Puntarelle: the vegetable symbol of traditional Roman cuisine

Many people love puntarelle (chicory tops) for their crunchiness and unmistakable flavour.
Often we see them on the market stalls and supermarkets already trimmed, with their characteristic curled shape that makes them unique. But what are puntarelle? They are the shoots, called “talli”, of a variety of the so-called catalogna chicory; the leaves surrounding them are green, with the side parts serrated, and have white ribs. Even if it is sold all year round, the seasons in which this vegetable grows spontaneously, and therefore its taste can be best appreciated, are winter and spring.

Now widespread throughout Italy, for a long time this vegetable has been cultivated in only three regions: Apulia, Campania and Lazio. In particular, the salad of puntarelle alla romana, with garlic and anchovies, is a fresh and tasty side dish typical of Lazio and some areas of Campania.
In addition to being good, puntarelle are also good for your health! Let’s see together why…

 

Beneficial properties and nutritional values

This vegetable with its unmistakable flavour is rich in fibre and vitamins (groups A, B and C). and minerals. Although some people like to eat it cooked, to ensure the best of its It is preferable to eat it raw, in a salad. One of the fibers contained is inulin, which has a purifying effect on the body and helps the liver work better. Let’s not forget also that the bitter taste, which some people particularly appreciate, has the advantage of making this vegetable an excellent ally of the digestive system and blood circulation.

The high water content makes it a low-calorie food, which can therefore be consumed with peace of mind even by those who want to keep their weight under control.
It is always a pleasure to know that what we eat, besides satisfying the palate, also is good for you. So let’s give space in the kitchen to this delicious vegetable!

 

The puntarelle at the dining table

One of the advantages of the catalogna chicory is that you can eat all parts of it.
As they say in Rome: “Don’t throw anything away!”. With the green leaves that enclose the shoots, you can prepare a tasty side dish, blanching them and frying them in a pan with garlic, oil and chilli. The leaves can also be used as an ingredient in soups or making savory pies. The thing that requires a little more effort, and above all patience, is to cut the shoots into strips, with which to prepare delicious salads. The secret to curl the strips and make them more crunchy is to immerse them in very cold water. The puntarelle can also be eaten steamed and seasoned with olive oil, lemon or vinegar and salt, or sautéed in a pan with garlic, olive oil, chilli pepper and anchovy fillets.

If you love puntarelle and Roman cuisine, we are waiting for you at the restaurant il Piccolo Mondo where you can enjoy the classic salad of puntarelle with garlic, oil and anchovies, to be associated as a side dish to the typical dishes of the tradition.
For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.

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Eggplant: a summer vegetable that’s good for you!

Did you know that eggplants, besides being good and suitable for the preparation of numerous recipes, are also healthy?
There are different varieties of this typically summer vegetable, and they differ in shape, color and flavor, which can be more or less decisive. There are eggplants with an oval, round or elongated shape. The colors are dark purple, violet or a lighter color with purplish streaks.

The dishes that can be prepared are numerous and range from first courses, to second courses if used to prepare tasty meatballs, to seasonal side dishes. Let’s discover together the characteristics, the properties and the different ways to eat them by preparing appetizing summer recipes.

 

Properties

The eggplant is rich in nutrients and fibers, which have numerous advantages including reducing the absorption of sugars by the body, promoting intestinal transit and making this vegetable easily digestible. The eggplant also has a low-calorie content, gives a feeling of satiety so it is advisable for those preparing for the “bikini test!”.
It is rich in potassium and other minerals and the high percentage of water makes it a purifying food. It contains several antioxidant substances that are good for the heart and brain. These include chlorogenic acid, which helps to reduce LDL cholesterol, which is harmful to the body, and counteracts the action of free radicals.

 

But the properties of eggplants do not end here…

Would you ever have said that this vegetable is also good for bones and for those who have anemia problems? Yes, it is! Eggplants contain some phenolic compounds that promote bone density and are rich in calcium and iron.
After the quick reference to some of the many properties of this plant, let’s find out together how to enjoy it in the kitchen.

