June 29, 2020

Peach with Balsamic Vinegar and Parmigiano Reggiano Salad

peach, balsamic vinegar and parmigiano salad

Today I am sharing with you my favorite summer salad! What makes this salad special is the unique combination of peaches (or nectarines), parmigiano reggiano and balsamic vinegar. This salad is pretty, delicious, refreshing, and real quick to put together. It goes really well with grilled seafood, poultry, meats and grilled … anything! 

OK let’s get on with the recipe!

No quantities are listed as you can make a salad for one or 50.

You'll need

. a chunk of aged Parmigiano -Reggiano cheese: the older the better: Ideally between 30 and 36 months which has a nutty undertones vs caramel undertones of the mild 12 month old Parmigiano. We are looking for contrast between the peach and cheese, this is why an older cheese is preferred

. 1 Ripe peach or nectarine (every 4 servings) : ripe means that its juicy and sweet, it might still have some tangy notes in there

. lettuce : The lettuce’s mild flavor is important to help balance all these sweet, tangy and savoury flavours. So choose greens that are mild flavoured such as butter, round, red leaf, oak leaf and Boston Bibb lettuces. Remember that the flavor needs to be mild.
Therefore, avoid greens that will compete with the flavours just mentioned. So a big NO goes to kale, arugula, cress, radicchio, iceberg, cabbage, spinach, as these lovely but strong tasting greens would mask the the flavor of the Parmigiano & Balsamic vinegar

. Salt & freshly grated pepper

. Balsamic vinegar from Modena. Not all Balsamic Vinegars are worthy of that name. There is PDO Balsamic Vinegar from Modena which is fabulous and then there is wild west of balsamic vinegars where you never know what you are buying until you taste it. Below you will find 2 links to some nice PDO Balsamic and some very decent but not expensive balsamic vinegar.

Remember that a Balsamic vinegar should not taste like vinegar. It is more like a tangy grape syrup ; it should taste smooth, creamy with tangy and sweet notes.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
 - there are many wonderful types of extra virgin olive oil: fruity, less fruity, etc.
They are all good, I’d only avoid using using just “been bottled” olive oils as some types, in my experience, tend to be bitter (they do mellow out after a month or two).  

Naturally, we also want to avoid using rancid olive oils. So before you pour it on, TASTE it.

That’s it! There's only 5 ingredients! The success of this dish depends its ingredients, I will provide suggestions on how to choose the right ingredients as we go through the recipe.


1. We begin by shaving an old Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese preferred.

You can shave the cheese ahead of time and cover if not using immediately. This is a salad that we put together right before serving.

2. Put the clean lettuce in a wide pretty bowl and dress add salt and pepper with a good drizzle of EVOO and good balsamic vinegar. Toss salad.

3. taste a piece of lettuce to ensure that its properly dressed and adjust seasonings if necessary 

4. Right before serving slice the peach. It is important that you do not do it ahead of time as Ive noticed that cut peaches and nectarines color turns the longer it sits out. Slice the peach thinly - not paper thin but pretty close
5. place peach slices on salad in a pattern so that its pretty to look at

6. we will top each piece of fruit with a a thin shaving of parmigiano reggiano cheese 

7. place a drop (or drizzle) of balsamic vinegar over each slice of cheese
8. this salad is ready to serve as is, no further tossing should be done. to serve, don’t toss but use your serving utensils to dig deep into the bowl and pick up some salad with fruit & cheese on top. 

Buon appetito!

Recommended Balsamic Vinegars: 
(These are NOT an affiliate link as I don't know how to do that YET  :S)

This is the GOOD stuff- for special friends & loved ones. 
PDO Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena (here)

THIS is my everyday and awesome Balsamic vinegar. Its not made the traditional way but it tastes pretty close to the good stuff (here)
If you would like to see me prepare this salad - follow this link 

For more authentic Italian food (the way its done in Italy), visit my channel and consider subscribing - remember to also click on the bell to be notified everytime I upload a video. All the videos are on my YouTube Channel

AUDIO: Please forgive my audio, still working on improving it. This is only my 5th video and am working hard to learn as fast as possible and create videos all by myself during the pandemic!

May 2, 2020

Bolognese or "Bolognaise" ragu’

In Bologna, we call our meat sauce simply ragu’. There is no need to add "Bolognese" to its name since we ARE in Bologna (its important to add the name when outside of Bologna to distinguish it from other types of ragu')

Tagliatelle al ragu' . photo belongs to Taste of Italy BolopgnaEver wonder what the difference is between a Ragu' and Sauce? You might think that they are one and the same since they all go with pasta. But there are some important differences.

"Sugo" or sauce is a general term that indicates a fluid sauce. It can be a simple tomato sauce like a marinara or can include whole plum tomatoes and some other ingredients, cut small.

A ragu' is thick and chunky usually made by cooking several kinds of meat in a sauce, usually tomato. That said, a ragu' can also made with seafood, vegetables or a combination of these.  

The Bolognese ragu' is made with ground meat cooked with vegetables and a small amount of concentrated tomato, added for color. This ragu' is less fluid, hardly tomatoey - its really all about the meat!

Our ragu’ is never served with spaghetti as the small bits of meat would fall off the strands. If you’ve ever had spaghetti with a chunky sauce you probably remember eating most of the spaghetti first and at the bottom of the bowl, you had your ragu’. Ragu' and pasta are supposed to be consumed together, a bit of meat in every bite. 

