by Melinda Gallo

Trying out a new recipe

It's already risky going to the mercato (market) on an empty stomach. All the colorful fruits, leafy vegetables, rosy red meats, perky cheeses, and pristine stacks of fresh pasta look even more delicious when I walk by the banconi (counters). I end up lugging more items home on the days when my stomach is growling. Today, there was an additional risk that I didn't count on: I checked out Brian and Claudia's website, Mestolando.

On the Mestolando site, I found one recipe that caught my eye: Penne alla crema di peperoni (Penne in an orange bell pepper cream sauce).

Before I moved to Italy, I used to not like peperoni (bell peppers) at all. I used to pick them out of salads and leave them on the side of my plate when they were served to me. Just last year, Dave and I went out to a restaurant and he gave me a few pieces of red peperoni to taste and I was hooked. I realized that I just didn't like the taste of green peperoni.

Since then, I've been eating red, yellow, and orange peperoni, both cooked and uncooked. I have never made a pasta sauce with peperoni, so when I saw the recipe, I was inspired to make it. The recipe appeared quite straightforward and included all the things I love: peperoni, panna (cream), and basilico (basil).

I rushed to the mercato before lunch today and picked up all the ingredients for the recipe. As soon as I got back home, I started cooking. Not only was I excited to try this new recipe, but I was also hungry after my workout this morning at the palestra (gym).

While I was sauteing my peperoni, I watched the video on my computer so I could see Claudia making the same dish. It was a fun experience to watch someone else cook.

I realized that I didn't have a passaverdura (vegetable mill) when she got to that part, and decided to use my food processor instead. By doing so, the skins of the peperoni would be remain in the sauce because with the passaverdura, the skins would be separated and not liquified. Luckily, the food processor minced them up quite well so there were only small spots of darker color here and there.

I completed the recipe and served it with parmigiano on top. We both enjoyed the pasta immensely. I'm very happy that I went to their site this morning because I was able to make a new and flavorful pasta dish that I'm sure I'll make again. I might have to try her Penne alle olive nere (Penne with black olive sauce) next because I used to not like olives before moving to Italy either!

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