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21 April 2013

Simple Italian Grilled Vegetables and The Vatican City

It was around this period, years ago, when I swore to the Italian flag to abide by its laws and be a good citizen with my quivering voice, following the lead of the Vice-Mayor of the comune.  As we concluded the session, the Vice-Mayor and I exchanged hands and she happily gave me her good wishes.  "Auguri signora".  I'm Italian.  I felt strangely emotional and elated. 

For a day that was so important, my husband and I just decided to go out for lunch in a restaurant and celebrate it together quietly in each other's company.  That day also concluded the years of accumulating the paper trail for attaining my status.  Life was going to be much simpler.  

I have more trust on restaurants with less entries in the menus because I believe that they put more attention to what they are serving.  I also look forward to seeing the simple, classic dishes like this grilled vegetable side dish because it's the only one I order (alternating with baked potatoes at times) to complement any main course I choose.  They are simply grilled and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar at times then seasoned with salt (sometimes with garlic too).  Nothing can be simpler and nothing can be better than these vegetables.  There is just something fundamental about it. The vegetables and extra virgin olive oil should have very good quality because they are the only ones that you will be tasting in this dish. 

Looking back through my years in Italy, the place I visited the most is the Vatican City.  I have visited the state so many times, night and day.  My favorite road to arrive to this beautiful city is through the central main one, Via della Conciliazione, that arrives at Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square) with the Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica) greeting you. With the picture below, from the basilica's cupola (dome), (Please excuse the quality.  It was taken in 2001.), you can see the road clearly from the Vatican towards the Tevere (Tiber). 

There are two important places to visit at the Vatican, the Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica) & Musei Vaticani (Matican Museums). If you have more time and energy, take the stairs leading to the cupola (dome) to see a breathtaking view of Rome, the Vatican grounds and Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square) leading to the Tevere (Tiber) through Via della Conciliazione

The basilica is the second church at the same site.  The first one, known as the Antica Basilica di San Pietro (Old St. Peter's Basilica), was constructed in the 4th century and remained there until the 16th century.  The second and present Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica) instead was constructed in 1506 and finished 120 years after, in 1626.  It is the most renowned work of Rennaisance architecture designed by Bramante, Bernini, Michelangelo & Maderno

The Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums) are among the greatest museums in the world which was established in 1506 by Pope Julius II.  It is comprised of a group of museums with galleries that will leave you in awe like the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche (Gallery of Maps), Sala Rotonda which is shaped like a miniature Pantheon, the Cappella Niccolina (Niccoline Chapel) noted for Fra Angelico's fresco paintings, the four Stanze di Raphael (Raphael Rooms), a suite of reception rooms with frescoes painted by Raphael and of course the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel) which is the most famous part of the museum. 

There are a lot more to see inside the Vatican Museums and it takes time to go around and appreciate all the collections amassed by the Vatican.  I would also advice you to get a guided tour to understand what you are seeing.  After my second visit there without guided tours and being pressed for time, I can never say that I was completely satisfied with my visits because of not knowing what I was looking at.  I am planning my third visit there again with a friend who conducts tours at the Museum because this time, I would like to understand everything that I see.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and the simple recipe on this post.  Enjoy your weekend!

Simple Italian Grilled Vegetables

Serves 4
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 big yellow pepper
  • 1 big red pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt 
  • 1 garlic, chopped finely
  • Parsley, chopped finely
  1. Slice the zucchini and aubergines vertically at about ½ cm. thick.  Leave the peppers whole.
  2. Brush the griddle with little extra virgin olive oil so that the vegetables will not stick to it. 
  3. Grill the peppers first because they take very long to cook, about an hour, depending on the size.  The skin should be charred.  If you want the removal of skin of the grilled peppers easier, put them inside a plastic bag for food and seal for about half an hour to an hour.  Take them out of the plastic bag then peel off the skin. If you don't have much time, just try to peel them putting them in a plastic bag. Pull off the stem, slice in the middle then scrape off the seeds and filaments inside.  Slice the peppers to 4 or desired size.  Set aside.
  4. Grill both sides of the zucchini and aubergines until cooked through. 
  5. In a bowl, mix extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, garlic & parsley.  If you want it simple, just mix extra virgin olive oil, salt & parsley.
  6. Pour mixture over grilled vegetables.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.