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San Carlo

We get some tips for good veggie recipes from the experts

Published on March 5th 2008.


San Carlo

March is vegetarian month so we invited Franco Bellomusto, Executive Chef at Manchester’s award winning Italian restaurant, San Carlo, in King Street West, to create two simple dishes.

One of his favourites is the celebrated Sicilian pasta dish, Maccheroni Rigati Alla Siciliana, in Italy it is known as ‘Norma’ and traditionally served at family gatherings. Ingredients include garlic, aubergines, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and pecorino cheese. Marinata di legumi alla griglia is a classic salad and contains aubergines, mozzarella, courgettes, peppers and rocket salad marinated in olive oil, fresh mint, fresh chilli and garlic.

There are some health benefits to this type of diet

Aubergines and tomatoes are excellent anti-oxidants and contain different minerals. They effectively mop up harmful toxins and carcinogenics and stop them being deposited so they can then be moved out the body.

Peppers are a good source of beta-carotene, which our body turn into vitamin A, and is important for vision at night. The calcium in mozzarella and pecorino cheese helps keep bones and teeth healthy. They also contain Vitamin B12, which processes folic acid and is good for the nervous system. Garlic lowers cholesterol and is a natural antibiotic so helps the immune system. Olive oil is a good source of unsaturated fat as it helps the body absorb some vitamins, it’s also a good source of energy and essential fatty acid, which the body can't make itself.

Recipe one: Marinata di legumi alla griglia

A traditional and popular southern Italian dish which is very simple to make. The freshness of the mint, combined with the garlic and olive oil is key to the recipe’s success.

Ingredients - serves 4

200g of buffalo mozzarella
1 large aubergine
2 large courgettes
3 mixed peppers
25g mint
1 chilli
2 cloves of garlic
Parsley (for garnish)

Preparation

  1. Slice the aubergine, courgettes and peppers (approx 3mm thick)
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and gently fry the vegetables, set aside to cool
  3. Roughly chop the mint and chilli and thinly slice 2 cloves of garlic
  4. Mix the mint (setting aside a few pinches), garlic and chilli with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and a few drops of wine vinegar to create a dressing
  5. Cover the bottom of a dish with some of the dressing and add a layer of the cooled vegetables
  6. Drizzle with more dressing and then add a second layer of vegetables. Continue to do this until all the dressing and vegetables have been used
  7. Add the remaining mint
  8. Leave to marinate for at least 24 hours
  9. To serve cube the mozzarella and place on the centre of each plate and surround with vegetable mix
  10. Garnish with parsley and serve cold

Recipe two: Maccheroni rigati alla Sicciliana (‘Norma’)

You may wonder why there is such a variety of pasta. Marvellous shapes and sizes, textures and colours, each individually designed to perfectly meet the requirement of specific recipes. While the plain penne is perfect to accompany a smooth tomato sauce, the ribbed, fluted texture of rigati is used in this rich vegetable and cheese combination to bind the ingredients together.

Sicilian in origin, the dish is known throughout Italy as ‘Norma’ and is traditionally prepared for family gatherings, when informality and simplicity are key.

Ingredients – serves 4

320g rigati
20g olive oil
2g crushed garlic
150g tomato sauce
200g mozzarella cheese
200g aubergine
20g grated pecorino cheese
2g basil

For Frying
Peanut oil
Plain flour

To garnish
2g fresh oregano

Preparation

  1. Slice the aubergine (approx 1cm thick)
  2. Sprinkle with salt and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut into thin strips, flour lightly and fry in hot oil.
  4. Drain on absorbent paper.
  5. Cook rigati in salted water.
  6. In the meantime brown the garlic in oil
  7. Add aubergine, tomato sauce, hot pepper, basil and salt.
  8. Drain the pasta and mix with the completed sauce.
  9. Sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese.
  10. Add diced mozzarella cheese, garnish with fresh oregano leaves and grill to brown.

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