08/13/13 Chicken with Pesto and Panzanella

"Fare il pesce in barile." (Act like a fish in a barrel. Fish in a barrel would remain closed in, not aware of what is happening outside its confines, not having an opinion on anything. Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Sweet Peas with Prosciutto
  -Seafood Spaghetti
  -Chicken with Pesto and Panzanella

"Come stai?" Just a quick note of many thanks for being a part of our growing Italian community. Eat, laugh and enjoy the rest of your summer season!

Arrivederci and grazie again!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Sweet Peas with Prosciutto

Sweet Peas with Prosciutto
Piselli al Prosciutto


1 lb fresh or frozen green peas
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz prosciutto, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.

Add prosciutto and onions.

Cook until onions are soft and prosciutto begins to crisp, about 6-8 minutes.

Add peas and 1 tbsp water.

Cook, tossing, until hot, about 3 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Seafood Spaghetti

Seafood Spaghetti
Spaghetti Frutti di Mare


For the Octopus:
2 pound cleaned frozen octopus, thawed and rinsed
2 cups water
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

For the Tomato Sauce:
One (14 to 15-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving juice, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the Basil Puree:
3/4 cup packed basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For the Seafood and Pasta:
1 pound spaghetti
6 garlic cloves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound large shrimp in shell, peeled, leaving tail fan attached, and deveined
3/4 pound mussels, rinsed
3/4 pound baby squid, cleaned, bodies cut into 1/4-inch rounds, and tentacles left whole


Prepare the Octopus:
Place the octopus in a pressure cooker with water, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and seal pressure cooker with lid, then cook at high pressure according to manufacturer's instructions for 10 minutes.

Place the pressure cooker in sink (do not remove lid) and run cold water over lid until pressure goes down completely.

Remove lid.

Transfer octopus to a cutting board, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Cut off and discard head, then cut tentacles into 1-inch pieces.

Prepare the Tomato Sauce:
Simmer tomatoes with their juice, basil, and olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, uncovered, stirring and mashing tomatoes occasionally, until thick and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Prepare the Basil Puree:
Puree basil, olive oil, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender, scraping down side as necessary, until smooth.

Transfer to a small bowl.

Prepare Pasta and Seafood:
Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until 'al dente'.

Puree garlic and olive oil in cleaned blender until smooth.

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat until hot, 2-3 minutes.

Add oil mixture, then immediately add octopus, shrimp, and mussels and saute, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are browned on edges and mussels begin to open, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add tomato sauce and reserved octopus-cooking liquid and cook, stirring, until mussels just open wide and shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes more (discard any unopened mussels).

Season with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Chicken with Pesto and Panzanella

Chicken with Pesto and Panzanella
Pollo con Pesto e Panzanella


One 3 to 4-lb chicken, cut into 6 pieces
3/4 cup Genovese pesto
One 1-lb loaf country-style white bread, cut into 1 and 1/2-inch slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
2 cups packed baby arugula
1/2 cup oil-cured black olives
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Using your fingers, loosen skin from meat on chicken and spread 1/2 cup of the pesto in between the skin and meat.

Transfer chicken to a baking sheet and season generously with salt and pepper.

Set aside.

Prepare the Panzanella:
Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, arrange an oven rack 4 inches from the broiler element and heat broiler to high.)

Brush bread slices with olive oil and toss tomatoes and bell pepper with 2 tbsp of olive oil.

Season all with salt and pepper.

Place bread and vegetables on grill and cook, turning as needed, until bread is toasted and tomatoes begin to burst, about 5 minutes.

Remove bread and tomatoes, and continue cooking bell pepper until it is charred all over, about 7-8 minutes more.

Let pepper cool, and then peel and remove seeds.

Thinly slice and transfer to a large bowl along with tomatoes, arugula, olives, parsley, onion, and cucumber.

Cut bread slices into 1 and 1/2-inch cubes and add to salad.

Heat grill to 425?F.

Place chicken skin side down on grill and cook, covered and turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165?F, about 25-30 minutes.

Rub with remaining pesto and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165?F, about 5 minutes more. (Alternatively, heat an oven to 475?F, and cook chicken, skin side up, for 25 minutes. Rub with remaining pesto and cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165?F.)

Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.

Rest for 20 minutes.

To serve, whisk together remaining olive oil, vinegar, roasted garlic, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl.

Pour over bread salad, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer panzanella to a large serving platter, and place chicken over top.

Pour any juices that accumulated on the plate over salad. Serves 4.

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:

Pope Sets Up Criminal Investigative Crack Team To Stop Vatican Leaks

Vatican City - March 18, 2012 - The Pope has taken the unusual step of setting up an internal, criminal investigation to identify the source of damaging leaks of compromising Vatican documents.

The inquiry will seek to punish the insiders who leaked the papers, whom the Vatican hierarchy regard as "disloyal and cowardly".

Pope Benedict XVI had been hurt by the leaks, said Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Vatican's deputy secretary of state and third most powerful Vatican figure.

Documents leaked to the Italian press over the last few weeks have shed light on dark power struggles between senior cardinals, alleged corruption and nepotism in the running of the Vatican administration, and a mysterious prediction that the 84-year-old pontiff would die within a year, possibly as a result of an assassination attempt.

Msgr Becciu described whistle-blowers as "cowardly" and "deeply disloyal" and warned that they would face the full force of the law from Vatican prosecutors. They had abused the trust placed in them by leaking the documents, he said.

The investigation will be conducted by a tribunal and will probe all departments in the Vatican administration.

Msgr Becciu also defended the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, saying it was wrong to depict it as a hotbed of "plots and careerism".

The investigation will draw on an inquiry already opened by the Vatican's own police force, the Gendarmerie, into how the leaks happened.

The Pope also decided to launch a special commission into the affair, composed of cardinals whom he had chosen personally, in order to re-establish "trust" within the Holy See.

"TOP SECRET" For Pope's eyes only:

1. There could be life on other planets:
In 2006, Father Jose Funes, director of the Vatican's observatory, states that the Vatican acknowledges that life on other planets is theoretically possible. (However, whatever the life forms would be, the Vatican feels that they would be one of God's creations...vulnerable to spiritual blackmail and bribery, especially if they are Communist aliens running for office or Supreme Leader.)

2. Vatican Post Office is remarkably efficient, fast and profitable:
Beyond the many tourist souvenirs, the postage stamps contribute to the largest export of the Vatican serving as one of the primary sources of internal revenue. (Romans and tourists also find that the Vatican mail system is faster and more efficient than the typical Italian postal office...where they're used to dealing with postal workers who have spent more time together than the 12 Apostles but still have trouble remembering each other's name and the cost of mailing a postcard to Chicago.)

3. Vatican Radio waves covers the world twice over:
Located in a tower inside the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican has a radio station that broadcasts in 45 different languages across the world. In 2010 a court-ordered study has found that electromagnetic waves beamed by Vatican Radio leave residents living near the station?s giant antenna towers at a higher risk of cancer. (The radio?s director, Federico Lombardi, disputed the report, saying: "Vatican Radio is astonished to hear the news on the results of the study." And so was Tom Hanks with "Wilson" on that deserted island. "Am I going crazy or am I picking up the Third Sermon of Lent on a volleyball?")

4. Turn water to wine, taxes to donations:
Instead of paying their taxes to the Italian government, Italians are allowed to donate 8% of their yearly taxes to the Vatican. (Makes you want to pour your marinara sauce over your head, doesn't it?)

"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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