Shrimp Scampi


Shrimp Scampi is one of those simple dinners that doesn’t take long but requires fresh and high quality ingredients to make it truly delicious. 

Ingredients 

  • 3/4 – 1lb peeled and deveined shrimp 
  • 3/4 lb pasta (linguine, spaghetti or capellini)
  • 4TBSP quality olive oil 
  • 4TBSP butter
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped 
  • White wine–whatever you like 
  • Half of lemon, juiced 

Instructions 

– Put pot of boiling water on and salt heavily. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile… 

– Put 2 tbsp butter and 2tbsp oil in pan on medium heat. Add red pepper flakes. 

– Add shallots and garlic, sauté for 3-5 minutes. 


Add shrimp and cook until pink. 


Remove shrimp before fully cooked and set aside. 


Put the rest of the butter and oil in the pan and add white wine and lemon juice. Reduce for a few minutes. 


– Add the shrimp back in the pan and cook another 2 minutes or until done.  


– Add fresh chopped parsley. 
– Pour contents of pan over bowl of pasta. Option to add toasted breadcrumbs with a little olive oil and/or parmesan cheese and more squeezed lemon juice. 

Pasta e Fagioli

Soup season is well underway! It’s easy to make, it warms you up, it’s great for leftovers/lunch at work and can be a very healthy meal. Plus you can usually make a great soup with items left in your fridge and a can of beans or lentils.

Pasta e fagioli is one of my favorites, sprinkled with a little parmigiano cheese and you have yourself a comforting well-rounded meal! This soup is packed with veggies and proteins and vegetarians can make it without the sausage.

Ingredients:

  • 1 link, Hot Italian sausage (you can substitute sweet sausage, pancetta, prosciutto or skip the meat all together. But it definitely gives it a nice flavor)
  • Sprinkle of fennel seeds (optional- but I love the flavor it adds to the sausage)
  • 2 garlic cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrot stalks
  • 2 small sweet red peppers- or one bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can white cannelloni beans
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 container chicken broth
  • Pasta of your choosing- about 1 cup (I recommend a tiny noodle)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh parmigiano cheese

The nice thing about this soup is you don’t have to include all the veggies or beans I used. It’s all about what you have on hand!

Instructions:

Chop all your veggies and garlic.

Get your large soup pot on medium to high heat, add a little oil and add your sausage. Break it up into tiny pieces with a wooden spoon and brown it.Add in the fennel seeds now if you’re using them. 

Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. 

Then add the carrots, celery and peppers. Stir and let cook for another 2 minutes. 

Then add zucchini and your can of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir all the ingredients together.

Add in the beans and turn the heat up on the pot. 

Add in any chicken broth or stock you have on hand. You can also use veggie instead. 

Bring it up to a boil. Then reduce. Let the soup cook with the lid cracked. You then have two options with the pasta.

Either 1)  bring your soup up to a low boil and add the pasta in 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat or 2) boil your pasta separately in hot water and add to each dish based on how much you want.

I tend to prefer option 2 only because the noodles will soak up a lot of your broth otherwise. But sometimes option 1 is just easier. Have extra chicken broth on hand in case your broth gets soaked up.

The soup is really ready at any time because all the ingredients are cooked through, but I like to let it simmer for at least a half hour to let all the flavors meld. Then eat with fresh basil and parmigiano cheese.

Enjoy!

Don’t knock ’em til you try ’em “Turkey Meatballs”

I’m not going to lie, the thought of turkey meatballs wasn’t appetizing to me. As an Italian especially, I made some assumptions that they couldn’t possibly be good. I was wrong… And I made these on a weeknight in under a half hour and not only was it a healthy option but it was truly delicious. They were also good leftover. Give em a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lbs of lean white meat turkey breast
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup imported parmigiano cheese
  • Tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pam oil spray

Directions

Pre heat oven to 400.

In a mixing bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, onion, egg, bread crumbs and cheese. Mix well and then add the turkey. Roll into balls and place on a sprayed cookie sheet. This recipe made 15 balls which came out to 119 calories each including the sauce and cheese.

Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes. Then place in cast iron pan to finish searing on all sides.


Then add tomato sauce and let simmer for a few minutes.

Then add mozzarella cheese and place under the broiler until bubbly and browned.


Mmmmmmm. Time to eat!

Homemade Ravioli

I’ve wanted to try homemade ravioli ever since I figured out how to make homemade pasta. A Valentine’s Day with wind chills in the negative degrees provided a perfect opportunity to stay home and accomplish this somewhat scary goal– and the hubby even helped! The pasta part really is a two person job. It is also time consuming but SO worth it. The best part is you can use any filling your heart desires. I couldn’t decide what to do so I made 4: 1) mushroom, truffle & goat cheese, 2) spinach, arugula and basil, 3) broccoli rabe and 4) ricotta and basil. This recipe made us about 50 ravioli. Keep in mind they are great to freeze so if you’re putting in the work, you might as well make a lot!

Ingredients:
For the pasta:

  • 5 cups of flour
  • 8 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup water

For the fillings:

Make sure you buy high quality cheese–fresh ricotta if you can. This will make a big difference in the final product.  
Truffle Mushroom & Goat Cheese:

  • Sautee one package of mixed mushrooms in oil and truffle butter. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Put the mushrooms in a blender and pulse. Then put in a bowl and add about 3 oz of goat cheese and some fresh parmigiano cheese.      

