Catherine Fulvio’s Italian favorites with an Irish twist

From bowls of spaghetti and meatballs to creamy risottos, a hearty Italian meal can take the chill off any winter's day.

Catherine Fulvio, with her book “Catherine’s Italian Kitchen,” has taken the tastes of Italy and deliciously fused them with her Irish heritage. Here are two of her recipes.

Spaghetti con polpette di melanzane
Servings:

Serves four

Ingredients

    • 2 large aubergines, roasted
    • Olive oil, extra-virgin
    • Salt and ground black pepper
    • 7.5 ounces breadcrumbs (may need more, depending on size of aubergines)
    • 4.5 ounces grated pecorino
    • 4 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
    • 2 teaspoons chopped mint
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 2 egg yolks
    • Pinch of nutmeg
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 20 fluid ounces homemade tomato sauce
    • 10 to 13 ounces spaghetti
    • Ricotta salata, grated

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Halve the aubergines, rub with oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place on a tray and roast. This should take about 30 minutes. When cooked, allow to cool slightly and scoop out the flesh and place in a sieve to squeeze out the excess liquid. Mash the garlic with the aubergine. Combine the breadcrumbs with the grated pecorino, mint, oregano, eggs and nutmeg. Add the aubergine flesh. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mould the mixture into balls about the size of golf balls. Fry one small ball first to test for the correct seasoning. Heat a frying pan with oil, fry off until golden, turning from time to time and taking care not to crowd the pan; you will need to do them in two batches. Place on a kitchen towel. Pour off the oil, lower the heat and add the tomato sauce. Simmer gently in the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes or place in the oven for 15 minutes. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti as per the packet instructions and serve with the polpetti and tomato sauce.

Lugnaquilla

Ingredients

    • 1 pound plain white flour
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 level teaspoon bread soda or baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or parsley and chives
    • 3 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
    • 12.5 to 15 fluid ounces sour milk or buttermilk
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing
    • 5 ounces mozzarella, grated (or John Hempenstall)
    • 3.5 ounces pancetta, roughly chopped and pan fried (or Jack McCarthy
    • 3 tablespoons black olives, sliced
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    • Thyme sprigs
    • 5 fluid ounces homemade tomato basil sauce (should be dense)
    • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Sieve all the dry ingredients. Mix in the fresh chopped thyme and sundried tomatoes. Making a well in the centre, pour in most of the sour milk and mix to a soft dough. If more milk is needed, add now. When mixed, turn out on to a floured surface. Flatten slightly.Using your rolling pin, roll out in a rectangular shape to about 1/2 inch in height.Spread the tomato sauce over the top, sprinkle the pancetta (or Jack's bacon), a little thyme and mozzarella (or John's Wicklow Blue) over and roll the dough up into a long loaf. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the sea salt over. Pierce the roll with a large fork and tuck the remaining thyme sprigs into the surface of the dough.Place on a floured baking tray and bake for 20 to 25 minutes approximately. They bread should be firm to touch and golden brown in colour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

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