Tag Archives: Italian

Italian Rice Salad with Tuna, Vegetables and Cheese

At the buffet served after the OIB graduation ceremony held at the CIV tonight – I was there to help with the aperitif and the buffet – there was a delicious rice salad which was contributed by the mum of a student in the Italian section.

Here’s the recipe, as I remember it, which she told me as we served the crowd so I hope I’ve got the details right !

Italian Rice Salad

Cooked and cooled rice (from a region in Italy, if I understood her right, near the one that arborio rice come from) tossed with canned tuna (with the oil), olives, capers, very finely sliced raw carrots(or they may have been very lightly steamed), tomatoes (optional) and small pieces of provolone cheese. Though I forgot to ask if she had used any herbs, I don’t think there was any  seasoning in the salad other than salt.

I am going to try this soon as it would make such a simple, fresh and delicious summer meal though I’ll have to figure out first what the rice variety she’d used might be.  I wonder if it is Carnaroli?  The name she used sounded sort of like that from what I remember and when I google Arborio, I find many references to the Carnaroli rice variety as a great base for risottos and salads – indeed for the former it appears to be a better choice than Arborio.

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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths, Salads

Aubergine Parmiggiana

Along with socca, ratatouille, and crepes, this southern Italian(Campania) specialty was one of those foods I discovered in a local restaurant and fell in love with soon after we came to live in France.

So I was thrilled the day I found a lovely cookbook in the English bookshop in Valbonne some years ago, called  “The Best of Mediterranean food”, by Sarah Woodward, which had a recipe for it.

And what an excellent recipe it is too. The results are as satisfying – in some cases, better – as anything I have eaten in many good restaurants here, even with the couple of variations I make (such as substituting dried oregano for fresh).

This dish is a delicious melange of lots of wonderful things, such as melted mozzarella and lots of fresh basil. Indira absolutely adores it and wishes I’d make it a lot more often. But all that cheese does it make quite heavy on the stomach, so though we are all very fond of it I make it only very occasionally.

auberginebake-002

Aubergine Parmiggiana

aubergines  750 gms

olive oil  6-7 tbsp (for grilling the aubergine)

2 small onions, chopped fine

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine

canned tomatoes 600 gms

dried oregano 1 tsp or a little more

salt  and black pepper to taste

Mozzarella  200 gms( drained weight), sliced quite thin

Basil leaves (a large-ish bunch)

freshly grated Parmesan 100-150 gms
Wash the basil leaves and keep them on a kitchen towel to dry.

In a saucepan, saute the onions  and the garlic on a low heat in 2-3 tbsp of olive oil till they are quite soft.   Now add the tomatoes, the oregano, the salt and the pepper, then turn up the heat and cook the sauce till it is quite thick. This will take about 15-20 minutes.

Slice the aubergines in to 1 cm thick pieces (lengthwise or across).  Spread these on to a large surface, sprinkle with sea salt, and press down with a heavy weight. After 30 minutes or so, this will have drawn out a lot of the juice (which often has a bitter-ish taste) of the aubergine. Mop this up with kitchen towels.

The aubergine slices can now either be deep-fried (this is the traditional way) till they are a nice golden brown color and quite soft, or grilled -after brushing slightly with olive oil- at 280-300degreesC in a pre-heated grill. This will take around 10 minutes.  The aubergines will need to be turned over once, half way, and will need a little bit of oil brushed on to the other side as well.

I grill rather than deep-fry the aubergines because the former method uses less oil but the taste of this dish definitely gains something with the latter…

Set the oven now to to heat to 180degreesC. In a large ovenproof dish, cover the base with half of the tomato sauce, then layer it with some of the aubergine slices, then 3/4ths of the mozzarella slices on top of that, followed by half the Parmesan. Spread the basil leaves next, then the rest of the aubergine slices, followed by the remaining mozzarella, the sauce, and the rest of the Parmesan.

Bake for 30 minutes near the bottom of the oven, and serve the dish as soon as it come out of the oven, or the mozzarella will go tough and stringy.

There is LOADS of taste and flavor here; all it needs to make this a complete meal is some green salad and a small portion of bread to soak up all the juices.




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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes

Summer Special – Roasted Bell Peppers in Olive Oil

Now that summer is here, and those gorgeous orange and yellow bell peppers are available in abundance and at decent prices, I am enjoying one of my favorite summer dishes – roasted bell peppers soaked in olive oil.

Cooked like this, these peppers keep for up to two weeks in the fridge. And they are really versatile – they make a delicious and pretty addition to a summer picnic, or buffet; you can add them to a pasta salad; or use them inside some nice olive or walnut bread, or even just plain baguette, in combination with salad leaves for a really delicious, light sandwich.

They are wonderfully easy and quick to make, too.

Roasted Bell Peppers in Olive Oil

(there’ll be enough here to serve as a starter for 6-8 people)

3-4 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow)

6-8 tablespoons of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

Wash and dry the peppers, then cut each in to quarters lengthwise. Remove the core from each piece.

Pre-heat the oven, at 220°C, for 5 minutes. Line the baking tray of your oven with aluminum foil or cooking paper and place the quartered peppers on it with the skin side up. Roast the peppers for about 15-20 minutes, or till most of the skin of each piece blisters. In the meanwhile, grate the garlic in to the oil.

Let the pieces cool on the tray and then peel off the skin. Slice each quarter in to half lengthwise, place all the pieces in a wide plate, and pour the olive oil on them. Cover the plate with cling film, and leave the peppers in the fridge if you are not going to use them the same day.

If you are, then do finish preparing the dish at least a couple of hours before the meal, so that all the flavors get time to mingle.

You could skip adding the garlic to the olive oil, if you don’t like that flavor.

Enjoy, and thank the Italians for this simple but fabulous taste 🙂

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Filed under Picnic Food, Starters and Snacks, Versatile Accompaniments