Broccoli Rabe & Garlic

  • I bought fresh roasted broccoli rabe and garlic with red pepper flakes from A&S fine foods in Stamford. I can’t make a better broccoli rabe and it takes out a few steps. If you are going to do it yourself you should par boil the broccoli and then sautee. Then put it in a blender and pulse. I added ricotta and fresh parmigiano cheese.  img_4879

Spinach, Arugula & Basil

  • Sautee spinach and arugula in some olive oil. You have the option to add chopped garlic as well. Put in processor and pulse. Add ricotta and parmigiano.  img_4881

Directions:

Make a well with your flower in a bowl and add the eggs and water to the center. Scramble the eggs with a fork and slowly bring flour into the egg mixture. This process takes a while. Be patient- you will probably think you did something wrong because the flour isn’t combining right away. Just keep working it.


Once you have incorporated all the ingredients, sprinkle some extra flour on the counter and knead the dough with your hands. You will probably have to put some flour on your hands so it doesn’t stick. You should work the dough for quite a few minutes with your hands until it smoothed out.

 Then place it in a bowl, put a dash of  olive oil on it and rub it all over the dough. Then cover the bowl with a dish towel. Let it rest.

My great grandmother used to roll the dough with a large rolling pin when she made pasta every week. That, I can’t imagine! I use my grandmother’s pasta machine which is much easier. I feed the pasta through twice on 8, twice on 6, twice on 4 and once on 2.

Although now they do make machines to do it for you–whichever way you choose is fine. pasta maker
When you are ready, roll the dough into a log and cut evenly into pieces.

You may want to cut only one piece at first to make sure it’s the right width. Making ravioli isn’t a science but I can already tell that the more you make these, the easier it will become.

Spoon out your mixture on to the pasta sheets. We learned after a few times that pressing the filling down to flatten it out will make a better ravioli.
  

We started by making square ravioli which we were messier to eat but it’s really just a matter of preference.

I don’t have fancy ravioli tools so I grabbed a pizza cutter and a fork. It worked!

What worked even better was when we found a small glass jar to cut the round ones.

I placed them on parchment paper with cornmeal to prevent them from sticking.

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To cook: bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. You don’t want a very high boil as it could damage all the work you just did! They cook in roughly 3 minutes.

For sauce: I found truffle butter and parmesan cheese on the mushroom ones were amazing! I also made a white wine and butter sauce with shallots and parsley that was delicious. And we had a few with tomato sauce. You can’t go wrong!


The cooked product! Yum!

And some with sauce…. Yum, yum, and yum!


  

 

One year later on Christmas day we made these again. It’s such a fun family activity–I highly recommend it! This time we made a pesto sauce and a red sauce. Mmmm mmm mmm!

 

 

Sausage & Pepper Grinders

Sausage and peppers is an Italian classic. It’s easy to make and can be a meal on it’s own or on fresh Italian bread for a delicious sandwich. The catch is that this meal is all about getting the right ingredients. Go to an Italian deli and get their store made sausage, mozzarella and fresh baked bread. The ingredients will make the difference in an average grinder and one that blows you away. This sandwich we made last Sunday night was incredible and the two of us ate two of these…


Ingredients:

  • 3 small hot Italian sausage links and 3 sweet links (or whatever combination you prefer) fresh made at a deli
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1-2 sliced garlic cloves (this is optional)
  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 fresh baked Italian grinders
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1 can diced San Marzano tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  • Turn your pan on med/high heat and brown your sausages, then remove from pan.
  •  Add olive oil and sliced onions & garlic to pan and sautee until start to brown. 

  • Add your peppers and let them cook down for several minutes. Then add your diced tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil. Bring them up to a simmer and add sausage.
  • Cover the pan with a cracked lid and let cook through and let the favors meld. Roughly 15-20 minutes. You really can’t over cook this dish.
  • Cut your sausages length wise in half so you can place them flat on the bread. Then add the toppings and fresh sliced cheese.     
  • Put in the oven on broil until the bread is toasted and the mozzarella is melted. Then enjoy a truly amazing sandwich. 

A note on leftovers… We had leftover peppers and onions in the sauce but no sausage. The next night I boiled some pasta, tossed it in the sauce, topped with some fresh parm and you have yourself another meal. You can also add some seared chicken or white beans for some protein 🙂  You can’t let that delicious sauce go to waste.

Prosciutto Wrapped Arugula with Pear and Blue Cheese

It’s nice to have easy go-to recipes in your back pocket that taste delicious. This particular recipe also happens to be pretty healthy for you as far as summertime BBQ dishes go. It can be used as an appetizer or side dish, it’s easy to serve and eat with your fingers. The one downside to this recipe is that it’s not one of those make ahead dishes that can sit…otherwise you will have soggy lettuce. But you can whip it up in 10 minutes right when guests arrive or right before you leave the house.

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Ingredients:

  • Argulua, washed and dried
  • Balsamic glaze (like this one or make your own)
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Fresh cracked pepper (you really don’t need salt b/c the prosciutto takes care of that)
  • 1 pear, sliced into thin pieces
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • 15 thinly sliced imported prosciutto

Instructions:

  • Put the arugula in a bowl, add a drizzle of balsamic glaze and olive oil. Then add fresh cracked black pepper and combine.
  • Lay your prosciutto out flat and place a small handful of arugula on the end of the slice. Add 1-2 pieces of apple and some blue cheese crumbles.
  • Roll all the ingredients inside the prosciutto.
  • Serve on a platter. Option to drizzle more balsamic glaze on top.


