03/20/13 Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana

"Allevare la serpe in seno." (To nurse a viper in one's bosom. Bring up ravens and they will gouge your eyes out.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Cream of Asparagus Soup
  -Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana
  -Veal Chops with Saffron and Tomato Sauce

"Buona sera!" Thank you for reading your new Italian recipes. I look forward to connecting further in the coming days.

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cream of Asparagus Soup
Crema di Asparagi


1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 and 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 leek, trimmed of all but 1 inch of dark-green top, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 and 3/4 cups chicken broth
White pepper
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 tablespoon pine nuts


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.

Add asparagus (make sure water covers asparagus).

Cook 5 minutes.

Drain, reserving 1 cup asparagus water.

Remove 16 asparagus tips.

Cut in half lengthwise; set aside.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over low heat until melted.

Cook onion, leek and celery, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft but not brown, 10 to 16 minutes.

Add salt.

Add broth; bring to a simmer.

Cook, partially covered, 8 minutes.

Puree broth mixture, asparagus (not tips) and reserved asparagus water in a blender, in 2 batches.

Return pureed soup to pot.

Heat until it just reaches a simmer.

Season with pepper and, if desired, nutmeg.

Cover; remove from heat.

In a small pan, toast pine nuts over medium-low heat, shaking pan occasionally, until nuts are fragrant and browned in some spots, about 6 minutes.

Season nuts with salt.

Divide soup among 4 bowls.

Top each with 8 asparagus-tip halves and toasted pine nuts. Makes 4 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana

Grilled Eggplant Parmigiana
Parmigiana di Melanzane alla Griglia


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
One (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/2 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1/4 cup)
4 small Italian eggplants (1/2 pound each)
16 thin slices whole-milk mozzarella (from a 1-lb piece; not fresh)


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.

Cook garlic and red-pepper flakes, stirring, 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes and salt and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 6 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in basil and Parmigiano cheese.

Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over moderate heat.

Trim 1/4 inch off 2 opposite long sides of each eggplant.

Cut each eggplant lengthwise (in same direction as trimmed sides so each slice has skin just around edge) into 4 slices.

Brush slices with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Grill eggplant, covered, turning over once, until tender, about 6 minutes total.

Transfer to a work surface.

Spread top of each slice with about 1 tablespoon tomato sauce and top with a slice of mozzarella.

Restack each eggplant.

Transfer stacks to a shallow baking pan and grill, covered, just until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.

Top with sauce and cheese, then stack and bake 5 minutes more. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Eggplant (brushed with 1/4 cup olive oil) can be roasted on a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of a 450?F oven, turning over once, 20 minutes.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Veal Chops with Saffron and Tomato Sauce

Veal Chops with Saffron and Tomato Sauce
Costolette di Vitello con Zafferano e Salsa di Pomodoro


4 (1/2-inch-thick) veal chops (rib or loin; 7 ounces each)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 (10-ounces) containers grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 and 1/2 cups orzo (10 ounces)
Scant 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Pat chops dry.

Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.

Saute chops, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes total.

Transfer to a plate.

Add garlic to skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 30 seconds.

Stir in wine, tomatoes, rosemary, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and simmer, gently pressing on tomatoes until they collapse, about 10 minutes.

Cook orzo with saffron in a 3-quart saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well in a sieve and return to saucepan, then stir in butter and cheese.

Reheat chops in sauce and serve with orzo. Makes 4 servings.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates & 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:

Once Again, Italy Promises To Repair Its Unrepairable Justice System

Rome - May 14, 2012 - Her family name means "little severe one", and Paola Severino means to live up to it in her crusade against judicial inefficiency which is helping to gag Italy's chronically weak economy.

Seemingly endless legal delays such as in settling commercial disputes are estimated to cost up to one percentage point in Italian GDP growth and the justice minister wants to tell hesitant investors that she is serious about solving the problem.

"There is much to be done and we will forge ahead," Severino, the first woman to hold the justice portfolio, told reporters in an interview.

Severino is already setting up specialist business tribunals and wants to crack down on the huge number of appeals which are clogging up the legal system.

