Spring Farro Salad

Spring Farro Salad

Spring is officially here! What better way to kick off this season than with a delicious spring farro salad that is easy to make and packed with flavor. Plump chewy and lovely nutty farro grains are the star of this recipe.

Spring-Farro-SaladFarro is an ancient grain high in protein that is grown in Emilia-Romana, Tuscany and other regions of Italy. Combine these little flavorful wheat berries with seasonal vegetables and a lemon Dijon vinaigrette and you have yourself one delicious main course or side dish.

Spring Farro Salad I created this recipe for my cooking shows with Smeg in Chicago and New York City. While Spring had sprung in Italy, little did I know that a snow storm would be heading my way when we landed in Chicago last week! We arrived with sunshine and optimal temps but awoke to a flurry of snow. It was quite a sight. Luckily it was just a one day ordeal and the snow quickly melted in the following days. Thank goodness! I am so over winter…bring on spring and all the good seasonal fruits & veggies, t-shirts and light weight coats and longer days of sunshine.

Spring Farro Salad
 
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This delicious spring farro salad with lemon and dijon vinaigrette is easy to make and packed with flavor. Enjoy!
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • For the salad:
  • 1½ (300g) cups farro (emmer)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 carrots, chopped or grated
  • 1 fennel, chopped or grated
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup packed organic spinach (1 oz, 30g), chopped
  • 3.5 oz (100g) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
  • 2 tablespoons (6g) chopped chives
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 organic lemon, juiced
  • Zest from ½ organic lemon
  • 2 tablespoon (30g) Dijon
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Add the farro and water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Cook according to the package instructions.
  2. In the meantime, add of the ingredients for the sauce to a bowl and stir.
  3. When the farro is done, drain and pour into a serving bowl. Add the carrots, fennel, radishes, spinach, Parmigiano Reggiano, chives and the sauce. Mix well. Serve warm or cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator and serve cold. Buon appetito!

Here are some photos of the shows in Chicago at Williams-Sonoma , Eataly, Bloomingdales and the IHHS tradeshow . We had a great time in Chicago and are now having a lot of fun at our shows in NYC. If you want to see more photos, check out my Facebook or Instagram pages.  March 26, I will be at Bloomingdale’s NY 59th from 12-2pm and will be making this salad along with beet farro crepes topped with ricotta, blood oranges, pistachios, honey and aged balsamic vinegar. I look forward to hopefully seeing you there!

Upcoming Cooking Shows: The Easy Way To Prepare Ancient Grains

Upcoming Cooking Shows: The Easy Way To Prepare Ancient Grains

Mr. Italicano and I have just arrived in the USA! Over the next two weeks we’ll be in Chicago and New York City, doing a variety of “Ancient Grain Farro Cooking Shows” with Smeg USA at Williams-Sonoma, Eataly, Bloomingdales and the IHA trade show. For complete details you can check out my event calendar. I would love to see you there! I look forward to teaching you how to make nutritious meals with this superfood grain. I’ll show you how easy and quick my recipes are to prepare, with Smeg USA’s practical and beautiful 1950’s style appliances.

Every since moving to Italy, I have adapted a Mediterranean lifestyle.  I cook simple recipes made with natural and fresh ingredients that explode with flavors. During my last cooking shows, many complaints by the audience was that they are passionate about cooking but don’t have the time to get in the kitchen. I disagree. With the right recipes and kitchen tools, making homemade meals takes less time than going to a restaurant, let alone the meal will cost a fraction of the price! I talk more about this topic in an earlier post.

The art of eating well and feeling good is simplicity. When I got this basic principal down, I didn’t mind getting in the kitchen to cook because it wasn’t a strenuous task, but a way to have fun, relax, slow down and be mindful about what I was putting into my and Mr. Italicano’s bodies. Simplicity also means having a few tricks up my sleeves for our modern lives. Just like I wouldn’t go to the nearest river stream to wash my clothes (thank goodness for washing machine’s!), I also don’t waste my time mashing, kneading, rolling out, chopping and cooking every day. In fact, to keep my life simple, these are recipes that you can make once and enjoy them the following days. I also use use a blender, stand mixer, and a variety of attachments that do a lot of the work for me in rapid time. I heart technology that supports my mission to eat healthy and homemade.

I’ll be posting these recipes soon to my blog, but in the meantime here is a sneak peak on what I will be preparing at these fun culinary demonstrations in Chicago and NYC!

1. Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt and Pistachios 

2. Homemade Matcha Pasta with Spinach, Zucchini and Lemons 

3. Beet Crepes with Ricotta, Arugula, Blood Oranges and Aged Balsamic Vinegar 

4. Spring Farro Salad with a Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette 

In the meantime, you can follow along on YouTube! We’ll be posting frequent episodes of our day preparing and cooking at these events (and hopefully discovering some good restaurants as well!) I would really appreciate your feedback and support. Please leave us a comment on youtube! Thanks so much!

Ciao ciao!

Cindy

This post is in collaboration with Smeg USA, but all of my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi

So what does International Women’s Day and homemade saffron gnocchi have in common? Well, if you have ever visited Italy on this day, this dish may remind you of the mimosa spring that is given to women to celebrate March 8th,, La Festa delle Donne. All throughout Italy, you’ll find this lovely yellow blossom handed to women as a symbol of love, appreciation and when given woman to woman, as a sign of solidarity.

This lovely Italian tradition inspired me to create a dish that resembles the mimosa. Cooking a homemade meal is my favorite way to show a gesture of my love, so dear readers, this mimosa dish is for you.This is my gesture of solidarity and admiration towards women. We are stronger today than ever before, we love to share and give, we love to create, we love to cultivate and we especially love to grow. We’re like these fluffy gnocchi: simple in nature, good and each piece, is one of a kind. 

Homemade saffron gnocchi is a simple and genuine dish to make for your special group of friends. 100% handmade. In every bite your friends get a taste of your love. Here’s to equality for women, not just once a year, but every day.

Homemade Saffron Gnocchi
 
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Homemade saffron gnocchi is a simple and genuine dish to make for your special group of friends to celebrate International Women’s Day. 100% handmade. In every bite your friends get a taste of your love. Here’s to equality for women, not just once a year, but every day.
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • For the gnocchi:
  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) potatoes suitable for gnocchi
  • 1½ to 2½ cups (150-300g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • For the saffron sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter
  • 8oz (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons of hot water
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Instructions
  1. Wash the potatoes with their skins on. Drop them into a large pot, fill with cold water, then bring them to boil over medium-high heat until the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Drain. While hot, peel them then pass them through a potato masher, letting them fall onto a large floured workspace.
  2. In a small cup, add the hot water and saffron threads. Allow them to infuse for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add half of the flour, a few pinches of salt and work the flour and potatoes together. Make a well and add the egg and continue kneading the mixture, adding little by little more flour until a soft dough forms. Roll the dough into a large loaf, then cut into slices like you would a loaf of bread. Roll out each slice into a small looking bread stick, making sure to use a small amount of flour so it doesn’t stick to the work surface. Slice into small pieces. For regular gnocchi, you can cook right away or roll off the tins of a fork to create marks or for festive gnocchi that look like the mimosa flower, a symbol of  La Festa della Donne or Women’s Day, roll each piece into a ball.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  5. In the meantime, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the heavy cream. Add the infused saffron water (you can also filter the water if you don’t want saffron threads to show), salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. Salt the water with 1-2 tablespoons of coarse salt and add the gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top;1-2 minutes. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and add the gnocchi to the skillet. Add a spoonful or two of cooking water. Mix until the sauce is the right consistency and remove from heat. Serve warm with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Buon appetito!

My Food Blogger Life on YouTube!

My Food Blogger Life on YouTube!

La Mia Vita da Food Blogger Adesso su YouTube3

I started a Vlog! Whattttt the heck is that? Well, it’s like a blog, but with video. Get it? Vlog. Anyhow, I’m super excited. Mr. Italicano and I are filming almost DAILY VIDEOS. You get to see what the life of a food blogger is like behind scenes, the recipes that I prepare, travels in Italy and abroad; practically my entire life. In all of these episodes I try to accomplish my 5 goals. Why? Because I want to remind myself to live each day fully.

My 5 goals:

1. Exercise

2. Work…then work harder

3. Do one thing that scares me

4. Eat Healthy

5. Play, Laugh, Relax

One of my main struggles is that I often become mono-focused on my work. I can go through periods where I don’t take time to exercise, eat healthy or relax. I strive to work hard, but I realize the need for a more balanced day. I want to put more focus on living a healthier and happier life every day. I also want my days to be full of emotions and moments for me to look back on. I try to remind myself daily of my favorite quote, “You only live once…what are you going to remember the most?”

