Recipes from Nino Panagia (whose cooking style was
inspired by his mother’s southern Italian cooking)
PASTA E BROCCOLI
3 broccoli "heads"
4 cloves of garlic (each clove split in half)
Crushed red pepper: a sprinkle to taste
8 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
About 20 pitted green olives (or black olives for a milder taste)
1/8 lb grated romano cheese
3 (?) teaspoons of salt
1 lb "orecchiette" or "large shells" pasta (De Cecco brand is excellent)
Wash the broccoli. Cut the florets into 2-3" long pieces. Peel the stems, and slice them (1/4-1/2" thick), discarding just the bottom. In a tall pot bring 8 qts of water to boil.
Add the salt and the stems, and check the taste: it should taste like a mild broth. Add the pasta and let it cook for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and let them cook together until the pasta is "al dente" (approximately 6-7 more minutes but you MUST check it yourself). Drain the pasta and the broccoli (reserve a cup of the cooking water).
Pour the oil in the same pot and let it warm up at high heat, add garlic and red pepper and let them release their flavor stirring occasionally to prevent the garlic from sticking to the pot and from burning (approximately 2 minutes or until garlic start take a pale color).
Toss in the pasta and the broccoli, add the olives and stir thoroughly for a couple of minutes (until pasta and broccoli are well coated with the oil mixture and have warmed up again; if it is too dry add some cooking water or oil while stirring). During this process the broccoli florets will partially dissolve in a sort of a green sauce.
Serve immediately. Sprinkle each plate liberally with grated Romano cheese.
Serves 4 hungry persons.
Recommended wine: Corvo rosso, Ciro`, Salice Salentino
PASTA AL LIMONE
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced (2 if YOU like garlic)
The juice of a lemon
Generous grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb pasta: linguine [or spaghetti, or penne rigate]
Marinate the oregano, red pepper and garlic in a mixture made of the oil, lemon juice and salt, for an hour, at least. At the end, hold the garlic if you don't want to eat it. Cook the pasta in abundant salted water (typically 5 quarts per pound of pasta) until "al dente". Drain the pasta and toss immediately with the sauce. Serve immediately and top each dish with a liberal quantity of grated Parmesan cheese and, according to your taste, with freshly ground black pepper.
PASTA AL SALMONE
(An "upscale" version of "pasta al limone")
-- The "base" sauce (to prepare 1/2 hr in advance in large bowl)
2 tbs Small capers (well washed!)
1 tsp Parsley or oregano (dried)
4 tbs Extra-virgin olive oil (more to taste)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/3 tsp Onion powder
"Enough" freshly ground black pepper (a sprinkle)
8 oz. Smoked salmon (chopped in 1/2" squares)
½ cup Loosely packed fresh parsley (coarsely chopped)
1 lb Pasta "penne rigate" [if you feel comfortable with
"long" pasta you may wish to try fresh egg-noodles]
Cook pasta in abundant salted water until “al dente”.
Drain the pasta but save a cup of cooking water.
Toss the pasta with the sauce so as to coat pasta thoroughly (add cooking water or oil, if needed).
Toss the salmon in (add cooking water as needed to keep the pasta moist).
Toss the parsley in and bring the pasta to the table immediately.
Serves 4 people.
Recommended wine: Corvo Bianco or your favorite dry white wine
PASTA ALLA SALSA
(Mexican salsa pasta)
4-8 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbs of fresh Mexican salsa
Generous grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb of pasta “penne rigate”
In a skillet heat the oil and, when hot, add the salsa and let it cook at high heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the onion becomes golden and tender.
Then, turn the heat to very low, just to keep the sauce warm. Cook the pasta in abundant salted water (typically 5 quarts per pound of pasta) until "al dente". Drain the pasta, saving a cup of cooking water, and toss promptly with the sauce in the skillet. (Add some olive oil or cooking water if pasta looks "too dry"). Serve immediately and top each dish with a liberal quantity of grated Parmesan cheese.
PASTA CON I FINOCCHI
2 stalks of fennel (an equal amount of celery may substitute fennel)
2 medium-sized onions
10 fresh Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 tsp salt [I NEVER measured it!!! say, use "enough" for your taste!]
A pinch red pepper
4 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or, optional, shredded ricotta salata cheese)
1 lb of fusilli or conchiglie or orecchiette
Chop onions finely and sauté them with oil in a large saucepan at high heat until golden (about 5 minutes) stirring occasionally.
Discard the feathery stem and the outer "layer" of the fennel and chop the "cores" into small dices. Add diced fennel to the onion mixture still at high heat for additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure that they do not burn.
