Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's Going Around...

Yesterday, Rhonda posted about how she's sick.

Yup, you guessed it. I am, too. Of course, I am certain it's because I recently spent over 11 hours in airplanes (not counting the downtime in airports) on Monday, returning from Italy.

I'd planned to use today's post to give a recap of my time at the International Women's Fiction Festival, which took place in Matera, Italy last week. But since I've gotten home, I've basically done nothing but sleep and go to work, so I haven't even gotten a chance to download my pictures, or even really think carefully about my erperience.

So I'm putting that off until next week. What can I post about today?

I think I'll just give some yummy recipes for food I had during my trip to Italy. Enjoy!

Orrechiette con ricotta e canella (Pasta with ricotta and cinnamon)
Yes, this one sounds weird, but trust me, it's delicious!

Pinch salt
1 pound (450 g) fresh orrechiette pasta
12 ounces (335 g) fresh ricotta
Tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Set a large pot of cold water to boil. When it reaches a full boil, add a pinch of salt. When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. One minute before the orrechiette are supposed to be done, taste one and decide for yourself how much longer to cook it.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Traditionally, in Italy, they would make their own tomato sauce, but to be simple here, just use a ready-made, good quality tomato sauce. Or you can make your own sauce if you want. Your choice.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain in a colander but leave a little hot water clinging to the orrechiette. Transfer to the red sauce, toss well, and serve immediately in 6 to 8 bowls. Top each bowl with a generous dollop of ricotta, and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. This serves 6-8 as a first course (or 3-4 as a main course).

Orrechiette e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
This is very traditional to the Basilicata region, where the conferece was held in Matera. It's also served in Puglia and in Calabria. You can use penne if you can't find orrechiette. Of course, they make the pasta fresh there.

250 g chick peas
olive oil

Leave the chick peas in water to soften up to 12 hours. Then boil them in water along with a laurel leaf to add flavor. Lightly fry the garlic and tomatoes, which have previously been boiled in olive oil, then add the chick peas and salt, to taste. Boil the pasta, drain, and pour over the other ingredients. Serves 6-8 as a first course, or 3-4 as a main course.

Lagane (fresh pasta in long strips)

400 g wholemeal flour

Prepare a pasta by mixing flour, water, and salt. Fashion into a very thin crust. Cut the pasta into fettucine pieces around 2 centimeters long to form the "lagane". Boil these pieces to cook as you would any other pasta, just until al dente.

Salsiccia all'uva (Sausages with grapes)
Yes, this sounds strange, but our hosts in the Umbria region insisted that we try it. Wow, am I in love with this combo now!

1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh Italian sausage
4 cups seedless grapes
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, to taste

Place sausages in a 10- or 12-inch skiller, and turn heat to medium. Cook sausages, turning from time to time, about 15 minutes. When they are brown all over, prick each sausage and cook for 5 minutes more.

Remove sausages to a warm platter. If more than a tablespoon or two of fat remains in the plan, remove excess. Add grapes, and turn heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the grapes collapse. Add vinegar or lemon juice, stir, and turn off the heat. Serve sausages nestled in grapes along with a hunk of crusty bread. Serves 4 as a main course.


  1. NICE--once I'm feeling better, I may try to tackle some of these. They sound faboo.

    Hope you feel better soon, too!!

  2. The pastas in Matera were super simple, but man, were they good. Mmmm...

  3. I love orrechiette! It's one of my favorite shapes. Did you know it means little ears?

    Mmmm...pasta. You really can't go wrong. lol

  4. I'm fairly confident that all we do at the International Women's Fiction Festival is attend workshops and eat.

    Here's a typical day:

    Breakfast before leaving for the conference
    Workshops from 9-10:30
    Coffee break from 10:30-11
    Workshops from 11-12:30
    Lunch from 12:30 to 2:30
    Workshops from 2:30-5:00
    Happy Hour from 5:00-6:00
    Walking tour from 6:00-8:00
    Some kind of evening event from 8-10
    Dinner at 10

    If you ate at each of these things, it's literally 5 meals. Because a "coffee break" at the WFF is not like any type of coffee break you'll ever find at any conference in the US. Nope, there's literally an entire buffet of the most amazing food you've ever seen. And that's just coffee break!!!!!

    Let's not forget happy hour. There are huge buffet spreads and butler-passed hors d'ouevres. And you can't get away with just taking a little taste, because any and all Italians hanging around will be offended and start pushing food on you:
    "You need to try's very typical of this region."
    "Here, this is very traditional."
    "Have you tried this yet? No? Well, you simply must."

    And they don't take no for an answer!

  5. Amanda, I hope you feel better soon. I too have been sick. It is going through our household.

    The recipes look delicious.

  6. The orrechiette con Ceci can be made with a number of pastas, actually - I make mine with a short rigatoni, which are super short little tubes of pasta. And I don't use tomatoes, but a chicken stock with diced onions for extra flavor.

    Nummy stuff!

    Great list - I've made some notes! ;)


  7. Ooh, Ms. Menozzi...your version of the ceci recipe sounds fantastic!

  8. I, um, don't cook.
    But will gladly eat.

  9. But these recipes are super easy, Gwen!!!!!

    Or you could just come over for dinner and I'll make them for you.

  10. That is a great idea, Amanda.
    I'll wait til you aren't sick though.

  11. I am soooo hungry now. Thanks, Amanda.

    Hope you feel better soon.