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If you have any vegetarians, skip the prosciutto and they have a delicious salad! image

July 2016 Update: I put a spin on this recipe so that it would stand up better to being left outdoors in the summer time. Form the prosciutto slices in small muffin tins and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Add the same ingredients as above and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Amaze!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower is all the rage lately on Pinterest. I’ve looked on with skeptical curiosity but finally decided to take the plunge given our goal to keep eating healthy. I will say making this crust was a bit more work than I expected, but, it really, truly was delicious. My crust was a bit soft in the center so I think I could have cooked the crust a few more minutes or the tomato sauce was too much to handle (I’ll have to make a few more before I can submitt a perfect recipe to you all). But if you are gluten free and cutting back on carbs (or want to hide some veggies from your kids) this recipe is a great option. It can be fun to do as a family, too!

Cauliflower crusted pizza by jewtalian

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried or Fresh Chopped Oregano
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional for some spice)
  • 1 TBSP flax seed meal (optional)
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  • Few TBSPs of fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

Instructions:

  • Put your pizza stone in the oven at 450 degrees.
  • Place your cauliflower in the blender and pulse until it looks like rice or some people say, snow.

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  • Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 4 minutes. It will come out piping hot. Dump the mixture on to a clean dish towel and when it’s cooled enough squeeze all the water out–this will take you several minutes. You will be shocked by the amount of water that comes out!
  • In a mixing bowl add the egg, cheeses, and seasonings. (I have used fresh parsley and the spicy oregano I grow in my garden) Incorporate the cauliflower and mix together–use your hands!

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  • Roll it into a ball and place on top of a piece of parchment paper.

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  • Using your hands press down on the “dough” flattening it out into the shape of a pizza. I used my fingers to create a crust around the edge.

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  • Place the crust on the parchment paper on the pizza stone and cook for 15 minutes 

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  • I topped mine with some leftover homemade sauce, caramelized onions, reduced fat mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and of course some spicy soppressata.
  • After your toppings are done, bake the pizza until the cheese is bubbly and browning. NOTE: let your pizza cool and set a few minutes before you cut into it or it will be messy and more difficult to pick up a slice and eat it. Buon Appetito!

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Here’s another version I did with zuchinni, tomatoes and shrimp. 

Tuscan Braised Beef Short Ribs

This meal is something you would order in a restaurant and it would come with a hefty price tag. If you make it at home, it’s much less expensive and surprisingly not difficult. The beef short ribs are an inexpensive cut of beef and all you need is time to make it happen! On a snowy Saturday this was a perfect dish to warm us up. Kyle gave this dish rave reviews and said it was in his top 5 meals that I have ever made. The nice thing about this recipe, is if you have leftovers (we did) you can make tacos, grilled cheese, pasta, etc. using the beef and sauce. It’s extremely versatile and downright delicious: the beef falls right off the bone. I served the short ribs over polenta, which I made with salt, fresh cracked pepper and lots of grated parmesan cheese. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Once you get the technique down, you can turn this into a Mexican dish (add chipotle peppers, cilantro, etc) or a sweet/heat Asian dish (fresh ginger, soy sauce, hoison sauce, sriracha, orange zest, scallions, etc.) by mixing up the ingredients.

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Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds bone-in short ribs
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 leek, diced (optional, you can use a full onion instead)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 pieces of fennel, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 bottle red wine (I used San Giovese)
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes and juice
  • 3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaves
  • Beef stock
  • Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

Take your beef out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Pat them with paper towels until their dry and season with salt & pepper. Set your oven to 350 degrees.

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After all your vegetables are chopped, heat 1 tbsp of oil on high. Once your pan is hot, turn the heat down to medium high and add your meat. Be careful not to add to many ribs at a time as you don’t want to crowd the pan. I seared them in 2 batches. If you crowd the pan and the beef starts steaming you won’t get a nice brown crust. Using tongs, turn them on each side, roughly 3 minutes or so per side, or until they are nice and brown.

Since there is a lot of fat on these ribs, you will start to see lots of oil in the pan. I periodically used tongs and soaked up some of the grease with paper towels. Or you can wait until you are done searing and pour out some of the oil. Reserve about 1 tbsp to saute your veggies.

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When you are done searing all your meat put them to the side.

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Add your veggies into the pan and saute for a few minutes. Then create a little well in the middle. Stir the tomato paste with a whisk vigorously for 30 seconds, then add your flour. Mix all the veggies together. They should have a nice thick coating on them which will help thicken your sauce.

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Add your wine, worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Then let the wine simmer and wait for it to reduce by almost half. The sauce will get nice and thick. Then add your can of tomatoes.

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I chose to use an immersion blender in just half of the pan so the sauce thickened a bit more and that way you don’t have a ton of vegetables on your plate. You can skip this step.

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Add in the beef broth until the ribs are almost covered. Add in whatever herbs you like – I chose 2 twigs of fresh oregano and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover tight, and put in the oven.

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After about 3 hours, your pan will look like this! The meat was so tender, it fell completely off some of the bones before I even picked one up.

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Serve over your cheesy polenta or a pasta like paparadelle or egg  noodles. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley and dig in.

