Saturday, January 19, 2008

Food geography--Italia

One of the great things about travel and geography is getting to know the various regions of a given country. Italy has a lot of them, and each has made its own distinctive contribution to the great cause of Italian cuisine. Liguria is in the northwest of the country, next door to France--Europeans know it as the Italian Riveria, because it's located on the Ligurian sea(the Grant's tomb part of the post, in case you missed it).

Its culinary signatures are its fish soup--cioppino--basil and(surprise!)pesto. Ligurians use pesto the way the rest of the Italy uses marinara is the standard topping. You can make yourself a quick introduction to Ligurian Italia by making this dish, the recipe for which is here:

Penne with pesto, green beans and potatoes

I standard-sized package of pesto, which you can buy at a good grocery or Italian food store. If you want to make your own, there are thousands of good recipes on the web…you’ll need fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil, pecorino-romano cheese and salt


1/2 lb small red potatoes, peeled and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick
1/2 lb young, slender green beans, stem ends trimmed
1 lb penne, ziti or trenette pasta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temp

Bring a large pot 3/4 full of water to a rolling boil and add about 2 tablespoons salt. Add potatoes and green beans and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and beans to a large, warmed serving bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil to keep the veggies warm.

Bring the water back to a rolling boil, add the penne, stir well, and cook, stirring occasionally(about l0 minutes), until al dente. Scoop out and reserve about 2 ladlesfull of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the drained pasta to the vegetables and then add the pesto. Stir and toss until the pasta and veggies are evenly coated with the sauce, adjusting with some of the cooking water if necessary. Add the butter and toss to coat evenly. Serve at once….

If you want more on Ligurian food and/or info on Italian cuisine from all the regions of the country, you can't do better than this site


Anonymous said...

We were told to submit recipes, my husband is half Norwegian and one of his favorites is Lefse. I will post the link to check out a recipe like the one his family uses.

Enjoy- Michelle

jodmeister said...

Don't forget the pine nuts in the pesto. I like to use walnuts. They are cheaper than pine nuts and they don't change the flavor too much.