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Explore The Cuisine Of Southern Italy At The Boston Public Market

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A class in The KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market
Hannah Casey

On a recent Wednesday night, I made the trek from WGBH in Brighton, through the city to the North End, and one of my very favorite places in Boston. The Boston Public Market, a popular farmers market/food heaven, opened in 2015, and already feels like an institution.

This feeling is due in large part to The Trustees, the non-profit organization that manages The KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market, the educational space within the market. The Trustees are the oldest land trust in the world and 116 properties and over 26,000 acres of land in Massachusetts, ranging from working farms to historic homesteads, and all reservations are open for the public to enjoy. The Boston Public Market has almost forty vendors, a rich mix of farm-fresh produce suppliers, meats, and dairy; local seafood, prepared foods, from fresh pasta and sauces to gourmet pastrami sandwiches and bagels, and a variety of other locally made goods. There’s so much to explore at the Market that could merit its own lengthy list, or a well-spent afternoon visit.

But the real gem of the market is The KITCHEN, a space that hosts hands-on classes, workshops and events that “showcase the bounty of New England farmers and artisans.” There are classes almost everyday, “for every taste, ability, and interest," and a clear dedication to seasonal and local cooking, sustainability, and community building. One result of these wholesome efforts is an undeniable cheer at the KITCHEN. There’s a happy vibe, class attendees work in casual friendly teams, and by nature of being there everyone is invested in enjoying and learning more about food.

The class I dropped in on is part of a new Farm-to-KITCHEN series dedicated to the cuisine of southern Italy, or Il Sud. The ongoing classes alternate between a Sicilian menu and a Pugilese menu, and I was there for the later consisting of panelle (fried chickpea fritters, an addition from the Sicilian menu), fresh orecchiette with baby kale and spicy salsiccia (sausage), and taralli al vino rosso (red wine donuts).

My Pugilese class borrowed the panelle from the Sicilian menu (and I was tempted to go back for the full Sicilian class as well) offering busiata pasta pesto alla trapanese (cherry tomato almond pesto) with agrodolce escarole and Q’s Nuts pine nuts, and cannoli with fresh Appleton Farms Ricotta.

Chef Julianne Stelmaszyk brought her passion for Italian culture and a vast knowledge of the cuisine to our class. As the founder of a cooking school in Rome, Chef Juli came prepared to teach far more than just recipes. There was a crash course in Italian geography and economics, to understand the ways that regional Italian cuisines differ. Southern Italy with its more rugged climate has always been less prosperous than the North. In Northern Italy, pasta dough is typically made with egg and machine-shaped into long thin strands like spaghetti, whereas in Southern Italy, where people historically could not afford to use eggs in their pasta, the dough is just flour and water, rolled into simple little shapes like orecchiette.

Since taking the class, I've cooked pasta with sausage and greens on almost a weekly basis. The dish is endlessly adaptable and easy to pull together on the stove, key ingredients for a perfect weeknight dinner. The next task on my cooking agenda is replicating the fresh pasta we made in class at home. I was shocked to see how easily flour and water came together into the light and tasty delicacy that is fresh pasta, and now prepared with Chef Juli's tips and tricks, such as that pasta dough should have the same texture as your earlobe, I feel empowered to make my own for the first time.

All the ingredients used at The KITCHEN are sourced within the Market, and chosen by the teaching chef. Vegetables came from Siena Farms, the spicy pork sausage from Stillman’s Meats, and local wine (for sampling and use in the donuts) came from the Massachusetts Wine Shop.

In addition to preparing our dinner, the class also learned how to make fresh flour-water pasta, with a lesson in pasta shaping from Chef Juli, and sampled local wines paired to the dinner menu throughout the night.

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Making fresh pasta
Hannah Casey


The Flavors of Puglia recipes are included below courtesy of The KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market and Chef Juli Stelmaszyk, who taught the class. And check out their calendar of events for upcoming classes. You're bound to find something you'll like!

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Panelle frying in the pan
Hannah Casey

Panelle (Fried chickpea fritters) Pugliese Style

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil for greasing and frying
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions:

  • Grease 8x8’’ quarter sheet pan with oil. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Put chickpea flour in a large bowl. When water comes to a boil, gradually add it to the bowl with the flour, whisking constantly to prevent clumps. Scrape the mixture into the saucepan and bring to a boil, sprinkle salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stir in 4 Tbsp olive oil and cook for just a minute.
  • Scoop the chickpea mixture onto the sheet pan and spread it out evenly. Let cool and cover loosely with parchment. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat ¼ inch veg oil in a large skillet over medium heat (250F). Cut the chickpea mixture into “fries” about 3 inches long and blot any excess moisture with a paper towel. Work in batches to gently drop them into hot oil. Cook and rotate until golden, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Squeeze fresh lemon juice and ample finishing salt while still hot. Enjoy!

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Orecchiette with mustard greens and sausage
Hannah Casey

Orecchiette with mustard greens and sausage

Ingredients:

  • Pasta 1 pound fresh or dry pasta (for fresh use 1/2 pund semolina flour, 1/2 pound all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 grated asiago cheese (Appleton Farms)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound sausage (Chestnut Farms)
  • Peperoncino (Soluna Garden)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe or mustard greens or black tuscan kale, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces

Directions:

  • Bring pot of water to boil and salt like the sea.
  • Heat oil in saute pan over low to medium heat. Add garlic (whole or minced) until light golden color. Add sausage and break apart with a wooden spoon. Stir until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add greens and stir. Season with salt to taste.
  • Cook pasta in boiling water until done. Follow package instructions or 1-2 minutes for fresh pasta. Add to saute pan with sauce. Top with ample grated cheese and enjoy!

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Red wine cookies
Hannah Casey

Ciambelline al Vino Rosso (Red Wine Cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of wine (white, red)
  • 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups plain flour or more
  • 1/2 cup sugar for finishing

Directions:

  • In a bowl mix together the sugar, olive oil and wine. Add the salt and fennel seeds and then flour q.b a little at a time, mixing with your hands, until you have a soft but manageable dough that comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Move the dough onto a board dusted lightly with flour and then work until smooth. Cover and leave the dough to rest for an hour.
  • Pull walnut sized pieces from the dough and then on a floured board, with floured hands, roll the balls into slim logs that are roughly 8 – 10 cm long. Curl each log into a round and pinch the ends so you have a ring. Invert and dip the top of each ring into a dish of sugar so it is well coated. Arrange the rings on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
  • Bake at 180° for 25 – 30 minutes or until the rings are golden and crisp. Allow to cool.

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