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Schiacciata Con L’uva

Schiacciata con l’uva

 Now that wine grapes are in season, don’t miss this chance to make schiacciata con l’uva, which literally means a squashed thing with grapes. It’s a dish from Tuscany, and is more or less a focaccia, topped with grapes, rosemary, olive oil and a bit of sugar.

I love it as a snack, with a glass of wine before dinner, or as breakfast. Don’t try to use those green or pale purple grapes you regularly see at the supermarket. They just don’t have the jammy, intense flavor of concord grapes, or these tiny grapes I used, called black corinth seedless grapes. Many supermarkets also carry these darker, more flavorful grapes, so I hope you seek them out. Some of the larger ones will have seeds, so unless you don’t mind a few seeds in your focaccia, you might want to make the effort to take them out.
These black corinth grapes are just perfect for this recipe, and so delicious to eat out of hand. But the caveat is that since they’re so small, it takes much longer to strip them from the stems.
The dough is a pleasure to work with – it’s so supple and rises easily, provided you keep it in a warm place. What started out as this size grew to at least quadruple in size in no time.
I had to punch it down twice because I wasn’t ready to proceed the first time it had ballooned.
Once I was ready to work with it, it was  cinch to roll out on the pan. I pressed it out, using the palm of my hand, then spread a layer of grapes over it, with a sprinkling of sugar and some minced rosemary. Then stretch out the second layer of dough, place it on top, and press more grapes, sugar and rosemary into the top.
Pour some good quality extra-virgin olive oil over it before putting it into the oven. Since I had this delicious and fruity olive oil sent me to by Olio2go.com — made at Fattoria Ramerino, a producer near Florence, it seemed only fitting to use it on a Tuscan schiacciata.

The aroma in your house is fabulous and when it’s finished, you won’t be able to resist cutting into it.

By the way, as with leftover pizza, the best way to reheat is by placing slices in a cast iron skillet for a couple of minutes. The bottom stays crisp, and if you put the lid on top, the heat will permeate throughout. Caveat: The recipe makes a lot, and it dries out if you keep it for more than a couple of days, so make sure you have a lot of friends or family to help eat the schiacciata, or pass it around to your neighbors, as we did.

 

 Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.


Schiacciata con l’uva – Focaccia With Harvest Grapes

I used a 12″ x 16″ cookie sheet

Prep Time: 20 mins + 2 hrs rising time
Cook Time: 45 minutes

printable recipe here

Ingredients:

For The Focaccia Dough:
5 Cups All-purpose Unbleached Flour (I used King Arthur bread flour)

2 Teaspoons Instant Yeast (I used one package regular dry yeast)

2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Plus 2 Additional Tablespoons To Oil Bowl)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 3/4 Cups Warm Water
For The Filling & Topping:
2 Pounds Wine Grapes, Stemmed & Rinsed
3/4 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Rosemary
1/4 Cup Olive Oil

Directions:

Measure and assemble your flour, oil, salt, yeast, and water.
Add everything but the water into a large bowl and stir.
Add half the water and stir.
Continue to add water until the dough begins to come together into a shaggy ball.
Dump the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead with the heels of your hand.
Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliant.
Add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to the bottom of a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside.
Roll the ball of dough around in the oil ensuring the sides of the bowl and ball of dough are both lightly oiled.
Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise.
(I cover mine with a kitchen towel on top of the plastic wrap and sit it on a large sunny windowsill.)
Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about an hour or an hour and a half depending on ambient temperature.
Divide the dough in half, and place half on a large baking pan (I used a 12″ x 16″ cookie sheet).
Drizzle the dough with a little olive oil, and scatter half the grapes over the dough.
Sprinkle the grapes with half the sugar and rosemary.
Stretch the other half of the dough over the dough in the pan to cover, pinching the two doughs together to encase the grapes inside.
Spread the other half grapes over the dough, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Use the rest of the sugar and rosemary on the grapes.
Let the dough rest, and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Once the oven has reached temperature, bake the focaccia until it is golden brown and the grapes are bubbly and soft, about 45 minutes.
Cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Pasta Alla Norma

Pasta Alla Norma

 It’s easy to be inspired to cook in the summer, with all the fresh, seasonal produce available from farmers’ markets and backyard gardens. 

