Home About me All the recipes. More or less organized Inspiration Wanna send me a note? Italian version

Pistachio Pesto with Roasted Garlic

Thursday, June 6, 2013
Pesto di Pistacchi

Give me songs
to sing
and emerald dreams
to dream
and I'll give you love

~ Jim Morrison

Sure thing after an introduction like that, a la Jim Morrison, I have very little to say.
I could probably tell you about the scent of basil, a universal sign of summer; I could unroll the thread of my thoughts and explain how it is that it's tied to pistachios; I could go on about roasted garlic' newfound kindness, an irrefutable proof of the innate goodness of the universe; or else I could write half a treaty on the color green and the vegan pesto.
Or maybe I could accept Jim's invitation and leave to wander around, speaking of emerald dreams, the meaning of life before and after pesto, of black and white movies, the surprise endings or the songs at the end of spring.
Instead, don't panic, there will be none of that. Today I (almost) prefer to be silent and instead entrust my post to Jim's words, my pictures and the green color of this pesto, wishing you a weekend a little rock and a little roll.
I, for my part, will go out for a walk down to Costa Rica, to regain my green and the energy I've lost along the way.
May pesto be with you until I get back. If I come back.

Roasted Garlic, Basil and Pistachios

Pistachio Pesto
with Roasted Garlic

for 2 jars
pistachios 75 gr
cashews 25 gr
garlic 6 cloves
lemon 1/2
basil 1 big bunch
extra virgin olive oil 70 gr
salt, pepper to taste

Basil and Pistachios

First roast the garlic cloves: put them in a pan, unpeeled, toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 360 for about 40 minutes, until they are softened. (Now, I admit that the above process seems too much for six miserable cloves of garlic, so I suggest two alternatives: either you double, what am I saying?, triple the amount of pesto, or, as in my case, you roast a huge amount of garlic cloves, because I swear they're delicious, spread on bread they're a real pleasure, and if you don't make them in abundance you'll regret it, be warned...).
Put in a blender (or in a mortar, for traditionalists) pistachios, cashews and garlic cloves, roasted and peeled. Blend until you get a rather fine grain. Add abundant basil leaves, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend again. At the end add the oil a little at a time until you get a creamy pesto and fairly fluid. Place in the jars, cover with more oil and store in the fridge.
To those who ask me what about Parmesan cheese?, I'd say that Parmesan in pesto is just a modern fantasy; you can do very well without it, and in any case, to avoid any doubt, I added if you notice a handful of cashews, which will give your pesto just the right touch of parmesanosity creaminess.
Yes you can do it, too.

Pistachio Pesto

No-Knead Pizza with Eggplant, Ginger and Basil

Monday, June 3, 2013
No Knead Pizza

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

~ Emma Lazzarus, The New Colossus, sonnet written at the base of the Statue of Liberty

A short story. Because it's not just those others, the immigrants we're afraid of.
She had managed to sell two plates, the candlestick and an embroidered shawl, in exchange for a green suitcase and a pair of thick and comfortable shoes for me. Before embarking, my mother lit a candle to St. Joseph, and praying quietly she asked him to escort us at least until the exit from that island of tears.
That was how uncle called it; he had made ​​the journey three times already, and in town rumor had it he had made ​​a fortune: he was no longer living like a rat underground, he had his own room overlooking the street, and just enough money to buy oil and fresh bread, and on Sundays in the summer, to go to the beach in Coney Island.
When he came back last time he was different; he wore a hat and had his beard in order, but he looked tired and full of melancholy. You could see inside of him the same mix of stubbornness and pride that had led him to leave, stronger than the call of the sea and the smell of lemons among the rocks. He had come to bring along his children with the promise of a future, and he ended up dragging my mother with him, widow for years and with nothing to lose.
The crossing was long and tedious; Cece and I slept together on a dirty mattress, suffocated by the sweat of people packed all around. To survive, we recalled the afternoons spent playing soccer barefoot in the streets, wondering if we'd find enough friends in this Brooklyn to make a team of six, including the goalkeeper.
We got off in Ellis; grim-faced men in uniform ordered us to stand in line, while we, leaning against each other with our stomach swollen from hunger and fear, perceived by far the flattery of Lady Liberty. Someone, perhaps for the long beard or a flash of madness in the eyes, was pushed back and overwhelmed with shame. Uncle had warned us: Ellis does not forgive, he had said, but during the long nights of that trip he had filled our heart with hope. Still stunned by the ocean, they plagued us with mysterious questions, writing our destiny on a stamped document and searching for sins, pregnant women and monstrous diseases.
Under the striped flag I saw Cece for the last time, amidst the anxiety of the hungry and noisy crowd. A merciless doctor marked his jacket with a white letter, and two indifferent arms dragged him inside a large room that smelled of dust and threats: they'd force him to re-embark on the same ship from which he had gotten off, indicted by a malformation of the eyes that couldn't grant him the entrance.
Dragging the fatigue towards the future that was open to us, I felt a pain in my belly, quick and dry like a whip on bare skin. I looked up at my mother, frail and scared, and I thought, is this the Merica of our dreams, will it be like this our new world?