 

To each of you, your own recipe…

For eggplants lovers there is really an embarrassment of riches! The ways in which they can be prepared are numerous and suitable to satisfy all palates.
An appetizer, fresh and inviting, is the eggplant carpaccio prepared with grilled eggplants and marinated with an emulsion composed of olive oil, lemon juice, mint leaves and basil, garlic and black pepper.
As seasoning for an excellent first course you can prepare them by cutting them into chunks and after frying the garlic and onion in a pan, pour the eggplants and brown over low heat for about ten minutes. Then add fresh tomatoes peeled and cut into pieces, basil, salt and chilli and complete cooking.
They are very good as a side dish grilled in the oven with zucchini, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, parsley, olive oil, salt and breadcrumbs.

These are of course just some of the many recipes that can be prepared with this versatile vegetable.
If you love it, in the restaurant “il Piccolo Mondo” you can enjoy the traditional eggplants with parmesan cheese, prepared with an emulsion of basil, or a side dish of the season in which the eggplants are accompanied by zucchini, peppers and mushrooms. Seasonal dishes that will give you a fresh summer evening.
For reservations please contact us at +39 06 42016034.

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Asparagus: tasty for those who love them and nutricious for everyone!

When spring comes, it brings a mild weather and a lot of beautiful colors. In the same time asparagus reach our tables. In addition to being delicious, they provide nutritional benefits to the body.
Rich in fiber, these vegetables got folic acid, vitamins (in particular vitamins A, C and K) and mineral salts.

Recent studies show how eating asparagus may prevent Type 2 diabetes, as one of the mineral salts they contain favors the glucose absorption in the body. They are also rich in potassium, a useful blood pressure and muscles proper functioning regulator, especially for the heart, in addition to being all-natural diuretics. They are low in calories and rich in asparagine, a useful substance to prevent muscle fatigue. Then, let’s eat a lot of these healty vegetables!

 

To each Italian place their own asparagus…

The majority of asparagus is green in colour, but there are also white (with a more delicate taste), pink and purple varieties too. In Italy, each colour has several varieties that change from place to place. A lot of different white asparagus can be found in Bassano, Padova, Cimadolmo, Rivoli Veronese.

The Lombard variety of Mezzago known as one of the white type, is actually pink. Among the purple asparagus varieties is the one from Albenga, very sweet, eatable row making carpaccio and furthermore the violet asparagus of Cilavegna.
Asparagus can be both wild and cultivated. Wild asparagus are called “asparagina”, a variety typical of woodland and rural areas.

 

How to cook asparagus: from appetizers to side dishes…

Asparagus can be cooked in a number of ways to serve tasty appetizers, delicious first courses or light and healty side dishes. Among the most common recipes we recall risotto, pasta and omelet. As for cooking, steaming is advisable as it preserves the nutritional properties of the vegetable and enhances its flavor. Steaming can be used to make delicious buns with asparagus and capers, appetizers, first courses and side dishes.

Asparagus can be also boiled to make risottos, lasagna with asparagus and ham or as a side dish seasoned with olive oil, salt and lemon. As a side dish they are also good sautéed. Try the combinations with curry, white pepper, dill and mustard to make the most of their flavor.

At the Piccolo Mondo restaurant you can taste asparagus in their different preparations. We are waiting for you!

Reservation at + 39 06 42016034.

Artichokes: a typical vegetable of the Roman cuisine

The Roman artichoke, also called “mammola“, is just one of the different varieties of this good, healthy vegetable, which is used various preparations in the kitchen. The most common varieties cultivated in Italy in addition to the Roman one are the Sicilian, violet in colour, and the Sardinian, which, unlike the mammola, has thorns.
The fruits of the artichoke plant can be harvested from October until the end of spring, but their best yield is reached during the winter.
Let’s discover together the characteristics of this vegetable, which for centuries has been part of the traditional Roman cuisine.

The artichoke is not only tasty, it’s also good for you!

The properties of this vegetable with its particular shape are numerous and range from the high fibre content which, among other advantages, help to reduce cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels. And what about the high content of antioxidants that in addition to combating aging prevent cardiovascular disease? They also have a high content of iron, copper and a high diuretic action.
This vegetable is usually eaten cooked, but can also be eaten raw, to make the most of its beneficial properties, cutting the inner leaves into thin slices and seasoning them in a salad with olive oil, salt, lemon and, for those who like, black pepper.

Artichokes in the kitchen

The recipes that can be prepared with artichokes are several and range from appetizers to first courses and tasty side dishes.

