12/31/13 Escarole and Meatball Soup

"Piatto ricco, mi ci ficco." (What a rich plate, I'll dive into it. Usually told to someone who wants two things that can't occur together.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Adriana's Italian Bakery!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Escarole and Meatball Soup
  -Penne with Spinach, Radicchio and Pancetta
  -Sausage and Peppers On Polenta

"Felice anno nuovo!" Everyone here at our little bakery is thankful for the experience you're giving us, and from the bottom of our hearts we wish you all a happy and healthy New Year. Until next year..."Buon Anno!"

Arrivederci and grazie again!

Yours Truly,              
Adriana Ciccarello       

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 Recipe: Escarole and Meatball Soup

Escarole and Meatball Soup
Zuppa di Scarola e Polpettine


1 lb ground beef
2 large heads escarole, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus additional
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, plus one, minced
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced, plus one, minced
1 small bunch parsley, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cups chicken stock
Cooked white rice, for serving


Mix beef, bread crumbs, Parmigiano cheese, Pecorino cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, seasoning, minced garlic and onion, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Form into 30, 1 and 1/2-inch meatballs.


Heat remaining olive oil in an 8-qt saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add sliced garlic and onions.

Cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Add escarole.

Cook until wilted, about 5-6 minutes.

Add chicken stock.


Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add meatballs.

Cook until meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over rice.

Top with more Parmigiano cheese and black pepper. Serves 8-10.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Penne with Spinach, Radicchio and Pancetta

Penne with Spinach, Radicchio and Pancetta
Penne con Spinaci, Radicchio e Pancetta


1 whole head of garlic (with about 12 to 14 cloves)
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup chicken broth
6 cups (packed) coarsely torn radicchio leaves (from about 2 medium heads)
3 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves, torn in half (about 10 ounces)
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, torn in half (about 10 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese plus additional for serving
6 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces pancetta (about 8 slices), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch wide strips
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 pound Penne pasta


Preheat oven to 375?F.

Cut off top 1/2 inch of garlic head, exposing cloves.

Place garlic head, cut side up, on sheet of foil and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.

Wrap garlic in foil.

Roast until garlic is soft, about 35-40 minutes.

Let stand until cool enough to handle.

Squeeze garlic into small bowl.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente', stirring occasionally.

Cook pancetta strips and chopped onion in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes.

Add chicken broth, remaining 5 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, and roasted garlic.

Bring mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally.

Add radicchio, spinach, and basil and stir to combine.

Simmer just until radicchio and spinach wilt, about 1-2 minutes.

Drain pasta and return to same pot.

Add radicchio and spinach mixture to pasta.

Add 1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese and crushed red pepper.

Toss to coat.

Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and serve, passing additional Parmigiano cheese alongside. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Sausage and Peppers On Polenta

Sausage and Peppers On Polenta
Salsiccia e Peperoni Su Polenta


Olive oil cooking spray
4 oz Italian sausage (casings removed and crumbled)
1 yellow onion (thinly sliced)
1 green bell pepper (thinly sliced)
1 red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
3 cups marinara sauce
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper
Sea salt
1 cup cornmeal (finely ground)
6 fresh basil leaves (coarsely chopped)


In a medium pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spay and heat on medium-high.

Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl.

Return pan to medium-high.

Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4-5 minutes.

Return sausage to pan and stir in marinara sauce.

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until thickened slightly.

Add pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk in cornmeal in boiling water in a slow, thin stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until incorporated.

Reduce heat to low and continue to stir polenta for 5 to 8 minutes, until thick. If a thinner consistency is desired, adjust by adding additional hot water, 1/4 cup at a time, to reach the desired consistency.

Season with additional salt and pepper.

Divide polenta among serving plates and top evenly with sausage mixture. Top with basil. 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:

Sheep Upset Over Police Seizure of Marijuana

L'Aquila - October 2, 2013 - Italian police inspected a piece of farmland where a flock of sheep grazed on more than just the usual grass. The land was also used to cultivate marijuana plants.

The landowner had admitted to being the owner of the marijuana plants that were immediately eradicated and seized. The sheep lived and grazed where the marijuana plants were grown, and became accustomed to grazing on them.

When a drug police squad moved in on the sheep owner's land in Coppito, L'Aquila and started to remove the marijuana plants, the sheep suddenly became nervous and jittery. They followed the police officers carrying the 2-foot plants away and attempted to eat whatever they could.

Poor "coglione". Doesn't he remind you of the scene in Peter Pan when Tinkerbell's little light was dimming and going out. There's his brain. Battery going...down.

You know, when you think about how huge the planet is and how it's just a fraction of the size of the sun, which is just a speck of dust in the entire begin to realize why it's easy for this Italian to rationalize making cash from growing illegal plants around free roaming sheep.

Obviously, something went wrong in the sheep owner's super plan and he could have used good business advice from one of our subscribers:

1) Raise and groom sheep on farm all day (no longer profitable, need cash fast).
2) Buy shrimp boat.
3) Eat chocolate at bus stop (while figuring out where to get money for boat).
4) Grow and sell pot (sun, soil, water, seeds, southern exposure).
5) Use sheep as cover.
6) Fence in sheep to keep away from crops (OPTIONAL).

And how well could have sales gone?

Dealer: "I need enough 'spinelli' for the 6-day weekend."
Sheep owner: "'Tranquillo'...I can get it to you in two shakes of a lamb's tail."
Dealer: "Aren't you always blabbering that lambs have no tails?
Sheep owner: ...
Dealer: "'Figlio di puttana', where are you going with this?"

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