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One of the most exciting parts of travel is immersing yourself in the local culture.  And, one of the best ways to do that is with food. Whether you are thinking about your bucket list trip or want to reminisce about a trip you’ve already taken, preparing that local flavor at home can really hit the spot.  Here in Italy, this is classic Italian street food – la piadina!

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Sugar, Spice and Everything in Between

Do you like sweet, spicy or salty? Whatever your go-to crave is, a piadina has got it covered……literally!  A piadina is a thin, rustic Italian flatbread sandwich, made of some of the most basic ingredients, which you likely always have on hand.  Originating from the Emilia Romagna region, “la piadina” is  one of the traditional regional foods in this area of northern Italy, world famous for its food and wine. I’ve spent a great deal of time in this region’s capital, Bologna. It’s where my husband grew up and where my mother-in-law and I have spent countless hours going through old family recipes.

rolling out dough for a piadina
Rolling out dough for the classic Italian street food: la piadina

Any time you visit Italy

Nowadays, any time you visit Italy, and in whichever of the 20 regions of Italy you may find yourself, you’ll find the piadina.  Venice is in Veneto, the region just north of Emilia Romagna.  When you walk into gam gam goodies, our kosher bakery/pizzeria a few doors down from GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant, you’ll often hear someone ordering a piadina. Read on to find out what what you eat in a piadina! Similar to a wrap or tortilla, you can fill a piadina with whatever suits your tastes.  Here are three of my favorite piadina fillings:

Piadina Pizza

Making a Piadina Pizza is super easy.  Choose your favorite sauce and cheese.  Then, spread them on a baked piadina.  Add seasonings like fresh basil and oregano, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Heat this open-faced piadina in an oven or in a pan on the stove top until the cheese is melted. 

Piadina with Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries 

Whether you choose white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, you can’t go wrong.  You can use a ready make creamy chocolate spread or make your own. My Best Ever Chocolate Mousse is perfect for this.  You can get that recipe here: https://rebbetzinunplugged.com/best-ever-chocolate-mousse/

Using a large spoon or spatula, spread a generous portion of chocolate on a piadina. Then add fresh cut strawberries on top. Like the piadina pizza, this can be eaten open-faced, or folded in half.  Feel free to add a mix of fruits, such as peaches, forest berries, pear or whichever are the seasonal fruits in your area. 

Veggie Piadina

If you want to step up your vegetable intake, the Veggie Piadina is a delicious way!  Choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Then, in a sauté pan, cook your favorite combination of vegetables, such as red & yellow pepper strips, zucchini, Roma tomato halves, mushrooms, onions, carrot ribbons or eggplant.

Load your veggies in a horizontal line on the piadina, add seasonings and extra virgin olive oil to your liking.  To create a barrier to prevent the vegetables from falling out, fold in the left and right sides of the piadina just a bit.  Then, from the side closest to you, begin to fold the piadina  over the vegetables.  Halfway, tighten the roll if necessary.  Continue rolling until the piadina is completely closed.

Here’s my four ingredient recipe for homemade piadina.  https://rebbetzinunplugged.com/4-ingredient-recipe-for-homemade-flour-tortilla-wraps-in-just-30-minutes/

Tip: If you are packing this in a lunchbox or to take on a trip, wrap a napkin around the piadina first, then wrap well with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.  This will prevent the piadina from getting soggy.

The Italian region of Emilia Romagna is famous for agriculture, cuisine, wine and Italian street food, like the piadina.

Are you ready for some Italian Street Food? Which of your favorite fillings would you put in a piadina? I can’t wait to read your comments below!

Classic Italian Bietola e Patate (Swiss Chard & Potato)

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Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
When it comes to classic dishes of a particular region in the world, this dish would definitely come to mind for anyone from Venice, Italy.
Easy in the pan with olive oil, garlic and for those who like to have a little cake, some mini hot peppers, in Italian called peperoncino. Low in fat and calories, Swiss Chard (bietola) is nutritious and delicious.
Just like it’s cousin spinach, Swiss chard is a high powered protein, coupled with the rich taste of potatoes and extra virgin olive oil, this comfort food makes a great side dish for everyone around the table or even a main course for vegetarians and vegans.
What’s more is that Swiss chard is loaded with vitamins and minerals. This nutrient list will have you incorporating Swiss chard into your meals more often! It’s full of vitamins k, a and c and has potassium iron and magnesium.

