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Calamari salad is always on the antipasti menu in Italy. It brings the freshness of the sea, combined with fresh raw vegetables, the deep rich flavor of extra virgin olive oil and the tartness of fresh lemons. Add a variety of shell fish and you have frutti di mare. Served cold or room temperature this delicate salad is healthy, and sensational.
Although this is usually served as an antipasto, I make it as a main course for my husband and I. It is easy to make and although you want it to be as fresh as possible, it can be made a little in advance and stored in the refrigerator. The flavors meld and increase the intensity of the fish. It is a wonderful vegetarian dish as well as a special summer salad especially served with a dry white wine such as a Gavi di Gavi. Today calamari can be found in all fish markets and supermarkets, so you can enjoy either a calamari salad or frutti di mare year round.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
1 1/2 lbs of fresh calamari
1/4 cup of celery, chopped
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
Parsley, chopped as desired
Salt & pepper to taste
Clean the calamari by removing the inner sack and spine. Pull the tentacles out and remove the beak behind the eye.
Cut the calamari tubes in 1” sections and boil the calamari in salted water for 2 minutes. Remove them and put them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Take them out of the water and dry them with paper towels.
Add the chopped celery, fresh juice of one lemon, chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle salt and a few grinds of black pepper and serve cold or at room temperature.
My version is to add boiled cubed potatoes, white cannellini beans or chickpeas and either celery or fennel. Quartered lemons and fresh chopped parsley adds color and flavor.
Ricotta torta is a much lighter cheese cake then the traditional NY cheese cake. It has less fat content then cream cheese and like most Italian desserts is far less sweet. This is a large cake and only has 3/4 cup of sugar. Fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, honey or jam glazes not only add color but additional sweetness. We don’t usually add anything as it has a lovely lemon flavor.
Ricotta is made from sheep’s, goat, buffalo or cows milk whey, it containes a little less fat and is less dense as well. Ricotta is used in both dessert and savory recipes in Italy. Torta Di Pasqua Al Formaggio is an Easter speciality.
Torta Di Pasqua Al Formaggio
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour or until done @ 350º F
Yield: 12 Servings
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 egg, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
Additional cold water to mix the dough, if needed
2 pounds whole milk ricotta
3/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, zest only
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Other things needed
1 9” x 13” baking dish
Mix the dough ingredients and roll the dough into a 9” x 13” rectangle. Reserve 1/4th of the dough to make lattice strips to go on the top of the torta. This step is optional. Place it in a baking dish, fitting it so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the edges so that are the same size as your baking dish.
Cut the strips about 1” wide the width of the baking dish with a fluted cookie cutter. Lay one set of strips about 4” apart on the diagonal over the filling. Make another set of strips layering them over the first layer in the opposite direction. Cut the edges so that they fit against the sides of the pan.
Mix all the ingredients for the filling beating in one egg at a time.
Pour the mixture into the shell and place it in a 350º F oven for 1 hour or until done. Stick a toothpick into the middle; it should come out clean. Let it cool and place it in the refrigerator.
Cut the torta into squares. Serve fresh strawberries, or other toppings of your choice served on the side. You can also make a berry syrup, pureeing berries in your blender. Strain the berries to remove all the seeds. Add a few teaspoons of liquor and sugar to taste depending on how sweet the berries are. The syrup can be poured on the bottom of the plate; place the slice of cake on top and drizzle the syrup over the top.