At Il Piccolo Mondo restaurant, where traditional Roman cuisine is at home, you will find many delicious and inviting dishes that will make you appreciate the best of this good and healthy vegetable. You can start your meal with classic and tender artichokes “alla romana” (cooked slowly in a pan) or with crispy artichokes “alla giudia” (fried), and then move on to the tasty tonnarelli with lamb ragout and artichokes.
If you’re keen on fish and you want to taste an original and delicate dish, the ombrina with cream of pumpkin and artichokes is the dish for you!

With this vegetable you can also prepare creamy risottos or side dishes such as sautéed artichokes, which go well with main courses of meat and fish.
Let’s say you’re really spoilt for choice!

If you want to taste the artichokes prepared according to the dictates of the best Roman culinary tradition, we are waiting for you at the restaurant Il Piccolo Mondo!

For reservations please contact us at + 39 06 42016034

 

Peppers: for a summer of taste and health

The summer season brings with it the promise of upcoming holidays and many types of fresh, tasty and colourful fruit and vegetables. Among the many typical summer vegetables we have peppers, appreciated by many for their particular taste that makes them unique. Those who love this vegetable with its different shape, colour and flavour, and versatile in the kitchen, besides satisfying their palate, have the advantage of enjoying the nutritional and beneficial properties that characterise it.
Depending on the variety we have peppers of different shapes and colours, and according to the maturation we switch from green to colours such as red, yellow, orange and other shades. The shapes range from the more elongated, smaller, characteristic of the so-called “friggitelli”, to the round or quadrangular. Depending on the type of pepper, the taste also varies, which can be delicate, strong or spicy.
Let’s discover together the properties and different ways of cooking this vegetable with its inviting appearance and strong colour.

A vegetable with many properties

First of all, the pepper is rich in water, potassium and carotene, three useful elements for the well-being of the urinary tract. In addition to potassium, it contains other minerals that are precious to the body, such as magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and iron, which it absorbs. Moreover, which is completely unexpected, it contains a high percentage of vitamin C, even higher than that present in citrus fruit. To keep the content of this precious vitamin unchanged in the pepper, it is preferable to eat it raw, diced and seasoned like a crispy salad. It is also important to respect the seasonality, which guarantees the highest nutritional intake. The innumerable properties of vitamin C are well known, which, in addition to preventing colds if taken regularly, together with vitamin A, also contained in peppers, has an antioxidant action that counteracts the harmful effects of the much feared free radicals.
Another ally of the health of our organism contained in this vegetable is capsaicin, which has an antibacterial, anti-diabetic and anticancer action.
Like the aubergine (link sulle melanzane), the pepper also contains a significant amount of fibre that help the intestinal transit and give a feeling of satiety which, associated with the low calorie content, helps to keep weight under control.

Why is the pepper poorly digestible?

Sometimes the pepper is demonized because of its poor digestibility, and in fact it is often avoided or consumed with extreme moderation by those who have digestive disorders. The low digestibility is due to two factors: the presence of cellulose on the skin, not easily digestible, and solanine, a substance that if taken in high doses can become toxic and therefore the human body can refuse even in the digestive phase. A substance also present in eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes, so sometimes the problem can be caused by an accumulation of this substance if you eat at the same time other foods that contain it.
The secret to enjoying this vegetable, which is beautiful to see and good to eat, and to enjoy the beneficial and nutritional properties that characterize it, lies therefore in not abusing its quantity. Also for those who do not digest the peppers but just can not do without them, in addition to eating them in small quantities can increase their digestibility by depriving them of the skin.

Peppers in the kitchen

The ways to prepare this good and healthy vegetable are numerous, and leave room for colourful creative recipes!
To give some examples, we can start with a creamy first course seasoned with pepper pesto, prepared with red peppers, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, basil, almonds and Parmesan cheese. Another delicate first course, which fills without weighing down, consists of tasty baked peppers stuffed with rice, a valid alternative to the classic stuffed tomatoes. The stuffed peppers are traditionally filled with meat and sausage, but you can opt for an appetizing vegetarian variant, which includes a filling of ricotta, eggplant and pine nuts.
As a side dish they are very good grilled and served with garlic, oil and parsley. And what about the famous and essential pepper? An appetizing side dish known and loved throughout Italy, and therefore prepared in a different way from region to region and that can be associated with a meat or fish main course.

We at “Il Piccolo Mondo”, love to delight our customers with a fresh side dish of season that includes courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms and an inviting heart of grilled peppers, to be associated with delicious dishes of our menu of Roman tradition and not only…

We are waiting for you in via Aurora 39, a few steps from via Veneto!

For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.