Sun-dried Tomato Pesto


Sun-dried tomato pesto make a great make a great topping for salads.+

I love sun-dried tomatoes but was always at a loss as to how to use them–besides just cutting them up and throwing them into salads. Here though is a great recipe that turns them into one of the easiest, quickest dishes you could possibly make. The only one doing the hard work is your blender or food processor. And I do mean hard work. These tough little buggers (the tomatoes, that is) absolutely do not want to be chopped up. But you have to keep at it until they cry “uncle”. What’s convenient about this recipe is that every ingredient goes right into the machine and all you have to do is turn on the switch.

Bizzirri Italian Ceramics You Will Love

Beautiful Italian Tableware from Northern Umbria


Bizzirri of Cerbara, Italy in Umbria makes exquisite tableware.

A Bizzirri Photo

It took me a few years after we bought our house in Sansepolcro to discover that 15 minutes down the road there was a well-known Italian house of ceramics.  Bizzirri makes beautiful tableware, houseware and garden furnishings. It’s a family-run business that launched in 1954. Bizzirri’s product is very different from the Italian ceramics you see produced in places like Deruta. A Bizzirri plate has a simpler design.  It’s more rustic-looking but also no less beautiful.

Summer Pasta with Walnuts and Ricotta

Easy Summer Pasta

Summer pasta with walnuts and ricotta is perfect to savor on a summer night.

I always think that photographs rarely do justice to lightly-sauced pasta dishes. Somehow if you can’t see the pasta covered in a sauce, you cannot imagine the taste. The summer pasta with walnuts and ricotta dish showcased here is light and tasty and perfect to serve in the summer months. It’s a variation of a DeCecco pasta recipe. Although I don’t always have it on hand, I like to use the DeCecco brand because the pasta is extruded from bronze dies, which create grooves in the pasta’s surface that help it hold the sauce better.

I don’t have any financial arrangement with DeCecco, I just love it and when I see it in the store always buy it in several shapes and sizes. When I made this dish with the walnuts, I thought I had some penne in the pantry but I didn’t so I used linguine. {Actually I did, but someone had used most of it.] Although the shape of pasta doesn’t alter the taste of what it’s tossed with, I think this recipe is made best with a shorter pasta such a penne rigate for even bow ties. I think a shorter pasta keeps those little walnut pieces from self-segregating at the bottom of the bowl.

Handmade Tortellini in Arezzo

The famous Arezzo Antique and Flea Market is held on the weekend of the first Sunday of every month.  Vendors arrive from all over Italy to sell…well, everything imaginable.  While Arezzo is full of wonderful restaurants, I like to have lunch at one of the outdoor tables of  Logge Vasari, a restaurant located under the loggia and facing the Piazza Grande, the epicenter of the market.  What a great place for people watching.


But Logge Vasari doesn’t stop there.  They provide a show for passersby who wander under the loggia browsing vendor tables.  The restaurant stations a lady at its entrance who makes handmade tortellini on a marble-top table while you watch.  No better advertisement for the place.  A great way to lure customers.

No Mess Baked Meatballs

No-mess baked meatballs can be served over pasta with lots of grated cheese.

“Mamma mia, that’a spicey meatball-a.”

Back in the late ’60s, there was a hilarious commercial showing an Italian man tasting some meatballs that his doting wife had just placed before him. He famously remarked, “Mamma mia, that’s-a spicey meatball-a.”  And zap, that phrase entered the American lexicon. People all over the country were walking around imitating this man. The beauty of the commercial:  it was not trying to sell us spaghetti, meatballs or pasta sauce. The commercial was a spoof of a group of people trying to film a food commercial while the actor, in take after take, must taste the meatballs.  At the end of the spoof, we learn the real product being sold to us is…Alka-Seltzer.  I have no idea what was in those meatballs that was supposed to be giving that guy such heartburn.  I do know the meatballs from the recipe below won’t cause you to need Alka-Seltzer.