My husband is Italian...an Italian guy from Brooklyn, NY. His Mom is Italian. His Dad is Italian. He's very, very Italian. I am a country girl who grew up in the swamps of Louisiana. He played stick ball in the street. I went fishing in the river. Talk about opposite ends of the world! But, somehow, we were made for each other.
When we first got married, I knew nothing about Italian cooking. Let's be honest, I didn't know much about any kind of cooking! (I've gotten better) Luckily, I have a wonderful Mother-in-law who has taught me a lot about Italian cooking over the years. Here are a few of our family favorites.
PASTA "FAZOOL" (PASTA FAGIOLI SOUP)
1 can great northern beans, do not drain
1 small can tomato sauce with oregano & basil (if you only have regular, just add a little basil & oregano)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and whole (don't chop it up)
3 TBS oil
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
8 oz small pasta (I use ditalini or small shells or elbow)
Cook pasta in very salty water till just under al dente. (make it a little firmer than usual because it will finish cooking in the soup) When you drain the pasta, save some of the water you cooked it in. This starchy liquid will help thicken the soup.
Put oil in a medium sized pot. Add garlic. Then turn on heat to medium-low. Cook just until garlic starts to slightly brown. Do not burn the garlic! That will ruin the entire dish! Add beans, including liquid from can. Add tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves.
Add pasta to the beans. Add in some of the reserved starchy liquid to make it as soupy as you like it. Stir in parsley and taste it to see if it needs more salt/pepper. You can add more starchy liquid to each bowl if desired.
We have this soup a lot during Lent. It's very filling and so yummy! It's easy to double the recipe if you're feeding more mouths.
STEAK PIZZAOLI (pronounced - pete-z-eye-oh-l)
1 lb thin steak
2 TBS oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5oz) can Italian diced tomatoes
1 TBS chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
salt/pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Make sure pan is very hot. Sear steaks on both sides. Lower heat a bit and add garlic, parsley, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer a few minutes. Serve over angel hair pasta.
This recipe is so fast and easy you won't believe it can be so delicious!
CHICKEN SCALLOPINI (my version)
1 lb chicken cutlets (pounded thin)
flour for dredging
2 TBS oil
2 TBS butter
2 TBS chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
2 TBS chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
Heat 2 TBS oil in a large skillet. Salt/pepper chicken. Dredge lightly in flour. Saute chicken in oil 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate & loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Add butter to skillet. Add herbs, broth, water and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt/pepper. Add chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Serve over linguine.
This next recipe is something my Mother-in-law makes for the holidays. She gets the kids to help when we are up there for Christmas. It's sweet and sticky and delicious!
2 lbs all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
2 TBS vanilla
Mix flour, salt, baking powder & sugar. Make a well in center. Add wet ingredients into the well. Work together until it forms a soft dough. Cover with a wet paper towel for 10 minutes then take small pieces and roll out on floured surface, forming long strips. Cut into small balls. Deep fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Soften honey in the microwave and drizzle over strufoli. Add sprinkles.
Just a few of our Italian family favorites straight from Brooklyn (with a pit stop in the swamp).