05/16/07 Linguine ai Ricci di Mare from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Finché c'è vita c'è speranza!" (As long as there is life there is hope.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Zuppa Maritata
  -Ragu del Macellaio
  -Linguine ai Ricci di Mare

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

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Zuppa Maritata

Zuppa Maritata
Wedding Soup


For the meatballs:
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground veal, pork or turkey
1/4 cup commercial bread crumbs (or grate your own from stale Italian bread)
1 egg
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
1/2 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste

For the soup:
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups spinach, chopped
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Orzo - small grains of pasta shaped like barley (optional)


Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, minced garlic, salt and pepper in mixing bowl. Mix well with a fork and form into tiny meat balls (about the size of marbles) with your hands.

*Place meatballs on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes at 350° F, until brown.

About ten minutes before serving, bring the chicken broth to a boil, add the spinach and cook until tender. Add the meatballs and return soup to a simmer. Stir in the Pecorino cheese and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

*Note: you can saute the meatballs in virgin olive oil until brown, or bring your chicken stock to a low boil, add the uncooked meatballs, simmer for about 25 minutes, add the spinach, cook until tender, stir in the cheese and serve.

That's it!

 Recipe: Ragu del Macellaio

Ragu del Macellaio
Butcher's Sauce

All over Italy stews and sauces are made from mixtures of a variety of meats such as pork, veal, chicken, rabbit, lamb, or a selection of game. However, there is no need to go to desperate lengths to acquire small amounts of a variety of meats for this sauce. The dish is just as good, possibly even better, made with pork, beet veal, or lamb alone.


1 1arge onion halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb lean veal or pork
1/2 lb lean lamb
1 cup dry red or white wine
1 lb very ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, mixed with 2 tablespoons of tomato puree; or 2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped (one 28 ounce can)
1 small dried hot red chili pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, if desired
5 or 6 whole cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves


In a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients, gently saute the onion slices in the olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is very soft and starts to turn golden.

While the onion is cooking, use kitchen shears to snip the meat into very small pieces.

Add the snips of meat to the onion, raising the heat slightly and cook, stirring continually until the meat is brown on all sides and the liquid it gives off has evaporated.

Add about a third of the wine, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook slowly; when the wine has almost fully evaporated, add another third, stirring repeatedly, and then the final third. By the time the final addition of wine has almost completely evaporated, the meat should be quite soft.

Add the chopped tomatoes, chili pepper, cloves and a little salt and stir to mix well. Lower the heat so that the sauce bubbles gently, add the bay leaves and several grinds of black pepper and cover the pot. Leave on gentle heat for 2 to 2.5 hours, from time to time adding, if necessary, a little boiling water to keep the sauce from becoming too thick.

When the sauce is done, taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove and discard the bay leaves and cloves. Serves 6 to 8.

That's it!

 Recipe: Linguine ai Ricci di Mare

Linguine ai Ricci di Mare
Sea Urchins with Linguine


20 very fresh sea urchins
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 cloves of garlic
Chili pepper
2 tbs of parsley, minced
Salt to taste
3/4 lb pasta


Using a heavy glove in the left hand take a sea urchin and with the point of a pair of scissors cut a circle large enough to spoon out the meat inside. Make sure that none of the shell or the spines is included.

Peel the garlic, crush it slightly, and saute it gently over low heat with a hint of hot chili pepper until a light golden color.

Set the pasta water to boil and cook the linguine. A few minutes before the pasta (about 7-8 minutes) is cooked, add the sea urchin to the olive oil and garlic and saute gently until the pasta is ready. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Drain the pasta, place in a large, heated serving bowl, add the sea urchin sauce and mix well.

Add a sprinkle of parsley and serve. 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:

French Editor Claims Italy Has a Racist Culture

April 4 - Workers of pasta factory Colletti hold packages of pasta in front of their laboratory in Corleone.

The Italian government has been distributing large tracts of land and assets seized from the Mafia to young groups of Sicilian farmers and entrepreneurs. The aim is to create employment and give honest Sicilians a chance to benefit from estates once controlled by Sicily's most notorious criminals.