No-Knead Vegan Pizza

No-Knead Pizza*
with Eggplant, Ginger and Basil

for 4
For the dough
flour 500 gr
salt 16 gr
dry yeast 1 gr
sugar 1 teaspoon
water 350 gr

For the topping
crushed tomatoes 1 can
Japanese eggplants 2
fresh ground ginger 2 teaspoons
garlic 1-2 cloves
salt, pepper, chili pepper flakes, olive oil, basil to taste

No-Knead Vegan Pizza

*The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in New York in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi, who emigrated from Naples at the end of the century. What follows is the no-knead pizza by Jim Lahey and his Sullivan Street Bakery; I took and adapted the recipe from here.

In a bowl mix flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon or with your hands, just until the dough comes together. Cover with a cloth and let rise at room temperature for about 18 hours, until it more than doubles.
Place the dough on the counter dusted with flour, divide it into four pieces and work each piece as follows: take the right side of the dough and fold it toward the center; then do the same with the left side, and with the two ends above and below (the order doesn't matter, what matters is having four folds). Then give it the shape of a ball and then flip it upside down, so that the folding is underneath. With cupped hands, shape the dough by turning and pulling it slightly downwards, so as to have a round ball with a smooth surface. Do the same with the other pieces, then lightly dust them with flour and cover with a kitchen towel. Let stand for another half hour.
After this time, take each piece, flour it and slightly push it down, pulling it out from each side to form a round disc of about 4-6" diameter. Still using your hands, or making it spin on the knuckles, stretch it until you get a thin base of about 10" diameter.
At this point, pizza is ready to be dressed to taste. It's baked on a baking stone preheated to 500 for about 20 minutes.
As usual, all this is easier done than said; but trust me, it's really very easy, and a short explanatory video can be found here.
My pizza, if you're really really curious to know, is a modern melting pot, a little heretic and a bit underground, in perfect immigrant style: tomato sauce seasoned with salt, garlic slices, grated ginger and Mexican chili, grilled Japanese eggplant slices, and to finish a few leaves of Thai basil and a drizzle of Tuscan olive oil.

Broiled Japanese Eggplant

Harissa Homemade

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Give me a bit of your time, a look at the horizon and a memory. Every day and forever.
I'll give you a smile, a little light on my shadows and something red. Every day and forever.

~ Anonymous

I wish I was able to describe colors to a blind man, to speak of white, silver and blue, or green, black and yellow, to make them alive even without light, and to stick them forever under the skin and inside the eyes; I wish I was able to grasp their secret, to understand their mystery and enigma, and then give the answer to those who don't know it.
And then I wonder, what color is it, the color red? Warm and strong like a sudden jolt that goes through your stomach; it's the color of sin, a forbidden apple, the tousled hair of an almost respectable girl. It burns, at times, like a sick passion, a cross and some blood spilled on the crazy sidewalks. It's exuberant as crimson and soft as velvet, positive as a new beginning and a horizon full of hope. It's the color of Mondays, safe, straightforward and a bit ambitious.
But red are also the bricks and the cracks of the houses up the hills, within the faded frame of my memory; summer tomatoes under the sun, a bed of poppies that you wanna dive in, the smell of the earth, and the dirty hands of simplicity.
Red to me is the only wine, full of fruit, and intoxicating with love and serenity. Red is the truth, that feeling that screams and suffocates, but that sometimes, unexpected, brings life back.
Red and shiny are the shoes that I've always wanted to wear, a touch of makeup that made you fall in love one day, and in the end, is that flower that we no longer had the courage to share.
I wish I was able, able to explain all the red that I carry inside and that you don't know. I wish.

Red Chili Peppers

Harissa Homemade*
for 2 small jars

medium size red bell peppers 3
cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon
caraway seeds 1/2 teaspoon
coriander seeds 1/2 teaspoon
small red onions 2
garlic 6 cloves
fresh red hot chilies 4
extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon
tomato paste 1 full tablespoon
lemon juice 4 tablespoons
salt 1/2 teaspoon


*This one comes always from here, Plenty, a book so full of red, yellow and green, so packed with vegan recipes... but not too much. Come on, tell me you already like it.

Harissa is a spicy hot sauce, typical of some North African countries (Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Morocco), it's used to accompany grilled vegetables, meat (noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!), or rice and couscous dishes. But in my house it's also eaten with bread by the spoon...
Peel the bell peppers: roast them over a gas flame, close them for a few minutes in a paper bag, then remove skin and seeds. Cut into pieces and set aside.
Toast cumin, caraway and coriander seeds in a hot pan, then grind them up in a food processor until you get a powder.
Coarsely chop garlic and onion, and sauté them for a few minutes in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chilies, cleaned, seeded and cut into pieces. Cook over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes until they take on an amber color. Let cool off slightly, and then blend the mixture with roasted peppers, spices powder, tomato paste, lemon juice and salt, until you get a smooth paste with no lumps.
It keeps in the fridge for a few weeks and it's used with love.

Harissa Spoons