For that day when I do travel to the region, I hope Crawford will have created an app. Otherwise, I’ll be forced to lug her three-pound, 368-page tome with me. It’s an exhaustively researched guide to the mountains, meadows, vineyards, and coasts, all with their own distinctive foods, wines, architecture, museums, attractions, and festivals.
Most Italian regions don’t border anything other than other Italian regions or the sea but not Friuli Venezia-Giulia. It juts north and east of the peninsula. It’s bordered by the Veneto to the west, Austria to the north, The Republic of Slovenia to the east, and the Adriatic Sea to the south. Romans, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians, and Slavs have all ruled this territory over the centuries. Parts of the region weren’t incorporated into the Republic of Italy until after World War I and the cosmopolitan city of Trieste not until 1954.
Middle European influences abound in dishes such as sauerkraut, buckwheat pasta, liptauer, goulasch, and torta Dobos. Yet, the region also produces foods that are recognized around the world as quintessentially Italian: prosciutto di San Daniele, Montasio cheese, and Illy caffè.
Chopped green tomatoes are seasoned with parsley, hot pepper flakes, garlic, celery, and olive oil in this unusual pasta sauce.
Since I wrote about Miriam Rubin’s delightful cookbook Tomatoes back in May, I’ve been intending to try her recipe for Green Tomato Pasta Sauce from the region of Abruzzo. I was intrigued because I’d never eaten anything like it or even seen a recipe for an unripe tomato sauce.
I panicked recently when the weather forecast predicted an overnight frost. I hadn’t tried the green tomato dish and time was running out. Unlike Rubin, who is a dedicated home vegetable grower and pens the “Miriam’s Garden” column for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, I do not have a patch from which to pluck tomatoes. A generous gardening friend donated some green fruit to enable the test.
The sauce is easy to prepare. It’s a lively blending of tart fruit, hot pepper, rich olive oil, and plenty of garlic. I believe it would be a good recipe to use in the winter months with pale, firm supermarket tomatoes. I’m going to give that a try, too.
I’m curious if any SimpleItaly readers have relatives or friends who live in, or are from, Abruzzo who prepare a similar sauce. Please share a Comment if you do.
Crostata al Gelo di Mellone (watermelon pudding tart) from Sicily graces the cover.
I don’t know why Rosetta Costantino’s family emigrated from the small southern Italian hill town of Verbicaro to the San Francisco Bay Area when she was 14. But I am grateful they did.
Had Costantino remained in her native Calabria, I doubt I would be salivating over her new book Southern Italian Desserts. Written with Jennie Schacht, it is a meticulously researched cultural accounting. The book includes 76 recipes for traditional sweets from the regions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily. Some of the pastries, such as Cannoli, are familiar to English-speaking bakers but many, such as Biscotti di Ceglie (almond cookies filled with cherry preserves), are revelations.
With photography by Sara Remington and Ten Speed Press’s signature high-quality production values, the volume is as visually appealing as its recipes are alluring.(Ten Speed also published Costantino’s first book My Calabria.)
I never met Marcella Hazan but we spent many an hour together in my kitchen.
Hazan, 89, died Sunday at her home in Longboat Key, Fla. Her beloved husband, Victor Hazan, was with her.
Authenticity and simplicity were the foundations of Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks.
The title of her 2008 memoir Amarcord (“I remember” in the dialect of her native Romagna) sums up her career: Marcella Remembers: The Remarkable Life Story of the Woman Who Started Out Teaching Science in a Small Town in Italy, but Ended up Teaching America How to Cook Italian. And teach she did with her first volume The Classic Italian Cookbook and six subsequent titles.
She received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the James Beard Foundation in 2000 and the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 2004, as well as an Italian knighthood. Victor was her inspiration, lifelong collaborator, and writing partner (she wrote in Italian and he translated), himself an authority on Italian food and wine.
Love was at the heart of all she did. When she met Victor, an American who had been born in Italy and lived there as a child, he had returned to Italy to write and to eat. She was a scientist with no interest in food or cooking.
As she told Linda Wertheimer in this 2010 NPR interview, “He was always talking about food. For me, a young woman, you think that someone who courts you would talk about other things, not food. Especially when you’re not interested in food.”
We all thank Victor for his ardor and persistence. Marcella and Victor’s son, Giuliano Hazan, is stirring the pot for the next generation.
Do you have memories of Marcella, her cookbooks, or classes?
Adding some vodka to the passato brings out the sweetness of the fruit. The alcohol, which evaporates during cooking, dissolves certain flavor compounds that neither oil nor water can release. If using vodka, add ½ cup to the puree (step 4) as it reduces.
10 pounds very ripe plum tomatoes, cut in into lengthwise quarters
Pack a large non-aluminum pot with as many tomatoes as will fit, pressing with clean hands or a large spoon to squash the tomatoes to release some juice. Set on medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes or until the tomatoes start to release more juice.
With the back of a large spoon, press the tomatoes. Gradually add the remaining tomatoes until they all fit in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes or until tomatoes are very soft.
Set a food mill over a large non-aluminum pot. Working in batches, ladle the tomatoes and juice into the food mill. Pass the tomatoes through the mill to puree. With a silicone spatula, lift out and discard the skin and seeds after each batch.
Set the puree over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium and cook at a brisk simmer for 5 minutes. If the puree is too thin, continue to cook until it is reduced to the desired thickness. Skim and discard any light-colored foam that rises to the surface. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate for several hours to chill thoroughly.
To freeze, ladle into 1 cup containers. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. To use the sauce, thaw the amount needed overnight in the refrigerator or microwave on the defrost setting for 10 minutes. Heat the sauce in the microwave for 6 to 8 minutes or transfer to a saucepan set over medium heat.