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Calabria, Part 8: Spicy Calabrian Recipes PDF Print E-mail
By Harald Zoschke  

Spicy Calabrian Recipes

Wild Onion Soup
(Zuppa di Cipolle Selvatiche)

Spicy-Hot Tomato Soup
(Zuppa Piccante al Pomodoro)

Chicken with Garlic and Chile
(Pollo, Aglio e Peperoncino)

Enraged Pasta (Penne all`Arrabiata)

Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil &Chiles
(Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini)

Devil’s Tart (Crostata del Diavolo)

Peperoncino Grappa
(Grappa al Peperoncino)

Tasty Treats from Italy’s Boot Tip

Our sizzling series about Calabria wouldn’t be complete without a collection of local fiery recipes. The Calabrian cuisine is filled with fantasy, offering all sorts of pasta accompanied by the wealth of food that this geographically diverse region has to offer. This includes porcini mushrooms and wild onions from the Sila mountains, all sorts of vegetables, fresh seafood from the coast, tasty cheeses, smoked sausage, ham, and--of course--peperoncini!

By the way, the Calabrians make fantastic wines, with some--like Ciró--not only having a thousand-year-old history as once offered to the Olympics athletes, but also a contemporary one, producing DOC wines that can stand up to competition very well with other regions of the country.

Our recipe collection will make a complete meal, including appetizers, main course (first and second -- primi and secondi), dessert, and even a hot digestive. Enjoy!

 

Wild Onion Soup (Zuppa di Cipolle Selvatiche)

This is a typical Calabrian dish, but it is also a favorite in some Puglian villages. In Italy, and maybe in some Italian specialty stores in the U.S., the wild onions can be found in jars in oil. They have a very distinctive taste, like (unedible) daffodils, which are botanically a close relative. Most likely though you will have to use scallions.

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces "Cipuddizze" (wild onions, replace with the white part of scallions)

  • Olive oil (extra virgin)

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 1 quart broth (vegetable preferred)

  • 1 small chile pod, red, hot (Thai , Serrano or Birdseye), seeds and stem removed, chopped

  • 14 ounces grey bread, stale, cubed, fried in a little olive oil

  • 2 ounces Pecorino romano cheese, grated (if unavailable, replace with parmesan)

  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Clean and quarter the onions.

  2. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the garlic until soft.

  3. Add onions, cook for 5 minutes and add broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until soft, about another 5 minutes.

  4. Shortly before the mixture is done, add the chile

  5. In each of four soup bowls, place bread cubes roasted in a little olive oil. Pour the soup over the bread cubes and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Add salt to taste.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Heat Scale: Mild


Spicy-Hot Tomato Soup (Zuppa Piccante al Pomodoro)This is a great dish for vegetarians! Just make sure that you use vegetable broth, not chicken or beef stock.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tomatoes (plum tomatoes are best)

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • 9 ounces. bread

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)

  • 1 bunch fresh basil, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 small chile pod, red, hot (Thai, Serrano, or Birdseye), seeds and stem removed, chopped (or more to taste)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Slit tomatoes on the top and submerge in boiling water for a minute. Remove from water, peel and remove seeds.

  2. Combine the tomatoes with the vegetable broth in a blender and puree. Remove and heat in a pan until hot.

  3. Place sliced bread in four soup plates or bowls.

  4. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, basil, garlic, and chile and mix well. Pour heated tomato mixture over the bread and top with garlic-basil-oil mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

Heat level: Medium


Chicken with Garlic and Chile (Pollo, Aglio e Peperoncino)

Serve this easy chicken dish with fresh crusty bread and a salad, but not with pasta or rice. The latter are solo players in Italy and are not served as side dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe tomatoes

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)

  • 14 ounces skinless chicken breast, cut into ½-inch cubes.

