Italian Feast, flavored by Sardegna

Antipasti:

Marinated artichoke hearts and marinated sun-dried tomatoes seen on a lonely dark shelf in a produce market in Bosa, Sardegna.

Marinated bell peppers, which Jon and I bought and preserved in Bosa as well.

Grissini, store bought in Switzerland. Lesson learned, don’t buy the Grissini that have no additives, even if the packaging is awesome. People aren’t eating the packaging, though the Grissini themselves don’t taste much different than stale thin cardboard.


Fava Bean Salad:

  • 1 package (500 grams) dried Fava beans (called Fave in Italian)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 fairly large cloves minced garlic
  • enough good olive oil to cover about half of the beans
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 pound thinly shaved cheese (Manchego, though not Italian, works good. also parmigiano, asiago. I used a very rare and small production cheese from the interior of Sardegna, which is extremely tangy, so I used a lot less)
  • one Large, or 2-3 small green (Spring) onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Soak the fava beans in water overnight, making sure that they are covered.

Rinse them repeatedly the next day. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Add the beans, fresh water and salt to a pot, and bring to a gentle boil. Once boiling, it appeared to take about 15 minutes for the beans to cook. Test frequently.  When tender or to your liking, drain and shock in ice water.

Drain again and remove outer skins. Place the beans in a medium serving bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, garlic, onions and olive oil and whisk until blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add lemon juice to taste, starting with a little and adding more until you like the flavor. (I also added a touch of white vinegar, just a splash) Pour the mixture over the beans and mix well.

Can be served warm as is, or refrigerated and served cold. When ready to serve, add the cheese, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Main:

My adaption on Baked Ricotta and Spinach Rigatoni (Dave Lieberman)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed (I used three, and the recipe could use even more!)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2 %)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces smoked or fresh mozzarella, grated

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook rigatoni for 5 minutes in a pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

To make the bechamel sauce:

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Sweat the shallots and garlic for a few minutes until softened and but not colored. Add the flour and stir until a smooth paste forms. Gradually whisk in the wine and then the milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper, to taste. Let cool slightly.

Transfer cooled bechamel to a large mixing bowl and add the spinach, ricotta, and eggs. Mix in rigatoni and transfer to a greased 9 by13-inch baking dish. Top with grated mozzarella. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned on top, the center is no longer runny, and the sides are bubbly.

*I found that the sauce was bland. In the end , the pasta was NOT great. Not even good. Perhaps more spices, more garlic would’ve kicked the sauce up a notch: It really tasted like nothing. The texture was not fantastic either. Perhaps I should have used less pasta and spinach, and more sauce. But, I doubt I will make this again.

Dessert:

Migos Sélection Fior di Latte Ice Cream. Quick tangent, I always thought this was a “yogurt” flavor, because that is what my half-Italian acquaintance referred to it as. However, it is actually referring to the Bufula Mozzerella, and is supposed to be a sweet version of Mozzerella as ice cream (Correct me where I am wrong. Judith??)

This is the first time that I have tried the grocery store’s “fine food” brand. I was supposed to buy caramels, grind them until they became liquid and pour that over the ice cream, but the grocery store was out of them. In fact, I asked two different workers, and the first replied “Isn’t there someone else, another worker, you could ask?” The second rolled her eyes and mumbled something I did not understand and then turned around. Yep, good old customer service, Swiss style. I love that I am immune to it now, and I gave the first lady the meanest devil look that I actually shuddered in fear of my own self and had to turn and walk away. It was spooky.

So, I did not get the caramels. Instead, I mixed the ice cream with Sardinian honey, made from extracts of the Cardoon plant. Little did I know that honey would freeze into a solidified, crunchy mass upon touching the cold ice cream. Who knew? Still, our guests kept the honey pouring and appeared to not mind the texture because the taste of the two together was phenomenal.

Cafe and Ameretti:

We picked these up from a bakery in Bosa, and have been waiting for this meal to use them. In a  sense, this meal revolved around using these cookies.



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Comments

  1. Fior di latte is the high end of cow mozzarella and it is my newest fave flavor! It’s sweet, but never cloyingly sweet and is the absolute best with old fashioned baked desserts like pies and cobblers. etc.

    Many dried fave some without skins and they become a poree when cooked. Fava puree with naturally spicy oil thread is one of my favorite Pugliese antipasti.

    Anyway, I am delighted to see you making the real thing for foreign friends. Those Texans will never know what hit them.

  2. The meal was fantastic! Thanks again for everything! We enjoyed every single dish and had to roll back home ;-P…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. Seconding Judith’s fior di latte praise. YUM! All of this is making me so hungry, Jessica….

  4. too bad the pasta turned out bad. sorry rosa! i am glad you liked the rest.

    i wonder if i can get fava beans in america. anyone know?

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