In praise of peasant foods

5 simple & tasty Italian recipes your family is sure to love.

Mom’s Stuffed Artichokes


6 tender artichokes (usually not tender if the leaves are spreading or discolored)

Stuffing (the insides of 2-3 loaves of day-old Italian bread)

Small can of sliced black olives

1-2 chopped tomatoes

Handful of chopped parsley

Handful of chopped pepperoni

Parmesan cheese

2-3 eggs

Start with 1/3 cup of olive oil



Garlic powder

Can of chicken soup

Directions (artichokes) [1] Wash. Trim the top of each leaf of the artichoke with scissors. Snap off the scraggly bottom row of small leaves. [2] Cut the top of artichoke with a knife to flatten the top. Cut the stem with a knife to flatten the bottom of the artichoke. Directions (stuffing) [1] Prepare breadcrumbs by pulling out the insides of the bread. Crumble into small pieces. Add tomatoes, olives, pepperoni, parsley, and Parmesan so that they are well represented in the stuffing. Mix with hands. [2] Add 2 of the 3 eggs. Eggs should moisten the bread and turn it yellowish. Add third egg if stuffing is dry. Add olive oil until stuffing is moist (not dry, not wet — everything should stick together). Then add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Directions (stuffing the artichokes) Now the part that takes the time. With each artichoke, push the stuffing into each leaf. It’s up to you how much you put in for each leaf. I like to put in as much as I can. Directions (baking) [1] Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put stuffed artichokes in oven bag (the kind that you use for roasting turkeys) and place bottoms down in a roasting pan. Before closing the bag, add a can of chicken soup to the bottom of the bag. This will steam the artichokes. Close the bag and punch a few holes in the top. [2] Bake until stuffing is brown and leaves pull easily from the artichoke center. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

Roy Chiulli’s mother, Mary, is in the center of this family picture dressed in red. Roy is just behind her, with a mustache and bushy hair.

Get choked up

“Mom (Mary Chiulli) came from an Italian family originally from Teramo. The way she best communicated her love for her family was cooking wonderful meals. Mom passed away 30 years ago, but I still make her stuffed artichokes, and they still come out golden brown, crispy and pretty as a picture.” — Roy Chiulli

Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients (4 servings)

1 pound large, deveined shrimp, tails removed

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

Juice from 1 lemon

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 pound linguine

Directions [1] Sauté garlic, red pepper flakes and scallions in melted butter and olive oil. [2] Add wine and lemon juice. Cook one minute. [3] Add shrimp. Cook until pink. [4] In large pot, bring 4-6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt and cook linguine according to package directions for al-dente. [5] Drain pasta in colander, and place in serving bowls. Scoop the scampi mixture onto the pasta with a large ladle to ensure a generous portion of the juice with each serving. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top.

This scampi happening!

“The Catalanos hailed from Naples. My father, Gaetano, immigrated to the United States with his family in the 1920s when he was 12. Gaetano was soon followed by his uncle’s family: cousins Giordano, Tiberio, and Arturo. Giordano, or “Chick” as he came to be known, became a very successful tool and die maker, and crafted a number of spaghetti rollers out of brass for his siblings and cousins. I have fond memories of growing up in the Bronx with the entire house covered in white sheets of drying spaghetti in preparation for Sunday family dinner.” — Thomas Catalano 

Pasta e Ceci


3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1 pound of favorite pasta (or even spaghetti broken up)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Small handful of fresh parsley

2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Directions Brown garlic in oil in a 6-quart pot. Add chickpeas, salt, pepper, parsley and enough water to cover the pasta when added. Cook chickpeas until tender, bring back to a boil and add pasta. Stir and cover and let cook until al dente. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

One pot wonder

“This simple recipe was brought to the states from Torre Del Greco, Italy, south of Naples, by my father, Leonardo Palomba. My family enjoyed it weekly. It is a very easy recipe with few ingredients, it is inexpensive, and best of all, it uses just one pot.” — Mike Palomba

Anchovy Sauce


1/4 cup olive oil

1 small garlic clove, halved

1 2-ounce can of anchovy filets, drained, and chopped

2 tablespoons minced parsley

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions [1] Over medium-high heat, brown garlic in olive oil in 1-quart saucepan. [2] Remove from heat, discard garlic halves. Stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed. If making a pasta dish, pour a dash of pasta water into anchovy sauce before draining pasta.

Just a little fishy

“My grandparents came from Melilla, Sicily, to the U.S. in the late 1890s. They were very poor, and would make this sauce because it was cheap and easy. I can remember my grandmother (Noona) sitting and opening a can of anchovies and eating them right out of the can. She fed them to us as children and I still order anchovies for my Caesar salad. She made anchovy sauce for pasta or on pizza. We would go crazy! The best!”— Denise Reed-Nadeau

Pollo Antonio

Ingredients (8 servings)

8 thin chicken cutlets

3 ounces lemon juice

2 medium onions, chopped

8 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 ounces red wine (can use cooking wine)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese finely grated

1/2 cup unflavored breadcrumbs

7 tablespoons butter

7 tablespoons olive oil

Directions [1] Combine the flour, cheese and breadcrumbs. Dip the chicken in the lemon juice and then coat in the flour, cheese, and breadcrumb mixture. [2] Melt half of the butter and olive oil in a pan, and sauté the garlic and onions until brown. Remove from pan and set aside. [3] Melt the remaining butter and olive oil and partially sauté the chicken in the same pan (approximately 5 minutes on each side). [4] Lay the chicken in a shallow baking pan and put the garlic and onion mixture on top of each piece of chicken. Mix wine into the pan drippings, scraping the bottom of pan. Pour over the chicken. [5] Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Finger-lickin’ good

“This original chicken recipe is a good choice for a dinner party in the fall or winter when comfort food is so appealing. It’s so easy to make that it is also a doable choice for a weeknight. Believe it or not, I am an amateur cook and this is my original recipe.” — Tony Bastardi



Similar Posts