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 small chile pod, red, hot (Thai , Serrano or Birdseye), seeds and stem removed, chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/2 bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation:

  1. Slit the tomatoes on the top and submerge in boiling water for a minute. Remove from water, peel and remove seeds.

  2. Cube the tomatoes and drain in a strainer for 10 minutes.

  3. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and cook onions and garlic until translucent.

  4. Add cubed chicken and brown, stirring constantly.

  5. Season with pepper and salt, add the chopped chile pod and the tomatoes. Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes.

  6. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

Heat Scale: Medium


Enraged Pasta (Penne all`Arrabiata)

Of all the spicy Calabrian dishes, this one is probably the best known. Feel free to increase the heat scale by adding more peperoncini.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 to 3 medium onions, chopped

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 small chile pods, red, hot (Thai , Serrano or Birdseye), seeds and stems removed, finely chopped

  • 2 14-ounce cans chopped tomatoes, for example Progresso

  • 1 pound Penne Rigate pasta

  • 3 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

  • Pinch of sugar, salt

Preparation:

  1. In a pan, heat the olive oil over low heat.

  2. Add the onions, garlic, and chile and cook until the onions are golden brown.

  3. Add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes over low to medium heat.

  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta "al dente" in lightly salted water, according to instructions on the package.

  5. Grate the parmesan cheese and stir half of it into the sauce. Season with salt and sugar to taste.

  6. Drain the pasta well, mix thoroughly with the sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.
    Serve piping hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: HotTop of Page


Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil and Chiles (Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncini)Note the lack of tomatoes in this pasta. The dish depends heavily upon the flavor of the chiles.

Ingredients:

• ¼ cup Olive oil

• 2 small chile pods, red, hot (Thai , Serrano or Birdseye), seeds and stems removed, finely chopped

• ¼ cup finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley

• 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1 pound Spaghetti pasta

• Salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the chiles, parsley, and garlic. Cook until the garlic is soft.

  2. Meanwhile, in lightly salted water, cook the pasta "al dente," according to instructions on the package.

  3. Strain the pasta well. Add the pasta to the mixture in the pan, mix well and let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to blend. Add salt to taste. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Medium


Devil’s Tart (Crostata del Diavolo)

Sweet heat is popular in southern Italy, as evidenced by this tart, which is a specialty of the Sabbia d' Oro restaurant of the Calabrian province of Cosenza (see also here). Chile jam is readily available from mail order sources.

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces soft butter

  • 5 ounces sugar

  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

  • 11 ounces flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 5 ounces orange jam

  • 4 ounces red chile jam (Marmellata di Peperoncino)

  • 4 ounces almonds, peeled and chopped

  • 2 ounces confectioner’s sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and mix well. Add the egg yolks, egg, and lemon peel.

  2. In another bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and slowly add to the butter-sugar-egg-mixture.

  3. Roll out half of the dough and spread over a tart dish (pie dish).

  4. Spread the orange jam evenly on the dough in the pie dish, and then the chile jam evenly on top of the orange jam. .

  5. Combine the almonds with the remaining half of the dough, mix well, and roll out in the size of the pie dish.

  6. Tightly cover the tart in the dish with the rolled-out dough sheet. Bake the tart at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a rack and dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Heat Scale: Mild


Peperoncino Grappa (Grappa al Peperoncino)

Here’s a kicked-up version of Italy’s famous grape brandy! Keeping chiles’ favorable influence upon digestion in mind, this "hot Grappa" is ideal as a digestive drink after a meal. Note that this recipe requires advance preparation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart or liter Grappa

  • 1 red chile pod (like Lingua di Satana, Cayenne or Thai)

Preparation:

  • Place the chile pod in a clear glass bottle along with the Grappa. Place in a very sunny spot, for example on a windowsill, for about 30 days. The pod will most likely look somewhat shrivelled after that.

  • Strain the Grappa, store in a dark and cool place (basement) for another two months. After that, enjoy!

Yield: 1 quart or liter

Heat Scale: Medium

 

  

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 Photos by Harald Zoschke

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