Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vegetarian Cooking: Mattonella Spinaci e Farro

Today We Cook Vegetarian

Today Ylenia Sambati teaches us
 how to make. ....................

 Spinach and Spelt

100 gr farro
500 gr spinaci
1 cipolla tritata
1 spicchio d’aglio
1 noce di burro
3 cucchiai di olio extra vergine d’oliva
3 cucchiai di farina integrale
70 gr di pinoli schiacciati
1 uovo
3 cucchiai di formaggio parmigiano grattugiato
1 cucchiaio di pangrattato
Sale e pepe nero

8 foglie di menta fresca tritata

CEO of the only Cooking and Wine School in Puglia
-       Fate cuocere il farro in acqua salata
      In una padella saltate l’aglio finemente tritato e la cipolla fino, quindi aggiungete gli spinaci, un pizzico di sale e lasciate cuocere
-   Scolate il farro e aggiungetelo nella stessa padella degli spinaci: mescolate e saltate insieme per un paio di minute   Lasciate raffreddare e passate bel mixer farro e spinaci fino a ridurli in purea. Incorporate anche la farina integrale, il pangrattato, l’uovo, il formaggio parmigiano, la menta tritata, il pepe nero e un pizzico di sale, i pinoli, il burro.
-       Preriscaldate il forno a 180°
-      Ungete uno stampo per plumcake
-  Versate il composto nello stampo e trasferite il tutto in una pirofila capiente riempita di acqua per metà. Fate cuocere in forno a bagnomaria per circa 30 minuti o finché il composto si sarà rassodato

-       Lasciate raffreddare e servite tiepido.

The Inglese Version

100 g spelt
500g spinach
1 chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 knob of butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons wholemeal flour
70 g of crushed pine nuts
1 egg
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon bread crumbs
Salt and black pepper
8 fresh mint leaves, chopped
Cook the spelt in salted water
In a pan saute garlic and onion until finely chopped, then add the spinach, a pinch of salt and cook
Drain the lighthouse into the same pan and add spinach.
Mix and toss together for a couple of minutes
Let cool and spelled and pass through a ricer and spinach mixture to  reduce them to a puree
Stir in whole wheat flour, breadcrumbs, egg, Parmesan cheese, chopped mint, black pepper and a pinch of salt, pine nuts and butter
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Grease a mold pan
Pour the mixture into the mold and transfer to a large bowl baking dish filled half way with water
Bake in this water bath for about 30 minutes until the mixture has hardened
Let cool and serve warm

Cooking adventures can be arranged for your next trip home to Italy
Contact Yle for details and suggestions on how to make your Italian adventure special.
You can tell her your dream and she can create the adventure !

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Vegetarian Cooking: Bocconcini di Zucchine


Ylenia Sambati is an accomplished cook and the CEO for the only Cooking and Wine school in Puglia, Italy.

She is also a vegetarian and has agreed to share with 
Home to Italy readers some of her vegetarian recipes.

Today we cook zucchini 'balls' and it looks wonderful!

Practice your Italian or scroll down to the English version


5 zucchine
120 gr di formaggio pecorino grattuggiato
2 uova
4 cucchiai di pangrattato fine
2 cucchiai di prezzemolo fresco tritato
2 cucchiai di menta fresca tritata
olio per friggere
sale e pepe nero

- lessate le zucchine in acqua bollente salata
- scolatele e lasciatele raffreddare
- tritate le zucchine finemente (o schiacciatele con la forchetta)
- mettetele in una terrina con pecorino, uova, pangrattato, prezzemolo, menta, sale e pepe
- infarinatevi le mani e formate delle palline che passerete nel pangrattato
- scaldate l'olio e friggete i bocconcini
- serviteli caldi 

For those of us still learning Italian, here is the English version:


5 zucchini
120 grams of grated pecorino cheese
2 eggs
4 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Oil for frying
salt and black pepper

