03/25/09 Farfalle with Zucchini from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Al contadino non far sapere quanto buono il cacio con le pere." (Don't let the peasant know how good the cheese with the pears is.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Penne with Artichokes and Parsley Pesto
  -Farfalle with Zucchini
  -Tomato and Mozzarella Lasagne

We sincerely hope all our subscribers and their families enjoy their recipes.

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Penne with Artichokes and Parsley Pesto

Penne with Artichokes and Parsley Pesto
Penne con Carciofi e Pesto di Prezzemolo


1/2 lemon
2 artichokes
2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, smashed
3 and 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb dried Penne pasta


Halve lemon and squeeze juice from 1 half into a bowl of water.

Cut off stem of 1 artichoke and discard.

Bend back outer leaves of artichoke until they snap off close to base and discard several more layers of leaves in same manner until exposed leaves are pale green at top and pale yellow at base.

Cut across artichoke 1 and 1/2 inches above stem end and scrape out choke with a spoon.

Trim dark-green fibrous parts from base and sides of artichoke bottom and trim any remaining leaves.

Put artichoke bottom in bowl of lemon water and trim remaining artichoke in same manner.

Puree parsley, nuts, parmesan, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pesto to a large bowl.

Boil artichokes and pasta in a large pot of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water and drain artichokes and pasta in a colander.

Quarter artichokes and thinly slice.

Add pasta, artichokes, and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking water to pesto, tossing to coat and adding more cooking water to thin if necessary, and season with salt and pepper. Serves 2.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Farfalle with Zucchini

Farfalle with Zucchini
Farfalle con Zucchini


6 small zucchini
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 lb Farfalle pasta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving


Cut zucchini crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and in a colander toss with salt.

Let zucchini stand to drain 45 minutes. Pat zucchini dry.

While zucchini is draining, cut basil into thin strips and bring a 6-quart pasta pot three fourths full with salted water to a boil for farfalle.

Cook pasta in boiling water until 'al dente' and ladle out and reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water.

Drain pasta in colander.

While pasta is cooking, in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet heat olive oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and saute zucchini, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 7 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and stir in half of basil.

Stir in pasta and butter and gently toss until butter is melted.

Stir in 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and gently toss (adding more pasta water as needed if mixture becomes too dry).

Stir in 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, remaining basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pasta with additional cheese. Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Tomato and Mozzarella Lasagne

Tomato and Mozzarella Lasagne
Lasagne con Pomodoro e Mozzarella


For the Sauce:
3 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 (28 to 32-oz) cans crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh orange juice

For the Lasagne:
18 (7 by 3 and 1/2-inch sheets) dry no-boil lasagne (1 lb)
2 and 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella (smoked or plain), chilled and coarsely grated (6 cups)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese


Prepare the Sauce:
Cook onions in butter and olive oil with oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste in a 4-quart saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened.

Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 18 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley, orange juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375F. and butter 2 (13 by 9-inch) baking dishes.

Prepare the Lasagne:
Soak lasagne sheets in hot water to cover by 1 inch until softened and flexible, about 20 minutes.

Spread 1 and 1/2 cups sauce in each baking dish and top sauce in each dish with 3 drained pasta sheets, overlapping if necessary.

Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese evenly in each dish.

Top with 3 drained pasta sheets per dish, overlapping if necessary.

Repeat layering with 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 and 1/2 cups sauce, and 3 drained pasta sheets in each dish.

Finish assembling lasagne by topping each with 1 and 1/2 cups sauce. (You will have leftover sauce and mozzarella.)

Bake lasagne, covered with foil, in middle of oven 30 minutes.

Remove foil and sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Bake until bubbling and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more.

Serve lasagne with some of remaining sauce, reheated.

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:

All Roads May Lead to Rome, But They Aren't Bringing Cash

Rome - January 13, 2009 - On a recent chilly afternoon, Andrea Eluca was standing outside the Roman Forum dressed as a gladiator. Small groups of tourists passed by and smiled at his leather breastplate, sword and motorcycle helmet festooned with a red broom brush. But none stopped to pose for a picture.

Winter is always tough going for gladiators or rather "centurions," as Mr. Eluca described himself. But this season is proving particularly tough.

"The quantity isn't down, but the quality is," Mr. Eluca said with a sniffle. "People are coming, they're just not spending."

The strong euro and worsening economic crisis have taken their toll on tourism even in Rome, where tourists are as reliable as death and taxes, and probably more reliable than people who pay taxes.

Returns are not in yet for December, but they are not expected to be stellar, thanks to the poor economy, frequent cancellations and strikes by Alitalia, not to mention the rainy deluge before Christmas that almost put the Tiber out of its banks in the city's historic center. Visits by Americans are expected to be off by 15 percent for December.

Things were not any better at the Vatican, where the number of visitors to papal audiences dropped by half a million in 2008, to 2.2 million.

Near the Coliseum, the horse-drawn carriage drivers were glum. "Business has dropped about 35 to 40 percent compared to three or four years ago," said Fabrizio Manzone, who charges between $65 and $135, depending on the route.

