Summer dinner: pesche al vino (peaches in wine), spaghetti w/pesto trapanese, tomato salad, figs
|August 30, 2010||Posted by ameliaps under Italian, pasta and grains, summer, vegetarian|
I am trying to enjoy every single little bit of summer left, until it ends… maybe soon?
It’s still hot outside, my raised beds in the garden are still producing a lot, especially basil and tomatoes.
Sitting outside at night for dinner is still quite hot but getting more pleasant, and the nights are getting shorter.
Memories of the time in Italy are still fresh and lingering, so I try to make dishes I have tasted while there.
This simple summer menu comes together really fast and it is all about fresh ingredients.
To start, “pesche al vino bianco”: peaches marinated in white wine. It is an interesting way to kick off the evening with something refreshing and mildly alcoholic.
Then it’s pasta time: spaghetti con pesto alla Trapanese. You are all familiar with the traditional pesto (basil pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan and garlic) from Genoa but in Sicily (in Trapani, specifically) they add a twist: blanched almonds, tomatoes and pecorino (or ricotta salata) and call it “pasta cull’agghia” (pasta with garlic). This makes the sauce very rich and crunchy. While the Trapani version is the most popular, there are many different variations to this pesto, depending on where you are in Sicily. In the Eolian islands they add salt packed capers (their specialty) and pistachios. In other places, they roast the tomatoes (and or add sun dried tomatoes) to provide further richness. Some others roast the almonds (the purist would cringe!), and yet some others add bread crumbs. Finally some like it hot and add chili pepper.
Either way you make it, try this pesto with “busiati”…if you feel like making home made pasta. It is a very simple flour and water dough that is quickly rolled around the “busu” (or knitting needle) to obtain a sort of “fusillo” (twisted long pasta). Here is an excellent video on how to make them. You can prepare the sauce in the time it take for the pasta to cook.
All you need as a side is a fresh tomato, small green pepper, basil, and celery salad.
To end what could you ask more for than sweet, scented, ripe, honey-tasting figs???
Pesche al vino bianco (peaches in white wine)
This is a great summer starter. And soooo easy to make.
Peel a few slightly under-ripe peaches (which will have more bite), cut them in large chunks and place in glasses. Pour some crisp white wine over them, to cover. You might consider adding some fresh mint.
Chill until ready to serve.
Recipe adapted from “Cucina Siciliana” by Ciccio Sultano
NOTE: the writer uses this pesto as a dipping sauce for fried fish.
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup (80 gr) almonds (if you can get the Sicilian ones from Noto they are wonderful)
1/4 cup (30 gr) pine nuts
1/2 cup (100 gr) extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 1/2 cups (60gr) basil
Salt and pepper as needed
Ricotta salata or pecorino, to be grated fresh over the pasta
Place a large (this is key) pot of water to boil. Salt when it boils, not before.
Meanwhile, make the pesto: In a mortar (or use a food processor with a blade) pound together the oil, almonds and pine-nuts. Add the garlic, 2 ice cubes and the rest of the ingredients, pounding quickly to make a paste.You want to leave a bit of a texture for crunch.
Cook the pasta al dente, as per directions, drain and reserve some of the boiling water. Toss the pasta with the pesto, using some of the reserved water to make it creamier. Grate some fresh pecorino or ricotta salata (or both) over and serve hot with a leaf of basil to garnish.
Fresh tomato salad
The one particular thing about this salad is the ingredients. You need super-fresh organic peek-of-the-season cherry tomatoes, celery, garlic, basil, good extra virgin olive oil, fresh oregano, salt and pepper. That’s it.
My dad adds these small mild green peppers (peperoncini verdi) that are so hard to find here. You might want to substitute with other mild green peppers, but it will not be the same…
Here is what the deliciously ripe figs we had for dessert looked like: ooey-gooey honey-sweet heaven.
They are good just as-is. But if you are looking to making into a dessert, just serve them quartered (I leave the peel on) over greek yogurt drizzled with honey and sprinkled with chopped pistachios.
And here is a delicious fig dessert recipe from Tori Ritchie: orange-roasted figs.
Happy end of summer
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