Tag Archives: Italian food

ItaliAsian Fusion: Edamame & Black Beans spaghetti with salmon and seaweeds

In my most recent ItaliAsian Fusion I have combined the already known Edamame Spaghetti with Organic Black Bean Spaghetti I have picked up at Choithram shop in Al Wasl Road and seasoned them with smoked salmon and seaweeds.

Black Bean Spaghetti

I am a huge fan of pasta and I was nervous for the texture and the taste of this black beans spaghetti but I have to admit they turned out to be amazing. I dared to try this new line of “pasta” because of some astonishing benefits:

  • High in fibres: 22 grams per 100 grams of product
  • High in proteins: 46 grams per 100 grams of product
  • Low in sugars: just 5 grams per 100 grams
  • Rich in Iron and other minerals

Since this kind of pasta reminded me of  Japanese like flavours, I decided to add some of the Nori seaweed sheets I had at home (the ones usually used for sushi) to the recipe.

They taste like sea (of course) and are particularly rich in fibres and minerals.

I heated some olive oil in a pan, I added some garlic and parsley and let them brown a bit. Meanwhile I chopped the salmon and cut the Nori sheets in long stripes almost resembling thick spaghetti or fettuccine. I added the salmon first and once it had changed colour, I added the seaweeds.

The seaweeds are dry but highly hygroscopic, hence they absorb water from the other ingredients and become tender. Once the spaghetti were cooked (4 to 6 minutes the time required), I dried them and added them to the pan.

Mix all the ingredients together paying particular attention to the seaweeds that have the tendency to stick together instead of spreading around. Once mixed properly,  I served the spaghetti with salmon and seaweeds together with a generous amount of grated Grana Padano.

Black Bean Spaghetti with Salmon and Seaweed

Edamame & Black Bean Spaghetti with Nori seaweed, smoked salmon and Grana Padano

Food Options at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort

We stayed at the luxurious and immerse in the nature Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Yamm Villa Resort that I would select as one of the best stay in the United Arab Emirates for at least 5 indisputable reasons I wrote about in a recent post.

There is one restaurant in the Yamm Villa Resort area but it is possible to reach the other resorts present in the island and hence the other restaurants by boogie.

The al Yamm Villa Resort is served by Olio Restaurant, an Italian dining place where breakfast is served daily. Breakfast is the common buffet with the usual share of eggs, cheeses, arabic mezze and croissants. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the food options but it was suitable for a satisfactory meal.

The a la carte menu offers many options, from the classic pasta and bruschetta appetizers to wagyu burgers and more complex main courses. Quality of food is generally good, the service perfect even though it is a bit pricey.

Wagyu Burger at Olio Restaurant

The wagyu burger meal is massive. The patty wasn’t as good as I expected and was difficult to digest.

Paccheri with duck ragout at Olio

The paccheri pasta with duck ragout was exceptionally good.

Seafood Pesto Pasta at Olio

This trofie pasta with pesto and seafood were interesting. This recipe from Liguria was well prepared by the chef.

Gelato Dessert at Olio

Tiramisu at Olio

Tiramisu was alright

  In order to escape the daily routine, we organized a transport to Amwaj restaurant. It is a 10 minutes drive from Al Yamm resort and we had no problem at all in organize it. the restaurant is nicely furnished and is located few steps away from the beach.

The menu is minimal with few seafood options inclusive of lobster, seafood, freshly caught fish and little more. We opted for some grilled fish fillet and two side dishes. The dinner was al right but a bit too expensive given the quantity and quality of food.

Fish Fillet at Amwaj Sir Bani Yas Island

Fish was good even though presentation was somehow lacking something.

Ronda Locatelli – One of the best Italian Restaurant in Dubai

I’ve been several times to Ronda Locatelli, an Italian restaurant chain founded the 14th February 2002 in Seymour Street in London by Giorgio Locatelli and soon after awarded with one Michelin Star which has been retained every year since. After the success obtained in the UK, luckily enough for us living in Dubai, Mr. Locatelli decided to open a similar restaurant in the luxurious Atlantis the Palm hotel.

The restaurant ambiance is great, with a big pizza oven at the center of the restaurant and dimmed lights to create the perfect dining atmosphere.

Ronda Locatelli Dubai

A view of Ronda Locatelli taken from TimeOut Duba

At Ronda Locatelli the staff is very well trained and from the moment to step into the restaurant until you leave satisfied with the delicacies provided by the chef, it is a continuous flow of smiles and politeness that increase the enjoyment of the dinner.

