Fava beans!

March 28, 2014

Spring is here! It’s official.
Spring in Pantelleria means lovely days with barbecue lunches in the garden. There will be fresh fish on the grill, artichokes and fava beans just harvested and being enjoyed in the sun with some local white wine. I’m one of those people who just can’t stop myself from eating the favas raw. While peeling,  some just happen to jump right into my mouth. Carlo always says “­ Amore, you will have pain in your stomach, let me cook them first…” I happen to have a stomach made of steel, so this never worries me, although his concern warms my heart. His mission in life is to look after the people he loves and Igor and I are his top priority. The fava beans are delicious and can be used in so many ways. This week my friend Antonella made her scrumptious arabic bread (pita bread) and just to make it even more gluttonous, we dipped it, smeared it and double dipped it again in this yummy fava bean pesto!
Happy weekend everyone!

Fava bean pesto
To shell the beans, bend the tip of the pod and pull down the seam of the pod and unzip the entire pod to reveal the beans inside.
Discard the fuzzy outer pod. Then take the shelled beans and drop them in boiling salted water for 30 seconds to loosen the outer skin.
Remove and place into ice water, and peel off the beans thick waxy outer covering. Now they are ready to use in recipes.

1 Lb (450 grams) of whole new picked fava beans will give about 1 cup (2.4 dl)  of ready to use favas.

1 Cup (2.4 dl) fava beans (blanched and skinned)
1 Cloves of garlic
1/3 Cup (0.8 dl) almonds
1/3 Cup (0.8 dl) of sunflower seeds
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) grated Parmesan cheese
1 Lemon, juiced
10 Large sprigs of Basil
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Dry toast the almonds and sunflower seeds a saucepan.
Mix all ingredients except for half of the almonds and sunflower seeds in the food processor.
When your pesto is smooth taste with sea salt and black pepper.
Coarsely chop the rest of the almonds and sunflower seeds stir them in the pesto using a or spoon, this will ad a little crunchiness to the pesto.
Use the pesto to spread on toasted or fresh baked bread or mix it with pasta.

favabeanspesto CF028685

Jewels of the sea

March 21, 2014

Patelle both look and taste divine. In Pantelleria the cliffs are caressed by the sea, and at this union of water and land is where you may find these little mollusks. Patelle in Italian means little pan. In the local Pantescan dialect they are called pateddre, and in English they are known as limpets. If you come across them just enjoy, whether you eat them raw, au gratin or in a pasta! There are several ways to cook pasta with patelle in Pantelleria. On most tables you will see them prepared with a tomato-based sauce, but I prefer a cream based. If you don’t have patelle you can cook this recipe with mussels, small clams (cherry stone or, in Italian, vongole) or any available fresh shellfish understanding that the larger the mollusk the longer it will need to cook and the chewier the meat will be.
With these jewels of the sea on my plate and a glass of crisp white wine in the glass, the weekend can begin.
Wishing you all a good weekend!
AT-CF029645 1Linguine with Patelle in salsa bianca
Serves 4
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Shallots, finely chopped
1 Small dried chile pepper or a pinch of pepper flakes
3 Tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds (1.4 kg) patelle (or other fresh hardshell clams)
1 Cup (2.4 dl) dry white wine
5 Tablespoon heavy cream
Sea salt to taste
1 pound (450 gram) linguine or spaghetti
Fill a large pot with water and sea salt to taste, cover with lid, place on the largest stove top burner, set on high and allow water to boil.
Place a large saucepan over medium heat on the stove, into it add olive oil, the garlic and shallots. Saute until warm and translucent.
Next add the patelle (limpets or clams) and the wine. Cover and simmer over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally until all the clams open.
Add the heavy cream and chile pepper. Taste the sauce, the juice given off by the shellfish can be salty, sparingly adjust salt to taste.
While the clams are simmering, add the pasta into the pot of boiling water and cook according to the instructions on the package.
Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the Patellle (Limpet or Clam) sauce and toss well.
Serve immediately in bowls with crunchy bread to soak up the sauce!
ATCF047874 Dinner plate from Pearl River Mart

