Tag Archives: basil

Double Recipe: Mogliu and Italian Marinated Steak Tips

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!

Healthy Summertime Dish: Pasta Con Aglia

The Sicilian kitchen is all about using the seasonal items available from the land– the fresher, the better.  This time of year, fruits, vegetables and spices are in full bloom, and nothing beats using a fresh tomatoes, garlic, and basil combination from the garden.  That’s what we do in Episode 12, where we share with you pasta con aglia or in the Sicilian dialect I grew up calling this dish, pasta cu aglia. In English, it’s simply pasta with garlic.

There is perhaps no other ingredient more Italian than garlic, which is healthy and tasty.  I grew up on the stuff, and raised my kids on it as well.  I use it in so many dishes, and pasta con aglia really emphasizes its flavor and beauty as an ingredient.

This is a dish that’s very quick to prepare (about 10 minutes), which is why my mother used to make when someone stopped by unexpectedly (unexpected guests were always welcome and fed well) and she needed to pull something together quickly.  She used to make it for large family gatherings as well since it was so easy to prepare and did not require lots of work.

Pasta con aglia is very healthy, and not too heavy– perfect for the summer time. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try, and eating it outside under the beautiful sun with a glass of wine.

Preparing the sauce

The ingredients you will need for the pasta con aglia are: 14 ounces of fresh, crushed tomatoes, 4 large cloves of garlic, about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, a handful of fresh basil, and about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  You will also need a mortar and pestle which you will need to crush the mix.

You can use fresh tomatoes from the garden or fresh whole tomatoes in a can (I like Kitchen Ready brand), which is what I do when I don’t have fresh garden tomatoes to work with.  Start off by crushing the tomatoes in a bowl. Place them aside.

Next, take the four, large peeled cloves of garlic and slice them up into the mortar bowl.  Add more garlic if you like lots of garlic and want a stronger flavor.  This is pasta with garlic after all!  (Just don’t plan on kissing your significant other for the evening if you do use extra garlic!).  Use the pestle to crush the garlic.  Crush until it’s mashed into a small pieces.  Add the salt, and continue to crush.  Once crushed down, chop up the fresh basil, and add that to the mortar bowl.  Crush the basil.  Once it’s in a fine paste, add the olive oil, and mix.

Take the mixture, and add it to the crushed tomatoes.  Mix with a spoon.

While you’re preparing the sauce, you can cook the pasta.  Follow our directions for cooking pasta, making sure you keep it al dente.  The classic pasta to use with this recipe is spaghetti.  You can use another pasta if you’d like, but I’d stick with long pasta, such as fettucini, if you do substitute for the spaghetti.

Before draining the pasta, use a scoop to take some of the water from the pasta and place it aside.  You will use this water to add to the pasta mix when completed.

Once you’ve drained the pasta, place it in the pan you cooked it in, then add the sauce.  Mix thoroughly.  The pasta will absorb the sauce, so you should add some of the water you took from the pasta into the mix.  This will help make a nice “juice” with the sauce– something you can dip fresh bread into!

That’s it!  You are ready to serve!  Get your family and friends together, place a large plate of pasta in a bowl, add some grated percorino romano or parmesan cheese on top, and mangia!