I usually visit Ronda Locatelli for the excellent pizza, my favorite is the speck, Gorgonzola and porcini mushrooms one but this time the chef caught my attention with a very particular set menu exploring the culinary traditions of the Italian Region Veneto.

Our waiter was very nice and able to satisfy our requests. The special menu consisted in a 4 courses: 1 of two starter options (polenta with stracchino cheese or sardines Venetian style); 1 of two pasta/soup options (beetroot ravioli or spelt soup); 1 of two main course options (baccala’ that is cod fish the Vicenza’s way or rabbit) and 1 desert. We asked for two set menus and told the waiter to bring us both options where available so to taste the entire menu. He was so proactive that he managed to serve the dishes already split in two for maximum comfort.

The starters very really good even though simple as the Italian cuisine dictates. The sardines with onions and the crunchy fried polenta with stracchino cheese were delicate and yummi.

Starters at Ronda Locatelli

On the left the cold sardines with onions; on the right the grilled polenta with stracchino cheese and onions.

The spelt soup was enriched by some pumpkin made gnocchi that well combined with the delicate taste of the spelt. The beetroot ravioli were delicious. I wish I could have an additional portion or may be two.

Soup and Ravioli at Ronda Locatelli

Left: beetroot ravioli; Right: spelt soup with pumpkin gnocchi and crunchy Parmesan

The main course was superlative. Cod fish with tomato sauce and rabbit are two of the main traditional dishes in Liguria, the region where I come from. It was really enjoyable to try them in this different fashion.

Main Course at Ronda Locatelli

The cod fish in tomato sauce and olives was really yummy

The dessert is very particular. As admitted by the chef himself, not everybody likes it but it is the traditional recipe as every grandma in Veneto would do.

Dessert at Ronda Locatelli

At the end of the meal, chef Salvo visited our table and with a bright smile he genuinely asked an opinion on the menu and the food provided. He informed us that he is going to explore the traditional delicacies of each and every Italian region in an attempt to make the menu more interesting and challenging also for the team in the kitchen.

At the moment of the bill we didn’t have any bad surprise since the prices are in line with the competitors and met our expectations considering the quality and quantity of the food.

To be honest, 195 AED for the amazing menu offered is a really convenient bargain. 

ItaliAsian fusion: Organic Edamame Spaghetti with Surimi

I simply have a passion for pasta. And couldn’t be otherwise since I am Italian. I had pasta twice per day for almost 25 years of my life and only recently I started reducing my daily intake, since I have a sedentary work and a carbohydrates rich diet is not really recommended.

In a first attempt to reduce the carbs intake, I started enjoying the ‘integrale’ version (whole wheat pasta) because richer in fibers and proteins than the normal one and with a good 10-15% less carbs per portion. Taste and consistency is different from the traditional pasta but it is fairly good.

Some days ago I was screening the supermarket shelf looking for whole wheat pasta or a different version like kamut or barely pasta just for a change when my attention was caught by strange product available: Organic Edamame Spaghetti. A combination of the famous Japanese snack in the most famous Italian shape pasta.

Edamame Spaghetti Bag

The Organic Edamame Spaghetti bag says they cook al dente. A mandatory prerequisite for an Italian.

The particularity of this kind of spaghetti is that they are made with edamame flour instead of the common wheat one. It sounded weird at first but I decided to give it a try because of the exceptional nutrition facts: only 18g of carbs in 100g of spaghetti and an astonishing 20g of fibers and 45g of proteins!! Like having a steak but in a vegan-spaghetti-like form.

Edamame Spaghetti Nutrition Facts

The Edamame Spaghetti are superb for an high protein, high fibers and low carbs/fat diet.

I was curious to try the newly bought spaghetti that clearly mentioned “cook al dente” and prepared an easy dish with surimi and butter sauce. By the time the edamame spaghetti were cooking (around 9 minutes), I sliced the surimi, put it in a pan and added some butter, olive oil and nutmeg.

The meal was surprisingly good. The edamame spaghetti cooked ‘al dente’ maintaining a good texture.

They taste differently from any other kind of pasta I have ever tried before. I would say it reminded me to sea flavors and aromas and I got lucky to combine it to some fish products as first experiment.

We really enjoyed the spaghetti meal, appreciating the rich taste of the edamame based pasta and its protein content like meat, fiber content as a super veggie and low carbs and fat content.

Definitely a nice surprise that we are going to explore deeper since there are many variants available.

Edamame Spaghetti Surimi

A simple but tasty meal prepared with edamame spaghetti and surimi.

A creative and healthy Italian-Japanese fusion really appreciated.

