I’ve been doing this blog for three years and have been mostly vegan for two. Tonight’s dinner was pure Italian, more celebrating Marcella’s cooking, touching on Calabria and Puglia as we further explore Italy, and also not-so-vegan. Since I was a committed omnivore for almost 70 years, I find there are a few times a year when I am happy to have some animal protein — if it’s the right stuff. While I feel tremendously healthier on this way of eating, I do permit myself small excursions on occasion.
A relatively simple meal, actually: Pasta e Patate from Calabria, and Fagiolini con Pomodoro, Aglio e Basilico, from Marcella’s Kitchen, my rediscovered cookbook. The Puglia part was the wine selection: 2010 Torre Nova by Natalino del Prete. Here are the two recipes, one from Marcella’s Kitchen, the other from My Calabria.
This time I remembered to photograph the assembled ingredients for you:
I found it interesting that the recipe said to break the spaghetti in half. The first steps of cooking took place side-by-side on the stovetop:
The wine choice worked out beautifully — a delicious blend of mostly Negroamaro plus some Malvasia Nera, described nicely in this reference. And it was only $13.00. If you are in or near Brooklyn, NY, run right over to Thirst Wine Merchants in Fort Greene, and order some of it — they are probably sold out for the moment. Tell Michael I sent you.
I learned four things from this dinner:
- We don’t need all the flavor in the pasta dish; the beans, tomatoes and garlic provided the highlights, with the Pasta e Patate serving as a pleasing background, like a perfect matte for a richly-textured photo.
- I can be very satisfied with parsimonious choices on the foods I love. For example, when I shopped today, I decided to buy a small block of Greek Mzithra cheese, which I split with my friend, Hank, and then proceeded to use my piece to replace Ricotta Salata. In the old days, I would have bought both, but I’m learning.
- Using whole basil leaves works marvelously well in some dishes. There is no need to cut or pull them apart. In the green bean dish, they were simply added and the remaining heat allowed them to curl up nicely and keep their fragrance.
- There are no practical limits to the myriad of wonderful combinations possible for Italian food and wine. Salut!