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Nanny’s Homemade Manicotti

Growing up, Nanny often made manicotti for the holidays and special occasions. Soft crepe like tubes, stuffed with ricotta cheese, topped with sauce and more cheese; it’s quite heavenly. Don’t confuse it with cannelloni which is more of a pasta type dough that is stuffed typically with meats and baked in a bechamel sauce.

Each year for Christmas day, Mom and I like to take on a cooking challenge. We have all day, we aren’t getting out of our pajamas, so why not cook something fun? We made just under 100 manicotti and of course froze some for Nanny and other family members. In my opinion, if you are going to put in the work, you might as well make a lot. We paired them with roasted racks of lamp chops (recipe to come later) and sautéed zucchini–a well-balanced holiday meal that hit the spot! These delicate cheesy bites of heaven will satisfy any crowd and you can have fun doing it!

Note: We altered Nanny’s recipe a little as she traditionally puts mint in her ricotta stuffing. We opted to put parsley, basil and mint which worked out well!

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Ingredients & Directions:

Stuffing-

  • 4 lbs of riccota cheese
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • About a cup of grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Salt
  • 2-3 eggs
  • Fresh chopped basil, parsley and mint

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Manicotti Batter- (should make roughly 100)

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of milk

If you want to cut the recipe down to 74, us 9 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of milk.

Place your ingredients in a bowl and set your mixer to 15 minutes on a low speed.

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The batter should be on the thin side and smooth. Now here comes the tricky part… making the manicotti.

Mom and I wish Nanny was with us to help guide us through the many batches of trial and error. It takes a certain technique. Is it thin enough? It’s too thick. It’s too long or it’s not fat enough. Eventually we got the hang of it. Don’t lose hope.

Heat your griddle or flat pan to about 300 degrees. Nanny says grease it once and once only. The batter will cook fast but you don’t want it to brown/burn. It will bubble slightly and should easily come off the griddle with a spatula.

We used a metal spoon and poured the batter in a horizontal line and using the back of the spoon pushed the batter around in the shape seen below.

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Next to your stove lay out some cooling racks. Transfer your finished manicotti to the cooling racks for a few minutes. You should have lined your counter with wax paper which you will then move the cooled manicotti too (seen below).

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Next comes the stuffing! Don’t be skimpy. Place the filling at the edge and then loosely roll it shut. Don’t roll it tight like a burrito.
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If you are going to freeze some for leftovers, place them in a box on wax paper.
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For the ones you are eating. Place a layer of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Then add the manicotti, top with sauce and parmesan cheese and bake covered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Mangia!

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Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Pesto

Homemade gnocchi has been on my food bucket list for some time now and the potato version remains on the list, but I can now cross off the ricotta thanks to my Mom’s birthday dinner wish! We didn’t follow the recipe exactly because well I hate directions, and who has hours to wait for their dough to rest??? I actually got out measuring cups for this one though and I guess it was worth it. Absolutely delicious!

I have quite a few different pesto recipes on my blog. For tonight’s dinner, Mom made a basil and parsley pesto which was delicious. Remember when making pesto, buying the best and freshest ingredients because they will yield the best results.

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Ingredients:

  • 1lb fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated fresh

Directions:

Place ricotta in a strainer set over medium bowl. Chill in the fridge until the ricotta has texture of wet clay, about 1 hour.

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Mix ricotta, 1/2 cup of flour, egg & next 5 ingredients in medium bowl, adding more flour by tbsp until dough is slightly sticky.

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Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle rimmed baking sheet with flour.

Transfer the dough to lightly floured surface. Cut into 4 equal pieces.

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Using your hands, roll 1 piece on floured surface into 3/4 inch-wide log.

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Cut log crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place gnocchi on prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover gnocchi with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour or up to one day. ( Ours chilled for maybe a half hour and we cut them afterwards)

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In a large skillet, melt the butter and keep warm.

Working in two batches, add gnocchi to large pot of boiling salted water, stirring to prevent sticking. Boil until gnocchi rise to surface of water, then continue boiling until cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 mintues longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skilled with melted butter. Toss with pesto and fresh grated cheese and serve! 20131118-105543.jpg

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Baked Eggplant, Tomato and Mozzarella Stack

I was somewhat complaining earlier today because all I had in my fridge for dinner was an eggplant and I didn’t feel like going to the store. I ended my night however with a meal that Kyle said was in my top 5 of all time. (Woo hoo!) I was able to pick some tomatoes right out of my aunt’s neighbor’s garden and somehow I came up with a healthy, heavenly, fresh summer dinner.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)
  • Fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt  & pepper

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Instructions:

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut your eggplant into thick slices.

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Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Add your breadcrumb mixture to another shallow bowl. Add fresh chopped garlic and parsley if you have it on hand- if you are using seasoned italian breadcrumbs it’s not necessary.  I also added some salt and pepper.  Then add oil to the breadcrumb mixture to wet it a bit. Since we aren’t frying the eggplant, wetting the breadcrumbs will help them crisp up in the  oven.

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Place each slice of eggplant in the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Coat it well. Then place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and sprayed with oil so they don’t stick.

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After about 15 minutes turn the oven to broil so the breadcrumbs start to brown. Then turn the eggplant over and do the same to the other side. Spray with more oil if necessary.

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Slice your tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices.

