Tag Archives: sausages

Carciofi ripieni (Stuffed artichokes)

artichokesSpring is in the air, it’s pollen season already and yesterday I came home to find my husband in shorts (well, he is English). Though the rain is bucketing down tonight, winter seems to be on the way out, and I feel like packing away winter jumpers soon. Oranges are cheap and wonderful, the artichokes are still good and some terribly early strawberries have been observed. We were having Sunday lunch with visitors at Tanto per Magna, an excellent Garbatella trattoria, when I saw carciofi ripieni being carried to a nearby table. Stuffed artichokes: hmmm, interesting! Here’s our attempt to recreate that.

Carciofi ripieni (Stuffed artichokes)
4-5 artichokes
4-5 Italian sausages
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
One onion, chopped
pinch of dried thyme
salt, pepper

Buy your artichokes already cleaned from your friendly neighbourhood fruit and veg guy. Otherwise, get a small sharp knife and cut them down so the prickly outer leaves are removed. Cut off the stem as well (that is edible so save it for something else.) Boil the artichokes upside down for 10-12 minutes (you might need to weigh them down with something to stop them turning right side up.) Test with a knife to see when they start getting tender.

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Take them out, let them cool slightly, then scoop out the thistly bits in the centre with a sharp teaspoon. Try to keep them roughly intact, not always easy. Put them together in an ovenproof dish.

In the interim, crumble your sausages into a frying pan with a little salt and pepper and the onion, and cook them, draining off fat of needed. Tip into a bowl, and add breadcrumbs and cheese. You could add an egg to bind it, but ours held together well anyway.  Stuff each artichoke with as much of the cooked sausage stuffing as you can, then bake it at 200C for 10-15 minutes.

stuffed artichoke

Note: We should have cut these down further at the top before cooking them,  maybe 1-2 cm more, as they were still quite bristly after being cooked. Very nice flavour through! Next time I’d probably just enjoy the carciofi boiled without stuffing them, but it was fun to try something new. Might be nice to try these stuffed with mushrooms and breadcrumbs and the artichoke stems, with a little cheese on top. 

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Fajita-spiced stuffed aubergines, and Norwegian food shopping

IMG_2843Back in Rome after ten days of good Norwegian cooking: salmon, perch, cucumber salads, wonderful potatoes and lots of filter coffee (and cake). Still, it was great to swing by the fruit and veg guy here, and stock up the empty fridge: huge bell peppers, pretty little eggplants, melon and onions. Grapes have suddenly arrived too. The eggplants were the base of tonight’s dinner, which was thrown together but very nice!

Fajita-spiced stuffed aubergines
4 small or 2 large aubergines, halved
3 tbs olive oil
2 yellow onions
1 red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 sausages
1 tsp fajita spices (or mix your own: chili, salt, cumin, black pepper, oregano, paprika)
1 tsp smoked salt, or plain salt to taste
50 grammes grated cheese (generic yellow)

Adapted from Delicious magazine. I might make this again with lentils rather than sausages, but this was tasty too.

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Preheat oven to 200°C. Put the aubergines on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tbs of the oil and bake for 30-35 minutes until soft. Slice the onions and bell pepper, and cook for ten minutes or so with the last tablespoon of oil until very soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins. Fry the sausage pieces until nicely brown, then drain on kitchen roll to remove the grease.

Take the aubergines out of the oven, and scoop out most of the flesh, leaving a thin layer next to the skin. Using a spoon worked well for me. Roughly chop the aubergine flesh and add it to the sausage, onions and bell pepper. Season with salt and fajita spices to taste. Spoon the mixture back into the aubergine skins, then scatter with the cheese. Cook for 10-15 minutes at 200C until cheese is slightly golden. Enjoy!

PS one week later: I made this again in a vegetarian version, with tinned brown lentils instead of sausages. It was really good! Onions, garlic, bell pepper, a cup of leftover cooked farro, leftover chopped broccoli, and fajita spices, all mixed with the roast aurbergine flesh and stuffed in again. Bake briefly with a little breadcrumbs on top, and enjoy!

Optional: While waiting for dinner: unpack your exciting food shopping from Norway!
IMG_2834People laugh at what I bring back. Let’s see: from left in the back: rye flakes, whole wheat, coarse rye flour, barley flour. Sauerkraut, and squeezy cheese in two horrendous flavours: jalapeno, and BBQ chicken. Then brown goat cheese in a tube (inferior to real thing, but very practical), kaviar (cod roe spread) and blueberry muesli. Middle row: mackerel in tomato (for sandwiches), lemon jello (for cheesecake), two kinds of the sweet brown goat cheese (geitost), potato lomper (like tortillas, but often eaten around hot dogs), fish pudding and almond essence. Finally, dessert ingredients: chocolate mousse with Dajm, ground cardamon, vanilla sauce and red fruit sauce. Plus baking powder, lingonberries and blueberries and rowan berries we picked there,  not in picture. Ahhhh…… Much as I love food in Italy, it makes me SO happy to have some food from home now and then!

Half-time dinner: Pasta con ricotta e salsiccia

image It is Friday, and I took the day off work today. With houseguests on the way, I scrubbed the bathroom, counted out piles of pillows and sheets, and went to the ferramenta to get keys copied. This is our very local hardware store in Garbatella, a small one-room male bastion and treasure trove of grout, paint, tools and chatty old guys who love to give advice. They are always amused by the straniera (female foreigner) trying to explain a hardware problem in Italian. Today: “Il water perde l’acqua: penso e pieno di calcare…?” A running toilet, probably due to hard water and calcium accumulating somewhere. The ferramenta reassured me this was normal, that they would sort me out a plumber if needed to scrape out the calcium. As this may mean dismantling parts of the bathroom wall, I think this may just have to wait until our visitors have left again.

After a day of domestic fervour, I needed an easy dinner. The World Cup is STILL on, and it is hot, so half-time pasta this time is with ricotta e salsiccie, fresh Italian sausages.  If you get the water boiling when half-time starts, you can just about make this and dish it out during half-time. While my husband is following France-Germany (0-1 now), I am off to Fiesta Friday 23, bearing a large dish of this pasta and lots of Happy 4th of July wishes to all.

Half-time dinner: Pasta con ricotta e salsiccia
400 gr short pasta of your choice
3-4 fresh Italian sausages (salsiccie)
250 gr of ricotta
A little fresh rosemary
Pinch of salt and pepper
Handful of grated parmesan or pecorino
image Boil your pasta in salted water. In the interim, remove the casings from the sausages and chop them roughly. Cook them in a large frying pan, while continuing to break them up, and drain the fat. Chop the rosemary and add it to the sausages. Add the ricotta to the frying pan, and stir well, turning off the heat while you wait for the pasta to finish. Just to al dente.

Take out a half cup of the water the pasta is boiling in. Drain the pasta, and add it to the frying pan and toss all until there is a little ricotta on all the pasta. You might add a splash of the hot pasta water if it looks a bit dry. Sprinkle pepper and grated cheese over, and serve. And be happy the World Cup is over in nine days……..
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Notes: I have seen this done with a little saffron added, and with a little white wine splashed in, or red wine, and without rosemary: really, do what you like best. I might try a vegetarian version with butter-fried mushrooms next time. In the heat, the less time cooking the better. A very good weekend to all! And thanks to the Fiesta Friday hosts.  image