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 04/14/09 Roasted Vegetable and Prosciutto Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce from CookiesFromItaly.com

"A buon intenditor poche parole." (Few words to the good knowledgeable. A word to the wise (is sufficient).) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Slow-Roasted Tomato Crostini
  -Tuscan Vegetable Soup
  -Roasted Vegetable and Prosciutto Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

All of us at the bakery here in Santo Stefano Quisquina sincerely hope you enjoy this week's recipes!

Arrivederci e a presto!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       


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 Recipe: Slow-Roasted Tomato Crostini

Slow-Roasted Tomato Crostini
Crostini di Pomodori Arrosto

Ingredients:

6 medium plum tomatoes (1 lb), halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
7 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette or Italian bread (about 2 and 1/2 inches wide)
1 to 2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh mint
4 Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them in 1 layer.

Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Scatter garlic around tomatoes, then roast in middle of oven until tomatoes are tender and skins are wrinkled, about 1 hour.

Cool, then transfer tomatoes to a plate, reserving garlic and oil in baking dish.

While tomatoes are cooling, put bread slices on a baking sheet and brush lightly on both sides with additional olive oil.

Bake in middle of oven until golden, 15 to 18 minutes.

Peel roasted garlic cloves and mash to a paste with olive oil and juices from baking dish.

Spread paste on toasts, then top each toast with a tomato half, cut side up.

Serve crostini topped with mint and olives. Makes 6 servings.

Notes: Tomatoes and garlic paste can be prepared 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Toasts can be baked 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Heat assembled crostini in a 350 F oven before serving if components are made ahead.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Tuscan Vegetable Soup
Acquacotta

Ingredients:

1 large red onion or 1 leek, roughly chopped
1 and 1/2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb Swiss chard, cleaned and torn in half, or 1/2 oz. porcini mushrooms, soaked and drained
Half of a peperoncino or any hot red pepper, fresh or dried
1/2 cup tomato pulp (seeded, juiced, and chopped if fresh or drained and diced if canned)
3 cups simmering water
Sea salt
2 eggs
2 slices rustic, country-style bread, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Tuscan Pecorino cheese

Directions:

Place the toasted bread in two soup bowls.

Place the onion and celery in a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed, non reactive pot.

Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and stir to coat.

Cook over a medium-low heat, or until the onion is translucent but not brown.

Add Swiss chard (or porcini, if using) and stir briefly to wilt.

Add hot pepper, tomatoes, and simmering water.

Season lightly with salt and cook over a low heat (barely a simmer) for 20 minutes, until vegetables are very soft.

As vegetables are cooking, bring about an inch of water and a half teaspoon of salt to a boil in a deep skillet.

At the end of the vegetables' cooking time, turn the skillet heat down to a gentle simmer.

Add the parsley to the soup.

Break the eggs into a small bowl, one at a time, and slide them into the simmering water.

Cook for about 3 minutes, until the whites are set, but the yellow is still runny.

When done, use a large slotted spoon to place one egg on each toast slice in bowls.

Ladle broth and vegetables over each egg and top with a generous sprinkling of the cheese. Makes 2 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Roasted Vegetable and Prosciutto Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce

Roasted Vegetable and Prosciutto Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce
Lasagne con Verdure Arrosto e Prosciutto con Besciamella

Ingredients:

2/3 cup purchased bechamel sauce
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 and 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, undrained
4 (about) no-boil lasagna noodles from one 8-ounce package
1 and 1/3 cups mixed roasted vegetables (such as eggplant, squash and bell peppers)

Directions:

Stir bechamel sauce, prosciutto and basil in small bowl to blend.

Spread 2 tablespoons bechamel sauce mixture in bottom of two 1 and 1/2-cup oval-shape gratin dishes or two 2-cup souffle dishes.

Top each with 1/4 cup tomatoes with juices.

Place 1 noodle in each dish, breaking into pieces to fit.

Spread each with 2 tablespoons sauce mixture, then 1/4 cup tomatoes with juices.

Top each with 2/3 cup roasted vegetables.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Make another layer of noodles, breaking to fit.

Top with remaining sauce mixture, dividing equally.

Top each with 1/4 cup tomatoes with juices.

Cover dishes tightly with plastic wrap.

Microwave on high until noodles are tender but still firm to bite, about 10 minutes.

Uncover lasagna and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 2 servings; can be doubled.

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:

Mighty Bang Ignites Vesuvius Scare

Naples - October 8, 2008 - Citizens of Naples rushed to the phones Wednesday after hearing a mighty bang over the city that lies in the shadow of Vesuvius. Switchboards were jammed at the city's eruption hotline until it said the sleeping giant had nothing to do with the noise.

The bang, which was heard across the Naples area and out to sea, was caused by two Italian fighter jets racing to intercept an unidentified intruder. The sonic boom came as the F16s broke the sound barrier to draw level with the plane and check its credentials. As the city drew a huge breath of relief, the now-cleared Austrian plane continued its flight home from an aid mission in Chad.

Naples occasionally goes through scares about its famous volcano.

The last major fright came in August 2007 after US magazine National Geographic claimed that current evacuation plans wouldn't get people out in time if "the world's most dangerous volcano" blew its stack like it did in 79 AD, burying Pompeii.

Entitled Vesuvius, Asleep for Now, the report claimed that evacuation plans were not sufficiently up-to-date. The city's anxiety levels fell after Vesuvius watchers issued a comprehensive denial.

In recent years, Naples officials have repeatedly played down reports that Vesuvius might be set to blow. Top vulcanologist Franco Barberi recently said that even in the worst-case scenario, Naples' evacuation plan would enable the threatened populace to be smoothly evacuated.

Italy has created simulations of all possible kinds of eruptions, Barberi said.

Recent eruption forecasts have varied, saying the dormant volcano could slumber on for decades or centuries. Around a million people currently live and work around Vesuvius and at the current rate of expansion this could swell by a further 200,000 by 2016.

In 2003 authorities in Naples started offering people living on the volcano's slopes hefty cash incentives to move away. So far there have been few takers.

Vesuvius has erupted about three dozen times since it buried the Ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing about 2,000 people. The most serious blast killed some 4,000 people in 1631.

"Porca di quella vacca", my wallet is gone, my scooter is gone, my TV is gone, my watch is gone, my daughter is gone...and so is my wife! Oh, wait...what was that bang? Vesuvius or my head exploding?!

"Holy cazzo", How can you have the nerve to panic and call a city hotline over that sweet little volcano? It's the tamest thing in that city.

Has anyone ever been to Naples? It's not even part of Italy anymore.
It's wild. Every man for himself. It's the "Matrix" with pickpockets and scooters.

Meanwhile, you're living in a city where people say, "Ah, excuse me, bella. I'm going out to get the mail...cover me!

Naples is far more menacing than other large Italian cities; certainly in a league of its own crime-wise and it has a disturbingly third world feel to it with kids riding scooters, shotgun style.

Should we mention the lovely Napolitani? A tenderhearted race of people with women yelling constantly with food in their mouths and men scampering around with their shirts half-buttoned.

"The bang, which was heard across the Naples area and out to sea, was caused by two Italian fighter jets racing to intercept an unidentified intruder." The Napolitanos should have hoped they were flying in to wipe out a few "Camorra" hideouts.

"Only In Italy" Subscribe today and you'll discover why the last improvements to Italy were made by Julius Caesar and why it's been downhill ever since!  Click Here to Subscribe!



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