I hope these videos help you to get motivated about creating 5 goals to do more in your day. If you like these video, I’d really appreciate your support by subscribing to my YouTube Channel. This will keep me motivated to bringing you more lifestyle videos every day. I would love to know about your ideas and your goals. I would appreciate also if you found these videos motivating or if you have suggestions on how we can improve them. In other words, I would love your comments and feedback! Thanks again for watching and supporting us on this new adventure!

Without further ado, here is the first week of vlogs!

VLOG 1 – Setting Goals In this video I talk about why I moved to Italy, my saggy tush (quite embarrassing) and my 5 step plan to live a healthier and happier life every day. I hope you find this video entertaining, funny and inspirational to do more in your day.

VLOG 2 – Best Market Grocery Bag Here I take you with me to an Italian farmers market where I stock up on my fresh fruits and vegetables and meet my American friend Adrienne. Our daily dishes are centered around fresh and seasonal produce. This is the base to my healthy recipes made simple on this blog.

VLOG 3 – How to Make Homemade Matcha Pasta

This episode talks about making matcha green tea pasta, shooting the photos, a night run and my 1 scary thing of the day (no spoilers here). Mr. Italicano also surprised me by cooking! He hardly never cooks, and his dish was awesome!

VLOG 4 – How to Make Matcha Tea

Have you ever tried Matcha tea? I’m not a big tea drinker. I often find most teas are too bitter for me, however, I am absolutely falling in love with Matcha. It’s a ground green tea that has just the right amount of bitterness and is packed with antioxidants. I LOVE how versatile it is to add to my recipes. Watch the video to learn what temperature of water to use and how to make it.

VLOG 5 – How I Make Energy Balls

In this episode I show you how I make energy balls! They are an energy packed snack that you can whip up in a matter of minutes. I brought these on Tuesday to my friends Enrico Gualdi & Sandro Damura from Radio Bruno. Coming soon I’ll be posting a blog on behind the scenes clips of what it’s like to go on air on an Italian radio station and whether they liked my energy balls or not!

Be sure not to miss my future blogs by subscribing to my YouTube Channel. Thanks again and make your day great!

10 FOOD TRENDS AT THE 2017 WINTER FANCY FOOD SHOW IN SAN FRANCISCO

10 FOOD TRENDS AT THE 2017 WINTER FANCY FOOD SHOW IN SAN FRANCISCO

WHAT IS THE FANCY FOOD SHOW?

Mr. Italicano and I visited the Winter Fancy Food Show (or FFS) in San Francisco in January. FFS is a trade show held twice a year in America: the winter edition is held in San Francisco and the summer edition is held in New York City.

At the San Francisco FFS, over 33,000 companies from around the world operating in the food and beverage sectors exhibited their novelty products, while industry professionals (generally buyers, distributors, journalists, other producers in the sector) got a chance to learn more about these products and new food trends.

The fair was held over the course of three days, from January 20th to the 22nd. We were there the 21st and 22nd (the 20th we were doing a cooking show. ) We had press passes which allowed us to also listen to private talks/interviews about the food scene. 

In this article and through these short video interviews, I want to highlight for you the most interesting companies and products I discovered at FFS. I also mention briefly what I didn’t find that shocked me. Without further ado, let’s take a look at my rankings!  


# 10 PINK HIMALAYAN SALT

Pink Himalayan salt is certainly not a novelty … then why did I insert it in my list? There are two reasons. I believe that many do not know why pink Himalayan salt is different from common salt, and why the cost for it is so high. Salt is probably one of the most widely used ingredients in the kitchen, but not all salts are the same.  Pink Himalayan salt is extremely natural due to its extraction process which, unlike common table salt, does not use any chemicals (bleach) or additives ( anti-caking agents). In this video, I interview Himalayan Chef who talks more about Pink Himalayan Salt and its benefits. I hope you find it useful. You can find more information on the Himalayan Chef’s Website. 


# 9 ALOE VERA DRINKS

In addition to its remedial properties for the treatment of burns, Aloe Vera is becoming a trend in the food industry, thanks to its vitamins and beneficial properties for the immune system and digestion. Keep in mind though that scientific research around the benefits for humans is still ongoing and conclusions on whether it provides significant health benefits without negative side effects is still not clear cut. Another aspect that I noticed by examining the products seen at the trade show was that unfortunately many of the ingredients contained many refined sugars. In my opinion, if scientific research doesn’t uncover problems with ingesting aloe vera, these drinks will become even more increasingly popular and spread throughout the world. However, I invite you to always double check what you are buying and to always check the ingredient list to make sure there aren’t additives. 


