Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Carbonara is one of Italy’s most traditional pasta dishes, that too often, when prepared across the globe, is not executed following the original recipe. The addition of cream or the absence of eggs (the main ingredient of the dish) can really spoil the essence of such a perfect classic.

The recipe is originally from Rome but a staple for Italian homes across the country. It’s origin is unsure, who invented it remains a mystery. Some legends want it inspired by the influence of American soldiers during WW2, that whilst stationed in Italy, came to cook with ingredients most familiar to them – bacon and eggs.

It’s definitely an easy and quick recipe to fix a delicious last minute meal with little effort. The sauce can be made in the same time you need to cook the pasta, a 20 minute job – classic Italian home ‘Fast Food’. And if you think about it, it’s really an Italian version of eggs and bacon.. just pasta instead of a biscuit or bread! Why not try it out for your next home cooked brunch?

If looking for lighter or vegetarian options follow the same instructions but substitute the pork with crunchy roasted veggies. The traditional recipe requires guanciale, spaghetti and pecorino – these are often substituted with linguine, pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano.

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Check out the recipe video: https://youtu.be/1CpXblcWPos

Recipe for 5

Ingredients
1 pack (500g – about 1 pound) spaghetti or liunguine pasta

For the Carbonara sauce:
5 Eggs
½ pound guanciale (pork jowl) or pancetta, diced
1 tbs Butter (not traditional but gives an extra creaminess to the sauce)
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper

Utensils needed
Large Bowl
Large pot
Pan
Large Strainer

Method
Fill the large pot with water and bring to boil.
In the mean while, dice the guanciale and cook in a pan at medium heat until crispy.
In the bowl lightly beat 3 whole eggs, 2 yolks, butter, half the cheese, salt and pepper.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water, according to recommended cooking time written on the box.
When pasta is Al-Dente cooked, drain and transfer directly into the large bowl, adding the crispy pancetta. Mix well and fast, so that the egg does not scramble, but evenly covers all the pasta with a creamy texture.
Place pasta in individual serving bowls and garnish with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Buon apettito!

 

 

Back to school Italian lunch box

In need of some inspiration for creating balanced, healthy  yet tasty meals for your kids? Here are some quick Italian inspired recipes.

Mozzarella lollipop

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Ingredients

4 mozzarella ovoline
4 cherry tomatoes
4 cocktail sticks
2 tablespoons of basil pesto (check our blog to learn how to make your own at home or find it already made at Bellina’s Market)

Method

Roll the mozzarella in the pesto.
Carefully thread the tomato half way through the cocktail stick and top with the mozzarella.

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Zucchini pancakes

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Ingredients
1 large zucchini, trimmed and shredded
2 tablespoons of flour
4 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoon of olive oil or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Shred zucchini , and squeeze excess water with your hands, Mix with flour in a medium size ball. Mix in the cheese. Add egg, salt and pepper.
Heat oil of choice in frying pan over medium heat. Using a spoon scoop a spoon of the batter into the hot oil.
Using a spatula, flip the pancakes after the first side has browned.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Great to serve with a scoop of Greek yogurt as a snack or light lunch.

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Indulge in the flavors of Summer – Pasta al Pesto

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Pasta al pesto is a classic summertime Italian recipe. It is originally from Genova in the Liguria region of northern Italy but is nowadays widespread throughout the country. The name pesto comes from the Italian word pestare (to crush) traditionally the ingredients were blended using a marble mortar and a wooden pestle. The good news is that it’s actually incredibly easy to make. The simplicity of this recipe does requires the use of high quality tasty ingredients. Any pasta shape will work but a classic traditional Trofie or Garganelli do the trick.

Recipe for 4

Ingredients
1 pound Trofie Pasta
For the Pesto:
10-12 Sprigs of Fresh Basil, Leaves only
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1/3 cup Premium Pine Nuts
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, peeled
Salt and Pepper
For assembling the dish:
½ cup Heirloom or cherry tomatoes, coarsely diced
Utensils needed
Large Bowl
Large pot
Electric blender
Strainer
Method
 Mix all pesto ingredients in a blender until a smooth paste has formed. If Pesto is too dry, slowly add some more olive oil. Pesto can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days in a closed jar. To prevent it from turning brown pour a little extra virgin olive oil in the jar and cover the pesto so that it is sealed and not in contact with air.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water, according to recommended cooking time written on the box.
When pasta is Al-Dente cooked, drain and transfer directly into a large mixing bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of Pesto sauce, 2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water and diced tomatoes. Toss the pasta gently to evenly cover with the sauce.
Place pasta in individual serving bowls, drizzle olive oil on top. Garnish with shaved Parmesan Cheese and fresh basil leaves and if desired tomatoes.

Buon apettito!