With this message she is heading to the United States as part of an international "road show" to convince foreign companies considering investing in Italy that the government of Prime Minister Mario Monti will speed up the snail-paced system of civil justice.

This week 63-year-old Severino, who was a top lawyer and legal scholar before Monti recruited her for his technocrat government, takes her pitch that Italy can be trusted to the United Nations and to investors at the New York Stock Exchange.

"If a company has certainty about how laws will be interpreted by judges and if it can count on shorter times for court cases...it will invest more and launch more long-term projects, helping the economy," she said.

Studies by the World Bank show that it takes 1,210 days (more than three years) to recover a claim in Italy compared with 394 days in Germany. The average costs paid by businesses in Italy usually amount to about 30 percent of the value of the dispute, compared with 17 percent in France.

In 2010 the European Court of Human rights ruled against Italy 53 times for violating the European Convention's article protecting the right to a fair trial, and 44 of the those condemnations were for the excessive length of proceedings.

Severino believes Italy's entire legal culture needs to change. "Italians today go into litigation too much and it lasts too long," she said in the interview.

Italy is the fourth most litigious of 38 European countries, with 4,768 disputes per 100,000 inhabitants. About 2.8 million new cases were brought last year alone.

"We want to convince people that it is useful to have short trials, quick settlements and immediate results," she said, pointing to studies that show than an efficient justice system is closely related to a country's overall economic performance.

Italy has a backlog of 5.5 million civil cases, which Severino says will have to be tackled by "an enormous shovel".

A simple dispute among neighbors about who is responsible for the maintenance of a dividing wall, for example, can take years to settle. The average time to settle a civil case is more than seven years and a criminal case nearly five.

Severino said the Italian justice system needs "a filter" to cut the number of cases allowed to move on to the appeals level after the court of first instance.

"The whole process is slowed up at the appeals level, it is an enormous bottleneck," she said. "We have to get to the point where some cases are not permitted to enter the appeals process in the first place," she said.

Another deterrent to foreign investment in Italy is organized crime, especially in the south, home to groups such as the Sicilian Mafia, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, and the Neapolitan Camorra.

Severino said a growing number of companies in the south are now refusing to pay protection money to organized crime and government programs that have confiscated properties from mob groups have greatly weakened their influence.

"If you asked people in Sicily 50 years ago if the Mafia existed, most people would have said no out of fear. Today Sicilians would say yes, and it is something we have to rid ourselves of," she said.

But she acknowledged with a easy laugh that changing Italy's legal system will not come quickly. "I am no miracle worker," she said.

Hmmm...That's something. It's not everyday you see the justice minister of a country go on a "road show" and try to put on a convincing performance. "Cavolo", the real performance will be watching foreign investors and the United Nations try to keep a straight face.

Minister Severino: "There is much to be done and we will forge ahead."

"Now, all of you. Stop drooling and listen...."

- Italy has 9 million trials pending (5.5 million civil cases, 3.4 million penal cases) and 420,000 lawyers: "We honestly don't know how this all started and got out of hand. The chicken or the egg. The trial or the lawyer. We don't know what came first! Regardless, we're going to reprogram the Italian Matrix to make it stop hatching lawyers.

- Italian juries are not sequestered: "We will ask jurors to stop having lunch with lawyers during the trial. If they must, they shall only be allowed to discuss the pasta specials of the day. We will also ban journalists from the cafes where jurors and lawyers go for coffee during court breaks...to discuss the trial...and follow media coverage."

- According to an Euromedia poll, 16% percent of Italians fully trust the justice system compared to 28% two years prior. Italian civil rights groups are intense in their criticism of what they view as kangaroo courts: "One of our main priorities is to raise the animal court level to that of a monkey."

- In the USA, federal judges must study a 637-page manual in order to be able to evaluate forensic evidence: "We will ask Italian judges to at least download the app and take a glance at it on weekends and holidays."

- Prosecutors are connected to the judiciary. They are not elected or appointed and lead entire investigations: "Si, many criminal investigations in Italy are botched by prosecutors who are judges that have NO background in criminal investigation, police work, or forensic science. But we realize we need more than Moe, Larry, or Curly in a nice Italian suit to tell the police what to look for, where to go and what evidence to analyze, contaminate and throw away."

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