So, just because I haven’t posted much about my Italian learning/cooking doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot going on. My expanding waistline is proof that I have gone full throttle into my Italian cooking, and I am loving it! I have made pasta, gnocchi, stuffed onions, and pizza. Ohhhhh, the pizza! My favorite thus far? Potato Pizza. Now, I know this may sound like a foreign concept (no pun intended) to us Meat Lovers Pizza people, but potatoes and pizza crust just work, especially with this recipe.
A little back story on my first introduction to potato pizza. My husband and I had been in Rome, Italy for almost a week when we discovered this quaint little pizzeria behind the Piazza Navona. It was a husband & wife team that owned it (sadly, I can’t remember the name or find it on the web to provide a link, sorry). Having a few hit-n-miss meals the week before, we were thrilled to discover this little jewel. While looking at our options of sliced pizza, we saw the potato pizza. I had never in my life seen potato pizza. “Really?” I asked the owner. She smiled and said, “Si!” and then held up a jar of chili oil. We decided to give it a whirl (we still had some sausage pizza in the bag) and she pulled out two pieces and drizzled chili oil on top of each. When we got back to our villa and tried this pizza, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was so good – and so dang simple. Potatoes! On pizza! Who knew? (The Italians, I guess!) We ate a lot more pizza from this pizzeria before we left Rome.
Now, I had not had potato pizza in 10 years when I decided to make the recipe I’m about to provide you. This version is slightly different than what we had in Rome. I can’t say what cheeses she put on her potato pizza, but this recipe calls for Taleggio & Parmesan, both of which you will find at a good cheese store or in your grocery store if they have an expanded cheese section. Taleggio is a stinky smelling cheese, but has a smooth, delicious flavor – worth finding, so try not to substitute. The next difference is this recipe uses pancetta. The pancetta takes this pizza to a whole new level.
Even though this potato pizza was different than what we had in Rome, the first bite took me back to that little pizzeria 10 years ago. This pizza is light & delicious, and so dang simple! You’ll be amazed at the flavorful punch from the few ingredients. My one suggestion – use a great quality olive oil on this pizza, as you’ll be drizzling a lot of it on while cooking! That and… don’t use the rind on the Taleggio cheese. It is edible (I use that word very loosely), but trust me… don’t use it or eat it. I’ve done the leg work for you on this issue. Enough said.
Until next time – Godetevi!
A new year, a new set of “goals” that I want to accomplish. In college, I studied and became fluent in German. I was quite the, “kleinen deutschen Sprecher.” But, after graduating, I used my German little, if at all, and my skills suffered. So, when listing my goals for 2011, becoming fluent in German once again was high on my list. Fabelhaft!
Or not… The more I thought about my goals, the more the German nagged me. I love the German language – sincerely. It suits my personality. However, my dream language at this stage of my life is Italian. My husband and I celebrated our college graduation by going to Rome for two weeks. We rented a fabulous villa near the Piazza Navona and, thus, my love affair with Italy began. I loved the food, the history, the people, the lifestyle and, of course, the language. And so, since I believe there is no time like the present, I have decided to learn Italian. Favoloso!
When I say I’m going to learn it, I mean I’m going all in. Not only am I going to learn it, but so is the Boss. In addition to our studies, once week we will cook an authentic Italian meal. Now, before I start posting recipes, experiences and whatnot from all this, I want to make it clear that I AM NOT trying to recreate Julie & Julia. I’m not cooking my way through an Italian cookbook, I’ll promise you that. Especially after I saw an Italian recipe called, ”Whitebait Fish Salad.” Pass.
Last night, I made, “Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperconcino.” This translates to, “Spaghetti with garlic and Chile oil.” This recipe came from the Il cucchiaio d’argento cookbook. I read that the ingredients in this dish are never missing from any Italian kitchen, so I thought what better way to begin my Italian learning & cooking adventure. Here is the recipe, and you can print it here.
Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino
(Spaghetti with Garlic and Chile Oil)
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ fresh Chile, seeded and chopped
1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, chopped
12 ounces spaghetti
Heat olive oil in a small pan, add the garlic and Chile and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until the garlic is golden brown. Season lightly with salt, remove from heat and add the parsley. Cook the spaghetti in large pan of salted, boiling water until al dente, then drain, toss with the garlic & Chile oil, and serve.
Here are my tips on this recipe. First, don’t get the oil too hot. I let it get too hot, and the garlic got crispy. I crushed the garlic up as much as I could while the spaghetti was cooking, so that helped. But, live and learn. In addition to that mishap, I was confused by the recipe just saying, “Chile.” I used a red jalapeno, but I think next time I’ll try a serrano. The pasta was delicious, but could have used more spice. Still, not bad for my first meal! The masses didn’t complain at the dinner table, so I was happy.
Now, since deciding to take up Italian, I have felt some pangs of guilt about putting my German aside. I have over six years in on that language, and worked really hard at learning it in the first place. This being the case, I will study German while learning Italian. The languages are very different, so I think it’ll be ok. I’m undaunted…. at this moment, anyhow…. but get back to me in a month or so. However, I will not be cooking German meals. My waistline can’t handle both, so no German recipes to follow, sorry! Ok, ok, how about this… I’ll drink some German beers during all this to further my German education. Prost!
Enjoy! And until next time, “Vita, amore, cuoco!”