Welcome to my kitchen

Americans are crazy about Italian food! For years the western world was seduced by not only its appetizing medley of aromas, tastes, colors and textures but also by the “dolce vita” life style that it suggested. Now as the trend toward eating the Mediterranean diet escalates, Italian food is doubly appealing for its healthful use of olive oil, vegetables, grains, fish, cheese, fruit and wine. But Italy doesn’t have a stereotyped national cuisine. It is instead a very diversified, delightful cuisine reflecting the ever-changing landscape that varies from region to region and town to town. Italian food is also about using the freshest natural ingredients, prepared in a simple fashion to be shared with friends and family.

In this column I will share with you information about food staples and ingredients from the Italian pantry that are the fundamental building blocks of Italian cuisine along with some simple basic recipes. While preparing these dishes, I hope that you can relive memories of growing up in an Italian household or you might just feel like an Italian as you bring the aromas, tastes and spirit of Italy as close to your own kitchen. Along the way I also look forward to bringing you some brief essays on Italian food traditions, the ins-and-outs of Italian eating habits, and the role mealtimes play in the Italian life. There’s also certainly sure to be some musing about my individual pursuit of good honest Italian food.

The kitchen is the soul of the Italian home, welcome to my kitchen! – Michele Topor

Polenta alla Spinatoia – Polenta with sauce served on a board

This is the traditional Abruzzese rustic polenta feast, typically shared on a cold winter day with family and friends. The polenta is poured onto a very large wooden or marble board on the dining table. The top is smoothed and indented a bit in the center. The host then pours the sauce over the pole

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Polenta Taragna – Cornmeal and buckwheat polenta

  Polenta taragna is a mixture of cornmeal and buckwheat flour, typical to the Valtellina in Lombardia. It's name derives from Tarela, the long stick traditionally used to stir the polenta. One of the most requested dishes in the Valtellina province of Lombardia is Polenta Taragna. Depend

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Farro Spaghetti

Substitute pasta made from farro in any of your favorite pasta dishes. Since it has an earthy, nutty taste similar to whole wheat pasta, it pairs best with a more assertive vegetable.  

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Pomodoro Arrosti – roasted tomatoes

Baking tomatoes evaporates the water and deepens their flavor. These are delicious on their own or tossed with pasta, added to sautés, soups, and sauces or simply spooned over toasted bread.

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