Serving our mission in Italy has allowed me to learn about local dishes, and today’s blog features a favorite! Thanks to the generosity of Laura, co-owner of a local ristorante kitchen located in the historical center of Barga, I have been learning about traditional regional dishes during my time in Italy.
This white lasagna is different than anything I had ever made, as it showcases artichokes as the main flavor in this Italian classic. Rather than eat the outer leaves as we do in the States, the more tender inner leaves and heart are selected. Tasty and oh-so delizioso, this has become a surprise favorite on our table!
Ingredients and directions for the béchamel sauce are listed below, but you may also refer to our Baked Cauliflower Pie blog. That recipe is doubled below for this lasagna.
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Lasagne al Carciofo - Tuscan White Artichoke Lasagna
Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add shallots (if using) and sauté 2 minutes. Do not let brown.
Reduce heat to low, add flour, and whisk until smooth and raw taste is cooked off, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Add bay leaf and cook until just thickened, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
Stir in nutmeg and salt. Season with ground white pepper. Cool sauce slightly. Discard bay leaf before using.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the tops, about 2 inches. Chop the stem, leaving the leaves attached and cut the whole artichoke in half.
Thinly slice the artichoke in half vertically and set aside.
Drizzle the bottom of a pan with olive oil and add the slices of artichoke. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender. Remove from heat.
Gently combine the cooked artichoke with béchamel sauce and set aside
Thinly coat the bottom of a casserole dish with the béchamel sauce and begin layering the lasagna, beginning with the noodles, béchamel, and mozzarella. Continue layering for 3 layers, ending with a topping of mozzarella cheese.
Bake in the oven approximately 45 minutes or until the noodles are fully cooked, and the lasagna is bubbling around the edges.
HANDS-DOWN, ONE OF OUR SISTERHOOD’S MOST FAVORITE TREATS!
This is a dessert / snack that I think is fair to say, always brings a smile and sparkle to the eye. Whether served as a plated reception option, a surprise snack for a hard-working crew, a dessert tucked into a bag lunch, it always hits the mark—and is never refused! And as a living testimony to this—today, I left the batch of fresh baked Carmelitas on the counter, only to find when I returned to do my blog “photo shoot”, that the Sister on duty saw them and couldn’t resist offering a few to some Brothers doing a spackling job; I’m still hearing how much they loved them!
Greetings from Barga, Italy! For the past several weeks I have been serving at the Community’s outreach in Tuscany, and learning about Italian food in the process. During the holidays I made one of my most favorite Italian dishes: arancini. You would be hard pressed not to find comfort in these creamy risotto balls stuffed with cheese, aside from the fact they are also breaded and deep fried…mama mia.
As with most things I’ve encountered in Italy, this dish brings a centuries-long history to the table, dating back to 10th-century Sicily. While arancini has undergone some modern interpretation over the centuries, it remains a delicious treat. Buon appetito!
Fill a saucepan, crockpot or deep fryer with 4-5 inches of oil and heat to 350 degrees, regulating frequently with a thermometer if not using a crockpot or deep fryer appliance.
Form a ball of risotto no larger than a golf ball in your hand and press it flat on a piece of wax paper. Place a mozzarella cube in the center, and close the risotto around it. Reshape into a ball if needed and set aside and repeat with remaining risotto.
Once all the risotto has been formed, gently roll in flour, then egg and finally the breadcrumbs until fully coated.
Working in batches, gently drop risotto balls into the oil, frying until the outside becomes a light golden brown color. Remove from oil and place on a cooling rack to drain excess oil.
Serve warm or with a red or white sauce of your choosing.
“O Star of wonder, Star of night, Star with royal beauty bright…Guide us to thy perfect light.” How wondrous the Star that leads the Magi to the Infant Christ! And as we continue to celebrate this season so filled with awe and beauty, it lends itself to more creativity as we prepare treats for the many Yuletide events—(or for any festive occasion!)
Beat the butter and sugar in mixer bowl until light and fluffy; add egg and flavorings and beat until smooth.
Reduce mixer speed to low, and after sifting flour, baking powder and salt together, add slowly until just blended.
Divide dough in half, forming 2 disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, until firm, or longer if need be. It will need to be pliable to be able to roll out.
Using a sprinkling of flour, roll out dough to about an 1/8’ thickness. Cut out your desired shapes; place on baking sheet and bake for about 15” or until slightly golden. Let cool for a few minutes before glazing them.
In a medium size bowl, mix by hand, the sifted confectioners’ sugar, milk, corn syrup, salt, and flavorings until smooth and well blended. Depending upon the colors you’re using, divide glaze into separate dishes, adding colors
Holding the cookie, gently lay it on top of the glaze, so that surface is covered. Set aside for a few minutes and then decorate with colored sprinkles of your choice, before glaze sets too firmly.
Green tomatoes. What to do with these beautiful yet green garden tomatoes? A few things sprang to mind when I saw a flat of green tomatoes tucked in amongst other garden produce given to us from a local farm this week: fried green tomatoes (a classic!), green tomato salsa verde, green tomato muffins…
Then a recipe caught my eye for a green tomato fritter–just the thing! With a few “tweaks” to the original recipe–omitting the cinnamon and sugar in favor of a savory version–this late summer treat is a reminder not just the generosity of the giver, but an invitation to explore the possibilities of an otherwise puzzling and often overlooked gift from the garden–perfectly unripe.
In a deep, heavy pan, heat 3 inches of oil to 365° F, or use a crockpot with a fry basket.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and soda. Stir in the green tomatoes, corn and seasonings.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and butter. Stir into the first mixture until just blended. Batter should hold its shape when dropped into hot oil–add more flour if needed to thicken the batter.
Working in batches, drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil, cooking until fritters are a deep golden brown, turning about halfway through.
This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to pick blueberries from a local farm with a good friend of mine. We arrived shortly after sunrise on a glorious Sunday morning. We talked little and just enjoyed circling the bushes from different angles to find the plump berries. Her husband had fashioned coffee cans into containers that dangled from our necks to collect the berries. We both used this time to pray and be thankful. It's amazing how close to God we both felt in nature. So much beauty and peace surrounded us. I hope you will taste God's goodness in this tasty summertime treat.
1 pie(8 servings)
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
1 hour, 30 minutes
20 - 30minutes
1deep dish pie crust - 9 inchunbakedwell chilled before filling
For the filling:
2/3cupsugar(or more if you want a sweeter filling)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line the pie crust with parchment and add pie weights or dried beans. Place on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and bake the crust for about 20 min. Remove parchment and weights and return to the oven for 10 min. until slightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Prepare the filling: Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and lemon zest. Put the blueberries in a mixing bowl and add the sliced nectarines, lemon juice, vanilla and the sugar/cornstarch mixture. Gently toss and let sit as the berries start releasing their juices.
Meanwhile, prepare the crumble: In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and white sugar. Pulse until combined (this can also be done by hand). With your hands, press topping together to form clumps and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the pie: Pour the blueberry/nectarine mixture into your blind baked crust. Top with the crumble mixture - covering the top and spreading evenly.
Bake until the filling bubbles and the pie is golden brown, about one hour. Allow to cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.