Ziti and Cauliflower Gratin (Ziti con Cavolfiore in Crostata al Forno)
This oven-baked ziti from the area around Caltanissetta and Ragusa is very pretty, with the vermilion flecks of saffron against the yellow pasta.
1 medium cauliflower head (about 2 pounds)
Pinch of saffron
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed and peeled
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 1/4 pounds ziti
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and place the whole cauliflower in it. Cook until the cauliflower is slightly resistant to a fork, about 12 minutes. Drain, saving the cooking water. Break up the cauliflower into small florets and set aside. Remove 1/4 cup of the cauliflower water and dissolve the saffron in it.
3. In a large frying pan, saute the cauliflower, garlic, anchovies, and 4 Tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and saute for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Bring the cauliflower water to a boil and add a bit more salt. Parboil the ziti until they are half done. Drain well.
5. Pour the ziti into a large, deep, oiled ovenproof casserole. Stir in half the cauliflower and half the cheese. Sprinkle with the saffron water and mix gently. Spread the remaining cauliflower and cheese on top. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
@ Clifford A. Wright (from Cucina Paradiso, Simon & Schuster)
Broccoli w/ Olives and Lemon Zest
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 large stalks broccoli
1/2 cup imported oil-cured black olives (pitted or unpitted)
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine the garlic and olive oil. Set aside.
2. Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender. Let cool, then slice the stalks and separate the florets.
3. Combine the broccoli, olives, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, oil and garlic and salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
8 artichokes or 16 baby artichokes
1 cup blanched almonds
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons flour
4 anchovy filets
4 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons capers, rinsed
8 sweet gherkins (optional)
1. Peel off the outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off the top inch. Boil the artichokes for 15 minutes in salted water. Cut them into quarters (or halves if they are small) and let them drain upside down.
2. Chop the almonds in a food processor until they look like coarse flour, about 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over moderate heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add the almonds and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add the almonds and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Dissolve the flour in 2 cups water and stir in. Cook over moderate heat, stirring once in a while, for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash the anchovies in 1 tablespoon of the oil and add to the sauce.
4. Stir together the remaining oil, the vinegar, sugar and lemon juice and 1 tsp salt.
5. Pass the onion sauce through a sieve 2 times. Whip with a whisk, slowly adding the oil and vinegar mixture.
6. Place the artichokes on a serving dish. Pour the sauce over the artichokes. Decorate with capers and gherkins, if desired.
Green Vegetable Medley ( Frittedda )
1 lb fresh peas, shelled (from about 2 1/2 lbs of pods)
2 lbs fresh Fava beans, shelled (from about 5 lbs beans)
6 young artichokes
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
8 ounces scallions, white part only, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 mint leaves, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (optional)
4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1. Rinse the peas and Fava beans and set aside. Trim the artichokes, quarter and leave them in cold lemon water until they are all prepared. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the scallions over low to medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the artichokes and cook and additional 5 minutes (longer if they are larger). Add 2/3 cup of hot water, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and Fava beans. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Moisten the vegetables with more hot water if they look dry. Cook up to 40 minutes, or until tender; checking regularly. If you serve this as a cold summer dish, stir in the mint, vinegar, and sugar while the vegetables are still hot.