Ironic Chefs - Italian


Sformato di Melanzane e Peperoni Arrosto

(Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine)

Adapted from The Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone

Makes 16-20 small servings

2 large or 3 medium eggplant, 2 1/2 to 3 lbs
4 red peppers
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Slice the eggplant thinly, about 1/4 inch thick, and salt well. Place in a colander in as few layers as possible and allow to drain for 1 hour.

Roast the red peppers. If using a gas stove, you can roast them either in the broiler or directly on the burners, resting the peppers on the upside down burner grates. If using an electric stove, use the broiler. Either way, place peppers very close to the heat source until charred, rotating as needed to char evenly on all sides. Remove from the heat and place for 10 minutes in a brown paper bag, folded shut, to allow them to steam as they cool. Pull out or cut out the core, peel or scrape off the charred skin, and remove any seeds. Rinse under cold water as needed to remove any remaining bits of charred skin. Cut into 1-inch strips.

Heat the oven to 450°. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Place as many eggplant slices as will fit in a single layer on a cookie sheet and brush the top sides with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, turn and brush with olive oil, then bake 10 minutes more, until lightly brown and tender. Repeat for the remaining eggplant.

Mince together the basil and the garlic. Take an 8x4x3 inch loaf pan, and a piece of plastic wrap large enough to wrap a loaf that size, and put the plastic wrap in the bottom of the pan. Place a single layer of eggplant slices in the pan, overlapping just enough so as not to leave holes. Add a layer of red pepper strips, spread some of the basil and garlic mixture on top, drizzle with a bit of oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with pepper and salt to taste. (I know it's hard to taste for salt when you can't taste the whole thing, but: 1) You can't wait until it's done to add salt. 2) Ms. Scicolone is no help, as she refuses to prescribe salt quantities on the grounds that saltiness is a matter of individual taste, a matter in which I take some issue with her if in nothing other than for the resulting lack of guidance to the first time user of a recipe. 2) I don't know how much salt we used, so unfortunately, I am no help. 4) It really does depend, I believe, on how heavily you salted the eggplant. So taste the eggplant, and if it tastes about right to you to eat on its own, add just a sprinkle of salt to the terrine. For what it's worth, we ended up inadvertently adding somewhat more salt than I would have used based solely on the saltiness of the eggplant, and the result was just fine.)

Repeatedly add layers of eggplant, pepper, and seasonings, finishing with a layer of eggplant. Cover with plastic wrap. Place another loaf pan of the same size on top and weight it with heavy cans. Place on a plate to catch any juices that may overflow. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to 3 days.

Turn the pan upside down on a plate to remove the terrine. Serve in slices, optionally garnished with additional basil leaves.

Insalata di Carciofi

(Artichoke Salad)

Adapted from The Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone

Makes 6 small servings

6 baby artichokes (or 2 medium artichokes)
1 1/2 lemons
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and pepper

Set a pot of water on to boil while you trim the artichokes. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a bowl with cold water deep enough to hold the artichokes. Remove the toughest outer leaves of the artichokes and trim the tips off the next outermost leaves; cut off the topmost part to remove the tips from those leaves. Trim the bottom off the stems. As you finish each artichoke, place it in the lemon water to prevent oxidation.

When the artichokes are trimmed and the water is boiling, salt the water and add the artichokes. Boil for 10-15 minutes (20-30 minutes for full-sized artichokes) until tender. Remove and allow to cool.

Slice each artichoke in half and scoop out the choke with a spoon. Slice lengthwise into thin slices. If any leaves are difficult to slice through, remove them. Place slices on a serving plate.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/8 tsp salt, and freshly ground pepper. Immediately before serving, drizzle the dressing over the artichokes and garnish with thin shavings of parmesan cheese.

Funghi Marinati

(Marinated Mushrooms)

Adapted from The Romagnolis' Table by Margaret and G. Franco Romagnoli

Fave con Prosciutto e Parmigiano

(Fava Beans with Prosciutto and Parmesan)

Adapted from The Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone

3 lbs fresh fava beans
2 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and pepper

Boil 2 quarts of water in a large pot. Add the shelled fava beans and salt. Simmer about 2 minutes; when tender, drain and cool by rinsing with cold water in a strainer or colander.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and a dash of salt and of pepper. Chop prosciutto and combine with fava beans in a bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Top with thin shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Olive alla Diavola

Spicy Marinated Olives

Adapted from The Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone

4 garlic cloves
2 cups black olives
2 1-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
2 1-inch strips orange zest
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Crush the garlic slightly with the flat side of a heavy knife. Put 1 cup of the olives in the bottom of a 3 cup jar. Add 2 garlic cloves, 1 piece each rosemary and orange zest, and half of the red pepper and peppercorns. Repeat for remaining olives and spices. Add olive oil to cover. Refrigerate and marinate at least 1 week.

Insalata di Pomodori e Mozzarella

(Mozzarella and Tomato Salad)

3 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella balls
8 basil leaves
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Slice tomatoes and mozzarella. Arrange tomatoes on a plate and sprinkle with salt. Layer with slices of mozzarella. Top with snippets of fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


Adapted from The Romagnolis' Table by Margaret and G. Franco Romagnoli

3/4 lb calamari
1/2 carrot
1/2 onion
1 small bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
2 peppercorns
2 tsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped capers
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice

Clean the calamari and cut into small strips or rings. Place in a pot with the carrot, onion, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns, and enough water to cover well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the liquid but discarding the vegetables. Place the calamari in a serving dish or bowl. Top with parsley, capers, oil, lemon, and 2 tsp of the reserved liquid. Toss to combine. Chill 30 minutes before serving.

Crostini di Ficchi

(Fig Crostini)

Adapted from The Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone

3 figs
6 slices crusty Italian or French bread (such as Pane Toscano)

Peel the figs and mash with a fork. Add a bit of honey to taste. Toast the bread in a 400° oven for 8 minutes each side. Spread the fig paste on the bread and serve with prosciutto.

Crostini di Fegatini di Pollo

(Chicken Liver Crostini)

Adapted from The Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz chicken livers
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
4 sage leaves
1/4 cup capers, drained
3 anchovy fillets
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
12 slices crusty Italian or French bread (such as Pane Toscano)

Trim and coarsely chop the chicken livers. Finely chop the parsley, sage and capers. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the livers, parsley, sage, and capers. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until the livers are cooked through and no longer pink.

Finely chop the anchovies and add them to the livers. Add wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toast the bread in a 400° oven for 8 minutes each side. Spread the liver mixture on the toast and serve.