italian

Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora) is a traditional Italian dish. The word “Cacciatora” translates to “Hunter” in English, as this dish was originally used to prepare rabbit and gamefowl. Today, variations that feature rabbit meat still abound.

The story goes that this “hunter’s stew” consisted of ingredients you could find in the forest or open fields. Many American versions of this dish have been altered considerably from their source material; breaded, fried chicken cutlets are often smothered in a marinara sauce (not unlike Chicken Parmesan, really). Italian versions often feature tomatoes but not overwhelmingly so; instead they’re a complement to other vegetables like onion, mushrooms, carrot, and bell pepper. Northern Italian variations of this dish use white wine, while Southern Italians use red wine.

Typically, this dish is prepared with a broken-down whole chicken. I’m down for that, but at the same time, I’m always concerned about the different cooking times for dark meat and finicky chicken breasts; instead, I prepared this recipe to feature thighs and drumsticks, so that everything comes together naturally.

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Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew first developed in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Originally made by Italian fisherman who had settled in the region, it was crafted directly on fishing boats using rudimentary cooking tools before making its way into local restaurants and beyond. Much like the French Bouillabaisse or the Eastern European Brudet, Cioppino is made with a variety of seafood, depending on whatever is on hand. Also, apparently I’m obsessed with tomato-based seafood stews, because this is my third such recipe in the past year.

The origin of this dish’s name is the subject of some debate. The most likely answer is that it comes from the word ciuppin, which means “chopped” in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa, Italy’s largest seaport, from where many immigrants in the San Francisco area originated. The idea is that fishermen chopped up a bunch of fish for the stew. There’s also a seafood stew from Genoa called Ciuppin, so there’s that, too. But a more compelling origin is that the name comes from Italian-Americans asking their fellow fishermen to “chip in” some seafood for a communal feast, and their broken English formed the word we know today as Cioppino.

No matter its etymology, this is a quick and versatile dish to make for any weeknight or weekend, allowing you to maximize your flavors based on whatever seafood is on sale at your local market. For us, king crab was (somewhat) affordable the other day, so that’s what we used to spice up our dinner. Just stick with the underlying foundation of the recipe and you can’t go wrong.

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Many years ago, pasta cooked with seafood was my solution when I wanted something that tasted great without spending much time in the kitchen. Pasta cooks quickly and is delicious; seafood cooks even more quickly and is even more delicious. It’s almost like cheating in the way that you can have a memorable meal in a manner of minutes.

While pasta is rarely on our dinner table these days, we still miss the convenience of a quick Italian-style dinner. So from time to time I’ll whip something up with zucchini noodles or rice-based pasta. When we’re looking for a special treat, we’ll use Cappello’s grain-free fettuccine, which is made using just five ingredients: almond flour, cage-free eggs, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Although this recipe in particular was made with Cappello’s pasta, directions for all three pasta types are provided below.

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When removing gluten from my diet a couple years ago, one dish I assumed I would never taste again was ravioli. Seriously, how could I pull that one off without flour? I’m sure it could be done, but it would take weeks, even months, of trial and error. I love ravioli, but frankly, not enough to put myself through that kind of ordeal. Luckily, a moment of genius struck me when trying to figure out something unique to make with my most recent batch of Cappello’s Gluten/Grain Free lasagna sheets. They did all the hard work for me; I just had to put everything together.

Ravioli has been written about since the 1300s, so logic dictates that it’s been around longer than that. It probably took a while to get the attention of the scribes, right? There are countless variations of ravioli, but since this was my first time making it in years, I wanted to style it after my childhood favorite – Chef Boyardee beef ravioli!

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

For a dairy free variation, check out my Flatbread recipe.

Like most residents of planet Earth, I’m pizza crazy. I’d like to say that my love affair started with those pesky Ninja Turtles, but I have a feeling that I was addicted well before the heroes in a half shell became popular. When adopting Paleo, I was probably worried about a lack of pizza the most, and after re-introducing dairy I tried all sorts of things, from frozen GF crusts to eggplant pizzas. Finally, I hunkered down and developed a gluten and grain free pizza crust of my own, and after several failed attempts, I’m happy to say that you will love this pizza.

