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Filtering by Tag: Recipes

Zuppetta di porcini e patate (porcini and potato soup)


Lots of things have kept me busy since I came back from my culinary tour in Calabria: my book launch happened last week and there is a book signing event every week from now until January. But I did promise everyone in the tour group that I would remake the dishes we cooked in Calabria and give them the recipes. So today, our first rainy day in the Bay Area, seems like a good time to start. Luckily most of the recipes that we cooked are in my book, but a few were new to me. The first cooking class of the tour was held at La Tavernetta restaurant in Camigliatello Silano, in the heart of the Sila mountains. This restaurant is one of the top restaurants in Calabria and its menu focuses on dishes based on local ingredients. We spent our first day foraging for wild mushrooms and for dinner, the chef and owner Pietro Lecce demonstrated two wonderful dishes using them. This week I will give you the recipe for the soup we had. Next week I will try the appetizer we made, roasted mushroom caps filled with ricotta and herbs.

This soup really showcases the simplicity of Calabrian cooking. We used the local potatoes that grow in the Sila mountains--our closest are the Yukon gold--and porcini mushrooms.

The two star ingredients of this soup, porcini and potatoes.

Cut the potatoes in small cubes, about 3/8 -inch by 1/2 -inch

Cut the porcini, cap and stem, into small cubes

Cook the potatoes in the broth until soft

Sautee the porcini mushrooms with a sprig of fresh thyme

When the potatoes are soft add the sauteed mushrooms and finish the soup following the recipe below. Yummy!

For a printable recipe, click here.

Zuppetta di porcini e patate (Porcini mushrooms and potato soup)

1.5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut in small cubes, about 3/8 inch by 1/2 inch

Extra virgin olive oil

3/4 pound fresh porcini mushrooms

Sprig of fresh thyme

3 cups or more Vegetable broth or chicken broth

Salt and black pepper

In a small pot, warm up three tablespoons of olive oil. Add the cubed potatoes. Stir to coat and then add two cups of hot vegetable broth. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked and soft, about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cut the porcini mushrooms into small cubes including the stems. In a 10 inch skillet place 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Set over high heat add the mushrooms and a sprig of thyme . Add more olive oil if dry. Saute quickly until the mushrooms are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Once the potatoes are soft stir and press against the side of the pot to smash some of them. Add the mushrooms to the potatoes and another ladle of broth. Let them cook together until the potatoes are soft enough that some start breaking apart, about 5 minutes. Stir and smash enough potatoes against the side of the potto make a thick creamy soup. Add more broth if the soup is too thick.

To serve, place a couple of ladles of the soup in a bowl and add a swirl of extra virgin olive oil. Add a few croutons on top of the soup, if desired.

Serves 4 to 6

Melanzane arrostite (Marinated Grilled Eggplant with Garlic and Mint)


Marinated eggplant

Marinated eggplant

One of my favorite ways to eat eggplant during the summer months is to grill and marinate them with a simple sauce of olive oil, vinegar, garlic and fresh mint, a minty vinaigrette.

These are so good and easy to make that you will make them all the time, just as I do.   Please read last year post on how to buy eggplants.

For this recipe I tend to use the globe eggplant sliced crosswise but I also use the Italian eggplant sliced lengthwise. Whatever type you use, be sure to cook the eggplant until it is tender all the way through.

Prepare the marinade in a baking dish while you heat the grill. Mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, chopped mint, salt and pepper in a baking dish.  If your vinegar is too strong you can add a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar to cut down on the acidity of the vinegar.

Set the marinade aside while you prepare and grill the eggplant.

Slice the eggplant crosswise into rounds about 1/2 inch thick

sliced eggplant

sliced eggplant

Season both sides of the eggplant with salt and brush generously with olive oil.

Grill the eggplant until fully cooked on both sides. Don't be afraid to brush them with additional oil while you grill them. If you don't have a grill, you can use a grill pan.

Grilled eggplant

Grilled eggplant

When the eggplant slices are done, transfer them to the baking dish with the marinade. Turn them to coat  generously with the marinade.