# 8 BARREL-AGED MAPLE SYRUP 

Organic maple syrup, aged like a scotch. Although not alcoholic, it has a strong distinctive flavor depending on which type of barrel it was aged in. Barrel aging is only one method, this producer also has infused and smoked maple syrups that are perfect for the preparation of desserts, sweets, ice cream and even cocktails! These small artisans are gaining international success with their extremely innovative and interesting line of products.  Find out more on RUNAMOK MAPLE.  


# 7 VEGETABLE CHIPS

Last year I posted a recipe for homemade kale chips . I’m glad to have seen several companies offering these kind of “chips” in their line of products. Although a variety of vegetables were used for chips, the common theme among producers were kale chips, beet chips (I’ve already bought beets to try them at home) and broccoli chips (on my list as well). Strangely I didn’t see many pumpkin chips. I like the idea that many food producers are moving more and more towards the discovery of how to use vegetables in delicious ways, although, honestly, I read the backs of some of the packages and was surprised to find ingredients that weren’t natural. I think we are on track but there is still some steps to be done to get to have a very natural product and as little processed as possible. Surely this has an effect on producers’ pockets, but we consumers have to make our voice heard to protect ourselves and our children against harmful products. So, until I find a good brand I like, I suggest to make you own at home!  Check out the recipe above, and more to come!


# 6 APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

I already knew about apple cider vinegar and some of it’s health benefits. However, I had never tasted one quite so flavorful and complex like I did at FFS. When I took a sip from a sample at the Fire Cider booth an explosion of flavors invaded my mouth. Sharp, sweet, tangy and spicy…all in one sip. It’s packed with a variety of ingredients that you typically don’t find in regular apple cider vinegar: honey, oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, garlic, turmeric and habanero pepper. I felt an instant energy charge. I watched Mr. Italicano with glowing eyes and said, “we have to interview them.”

Not only does this apple cider vinegar taste good, it also has great digestive benefits. The ingredients are all natural and organic with no added sugar. It’s fantastic to drink a shot in the morning to start your day or you can add it into cocktails, dressing for salads or marinades.  Find out more about on Fire Cider’s website. 


# 5 BEETROOT KETCHUP

Ketchup has always been my weakness. With Italicana Kitchen, very day I am committed to testing and promoting healthy foods made with fresh products, no preservatives and alternatives to white sugar. I try to always cook healthy at home because that is where we eat the majority of the time and I want to feed Mr. Italicano and I with good wholesome foods. On the occasions we do eat out, it’s a treat where I try any dish I want (whether it be healthy or on the unhealthy side). So, when there is a plate of fries in front of me, I often can’t resist adding a mound of ketchup next to them. (Mr. Italicano says I often eat more ketchup than fries! Which is probably quite accurate.)

The problem with ketchup is that it is usually loaded with white sugar and additives. So, when I noticed this natural beet ketchup by Foraging Fox I got super excited like a child in front of an ice cream stand. Using beets and apples to naturally sweeten the ketchup, it contains no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners and is perfect for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diets. I’m so glad to have discovered this small manufacturer from England who produces this delicious natural ketchup. I hope that this company starts a movement and that we’ll soon find these products on restaurant table tops. Good luck! Here is the link to the manufacturer.


# 4 MATCHA TEA

Another important product that is already definitely an ever growing trend in the United States is Matcha Tea. This is a Japanese green tea, originally used for ceremonies. Unlike the green tea leaves that are infused, Matcha is a fine vibrant green powder. As Sugimoto America showed me, to prepare, simply mix the powder with hot water. The fact that it is in powder form, gives way to a variety of uses in the kitchen; for example, in the preparation of baked goods, fresh pasta, drinks (hot or cold) or cocktails. If you want to color your dishes, and add antioxidant properties of green tea, check it out!


