02/08/11 Zucchini Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta

"Una rondine non fa primavera." (One swallow does not make spring.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Zucchini Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta
  -Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant and Mozzarella
  -Espresso Coffee with Frangelico

Buon giorno! I look forward to connecting further in the coming days. Thank you very much again and enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci e grazie!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

 Cookie of the Week: Santo Trio

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 Recipe: Zucchini Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta

Zucchini Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta
Involtini di Zucchine Ripiene di Ricotta


4 small zucchini, ends trimmed
3-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
3-4 tbs balsamic vinegar, to drizzle
1/2 lb (250 grams) tub ricotta
Squeeze lemon juice
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
Handful slivered almonds


Cut off the stem end of the zucchini.

Using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini lengthwise into 24 paper-thin strips.

Season with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. The zucchini strips will be more translucent and manageable after resting.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the lemon juice.

Season with salt and mix vigorously until thoroughly mixed.

Chiffonade the basil leaves.

Add the basil and almonds to the ricotta mixture and mix until evenly distributed.

Place about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta filling on the cut end of the zucchini strips.

Roll the zucchini strip over the filling and plate.

Top with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Makes about 24 zucchini rolls.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant and Mozzarella

Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant and Mozzarella
Penne con Pomodori, Melanzane e Mozzarella


1 firm ripe eggplant
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
Two 14-ounce cans plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound Penne pasta
7 ounces milk mozzarella
Bunch fresh basil, leaves ripped and stalks sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 piece Parmigiano cheese, for grating


Remove both ends of eggplant and slice it into 1/2 inch slices, then slice these across and finely dice into 1/2 inch cubes.

Put a large saucepan on the heat and drizzle in 4 to 5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. When it's hot, add the cubes of eggplant, and as soon as they are in the pan stir them around with a spoon so they are slightly coated with the olive oil and not soaked on one side only.

Cook for about 7 or 8 minutes on a medium heat.

Add the garlic and onion. When they have a little color, add the canned tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar.

Stir around and season carefully with salt and pepper.

Add the basil stalks, and simmer the sauce gently for about 15 minutes, then add the cream.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta, cook according to the package instructions until it is 'al dente', then drain it, saving a little of the cooking water.

Add the tomato sauce to the pasta. By now the eggplant will have cooked into a creamy tomato pulp.

Season carefully to taste with salt and pepper.

Take the pan to the serving table, tear up the mozzarella and the fresh basil, and add these in for 30 seconds.

Then very quickly serve into bowls.

Serve at the table with a block of Parmigiano cheese and a grater so that everyone can help themselves. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Espresso Coffee with Frangelico

Espresso Coffee with Frangelico
Caffè Espresso con Frangelico


Warm espresso coffee
1 tablespoon Frangelico liquor
Fresh whipped cream


Add the Frangelico liquor to a glass and then pour over with espresso. Leave a one-inch gap to the rim of the glass.

Stir to combine.

Carefully add in the whipped cream on top of the coffee. The coffee will rise while the cream will stay floating near the surface. Serve at once.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates & reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news resources in Italy. Each story is slapped with our wild, often ironic, and sometimes rather opinionated comments. And now, for your reading pleasure:

Mona Lisa's Remains Lie In A Florence Landfill

Florence - October 11, 2010 - The remains of the Italian woman who was the model for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa were dug up 30 years ago and now lie in a municipal garbage tip, an Italian expert has claimed.

Lisa Gherardini died in Florence in 1542 and was buried in the grounds of Sant'Orsola convent.

Over the centuries the Franciscan convent was used as a tobacco factory and a university teaching facility but in the 1980s a redevelopment was launched to convert it into a barracks for Italy's tax police, the Guardia di Finanza.

The developers had no knowledge that it was the final resting place of da Vinci's famous model that was only discovered in 2007 and during work to build an underground car park, the convent's foundations were excavated, along with the crumbling remains of graves and tombs. The rubble was then dumped in a municipal landfill site on the outskirts of Florence.

Giuseppe Pallanti, an expert on da Vinci, who has spent 30 years studying the archives trying to establish Lisa Gherardini's final resting place, is convinced her remains are interred in the dump, now a grassy mound nearly 100 feet high.

"The tombs have all been lost," he said. "Sadly, when the works were carried out in the 1980s no thought was given to the historical importance of the building and its artifacts.

"They just wanted to build new barracks for the Guardia di Finanza and the material they excavated was disposed of."

Mr Pallanti, the author of "Mona Lisa Revealed: The True Identity of Leonardo's Model", added: "It is sad that the tomb of Lisa Gherardini has been destroyed without anyone realizing it at the time".

The prosaic end to the life of one of the best known figures in art history has only recently come to light through a fresh building project for the convent site. Florence city council wants to turn the half-built police barracks, which has lain semi-derelict and bricked up for years, into a 26 million Euro community arts center.

Surveys of the site have shown that the site was excavated in the 1980s to such a depth that no tombs or other historical artifacts survived.

"What we found inside is a kind of devastation. All that remains of the old Sant'Orsola convent are the external walls and some fourteenth-century arches," said an architect on the project, Luigi Ulivieri.

Gherardini is believed to have been born in Florence in 1479. At the age of 16 she became the second wife of a wealthy silk merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, with whom she had five children. She moved into the convent after his death, staying there for the last four years of her life.

She is believed to have died in the convent at the age of 63 in 1542, according to a document unearthed three years ago by Mr Pallanti during his research. He found a funeral record in a church archive known as a "Book of the Dead" which reads: "Lisa di Francesco del Giocondo, died July 15, 1542 buried at Sant'Orsola".

The portrait that came to be known as the Mona Lisa, which now hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, was completed by Leonardo in 1506 when she was about 24.

The arts center is due to be completed in 2015 and Mr Pallanti wants the authorities to incorporate some sort of commemoration of Gherardini.

"The renovation of Sant'Orsola presents an ideal opportunity to create a memorial to Leonardo and Mona Lisa.

"I would like to see the building named the Mona Lisa Art Center. What could be more fitting and suitable?"

By the way, the Louvre just called. All of them are throwing up. They're all unconscious...

"Incredibile", it took four years, almost the same length of time it took Da Vinci to paint her, for the Mona Lisa to have a $7.5 million dollar room of her own at the Louvre. And the real Lisa, along with the community of sisters in that convent who devoted their lives to a life of pure religion, are spending eternity in a garbage dump.

The questions:

- Could one blame Da Vinci for packing his bags, his paintings, and moving to France?
Leonardo (to Michelangelo and Raphael at that Vatican): "Minchia, I don't know about you two but I have a bad feeling about staying in this country."

- Whatever happened to the man who was the model for Da Vinci's world-renowned drawing, the 'Vitruvian Man'?
Let us guess! Does it begin with 'garbage'?

- How could one look at those Florentine "faccie di culo" developers and say that there’s love in the world? You find the love and beauty in them and we'll convert.

The discussion:

Giuseppe Pallanti: "Let me tell you something about my background. I'm an expert on Da Vinci, and have spent 30 years studying the archives trying to establish Lisa Gherardini's final resting place."
Head Florentine developer: "Let me tell you something about my can kiss it."

In conclusion to this sorrowful story, let us add this little glimmer of hope: At least no money was stolen.

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