So…this little ditty arrived in my inbox back in January, LOL!
How does Pinterest know this?? I mean, I could have told them myself…but that’s beside the point. I have know for quite some time that I share many “likes” with Chicago John. A love of Italy, a love of good food… But I also love his family stories. Stories of the Bartolini Family. Hence, I love his blog, From the Bartolini Kitchens.
John’s is one of the first blogs I discovered when I jumped into the blogging world. He was so gracious in welcoming me! To top things off, even though Chicago John is from…you guessed it…Chicago, he actually grew up in Detroit. One more thing we have in common!
Recently, John notified his readers that his long awaited printed cookbook was now available. And what a delicious cookbook it is!!I’ve spent hours scouring through this book since the UPS man dropped it on my porch! John has a knack for story telling… of sharing his memories of days past. Stories that lead to food… and the “how” to make them in your own kitchen.
My list of must-try recipes is a long one! And though I do intend on spending time before Easter to make homemade ravioli, I decided to start with a basic, no fuss recipe for a busy Sunday. Penne with Vodka-Cream Sauce.
John actually posted this recipe on his blog… back in October 2014. Back then I said, “This has always been a dish I’ve reserved for ordering when dining out…and I have no idea why now that you’ve posted the recipe. It really is quite simple…at least with your thorough instructions, John. 🙂 I’m soooo making this…and soon! Thanks for the nudge!”.
Soon?? Not quite, lol. But as of now, I’ve rectified that! And so glad I did! This dish is truly simple to make. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the flavor isn’t deep. The prosciutto, onion, tomatoes and vodka give a fabulous base. The bit of spice from the red pepper flakes and the herbs, cream and cheese take it to flavor town. Delicious!
This penne with vodka-cream sauce was just one component of our Sunday dinner. I rounded out the meal with a delicious panzanella/arugula salad, Italian sausage with a sautéed pepper trio and green beans. A hearty, delicious meal for visiting family.
I’m quite sure I’ll be working my way through this cookbook over the coming months. Thanks to John’s blog, I’ve already made entrees of goat and lamb. I can’t wait to get a taste of the next dish I create in my kitchen all thanks to my new cookbook!
Do yourself a favor, bounce on over to The Bartolini Kitchens to snag the recipe for the Vodka-Cream Sauce, and if you’re so inclined, order your own copy of his delicious cookbook. You won’t be disappointed!
I’ve included my recipe for the Panzanella with Arugula and Lemon Vinaigrette Salad below. Though a panzanella salad is traditionally dried bread, tomatoes, onion and herbs, I chose to toss fresh baby arugula with it to stretch out the salad a bit. In addition, instead of dressing the salad with the expected red wine vinegar, I chose fresh lemon juice. Just a few little changes to throw a curve to a traditional recipe. 😉
Panzanella Arugula with Lemon Vinaigrette Salad
For The Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 to 2 medium lemons)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad:
8 ounces day-old Italian bread (about 1/2 of a loaf), torn into large pieces
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, large dice
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 pound English cucumbers (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise, large dice
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh baby arugula
For The Lemon Vinaigrette:
Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, stir to combine. Set aside until needed.
For The Salad:
Place the bread, tomatoes, onions, cucumber and basil in a large bowl and add about 2/3 cup of the vinaigrette.
Toss to coat well; set aside at room temperature for about 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.
(Note: The bread can be dried in a low temperature oven for about 30 minutes if you only have fresh bread.
Toss in the fresh arugula before serving. Adjust seasoning and vinaigrette as needed (I used about 1/4 cup of the remaining vinaigrette). Serve at room temperature.