Cooking Class: Italian spring

After the feasting of Passover and before the grilling of Independence Day, enjoy light, seasonal dishes from the regional Italian cuisine

Pasta (photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
(photo credit: Anatoly Michaelo)
Shai Dublero is the chef of the Piazza restaurant-bar in Tel Aviv. Piazza offers an authentic Italian experience, including rustic décor, a pizza oven and a relaxed atmosphere. Dublero imports ingredients from Italy and combines them with fresh local produce. He offers his versions of classic Italian dishes that are perfect for a light spring meal with friends.
Garganelli with asparagus and broccoli
Makes 2-3 servings
Garganelli is short pasta. You can use another type of short pasta for this recipe or use short egg pasta, rigatoni or spaghetti.
This is a fresh, seasonal spring main dish that is quick, easy and very tasty.
✔ 500 gr. dry pasta ✔ 10 asparagus spears, blanched (place for 1 minute in boiling water and then in ice cold water to stop cooking) ✔ 1 cup blanched broccoli florets (see directions for blanching asparagus) ✔ 2 Tbsp. almond shavings ✔ 1 tsp. minced garlic ✔ ½ cup white wine ✔ ⅓ cup vegetable stock or pasta cooking water ✔ 1 bunch fresh oregano ✔ ⅓ cup dry salty cheese, grated ✔ ½ cup olive oil ✔ Salt and pepper
Boil 5 liters of water with a little salt and cook pasta according to instructions. Save some of the water if you do not have vegetable stock.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large nonstick pan and sauté the garlic and almonds until slightly seared. Add oregano, broccoli and asparagus and sauté for no more than 1-2 minutes.
It is important to keep the vegetables a little crisp, so do not overcook them. Remove from pan and set aside. Pour white wine into the pan and reduce while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the flavors.
Add the stock or water and cook until liquid is reduced to a third. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta and vegetables, mix, add cheese and mix again. Taste and correct seasoning. Remove from heat.
Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped fresh oregano. You may also add fresh parsley, green onion and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
Pizza spinaci Makes 5 small pizzas
For the dough: ✔ 20 gr. fresh yeast ✔ 1 cup cold water ✔ 2 tsp. sugar ✔ 400 gr. flour ✔ 1 tsp. salt ✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
For the topping: ✔ 50 gr. butter ✔ 1 onion, chopped ✔ 1 clove garlic, minced ✔ 1 cup dry white wine ✔ 2 cartons cooking cream ✔ 100 gr. spinach leaves, chopped and steamed ✔ 1 Tbsp. ground Parmesan cheese ✔ 100 gr. mozzarella, grated✔ 5 eggs (one for each pizza) ✔ Pinch nutmeg ✔ Salt and pepper
To make the dough: Crumble yeast into the flour, add oil, sugar and salt. Gradually add water while kneading until dough forms.
Continue kneading until dough is smooth.
Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise until double in volume.
Remove from bowl, punch the air out, knead briefly and return to bowl for 30 more minutes.
Again remove from bowl and knead to get air out, return to bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping: Sauté onion in butter until transparent. Add the minced garlic and sauté 1 more minute.
Add the white wine and cook until reduced to ⅓. Add the cream. Bring to gentle boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the spinach, nutmeg and Parmesan, mix, season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
Heat oven to 220 degrees.
When dough is ready, remove from the refrigerator and divide into 5 equal balls, approximately 200 gr. each. Roll each ball into a round pizza. Place pizza rounds on a lined baking sheet.
Divide the topping between the pizzas, leaving the edges without sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on the sauce and break an egg on each pizza. Eggs are optional.
The pizza is also good without the egg.
If the oven is not large enough to hold all the pizzas at once, put toppings and eggs on the ones you will bake immediately and repeat later.
Bake 12-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is baked.
Eggplant vegetable lasagnaMakes 1 30x40 cm. baking sheet
✔ 4 or 5 small-medium eggplants ✔ 500 gr. ricotta cheese ✔ 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped ✔ ½ cup grated Parmesan ✔ 250 gr. mozzarella, grated ✔ ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled ✔ 1½ tsp. salt ✔ 1 tsp. black pepper ✔ About 30 lasagna leaves White sauce ✔ 1 liter milk ✔ 100 gr. butter ✔ ⅓ cup flour ✔ 1 tsp. salt ✔ 1 tsp. grated nutmeg Heat oven to 200 degrees.
Slice eggplants lengthwise and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher or coarse salt and leave for 30 minutes to sweat.
Meanwhile, prepare white sauce: Melt butter in a pot and add the flour. Mix and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk gradually while whisking until the sauce is smooth.
Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook while mixing, until the consistency is that of yogurt. Set aside.
Pat dry the eggplant slices and brush with olive oil. Bake the eggplant in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden.
In a bowl, mix together the ricotta and feta cheeses. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper.
When eggplant slices are cooled, remove from the baking sheet.
Brush a clean baking sheet with olive oil.
First layer: Spread a little white sauce on the bottom of the baking pan. Cover with 1 layer of lasagna, then a layer of eggplant slices, sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan.
Second layer: Place a layer of lasagna, spread white sauce, then a thick layer of the ricotta and feta cheeses and sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella.
Third layer: Lasagna, white sauce, eggplant and sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella.
Fourth layer: Lasagna, white sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella.
Wrap the baking sheet with plastic foil and then aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes covered.
Remove both the foils and bake 15 more minutes until cheeses are nicely browned. Recipes and photos courtesy of Piazza Bar and Restaurant, 99 Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv.
(03) 527-4488. Not kosher.