Coating eggplant in marinade

Coating eggplant in marinade

Transfer the eggplant to a platter. Spoon any unabsorbed marinade over the eggplant. This dish is best served when the grilled eggplant has had a few hours to soak up the marinade. If possible, prepare it 3 to 4 hours before serving and keep at room temperature. Serve with crusty bread for soaking up the juices.

Marinated eggplant

Marinated eggplant

I always grill more than one eggplant, since they are as good or better  in a sandwich the next day.  They also keep well in the refrigerator for few days. Just remember to bring them to room temperature.

Melanzane Arrostite

(Marinated Grilled Eggplant with Garlic and Mint)

For the marinade:

1/2 cup  extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (you can add one or two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar if your wine vinegar is too strong)

3 cloves garlic, very finely minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large globe eggplant, about 1-1/2 pounds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

About 1/4 cup  extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare the marinade: Put the first six ingredients in a 2- to 3-quart (2- to 3-liter) baking dish and whisk with a fork to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Prepare a moderate charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. You can also cook the eggplant over moderate heat in a ridged grill pan on the stove.

Remove the eggplant stem, then cut the eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick (12-millimeter-thick) rounds. You should have about 12 slices. Using the 1 teaspoon salt, season both sides of each slice. Brush both sides generously with the olive oil, reserving any excess oil for grilling.

Grill the eggplant without turning until it is nicely colored on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then brush the top surface with olive oil and turn. (You may not need all the oil.) Grill the second side until the eggplant is cooked through but still holds its shape, another 3 to 5 minutes.

As the eggplant slices are done, transfer them to the baking dish. Turn them to coat them generously with the marinade. As necessary, overlap the eggplant in the dish, spooning marinade over each slice. Transfer the slices to a serving platter and spoon any unabsorbed marinade over them.

Serves 4 to 6 Copyright 2004, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.

Pasta con crema di zucchine


Here is one more recipe for you to use up all your zucchini. I created it back in the summer of 1983 for the first Zucchini Festival in Hayward, California. I knew that my pasta with zucchini and ricotta salata wouldn't be a good choice so I came up with a recipe made with pureed zucchini. It almost looks like a pesto sauce.

The recipe was so good that it won first place in the main dish category. Everybody loves this dish and it is especially popular with kids - they eat it not knowing that it is made with zucchini.

The puree is so lush that most people think it contains butter and cream. It has neither. My original recipe did include butter, as an attempt to appeal to Americans, but over the years I dropped it and the dish remains sufficiently rich. You can make it several hours ahead and it also freezes well.

It is an easy recipe to make; the sauce has only zucchini, onion, garlic, parsley, basil and a bouillon cube that gives it its very rich taste.

In the 80s it was very popular in Italy to throw a bouillon cube into everything--that's how I happened to put it in this sauce. I tried making the dish without it once and the taste just wasn't the same. I use the Knorr chicken bouillon cubes, butyou can use their vegetable flavor if you prefer .

Saute the onion and garlic until soft:

Add the zucchini, parsley, basil and crumbled bouillon cube:

Cook at low heat until it is very soft and smashes easily:

Then puree it in a blender until you have a smooth sauce:

Put the sauce in a skillet, add some cheese and add the drained pasta to the sauce.  Toss the pasta until well coated.

Let me know what you think of it.

Pasta con crema di zucchine

(Pasta with zucchini and herb puree)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 pound zucchini, halved or quartered lengthwise, then sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 chicken bouillon cube (preferably Knorr brand), crushed

2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for passing

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 lb of Rigatoni, Penne or other type of short pasta

Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese to taste

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the zucchini, basil, parsley and the crumbled bouillon cubes.

2. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 20 minutes, until the zucchini are fully cooked and soft. If the zucchini seem dry, add a small amount of water to continue cooking until soft. It should look like a mush of zucchini. Taste for salt. If needed add salt to taste. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.

3. When the zucchini are cooked, place the mixture in a blender and puree until you have a smooth sauce.

4.  Bring the water for the pasta to a boil, add salt to taste, and cook the pasta until al dente.

5. While the pasta is cooking, place the sauce in a large sauté pan, and add the grated cheese. Mix well.

6.  When the pasta is ready, drain, and add to the sauce, raising the heat and stirring until the pasta is well coated. Sprinkle with more cheese and serve at once.

Serves 6

Copyright 2005, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.