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Marion’s Dinner Ideas While Quarantined

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Ordinarily we bring to our readers ideas for La Pasquetta – “Little Easter,” the national holiday in Italy that follows the most Holy Day of the year. This year, with everyone staying indoors as we do our part in this fight against the virus outbreak, I thought I would offer a few recipes that will make the day brighter.

Whether you are spending this time alone, as a couple or with your family, try to make it a day to remember by adding some special touches – have an indoor picnic, a romantic dinner for two or any other way that you can celebrate this day which commemorates the meeting of the Risen Christ with his disciples on the day after the Resurrection.

Even if you can only travel as far as your backyard or living room, throw a blanket down and grab a basket to create an experience. Make sure to take pictures to mark the occasion as we stay apart, so that soon we may all be together again.

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Black Lentil Salad & Chickpea Salad with Mint Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups black lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 6 scallions chopped
  • 1 (14 oz) can chickpeas
  • 6 large, ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

Dressing

  • juice from 1-1/2 large lemons
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Cook the lentils until al dente in boiling water, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and bring to room temperature.

Use a blender to puree the dressing ingredients.

Add the lentils and other ingredients into a large bowl, then pour on the dressing and toss to mix. Let salad rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, mix again, then serve.


Tramezzini

These sandwiches are traditional for Little Monday and there are really no rules regarding the creation of these finger foods. Normally the crust of the bread is trimmed away and whatever meats such as prosciutto and salami left over from the Easter antipasto are used. Other ingredients may include hard boiled eggs, paper-thin tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, cheeses and even chopped artichoke hearts in oil. If you are so inclined, you might even whip up some Venetian mayonnaise for some of the sandwiches.

Venetian Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbsp high-quality ground mustard powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • juice of 1 whole lemon
  • A splash of white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

Blend together the dry ingredients, plus the egg and yolk and white wine, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.

Prosciutto Tramezzini

Ingredients

  • 5 oz Prosciutto di Parma
  • 18 slices Italian bread
  • 12 leaves arugula
  • 6 oz mozzarella
  • 4 oz sundried tomatoes
  • 2 hardboiled eggs

Preparation

Build three tramezzini sandwiches with three layers of bread and two layers of prosciutto, arugula and tomatoes and one layer of mozzarella. Make the other three sandwiches with the remaining ingredients. Insert two toothpicks on top of each sandwich to keep them together. Cut and discard the outer part of the bread. Cut sandwiches in half to shape into triangles.

Paccheri Carbonara

With a sauce that is cheery and bright yellow from the fresh eggs, this delightful dish is creamy, without using cream. This recipe is a glorious mixture in just the right proportions. By using primarily egg yolks, the sauce is not too thin, but do not add too much Pecorino or it will over-thicken the sauce.  Adding a bit of Pecorino as you toss the pasta is the real trick in obtaining a true Carbonara worthy of the finest Rome restaurants.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta, cut into 1/3″ cubes
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground green peppercorns
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground pink pepper
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Place the guanciale in a large skillet and cook over a medium-low flame, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered, but the guanciale has not yet browned, 4-5 minutes. Pour into a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl; reserve the drippings. Transfer the guanciale to a large bowl and let it cool slightly. Add the egg yolks and egg to bowl; whisk to blend.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Immediately add the rigatoni to the egg mixture along with 2 tablespoons of the pasta water and 1 teaspoon of the guanciale drippings; toss to coat. Working in 3 batches, gradually add the Pecorino, stirring and tossing to melt between batches. Add the green, pink and white pepper; toss until sauce thickens, adding more pasta water by the tablespoon, if needed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Divide among bowls and garnish with additional Pecorino cheese.


Pasta allo Scarpariello

Ingredients

  • 1 lb spaghetti or paccheri or rigatoni
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halve
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino and Parmigiano, grated and mixed
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Preparation

Place a pot of water on the stove for the pasta. After the pasta has been cooking for a few minutes, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high flame with the crushed red pepper flakes. Once sizzling, add the sliced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté lightly over a medium flame for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes have fully wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus a little bit of the cooking water from the pasta (about 1/3 cup), to make a sauce.

Add the cheese and stir to create a creamy sauce. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Toss lightly. Add a bit of freshly-grated pepper and a bit of grated cheese and serve.

Roasted Fresh Ham

There’s nothing like the taste of a fresh ham. If you do not care for the traditional lamb or goat, this is the perfect meat alternative.

Ingredients

12-pound fresh ham roast from the leg, bone in

10 garlic cloves, halved

1 tbsp chopped rosemary

coarse salt

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp olive oil

freshly ground pepper

arugula for garnish

Preparation

Using a sharp knife, make incisions about 1 inch apart at least 1/2 inch deep all over the ham. Chop the rosemary and fennel; mash garlic to a paste. Add the rosemary and fennel seeds, 2 teaspoons of salt and combine. Stir in the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

Using a wooden skewer, push about 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic paste deep into each incision of the ham. Rub the remaining paste all over the ham. With the ham fat side up, use a knife to score a 1/2 inch deep criss-cross pattern. Put the ham in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Take ham out of refrigerator and let set to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 300°. Place the ham in a roasting pan and rub the ham with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 3 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and put juices in a small sauce pan. Return the ham to the oven and roast for 3 hours longer or until it is deeply browned.

Spoon any remaining pan juices and fat into the small saucepan with the other pan juices. Skim off the fat. Let the roast stand for 15 minutes before carving. Heat the juices and put in a gravy boat. Serve on a bed of fresh arugula.

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

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