- Boil zucchini in boiling salted water
- Drain and let them cool
- Finely chopped zucchini (or mash with a fork)
- Put them in a bowl with cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, mint, salt and pepper
- cover your hands with flour and form small balls that pass in breadcrumbs
- Heat the oil and fry the pieces
- Serve hot

Cooking adventures can be arranged for your next trip home to Italy.   Contact Yle for details and suggestions on how to make your Italian adventure special.   You can tell her your dream and she can create the adventure!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Calabria: an expat returns home, part time

As part of my Interviews with Expats in Italy series
Cherrye Moore
is sharing her expat life in Italy and the USA

I met Cherrye Moore on line via her newsletter and web site for My Bella Vita.     Southern Italy does not often receive the same attention as other tourist dense parts of Italy and I found her descriptions of the towns, villages and seaside of Calabria engaging.  

From online posts about life in Calabria, renovating a home to a BnB Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast, travel tips and Calabrian destinations an entire travel service company has emerged.  More personal updates, recipes and facts about life in Calabria are  posted on the subscription site, Questo Mese in Italia, a complementary newsletter, be sure to subscribe.

My Bella Vita Travel offers culinary experiences, yoga retreats and heritage
tours in Calabria.    This year travel events are September small group heritage tour, Calabria Yoga Retreat and Calabrian Table Tour.   Details and dates are on her web page.   Cherrye describes
My Bella Vita Travel as  " Our company, My Bella Vita Travel, specializes in custom vacations and heritage travel to Calabria and southern Italy."

Contact information: 

Photos courtesy of Franco Muia

Our online interview:
 How long have you been an Expat in Italy?

I lived full-time in Calabria for nine years and recently relocated (at least) part-time back to Texas.
I loved living in Calabria. My husband is from there and my son was born there and it very much feels like home to me.
Our long-term "family plan" always included us splitting our time between southern Italy and southeast Texas so this recent "move" was part of the bigger plan.

Prior to becoming an expat did you live in Italy for any length of time?

 No! I had spent time as an expat just outside of Paris, which is where I met my husband, and I thought I knew what being an expat was all about. :-)
Talk about culture shock!  

 What made you decide to no longer be a visitor but to be a resident in Italy?

My husband and I met while we were both working for Disneyland Paris and living in France.
We had "the talk" a few months into our long-distance relationship and we knew that someone would have to make the move.
I have always loved adventure and liked the idea of living in southern Italy but always knew that one day I'd want to go home (to Texas).
I grew up in a big Catholic family - I'm one of 26 first cousins - and I wouldn't trade that crazy family dynamic for anything.
So, I knew one day I'd want to move back to Texas. Now, we are in a position that I never dreamed would be possible.
We kept our home in Calabria and recently bought a home in southeast Texas. I'm so very blessed!

 Any reason you wish to share, for selecting the city/town you live in?

It's funny how sometimes life chooses you. I moved to Italy "for a boy." :-)
And that boy happened to live in Catanzaro, the capital city of Calabria.
But, I gotta be honest. The first several months were tough. Unlike more tourist-friendly towns, there is little English spoken in Catanzaro. Everything still closes in the middle of the day. We hang out our clothes to dry... .
It's a very different way of life than I was accustomed to in Texas.
But slowly things started to change for me. I started making connections, learning the language, adapting to the differences and I wouldn't change it for anything.
There is nowhere else in Italy I'd want to live.

 Did you speak Italian before you moved to Italy?

Very, very little. Ok. Let's say no.
I remember though when I started feeling comfortable in Italian.
I had gone to a shop down the road from our house and I felt ... light. Confident.
I couldn't really place the feeling until I realized that I was feeling relief. Peace.
I knew I'd be able to communicate with someone if they approached me without getting flustered or embarrassed.
I held my chin a little higher and smiled as I walked.
Then, I remembered I'd gone to the store to buy Q-Tips. And I didn't know how to say that in Italian... . 

