Eat, eat! It's for Your Health


| April/May 2005

  • Eggplants originated in India and were brought to the Mediterranean by the Arabs. When eggplants arrived in southern Italy, Calabrians adopted them as their own and have been perfecting ways in which to serve them ever since.
    Dawna Edwards
  • Asparagus is low in calories, high in vitamins A and C and fiber and partners well with this garlic, parsley, lemon and sesame seed combination.
    Dawna Edwards
  • Cook potatoes right in the pan with the pork and they'll absorb the flavor of the herbs and pork juices.
  • Serve this herb-stuffed pork roast whole surrounded by potatoes or slice just before serving.

Calabria is not the Italian word for “foodie’s paradise,” but by many accounts, it could be. Surrounded by crystal clear water, Calabria, which forms the toe of Italy’s famed boot, is a region ripe with remarkable flavors. Bergamot and citron vie with lemon, palm, almond, chestnut, fig and pepper trees as rivals to the ubiquitous olive tree, and all find their way into the tantalizing local cuisine.

Noteworthy as being among the most flavorful and spicy of Italy’s regional cuisine, Calabrian cooking abounds in seafood and vegetables and is a pepper-lover’s paradise. Chiles are found all over the region and are featured in everything from cured meats to pasta. As with other regional Italian foods, Calabrian cuisine is a vegetable and fruit-rich extravaganza, with culinary herbs emphatically center-stage in the daily dietary drama.    

As increasing numbers of us embrace the Mediterranean diet as our best defense against heart disease, obesity and hypertension, we could do no better than to extend our reach to include the appetizing offerings of Calabria. In this excerpt from her book, Cucina di Calabria, Mary Amabile Palmer shares a few treasured traditional recipes from southern Italy’s southernmost and most flavorful region.

— Editor

If you have a desire to enjoy good food, you’re sure to make good use of Calabrian recipes. And for those who already love Italian cooking, you’ll enjoy being introduced to the exciting and largely overlooked cuisine of Calabria, the southernmost province of Italy and home of my ancestors.

Insalata di Pomodori, Cipolle Rosee e Basilico
Tomato, Red Onion and Basil Salad

Serves 4 to 8
Tomatoes, glorious tomatoes. Attempt this simple but savory jiffy salad only when tomatoes are in season. You need their juice to mingle with the dressing to create a heavenly dip for crusty Italian bread! For crunch and flavor, add one celery stalk, finely sliced; or one-half green pepper, thinly sliced. Have all ingredients clean and at room temperature, but do not prepare until close to serving time — it only takes minutes.

4 large ripe tomatoes
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly slivered
1 tablespoon capers
1 to 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Wash tomatoes and cut each into 6 or 8 wedges. Put into a large salad bowl and add onion. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently. Sprinkle vinegar; add basil, capers, cheese (if using), salt and pepper; and mix thoroughly. Serve at room temperature.

Melanzane Ripiene
Stuffed Eggplant with Prosciutto and Provolone

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