The one thing I liked the most when living in Italy was when you entered a restaurant there would always be a big display of Antipasto (before the meal) dishes, mostly cold cooked or grilled vegetables, always a big variety from grilled fennel to roasted tomatoes to roasted zucchini and peppers, olives and Sea food salad, grilled anchovies or sardines (the fresh fish kind).
Today for dinner tonight I made grilled zucchini and roasted tomatoes. Both are done in olive oil and not any other kind of oil, but I use the cheaper version of olive oil which does not smoke. The expensive brand like first press or cold press extra virgin is not good for cooking. I also use fresh chopped garlic. For the zucchini I will slice them length wise using the pale green small zucchini, the dark green is also good. I wash them before cutting them and cut off the head and the tail end. Once sliced length wise I will brush them with garlic and a mix of herbs and garlic, placing them on a rack and grilling them for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 F. Keep an eye on them you do not want them to burn.
For the tomatoes, take one tomato wash it, then slice in half sideways, take out the seeds. Then put a generous amount of garlic on the tomato and pour Olive oil until it spills over the sides. I use about 9 or 10 tomatoes this way, placing them in a pyrex dish which I will then fill with no more than about one quarter inch of olive oil.
Put your dish on the stove top and turn on the heat at medium high and let it all bubble away for 15 minutes. In the meantime warm your oven to 400F. After the tomatoes have been cooking away on the stove top for 15 minutes transfer them uncovered to the oven and let it all cook for 45 minutes. Keep an eye on them you do not want them to be charred and burnt. After the cooking time is up take out and let cool on the counter. Be careful because the dish is very hot and the oil will take some time to cool down.
You can serve them cold or you can serve them hot draining the excess oil away.
DO NOT throw out the Olive Oil you used to cook your tomatoes. Once it has cooled the olive oil with all the good juices from the garlic and herbs can be used on spaghetti.
This is another authentic Italian recipe, you know the one the real Italians have back in Italy. In fact it is such an old recipe, almost all restaurants and Mama’s use it as a family dish. This dish comes from the days when Italians could not afford meat or more fancy ingredients to make a sauce for their pasta and also you did not throw away perfectly good Olive oil used to cook vegetables, you used it into something else. The way mother’s would use the water in which they boiled vegetables to make a base for soup.
Simply cook your spaghetti pasta the way you usually do. Then drain the pasta well. Simply toss the pasta with 3 table spoons of the left over Olive oil and serve (this is for 2 persons). You can shred a few leaves of basil to add to the dish before serving. Delicious and wonderful.