Tourists "will all go out for a pizza," he said. But when you're trying to save, "a carriage ride is the first thing you drop from the list."

Things are even worse in high-end tourism. On Via Veneto, la vita is decidedly less dolce these days.

At the swanky Excelsior hotel bar, famous for the best martinis in Rome, things were slow on a recent rainy weeknight. When a bartender was asked how things were going, his face dropped nearly to the floor in a neo-realist expression of gloom.

The staff had just been informed of layoffs, said the bartender, who declined to give his name because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

An older man walked in with two well-groomed young women, one wearing a Chanel necklace with two interlocking C's. They ordered drinks and chatted in Russian.

"Russians are the only rich Europeans now," the bartender said. "The Arabs come, and some Spanish, but the Americans hardly ever come anymore."

At the Hotel Danieli in Venice, which like the Excelsior is owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts, workers went on strike on New Year's Eve to protest proposed layoffs. Guests who had signed up for a Champagne and beluga caviar dinner were sent to ring in the new year elsewhere.

But amid crisis comes opportunity. The Excelsior and Danieli are offering rooms for as low as $335 a night.

Indeed, for those who have money, this is the time to come to Rome. Crowds are more manageable, airfare is cheaper, and shops are offering major sales.

Admiring the Pantheon, Ron Weintraub, an American telecommunications consultant based in Ankara, Turkey, had a one-word answer for why he came to Rome: "Saldi."

Like retailers elsewhere, Italian shops slash prices every January, but this year they are doing so more aggressively than ever. On the upscale Via Condotti near the Spanish Steps, shops like Gucci and Prada are offering discounts as high as 50 percent.

At Gucci on a recent rainy weekday morning, the customers eyeing such items as a leather bomber jacket with a fur collar, reduced 50 percent from the initial price of $4,500, were almost entirely Russian and Japanese.

Back near the Roman Forum, things were still slow for Mr. Eluca, the centurion. He rubbed his cold hands together and scanned the area for picture-takers. Then his cell phone rang. "Eh," he answered after fetching it from a red bag slung at his side.

"No, Mom, I have a little bit of a cold, but I'll be fine," he said. "Don't worry, I'll be home soon for lunch."

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do?" What? try to swindle anyone who doesn't speak English?

Rome is not an industrious city. It's the government offices, Vatican, and above all, the tourists that keep the city alive. So, the question is the following, "Cornuti", wasn't this expected when you bite the hand that feeds you? Don't blame a crisis on your greed and selfishness.

Welcome to the Eternal City!

Villa Borghese: "I attempted to buy a soda - asked the price and was told 6 euros (8 USD) for a small coke - then, got a nasty attitude when he put it back and did not complete the purchase."

-> You obviously don't appreciate our magnificent history. You could have sipped a soda at the exact same bar where centuries ago, Bernini relaxed and took his breaks from his sculpture work.

Piazza Barberini: "On my first trip to Rome with my husband, we had dinner outside by Piazza Barberini. I had spaghetti and he had some meat dish. The dinner was great, the view was great, the service was so-so, the bill almost made us choke. It was 135 euros (180 USD)! For a plate of spaghetti and a meat dish that only included one side of vegetables! We were astounded. We asked the waiter if the check was correct, he said it was. We asked him to explain why it was so much, he said "for the outside service".

-> You obviously didn't realize the historical significance of where you were eating. The 90-100 euro "outside service" surcharge was for the privilege of eating a bland pasta and overcooked meat where Cassius and Brutus frequently had lunch together arguing about how much a pain in the ass Caesar had become.

Pantheon: "I have seen many children including my great-niece and great-nephews running toward this woman while shrieking with joy, principessa, principessa! Well, this principessa (princess) or regina (queen) or whoever she was, who stood in front of the Pantheon, she was not very regale or generous in her manners. Instead of giving the children a hug back, or even just a slight pat on the head, she immediately pushed them away. They said I need to pay 5 euros (6.65 USD) for a hug."

-> "Cavolo", another example of ignorance displayed by tourists. During the Renaissance period, it was considered inappropriate and unbecoming for the peasants to be within the vicinity of nobility. However; if the nobles did not behave according to the rules of chivalry, these nobles were cast out and reduced to being treated like beggars and prostitutes. Therefore; it was a bargain to pay 5 euros to hug a whore.

Vatican: "The average price of a small cup of gelato is 1.20 euros (1.60 USD). Near the Vatican, I have seen the same cup sold for 5.50 euros (7.30 USD). Imagine a family of five - Mom, Dad, and their three children - who all want gelato after meals. The children, of course, want large cups. I don't know about you, but I would rethink my priority when the bill for gelato is 70 euros (93 USD) a day."

-> And for the last time: lack of appreciation for supreme culinary taste. The milk for the gelato is produced by the holy cows at the Vatican. They feed on the holy backyard grass and the raw milk is pasteurized by the holy friars.

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