Eating Ferragosto

Ferragosto is an ancient holiday that takes its name from Latin Feriae Augusti. In the year 18 BCE the Roman Emperor Augustus declared the month of August to be a month to honour the gods – in particular Diana – and the cycle of fertility and ripening.

Whether soaking up the sun on a beach or strolling on the hilly countryside, this ancient holiday is all about relaxation – and food! Picnic style dishes, easy to transport and delicious at room temperature are the perfect choice for this day. With plenty of fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables, the possibilities are almost endless.

Enjoy these variations of the popular stuffed vegetables and remember: there is no Ferragosto without a classic cocomerata (watermelon feast)!

Buon Ferragosto!

Mixed pan from the vegetable garden

Servings 4 Preparation time: 35 min Cooking time: 70 min

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2.5 cups of potatoes- peeled and diced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup of minced thyme, basil and marjoram
  • ½ cup of Parmesan cheese- grated
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Boil the onions for 35 min, the eggplant for 20 min, the potatoes for 10 min and the zucchini for 10 min. Drain the vegetables, cut them in half and let them dry on a dish cloth with the cut side facing down. Take some of the interior pulp of all vegetables and chop it. In a blender, puree the potatoes and then add the vegetable pulp.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the pulp and chop it, then add it to the other vegetables’ pulp. Rinse the peppers, cut the top that will be used as a “hat” and remove the seeds.
  3. Mix the vegetables’ pulp with the egg, Parmesan cheese, minced herbs and salt. Fill the vegetables with the mix, sprinkling some olive oil on top. Place the peppers in the oven in a baking pan at 425°F and, after 15 min, add the eggplants and the onions. After another 10 min, add the tomatoes and zucchini and let it bake for 10 min more. To get a crispy top, turn the oven on broil or 2 min.

Summer Cocomerata with mint sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 small watermelon (better if seedless)
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwis
  • Grapes

For the sauce:

  • 40 mint leaves
  • 8 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 8 tablespoons of white sugar

Cut the watermelon and the cantaloupe in half and remove seeds; peel the kiwis and rinse the grapes. Using a melon baller, make little watermelon, cantaloupe and kiwi balls. Remove the whole interior of the watermelon and use its skin as a bowl.

To prepare the mint sauce: in a food processor, blend the mint leaves, sugar and lemon juice.

Pour the sauce into the watermelon, stir carefully and keep it in the fridge. Serving suggestion: use the watermelon bowl as a centrepiece and distribute long wooden skewers for a fun sharing experience!

Stuffed peppers with rice

Servings 4 Preparation time: 15 min Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 big yellow peppers
  • 4 tablespoons of parboiled rice
  • 3 ripe red tomatoes
  • 4 ounces of black olives- minced
  • 1 tablespoon of basil- minced
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian parsley- minced
  • 1 shallot- chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Set the oven at 380° F. Rinse the peppers cut them in half lengthwise removing all seeds. Put the tomatoes in boiling water for 2 min, then get rid of the skin and chop them coarsely. Boil the rice in salted water for 15 min.
  2. In a frying pan, fry the shallot with two tablespoons of olive oil, add the tomatoes and stir on high heat for 2 min (then keep aside two tablespoons that you will use later). Add rice, basil and parsley stirring for few minutes and then add salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and add the minced olives.
  3. Fill up the peppers with the mix and place them on a baking pan after you have sprinkled some olive oil on the bottom, then sprinkle the remaining olive oil and tomato sauce on the peppers and place them in the oven for 45 min (covered with aluminium foil). In the meantime toast the breadcrumbs in a nonstick pan, stirring for few minutes.
  4. On the last 10 min of baking, remove the aluminium foil, sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and raise the temperature to 425° F. Serve the peppers lukewarm to better enjoy the flavour

written by Gaia Massai