So you want to choose a pasta shape that has enough surface so that you can eat the ragu’ with the pastaIn Bologna the ragu’ is typically served with flat wide egg dough noodles called tagliatelle and you will find this dish on menus as tagliatelle al ragu’. One can also find this ragu’ served with garganelli or farfalle (bowties); in fact the surface of both these shapes are ideal to carry the meat sauce. Check my posts on Instagram and Facebook to learn how to shape garganelli & bowties.

We prefer our ragu’ with egg dough noodles but non- Bolognese will also serve it with hard wheat pasta such as ziti, penne, etc. Remember you need a large enough surface that can carry those bits of meat and vegetables!

To learn more about the Bolognese ragu', be sure to read the following two excellent articles 
1. www.tinastable.com May 1st post
2. http://recipephany.com June 26th post

Buon appetito!

April 30, 2020

Online Pasta & Italian Cooking Lessons

Ciao everyone! Given the current world pandemic all cooking lessons are going online.

Alas, getting back to “normal” looks like it will take awhile and not being one who enjoys twirling her thumbs, I have decided to go “online”.

Sure it won’t be the same as cooking together in person, going to the market together or sharing a glass of vino in person, but we can do it online! We can still have a nice time together.

I will begin by opening up private cooking lessons and then based on the most popular requests, I will set up group lessons.

Some suggestions for lessons 
  • review pasta making techniques 
  • new or review pasta shapes, traditional egg dough or hard wheat dough
  • seasonal / traditional pasta sauces
  • how to clean/prep vegetables
  • desserts
  • antipasti aka appetizers 
  • kitchen hack
Or let me into your kitchen (virtually) and I’ll help you put together a meal with your pantry items; I’m actually pretty good at this!

As always, I am able to accommodate vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free diets.

Write to me via Instagram or send an email to maribel AT (use @ instead of AT) taste-of-italy.com (pls don’t send me messages on Facebook) with what you are interested in and dates/times you are available. I will give you an estimate of time needed to complete your request and price.

The aim is to stay within the hour, hour and a half. If necessary, the lesson can be divided over the course of two -three days.

You will receive a list of ingredients to purchase and equipment you’ll need to complete the lesson. 

Let’s cook yummy things together!

March 24, 2020

Pasta e Fagioli - Bolognese Style

A hearty and delicious soup, every Italian region has their own version; in Bologna it is made up of creamed borlotti beans, ham, garlic and rosemary. You can leave out the ham, I sometimes do - and instead add small squares of Parmigiano Reggiano rind- and no one at home notices! 
In Bologna we add egg pasta to our soup, generally the maltagliati (literally means poorly cut) which often are the leftover bits or rimasugli of your pasta making. If you don’t have any, then some quadrucci, little squares, are perfect. 
Although I prefer to use dried beans for this soup, I always have canned beans in my pantry so I can quickly prepare this soup, if need be. 

It is so easy you don’t really need a recipe but if you’ve never made it before, here is what I do:
1-1 and 1/2 cups dried beans or 2-3 cans borlotti (pink beans)
A large clove fresh garlic
a sprig of fresh rosemary
100g or 3oz fresh pancetta, cubed
salt &
100-200g of egg pasta maltagliati
bits of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind, optional

Special equipment: sumergible mixer

  1. Soak beans overnight if using dried or drain liquid from canned beans
  2. Cook dried beans following package directions 
  3. peel and smash garlic and place in large enough pot with a generous swirl of EVOO
  4. remove leaves off rosemary sprig and add to pot with garlic and oil
  5. add cubed pancetta to pot
  6. saute’ items in pot over medium heat until they begin to get colored, stirring once in a while - it smell really good, doesn’t it? :)
  7. Add cooked beans and enough water to cover beans, continuing to cook for about 20 minutes
  8. Remove several tablespoons of the beans and set aside for now.
  9. Taste and adjust to taste with salt & pepper and water if necessary.
  10. Remove from heat and using a sumergible mixer, whir everything in the pot to obtain a cream. 
  11. Then put the pot back over the heat, add the beans you set aside and if using, bits of Parmigiano Reggiano rind, now is the time to add it.
  12. Add egg pasta, stir in and keep over heat until pasta is done, largely depends on pasta used but a dried egg dough can take 5 minutes while fresh egg dough will take 2-3 minutes.
  13. Pour into bowls and if you like, add a nice swirl of extra tasty extra virgin olive oil to your soup.

It is easy to make the soup #vegetarian or #vegan. This soup uses #pantry items as well as foods other people would throw out: ugly little pasta bits (they should be similar in size and thickness for similar cooking time) and Parmigiano Reggiano rind (which has no wax).

#iocucinoacasa #iorestoacasa #keepcalmandmakepasta #mybologna #emiliaromagna #italianrecipes #ricettefacili #cucinaitaliana #italianfoodporn #foodies #pastafresca  #foodstagram #foodiesofinstagram #foodblogger #lacucinadellamamma #cucinadellanonna #vegetarianrecipes #recipesforlent #lentrecipes #meatlessmonday #cucinatradizionale #cucinaromagnola #italiancuisine #italiancooking #sustainable #easyitalian #easypeasy #easyrecipes