Sunday, August 29, 2010

Contorni - Side dishes (maltese style!)

Contorni is the Italian word for side dishes, i.e. the veggies and salads that accompany the main meat dish.

Here are a couple of quite traditional Maltese "contorni" - Boiled potatoes and "Qarabali fgati", or literal translation: "smothered Zucchini".

Both are spectacularly easy to make, and if you like, you can also make the potatoes in the exact same method as the zucchini, it's absolutely simple and soooo delicious!!

Ok - here goes!

Potatoes - boiled:
A few medium size potatoes (I calculate 150 grams per person they're all boys and wow.. boys eat lots of taters)
Salt, olive oil, pepper
Flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional - u can use chopped basil, sage, thyme or nothing at all!)

Peel the potatoes and chop into 2-4 pieces - large bits!

Place into as small a pot as it can handle, and JUST cover with water.

Place on a high flame, and as soon as the water starts bubbling, add a level tablespoon (that's no mistake!) of salt in the water, turn it RIGHT down, and cover.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes until almost done, then switch off, leaving the potatoes to cool in the water.  Don't stir, don't fiddle around with the potatoes too much, as they will fall apart.

When cooler, drain the water (carefully, as not to damage the taters too much) and place the potatoes into a serving bowl, sprinkle liberally with good olive oil and toss lightly, then add pepper and chopped herbs (if you like).  and an extra lashing of olive oil. 
Serve slightly warm, at room temperature or fridge cold.  they are delicious any way.

N.B. The important thing is to allow them to cool slightly in the water.  It lends a particular tenderness to the potatoes that you cannot get by simple boiling.

Contorno number 2:  Qara Baghli Fgati

Many Zucchini (as you can see Malta has the white version - any version is fine though!), chopped into decent size chunks.
Garlic - a few cloves, chopped roughly.
Pepper, salt, olive oil.

Place chopped zucchini into a small saucepan (with lid), add the garlic, pepper, a good sprinkle of salt, a teaspoon or 2 of olive oil, and a small amount of water.  Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  literally not  much at all.  You don't want to boil these veggies, just steam them in their own juices.

Cover with lid, and put on a low-medium flame.

Check every couple of minutes, and when it's properly simmering, turn the heat down.  stir occasionally, until done.

You will not need to drain these, or do anything much to them at all when they're done, other than adjust seasoning if need be.

Serve with your favourite meat/seafood dish! :)

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