Cucina Povera

Tuscan Peasant Cooking.

 We  fondly remember our first trip to Tuscany. We stopped at a little cliff-side restaurant with a panoramic view of the countryside. The cypress trees reached to the sky at each of the little farms in the distance. It was so beautiful and hot!

Tuscan views

Since we had just arrived in Italy and this was our first trip, we wanted to eat in little places outside the cities.  Once you leave the tourist areas you get to eat “real” Italian food.  Italians have a way of creating exciting food using a few quality ingredients without much fuss.

That’s Cucina Povera  or the Peasant Kitchen.

We admired the views as we waited in anticipation for lunch to arrive. Today it would be Insalada Verde (Green Salad) and Spaghetti a la Limone (Lemon Spaghetti).

Spaghetti A la lemone

Of all the pasta we have eaten in our travels it has to be said that this one stood head and shoulders above all others. The flavors of lemon, garlic, peppery olive oil and fresh herbs make this a light but exciting pasta dish. The Parmesan gives it a richness that completes the experience.

We enjoy making this fast and easy pasta when we’re busy or when the fridge is empty. At our house you can be sure that even when there’s “nothing to eat” we will always have lemons, garlic and fresh herbs. The pantry may get low but no so much that you can’t find some type of pasta to save the day.

We hope you’ll try this simple delicious dish when you take a break from eating meat. We love meat based meals but each week we make the effort to have at least two meat-free dinners.

Spaghetti a la Limone by TwoFoodNuts:

 ingredientsServes 4

  • Half a package of regular Spaghetti noodles
  • Grated peel of 2 large lemons
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4-6 large Garlic cloves (depending on your love of garlic)
  • ¼ cup minced Italian parsley (divided in two)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup olive oil. (that’s 2Tbsp per person, so don’t panic)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

In a large pot boil salted water to cook the pasta until Al Dente.  While the pasta is cooking, put all ingredients (except Parmesan) into a large skillet and just warm through for a few minutes. You do not want the garlic to get brown. The moment the pasta is done lift it out of the pasta water with tongs or a pasta fork directly into the skillet. You want a bit of the water to create a sauce. Toss to incorporate all ingredients and serve.

Spaghetti A la lemoneSprinkle with Parmesan and reserved parsley. Drizzle with a bit more oil and Mangia!

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Pasta, Pesto, Peas!

Pasta, Pesto, Peas Please!

Some days just get crazy.  Whether you work or like us you live a very active retirement, we don’t always feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen to put a nice dinner on the table. To the rescue, Pasta, Pesto and Peas!  Our little container garden has given us a bumper crop of Basil this year. We also had a handful of fresh garden peas and some edible flowers.  So we thought why not make a meal that allows all the ingredients to shine on one simple plate!

Pasta Pesto and peasWe created this dish using our recipe for Pesto. Just click the link for that part of the recipe.

Two Food Nuts Pasta, Pesto and Peas dinner:

Begin by making the Pesto from our recipe.pesto ingredientsNext:

  • Set a pot of water to boil, and add plenty of salt to cook the pasta of your choice.
  • Once the pasta is almost cooked, toss in the fresh peas for just a few minutes.
  • when “al Dente”, drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of pasta water.

Place the pasta and peas back in the pot, add half of the pesto and about a 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, stir to incorporate everything. Taste it. Do you need more Pesto? add a bit more as well as more of the water. The water helps create a sauce for the dish.

We normally make Pasta for 2 so we only use 1/2 the Pesto recipe. If you are making it for 4 people, use it all.  What the heck, everyone will have garlic on their breath anyway!

Cook’s Tip: You can add interest to a simple plate by using edible flowers to garnish. We grow nasturtiums and we also grow peas, so using the pea shoots with the edible flowers makes something special out of the ordinary!  Nasturtiums taste quite peppery! Try them.

Garnish  with a few fresh basil leaves, grate some Parmesan cheese on top and Presto!

You have Pasta, Pesto and Peas!

nasturtiums