Summer is approaching!
Ok, for Lithuania summer is already there.
However I am Italian, I love to cook and summer brings on my table three classics.
Disclaimer: in Italy, during summer, the weather is deadly hot, therefore my personal trick to avoid long cooking session is behind the three recipes you will find below.
This is arguably the epitome of Italian cuisine: simple, tasty, brilliant.
You just need tomatoes (the bigger the better), mozzarella, olive oil, a pinch of salt and oregano (ok, fresh basil).
In my house there are two variant: the Italian and the international one. You can either slice the tomato finely and top it with a similar slice of mozzarella (according to the Italian standard), or dice everything roughly into a bowl (as per the international rule).
Finish i with a little bit of EVO oil, a pinch of salt and oregano*.
You will just need a pan on low heat.
Slice finely (4-5mm) each zucchini (1 per person) vertically** (trying not to slice your fingers meanwhile).
You cut the long slices into halves and place them in the pan.
After one minute check the side being cooked and when they get gently roasted turn them.
Once they are all cooked place them in a small bowl and garnish them with EVO oil, fresh parsley, dried chili peppers powder and if you like with some finely chopped garlic cloves.
Felafel (My Way)
Felafel comes deep fried, heavily seasoned and since when I started making them they got suddenly very popular I had to reduce the complexity of this recipe, avoiding the frying process.
This is my personal recipe for felafel.
I found in Maxima a 400g precooked chickpeas and I usually use that as a base (for two people).
You mix the chickpeas (avinžirniai in Lithuanian) together with one egg, 4 spoons of flour, a little olive oil, salt and loads of curcuma (ciberžolė in Lithuanian) and you finish it squeezing half of a lemon in it.
In a different pan you can fry in EVO oil one finely chopped onion and add it to the chickpeas once it gets translucent.
In the same pot you can grind all the ingredients using a blender and work on the texture.
You will then assemble the chickpeas balls (letting your hands a little wet during all the process to shape them better) and place them in a frying pan coated with a small quantity of oil (not deep-fried doesn’t mean they will not be fried).
After a couple of minutes you can turn the chickpeas balls and cook them them on the other side.
Aside, pour in a class 3 big spoons of Greek yogurt, a drop of olive oil, a good pinch of pepper, a little spoon of honey and squeeze the other left half of the lemon.
Add salt, mix it and you will have an extremely tasty sauce that can be used both on the felafel and the zucchini.
If you followed all the steps it may be highly possible that in half an hour you arranged a quite nice summer dinner without too much of a hassle and sometimes this can be really helpful. Additionally what you will be eating will be fully vegetarian and could be even appealing for unexpected guests, with some white wine and some toasted bread aside.
* Fresh basil, in Lithuania, comes in plants. Now, since dried basil leaves completely lose their peculiar taste, I have opted for oregano, which is easier to store.
** beginners can go for easier round slices.