04/11/05 Tagliatelle with Chestnuts and Pancetta from

"Buon Giorno!" This edition is dedicated to the memory of Papa Giovanni Paolo II.

This week's Italian recipes:
  Tagliatelle with Chestnuts and Pancetta
  Striped Bass in Agrodolce Salsa
  Pasta, Sausage and Bean Ragout

Give them a try this spring season!

We hope you enjoy the recipes in this week's issue and the complimentary news article report from "Only In" .

Enjoy the issue!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Tagliatelle with Chestnuts and Pancetta

Tagliatelle with Chestnuts and Pancetta


3 oz pancetta (Italian unsmoked cured bacon), chopped (scant 1 cup)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
8 oz peeled roasted whole chestnuts, coarsely crumbled (1 1/2 cups)
8 oz dried flat egg pasta such as tagliatelle or fettuccine
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Cook pancetta in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in chestnuts and remove from heat.

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander and add to pancetta mixture in skillet.

Add 1 cup reserved cooking water along with cheese and butter and cook, tossing constantly, over high heat until pasta is well coated (add more reserved water if necessary), about 1 minute.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve sprinkled with parsley and remaining tablespoon sage. Makes 6 to 8 side-dish or 4 main-course servings.

That's it!

 Recipe: Striped Bass in Agrodolce Salsa

Striped Bass in Agrodolce Salsa


1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 lb shallots (about 10 large or 15 medium), trimmed, leaving root end intact, and quartered lengthwise (halved if small)
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 California bay leaf (or 2 Turkish)
8 (6- to 7-oz) pieces farm-raised striped bass fillet (1/2 inch thick), skinned
Garnish: chopped fennel fronds


Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12- to 13-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté shallots, stirring occasionally, until browned and just tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add wine, vinegar, water, sugar, raisins, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and bay leaf, then briskly simmer, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very tender and liquid is thick and syrupy, 40 to 45 minutes. (If liquid is reduced before shallots are tender, add 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer.)

Pat fish dry, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fold fillets in half, skinned side in.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté 4 folded fillets, turning over once, until deep golden, 4 to 6 minutes total.

Put cooked fish (still folded) on top of sauce in heavy skillet. Wipe out nonstick skillet and sauté remaining 4 fillets in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same manner, transferring to sauce.

Cook, partially covered, over moderate heat until fish is just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Cooks' note: Agrodolce sauce can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, then chilled, covered. Reheat over moderate heat before cooking fish. Serves 8.

That's it!

 Recipe: Pasta, Sausage and Bean Ragout

Pasta, Sausage and Bean Ragout


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb ground beef (15 percent fat)
3 spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice with garlic, oregano, and basil
2 14-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), drained
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup small elbow macaroni
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
Additional grated Romano cheese


Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté 6 minutes. Add beef and sausage and sauté until brown, breaking up meats with back of fork, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juice, broth, beans, 1 cup basil, oregano, and dried crushed red pepper. Simmer 15 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally.

Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite, about 15 more minutes. Add spinach and cook just until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Mix in 1/3 cup cheese and remaining 1/2 cup basil.

Season ragout with salt and pepper; ladle into bowls. Serve, passing additional cheese separately. Serves 6.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates and 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:

Tourists Pick Up Litter at Piazza Armerina.

Litter on the Mosaics - And Tourists Clean it Up

Corriere della Sera - Alfio Sciacca - Palermo (Sicily) - July 18 - The man who started it is a black Californian who stands a well-built one meter 80 tall in his shorts and trainers. Louis wasted no time when he saw the piles of plastic bottles, cans and paper only a few meters from the Corridor of the Great Hunt. He bent down and started to carry the rubbish to the already overflowing waste bin. Louis was quickly followed by other Americans, then at the entrance someone got hold of some large plastic bags to tidy things up and set a good example.

