11/04/15 Jumbo Pasta Shells with Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Ricotta

"La fame muta le fave in mandorle." (Hunger softens fava beans and makes them sweet. When you're hungry, you don't care about the quality of the food you're eating, everything tastes good. If you're poor anything will taste good. Hunger is the best spice.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Orecchiette with Pork and Cannellini Beans
  -Baked Rigatoni alla Norma
  -Jumbo Pasta Shells with Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Ricotta

"Un abbraccio caloroso a voi tutti!" After a few months of good 'ol hard work up at the farm (cleaning up after the summer oregano harvest, stockpiling wood and renovations), we're back to connecting with our "herb friends" from all over! Here are three hearty pasta dishes that will go great with your upcoming Thanksgiving feast. Hope you enjoy them! Don't worry, we'll send you some more great recipes in the next few days. Promise. Thanks for being there for us!

Thanks again for reading!

Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Orecchiette with Pork and Cannellini Beans

Orecchiette with Pork and Cannellini Beans
Orecchiette con Carne di Maiale e Fagioli Cannellini


2 pounds boneless pork butt roast
1/2 cup drained canned cannellini beans, rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese plus additional for serving
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 pound dried Orecchiette pasta


Preheat oven to 325?F with rack in middle.

Pat pork dry and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Roast in a small flameproof roasting pan covered with foil, covered, for 2 hours.

Uncover and continue roasting until some of the pork meat begins to pull apart easily, 1 to 2 hours more.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and cool slightly.

Pull pork into small pieces and coarsely chop.

Cook orecchiette pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with 2 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water for 8 minutes (pasta will not be fully cooked).

Reserving 2 cups pasta-cooking water.

Drain pasta in a colander.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from roasting pan and place pan over medium-high heat.

Add onion, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in wine, chicken broth, beans, vinegar, and pork.

Transfer to pasta pot and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 cup reserved cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.

Add orecchiette pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 'al dente'.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese and olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and thin sauce with additional cooking liquid if necessary.

Serve with additional cheese. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Baked Rigatoni alla Norma

Baked Rigatoni alla Norma
Rigatoni al Forno alla Norma


2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 and 1/2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or a 24-26 ounce bottled sauce)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound cold mozzarella (salted fresh), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound dried rigatoni pasta


Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander.

Drain 30 minutes.

Rinse, then squeeze out excess liquid.

Pat dry.

Preheat oven to 350?F with rack in middle.

Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until oil shimmers.

Fry eggplant in 3 batches, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes per batch.

Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons of olive oil from skillet.

Saute onion with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until golden, about 8-10 minutes.

Stir in sauce and eggplant and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Cook rigatoni in a pasta pot of boiling salted water with 2 tablespoons salt for 6 quart water until 'al dente', then drain.

Stir together pasta, sauce, and half of mozzarella cheese in pot.

Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 45 minutes.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Jumbo Pasta Shells with Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Ricotta

Jumbo Pasta Shells with Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Ricotta
Conchiglioni con Prosciutto, Funghi e Ricotta


2 ounces prosciutto, chopped
8 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 large shallots, chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
One 15-ounce container prepared marinara sauce (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried, crumbled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 jumbo pasta shells
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese (about 2 ounces)


Preheat oven to 350?F.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente', stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.


Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add chopped prosciutto and shallots and cook until shallots are translucent, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes.

Add chopped mushrooms and cook until tender and juices evaporate, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Stir in ricotta cheese, basil and parsley.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour marinara sauce into bottom of 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

Spoon 1 rounded tablespoon mushroom mixture into each pasta shell.

Place in prepared dish.

Top with grated Parmigiano cheese.

Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Transfer shells to plates.

Spoon sauce over and serve. Serves 2.

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:

5 reasons why most Italians never read a book

Rome - January 16, 2015 - Nearly 60 percent of Italians do not read a book from one year to the next, with almost a tenth of families owning no books at all, according to new numbers from ISTAT, the country's national statistics agency.

Last year just 41 percent of Italians over the age of six read a book for pleasure, marking a gradual decline from 47 percent in 2010.

Women and girls were shown to consistently be far greater readers than males, with 48 percent reading a book last year compared to just 34.5 percent of males.

Bookworms are most likely to be found in the north where 48-49 percent of Italians read at least one book in 2014.

This is in marked contrast to southern Italy, where just 29 percent read for pleasure last year. The figure rose slightly to 31 percent on the Italian islands.

ISTAT discovered that book ownership didn't necessarily translate into book reading. Over a fifth of Italians that bragged having over 400 books at home admitted they hadn't read even one in the past year.

1) Because we can entertain ourselves.
Your most important benefit from reading is entertainment, and a good book can keep you amused while developing life skills.
Italian: We can tell enough stories to fill a library...and have out of control ecstatic reactions to our own humor. In other words, we crack ourselves up. All you need is one innocent interaction with the wrong family member and you'll have 83 people knowing about it, spreading 179 different entertaining versions.

2. Because we have the wildest imaginations.
You're limited by what you can imagine, and the worlds described in books will help you expand your understanding of what is possible.
Italian: Ever see an Italian walk into a kitchen of an improvised and heated family meeting that suddenly turns quiet? He's imagining which lie was meant as an excuse (or vice versa), all while heading for a curve at top speed in a "carrettu sicilianu" (Sicilian cart).

3. Because we already live the arts.
When you read you're more likely to visit museums and attend concerts, and almost three times as likely to perform volunteer and charity work.
Italian: You may have noticed Italians live in a country that is one giant open-air museum (with security guards nowhere to be found when you need one). And almost EVERY Italian is forced to do volunteer and charity work whether they like it or not. Who do you think are the tour guides and does all the cooking for "super distant" relatives (and their friends who tag along) who come visit during the summer seasons?

4. Because there are other ways to reduce stress.
By reading silently for 6 minutes it will slow down your heart rate, ease tension in the muscles and lower stress levels.
Italian: Sometimes, an Italian will find himself in a stressful situation, for example, when giving an explanation in front of family or relatives for some God-unknown reason. Unfortunately, it will always reach that level of stress where he will no longer be able to distinguish between what is being said as being rhetorical...and a question directed at him. One of the best ways to ease tension in the locked up face muscles that usually follows is to leave and go for a long walk around the piazza and unwind...with the other Italians down there who also happen to be unwinding.

5. Because we have overdeveloped verbal abilities.
You will tend to have a higher level of vocabulary to use in everyday life in order to express how you feel and to get your point across.
Italian: Our vocabulary is underlined by hands which work overtime, fingers moving into strange shapes and wild directions as if the native were working on some invisible origami creation on his hands. And sometimes there's no punctuation one can use to chime in, interrupt or shut them up with.

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