Italian Soul Food: Tomato and Zucchini Pie PLUS Roasted Tomato Crostini with Goat Cheese
I have met a fantastic person on Facebook! No, not to date or anything like that! But one who shares my joy for Italian cooking and the beautiful Italian way of living life . . . with passion every day!
I’ve never once met Phyllis in person, nor spoken to her on the phone . . . all of our conversations have taken place on social media. Have you ever known someone who you think if there were ever soul-sisters unrelated to you, that this person is just that soul-person? That’s how I felt about Phyllis after just a few chats!
I also cannot get over the recipes that she prepares and in amazing abundance, day after day after day! I want her energy!
Phyllis agreed to be a guest on my blog and I’m thrilled to introduce her and her blog to you. So through her own words, meet my friend Phyllis:
“Inside this half Danish, half Russian body resides the passionate soul of an Italian Woman! That first forkful of spaghetti with ragu, when I was a kid, I was over the moon! And that bite has morphed into my becoming more and more immersed in the culture, cuisine and language of Italy.
When I think about the whys’ and wherefores’ there are a few things that led me to this place. I’m a product of parents who grew up on farms on the Prairies of Canada, who knew how to grow stuff to keep the family larder full of fresh produce and hundreds of jars of fruit and vegetables “put-up” for the fall and winter months, until it was time to plant again. Once you eat a warm tomato straight from the garden sprinkled with sea salt and maybe some great extra virgin olive oil, it’s pretty much impossible not to start growing veggies yourself! There is nothing more satisfying, I think, than walking out to your garden to pick some of your own crop for dinner!
And…I began learning how to cook when I was around eleven or twelve….it felt like I was born to cook!
Something happened that changed me forever…we travelled to Italy for the first time in 2007. I packed up a few of the recipes I had been meaning to try and now I was going to be able to cook them in real Italian kitchens of our rental homes!
Seeing that truck parked on the side of the road in Tuscany, selling fresh Porcini, cooking that amazing Bistecca alla Fiorentina over a wood-fired grill and my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw zucchini with their blossoms still attached in the shops! THAT just does not happen in “Beautiful British Columbia”…except at Farmers Markets. And thank goodness for those farmers and their amazing produce like stinging nettles to make fresh pasta or a frittata and a grilled slice of Italian bread topped with local asparagus, a poached egg and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on top!
Since that first eye-opening “cooks tour” the cooking has taken to us many regions of Italy with my burgeoning collection of not only recipe books but books on the history of Italian food and the history of those regions . . . it’s been a pretty tasty ride!”
“Cooks and gardeners share a universal language for sure. Whenever there’s an opportunity, I often find myself leaning over a garden wall in Italy to speak (with very limited Italian) to the person in the yard about what they’re growing, what’s happening with the weather or sharing food experiences, I find that Italians share the same passion about food as me and my Italian soul!”
I asked Phyllis a few questions out of curiosity:
“What is the meaning behind the name of your blog? What compelled you to give your blog this name?”
“As you know, I am in love with Italy and Italian cooking, bought my very first Italian cookbook way back when I was around 20! So, I wanted to find a name that represented that to me which had me searching my Italian dictionary to find something. The logo is meant to loosely represent a clock…Joe and I designed it. So a clock…hmm, well I thought about the Italian word for time or hours and that’s “ora” and then of course food “cibo”….so I just combined the two not caring if it made actual grammatical sense, just liked how it sounded.”
What got you started on blogging about Italian food blogging and blogging in general?
“The theme of the blog evolved because of my love for Italian flavours. At one time I was really “into” French cooking, thanks to Julia Child but it wasn’t a fit for me like Italian cooking is. And on our first trip to Italy in ‘07, I was finding and cooking with ingredients that I had never had the opportunity to play with before…will always remember seeing trucks on the side of the road with their big Porcini Fresca signs! OMG! Anyway and then discovering the integrity of such fresh produce and with just a few ingredients, how little needs to be “done” to those ingredients to make absolutely mouth-watering food.”
“What brought me to blogging seemed a “natural”…most cooks my age have children and grandchildren to share their recipes with and to cook with but as I don’t it allows me to continue sharing and nurturing. When I was working as a corporate chef I did have “family” that I cooked for and spoiled and blogging made me feel that I could still do that with new people.”
What is so unique about your blog to compel people to follow along and read your blog?
“A Canadian woman discovering her Italian soul! Travelling to Italy and spending time there in home/apartment rentals takes us naturally to markets to buy food for me to cook. I feel “at home” when I’m there, spotting things I want to try…even if I struggle with the language…people around me always help me out! I had similar experiences in London too. Food people are special, we have an affinity for each other. And I especially find that to be true in Italy! I can’t explain how I felt to have to be going home after 3 weeks in Tuscany that first trip…I was devastated to be leaving but have been so fortunate to be able to go back again and again. Friends often ask me why we keep returning…I can only say that is where my soul feels right at home.”
Phyllis was kind enough to share not one, but TWO of her favorite, mouth-watering recipes!
“What can I say? Tomatoes, zucchini, basil, garlic; it doesn’t get any better at the height of summer! Someone said that “what grows together, goes together.” I definitely agree. This pie can be served hot or warm, makes a great summer meal accompanied by a salad and pass the wine please! And…it’s vegetarian!”
“I’ll bet I have made hundreds of these over the years! The delicious tang of the goat cheese and the sweet roasted flavour of the tomatoes along with the fresh basil makes a mouth-watering combination! Oh and they are totally vegetarian!”
You can find Phyllis’ delicious recipes on her food blog, Oracibo !
or your can follow her pins and boards on Pinterest: Phyllis Knudsen
or you can follow her through Facebook: Oracibo
DO YOURSELF A DELICIOUS FAVOR and follow Phyllis’ endless energy and creativity in her kitchen, along with her husband’s professional photographed photos, read about their endless travels around the world, and just sit back and ENJOY!