Add the diced tomatoes and keep cooking at high heat for another 5 minutes.
Add oregano, red pepper and salt, stir again and let it cook at high heat for another two minutes. Add 1/8 cup of the wine, reduce the heat and cover the saucepan with its lid.
Let it cook slowly (total about 1/2 hour) checking at regular intervals that the sauce is not drying too much and to add some wine (at 1/8 cup per time).
At the end you have a sort of an orange stew of fennel that will be used as a sauce for the pasta (add a few tbs of cooking water if the sauce is too dry and/or one or two tbs of olive oil).
After the pasta is cooked "al dente" add it to the saucepan where you cooked the fennel sauce and stir it for 1-2 minutes for an ideal sauce coating and blending of all flavors.
Serve it in individual plates with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese or shredded ricotta salata.
Serves 4 Wine: Corvo bianco, Beaujolais, young Chianti.
In general, I prefer to bake the eggplant and marinate it in oil, rather than pan-frying it, because in this way it results in a lighter dish.
1 large or 2 small eggplants
Olive oil (~1/2 cup total)
Garlic powder (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Dried oregano & basil (to taste)
Capers (~1 tablespoon) (we use the small ones that are sold in a vinegar brine)
Pasta (8 oz. – half a box -- Gemelli or Penne)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste
Slice the eggplant into approx. ½ - ¾ inch rounds.
Place on alum. foil (spray foil with Pam to prevent sticking)
Bake for approx. 45 min. at 350 degrees, then flip and bake for another 15 minutes, until soft but not falling apart.
Take from oven and put in a marinade dish that has a good amount of olive oil (1/4-1/2 cup) with garlic powder, dried oregano and basil already mixed in. Slosh the eggplant around and douse with a little extra salt and garlic powder (or onion, if you prefer). Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for a least a few hours, preferably leave overnight in the fridge.
Remove the marinade from the fridge when ready, and then cut in to bite-sized pieces. Add about a heaping tablespoon of capers (rinse first) and then warm up for about 60-90 seconds in the microwave (just to get the chill off). Add a few tablespoons of boiling water from the pasta water to the eggplant marinade.
Cook pasta in boiling water until it is al dente, then drain and add to eggplant marinade, mixing well. You might want to add just a little more olive oil, or reserved pasta cooking water at this point. Sometimes the pasta just soaks it up from the marinade.
Serve with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. (Not the “powder”, please!)
This dish will serve three, or two very hungry types. We usually serve this as a main course with a salad on the side.
PASTA E FAGIOLI
(bean soup w/ pasta)
2 (16 oz) cans of kidney or cannellini beans
4 cloves of garlic
2-3 Bouillon cubes (vegetarian or chicken)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
4/3 cups of "ditalini" or "elbow macaroni" pasta
In a 5-quart pot heat the oil and let the garlic start turning golden in it (but do NOT burn it!) together with the red pepper. Add the beans with their liquid, two canfuls of water, the herbs and the bouillon. This is intended to be a rather thick soup. If you like more liquid, add another canful of water. Bring the soup to a boil and, then, reduce the heat and let the soup cook for about half hour. Add the pasta and let it cook for about 10 minutes or until it is "al dente".
Serve the soup very hot, topping each bowl with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (a Mediterranean touch) or a tbs of sour cream (more American), or, if you have it, a teaspoon of pesto would also be great!
It should be accompanied with a full-bodied red wine.
CECI IN UMIDO
2 medium-sized onions
2 16-oz cans of chickpeas
1/2 cup of white wine
2 little bags of broth powder (or enough salt)
1 tsp of dried oregano
A pinch of red pepper
4 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil
Heat the oil in a deep skillet and cook the onion, thinly sliced, at high heat and stirring frequently until golden (3-5 minutes). Add the broth powder, oregano, red pepper and some of the wine. After a couple of minutes add the chickpeas (one can drained, the other one with the canning liquid), stir well and bring it back to "full steam". Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for at least 1/2 hour, adding part of the wine when the liquid is reducing too much. Keep in mind that the final result looks like a VERY thick soup, with chickpeas immersed in a sort of light syrup.
Serve "ceci" warm as a side dish. Leftover "ceci in umido" can be used to make a delicious "pasta e ceci" soup (see the recipe for "pasta e fagioli").
Serves 4... and more!
