The CASAGIOVE blog– a collection of stories, updates, recipes, special events and more!
Just the other day, I came across the phrase “deliziosamente verde” which translates to “deliciously green” and describes my appreciation for spring perfectly. Spring always makes me think of all those “deliciously green” things like fresh herbs growing near my kitchen window, classic Italian green sauces, yummy grilled salads, big juicy artichokes, and beautiful olive trees.
Thankfully, I finally understand my mom’s obsession with parsley. After years of chopping it, watching her add it to many of our family dishes and giggling as she bit into it to freshen her breath, I am happy to say that I totally get it. (Grazie, Mamma!) And even better, Bert and the boys love it just as much as I do. Here are three different recipes incorporating parsley and other herbs that will brighten up any spring dinner.“Deliciously Green” basket of fresh herbs
Spaghetti Prezzemolo, Aglio e Olio
Although this Italian classic is usually called Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, spaghetti with garlic and oil, I have added “prezzemolo” to the name because to me, the parsley (prezzemolo in Italian) is just as important. I love Geoffrey Zakarian’s recipe because he addresses the importance of adding pasta water to the sauce and completing the cooking process of the pasta in that sauce. This technique is something I try to do whenever I make pasta; it makes such a difference. I add a couple more cloves of garlic and a bit more parsley than is listed; I also add a little sprinkle of chopped parsley, along with a drizzle of olive oil, right before serving.
A couple of years ago, on a family road trip to San Francisco, we happened upon the coolest bookstore tucked away in a charming little neighborhood. It was there that I found what would become my favorite cookbook, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. It had me at the title and the next day, on our long eight hour drive home, I read the cookbook from cover to cover. Never had I felt so connected to a cookbook. It was filled with advice, encouragement, tips and a simple approach to food and cooking that spoke to my roots. One of my favorite lessons from that book is on the classic Italian green sauce, Salsa Verde. We love it on any grilled meat (but especially on steak), on grilled veggies, mixed in with our couscous, and even on our sandwiches. Each batch is a little different, which makes it even more fun. If I don’t have garlic, I use shallots… or if I am out of capers, I chop up some Castelvetrano olives and use that instead. The only must for me is a lot of fresh flat leaf parsley.
As Alice Waters mentions in her recipe, “other herbs or combinations of herbs can be used” so here is a version with a base of rosemary and thyme that our family enjoys too. It’s called Salmoriglio and this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis is so tasty!
Grilled Gem Salad
I just about love anything grilled, and lettuce is no exception. The other day, some baby gem lettuces caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to get home and make grilled salad for dinner. It’s so easy and doesn’t require much. I just cut each head of lettuce in half (or fourths would work too) and brush a bit of extra virgin olive oil on them. I season with some kosher salt and then grill each side on a grill pan. Then I drizzle a little more olive oil and some balsamic vinegar over the top and season a tad more with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Need a good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic? Try our olive oil and vinegar gift set, Condire, which can be found in La Bottega.)
This Bible verse paints such a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness and the beauty that can come from trusting in His plans for us.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
– Psalm 52:8
And last, but not least, I want to share with you my…
I recently started following an instagrammer from Napoli, @giovdor. She is able to capture so much of Napoli’s richness and beauty in each of her posts. Grazie @giovdor for bringing me home, even though I am miles away.
“Deliziosamente verde”, deliciously green…
And her lovely thoughts on coffee…
Il caffè non è solo una bevanda, il caffè è una scusa, un motivo. La scusa per fermarsi un attimo, da soli o in compagnia. Per riflettere, per prendere forza. Il caffè ti tiene compagnia mentre studi, mentre lavori. È una scusa per parlare con qualcuno che ci sta a cuore. La scusa per passare un po’ di tempo con la persona che ci interessa. La possibilità dire “mi piace stare con te” senza usare le parole. Coffee is not just a drink, coffee for the Neapolitans is an excuse, a reason. The excuse to stop for a moment, alone or in company. To reflect, to gain strength. The coffee keeps you company while you study, as you work. It is an excuse to talk to someone who is important to us. The excuse to spend some ‘quality time with the person who interests us. A chance to say I like to be with you without words.
Italians have a way with words. Even one of the ways they say I love you, ti voglio bene, translates to… I want good for you, implying I care so much about you, that I wish the best for you. Now that is a beautiful way to love others. They use words like bellissima, dolcissima and carissima to let you know how beautiful and sweet and dear you are to them. And their charm isn’t only restricted to their native tongue, it comes through just as loud and clear in English. Even though they may struggle with the intricacies of our cold language – the exceptions, the irregularities, the idioms, the weird blends (just try to ask an Italian to say “thank you” or “Thursday”), it doesn’t matter, they will find a way to make you smile. So, in that spirit, I share with you my recipe for…
What makes bruschetta inviting? Well, to be fair, bruschetta by it’s very own nature is pretty inviting – even in it’s purest form: a mixture of tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt placed on top of a piece of bread… that’s incredibly enticing, right? But, what about if you added a little something, just subtle enough to make you wonder what makes this bruschetta delightfully different?
My Nonna Cesidia would often add celery to her salads. It was a simple way to make an ordinary salad special. Both the stalk and leaves added a subtle earthiness, depth and texture. It’s that extra thought that makes it inviting. At first glance, the celery was hardly noticeable; it just blended in with the lettuce and most of us would never expect it… and yet, once you bit in and tasted the simple addition, it was the most intentional way to capture anyone’s attention… a simple gesture that lets someone know you care enough to make sure that every little detail has been taken care of.baby heirloom tomatoes and celery make an Inviting Bruschetta
In fact, now that I think about it… that is probably why my dear cousin Nicola always chooses to use the word “inviting” to describe everything from someone’s smile to the Mediterranean Sea to a delicious dish. It’s because Italians are always looking for ways to invite you to their tables, into their families, and ultimately into their hearts.
So, won’t you try this recipe and invite someone over to enjoy it too?
What makes bruschetta inviting? Well, to be fair, bruschetta by it's very own nature is pretty inviting - even in it's purest form: a mixture of tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt placed on top of a piece of bread... that's incredibly enticing, right? But, my Nonna Cesidia would often add celery to her salads. It was a simple way to make an ordinary salad special. Both the stalk and leaves added a subtle earthiness, depth and texture. It's that extra thought that makes this bruschetta inviting.
- 1 handful baby heirloom tomatoes cut into fourths
- 1-2 stalks celery baby stalks in the center with leaves are the best; diced
- a little red onion to taste; diced
- olive oil extra virgin
- kosher salt to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 2-3 leaves basil chiffonade- cut into thin ribbons
- baguette slices grilled
Delicately mix all ingredients together.
Place spoonfuls on grilled slices of crusty baguette... and enjoy!
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Also, be sure to say broo-sKet-ta! Click below for a sample:
This post is part of a story collective where authors share their favorite Italian memories and recipes. Be sure to check out the guest post from LeAnn at l&l… Truffle Bruschetta:
[excerpt] On a six-week stay in Tuscany and while making my way through several recipe books in the cucina of my wee appartamento, I came across the English edition of “How to make Bruschette.” It is a small, paperback book unremarkable in its appearance, but…