Well, another Mamma Meets the Cucina battle was long overdue. This time they’re dueling with veggies.
Cast your vote at the bottom of the page for your favorite side dish! You can also cast your votes on the Una Mamma blog. And be sure to ‘like’ the Cucina Domenico group page on Face Book! Salud!
FROM THE MAMMA…
Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies – especially this time of year. I can remember my Grandma Rose picking the zucchini from her backyard garden, stuffing the flowers with ricotta and baking them. It was such a special treat that I loved when I was a kid. I figured that in an attempt to mimic my Grandma’s recipe I could risk shaming the family, so I opted for fritters instead!
Fritters are a fun and easy way to incorporate veggies into a diet – especially for picky little ones. It’s fun for kids to mix up a batter and watch them fry up. I made my daughter part of the whole process and she loved the final result twice as much because of it! Presented with a small slice of fresh lemon and parsley, these become a simple yet elegant side dish. They’re like a good pair of jeans – you can dress ’em up or dress ’em down and they always look great.
2 medium zucchini, trimmed & grated
1/2 small onion, trimmed & grated
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, beaten
e.v.o.o. for frying
Before combining all the ingredients, pat the grated onion and zucchini dry with a paper towel. This will remove any excess moisture that might make the batter too wet. Then combine all the remaining ingredients (except for the e.v.o.o.) with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
Drop spoonfuls of the batter into a skillet coated with a couple TBSP of e.v.o.o. Flatten them slightly and cook until golden brown on each side. (about 2-3 minutes per side over medium heat)
Drain on a paper towel lined plate and serve hot or warm.
(The great thing about these fritters is they are great party appetizers since you can easily make up a whole batch and reheat them in a warm oven on a cookie sheet.)
FROM THE CUCINA…
Peperonata, in my opinion, is the perfect Italian vegetable dish. The classic combination of onions, garlic and peppers sautéed in olive oil makes for the beautiful fragrance. The potatoes and tomatoes help give a nice, hearty texture to the dish. And the splash of white balsamic adds the delicious, slightly sweet, slightly tart finish. Whether you’re serving it as a side dish, as an appetizer or as a meal itself, the hearty and rustic peperonata is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that you will enjoy time and time again.
Many of the recipes that I have found use either fresh tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes, with the addition of some water or broth to keep the peperonata from drying out. I actually prefer to use canned stewed tomatoes and their juices. The stewed tomatoes are already seasoned, they are soft enough where they will meld nicely with the softened peppers and the remaining ingredients, and the juice is plenty to keep this dish thick but moist (you don’t want a soupy consistency). Be sure to use a variety of bell peppers. The variety of pepper colors make for a very appealing presentation. And don’t forget the crusty bread for dipping and scooping!
1/4 cup EVOO
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 bell peppers (two green, two red, two orange and two yellow), seeded and sliced into strips
2 14.5 oz. cans of stewed tomatoes and their juices
4-5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tblspn Italian seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tblspn white balsamic vinegar
In a large pot saute the onions in olive oil on medium-high heat, and when it is completely softened, and before it starts browning, add the garlic. Saute for an additional couple of minutes, then add the peppers, lower the heat to medium-low and stir well. Partially cover with a lid and let them soften up, about 10 minutes.
When the peppers have settled into the pan, add the stewed tomatoes and the potatoes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste and the Italian seasoning, stir well over medium-low heat. Add the white balsamic, stir again, cover, cook on medium-low for about 1-1/2 hours or until potatoes are cooked to preference, stirring occasionally. Serve on a platter with crusty or toasted Italian bread.