What is or was the most difficult part(s) of expat life?   Be free to list anything from on dishwasher to the amount of time errands take….etc

Difficult?? Hmmm..., bureaucracy.
Everything taking longer than you think it should.
Not being able to make a dr. appointment on the phone but having to go in person to make the appointment, then going in person to pay (in advance), then going again for the appointment.
Then, again to pick up the results. It was so tedious.
Also, I found it much harder to make friends with non-expats in Calabria.
Many of the Italians I know have had their same friends since childhood so there isn't a lot of "room" for new friends.
Then, people get busy - have jobs, have kids and family and it's harder to make a connection with people who are new.

The most rewarding parts of expat life?

I love being able to fully experience a new culture. You can read about it, learn about it and get insight while you are on vacation but living in a country exposes you to so much more. You see the good, the bad and the ugly and at least for me, I love it anyway. I have always said there are different kinds of expats. Those who know their expat life is short-term, those who make permanent moves and have their families as an expat, those who are students, moms, dads, short-term employees, etc. All of these personal elements affect our experience and each of those is rewarding and unique in different ways.

My first expat experience was 15 years ago when I lived outside of Paris. I was young and never expected to have a family or live in France any longer than I did.
That experience was fabulous but it was much different from my next expat experience, which was southern Italy.
In Italy, I got married, had in-laws, gave birth to my son, built a home - all normal real-life experiences but it wasn't like being on vacation every day. (in comparison to my experience in Paris, for example)

Do you have dual citizenship with Italy?

Not yet, but I'm eligible. It's on my list. :-)

To stay long term in Italy, what documentation is needed? 

I'm not sure, I think it varies depending on what you are planning to do in the country.
I was married to an Italian so this process was different from expats who are seeking citizenship based on their heritage, people who are there for work, etc.

Do you plan to remain in Italy long term?

That's a harder question than it initially seems. As I mentioned, we have bought a home in Texas and are planning to split our time but we also kept our house in Italy.
We have strong ties there and I don't ever see us breaking those or not wanting to spend a considerable amount of time in Italy.
We want our son to feel Calabrese, to know his family and the culture and the language so yes, I think a part of us will be there forever.
I love Italy and I miss it every day that I'm not there but I also love being an American.
I love being close to my family in Texas and having our son in close contact with his family in the states.
Maybe that's the best part of being an expat. Being able to have it all - to have the best of both worlds.
At least that's what I'm hoping.
Photos courtesy of Franco Muia


My Bella Vita Travel, LLC was created by Cherrye Moore, an American travel writer who has lived in southern Italy since 2006.
The company specializes in custom vacations and ancestry tours to Calabria and regions throughout southern Italy.
My Bella Vita Travel is registered as an LLC in the state of Texas and all business, banking and legal processing is conducted in the US.
You can join Cherrye for the Calabrian Table Tour, an 8-day cooking, food, wine and culture tour of Calabria held 2-3 times a year

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tomato Sauce in August is a family affair

Today they cook vegetarian

a new feature from the Cooking School in Puglia
Ylenia via Sambati

August is the time to make the annual tomato sauce in the Salento and it is one of the most beautiful summer happenings. Just as beautiful as fiestas (festivals), grape harvest (start in August) and lights (the special Salento lights).

It is another anche simplistic, yet divine poor cooking recipe, eating healthy and living well, of the farmers living according to Functional cycle of the seasons and celebrating the earth through simple food.

It's one of the most beautiful tradition Involving entire families and friends from the elderly to the children and grandchildren.

You might be interested on how to make the classic tomato sauce from scratch. If you're invited by the Salento locals to join this experience, please do, it's a lifelong memory.

One thing is very important in making the tomato sauce and it is the quality of tomatoes, the oval-shaped plum variety. You can buy amazing boxes of red plum tomatoes at any local food market or at local farmers.