Superb Dinner at ‘La Traviata’ – Jebel Ali Golf Resort – Jebel Ali

The last time I have been at ‘La Traviata’ was almost 3 years ago and was positively surprised when one of the managers remembered me. I used to be a frequent guest of the restaurant despite the fact that it takes around 25 minutes by car to reach the resort from JLT area and there are no clubs or other entertainments/clubs available around.

La Traviata Entrance

La Traviata – Pure Italian

The welcome was really warm and unexpected as already said and I had the pleasure to notice that the appetizer buffet was still provided for dinner. We opted for the buffet option and then a ‘Ravioli di Zucca’ (Pumpkin stuffed ravioli) and a braised lamb shank with wheat rice and pesto. The buffet was excellent as I remembered it was. Cheese, cold cuts, salads, small appetizers, pickles and homemade vegetable jars, bread and many other things where available.

La Traviata Aperitivi

My selection of delicacies from the buffet available at La Traviata.

We stuffed ourselves with the delicious food available in nice table positioned at the center of the restaurant and had to force us to stop eating in order to save some room for the mains we have ordered.

The ravioli were nice even though not really wow. The lamb shank was, on the contrary, superb. The meat was tender and mouth-melting and the wheat rice with pesto was an excellent combination. It came with some polenta and the portion is big enough to satisfy anyone with a certain appetite.

You might want to renounce to an appetizer if you are planning to go for it.

La Traviata Lamb Shank

The Braised Lamb Shank at La Traviata was excellent.

Rich seafood linguine with saffron sauce recipe

There many ways to prepare a delicious pasta with seafood and other fishy ingredients. You can use mussels and clams or crab meat and shrimp or salmon and other fish meat. The important thing is to combine the ingredients in the best way possible, adding a little sauce to enrich the dish and a nice, personal touch to make it special.

The last weekend I was craving (as usual) for some nice pasta. I had at home some canned crab meat, some caviar (the cheap one you can easily find in supermarkets) and surimi and decided to combine all of them in a rich seafood linguine with saffron sauce with the addition of some already-cleaned shrimps.

The preparation is very easy and takes a little longer than the time to cook the linguine. Just put some olive oil in a hot pan with some garlic and parsley (either fresh or dry). Add the shrimps and let them cook on a medium-high heat. The shrimps are done when they completely change color.

Once the shrimps are cooked, add the crab meat and the surimi you have previously sliced. You do not need to cook them since they are usually pre-cooked and just need to warm them up. During this process you should add some spoons of white whine, that will enhance the dish flavors.

At this point you should have your pasta already boiling and you should add some spoons of the boiling water to the seafood mixture, together with some saffron powder and nutmeg. Stir the seafood well and add some butter or cream to make it creamer.

Do not fry the cream or the butter. You just need to keep them warm to welcome the linguine once ready. You may add some chilly or black pepper if you like and a handful of parmesan (I like cheese on top of seafood but it is up to you).

Once the linguine are ready, dry them and put them in the pan. Mix well and plate them hot. On top of each dish, add a spoon of the cheap caviar you have found in the supermarket and serve to your guests.

Seafood Linguine

The rich seafood linguine with a delicate saffron sauce are a superbly delicious dish

Pasta alla Norma: a classic of Italian cuisine

Yesterday I was craving for some nice pasta and was thinking about the best condiment to prepare when I found a top quality eggplants at a very competitive price. “Great, let’s make some Pasta alla Norma” I thought and bought few aubergines. Preparing the sauce is very simple even though it takes quite some time.

You just need eggplants, some chopped or peeled tomatoes cans, garlic, parsley and basil. The tradition wants you to put some dried/smoked ricotta cheese on top of your pasta but some grated Grana Padano is fine.

Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma is excellent when freshly made but they are even better the day after reheated in the oven or pan..

Just slice the eggplants and put a pinch of salt on the top side of the slices. Leave them with the salt some 10/15 minutes, until they release the bitter water that usually is brownish. Wash carefully the slices in order to remove both the bitter water and the excess salt and then dry them with kitchen paper. Chop the slices in smaller pieces, any shape is fine, and put them in a pot where you had preheated some olive oil together with crushed garlic and parsley.

Cook the eggplants at a moderate heat, adding from time to time little water or some white wine to enrich the taste. The addition of some water makes the eggplants tenderer and reduces the cooking time. Once the eggplants are almost completely cooked (they reduce in size and become tender), add the tomatoes and cook ad a low heat for 30 minutes. Add little sugar or bicarbonate to reduce the tomatoes acidity.

Serve the pasta with your tomatoes and eggplant sauce with a sprinkle of Grana Padano on top.