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 bunch of bietola
  • salt & black pepper (to taste)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (sliced)
  • optional: peperoncino ((fresh hot pepper))

Instructions 

  • Peel and cut potatoes into sixths or eighths.
  • Boil in a large pot of salted water until fork tender.
  • While the potatoes have been cooking for about 10 minutes, cut the ends of the white stems (leave some of the stem) and roll the bietola leaves and rough chop.
  • Heat evoo in a large saucepan and add the bietola, season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Peel the garlic clove.
  • Tip: cut each end off the garlic clove. Laying your knife horizontally parallel to the cutting board, gently smash the garlic clove. The peel should come off easily.
  • Add the garlic to the bietola.
  • Add some chopped peperoncino, if desired.
  • Tip: Handle hot peppers with care: wash your hands completely with soap because the oil residue can remain for on your fingers for some time, causing pain if you accidentally touch your face.
  • Drain the potatoes when fork tender and add them to sauté pan and gently mix them into the bietola.
  • Re-season if necessary.
Author: rebbetzinunplugged
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: italian, side dishes, vegetables

From Spaghetti and Meatballs, to Vegetarian Lasagna and Risotto, these meatless lentil meatballs are so easy and delicious, they’ll be stars amongst your dinner rotation ideas.

Everyone’s Looking for New Ideas for Dinner 

How about a new twist on an old classic.  Spaghetti and Meatballs is known to be a crowd pleaser, but more and more people are becoming acquainted with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.  Or how about that guest who is on a keto-diet?  

Have no fear, lentils are here.  Lentils are a delicious and easy substitute for meat and cheap too.  In additon to being a great source of protein, lentils are also rich in iron, folate and relatively low in calories.

Meatballs without the Meat

Although canned lentils are fine for ready to eat food, I recommend using dried lentils for this recipe.  Dried lentils are better for cooked foods like soups and stews, whether cooked in a traditional pot or in a crock pot.

Dried lentils are easy to use.  Just rinse them well and cook lentils like rice, one cup of lentils to two cups of water.  Each cup of dried lentils yields approximately two and a half cups of cooked lentils. Another benefit of using dried lentils is that you control the salt/sodium content in your food.

Alongside rice, lentils should be a staple in everyone’s pantry, whether you are new to cooking or very experienced in the kitchen.  Lentils come in many varieties and can be seasoned in a myriad of ways, making them an ideal addition to your cooking, from a simple meal to an extravagant one.


Easy & Delicious 3 Ingredient Olive Dip. Green and black olives, olive tree sprigs

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Real Life Meatball Story:

This story has become one of my children’s favorites.

Before we got married, my Italian husband and I were speaking on the phone.  Hearing the pots clanking and the water rushing from the faucet, he asked what I was up to in the kitchen.  

In his Italian accent, he started the conversation with:

Him: Are you cooking?

Me:  Sure am.

Him: And, what are you going to cook for dinner tonight?

Me: I’m making Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Him: What?

Me: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Him: What’s that?

Me (concerned): What do you mean?

Him (questioningly): You’re having pasta and then you are having meatballs as the main dish?

Me: No, just the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Him: Um…..classic? How does that work?

Me (puzzled): What……..?

Him:  Like, are you going to eat it all at once, everything together?

Me: Um, yesss..…

Him: What do you do, put a meatball on top of the pasta?

Me: No, they are small. Some on top, but most mixed into the spaghetti.

Him: Interesting…..we don’t usually eat the meatballs mixed into the spaghetti.

And so, there you have it! American girl meets Italian boy and now he loves my Spaghetti and Meatballs! Especially when it’s with these meatless lentil meatballs.

Meatless Lentil Meatballs

No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4
A Meatless Dinner That Everyone Will Love

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg

Instructions 

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Rinse lentils well.
  • Add lentils and water to pot.
  • Bring water to a boil, then simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, saute onion until carmelized.
  • Add shredded carrots and continue to saute’ for 5 minutes.
  • Combine cooked lentils with onion and carrots and add remaining ingredients, except the egg.
  • Preheat oven to 425 F / 220 C
  • Pulse with immersion blender (or food processor).
  • Add egg and pulse a bit more.
  • Form meatless meatballs and bake on a baking sheet.
  • Brush with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes. (depending on your oven, you may find it useful to rotate the vegetarian meatballs halfway through cook time).
  • These meatless meatballs are great with spaghetti, as a meatball sandwich or as a Vegetarian / Vegan pate’, similar to refried beans.

Notes

Tip #1: One cup of lentils to two cups of water.
Tip #2:  Use parchment paper for quick and easy clean up (Save even more time by using the pre-cut kind).
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: dinner, lentil, lunch, meatless, pasta, vegan, Vegetarian

You May Also Like…..

If you like these Meatless Lentil Meatballs and Italian cooking in general, then you’ll love my Bisse Italian Biscotti recipe. 


What other ways do you incorporate vegetables into your meals? Waiting to read your responses in the comments below!

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