Wash the tomatoes first, and cut in half before putting them in a big saucepan. Sprinkle with salt, add the onions and fresh basil. Then cover the saucepan and let the tomatoes simmer over moderate heat, stirring from time to time. After about 20 minutes, they softened and Should Have Just Begun to melt.

A mill is used to pass the pulp through in order to remove skins and seeds positioned over a large mixing bowl.

Rotate the handle until all you have left in the food mill are skins and seeds: there will be either a little or quite a bit of liquid That will have drained into the bowl. Discard it before proceeding. 

It's now time for bottling.

Sterilize the jars and to make sure you keep them cool and clean until you are ready to use them. Fill tomatoes with the mixture. Seal them tight and then boil the jars for a good 45 minutes.

In a couple of days When the bottles would have cooled down to the touch, they will be ready to use, stocked and stored up over the next year. Families making bottle usually you pass four hundred bottles each!


fresh and ripe tomatoes
red onion
extra virgin olive oil
sea ​​salt
basil leaves
red pepper flakes

The taste of tomato sauce made ​​with freshly made ​​past is truly delicious

This and more experiences are arranged by

Plan your adventure in Puglia with to see and learn the Italian perspective.

to read the English version, continuous

Vegetarian Italian Cooking: Pennette Fredde Allo Zenzero

Our contributor Ylenia Sambati 
the CEO of  shares another great vegetarian recipe

In Italian as well as English!

Yle shall share vegetarian recipes from her Italian Cooking School, so be sure to follow each week


per 4 persone
cottura: 15 minuti

English version at the end of story
350 gr di pennette integrali
250 gr di peperoni rossi (privati dei semi e tagliati in quattro)
250 gr di melanzane tagliate a fettine sottili
250 gr di zucchine tagliate a fettini sottili
1 cucchiaino di zenzero grattuggiato finemente
4 foglie di basilico fresco spezzettate
1 cucchiaio di menta tritata
6 cucchiai di olio extra vergine d'oliva
sale e pepe nero

1. Lessate la pasta al dente in abbondante acqua salata
2. scolatela e lasciatela raffreddare
3. grigliate i peperoni finchè cominceranno ad ammorbidirsi
4. disponete le melanzane e le zucchine su una griglia unta di olio e grigliate fino a quando compariranno le strisce nere della griglia
5. tagliate grossolanamente tutte le verdure
6. condite la pasta con tutte le verdure in un'insalatiera capiente
7. unite il basilico, la menta, lo zenzero grattuggiato
8. condite con olio, sale e pepe.
9. mescolate e lasciate riposare per 2 ore prima di servire

Ylenia Sambati
Healtheatarian Cooking Instructor

a healthy food project promoted by Ylenia Sambati (Healtheatarian and PR in Puglia, and www.cookinpuglia,com

Check back every week to see a new recipe here at


We love to share the Italian version of all Yle's recipes so you can enjoy the information in the native language  as well as in English


4 people
coking: 15 minutes   
350 gr whole pennette
250 gr red bell peppers (without seed and seized in four parts)
250 gr sliced aubergines
250 gr sliced curgettes
1 tea spoon of grated ginger
4 basil fresh leaves divided into pieces
1 table spoon of grinded mint
6 table spoon of extra virgin olive oil 
salt and black pepper

1. Boil the pasta al dente (should be soft enough to eat, but still have a bit of a bite and firmness) in plenty of salty water 
Ladle out and let il cool down
3. Grill the bell peppers untill they soften
4. Arrange aubergines and courgettes on an oiled grill and grill them untill you can see the cooked stripes
5. Roughly chop all the vegetables

6. season pasta with all the vegetables in a big bowl
Add basil, mint and grated ginger
8. Season with oil, salt and pepper.
9. Stir and let it cool for two hours before serving

Ylenia Sambati
Healtheatarian Cooking Instructor

Ylenia Sambati
Healtheatarian Cooking Instructor