This is the sort of thing that happens at Villa Romana del Casale. As if the acts of vandalism weren't enough, we now have the humiliation of tourists acting as rubbish collectors, making up for the neglect that shrouds one of the world's most important archaeological sites, visited by 600,000 people every year. "The mosaics are stunning," says Louis, "but the postcards we saw earlier are very different from what we actually found. It's a pity. Without upkeep, this place could die".

But the Americans were not the only ones administering moral reproaches. Holidaymakers from the Padua-based "Amici del Cuore" association wrote to the newspapers to say that "the condition of the mosaics makes it hard to discern the beauty portrayed on the postcards". The letter continues, "The mosaics are dirty, deteriorated and left exposed to dust and neglect". The list of complaints is a long one. There are weeds in the courtyards, litter and cigarette ends in the rooms, no caretakers to stop children running across the mosaics and a lack of explanatory signs.

Museum director Francesco Santalucia takes the offensive, "This is the result of choices made by the government, which has cut back funds for minimum entry-wage workers. They were the ones who used to ensure that the villa's interior was kept clean. Their contracts ran out last week and we found ourselves with no cleaning service. At the moment, we are trying to find a remedy". The caretaker issue is more complex, but typically Sicilian. "We have only eight of the 36 caretakers who are theoretically required. There are two on each shift. What controls can you make in conditions like these?" To make things even more difficult, transferring caretakers from other sites is hindered by a 1998 union agreement which lays down that caretakers in Sicily can only work in the place where they are resident.

The regional councilor for the cultural heritage, Fabio Granata, is critical. He talks about a "not very managerial approach by our executives. The problems exist," he says, "but ought to be solved. A start could be made by applying my decree, dated a month ago, which allows one third of the villa's receipts to be spent at the villa itself as a matter of course. For more general repairs, there are 18 million euros from the Agenda Duemila programme. We want to give more autonomy to the Villa Romana management and the local authority to guarantee greater efficiency.

That efficiency and autonomy may have a name and surname, Vittorio Sgarbi. The art critic is taking his seat today on the new local council under the leadership of Maurizio Prestifilippo, the first mayor from the "Partito della Bellezza" (Beauty Party.) Sparks look likely to fly. "It's a disgrace," says Sgarbi, "The situation is as catastrophic as it was a year ago, when I made a lightning night-time visit and realized that Villa Romana is a sublime but neglected treasure. The scandal led to the formation of the list with which we won the elections at Piazza Armerina. Now I am here because I want the villa put under the administration of an external commissioner".

PIAZZA ARMERINA is a hillside village in the Erei mountains (721 meters a.s.l.), about 30 kilometers from Enna. It has 23,000 residents and more than 600,000 visitors each year. Piazza Armerina is Sicily's fifth-most popular tourist destination after Taormina, Siracusa, Palermo and Agrigento. English translation by Giles Watson

"Che Vergogna!" On behalf of Sicily and all of us here at the news office, we would like to sincerely thank all the wonderful tourists who visit our country and give a hand in cleaning it up. We sincerely appreciate your thoughtful efforts and kind concern.

Yes, we do employ more garbage collectors than any other European country and Italians do tend to flush everything but the cat but it appears we can't seem to get past the smelly bureaucracy of cleaning up after ourselves.

Look at Villa Romana del Casale. The museum requires 36 caretakers, theoretically:

8 to theoretically do a 1/4 of the job,
8 on standby in case of death or disease,
3 to alternately supervise the work,
3 to lend museum equipment out to friends and relatives,
2 to supervise the supervisors and lending of equipment,
2 to prepare lunches and barbecues (for employees only),
1 to simply watch tourists,
1 to plant and garden fruits and vegetables (for employees only),
1 to confirm that everyone is paid overtime,
1 to prepare banners and pickets for bimonthly protests and strikes,
1 to assist in accounting of museum receipts,
1 to tell false and inaccurate stories on the history of the mosaics,
1 to discourage tourists from returning,
1 to water the weeds,
1 to constantly get coffee,
1 to send daily reports to the Mafia.

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