It’s also easy to be inspired when a company like Olio2go sends you some outstanding extra virgin olive oils from Tuscany.
This trio arrived in the mail the other day and I knew exactly how to start using them, after harvesting a ripe eggplant from the garden.
It had been at least a year since I made pasta alla Norma, the iconic Sicilian dish with eggplant, named after Bellini’s opera. It was time once again.
You don’t have to peel your eggplant, and I was sorry I had, since the skin was so thin and the purple color would have made a nice contrast to the sauce. Slice the eggplant (about 1/2 inch thick – any thinner and the pieces will fall apart in cooking), then cut into cubes.
I spread the cubes on paper towels and salted them. It’s supposed to help remove the bitterness and some of the water. I’m not so sure it’s necessary when the eggplant is so young and fresh, but I do it anyway if I have time. I let the cubes drain on the paper towels for at least 1/2 hour.
Many people grill or broil the eggplant, rather than fry, since eggplant is notorious for soaking up oil.  I’ve done it myself and it works just fine. But it’s just not as flavorful as cooking it in oil and if you cook it in a nonstick pan, it minimizes the amount of oil needed.
 I chose to cook the eggplant using the Guadagnolo Primus extra virgin oil from Olio2go. This is an intensely spicy oil that comes from pressing of the earliest ripening olives. I thought it would hold its own with the tomatoes and eggplant, and it did. But I didn’t want the eggplant laden with oil, so I limited myself to four tablespoons, enough to grab the flavor of the oil without overly drowning the eggplant. I also added a drizzle at the end to finish the dish.
A nonstick pan (I love the ones from ScanPan) is almost essential in keeping the cubes from attaching to the bottom of the pan.
Toss them around until they’re cooked through and golden brown.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. I used fresh tomatoes from the garden, cooking them for only about 1/2 hour, to keep the sauce nice and light. Feel free to use a good canned variety. Gustiamo.com sells fantastic ones, including these Piennolo tomatoes from Mt. Vesuvius.
A crucial ingredient to pasta alla Norma is ricotta salata cheese – a dry, salty ricotta cheese that can be found in Italian specialty stores or supermarkets.
 Can you make this dish without it? Yes, you can use parmesan or pecorino, but it won’t be the same. So search out ricotta salata if you can.
Toss the pasta (traditionally rigatoni) with the sauce and eggplant, top with the ricotta salata, a drizzle of a little more olive oil, and a basil chiffonade.
 It will make you wish summer could stay all year.

 

Stay tuned for more recipes using these fantastic olive oils from Fattoria Ramerino.
 Don’t forget to check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.



Pasta Alla Norma
printable recipe here
(serves two or three)

1 medium eggplant, peeled (peeling is optional)
salt
4 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

for the tomato sauce:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced onions
2 small, or 1 large clove garlic
5 fresh ripe medium tomatoes, peeled and diced (or use about two cups canned tomatoes with juices)
salt, pepper to taste
fresh basil, about a half dozen leaves
pinch of crushed red pepper

1/2-3/4 cup shredded ricotta salata

1/2 pound rigatoni pasta

a drizzle of olive oil to finish

Peel the eggplant, if desired. Cut into cubes, about 1/2 inch square. Sprinkle with salt and let them drain for a half hour or longer.  Place the olive oil in a nonstick pan and toss in the olive oil, cooking until softened and lightly browned. Set aside and make the sauce.

For the sauce, peel the tomatoes by placing in boiling water for a minute or two. Slip off the peels, core and dice. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until softened. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and basil. Cook at low to medium heat for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes.

Cook the pasta, drain into the tomato sauce, and add the eggplant. Toss all together, then top with the ricotta salt, more minced basil and a drizzle of olive oil.