Eggplant “Meatballs”

Eggplant meatballs recipe











We may have gone overboard with the amount of eggplants we planted in our moderately-sized garden. We’ve had more eggplants than we can normally deal with and although we’ve already made eggplant parmigiana and jarred eggplant antipasto, it was time to go one step further – we dug out my husband’s family’s recipe for eggplant meatballs.

The idea of eggplant meatballs is rather new to me but, it turns out, there’s quite a few Italians I know that make them, particularly to replace traditional beef/pork meatballs during holidays when we shouldn’t eat meat like Christmas eve. This particular recipe is used to both stuff eggplants and to make “meatballs” out of them. If you truly want to be vegetarian with them, omit the soppresatta included here.

Eggplant Meatballs
4 cups roasted eggplant
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cup hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup chopped soppresatta
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzerella cheese diced or shredded
1/2 cup chopped parsley
4 eggs
vegetable oil for frying
tomato sauce for eating


By |22/08/2012|Primo, Recipes|1 Comment

Farro Salad

Farro Salad Recipe











I’m a big fan of summer salads, particularly for picnic season and this year I trotted out a new one for our annual family picnic which gathers up all the relatives on my mom’s father’s side. This Farro Salad recipe was a big hit.

One of my favourite things about the picnic is the shear collection of food. And you can be pretty sure if you didn’t make or bring a family favourite, someone else did. These are all recipes I should will feature here sooner or later. For now, I offer you something new, and really healthy. If you haven’t tried farro yet, you should. Check out my recipe from earlier this year about using farro as a replacement for pasta. You can pick up farro at Italian specialty stores.

Farro Salad
1 cup farro
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups water
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Chopped asparagus, green onion, sundried tomato (but any of your favourite combos of veges will do! Try cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, corn and vidalia onion for my favourite combo)

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon of honey (or more if you like sweetness)
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup olive oil
Farro Salad Recipe (more…)

By |14/08/2012|Primo, Recipes|0 Comments

Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Risotto Recipe




Every once and a while my family adds a recipe to our regulars, tries something out and it sticks. Asparagus Risotto was one of those sticky recipes. We really only use to make risotto with meat sauce, peas and a lot of cheese and bake it off until the crust was golden brown (ok that’s a recipe I need to add on here). Then, one spring, the asparagus patch in the backyard exploded with vegetables and we had to find a new use for it.

This risotto was the result and it stuck around in our family for a long time. I hadn’t had it in a few years, so I used the blog as the excuse to bring out an old favourite. I know most fancy risotto recipes use wine to deglaze, but it works just as well without having to open a fresh bottle.

Asparagus Risotto
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup arborio rice
About 4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound of asparagus, clean, chopped into one inch pieces and blanched


By |04/07/2012|Primo, Recipes|1 Comment

Papara Pasta (fresh pasta recipe with duck and goose eggs)

Homemade pasta recipe

May was a whirlwind of family events and weddings of friends. The weekends were taken up with presents and cakes and dancing and while I was really exhausted as this month came to an end, I didn’t mind it a bit. But I did want some time to ourselves to get the house back in order. We had also, in cooking quickly all month, emptied some containers of food in the freezer including our fresh pasta (even the spelt pasta). So we finally carved out some time to make fresh homemade pasta.

But we wouldn’t be Italian if we didn’t over do it a little bit. And since my husband’s parents have a farm full of chickens, ducks and geese, we had all sorts of eggs in our fridge. Put the two together and we made “Papara Pasta” (papara meaning duck in Calabrese dialect).

Papara Pasta
15 cups of flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
One goose egg, six duck eggs, four chicken eggs

You can see from the picture just how large that goose egg is (it’s about equal to three normal chicken eggs). The smaller, darker six eggs are from the ducks, the remainder are  Andalusian chicken eggs. The eggs are so fresh, and free range, that the yolks were nearly orange and the pasta turned out a dark yellow. Ingredients for a “normal” batch is also included below. No matter the quantity you set out to make, the process is the same. Although be warned, if you’re crazy enough to make a big batch like us, make sure you have someone with serious arm muscles on hand for the kneading part.


By |01/06/2012|Primo, Recipes|0 Comments

Cooking with Farro

Farro (Spelt) Grains with tomato sauce

As a little experiment with whole grains, and using something traditionally Italian, this week I tried cooking with farro. Ever used it before?

I thought I was buying spelt again, after our success with spelt pasta, but turns out buying farro grains means walking into a bit of a debate. Farro, found in Italian food stores and health stores, is the whole grain of certain forms of wheat. It is widely referred to as the grain of spelt, but in Italy emmer, einkorn and spelt grains are all called farro. The confusion comes from regional differences of what is grown and used locally. Whatever grain it is, it’s a traditional and great alternative to pasta. Serve it as you would rice, pasta or beans, but you’ll get a heartier and healthy meal instead.


By |23/03/2012|Primo, Recipes|4 Comments

Homemade spelt pasta made two ways

We’ve made our pasta dinners more interesting with these two recipes for homemade whole-grain spelt pasta. We’ve been wanting to experiment with making pasta with new ingredients and a trip to a farmer’s market provided just the opportunity. We picked up fresh milled (just a few days before) organic whole-grain spelt flour sold by CIPM Farm in Hastings County, Ontario. Now was our chance to be completely Italian by making really fresh food with fresh ingredients and make it with a purely Canadian product.

Spelt is an “ancient” grain and the starch in it is more soluble than regular wheat, so recipes using spelt generally require less water and produce a denser product. There aren’t too many recipes out there online for making spelt pasta (while there are plenty of videos of Nonnas teaching others how to make pasta, they don’t use spelt!), particularly whole grain spelt. So we had to try some experiments and come up with our own. Here’s two highly-recommended recipes for making spelt pasta – one using just water, the other using eggs.

Spelt pasta made with water
500g whole-grain spelt flour
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place flour on working surface, making a well in the middle. Carefully pour water and add salt into the well and begin to mix in the flour with a fork, slowly gathering the flour from the sides of of the well and being careful not to break the walls of flour. Mix until the dough begins to come together then work the dough by hand, adding flour as needed, until the dough is smooth. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic. Let rest at least one hour.


By |24/02/2012|Primo, Recipes|18 Comments

Pasta con fagioli e salsiccia

Pasta with beans and sausage recipe

It’s sausage season (that’s January and February to the uninitiated) and there’s always a few sausages that break and really should be used immediately. And really no one minds, because no matter how you prepare it, fresh ingredients taste great. Here’s what we had this week: it’s quick, easy, and makes you wish there were more left overs (this recipe should feed four).

Pasta with beans and sausage / Pasta con fagioli e salsiccia

2 cups dry pasta (penne work best, but that’s just my opinion)
1 fresh sausage link (7 oz of ground pork meat, cured with salt, hot peppers and red pepper paste)
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
6 oz romano beans
olive oil
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste


By |10/02/2012|Primo, Recipes|0 Comments

Pasta Rapini

Pasta with rapini and orecchiette recipe

This slightly-soupy rapini pasta comes from my father’s hometown of Monteleone in the region of Puglia. We first had it when we visited there, driving in from my mom’s hometown in Calabria. Coming up from the south to the higher altitudes put a chill in our beach-braised bodies and our relatives welcomed us with a warming bowl of pasta rapini. We’ve made it quite frequently ever since, especially during the cold winters here in Canada. I have not been surprised to find similar recipes in some cookbooks, including the Silver Spoon. For your reference, rapini also go by the fancier name “broccoli rabe.”


By |17/01/2012|Primo, Recipes|2 Comments