Focaccia made easy

Focaccia is an Italian flat bread that comes in many variations throughout the country. Try this easy traditional recipe from the northwestern region Liguria. All you need is a little time.. plan to make it when you are at home for a few hours, like on a Sunday afternoon. We choose to use a whole grain unrefined, unenriched and unbleached flour, stone ground made from only Italian wheat. Whole flours are rich in nutrients and taste and will make a darker and more flavourful bread. Usually local farmer’s markets will offer local good quality, possibly organic wholewheat flours. We also love natural fermentations and love keeping a sour dough starter.. it’s a great excuse to have to make bread, pizza and focaccia at home every week or so. It sounds scary but once you get into the habit, it’s a piece of cake. If this is one step to far for you, fresh yeast will work just as well.

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Yield: Makes a large tray
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking and leavening time: 3 hours

Ingredients
Mother yeast starter, 3 ounce (6 tablespoons)
or fresh yeast from store, if so 2 ounces are enough
Whole grain flour, 1 pack (1 kg)
Luke warm water, 2 ½ cups
Sea salt, 2 tablespoons –
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Extra virgin olive oil, 9 tablespoons–

Utensils Needed
Oven, oven tray, electric mixer or bowl, tea towel, rimmed baking sheet

Method
Place all ingredients but the oil in the electric mixer or in a bowl and mix or knead until smooth and uniform. Add 4 tablespoons of oil and mix. Cover the bowl with a damp clean tea towel and let sit for about 2 hours, or until the dough has roughly doubled. Preheat oven to 390 F. Grease the tray with a little oil (1 tablespoon). Now knead lightly and gently press into the baking tray, flatten to fill whole tray and obtain a sheet no higher than 1 inch. If the dough is too sticky use some flour on your hands. Drizzle the whole surface with the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of water. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust looks crispy and light brown.
Enjoy with some delicious spreads, cheeses and salumi (cured meats).

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Making your own pasta is easy

Making fresh pasta is one of our favourite activities, a way to fill up a cold winter afternoon cooking with friends and family. Get your hands dirty and try this simple recipe. All you need is a little time and the eagerness to enjoy a home cooked meal, that will take you all the way back to your Italian memories and fantasies.

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Recipe                                                                                                                                 Yield: 6 people

Ingredients

  • Unbleached, unenriched semolina flour, 200g (approx 7 ounces)
  • Unbleached, unenriched white wheat flour, 200g (approx 7 ounces)
  •  Large pasture raised eggs (70 g) 4

Method
On a clean surface, make a pile out of flour and form a deep well in center. Break the eggs into the well  and beat very gently with a fork, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well, trying not to make the egg spill out of the well. When mixture becomes too thick to mix with a fork, begin kneading using your hands. If flour does not fully incorporate into the dough add one or two tablespoons of water. (Be careful not to add too much!)

Dough is very sticky at the beginning and becomes more elastic and smooth after around 4 minutes of kneading. Once the dough is formed, continue kneading for 3 more minutes to allow the dough to reach its maximum elasticity and firmness. Long kneading is important in order to develop the gluten in the flour and to prevent dough from tearing apart later on. Dust work surface with flour if needed to keep dough from becoming sticky.

Roll dough into a ball shape and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

The traditional way of rolling out the pasta is by using a simple wood rolling pin, so even if you don’t have a pasta machine don’t be intimidated to make fresh pasta at home. Dust working surface with flour and start rolling dough one piece at a time. After every roll, make a quarter turn and repeat the same movement until you have achieved the desired thickness. (Approximately the thickness of a playing card).

If using a machine to roll out the pasta, make sure to firmly attach it to a clean working surface before you start. Then set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll one slice of pasta dough through. Fold the dough into thirds and pass through the machine again. Repeat this process 3 times. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. After 3 times of rolling the dough in the widest setting, click the machine setting down, and pass the dough through several times, starting from the widest setting down to around the narrowest, until reaching the thickness of a playing card.

After achieving the desired thickness it’s time to cut the dough into the desired shape. Make sure to dust dough on both sides so it doesn’t stick to itself.

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For Lasagne – Cut into large sheets (can vary depending on baking dish)
For Tagliolini – Cut the sheets into strips the thickness of a quarter (2mm).
For Pappardelle – Cut the sheets into 0.7 inch (2cm) strips.

When pasta is ready to cook, boil water and add salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes (when the pasta is ready it will float to the top of the surface), drain and toss directly into sauce pan with desired sauce.

Cooking dried pasta, the Italian way

Pasta is Italian’s favourite fast ‘ready’ meal. All you need to do is cook it in boiling water and add it to a sauce, whether you cook your sauce from scratch or find it ready-made.

Good quality pasta takes a little longer to cook, but you will be rewarded with its great flavour and texture. Your attention in cooking this great product is crucial. The average serving of pasta per person is 100g (3 ½ ounces) and an average size pack has five servings.

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For perfect cooking:

  • Boil water in a large pot
  • Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of salt
  • Don’t add oil to water – it is a pointless myth
  • Pour pasta in boiling water (1 quart of water per 100g of pasta more or less)
  • Keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick
  • Cook for the suggested time on pack, but our tip is to always try one before draining, you want to cook it ‘al dente’. Dente means “tooth” in Italian, the texture must be firm and have a bite to it. After you cook pasta regularly, you will just know when it is ready
  • Drain and add to sauce immediately and stir together
  • Eat straight away

Buon Appetito!