Dear Noelle, I don't make homemade manicotti shells. I buy my shells imported from Italy at an Italian store. But,…
Lisa at Forte dei Marmi in August, 1994
Ferragosto is a treasured holiday in Italy. Historically, Italian workers would take the entire month of August off for vacation. If you are an Italian movie lover, you might have scene Pranzo di Ferragosto, in which Roman shenanigans ensue when the middle aged bachelor Gianni entertains his friends’ and colleagues’ mothers (along with his own!) on a hot, deserted Ferragosto in the historic center of Rome. Today, while month-long vacations are fewer and fewer in Italy, August 15th is still a sacred day when celebrations and the enjoyment of Italy’s landscape, from the mountains to the sea, are high on the agenda. And central to Ferragosto is a pranzo or cena- a lunch or dinner- of grandiose proportions that gathers friends and family around a table to celebrate this height of the Italian summer. In this menu, Lisa has put together just such a menu for you. Buon Ferragosto!
FERRAGOSTO ANTIPASTO: Lisa’s 5 Step Bruschetta
A round loaf of Italian bread sliced (Lisa recommends Turano bread for this)
6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 lbs of grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons of Italian tomato paste
8-10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
4 large balls of burrata cheese
Grill or toast sliced bread. In a sauté pan, place 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 12 cloves of garlic, chopped, and 1 1/2 lbs of grape tomatoes, sliced in half. Add 2 tablespoons of Italian tomato paste (in the tube). Cook on low heat until caramelized and thick. Add 8-10 leaves of fresh basil, chopped.
On the grilled bread, rub 1 clove of garlic (slice the clove of garlic down the center and use the flat side to rub on the bread). Drizzle with olive oil.
Take 1 ball of burrata cheese and spread it onto 1 slice of the Italian bread. Top with the tomato mixture. Enjoy!
FERRAGOSTO PRIMO: Lisa’s Summer Tomato Sauce
1/8 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
2 pounds of grape or cherry tomatoes
8 large fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 pound cooked spaghetti
In 1/8 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil, sauté 8 cloves of garlic thinly sliced. Take 2 pounds of grape or cherry tomatoes.
Slice each tomato in half and add to the garlic and olive oil. Chop 8 large fresh basil leaves and add to the tomatoes and garlic. Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Add 4 tablespoons of tomato paste from Italy, concentrato. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce has reduced. Add 1 pound cooked spaghetti to sauce, and toss.
FERRAGOSTO SECONDO: Chicken Vesuvio
Six boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1.5 pounds of red potatoes
8 cloves of garlic
13 oz jar of marinated artichokes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon Italian thyme and 1/4 teaspoon oregano
Sauté six chicken breasts in 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until golden on both sides. Remove from the pan. Take 1.5 pounds of red potatoes, sliced in half, and sauté in the same pan as you did the chicken, until golden, adding more olive oil as needed and 8 cloves of garlic. Place the chicken breasts and the potatoes in a large casserole and top with marinated artichokes (a 13 oz jar). In the same pan where you sautéed the chicken and potatoes, add 1 cup vegetable broth and 1 cup white wine. Reduce until the sauce is fairly thick and add 1/4 teaspoon Italian thyme and 1/4 teaspoon oregano. Pour the sauce over the chicken, potatoes and artichokes. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
FERRAGOSTO CONTORNO: Zucchini Boats
4 medium to large zucchini
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
¾ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
½ lb Italian sausage, crumbled and sautéed, optional
2-3 tablespoons Italian tomato paste
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for cooking
½ a cup of mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil and fresh oregano (3-4 leaves each)
Slice off ¾ or ½ inch of the two ends of the zucchini. Slice the zucchini down the center, lengthwise. Either with a knife or a tablespoon scoop out the inside of the zucchini. Chop and place in a mixing bowl.
In a medium to large size frying pan, place 3-4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped inside of the zucchini, Roma tomatoes, and stir. Allow to sauté for 15-20 minutes. When the zucchini mixture is soft, add the Italian tomato paste. Stir. Add the breadcrumbs and stir, incorporating all the liquid that has come from the vegetables until the mixture is fairly thick. Chop the fresh herbs and add the salt and pepper.
Place the zucchini boats in a 9x 13 inch casserole. Fill each zucchini boat with the tomato zucchini mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove from the oven. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on top. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Buon appetito!
FERRAGOSTO DOLCE: Ricotta Pie
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup almond biscotti, crushed very fine
16 ounces of ricotta, whole milk
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the melted butter with the crushed biscotti to form a paste. Spread the biscotti mixture into a 9 inch pie plate all the way up the sides of the pie plate to form a crust.
Mix the ricotta, sugar, eggs and cream and beat until smooth. Pour the ricotta into the pie plate.
Bake for 40 minutes. Cool before serving. This pie is delicious topped with crushed cherries or crushed pineapple.