“In Italy, food is an obsession and rightly so.” Traveling to Italy for over 40 years I have witnessed this infatuation and ardent passion for food on a daily basis. That is why, it comes as no surprise that in Italy almost every ingredient or traditional recipe is celebrated in some way, typically by means of a sagra or town festival. Montaquila, a town in the Molise region of southern Italy, celebrates La Sagra della Frittata or the “Frittata Festival.” In 2018, they kicked off the event by making a BIG-frittata with 1,501 eggs!
A frittata, is a great treat and for generations Italian's used it as a solution to reducing waste. After a family dinner in which there were leftovers (not often, but occasionally) those leftovers would make a tasty frittata the next morning. The frittata is a common way to use up any leftover ingredients you have in the fridge--vegetables, protein, pasta, beans, cheese--the list goes on. You can follow the recipe below or simply adapt it with what you have on hand. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Add the water and leeks to a cast iron skillet and heat over medium high until the leeks are soft; about 5 minutes. Add the extra virgin olive oil, green onion, kale, brussel sprouts and mushrooms (or other vegetable you have on hand). Heat until vegetables are soft; 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl then stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, milk and parsley. When the vegetables are cooked, pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. (For a prettier presentation, remove half of the vegetables, pour in the egg mixture then layer those vegetables on top.) Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until the eggs are just barely set. Carefully slide (use a hot pad as skillet handle will be very hot) the cast iron skillet into the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden and the egg mixture doesn’t run (test with knife) when sliced with a knife (I turn on the broiler for a couple minutes at the end to get a nice golden brown crust on top, but you need to watch very carefully it as it will quickly burn). Remove from oven and grate Parmigiano Reggiano over top of frittata. Serve warm or cold.
MasterChefs of the Renaissance
Italy Magazine tells us that at the courts of Italy’s most powerful families of the Renaissance, as well as the
Vatican, hosting sumptuous banquets was a major pastime, used especially as a demonstration of power and wealth. Skilled chefs were in high demand. Two of the most famous from the Renaissance, Bartolomeo Scappi and Cristoforo di Messisbugo, worked respectively for the popes in Rome and for the Este court in Ferrara.
Scappi started his career working for various cardinals, until he was hired to be the chef of the Vatican under Pope Pius IV and V. In 1570, toward the end of his career, he published a monumental cookbook, Opera dell'arte del cucinare, which listed 1,000 recipes of Renaissance cuisine; in it, he also described cooking techniques and tools and how to choose ingredients; he was the first to introduce ingredients coming from newly discovered America. In the book is the first depiction of a fork. Scappi wrote that Parmigiano Reggiano was the best cheese in the world (“il Parmigiano è il migliore di tutti i cacii”). Including numerous recipes of pasta, stuffed pasta, cakes and other pastry-based preparations, his book is a precursor of what would become modern Italian cuisine.
Ferrara-born Cristoforo di Messisbugo was a chef at the court of the Este, but his fame soon went beyond the city; he was often invited to Mantua, at the court of the Gonzaga, for consulting, while emperor Charles V, fascinated by his craftsmanship, nominated him a ‘count’. Cristoforo also wrote a cookbook, Banchetti, composizioni di vivande e apparecchio generale, where he described in great detail how to create the perfect banquet and the menus for his official feast at the Este court. Some of his recipes are still made in Ferrara today. Besides listing recipes, he also discusses logistics, decor, and cooking equipment. In the book, we also learn that the best caviar could be eaten at the court of the Este as it came from the Beluga sturgeon from the Po river, which flows near Ferrara.
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Tony Moglia's grandparents immigrated from Italy in the early 1900's. He's a dual citizen who has traveled extensively throughout Italy for 40 years. He's happily married to a vibrant dancer who together have two children and three grandchildren. Tony has dreamed of Villas of Italy since his first trip to Italy, and now he shares his dream with you.