobello

1 package dried porcini mushrooms

2 stalks celery

1 med size onion

1 clove finely chopped garlic

2 med sized carrots

Salt and pepper

1 cup of white wine

1 box of frozen spinach

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup of whole milk

A pinch red pepper flakes

Chop all vegetables the same size.

In a pot of boiling water add the pasta. defrost the spinach and set aside.

Place in a small saucepan add the vegetable broth with the dried porcini mushrooms and bring to a boil. When it has boiled for about 3 minutes, turn off and set aside.

In a large saucepan add the olive oil, the celery, mushrooms, carrots, onions.  Salt and pepper as you saute. When the mixture becomes soft, about 10 minutes, add the wine, the tomato paste, the garlic, and the pepper flakes. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the broth and slice into small pieces. Add the 3/4 of the vegetable broth and the sliced porcini to the mixture. Squeeze the water out of the spinach and add in small pieces to the vegetable mixture. When it comes together, stir in the milk.

Drain the pasta and pour over the vegetable mixture. I ate this without bread. I didn’t want the bread to get in the way of eating this wonderful Ragu.

Penne with Spinach in Tomato Cream Sauce

3 oz of finely chopped prosciutto

1 1/2 oz tomato sauce (see recipe Rosemary tomato sauce below)

1 cup heavy cream

4 oz. of spinach, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 pound penne pasta

In a deep pot fill about half with water. Add a pinch of salt when water comes to a boil, add the pasta.

In a a saucepan over medium heat,  add the prosciutto, the tomato sauce, and the spinach.  Simmer until the spinach wilts and then add the cream. Cook mixture no longer than 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper. Drain the pasta and add to the saucepan. Mix pasta and sauce mixture and serve.

Classic Sicilian Frittata

Sausage, egg, and sun-dried tomato omelet

In Italy eggs are not only used as a breakfast meal, but is often served for dinner or lunch with a crusty loaf of bread. I like to use chopped Italian sausage, but you can substitute, chopped pancetta, beacon, or even pieces of shrimp.

6 large eggs

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

Olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 red or green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped black olives

1 tablespoon of capers

3 Italian sausages-removed from casing

Salt, Pepper

1/4 cup of whole milk

1 cup of parmesan shredded cheese

Buttered nonstick oven pan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. In the heavy nonstick, buttered, ovenproof pan, place the olive oil and saute the onions. When they are translucent, add the chopped sausage. When the sausage is cooked through, add the peppers, olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Pour this mixture into the bowl of the whisked eggs and add the milk.  Pour this into the ovenproof pan and cover the mixture with the shredded parmesan cheese. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Slide onto a large plate, or a wooden carving board, and with crusty Italian bread and a glass of dry white wine.

Ragu, Bologna’s classic pasta gravy,  is the most famous in Emilia-Romagna, the heartland of Italy.

Below is the classic Bolognese Ragu.

1/2 cup heavy cream

Seven ounces of pancetta, cut into small diced pieces

1 cup carrots, cut same size as pancetta

1 cup celery cut same size as carrots

1/2 cup onions same size as above

1 pound of ground beef

1/4 pound of ground sausage

1/2 cup dry white wine-Chardonnay is fine

3 tablespoons of Italian tomato paste, diluted

in 2/3 cup of  chicken stock

1 cup of whole milk

salt and pepper to taste

Simmer cream in small saucepan until reduced by about 1/3 , and set aside. Saute pancetta in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Saute for 7-8 minutes. Add chopped vegetables  and saute for about 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Add beef and sausage and saute until the meat is brown. Do not over cook meat.

Add the wine and the diluted tomato paste and reduce the heat to very low.  Cook partially covered, for 2 hours. The mixture must be cooked slowly.  Stir mixture from time to time, and when you do, add a spoon full of milk. After the two hours are up, add the reduced cream you set aside.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, plate and pour Ragu over pasta. Finish with Grated Parmigiano-Regggiano.

A few basil leaves on top would look nice.

Serve with a Merlot or a reserve Chianti,and some crusty Italian bread.

Salsa Rosmarino

Rosemary Tomato Sauce

4 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic sliced garlic

1 cup of chopped onions

1/4 pound of chopped pepperoni

4 teaspoons of fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons of chopped basil

1/2 cup of red wine

1 cup of San Marzano tomato sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves

1 cup of chicken stock

1/4 cup of red pepper flakes

In a sauce pan, saute the olive oil, bay leaves and the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the onions and  saute for another 3 minutes. Add the fresh herbs, the pepperoni, salt, red pepper flakes and cook until the onions are soft.