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I placed some fresh arugula on the plate (an optional step). Then layer the eggplant, tomato, mozzarella and drizzle some balsamic glaze. Repeat steps until the stack can’t grow anymore.

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Dig in with a knife and fork. It may get messy but don’t let that stop you.

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Portabella Pizza

Want to eat pizza without all the carbs? Instead of using dough, buy some large portabella mushroom caps. They can hold a lot of toppings, they cook well in the toaster oven (or on the grill) and they pair wonderfully with all the traditional pizza ingredients. Tonight’s mushroom pizza was one of my favorites so I thought I would share it. Plus, Kyle loved it, and when he loves something healthy I know I’ve done it right. You can make any kind of pizza toppings and cheeses you can imagine.  While I was making the topping for this pizza I also reserved half to put over whole wheat pasta for lunch the next day. So this recipe can make 4 portabellas or, 2 portabellas and a lunch portion of pasta.

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Ingredients:

-4 large portabella mushrooms

-2 spicy Italian chicken sausages from whole foods

-2 garlic cloves

-1 fresh tomato, diced

-About 1 cup of tomato sauce (you can just use a can of diced tomatoes instead of the combination of fresh and sauce but I didn’t have any)

-1/4 or so of red wine

-Fresh chopped basil

-Mozzarella

-Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Saute your red onions in olive oil in a hot pan until they start to caramelize. Cut your chicken sausage out of the casing and add to the pan. Let it brown on all sides. Using a potato masher will help grind the chicken up in to small pieces. Then add garlic. Let the mixture cook until the sausage is browned and mostly cooked.

Add the red wine and let reduce. Using your spoon, scrape the grits off the bottom of the plan. They have tons of flavor.

Get your toaster oven heating up to about 350 on bake.

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Add the fresh tomatoes, basil and tomato sauce. Let simmer for a few minutes. You want it to be a thicker sauce so it holds well in the mushroom. If it is too thin, add some tomato paste.  I used half of the mixture in the photo below to fill two large mushrooms, and saved the other half for pasta the next day. If you choose this option, add a bit more tomato sauce to the pan so the noodles have liquid to soak up. I recommend cooking the pasta now, adding it to the sauce and then putting it in the fridge for lunch the next day.

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Place your mushrooms on tinfoil and using a spoon scrape out the insides so they are easy to fill. Add the mixture.

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Top with your favorite cheeses! I sprinkled some parmesan, some shredded low fat mozz and I diced up some fresh mozz I had on hand. 20130805-201413.jpg

Cook in the oven until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. The mushrooms will release some liquid which is normal. Use a spatula to take the mushroom off the tinfoil and plate.

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Top with fresh basil and enjoy!!

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Get out your fork and knife and dig in! 🙂20130805-201554.jpg

Chicken Sausage, Veggies and Tomato Sauce Over Whole Wheat Pasta

What to do when you are craving pasta but you’re trying to be good? Instead of having the pasta as the feature of your meal, use a portion more equivalent to a side. I had some Whole Foods Italian chicken sausage in my fridge and all I could think about was putting it over a large bowl of pasta and covered in parmesan cheese. With this recipe, you can have your cake and eat it too. I satisfied my craving by using lots of protein and fresh vegetables and didn’t overdo it on the carbs and fat.

This recipe yields 3 servings: Dinner for Kyle and I and lunch for me the next day!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 links Whole Foods Italian Chicken Sausage
  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used rotini)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Handful of spinach
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Tomato Sauce (I used Jerry’s because it’s the only jarred sauce I will buy, it’s simply amazing! You can use your own sauce, or some canned diced tomatoes.)
  • 3 slices, fresh mozzarella

Instructions:

Put a pot of boiling water on, salt it and add your pasta. When your pasta is done, portion it out into the bowls and put a spoonful of sauce on each one so the sauce sticks to the pasta.

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You can choose to saute all of your ingredients in a pan, or grill all of your ingredients. Out of personal preference, I grilled the sausage and peppers and sautéed the onions and garlic in a pan.

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This is not a necessary step but I am funny about sausage. I like it to have a nice crunchy outside so I sliced it up and threw it on a pan to crisp up the edges.

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Do not dice your veggies into small pieces as you might normally would, instead cut them into larger bite sized pieces so they don’t get lost in the pasta. Remember, veggies and protein are the feature of this dish!

Now add your veggies to the pasta.

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Then add an even number of sausage pieces into each bowl. Finally, add some spinach to each bowl–as much as you’d like.

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Add a few more spoonfuls of tomato sauce to each bowl.

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Top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Since all the ingredients are already warm, put the bowls under the broiler until the cheese turns golden brown and bubbly.

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I cooked two and put the third in the fridge to save for lunch tomorrow. When they come out, top with some fresh chopped basil and enjoy!

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Italian Antipasto Crostini

In search of a new fun appetizer, I spent some time on Pinterest and Food Gawker this week. I was going to a coworker’s house for a BBQ after a 9 hole golf tournament so I needed something I could make in advance and pack in a cooler. I came up with a combination of ingredients that go together seamlessly after seeing many different inspirational dishes online. The key here is your ingredients must be fresh!! You can opt for a store-bought pesto but I don’t think it’s quite the same.

This is a multi-step recipe and a little time consuming (but you can multi-task) so I recommend you make extra of these ingredients. Keep them in the fridge to integrate in other meals throughout the week–especially the caramelized onions and pesto!

