In General Articles on October 23, 2011 at 6:09 PM
Grandma, who crossed the Atlantic 101 years ago on the Principe di Piemonte, with three children aged 7 and younger, loved ceci beans (chech-ee), which are also known as chick peas and garbanzo beans. As a callow youth with an unsophisticated palate, I hated them. To me, they were mealy and dry and I never tasted them again until about 10 years ago, when I had a ceci-based soup at a restaurant in Vagliagli, in the Chianti district of Tuscany. After that, I began to appreciate their texture, flavor and adaptability to a variety of uses. One such use is in Garbanzo Bean Soup.
Recently, I had occasion to have lunch with some friends at the Indian Road Café, in my old neighborhood of Inwood in northern Manhattan. I ordered a delicious shrimp sandwich, which came with a side salad of chick peas dressed with pesto. Having some pesto sauce remaining from the batch of Uncle Fred’s Homemade Pesto Sauce that I had made several weeks ago, as well as several cans of garbanzos in the pantry, I had an epiphany and headed out to the market to pick up a red onion, cucumber and lemon. The first of two of those items were visible in the salad as well as the chick peas and pesto, but I had no idea about the lemon, it just seemed the right addition.
The serendipitous result was Insalata de Ceci, named in honor of Grandma, who I believe would have loved this dish. The moral of this tale is ‘Listen to your grandma, as she is always right!’
In Pasta, Recipes, Sauces on October 23, 2011 at 6:06 PM
(Makes about 2 cups of sauce)
4 cups of basil leaves (stems discarded) packed tightly
5 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely, about 1/3 cup
1 cup pignoli nuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for preserving
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Place chopped garlic and pine nuts in a food processor.
2. Add the basil leaves and pulse-chop the ingredients, pausing after 10 pulses or so to push down the basil leaves with a spatula. Continue pulsing until all of the basil is chopped.
3. Slowly add the olive oil while running the food processor.
4. Scrape all of the ingredients from the sides with a spatula.
5. Slowly add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and give it one or two quick pulses.
6. Transfer the pesto sauce to a clean, pint-sized jar. When the pesto settles, slowly top it off with about ¼ inch of olive oil, which acts as a preservative air barrier and prevents the pesto from being exposed to air, turning brown and going bad. In this state it can be refrigerated for several weeks.
Angel Hair Pasta (Capellini) with Pesto Sauce
Capellini (Angel Hair Pasta)
• 1 cup of pesto sauce
• 1 lb. of Capellini
• Cook pasta according to directions.
• When pasta is cooked and before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water, add it to a large bowl, drain and add pasta to the bowl and toss, add pesto sauce and mix well.
• Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano – Reggiano.
Insalata de Ceci
In General Articles on October 23, 2011 at 6:05 PM
As summer winds down into the first full month of autumn, the last of the basil has been picked. The memory of summer has long since faded as the leaves begin their whirling descent to blanket the lawn with brown, red and gold. While the outside air smells of autumn, the kitchen air is redolent with the vestiges of summer, freshly picked basil.
The aroma of basil has always meant summer to me; summer on the Jersey Shore, and summer vacations on Cape Cod, where our first stop was to see Uncle Fred and Aunt Jo. On those latter occasions, not only did Fred provide us with our first night’s dinner, but also with a basil plant that he had carefully tended, and which lasted for the entire month of our vacation.
So with October in the wind a few weeks ago, we picked the leaves from the last of our basil plants and decided to extend summer for a few weeks more by making pesto with a recipe from Uncle Fred. For a brief history of pesto and its ancient method of preparation, before the invention of blenders and food processors, check out the article in this link to the foods of Liguria. Liguria is one of the western-most regions of Italy, it borders on the French Riviera and encompasses Genoa, San Remo, Portofino, and Cinque Terre.