I enjoy both traveling and reading about foreign cultures and cuisines. Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City by Elizabeth Minchilli is a memoir of an American transplant in Rome, a native's guide to dining, and an Italian cookbook!
I was completely engrossed by Elizabeth's adventures in Italy that began when she was a kid. It is fascinating to see how exposure to Rome at a young age shaped her professional interests as well as her personal ones.
This book contains simple authentic Italian recipes, along with restaurants and cafes to visit in Rome, in order to truly get a sense of the rhythm of a Roman's day and how food is integrally woven into the structure of society.
Laugh and learn about pet care, eating in public, and Italian's obsession with exact measurements. You won't be able to put this book down except maybe to make dinner!
Here is a sample Springtime recipe from the book your family will enjoy. In the Italian spirit of cooking I took liberties to customize the recipe to suit my time contrasts. I used canned artichokes and frozen peas. It was delicious!
Pasta Artichokes Peas and Mint Pesto
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: entree vegetarian pasta artichoke Italian spring
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 6 large artichokes
- Zest and 1 tablespoon juice from 1 large untreated lemon
- 3 tablespoons and ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1¼ teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
- ½ cup water, plus more as needed
- 2 cups fresh shelled peas
- 1 big bunch fresh mint (about 1½ cups mint leaves)
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup almonds
- ¼ to ⅓ cup grated mild pecorino or Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound (500 grams) strascinati pasta, or pasta of your choice
- Freshly ground black pepper
1) Trim the artichokes by removing the outer tough leaves and the sharp tips. Cut away any bright green bits until you get to the soft heart. Slice thinly and put in a bowl of water to which you’ve added about a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
2) In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and cook until the onion has softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.
3) Drain the artichoke slices and add to the pan, stir, and add about ½ cup of water. Simmer until softened, but not browned, adding a bit more water if needed.
4) When the artichokes are almost done, add the peas, and cook until tender. Taste and adjust with more salt if needed, but remember the pesto will also add ﬂavor.
5) Put the mint, garlic, almonds, lemon zest, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt
in a small food processor and puree until smooth. (You may have to add a bit of olive oil to make it blend.) Then add all of the ⅓ cup of olive oil until the mixture is well chopped and combined.
6) Transfer the pesto to a small bowl and add the grated cheese.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, check the artichoke mixture and reheat if it has gotten cold.
7) Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and toss with the artichoke mixture.
8) If the pesto seems very thick, add a ladle full of the reserved pasta cooking water to thin it out a bit, and then add to the pasta, tossing to mix it well. At this point, you can also add a bit more of the reserved cooking water to loosen things up and make it a bit creamier if desired.
Serve topped with freshly ground black pepper.
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Weekly Menu Plan:
Sunday: Tuna Escabeche over Pasta
Meatless Monday: Breaded Eggplant with tomato Salad and Rustic Bread
Tuesday: Trader Joe's Curry Simmer Sauce over Chicken with Brown Basmati Rice
Wednesday: Fromage Blanc Quiche with Tomato Red Onion Salad
Thursday: Spring Chicken Miso Soup
Friday: Creamy Pasta with Crispy Salami and a Green Salad
Saturday: Seafood Pot-au-Fleu with Rustic Bread