Cook’s Corner

Pickle power: Tangy veggies give sandwiches a piquant crunch


Main dish

‘Angry’ Sicilian Pasta

2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

1/4 cup capers, rinsed and patted dry

1/4 cup chopped fresh spearmint

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1 garlic clove, grated (see story) or minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1 pound bow-tie pasta

1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino

In a large serving bowl, toss together the tomatoes, basil, capers, mint, oregano, garlic, red pepper and olive oil. Add salt to taste. (The sauce can be made up to 1 hour ahead of time. Cover and let stand at room temperature.) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Scoop out some of the cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the bowl, with a little of the reserved cooking water if needed, and toss well. Add the cheese and toss again. Serve hot or warm. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 426 calories (33 percent from fat), 15 g fat (2.8 g saturated, 9 g monounsaturated), 7 mg cholesterol, 12.5 g protein, 58 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 260 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted for Cook’s Corner by Linda Cicero from “The Italian Vegetable Cookbook” by Michele Scicolone.

Main dish

Jimmy Stewart’s Spareribs with BBQ Sauce

1 medium yellow onion, grated

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 cup bottled chili sauce

1 cup ketchup

2 cups water

Tabasco sauce to taste

9-10 pounds spareribs, cut into 2-rib pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lemon, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make the sauce: Sauté the grated onion and garlic in the butter until just softened. Add the next nine ingredients (through the Tabasco) and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. Taste and adjust seasonings. Arrange spareribs in shallow baking pans and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss lemons and onion on top. Pour about 1/3 of the sauce over the meat. Place in oven and bake about 45 minutes, basting occasionally with remaining barbecue sauce (place remaining half in a small bowl and refrigerate to heat just before serving; use the rest for basting). Turn meat several times so it cooks evenly. Serve with remaining barbecue sauce. Serves 8.

Per serving: 605 calories (65 percent from fat), 43 g fat (14.6 g saturated, 15.3 g monounsaturated), 144 mg cholesterol, 28 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 2.2 g fiber, 1141 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner from Johna Blinn’s “Celebrity Cookbook” (Moby Books, 1981).

Side dish

Asian-Style Pickled Vegetables

1 large seedless or English cucumber, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)

1 cup thinly sliced radishes or daikon (Asian white radish)

1/2 cup julienne-cut carrots

2 tablespoons mixed pickling spice

2 cups sugar

2 cups rice vinegar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Mix vegetables in large glass bowl. Set aside. Place pickling spice in the center of a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Tie tightly with string. Place in medium saucepan with sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to boil on medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Pour hot liquid and pickling spice bundle over vegetables. Cover. Refrigerate vegetables. Stir once a day for 1 to 2 days to blend flavors before serving. Makes 20 servings.

Per serving: 94 calories (0 percent from fat), 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g protein, 22 g carbohydrate, .4 g fiber, 596 mg sodium.

Source: Recipe from

Make these Asian-style pickled vegetables in just a few minutes.

Store in a non-reactive container — a glass jar, ceramic bowl with cover or sealable hard plastic — for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

I like to add them to a cold plate of sliced grilled meat or chicken, but they also add a piquant crunch to burgers or sausages. Traditionally, these perk up a Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich.

You can add or subtract vegetables to suit your tastes but I like to stick with root vegetables with plenty of crunch — jicama, golden beets, turnips, carrots and celery all work well, but if you’ve got zucchini or squash to use up, try using a potato peeler to create thin strips to add to the mix. Find more quick pickling recipes at

Sleuth’s Corner

Q. I am hoping your readers will help me find a recipe I’ve lost for a spice cake made with pinto beans. It may sound crazy, but this was a prize-winning recipe I got at a country fair that celebrated pintos; we happened upon it on a road trip about 15 years ago. I made the cake over and over again because it was absolutely delicious. Then it disappeared in a move. The other ingredients included apples and walnuts.

Linda Taylor, Johnson City, Texas

Reader Question: Jimmy Stewart Barbecue

Q. Please, please help! My late sister-in-law used to make what she swore was Jimmy Stewart’s barbecue sauce in giant batches that she brought to our annual family reunion on Labor Day. We used it on grilled chicken, burgers, ribs or whatever.

No one ever got the recipe from her and our cookout just won’t be the same. I’d like to make this and put the recipe on “Remembering LouLou” cards to pass out. Do you know how I could track down this recipe?

Becky Fromm

A. I am hopelessly addicted to browsing old cookbooks at estate sales and thrift stores, and have a collection that threatens to take over my whole office. Among my quirkiest is a 1981 cookbook by Johna Blinn, who wrote a syndicated celebrity cooking column for years for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, appearing in more than 150 newspapers.

There are recipes in her Celebrity Cookbook for everyone from Walter Cronkite to Natalie Wood, Peter Max to Farrah Fawcett and hundreds more, coupled with fantastic caricatures. I found Jimmy Stewart’s Barbecue Sauce with pork spare ribs in the collection and hope it sparks fond memories for your family.

Cookbook Corner

This wonderfully easy Angry Sicilian Pasta is perfect for hot summer nights when you don’t want to do much cooking.

It’s from Michele Scicolone’s The Italian Vegetable Cookbook ($30, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a wonderfully inclusive collection of 200 recipes from Italian farmers, produce markets, chefs and her own grandparents for classic antipasti, soups, pasta, main dishes and desserts. Her recipes are uncomplicated but delicious, and include both classic and imaginative new Italian dishes.

The “angry” in the dish’s title refers to the inclusion of crushed red pepper, but frankly the little bit in the recipe does not provide much heat at all, and I added a lot more.

My grandfather, who emigrated to America from Italy at the turn of the 20th Century, made a version of this dish that added oil-cured black olives as well, and sometimes a bit of anchovy or a can of ceci, and I never knew him to use spearmint in any dish.

But that’s the beauty of this simple preparation — you can add or subtract at will to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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