Eager to taste and prepare some good vegetarian recipes for you and your friends like we do in South Italy?
Look to these delicious and healthy recipes, from vegetarian to vegan and gluten free!
If you visit any Mediterranean country and in particular South Italy (and Puglia or Sicily), you’ll surely need to eat something suitable for the warm temperatures.
But, I’m quite sure that you’ll also be eager to taste the Mediterranean foods and you will be keen to try some local specialities, in the very South Italy style.
Here I share three specialities which are all very easy to prepare. They are also all perfect if accompained by red wine served cold (yes, there are red wines suitable to be served cold), or with a good rosé.
Cime di rapa e rosso
(Pasta with turnip tops and red wine)
Let’s start with the easiest food to find in south Italy and the hardest (of the 3 recipes) to prepare.
You need turnips, garlic, olive oil and hot chili peppers. Note that it’s best to get extra virgin ideally from Puglia, because its aroma and flavor is typically stronger than, for example, the oil made in Tuscany or Liguria.
Put a thin layer of oil in a pan, together with a little bit of garlic. Make it “become blond” as we say in Italy, meaning that the garlic must become a bit golden yellow while frying. Then keep it out of the can before putting a part (an half) of the previously selected small leaves tps of turnips (i.e. turnip greens).
Add a bit of water and make the leaves cook in their water for 20-30 min.
Put a pot filled with salted water on the fire, drown the bigger leaves of the turnips in the water and wait for it to boil. Put the pasta in the water ONLY AND I SAY ONLY when water is boiling and make it cook for 10-12 minutes depending on the instrucions on the pasta package (minutes depends on the shape and kind of pasta). Orecchiette (as shown in the picture) is the most suitable kind of pasta for this recipe, and the cooking time is generally 12 minutes.
A Note on Pasta Shapes
All kinds of pasta are quite versatile but there is some “formato” that is better with certain dressings. Orecchiette is better than maccheroni or spaghetti for Cime di Rapa. They can infact collect in their convex area a bit of turnip juice, a bit of leaves and a bit of pepper. If you use maccheroni, like I did some days ago not having orecchiette in my kitchen, the taste is good but the turnips won’t be uniformly scattered around your plate and over pasta.
Now that the pasta is ready, drain it and keep the boiled leaves. Mix them with the turnip tops still in the pan.
I love adding roasted bread crumbs, together with small pieces of hot chili pepper (those from Basilicata region are my favorites).
Serve it with red wine. If the weather is very warm, you can choose red chilly whine. Fichimori is an Italian wine to be served cold, and I find it perfect for this food. Also a cold merlot can be good.
Crudaiola & Rosé Wine
Have you ever heard about Pasta alla Crudaiola? That’s my boyfriend’s masterpiece!
It’s tasty, fresh and so easy to prepare, and that’s why we choose this food when we want to talk and chat while cooking, for us or for friends, or when we are hungry and we want to treat us, not staying hours close to the oven.
Just cook the pasta in the Italian — and only true and original — way by adding pasta to boiling salted water for 9-10 minutes. In this case maccheroni or pennette (or a mixture of the 2, like in the picture above) are good.
Meanwhile, while chatting and watching some funny You Tube videos, or even better while your mate is already opening a fresh bottle of rosé from Salento, prepare a salad with olive oil, tomatoes, fresh basil and a layer of grated ricotta cheese (don’t cheat! It must be ricotta or better ricotta marzotica), soft and salty.
When the pasta is ready and drained, put in in the pot with the salad and mix it.
I love eating it with a bit of chilly pepper.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Ok, enough with pasta and carbs!
Let’s go to quinoa and proteins, dressed with basil, olive oil, almonds and… a special Italian food: dried tomatoes.
They are prepared with a very long and patient proceeding where tomatoes are cut and sundried for several weeks. Then they are conserved in glass jars filled with olive oil, ready to be used all year round.
Toast the quinoa in a pan, with extra-virgin olive oil, for about one minute.
Then put water (or vegetable broth) and quinoa in a pot. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes; you’ll see that much of the water will be absorbed.
Dry the rest and let it stand under a lid for about 5 minutes, so all the moisture will be absorbed by the beans. Then remove the lid and separate the quinoa grains with a fork. Mix it with the previously made dried tomatoes-basil-almond salad.
Don’t forget the cold rosé wine, and buon appetito!
Have you ever visited south Italy? What’s your favourite Italian food?