Do I really need to provide a food history for pizza? Okay, since you asked so nicely. Pizza is a food first traced to Ancient Greece, when they took bread and covered it with oil and cheese (this is also the base for Pita bread). Italy is credited for adding tomatoes to pizza following their introduction from the New World in the 15th and 16th centuries. Interestingly, the combination of tomatoes and cheese wasn’t popular for hundreds of years, until the famous Pizza Margherita (tomatoes, cheese, and basil) incident – wherein the combination was served to Queen Margherita in 1889 to represent the Italian flag.

Pizzerias existed in the United States at the turn of the century, but it was only popular with Italian immigrants. Soldiers returning from the European campaign of World War II raved about pizza, and it became the sensation it is now almost overnight.

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For Thanksgiving this year, we decided to make a traditional side dish instead of trying to invent something new that is in line with our dietary restrictions. What we settled on is not a traditional dish for Thanksgiving by any means, but it’s a traditional one nonetheless!

Risotto is a dish first served in Italy in the 16th century, when rice was first introduced from neighboring Mediterranean cuisines, and gained popularity in Milan. Risotto was served in the United States in the 1800s, but didn’t get popular until after WWII (along with pizza). The 1980s are also a time when this dish became really popular and faddish in the US.

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Gnocchi are a type of dumpling most often made with potatoes, and like many Italian dishes, there is a lot of variability to the dish. It’s commonly believed that gnocchi have been around since the Roman times, and that they actually came from the Middle East. It’s unclear whether the word gnocchi comes from nocchio (a knot in wood) or from nocca (knuckle). The addition of potatoes is relatively new, since they came over to Europe in the 15th century; semolina was widely used before then, and still used in some recipes today.

My version of the little dudes is very simple, and similar to many mass-produced variations of the dish. Sure, you could add all sorts of neat stuff like herbs or spinach, but I prefer to leave my gnocchi as a blank canvas for other tastes/sauces.

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Have you looked at the ingredients of canned tomato/spaghetti sauces lately? You’d think they would be very simple, but surprisingly they have some hidden and unnecessary ingredients. Even Trader Joe’s organic marinara sauce has soybean oil in it, as well as parmesan cheese; I don’t find the cheese offensive per se, but does it have to be in there? So, I decided it was time to share an easy, tasty sauce of my own, which you can use as the foundation to any tomato-based sauce.

Although tomatoes arrived in Europe from the New World in the 16th century, tomato-based sauces didn’t start appearing on record until the 1790s. There is a staggering amount of variation to this seemingly simple sauce, with names to boot: In the US, marinara can mean just a tomato-based sauce, but in Italy it often refers to a seafood dish. The term tomato sauce also refers to any tomato-based sauce, except in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, where it refers to ketchup (pasta sauce is the proper term there). Neapolitan is a meatless tomato sauce, linked to southern Italy. A rag├╣ is a tomato sauce with meat (often referred to as bolognese sauce outside of Italy). Finally, call me old-fashioned, but I just like to call it spaghetti sauce.

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And here it is, one of my most treasured and well-known recipes (at least to my family and friends). I’ve been making Fettuccine Alfredo in this same manner since I first learned how to make it nearly fifteen years ago.

While pasta dishes tossed with butter and cheese have been around for a long time, the term “Fettuccine Alfredo” is based on the signature dish of Alfredo Di Lelio’s restaurant (aptly named “Alfredo”) which opened in Rome, Italy in 1914. American tourists grew to love the dish and bring it back here to the US; while we Americans often add ingredients like chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, or broccoli to the dish, it’s commonly served without add-ins elsewhere in the world.

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It may sound funny, but “scampi” is actually the culinary name for Nephrops Norvegicus, commonly known as the Norway lobster or Dublin Bay prawn. In Europe (Britain and Italy especially) “scampi” refers to the tail meat of this small lobster. Here in the US the word “scampi” most often refers to a style of preparation involving butter, garlic, and white wine used mainly with shrimp. However, I’ve seen “chicken scampi” in several restaurant menus, which often incites a chuckle.

I love making this dish because it’s both easy and decadent; it’s not often you can make something so delicious in just 20 minutes using ingredients you probably mostly have at home already.

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