Serve to your guests with toasted slices of bread and let them assemble their own crostini masterpiece!

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Ingredients:

  • Fresh Basil
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 log of goat cheese
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 large sweet onions (more if you want extras)
  • 1/4 cup or so of pine nuts
  • Few tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • Fresh arugula (1/2 cup)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 baguette cut into slices
  • Kosher sea salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • Balsamic glaze (highly recommend purchasing this even if it is pricey, it’s a great finishing sauce for many dishes)

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Roasted Tomatoes and Peppers

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Cut your cherry tomatoes in half and cut your peppers into small strips. Place on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil (less cleanup) and add olive oil until the vegetables glisten. Add salt & pepper and mix well. Place in the oven for 2 hours. (If you don’t have as much time you can turn your oven to a higher degree like 350 for an hour.) Taste your pepper to make sure it’s soft and sweet. If you bite into a pepper and there is a crunch, they are not ready.

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Caramelized Onions:

Caramelized onions can be made at any time and kept in the fridge for sweet and savory additions to meals throughout the week. Cut your onions into thin strips (for guidance click here). Place in a hot pan with olive oil and season with salt. Cook on medium to high so they brown (be careful not to burn!). You can’t over cook them on low heat-they only get sweeter. About 20-30 minutes is a good time frame for a delicious final product.

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Pesto:

Fill the food processor to the top with fresh basil and then add oil, salt, pepper, pine nuts and a bit of arugula (optional). Turn it on for a few seconds to get most of the mixture combined. Then add cheese and combine again.

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Plating:

Make sure all your ingredients are cooled. Add the roasted tomatoes and peppers to the outside of your dish. If you place a bowl in the center it will help guide you. Then add onions still leaving a place in the middle for your pesto. After you spoon in your pesto mixture (don’t be shy to pile it in there – people looove pesto) then top with your log of goat cheese. I recommend cutting your goat cheese into pieces to make it easier. Serve with toasted bread.

Give your guests a spoon and let them make their own crostini!

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The Real Deal Bolognese Sauce

A Father’s Day Inspiration…

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This isn’t your typical meat sauce. This isn’t your typical ground beef cooked in a bland tomato sauce. This is the real deal meat sauce; the cook all day Sunday sauce; the shredded, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth sauce that comes gently tossed in a fresh pasta like pappardelle.

The idea of making this sauce started because I knew my dad loves these kinds of sauces, the ones I often seen in authentic Italian restaurants–the ones that won’t let you put your fork down until the last bite is gone. So I started thinking… how could I make this at home for my dad on Father’s Day?

Simple: take the barbacoa recipe and insert Italian ingredients–like soffritto (combination of onions, carrots and celery). Also, add some other kinds of meats to inject a lot of flavor into the sauce. Mom and I set out to the grocery store in search of the perfect ingredients to make our version of this sauce. You can use any combination of meats and ingredients you would like and make this recipe your own! Here is (generally) how we made it. As usual, my measurements are rough. You can make this in a dutch oven like I do with the barbacoa, but since I didn’t have it with me at my parent’s house we made it on the stove without any problems!

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 3.5 lbs boneless chuck roast
  • 1 veal osso bucco
  • 3 carrot sticks
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 1-2 onions (we used a red and a yellow)
  • 8 or so cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups red wine (chianti suggested)
  • Salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 large cans san marzano whole tomatoes
  • Olive oil for sauteing
  • Parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano is preferred)
  • 1.5 lb of your favorite pasta

We made this for 5 people and had tons of the leftovers…just the way we like it 🙂 It was amazing for lunch the next day.

Instructions:

Start by bringing all the meat to room temperature and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Then saute your meats on high heat to get a nice brown coloring on all sides. If your pan isn’t large enough, sear your meat in batches. They need space to cook.

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Next you will place the veggies in the pan. If you don’t have a pan large enough, temporarily take some of the meat out so your veggies have room to cook. Season the veggies with salt & pepper and let cook 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic.  (We ended up sauteing the garlic in a separate small pan to really fry and brown them up nice) Let cook for another few minutes.

Put the heat on med-high and add the red wine; let the liquid reduce by half.

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Using your hands take the tomatoes out of the cans and squeeze them, gently breaking them apart before putting them in the pot. Add the sauce from the cans as well. Season with salt & pepper and add fresh chopped basil. (you can also add some red pepper flakes, which we did) Place the lid on very tight. If you think air can get out, put a sheet of tinfoil on top and then seal the edges of the lid with it.

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Let it cook on low heat (the sauce should bubble slightly) or in the oven at 250 for 4 hours or until the meat can easily pull apart with a fork. Remove the chicken skins and any excess fat you see.

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It’s easiest if you take the meat out of the pot and place on a separate dish. Shred the meat using forks or tongs. Take the chicken off the bones. Place the meat back in the pot and bring the sauce to a low boil for a few minutes while you are preparing the pasta.

Cook your pasta al dente and pour into the pot to really absorb the flavors of the sauce. Top with more fresh basil and fresh parmesano reggiano cheese. Mangia!

