Pomodori gratinati al forno (tomato, oven, heaven)


Wait ten minutes and your kitchen smells like heaven.

For the longest time, I thought of this as a summer dish. Perhaps because I was conditioned to seeing my mother-in-law bring in a haul of tomatoes from her garden and work her magic on them. Then I saw the error of my ways—the utter foolishness of denying myself the pleasure of pomodori gratinati al forno–oven-roasted tomatoes–in the off season.  Continue reading “Pomodori gratinati al forno (tomato, oven, heaven)”

Chickpea Me



How can something so simple be so good?

A few years ago my wife and I spent a weekend in Naples, the one in Italy, where we had pasta with chickpeas. The dish was life-changing. It’s so easy to prepare, so hearty and healthy, I can’t understand why I don’t cook it more often. Like every week.

Now, about those chicks. When I have the time and my wits about me, I stop by a local Iraqi market and buy dried chickpeas, soak them over night, and cook them up (low heat, olive oil, salt and pepper) for a couple hours. Otherwise, when I am witless, which is more often the case, I buy canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans, we say in the U.S.), rinse them, and get right down to business. Continue reading “Chickpea Me”

Let Them Eat Thistles?


Cooking seasonal and sensational

The affectionate term for them is gobbi—hunchbacks. I’m talking about cardone, that distant cousin to artichokes. A stalky plant with raised ribs, cardone resemble celery. Like the artichoke, cardone is a member of the thistle family. Just seeing (or hearing) the word “thistle,” if you know the prickly plant, you feel a wave of caution. Handle with care, yes, but eat them with great pleasure. Continue reading “Let Them Eat Thistles?”

How to Satisfy Your Green Tooth


Glorious green!

We had our neighbor here in Michigan to dinner one day. He was educated in Rome and traveled extensively in Italy during his time there. That day we ate a dish of pasta, enjoyed some wine, and talked. After clearing the table for the next course, I placed a pan of spinach in the middle of the table.

He laughed. “I bet this is the only house in Southeastern Michigan serving spinach from a frying pan.” Continue reading “How to Satisfy Your Green Tooth”

I’ll Have the Ribs


How to make pork ribs, an inexpensive meat, taste like a million bucks

It was the lard that made us swoon.

My wife and I were having dinner at a restaurant in Reggio, Italy, one night. At the outset of a long meal, the server brought out affetatto (assorted sliced meats) and we were very much in heaven. Prosciuitto, mortadella, various salami–then came lard-thinly sliced, shimmering, buttery strips of lard that we rolled onto breadsticks.

I don’t know about other people, but we swoon outloud. The server, obviously pleased, to us, “You have to understand, for us, the pig is sacred.” Continue reading “I’ll Have the Ribs”

Turkey cutlets–cooked in milk


A fast, easy, irresistible meat dish

Thanksgiving day in Italy. There will be no turkey in the roaster, no dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy, no pumpkin pie. Later tonight we’re meeting friends for Thanksgiving ravioli. We have to save ourselves for that.

But for lunch? In the spirit of the holiday (sort of), turkey cutlets cooked in milk. Continue reading “Turkey cutlets–cooked in milk”