Braised chicken with wild oregano and olives

March 2, 2014

It’s still just the beginning of March, but I have the feeling that spring is around the corner. We have been talking walks on Mount Gibele to gather wild oregano. What a blessing! The oregano of Pantelleria is very intense. It is a cross with oregano and marjoram, and it carries the best qualities of both. The oregano is not only a fabulous spice but it also contains a lot of other great things within its oil, namely carvacrol. Oregano contains high amounts of omega-3s, iron, manganese, and antioxidants and it’s super antibacterial, as well as anti-viral and anti-fungal! This subject is something I will write about further in the future, after I have learned more about it. If you interested to read more about the Oregano harvest in Pantelleria, please visit my friends Amy and Peter’s blog http://flourishnourishinpantelleria.blogspot.it/2013/01/tales-from-harvest-of-green-gold-part-i.html   , http://flourishnourishinpantelleria.blogspot.it/2013/01/tales-from-harvest-of-green-gold-part-2.html

Anyhow, after our day in the mountains I was craving a hot plate of chicken. With our own olives, bay leaves, celery, lemons from the garden and a splash of the local zibibbo wine this recipe came together.
I hope you like it!



Braised Chicken with wild oregano and olives
Serves 4
Note: You will need a oven ready pot with lid.

2 lb (1 kilo) Whole roasting chicken cut into quarters, then legs, thighs and wings separated at the joints (optional should you prefer boneless chicken you will need 1 pound (1/2 kilo) of chicken meat cut into eight pieces.) . If you so desire you can remove the skin of the chicken.
1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (for seasoning the chicken prior to searing)
2 Tablespoons olive oil (for searing)
3 Garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
2 Lemons (washed)
1 Leek or 3 spring onions (washed, peeled cut into quarters, using leeks one inch pieces or (2.5 cm)
4 Stalks celery (washed, ribbed, cut into one inch pieces or 2.5 cm)
2 Bay leaves (whole)
3/4 Cup ( 1.8 dl) dry white wine
3/4 Cup ( 1.8 dl) water
20 Olives green or black, green olives will loose their color due to the heat turning brown so if you wish to use a combination for eye appeal cook with black half black olives then add the other half green olives prior to serving.
8-10 Sprigs fresh oregano, if not available high quality dried oregano can be substituted Oregano di Pantelleria
1/4 Cup ( 0.6 dl) olive oil

Preheat the oven at 350 F degrees (180 C).
Gather and prepare all the ingredients as listed and instructed.
Place the chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle salt and pepper on it tossing as to make sure the chicken is evenly seasoned.
On the stove top place your oven ready pot in a medium sized burner which is placed on the highest setting and allow if a minute or two to become hot.
Add the two Tablespoons of olive oil. Next place the chicken pieces in the bottom of the pot covering the surface but not over crowding as to all the chicken to sear and caramelize. If you find you have more chicken then room in the pot, sear the meat in stages. Have a plate to remove and place seared pieces and repeat this process until all the pieces are seared.
When chicken is seared add the 1/4 cup of olive oil to the pot and minced garlic.  Allow the garlic 10 seconds to cook then add the lemons and rest of the vegetables stirring them as to coat with the garlic flavored oil. Add wine, water, lemons, bay leaves and olives. If you do not have fresh oregano add dried at this time. Place the chicken back into the pot and allow the liquid to come to boil. Turn off the heat on the burner, place the lid on top of the pot and place pot into the oven.

If you decided to use boneless chicken in about 30-40 minutes the dish should be complete. Remove the pot from the oven and carefully remove the lid as to check on the meat. If boneless it will be firm to the touch, if on the bone the meat should be firm and able to come off the bone easily. If you see any red or uncooked meat place the lid back on the pot and place the pot back in the oven to allow 15 more minutes of cooking time. After 15 minutes repeat the aforementioned process.

This dish can be served over cooked rice or potatoes or in a bowl alone with crunchy bread and a nice glass of white wine.

