04/28/09 Spaghetti with Tuna, Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil from

"Se non vero, ben trovato." (If it's not true, it's a good story.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Braised Lentils with Spinach
  -Spaghetti with Tuna, Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil
  -Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks with Braised Lentils

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: Braised Lentils with Spinach

Braised Lentils with Spinach
Lenticchie Brasate con Spinaci


2 cups brown lentils
2 small onions, diced (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced (about 1 and 1/2 cup)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock or chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups finely shredded fresh spinach, thoroughly washed and drained


Pour enough cold water over the lentils, onions, carrots, celery, and bay leaves in a 3-quart saucepan to cover by three fingers.

Season with salt and bring to a boil over high heat.

Adjust the heat so the water is at a gentle boil and cook until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the lentils, discard the bay leaves, and transfer to a large skillet.

Pour in the chicken stock and olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced enough to coat the lentils, about 3 minutes.

Scatter the spinach over the lentils and toss just until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.

Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Spaghetti with Tuna, Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil

Spaghetti with Tuna, Tomatoes, Capers, and Basil
Spaghetti con Tonno, Pomodori, Capperi e Basilico


2 lbs tomatoes, halved, seeded, very thinly sliced
Two 6-ounce cans solid white tuna packed in oil, drained, separated into chunks
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped drained capers

1 and 1/4 lbs spaghetti
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh basil (from 3 large bunches)


Gently mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl.

Season tuna-tomato mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Let stand 1 hour at room temperature.

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dent', stirring occasionally.

Drain; return to pot.

Add tuna-tomato mixture and basil.

Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks with Braised Lentils

Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks with Braised Lentils
Agnello Arrosto con Lenticchie Brasati


2 and 1/2 cups chopped red onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced peeled carrots
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
4 large lamb shanks (about 6 lbs total)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups chicken stock or chicken broth

1/2 cup dry red wine
4 juniper berries (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

Braised lentils


Preheat oven to 500F.

Spread onions, celery, and carrots over bottom of large roasting pan.

Rub thyme and mint over lamb shanks; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Place lamb shanks atop vegetables.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil over.

Roast uncovered 30 minutes.

Pour 1 cup chicken stock over lamb and vegetables in pan.

Reduce oven temperature to 425F.

Continue to roast uncovered until lamb is very tender and almost falls off bones, adding 1 cup stock to pan every 30 minutes and turning and basting lamb occasionally, about 3 hours longer.

Using tongs, transfer lamb shanks to bowl; cover to keep warm.

Transfer vegetables and pan juices to large saucepan; skim fat from surface.

Add remaining 1 cup stock, wine, juniper berries if desired, and bay leaf to saucepan.

Simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Strain, pressing on solids to extract as much vegetable pulp and liquid as possible.

Return strained liquid to same saucepan; bring to boil.

Mix flour and butter to blend in small bowl.

Add to saucepan; whisk until sauce thickens slightly and is reduced to 2 cups, about 2 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Spoon braised lentils onto 4 plates.

Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over lentils.

Top each serving with 1 lamb shank.

Spoon sauce over lamb. Makes 4 servings.

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:

Doctors Will Not Report Illegal Aliens

Rome - February 6, 2009 - Catholic doctors will not report illegal immigrants who show up for treatment despite a government move encouraging them to do so, the head of their association told Vatican Radio Friday.

Vincenzo Saraceni said doctors would not have to become 'conscientious objectors' in order to go against the government's wishes. He noted that a crime bill which passed from the Senate to the Chamber of Deputies Thursday does not require doctors to report illegals but only lifts a previous ban on them doing so. It is therefore left up to individual doctors to decide, he said.

Saraceni however voiced the hope that the Chamber of Deputies would remove the "absolutely inopportune" measure from the crime bill.

The center-left opposition and doctors' groups have warned that the fear of being reported would stop illegal immigrants seeking care with serious health risks for the community.

"Grazie Dottore Grazie!" I feel much better. Give me 5 minutes head start before you call the polizia.

It's about time we see a little sense of responsibility and benevolence coming from our quack population.

Hard to believe Italy has the highest number of doctors per head of any country in the world (one for every 160 inhabitants). However, if you filter out the lazy, clumsy and rat-bastards who are involved with the Mafia, the number comes crashing down.

And if Italy is overrun by a huge number of doctors as it is with illegal aliens, why is it so hard to find one? "'Fanculo", why does one need the help of an illegal alien to get a doctor's appointment?

Medical students in Italy spend an estimated 10-12 years studying medicine but around 30 per cent of registered doctors are in jobs that do not correspond with studies completed both academically and also in terms of salary. In other words, you'll find highly qualified and experienced physicians dedicating their time with politics and the construction industry while the incapable and dense ones are performing open heart surgery instead of shaving sheep.

Italy's spending on health is only around 6 per cent of GDP, and expenditure per head is among the lowest in the European Union. State hospitals, particularly in the south, are notoriously bad, a situation made worse by Mafia-inspired corruption and doctors escaping to find work in better equipped and run hospitals in northern Italy, Libya, Morocco and the North Pole.

Despite the shortcomings of our crappy health service, we are generally healthy and have one of the highest life expectancies in Europe (around 82 for women and 76 for men) which is attributed in large part to our healthy Mediterranean diet.

Although, we always debate as to why the hell we would want to live this long in a country that is trying to kill us off.

"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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