(sweet pepper stew)
2 Red sweet peppers
2 Yellow peppers
2 Green peppers
2 large onions
2 large ripe tomatoes (or 1 can of peeled tomatoes, drained)
Hot red pepper (1/4 tsp) [more, or less, or none to YOUR taste]
Broth cube (bouillon? 2)
Dried basil (1/2 tsp)
Dried thyme (1/2 tsp)
Dried oregano (1/2 tsp)
White wine (1 cup)
Olive oil (1/4 cup)
Slice the onions rather thinly. In a medium deep pot, heat the oil and cook the onions (and red hot pepper) at high heat, turning often to prevent them from burning, until they turn golden (approximately 5 minutes).
* OPTIONAL * Add the tomatoes, rather thinly sliced (for a faster cooking), and let them cook for another five minutes at high heat (still turning often).
Add the peppers (discard stem and seeds, and cut them first in quarters and then in 1/4 inch thick slices) and the herbs, lower the heat and let them cook for at least half hour. Add some white wine (about 1/4 cup) every time that the mixture starts drying up. Let the wine evaporate, so that the flavor is preserved but the alcohol is gone.
This can be served as a side dish with virtually everything. For example, it can be used as a pasta sauce with the addition of a little extra-virgin olive oil (about1-2 tsp per person) and some cooking water. It is a good practice to hold the tomatoes if some other dish that you are serving contains them.
One can prepare a delicious dish for a brunch: For each person, cut an english muffin in half and top each half with a generous amount of peperonata (two tablespoons). Put on top of each a slice of provolone (or mozzarella) sprinkled with oregano and paprika. Place on a cookie sheet and heat in a pre-heated oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes (i.e. until the cheese melts) and serve them VERY hot.
FAGIOLI E GRANTURCO
(bean and corn stew)
1 16 oz can of kidney beans (drained)
1 16 oz can of corn niblets (drained)
2 large onions (thinly sliced)
2 ripe tomatoes (rather thinly sliced)
(or a 16 oz can of peeled tomatoes, drained)
Red pepper (1/2tsp)
Broth cube (bouillon, 3)
Chili powder (1/2 tsp)
Dried cumin (1/2 tsp)
Dried basil (1 tsp)
Dried thyme (half tsp)
Red wine (1 cup)
Olive oil (1/4 cup)
Slice the onions rather thinly. In a medium deep pot, heat the oil and cook the onions at high heat, turning often to prevent them from burning, until they turn golden (approximately 5 minutes). Add the tomatoes (rather thinly sliced for a faster cooking), and let them cook for another five minutes at high heat (still turning often). Add the beans, the corn, and herbs, lower the heat and let them cook for at least half hour. Add some red wine (about 1/4 cup) every time that the mixture starts drying up. Let the wine evaporate.
Serve it hot accompanied with red wine. Since it may be rather spicy, one may serve cottage cheese and/or a small lettuce/cucumber/tomatoes salad as side dish(es).
This is a simple salad which takes its name from the colors of the ingredients, and which reproduces the Italian flag colors when white corn is used. I first made this in 1985 and I’ve never tired of it!
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 salad tomatoes, ripe but still firm
- 1 can (about 15 oz) corn niblets, discarding liquid,
or 2 fresh corn ears (white if available)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or 1 tbs red wine vinegar)
- 1 tbsp small capers
- 1 tsp Grey Poupon "Country Dijon" mustard (or any grain mustard of your taste)
- 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) dry oregano
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of onion powder
Cut the tomatoes in wedges (approximately a dozen per tomato) and put them in a salad bowl.
Add the corn niblets, and the capers.
Prepare vinaigrette blending oil, vinegar, salt, onion powder, dry oregano and mustard.
Pour it over the salad and toss thoroughly.
Peel the avocado and cut it in cubes (about 1/2-1/3 of an inch).
Add to the salad and toss gently (to avoid crushing the avocado pieces badly).
Serve it as a side dish. It makes also an excellent lunch with some cheese of your choice and a glass of red wine.
Nino’s YOGURT CHEESECAKE
A delicious low-fat and low-calorie alternative to traditional cheesecake.
1 whole egg
1/3 (or 1/2 if you like it sweeter) can of condensed milk
1-pint vanilla yogurt
1 ready-made graham cracker crust
Stir lightly the yolk and the white of the egg together in a mixing bowl (use a wood spoon NOT a blender or a mixer to avoid forming foam). Stir the yogurt in its container first, and stir it in with the egg. Add the condensed milk and stir further. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 35 minutes. At the end, turn the heat off and leave the cake to cool and firm up in the oven for about a couple of hours (optional; if are in a hurry bake for additional 5-10 minutes and then let it cool outside). Once cool, put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (at least).
Approximate calories per slice (1/8 of the cake): 200.