Have you ever heard of Joe Bastianich?
Son of Lidia Bastianich, the author of a number of best-selling cookbooks, he is a restaurateur, wine producer, FOX’s Masterchef former judge, runner, musician, book writer – you name it.
I don’t know if he is equally famous in his home country, but in Italy, he is a real star. He owes his success to his role as a judge in Masterchef Italia, a hugely popular TV show that has transformed every Italian in a food expert and chef wannabe.
I just finished reading his new book, Giuseppino, a memoir of his life as an Italian-American guy. He loathed his Italian origins as a kid, because they made him feel different from his friends, but eventually grew to like Italy. Throughout the years, he developed a very strong relationship with the country, where he now spends more than six months a year, busy working on his various business enterprises.
I really enjoyed reading the book and I especially liked his considerations about Italy and Italians. It was interesting to see my country from a different point of view. This book gave me some food for thought, let me tell you!
I also had to smile when Bastianich said he thought that all Italians used to eat homemade pasta daily. He had this image of Italian women spending hours in the kitchen kneading the dough and then carefully preparing ravioli or fettuccine, but he had to change his mind when he started to know Italy better.
My grandmother used to make her own pasta weekly, my mother does it maybe once or twice a year, for very special occasions, I never do it. But this doesn’t mean I don’t eat properly, even if I spend very little time cooking. Do you want to know how? Let me share with you what my mother taught me throughout the years.
First of all, food must be fresh, organic and – even better – self-produced.
I live in the countryside, almost every member of my family has his or her own vegetable garden. During the summer, we enjoy heaps of wonderfully tasty tomatoes, peas, green beans, lettuce, carrots, and other incredibly savory produce. It is hard work, but it is totally worth it.
In any case, you can still find great food even if you do not produce it yourself. Just pay attention to what you buy and where you do it, choose farmers markets’ or buy directly from the producer. You won’t regret it, believe me.
Then, food must be seasonal. It is tastier and cheaper, always a win-win situation.
Given these two basic things, whatever you cook – even the simplest things – will be tastier. And even if you spend just a few minutes in the kitchen, you’ll end up having great dishes.
The ones below are two pasta recipes that I will never stop cooking because they are quick, simple and good.
[Wintertime] Pasta con i broccoli
For this recipe, you’ll just need pasta, salt, olive oil, a small head of broccoli and a handful of pine nuts.
Carefully wash the broccoli and chop the florets. Keep just a handful aside. Prepare your pasta as you always do, bring a pot of water to boil, add salt and then pasta, stir well during the first or two minutes of cooking to keep the pasta from sticking.
When the pasta is more or less halfway done, add the broccoli florets to the pasta. While pasta and broccoli finish cooking, quickly toast a small handful of pine nuts in a dry pan. Once pasta and broccoli are ready, drain them into a strainer and serve them with pine nuts and some high-quality olive oil. Twenty minutes and your healthy lunch is ready!
[Summertime] Pasta e zucchine
For this recipe, you’ll just need pasta, salt, olive oil, two zucchini and two sprigs rosemary.
Wash the zucchini and cut them into thin slices. Place them into a large pan covering them with water, add some salt and two sprigs of rosemary. Cook them for about 10 minutes, until they are nicely done. Meanwhile, prepare your pasta as you always do (see recipe above) and when ready, serve it with your zucchini. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, stir well and enjoy your quick and healthy lunch! Again, you’ll won’t need more than twenty minutes to have a savory dish ready on your table.
And what about you? What is your favorite healthy-but-yummy dish?
If you are interested in learning more about Italian culture and lifestyle, I’d suggest you jump on my digital Vespa and join Be Italian For A Month, your 30-day virtual journey to Italy.
You will also learn some Italian words, you’ll receive some typical Italian recipes – ready to be cooked and enjoyed, you’ll get to tour around Italy, and learn about Italian traditions, proverbs, stereotypes, you name it. Plus, some cute surprises along the way!