1ATCF015137Ceramic pot from Crate and Barrel
Dinner dinner plate from Pearl River Mart
To buy Origano di Pantelleria http://shop.underthealmondtree.com/product/origano-di-pantelleria
To order Origano di Pantelleria in America, contact Jim Dixon at www.realgoodfood.com

Parmesan nibbles with oregano

February 25, 2014

This recipe is a savory twist of the butter shortbread dough. The addition of Parmesan cheese, Oregano, with the butter and a bit of spice, results in a savory delight , you just can’t go wrong! This is a great nibble to serve with drinks or cocktails before dinner. I usually make them bite sized, but if you so desire you can shape them more like a cookie or biscuit sized by adjusting the thickness and end shape of the dough. You can make the dough before hand and keep in the fridge or in the freezer. If you don’t finished this nibbles all at the same time, store them in a container or a paper bag in a dry place.


makes about 60 bite sized nibbles
1 Cup (2.4 dl) all purpose flour
3.5 Oz (100 grams) grated parmesan
3.5 Oz (100 grams )soft butter
1 Egg yolk
1 teaspoon Origano di Pantelleria http://shop.underthealmondtree.com/product/origano-di-pantelleria (or other dried oregano)
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 Egg
2 Tablespoon of pine nuts
Some extra oregano to sprinkle before baking

Mix all ingredients together until the dough forms a clump and kneed.
Divide in 4 piece and roll out each piece into a cylinder.
Using plastic wrap roll the dough into a cylinder form and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 min.
Heat the oven at 400 F (200 C )
Cut the cylinders into coin shapes thickness of about 1/2 inch (1 cm).
Arrange an oven tray lined with nonstick baking paper .
Beat the egg and brush on to the cookies, place one pine nut on each and sprinkle with some oregano.
Bake for about 12-15 min, they should be light golden.
Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Swedish magazine Lantliv and a pie from the lemon tree

January 26, 2014

Friends, I have news! I will be contributing the food portion for a blog in the Swedish Magazine Lantliv http://www.lantliv.com/category/bloggar/anna-huerta/. The recipes will be in Swedish and there are three posts already! And make sure to check out my fellow bloggers Leija Kortesaari, Victoria Skoglund and Bella Linde all very interesting in their different fields http://www.lantliv.com/bloggar/
Under the Almond Tree will continue to be published in English. My hope is that you will continue to follow our posts whether you choose the Swedish version at Lantliv or Under the Almond Tree.

lemone lunare tree-CF020182

This week’s post is from our garden, home to an amazing lemon tree. The name for this tree is Limone Lunare. Upon the full moon, it makes new lemons. Picking the fruits releases their perfume, a magical scent, fresh and sweet at the same time. The tree provides us with fruit year round, but during the hottest summer months when rain is in short supply it adjusts its production accordingly. Late January through April the tree is full of yellow lemons. I have a weakness for all sweets and desserts made with lemon. The first time I ever tasted this lemon pie was after a dinner served by my friend Sara, a master of desserts and baked goods. She generously gave me her recipe. Over the years and many pies, I have changed it a little bit by adding more lemon cream and including some vanilla to the crust.
10 years later, this pie remains a favorite to all. Enjoy!

Lemon pie

9 Inch ( 24 cm) cake tin
Serves 8 portions

Pie crust
7 Oz (200 grams) butter
1 1/4 Cup ( 3 dl) All-purpose flour
5 Tablespoon caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla powder or other vanilla extract
Lemon cream
6 Eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 Cup (3.75 dl) caster sugar
1/2 Cup (1.2 dl) sifted flour
1 Cup ( 2.4 dl) fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C) degrees.
Melt the butter over low to medium heat on the stove.
In a bowl mix the flour, sugar and vanilla sugar.
Pour the butter over the flour mixture and stir to a smooth dough .
Place the dough into the cake tin. Using your fingers, make a thin crust by pushing the dough evenly across the cake tin as well as up a bit on sides of the tin.
When finished, place the tin to rest for 10-15 minutes in the fridge. (this will allow the butter to harden when baking the crust the butter melts creating steam and making the crust flaky.)
Place the pie crust on the lower rack in the oven bake pie crust at 400 degrees F (200 C) for about 7-8 minutes remove and allow to cool.

In a bowl, whisk sugar and eggs to soft peaks, sift the flour into the bowl slowly alternating with whisking to make smooth batter, last add in the lemon juice.
Fill the crust with the lemon cream and bake for 10 minutes on the lowest rack in the oven.
Let pie cool before serving, this allows the cream to sit and gel a little bit.
Serve with whipped cream .

lemon pie-CF013257Plate from Anthropologie http://www.anthropologie.eu/anthro/index.jsp