Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seafood with Pesto from Maria Liberati and a Festa Italiana #Giveaway

Milwaukee is known as the City of Festivals for good reason.  In addition to the world's largest music festival, Summerfest, Milwaukee is also privileged to be the host of some of the world's best ethnic festivals.

One of the tastiest just happens to be Festa Italiana, coming up on July 19-21 (stay tuned below for a chance to win tickets).  Among its other claims to fame, Festa happens to be largest Italian event of its kind in America today.

Last year, I wrote a guide to "eating your way through Festa."  This year, I had the opportunity to interview Maria Liberati, former international supermodel, blogger, cookbook author and food and travel writer for The Mortan Report. 

Interestingly, during the height of her modeling career while jet-setting around Europe, Liberati rediscovered the simplicity of Italian food while spending time at her family's vineyard in the mountains of central Italy. She began to experience the real tastes of food that she knew from her childhood. And she created an entirely new career based around her love of Italian food.

Today, Libearti is considered one of the foremost experts in Italian cuisine, culinary travel, wine and culture and has been referred to on occasion as the "Italian Martha Stewart."

I was curious to find out more about Liberati's cooking philosophy, as well as her impressions of Milwaukee and Festa Italiana. Here's what she told me.

She was also kind enough to leave me with a deliciously simple recipe for a great summer appetizer. In turn, I'm sharing that with you.

In addition, if you happen to be around for Festa Italiana in Milwaukee this year, be sure you read to the bottom of the post and enter to win a pair of tickets to the festival (a $26 value).

Sapore di Mare al Pesto (Seafood with Pesto) 
By Maria Liberati

¼ cup diced shallots
3 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 lb of sea scallops, diced
½ lb small shrimp diced
dash of pepperoncino (hot red pepper)

Pesto Sauce
1 cup fresh basil leaves, remove stems
1 clove garlic crushed
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese freshly grated
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup pignoli nuts

Wash basil leaves thoroughly and pat dry.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend for 5-10 seconds or until smooth. Add more parmigiano-reggiano cheese to taste. Pesto sauce can be stored in the refrigerator

In a large skillet, sauté the shallots and tomatoes in oil for 3 minutes. Add diced scallops and shrimp and mix thoroughly; sauté for 3 minutes. Pour the pesto sauce over the seafood, toss, and sauté for another 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold over radicchio leaves.

In celebration of Festa Italiana, we'll be giving away pairs of tickets to two (2) lucky readers!

For your chance to win, head over to and check out my interview with Maria Liberati. Then come back and leave us a message telling us what most surprised you about the interview.

Giveaway ends on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.  Tickets will be mailed to the winners on July 15th, or as soon as we have accurate mailing information for the chosen winners.

Winners will be chosen at random and notified by email, so please leave your email addy with your comment if it's not included with your Blogger profile. Entries from the U.S. only, please (and please only enter if you know that you can make it to Festa Italiana in Milwaukee on July 19-21).

Full Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Festa Italiana, who provided us with the product for our giveaway. However, all opinions expressed in this post are our own.



  1. Maria Liberati is a great chef and a wonderful friend. I am also a cookbook author and a celb. chef as well. try Marias food at the festival --you will love it!! keep up the awsome work my friend maria.
    buon appetito!!
    Frankie Imbergamo/Boston MA.

    1. Frankie -
      Thanks so much for your message! Maria seems just wonderful. Can't wait to try her food. Cheers!

  2. Lori,

    I think what really struck me about your interview was Maria's impression of Milwaukee after only visiting once. The fact she felt at home in a new place serves as a testament to how wonderful the city we live in is!


  3. I was surprised and impressed that she finds the fireworks display at Festa to be just like an Italian beach fireworks.

  4. What suprised me the most was that Leonardo DaVinci was a foodie in his time!

    1. correction: email is

  5. Great interview. I love that Maria is a MKE fan! I did not know that large portions was an American misconception about Italian food. I always pictured rural Italy with plates and dishes overflowing with pasta. Hungry for Festa now!


  6. Two wonderful is definitely the name Mario Lanza. Both my grandparents were singers with the Florentine Opera so there was always opera playing in their house and in our house when I was growing up. Mario Lanza was one of my mom's favorite opera singers...she secretly had a crush on him and on Placido Domingo. ;)
    The other surprise is great grandfather worked as an estate manager there. I wonder if he ever knew Maria's great grandparents. The world is such a small place! :)
    Excellent fun interview...thanks Lori!

  7. That she was a model! Interesting! Fingers crossed.

  8. Congrats to Chelsea, Elizabeth and Meghan! You've all won pairs of tickets to Festa. Check your email boxes for details!


We're thrilled that you came to visit us here at BURP! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. We're not always able to respond to every comment, but we'll make every effort to answer questions in a timely fashion. We especially enjoy reading about what's going on in your own creative kitchens. So, don't be shy!

And thanks for stopping by!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.