Pour in the red wine for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meatballs or sausages can be served with this sauce, and as always, crusty Italian bread.

Breaded Veal Chops-Costolette alla Milanese

Veal Chops Milanese is a specialty of Milan. This is an easy meal to make and can be put together in under twenty minutes.

Four 3/4-inch thick veal loin chops

2 beaten eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste

2 cups of plain bread crumbs spread over aluminum foil

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 tablespoons of oil oil

Place the meat part of the veal chop between wax paper and pound until they are about half the original thickness.

Dip the chops in the beaten egg. Let the excess fall off. The chop should have a thin coat. Place the crumbs on the aluminum foil and coat the egg coated chop with the bread crumbs.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. When the oil/butter begins to foam, place the chops in the saucepan. Cook for about three-four minutes on each side until the chops are golden brown.

A mushroom gravy is optional, as seen above,  but is not truly Milanese.

For mushroom gravy, saute sliced mushrooms in 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When mushrooms are soft, add salt and pepper to taste and pour over chops.

Since this is Northern dish, a wine from the Piemonte, a Dolcetta d’Astia or a fruity red Bardolino.

Oven roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

For he best flavor, select yellow-fleshed potatoes or white fleshed Maine potatoes. Serve with Veal,  lamb chops, or steak.

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

12  cloves of garlic, crushed

1 1/2pounds of yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices

9 rosemary sprigs, salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

In a metal baking pan over low heat, warm olive oil and garlic until the garlic blends with the oil.  1-2 minutes.

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Place potatoes in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds and drain.  Place the potatoes in the pan with the garlic.  Sprinkle the potatoes with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes so as to thoroughly coat them with the oil and  rosemary.

Spread the potatoes out in a single layer in the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Roast, stirring 2-3 times until there is even browning. Roast for about an hour or until they are tender (test by piercing with a fork).

Plate immediately and serve.

Fusilli con Fagioli Verdi e Gamberetto

Pasta with Green Beans and Shrimp

This is one pasta that is very quick to prepare.

1 pound of fusilli

1 cup of heavy cream

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

12 ounces of deveined shrimp

1 table-spoon of San Marzano tomato sauce

1 bell pepper

1 cup of diced green beans

Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan bring water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and the fusilli.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the shrimp. Cook until pink.

In a separate frying pan, add the cream, tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp, green beans, and

cook for about 2 minutes. Drain the fusilli and add to the pan holding the shrimp and beans.

Add the salt to taste.

Pasta Con Salsiccia e Porcini

Pasta with Sausage and Porcini Mushrooms

This is easy. pairing of mushrooms and sausage, that can be put together in less than an hour.

1 pound of pasta- Penne, Rigatoni or farfalle

1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons on olive oil

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 cloves of chopped garlic

1/4 cup of heavy cream

1/2 pound of chopped Italian sausage

3 cups pf San Marzano tomato sauce

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Drain the mushrooms and reserve the water. Rinse the mushrooms so as the remove any unwanted  soil.

In a sauce pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the onions and garlic. Saute until the onions are golden brown. Add the sausage and stir until the meat browns. Add the mushrooms and the reserved porcini soaked water, cream, tomato sauce and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

Drain pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Pour the sausage, porcini mix over the pasta and serve.

Don’t forget the crusty Italian bread and finish of with grated Parmigiano Riggiano cheese and a bottle of Chianti.

Tagliatelle with Seafood, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Olives

1 pound of  Tagliatelle

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup white wine (dry)

1/4 pound of shrimp, deveined and cut in half lengthwise

1/2 cup black pitted olives cut in half

1/4 cup of capers

1/4 pound of sea scallops cut in half

1/2 cup of ricotta

In a large skillet, heat the butter. Add the shallots and saute until translucent. Pour in cream and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thick, about 6 minutes. Add wine and simmer for about 2 minutes.

Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente, or according to the directions on the package.

While the pasta is boiling, add the scallops, shrimp, olives, capers and sun-dried tomatoes to the cream sauce.

Drain the pasta and add to the cream sauce mixture.


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