03/19/08 Fusilli with Porcini Puttanesca Sauce from OreganoFromItaly.com

"L'Italia farą da sč." (Italy will take care of itself. Note: a common expression when Italy was in the process of reunification.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Crostini di Noce, Arugula e Gorgonzola
  -Linguine con Calamari
  -Fusilli Porcini Puttanesca

Enjoy the recipes and the complimentary news article report from "Only In Italy.com".

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Crostini di Noce, Arugula e Gorgonzola

Crostini di Noce, Arugula e Gorgonzola
Walnut, Arugula and Gorgonzola Crostini


Butter, room temperature
18 1/4-inch-thick diagonal baguette bread slices
6 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons finely chopped Arugula
Arugula leaves


Preheat oven to 400° F.

Spread butter over 1 side of each baguette slice.

Arrange baguette slices on baking sheet, butter side up.

Bake baguette slices until golden, about 12 minutes. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.

Mix walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese and arugula in medium bowl.

Spoon nut-cheese mixture evenly atop baguette toasts, pressing to adhere. Season toasts with pepper.

Bake toasts just until cheese melts, about 6 minutes.

Cool crostini slightly. Arrange crostini on platter.

Garnish platter with arugula leaves and serve. Serves 6.

That's it!

 Recipe: Linguine con Calamari

Linguine con Calamari
Linguine with Calamari


1/2 lb linguine
4 rolled anchovies with capers, from 2-ounce tin; anchovies crushed, oil reserved
1/2 lb cleaned calamari (squid), thinly sliced crosswise
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried


Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente', stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat reserved oil from anchovies (about 2 tablespoons) in large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add calamari and toss just until opaque, about 1 minute.

Add garlic, crushed red pepper and crushed anchovies with capers and stir 1 minute.

Add white wine; boil until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Mix in basil.

Add pasta to mixture in skillet. Toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if pasta seems dry, about 2 minutes.

Divide pasta and calamari between 2 plates and serve. 2 Servings; Can be doubled.

That's it!

 Recipe: Fusilli Porcini Puttanesca

Fusilli Porcini Puttanesca
Fusilli with Porcini Puttanesca Sauce


1 and 1/3 cups hot water
1/2 ounce (about 3/4 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
1 28-ounce can diced peeled tomatoes in juice
1 and 1/4 cups finely chopped onion
1 and 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
12 Nicois olives, pitted, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 and 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
8 ounces fusilli pasta


Combine 1 and 1/3 cups hot water and porcini in small bowl. Let stand until porcini are soft, about 25 minutes.

Strain porcini, reserving liquid; discard sandy residue in bottom of bowl. Coarsely chop porcini.

Drain tomatoes, reserving juice. Bring juice to boil in large saucepan.

Add onion and garlic. Reduce heat and simmer until onion is tender, about 15 minutes.

Add porcini, reserved porcini liquid, tomatoes, olives and next 6 ingredients.

Partially cover pot and simmer sauce until thickened slightly, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente'. Drain pasta. Return to pot.

Add sauce to pasta. Toss to blend. Serves 4.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates and reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news resources in Italy. Each story is slapped with our wild, often ironic, and sometimes rather opinionated comments. And now, for your reading pleasure, a sample of today's edition:

Ex-Mafia Estate Turned Into Agritourism

Rome - February 27, 2008 - Lovers of traditional Sicilian cuisine will soon be able to dine and stay at a country property that once belonged to Italy's bloodiest Mafia boss.

The three-acre site five kilometers from Corleone, once a fief of Salvatore 'the Beast' Riina, has been turned into an 'agriturismo', or farm-holiday restaurant-cum-inn.

"There'll be room to feed 88 people, and 16 beds for people to stay over if they've had a bit too much," joked Floriana Di Leonardo of the Pio La Torre Cooperative.

"The days of Riina are long gone. All you'll find here now is good old country cooking and a nice comfortable bed".

