Taste of Parma with Friends

I loved my short visit to Parma last May and my extreme pleasure getting to see how Barilla pasta is made. I've eaten pasta all my life and to walk into a large facility like that and see how pasta is made for  the masses was very eye opening and well just plain awesome!
Barilla is a large company that employs many in the area and they don't just make pasta, they make some of my favourite childhood cookies Pavesini! An easy dunk into coffee or melt in  your mouth cookie on it's own.
I enjoyed such delicious food while I was there and also had the opportunity to cook at the Academia Barilla and taste delicious pasta recipes and enjoy wonderful extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Many people know I am Italian and have a fondness for my own culture and food, but being in the Northern region of Italy food is a bit different but just as tasty! I had some friends over for dinner this past weekend and prepared some of the tasty finds that I had tasted in Parma. Grab some great Italian wine and good friends and put on your own dinner party! You are sure to have a good time and perhaps plan a trip to Parma and see how much fun you can have in a area full of delicious food, people and culture! Buon appetito!

Linguine with Lobster
Fresh wine and tomato sauce adds a delightful flavour to the rich tasting lobster. Perfect for a first course to any Italian planned meal.

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cooked lobsters (about 1 1/2 lb/700 g each), tail and claws removed and tail cut in half
1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pkg (454 g) linguine pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley or basil (optional)

In a large deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook shallots for about 8 minutes or until golden. Add lobster pieces and saute to start heating through.

Add wine and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring for 2 minutes for wine to evaporate. Stir in tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes start to soften and give off some juices. 

If possible, remove lobster meat from shells and return to sauce.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water cook linguine for about 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain well and add to sauce and toss to coat. Drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with parsley if using.

Makes 6 servings. 
Tip: You can use 6 lobster tails for the lobsters, either cooked or steamed. If they are not cooked, saute the tails a bit longer to cook them through first with the shallots and wine.

Garlic Thyme Tagliata with Arugula
Fresh herbs and garlic make this thick juicy steak so tasty. A few simple ingredients will make this a favourite backyard barbecue treat.

3 tbsp (45 mL) red wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
Pinch each salt and pepper
4 rib eye steaks, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick
3 tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice
1 container (5 oz/150 g) baby arugula
1/2 cup (125 mL) shaved Parmesan cheese

In shallow glass dish, stir together vinegar, oil, garlic, thyme, oregano and mustard. Add steaks and turn to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Place steaks in greased preheated heavy bottomed frying pan and cook, turning once for about 10 minutes or until medium rare or desired doneness. Remove steaks to cutting board and cut steaks into slices before serving.

Return pan to medium heat and add lemon juice to heat through. Spread arugula into large bowl and then drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle with parmesan and top with sliced steak. Season with salt and pepper before serving

Makes 8 servings.

Tip: You can also grill the steaks and simple wild the arugula in a separate pan. 

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Asiago and Herbs

Try a variety of wild mushrooms for a different taste each time you make this dish. This is a recipe my husband James has mastered and we love serving it to friends and family. 

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Arborio rice
3/4 cup (175 mL) dry white wine
5 cups (1.25 L) chicken or vegetable stock, hot
4 cups (1 L) sliced wild mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster, chanterelle, enoki, lobster or morel)
1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) each chopped fresh parsley and basil
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook stirring for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add rice; stir to coat for about 1 minute. Pour in wine, stirring often. Add mushrooms; cook stirring, for about 5 minutes. 

Using ladle, pour in about 1 cup (250 mL) of the stock; increase heat to just above medium, but not quite medium high. Cook, stirring until most of liquid is evaporated. Cook, stirring for about 15 minutes using as much of the stock as necessary. Cook rice until tender but firm, remove from heat. Stir in cheese and butter until melted and smooth. Stir in parsley and basil to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Tip: If no wild mushrooms are available you can use white button or cremini mushrooms instead. Cook for about 8 minutes.

Tip: For a deeper mushroom flavour, try using dried porcini mushrooms. Soak 1 pkg (3 oz) dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water. Let stand for 15 minutes. Strain through coffee filter reserving liquid; rinse mushrooms. Decrease stock by 1 cup (250 mL) and use soaking liquid.


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