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Linguine with White Clam Sauce (Linguine alle Vongole)

For mother’s day I wanted to cook my mom a delicious dinner with the fam. We had trouble deciding what to make but once we did we were both very much looking forward to this meal after a long and unsuccessful day of shopping in New York. On our drive back to Connecticut we called every single fish market and grocery store we could think of and none of them had the baby manila clams. Another disappointment! Our last ditch effort was to stop by the SoNo Marketplace because I remembered they had two fish stores. With fingers crossed we waited in line for what seemed like an hour (5 minutes) at Bloom Brothers and discovered they did not have manila clams either. At this point we just had to laugh and we happily took the available cherrystone clams because they were fresh. And really, all that matters when making a dish like linguine alle vongole is that the seafood is fresh! I’m sorry I don’t have more photos to share with the instructions!

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Mom and I

bloom brothers

SoNo Marketplace

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2-3 shallots, chopped fine
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 dozens clams (manila are preferred)
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

clams

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until al dente.

Heat the olive oil over medium flame in a deep saute pan with a lid. Add the garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add the clams, wine, butter, most of the parsley and lemon juice. Cover with the lid and shake the pan periodically until all the clams open, about 7-8 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened.

This is an optional step I like in order to add more texture to the sauce (and prevent you from having to work so hard for your food!). Remove about 12 clams, chop them up fine and put them back in the pan.

Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add linguine to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Add more butter if necessary. Toss the pasta with the clams to its nicely coated. To serve place in large bowl and top with the rest of the fresh parsley. Mangia!

PS- a note for the cheese lovers out there: Italians do not put cheese on top of any pasta dishes with seafood. It’s simply frowned upon because they believe it overcomes the subtle flavor of the seafood. Your choice but I left it off this dish!

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Spinach Stuffed Filet of Sole

This is a very straightforward dish inspired by Italian flavors and made for the fish lover. It’s very easy to make and you can adapt the stuffing ingredients to whatever your heart desires! It’s also very healthy and satisfying.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pieces filet of sole
  • Fresh spinach
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp of whole wheat bread crumbs (optional)
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper
  • Tomato sauce (2 or so cups of your favorite!)
  • Fresh basil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Heat up a pan with olive oil and add red pepper flakes to infuse the oil. Add onions and then garlic until translucent (3-5 minutes).
  • Saute the spinach and add the onion mixture and breadcrumbs. Cook for about 3 minutes and then set aside to cool.

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  • Lay your fish flat and season with salt and pepper. Divide your spinach stuffing into 4 parts (for the 4 pieces of fish) and spoon the mixture on the end of your fish.

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  • Gently roll the fish and place in the baking dish.

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Add your tomato sauce (enough to just cover the fish) and sprinkle with fresh basil.

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  • Cover your pan with tin foil and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

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Spicy Italian Baked Zucchini Chips

I often am looking for a salty and crunchy snack in the afternoon or after dinner late night. Sweets don’t do it for me: I need the salt. Given that zucchini is a vegetable and you are baking them (rather than frying) this recipe is a smart alternative to the typical fried potato chip or goldfish (my personal favorite). You can modify these any way you’d like but I opted for a thicker slice so it would be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and I added lots of red pepper flakes for a real kick.  This recipe is a hefty snack for 2 people, double it if you are making for a group. It’s also great to make as an appetizer.  As per usual, I didn’t measure when I created this recipe so go with your gut when proportioning out the various ingredients in the bread crumb mixture. Enjoy!

Zucchini Chips

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini, washed and sliced roughly 1/4 thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 or so tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat panko break crumbs (or whatever kind you have/prefer)
  • hefty sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp non fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg white
  • salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Brush a layer of olive oil or vegetable oil to a cookie sheet
  • Combine egg white and yogurt in a shallow bowl and combine well
  • Combine bread crumbs, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes, cheese, garlic, parsley in a shallow bowl
  • Coat your zucchini slices in the yogurt mixture and then transfer to bread crumbs

yogurt

  • Place the slices on your cookie sheet. Using your misto, spray the slices with olive oil to dampen the bread crumbs.

Ready for oven

  • Bake at 400 until golden brown (about 20 minutes)
  • Serve with your favorite sauce

Italian Baked Zucchini Chips

Prosciutto Bread

Prosciutto bread has been in our family for years and usually shows up on Christmas Eve courtesy of my aunt Joyce. A few years ago I tried making it at home with my cousin and we changed up the recipe. No matter what ingredients you choose, it is easy to make and it is decadent. Your kitchen will smell like heaven which is always a good thing. I’ll admit it can be a little messy to eat so just be sure you are in good company when you dig in!

Prosciutto Bread

Ingredients:

  • Loaf of fresh Italian bread with a nice crust
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Imported Italian Prosciutto, diced
  • Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Fresh Basil, chopped
  • Shallots, chopped
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a small sauce pan place the oil, garlic, prosciutto, and shallots on medium heat. You want all the ingredients to infuse flavor into the oil and simmer. Let your ingredients cook for 5 or so minutes. Add pepper.
  • Turn the heat to the pan off and add your herbs and cheese.
  • Using a large bread knife, slice your bread in long columns and then across to make a checkerboard. You want to cut down 3/4 of the way through. Be sure not to cut all the way through or you will have a big mess.
  • Spoon your ingredients into every crevice making sure you have completely stuffed the bread.

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  • Place in the oven until golden brown – about 15 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy this heavenly appetizer.