Di Leonardo, whose cooperative is named after a famous anti-Mafia land-reformer and Communist Party leader gunned down in 1982, pointed out that the new eatery was "just down the road" from a popular local tourist attraction, the Gorgo del Drago natural park.

Riina ruled the Mafia in a reign of fear from the 1980s until he was captured in 1993 soon after unleashing a bloody assault on the Italian State that claimed the lives of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Several of his former properties, as well as those of his townsman and fellow Mafia chief Bernardo Provenzano, have been seized by the State and turned into schools, farms or restaurants.

The countryside around Corleone, once dotted with dons' trophy villas or hideaway farms, is now producing honest fruits after a wave of confiscations from Cosa Nostra bosses. Youth cooperatives have moved into the rural crime triangle between the fiefs of Corleone, Monreale and San Giuseppe Jato and have started making pasta, olive oil, wine, honey and other produce on the ex-Mafia lands.

Thanks to an agreement with the Coop supermarket chain, the products are now sold all over Italy. Many of the products are made by the cooperative Placido Rizzotto - Libera Terra, named after a land reform campaigner murdered by the Mafia in 1948.

Corleone, a big-screen byword for the Mafia, was Riina's notorious power base in the hills near Palermo where he bred a fierce new breed of Mafioso in the '70s and '80s. Italian authorities have made a point of putting confiscated Mafia property to good use, preferably something involving public institutions, so as to symbolize the return of the State's control. A set of luxury apartments in Corleone belonging to Riina, for example, has been turned into the local headquarters of the tax police.

"Buon Appetito"

The "Cosa Nostra" mafioso is, in every sense, part of the territory he lives in and eats the exact same food as other people. What changes is the relationship with food, especially the rituals associated with convivial encounters involving members of the organization.

The diet of Sicilian peasants includes plenty of vegetables, all homegrown, and relatively little meat, with a preference for that of sheep or goats, which the mafioso would transfer in large herds from one area to another. There is always pasta, usually with tomato sauce, and often vegetable soups as well. Broad beans are widely used in Sicily, as well as whole artichokes, roasted over the fire.

Cosa Nostra 'business lunches' reinforced links between the various families and provided an opportunity to organize new illicit activities, prepare new offensive strategies or reflect on attacks received. These eating sessions, called "schiticchi", took place in the countryside, preferably in a friend's baglio, or stone courtyard. It went on behind closed doors, with someone placed prudently at the door to keep an eye open. The schiticchio was a demanding event, both in terms of time and in the type of foods to be eaten, and especially so for the organizers, who undertook to find the ingredients, keep the fire burning and so on.

In early 1992, Toto Riina attended a lunch with the Mafia families of Marsala and Mazara del Vallo (Trapani), to organize a counteraction against a rival criminal organization, A member who was among the guests had declared that Riina was by no means an enthusiastic eater. There was always someone waiting to peel his fruit for him.

The lunch led to a dozen murders in broad daylight in the center of Marsala. One of the gangsters stated that he would celebrate a successful criminal venture by skipping his the dinner prepared by his wife and order pasta with conger eel sauce.

Antimafia investigations in Trapani also brought to light the 'boiled sheep', an ancient dish popular with shepherds, who consumed it according to precise rituals. The dish takes a long time to prepare and is deliberately designed to encourage socializing and prolonged meetings in the countryside, around a large pot containing pieces of mutton. It takes a long time to cook because the water, aromatized with herbs, has to be changed three times. The third pot of water will be used to cook the soup served before the boiled sheep.

This is a typical shepherd-peasant dish from this part of Sicily, and the original heart of Cosa Nostra.

Eating boiled sheep is like consuming one of the fundamental elements of the Mafia and helps to explain the rationale of the criminal organization. Hard and merciless as the life of a Sicilian shepherd, and anarchic by vocation, the Mafia is instinctively opposed to any form of law and prepared to commit the most awful violence with a fatalistic view of life that is to some extent shared by every Sicilian.

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