The tomato or pomodoro is arguably the most important vegetable in the Italian kitchen (perhaps tied with aglia or garlic– see Episode 12). Tomatoes especially take center stage in Sicilian cooking since the climate of Sicily is perfect for growing plump, juicy tomatoes. Tomatoes also grow in abundance at the end of the summer where I live right outside of Boston, which is why I’m sharing with you a tasty recipe that puts the tomato front and center: mogliu. Mogliu is an old Sicilian word, with it’s meaning derived from “to dunk”. The name is absolutely perfect since a mogliu makes a fantastic juice made up of tomato, garlic, olive oil, mint and basil that you can dunk bread in for a great snack or an even an entire meal.
To accompany the molgiu, I’m preparing Italian marinated steak tips, which are perfect for grilling outside on your grill or in an open pit fire, such as what’s still commonly done in Sicily. The marinade for the steak tips follows nearly the same recipe as the mix for the mogliu, which is why it makes sense to prepare them together (assuming you don’t mind lots of garlic in your meal!). In fact, you can use the same marinade with chicken or turkey– it’s a great all around marinade and beat anything you’d pour out of a bottle!
My co-host and I joined by two special guests in this special double episode: my other son, Rick Lombardo and his wife, Cheryl Lombardo. Rick and Cheryl grow lots of vegetables in the summer and share tomatoes, basil and spearmint they have grown as part of this episode. In addition to being great amateur farmers, they are an important part of my life, and it’s great to have them on the show!
Both of these recipes are simple to prepare and require basic ingredients. We show you how it’s done in this special double episode (episode 13):
Here’s the recipe that my my mother gave to me, direct from Italy:
Most importantly, you’ll need about 6-8 medium to large, fresh, ripened tomatoes. Preferably these are tomatoes from your garden or a local farm stand, so that you get the most flavor. Slice the tomatoes up into medium chunks, and add them to a large bowl. Place them aside while you prepare the mix.
For the mix, you’ll need 1 tablespoon of salt, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of water, 10-20 spearmint leaves, 10-20 basil leaves, and 4 cloves of garlic.
Start off making the mix by adding salt into a mortar. Add the chopped garlic cloves, then mash with the pestle. Next, rip up the mint leaves, and mash. Repeat with the basil leaves. Finally, add the olive oil and red wine vinegar, followed by water. Mix and then add to the tomatoes in the bowl. Mix everything together thoroughly. Get a large loaf of Italian bread (with a soft middle, and hard outer crust), and you’re ready to serve! Be sure to dunk the bread in the juices of the mix. Dunking the bread is not only delicious but is exactly how this dish was meant to be enjoyed– don’t be shy!
Italian marinated steak tips
You’ll need about 1-3 pounds of top grade sirloin steak tips. The amount you make will depend upon how many people you are serving. If the tips do not come pre-cut, you will need to cut them into 2 inch pieces, which you can so with a scissors or a sharp knife. Once cut, place aside.
The marinade for the steak tips is the same recipe as the mix for the mogliu. You will need all the same ingredients (outlined above), with the addition of 1 tablespoon or oregano and 1 large whole lemon. Follow the same directions above for the mogliu mix when preparing. Just add the oregano and squeeze the lemon juice into the mix. Once completed, place the marinade into a large ziplock bag, then add the steak tips. Add the lemon rinds into the gag. Seal the bag, and place them in the refridgerator to marinate 2-24 hours. The longer you let them marinate, the more flavor the steak tips will have. I typically will prepare these the day before I plan on making them, which gives the tips outstanding flavor. However, if you don’t have that much time, you can let them marinate for 2 hours or so and still get good flavor.
Grill the steak tips at around 300 degrees or so, at about 10-15 minutes per side, depending upon how well done you want them. Once grilled, serve with the mogliu and any other side dish, and you’ve got a great meal!
As always, serve with a bottle of wine. We decided to break with our tradition of red wines in this episode and break open a bottle of white wine, which my co-host and son, Gary, got on a recent trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. We enjoyed a bottle of Riesling (Rising Tide) 2010 Dry white wine from Bar Harbor Cellars Winery. It was the perfect accompaniment for our meal that we enjoyed outside on a beautiful summer day.
We hope that you will give these recipes a try and will have a beautiful summer day to enjoy them as well. As always, let us know what you think!