10/22/08 Penne alla Vodka from OreganoFromItaly.com

"A ogni uccello il suo nido bello." (To every bird, his own nest is beautiful.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Insalata Pantesca
  -Penne alla Vodka
  -Vitello con Melanzane e Prosciutto

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Insalata Pantesca

Insalata Pantesca
Potato Salad with Tomatoes and Capers


1 and 1/2 lbs yellow-fleshed potatoes, scrubbed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (quartered if very large)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons salted capers, well rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 (3.75 ounce) can sardines in olive oil
Coarse salt


Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water by at least an inch, add a good pinch of salt, and bring to a boil.

Cover partway, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the potatoes are tender.

Drain on a rack set in the sink and leave them there until cool enough to handle.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/3-inch cubes.

Drop them into a mixing bowl, separating the cubes as you go.

Add the tomatoes, onion, olives, capers, parsley, and red pepper. Toss gently.

Crumble the oregano over the top, pour in the olive oil, and toss gently.

Transfer the salad to a large serving dish.

Drain the sardines and blot them with paper towels, then arrange them over the salad.

Let this sit for 30 minutes, and serve it at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka


One 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with their liquid
1 lb Penne pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic, peeled
Crushed hot red pepper
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil for finishing the sauce, if you like
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for passing if you like


Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.

Pour the tomatoes and their liquid into the work bowl of a food processor.

Using quick on/off pulses, process the tomatoes just until they are finely chopped.

Stir the penne pasta into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until 'al dente'.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add them to the hot olive oil.

Cook, shaking the skillet, until the garlic is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Lower the work bowl with the tomatoes close to the skillet and carefully (they will splatter) slide the tomatoes into the pan.

Bring to a boil, season lightly with salt and generously with crushed red pepper, and boil 2 minutes.

Pour in the vodka, lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer, and simmer until the pasta is ready.

Just before the pasta is done, fish the garlic cloves out of the sauce and pour in the cream.

Add the 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, if using, and swirl the skillet to incorporate into the sauce. If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce.

Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat the pasta with sauce.

Check the seasoning, adding salt and red pepper if necessary.

Sprinkle the parsley over the pasta and boil until the sauce is reduced enough to cling to the pasta.

Remove the pot from the heat, sprinkle 3/4 cup of the cheese over the pasta, and toss to mix.

Serve immediately, passing additional cheese if you like. Makes 6 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Vitello con Melanzane e Prosciutto

Vitello con Melanzane e Prosciutto
Veal with Eggplant and Prosciutto


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
4 cups chopped stemmed shiitake mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes
1/2 cup minced green onions
1/2 cup dry white wine

1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Four 1/16-inch-thick slices prosciutto

4 garlic cloves, minced
Four 2 and 1/2-ounce veal scallops
Four 6 x 3-inch slices provolone cheese


Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat.

Add mushrooms and tomatoes; saute 5 minutes.

Add onions; saute 1 minute.

Add wine and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes.

Stir in 2 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut four 1/2-inch-thick lengthwise slices from center of eggplant.

Mix olive oil and 2 teaspoons rosemary; brush over both sides of eggplant slices.

Place slices on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake until tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Top each eggplant slice with prosciutto slice. Set aside. Maintain oven temperature.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over high heat.

Add garlic and 1 teaspoon rosemary; saute 2 minutes.

Sprinkle veal with salt and pepper.

Add to skillet and saute until just cooked through, about 1 minute per side.

Place 1 veal scallop atop each eggplant slice.

Spoon mushroom mixture atop veal; top with cheese.

Bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes. 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, a sample of today's edition:

What Would You Take On a Desert Island?

Milan - September 30, 2008 - Pasta, trousers, soap and a radio were among the top choices of Italians asked what they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

The 1,000 Italians polled by national dairy association Assolatte seemed not to worry about best-before dates when asked what foods they would take with them to the island. Some 76% of Italians said "pasta and bread" while 39% chose classic Italian cheese such as Pecorino and parmesan. A further 38% opted for fruit, including exotic varieties such as pineapples and bananas as well as tomatoes and apples.

Trousers, T-shirts and bathing costumes were top of the clothing list for potential Robinson Crusoes, but around 15% of women opted for underwear.

Despite people being told they would spend five years alone on the island, make-up and conditioner still made it onto the list of personal items, headed up by soap, toothpaste and shampoo.

While 22% didn't feel the need to take any reading material to while away their five years of isolation, those who did want to take books opted for the Bible (7%), the Divine Comedy (4%), Alessandro Mazoni's I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed, 3%) and the Harry Potter books (2%).

"Let's see, pasta, bread, cheese, trousers, make-up and the Divine Comedy... Oh cavolo, siamo fottuti!"

Who better to poll than a race of argumentative and lazy people who want satisfaction over a small cold?

What would you bring if you were stranded on a desert island for 5 years?

- Pasta (Plenty of salt water for cooking. Nothing beats a nice dish of salty spaghetti with no sauce.)

- Bread (After 2 days it can be used to break open coconuts.)

- Radio (To listen to the only station it can receive, "Radio Vaticano"; while the batteries last, of course.)

- Cheese (Nothing like an expired piece of salty cheese and all the coconut milk to wash it down with.)

- Exotic fruit (Pineapples and bananas for Italians to lazy to take a walk around the island and pick it themselves.)

- Make-up and conditioner (To look attractive for Tom Hanks, "Wilson", Gilligan and the Skipper.)

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