Heading to Italy for Pasqua, Pasquetta and (hooray) Shopping

Posted on

I am always happy to let my thoughts turn to Italy. My next trip is in two weeks. My husband is going with me this trip, so more product can come back with me! As unhappy as taking empty suitcases for a long trip makes him, he’s a great sport in carrying packages and taking the very heavy full suitcases home with him.

This trip will start from Rome once again. And hopefully a quick stop at the Borghese Gallery where the Caravaggio room always wows. It takes a few days to get settled, then I will be off to visit markets from Lazio to Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Tuscany and Lombardy. A very full schedule, but this trip is five weeks. So, I can manage all the time in bella Italia.

If you want spices from Mauro in Campo dei Fiori, Sundried tomatoes from Sicily or pine nuts, just let me know so I am sure to get enough of your favorite spice mix.
This trip begins as always, in Rome. It helps me get oriented and my brain thinking in Italian.

The rough, open to change, itinerary will be through Florence, stops in Spello, Bologna, a trip to FICO, Milan, Vetralla among other small villages and markets.

I will be bringing back Extra Virgin Olive oil from Farfa with me. There will also be honey from Sardinia, porcini from Vetralla, spices from the famous Mauro Berardi and whatever other items clients have requested.

Here’s a great spring recipe.

Farro Penne with Porcini, Pistachios and Arugula
1/2 Cup roasted pistachios, divided

1/2 Cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Salt & Pepper

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 cloves of finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup dry sherry

8 oz. Farro Penne or similar type pasta

1 cup fresh Arugula leaves

Grated Parmesan Cheese


Place dried porcini in a small bowl and cover with hot water (about 2 cups). Let stand till softened, not more than 30 min. Remove the mushrooms, squeezing to get most of the liquid from them (reserve it all). Chop the mushrooms coarsely and set aside.

Coarsely chop the pistachios and set aside. Put the remaining 1/4 cup pistachios in a blender with the stock, 1/4 cup of the mushroom liquid, the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt & pepper. Blend until smooth (might take about 3 min.)Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the rehydrated mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the dry sherry and bring to a vigorous simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

eanwhile, cook the farro penne in a large pot of boili salted water until still slightly firm in texture, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

salted water until still slightly firm in texture, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Add the pasta, the reserved pasta cooking liquid and the pureed pistachio mixture to the pan with the mushrooms. Stir the mixture as the liquid is slowly absorbed. Continue stirring as the pasta finishes cooking and the sauce thickens and coats the pasta. If too dry, add a little more of the mushroom soaking liquid. Cook for a minute or two longer, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Just before serving, toss the pasta with the arugula leaves and top with the reserved chopped pistachios. Serve with plenty of nutty grated parmesan cheese, if desired.