Saturday, September 1

San Remo and Food of Liguria

Ligurian Food

Fresh basil is finally here and it's time to make pesto for this year. It's hard not to remember my trip to San Remo and Liguria when talking about pesto. Great weather, scenery, food and music from the famous San Remo Festival are just some of staples of this Italian region. One can not go without another. So this post is a bit different than others, and it has little bit of everything.
Hopefully, it will be able to bring a little bit of that Mediterranean charm with these few photos from my trip and Umberto Tozzi's song "Gente di mare".

Not surprisingly, fish and seafood are popular food in Liguria. Some classic dishes are: Ciuppin, fish soup; Buridda, warm saltcod; and Cappon Magro -an elaborate pyramid-shaped seafood and vegetable salad. Stuffed tarts, or torte, and focaccia, both savory and sweet are also popular along with farina-chikpea bread. But the most famous Ligurian dish today is the widely popular pesto.

So let's start with it.


Originated in Genoa, influenced by Arabs, Persians and Byzantines, it's a sauce mostly used with trenette (egg less narrow noodles) or in minestrone soup. Real Genovesan pesto does not use strong pecorino romano cheese, but only more mild parmegiano regiano, as is with a choice of olive oil, but it really depends on a personal taste.

If you want to make it traditional way, get a good mortar and pestle instead of food processor.

A World pesto championship  occurs annually in Genoa. And as you can see on this photo from the last Championship,  pesto has to be made in mortar.

For good pesto you need:

2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 garlic chopped cloves
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1/2-1 tsp salt
black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmigiano
1/4 cup grated pecorino sardo (mild pecorino version)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Crush basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt, pepper by using circular motion until into basil paste. Add cheese. Mix. Add olive oil.
If you cook pasta, use couple of tbsp of cooking water to steer in with pesto, when serving .
Pesto is the best when freshly prepared before serving with pasta.
If you making it in food processor, do not over process cheese.

Ravioli Rossi al Pesto

Ravioli dough is made with tomato where it get it's fine pink colour and is the best if cooked in chicken or fish broth.

1lb - 2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup of Pesto sauce (from previous recipe)
1 egg yolk
salt, pepper

Red tomato pasta dough (recipe on my Pasta page)
grated parmigiano

Drain ricotta and combine with pesto, egg yolk salt and pepper.
Make pasta dough and place one tsp of filling on one side of the dough sheet. Cover with the other and create and cut out little squares with filling in the middle and tightly closed edges of dough.

Stuffed eggplant

Popular recipe for eggplant from Liguria-great light dinner or appetizer

4 small eggplants
250g/1/2 lb wild mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 large garlic, finely chopped
125 g prosciutto chopped
2 eggs beaten
1 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Pecorino cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram

Cut eggplants in half lengtvise and scoop out a pulp

On a hot pan add onions and garlic and cook for five minutes. Add mushrooms and prosciutto and chopped eggplants. Cool.
Combine eggs, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Add cooled mixture and cheese and marjoram.
Fill eggplant shells and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for about half an hour. Serve warm.

Ligurian lemon tart

Lemon and orange trees are staples of this area and are on almost every backyard corner and streets. That's why lemon is often part of cakes and cookies, ice creams and drinks.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter / oil
2 eggs


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
8 eggs
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream

To make a dough combine all the ingredients and wrap and chill in a fridge.

Preheat the oven to 160 C/325 F.
In a greased round pan put a rolled dough 5 mm thick.

In a bowl beat sugar and flour along with eggs. Whisk in lemon zest, juice and heavy cream.
Pour the filling into pan with a dough and bake for about forty minutes. Serve cooled.

Pan dolce (fruit loaf)

From Liguria, a nut cake with all the aroma of Italian fruits.

For the dough

1 lb (1/2 kg) all-purpose flour
2 tsp yeast
1 cup water
1 lb (1/2 kg) all-purpose flour
5 tbsp granulated sugar
100 g raisins
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp pistachios
2 tbsp orange flower water
1 tbsp Marsala wine
3 tbsp melted butter

Dissolve the yeast in the water, blend in the flour and then put into a food mixer and mix well. When the dough is ready, leave to rest for 3 hours.
Make a well in the center of the flour and put all the ingredients into it. Add the biga dough and mix everything together.
Once it has been mixed well leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Shape into small loaves and allow to rise.
When the dough has finished rising, place it in the oven for around 40 minutes.

Zaleti (Cornmeal, pine nut and raisin cookies)

Although Zaleti are a traditional cookie from the Veneto region, I thought it might be interesting to have here recipe for these unusual cookies because they are loved all over Italy. They are often enjoyed together with a glass of aromatic wine. Their intense and refined aroma are sure to win you over.


1 1/2 cups (270 g) yellow cornmeal
1 1/3 (210 g) cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grappa or brandy
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
3/4 cup dark raisins
3 large eggs
grated zest of one lemon
pinch of fresh vanilla

powder sugar for finishing

Mix the two kinds of flour with baking powder. Add the raisins, previously soaked in warm water and grappa, the pine nuts, milk, grated lemon zest, honey and vanilla, to make a stringing mixture.

With your hands, shape the mixture into small oval cakes about 3.2 inches long. Place them onto a lightly buttered baking sheet in a hot oven. Cooking time is generally 20-25 minutes, but it can vary according to the size of the “zaleti”.
These can also be fried in oil but I prefer low fat version of baking in the oven.

Anna del Conte’s Sweet Gnocchi Hearts

I recently learned about this simple and delicious, gluten free, recipe from new Anna del Conte's cookbook created with her granddaughter.

Makes 12 hearts

4 large eggs
175g caster sugar
50g cornflour, sifted
500ml single cream
the zest of 1 lemon

Beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy. Put the cornflour into a bowl, add a little of the cream (about four tablespoons) and beat well to form a liquid paste. Now pour the cornflour paste into the egg-and-sugar mixture and beat well to incorporate. Pour in the rest of the cream, add the lemon zest, and continue beating until the mixture is well blended. Transfer to a saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring the whole time, until the mixture is quite thick and the first bubbles break the surface (about five minutes). Cook and stir for a couple more minutes.

Moisten your silicone moulds with a drop of cold water and fill them with the custard. Spread the mixture all round each mould, filling every corner. When the shapes are cold, put them in the fridge.They can stay there for a day or two. 

Poached blueberries

250g blueberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
the juice of 1 lemon

Rinse berries under cold water, put them in a pan and add the sugar. Cook until the berries break up. Mix in the lemon juice and that’s it. Let the berries get cold in the fridge and then serve them in a bowl or around the gnocchi hearts.

Sweet coffee gnocchi
One more great sweet, for coffee lovers

170 g of flour
40 g of corn starch
2 egg yolks
100 g of sugar
100 g of butter
1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp water
1 tsp of ground espresso
a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa
baking powder (6g)
1 tsp vanilla extract (0,5 g)
little milk (optional)
icing sugar

Mix the flour with the starch, sugar, the two types of coffee,
cocoa, baking powder and vanilla. Add the egg yolks and butter
and mix well. If necessary add a few drops of milk. Divide the
dough in half and form 2 ‘sausages’ a thickness of about 4 cm.
Wrap them in foil place them in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Preheat the oven to 160C. Cut the sausages into slices about 2 cm
high, take a fork and press gently into the surface (as if you're
stamping it with a seal) to get the ridges to obtain sweets like
gnocchi.Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper
and bake for about 20 minutes. Let them cool. Place each
‘gnocchi’ in a candy paper cups, arrange them all on a platter
and sprinkle with icing sugar.


Recipe is on my Bread page

homemade focaccia

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