# 3 CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST 

It was so fun to meet these two lovely Californian ladies at Outer Aisle Gourmet who created these truly innovative products! Their cauliflower pizza crust and sandwich thins are made with fresh cauliflower and cage-free eggs. They offer an alternative to regular flour crusts and bread. You can use them as a pizza or a sandwich base. They are perfect for those who have celiac disease or simply want to reduce carbohydrates without sacrificing a bread(like) base. Just pop them in the microwave or oven to warm them up, then load them with your favorite toppings and spreads. I think the idea is brilliant and I’m sure they will soon be well distributed in supermarkets and restaurants. I am also looking forward to preparing some dishes at home with these products! More information at Outer Aisle Gourmet.  


# 2 ANCIENT GRAIN MEALS 

I believe in this product a lot. More frequently, attentive consumers are trying “new” products in order to eat healthier foods that are simple to prepare. The answer to a “new” food in this case lies in the past: in an ancient grain called farro. There are three types of farro: einkorn, farro (also called emmer) and spelt.  I love farro and it’s the grain I use most in my kitchen. Here are some of my favorite farro recipes. Let me also give you a preview of the next two- three months: I want to dedicate myself entirely to the creation and promotion of recipes made with this ancient grain. I also want to write a small book ( I just have to find the time! 🙂 ). So what farro products did I find at Fancy Food? There were various producers and importers with farro flours, grains and packaged goods from colossal names like Bob’s Red Mill to a representative from a small Tuscan producer, Poggio del Farro with whom I started a fantastic collaboration with.


# 1 NATURALLY FLAVORED HUMMUS

I love hummus. Those who follow my recipes and my cooking classes are well aware. So far I’ve only created a perfect blender hummus, olive hummus , white bean hummus and beet hummus. What did I like here at FFS? I found many other innovative flavors! Spicy avocado hummus, kale pesto hummus, Thai coconut curry hummus, black garlic hummus and more! I stopped by a particular company called Hope Foods that is revolutionizing the market with innovative organic recipes and a new process of conservation. Fun fact: Hope Foods was created by one of the founders’ Robbie Rech, fiance’ of my childhood friend, Ashley Paul, who also grew up in the small town of Davenport, WA. She is the Manager of Events and Field Marketing at Hope Foods and it was a pleasure to see her and to finally be able to try their products and learn about the company. Ashley and Robbie live in Colorado. Since Hope Foods opened its doors six years ago, the company has now grown to over 65 people. They started out selling their products at farmer’s markets and now are present in some of the most important American supermarkets. What an amazing feat! I’m really happy for them and they are quite an example of how to succeed in the crowded food industry with delicious, novel and high quality products.  Now let’s talk hummus. To date they have 12 organic hummus flavors that are made with all natural products and preserved through an avant-guarde process of cold pasteurization called High Pressure Processing (HPP). This process prolongs the shelf life substantially, without the addition of preservatives and without having to heat the product (which alters the taste and properties). These naturally flavored hummus products are so delicious. I am hoping that they’ll be shipping internationally soon!  You can get more info at Hope Foods. 


WHAT I DIDN’T FIND AT FFS: ITALY!  

I was a little disappointed by how little the Italian section had to offer. It was quite absurd, given that it was the largest section of all. I was quite let down, because I’m often on the front line promoting the excellence of Italian products. I’m fascinated by traditional Italian products, they are the strength of Italy, and I came to FFS in hopes that my same passion was perceived by all participants who toured the Italian stands. I didn’t expect innovative products from the Italian exhibitors, but rather exciting events promoting traditional products and how foreigners could use them to prepare delicious and simple dishes.  Living in Italy for the past 8 years has given me the opportunity to find out what this land has to offer, and to see how much passion Italians have in making high quality products that are easy to use in everyday meals. The effortlessness to incorporate these high quality products into daily meals is not always so obvious; I believe the vast majority of American consumers view many Italian products as delicious, but also complicated to use, and certainly not for everyday dishes.

My personal opinion: Italians need to do more to promote their high quality ingredients in ways that show how easy it is to incorporate their products in anyone’s daily diet.

I was expecting for example to meet some famous chefs or food bloggers at these demonstrations to help producers educate consumers and buyers how to use their ingredients. I expected that there would have been more talk about the enormous quantities of organic products that are available in Italy, that are ready to be imported into America (or around the world) and consumed daily, with ease. I expected to find a crowd of buyers and journalists with goose bumps while watching these shows. Simply put, I expected more emotion. Italy is one of the most famous rock stars in the world of food, but it is as if he didn’t want to put on a concert because he thinks that his music tracks will sell themselves.  Come on Italy, show the world how special you really are!