BRINGING ITALY HOME
GREETINGS FROM CARMELA’S CUCINA,
It is hard to believe that September is already upon us. It is at this time of year that I usually make a trip to Italy leading culinary tours and to visit family and friends. I just spoke to my cousin’s son, Paolo the other day and he told me that they have already been harvesting the white grapes in their vineyard at Librandi wines located in the southern, region of Italy known as Calabria.
Visiting at the Librandi’s at this time of year might be my very favorite thing to do while I am in Italy. Their beautiful vineyard that reaches out to the Ionian Sea is full of hustle and bustle with the gathering and pressing of their grapes. While there a few years ago with my clients we had a day in the vineyards gathering grapes with the workers, picking several kinds of table grapes for a tasting and then having a beautiful lunch at their Casa Buona, which was prepared by my cousin, Enza and her friend Maria.
One of the Calabrian specialties that we enjoyed that day was a crostini of red and green peppers on crostini. Enza cuts the peppers seeds and all and then lets them roast in the oven. After the skin as been removed she cuts the peppers into strips and then sautés them in olive oil and garlic. They are delicious on their own served as a side dish, but I especially love them on crostini. With some thinly sliced, Italian meats, cheeses, olives and other marinated vegetables we had quite a wonderful lunch all washed down with bottle after bottle of their amazing wine. This too, would make a fabulous and easy fall lunch for your family or friends. The best part it can all be prepared ahead of time so you can spend the afternoon with your guests. Just add some fresh fruit and cheese and you will have a complete meal. Make sure that you enjoy your lunch as we did al fresco style. Accompanied with the Librandi’s, Duca San Felce, Critone or Rosatto, you will feel like you are in the midst of the harvest too.
Buon appetito e salute!
Carmela Tursi Hobbins
CROSTINI OF SWEET PEPPERS
Roasting the peppers under the broiler intensifies the flavors and adds smokiness to them. It also softens the flesh of the peppers so when they have been sealed in a bowl for a few minutes, you will be able to remove the skin easily. This is a colorful and tasty appetizer that everyone is sure to enjoy.
3 large bell peppers, red, yellow, orange or any combination of the 3
10 slices of crusty Italian bread
3 cloves of garlic
½ cup olive oil (a bit more to brush on the bread)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut bell peppers in half, place on a grill pan and roast under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until the skin on all sides is blackened. Remove the peppers from the pan and place them in a bowl. Cover the bowl so that they steam, loosening the skin. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and cut the pepper into strips.
Meanwhile, cut the bread into slices and brush with olive oil. Toast the bread in a panini press or on a grill pan under the broiler until both sides are lightly browned. While still warm but cool enough to handle, rub each piece of bread with a clove of garlic.
In a sauté pan add the remaining olive oil and 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic. Cook over medium heat until garlic softens, being careful not to let it burn. Add the sliced pepper strips, salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 2 minutes or until the peppers are warmed through. Top the bread slices with the sautéed pepper strips and add more freshly ground black pepper to the tops of the crostini. Serve while still warm.
SERVES 10. Recipe from CELEBRATIONS WITH CARMELA’S CUCINA.
For more information about Carmela’s culinary tours to Italy, cooking classes or cookbooks, contact her at email@example.com or through her website at www.carmiescucina.com