For most foreigners and even mainland Italians, Sicily is synonymous with the Mafia. But in recent years, the island has been trying to shake off the image that everything is run by organized crime, and the residents are proud to demonstrate a good chunk of the island's economy is run by honest cooperatives of young farmers and entrepreneurs.

These cooperatives have been allocated millions of dollars worth of land and property that used to be controlled by the Mafia.

The Mafia had acquired these lands illegally, said Nicolo Nicolosi, mayor of Corleone. These properties were the fruit of money laundering, violence, and drug trafficking. He said the Mafia had taken over the best lands, but now these are being given back to the people.

Corleone, a farming community just 60 kilometers south of Palermo, is Sicily's most famous Mafia town, largely thanks to the Godfather movie trilogy directed by Francis Ford Coppola. But Corleone's association with the Mafia is not just fiction.

"There is no doubt," said Mr. Nicolosi, "that the most important Mafia bosses in the past 10 or 20 years were born here." He said Corleone was the birthplace of the "boss of bosses", Toto Riina, who was arrested in 1993. Bernardo Provenzano, who has been at large for 40 years and is believed to rule the mafia today, was also born in Corleone.

Large land holdings were confiscated from Riina, now serving numerous life sentences. The powerful mafia boss ordered the 1992 killings of two crusading anti-Mafia judges, causing outrage in Italy and abroad. In Corleone, Riina was feared and respected by many.

When his seized properties were handed over to a cooperative of farmers, locals were concerned there would be repercussions for those entering what was considered to be sacred territory.

Most people were convinced that assets seized by the Mafia should not be touched, said the mayor. Just as relatives of turncoats were killed by the Mafia, he said, people feared that those who violated Mafia territory would also pay.

This was true in the beginning. The 'Placido Rizzotto' cooperative was assigned 200 hectares of land, partly owned by Riina. The members grow wheat which is used in the production of what has been labeled "anti-Mafia pasta."

"The first year we could find no one to provide the machine to harvest the wheat," said Francesca Massimino. "The police had to intervene to find a harvester. The company that had agreed to provide the machine had been threatened."

But the young Sicilians persevered, and soon will be inaugurating their first country-hotels in formerly Mafia-owned property, then a winery, and a riding school.

Other cooperatives have also faced trouble at first. Their vineyards have been set on fire or cut, or their guard dogs were killed.

The Tempio del Monte Jato cooperative farms the land that once belonged to a notorious mafia boss, Romualdo Agrigento. The cooperative's head, Giuseppe Randazzo, opened a restaurant but had a rough start.

"The Mafia had carried out acts of vandalism," he said. "When we came here in 1998, we found it totally abandoned, destroyed, with walls torn down, vines cut down, pipelines severed - total destruction."

Now Randazzo's cooperative markets a crisp white wine produced from the grapes of the large vineyard on the estate. "The coop has dedicated its wine to a child killed by the Mafia," he said. "The child looks at the Tempio del Monte Jato with hope. It is a message of hope for our land."

The child was the son of a man who turned state's evidence. The boy was dunked in a barrel of acid.

For Sicily, where 20 percent of adults are unemployed, the cooperatives provide welcome job opportunities. And, Mayor Nicolosi says, giving Mafia lands to honest cooperatives has diminished peoples' fear of the Mafia.

The truth could not have been written better...

Our news offices are located just 15 minutes away from Corleone and we must write that there are a few facts missing from this article.

The Mafia is well aware of what their confiscated property in Corleone has turned into but no longer prefer to intervene. Why should they intervene and attract unwanted attention when it is heavily involved with multimillion Euro public works contracts?

Unfortunately, terrorism threats that loom over Italy has shifted away the resources once dedicated to fight the Mafia particularly in Sicily. So, it goes about its very profitable business undisturbed.

The little businesses that have been born in Corleone have not put a dent in the business of the Mafia. The threats and vandalism that occurred to these small businesses in the past were results of hurt pride and honor, not lost money.

All of us at "Only In Italy" are very happy to hear that the economy in Corleone is slowly starting to recover thanks to these hard working Sicilians.

You should come visit Corleone sometime and try the new restaurants! You'll love some of their new pasta dinners such as the "Anti-Mafia Rigatoni al Pesto" or the "Fried Season Vegetables" that are salt and mafia free!

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