Italian Garlic Bread with a Twist

Garlic bread is delicious. No matter how you make it, garlic with bread and oil or butter is going to be amazing. But, there is a way to fancy it up and make it even more irresistible. In Southbury, CT there was an Italian market called Villarinas where we always used to order garlic bread which came with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella. Since we don’t live there any more we decided to make it at home. This is quick and simple and can be used for an appetizer or side dish to compliment any meal. This would be a great addition to your Christmas Eve menu consider the beautiful colors.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Italian bread
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  • Place basil, pine nuts, olive oil in a small blender and blend until smooth. Add some parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and blend again until combined. Brush the pesto on your bread evenly.
  • Cut up the roasted red peppers and place around the bread.
  • Top with mozzarella.

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  • Bake in the oven at about 400 until the cheese is bubbly.
  • Cut up in pieces and mangia!

 

Mom’s Perfectly Crispy Chicken Cutlets

Growing up chicken cutlets were a delicious treat for dinner in our house as mom didn’t fry many things. This year for her birthday, Mom had a craving so we made her perfect chicken cutlets and served them in the perfect chicken cutlet sandwich.

You can use this chicken to make chicken parmesan, you can throw it on a sandwich of your choosing, or you can have it on a plate with a side of your favorite veggies and pasta. It pairs quite nicely with pasta and broccoli. If you really wanted to splurge I recommend a heaping side of mac n cheese or fettuccine alfredo.

We always make plenty extra of this dish because however you eat it that night, you’ll want to try it a different way the next day.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken tenders cut into single pieces and pounded if needed
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (we add fresh chopped parsley and fresh grated parmesan cheese)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Milk (low-fat or 1% is what we use)
  • Extra virgin olive oil/vegetable oil 

Directions:

  • Wash and prepare your chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Set up paper bags with paper towels on them to help drain the grease from your chicken.
  • Add 2 eggs to a large bowl and about 1/2 cup of milk. Whisk together well to create an egg wash to dip your chicken in. Add salt and pepper. 

  • In another bowl pour your bread crumbs and add a little flour.
  • Turn your pan on medium high to get the oil ready.
  • Dip your chicken in the egg wash and then transfer to the bread crumbs. Don’t be afraid to really pack the bread crumbs on there pushing with your fingers or fork. Transfer to another plate to get ready for frying.


  • When the oil begins to roll place one piece of chicken in and make sure it makes a sizzling sound. Depending on how thick your chicken is you will cook it about 4 minutes per side. The bread crumbs should get a deep golden brown color. If you see a thick white foam come out of the side of your chicken it means its ready (if you see a runny white liquid that means your chicken is still raw).

  • When your chicken is cooked, place it on the paper towels to suck up some of the oil. Then put in a large baking dish to keep warm with the others.

  • We served the chicken with fresh Italian bread, chopped lettuce, and mayo mixed with hot cherry pepper spread. That’s all you need! **Here’s a tip. Get a head of iceberg lettuce, wash it, dry it and then chop it up fine. Place it in a bowl with a paper towel on top in the fridge. When you get it out later, it will be nice and crunchy for your sandwich! Deeelicious.


Chicken parm and spaghetti!

Weeknight Bolognese with Whole Wheat Shells

Meat sauce is a great Sunday dinner: you can make it in the afternoon and let it simmer all day until you are ready to eat. The flavors only get better the longer it cooks. But meat sauce can also be a quick and easy week night meal that you can throw together after a long day. It’s hearty and chunky and extremely satisfying, especially on a cold night. This is a healthier and easier version I make during the week versus a Sunday sauce. I cut out some of the prep work and ingredients so I can make it faster, this time in about 20 minutes. Shells are the perfect pasta for this dish because they hold the meat sauce well.

It starts with your ingredients. I bought 3/4 of a pound of very lean all natural beef. For some extra flavor I added a 1/4 lb of ground pork. I used about 3/4 lb of whole wheat shells so we could enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day. Season the meat with salt and pepper.

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Saute 1/2 a white onion and a few cloves of garlic in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. (If time isn’t an issue for you, add finely chopped carrots and celery for more flavor.)
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Add some fresh chopped basil and red pepper flakes for some heat.

Add the meat into the same pan and using a potato masher, gently separate the meat.

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Brown the meat on medium to high heat. When most of the pink is gone, add  a can of san marzano tomatoes. Season again. I also added a tablespoon of tomato paste to thicken up the sauce a bit. If you want more saucy and less chunky, add in a small can of tomato puree in addition to the chopped tomatoes.

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When your 1lb of whole wheat shells are al dente, mix all ingredients together.

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Add in parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil. Pair with a glass of red wine and enjoy a great ending to your day.

Cioppino

Cioppino is pretty much a fish stew. Contrary to popular belief, cioppino did not originate in Italy. It’s an Italian-American dish. It’s traditionally made from the catch of the day, so you should use fish you can get fresh and is hopefully local when possible. The seafood is combined with tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread. The various combinations of ingredients are up to you.

With seafood reminiscent of summer and hot flavorful broth that welcomes fall it is a perfect September meal. It is extremely flavorful, light, fresh and filling- you can’t beat that! Pair with a salad and a side of garlic bread and you have yourself a perfect meal.

Ingredients

Cioppino-
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large shallots, chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Tomato paste (1 tbsp plus)
  • Anchovy paste (1 squirt)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 5 cups fish stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound scallops
  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets, we used cod, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh chopped parsley

Garlic Bread-
  • Fresh Italian bread, cut in half
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 4-5 cloves chopped garlic
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

Some ingredients I didn’t use that might be good additions: fennel (sautéed with the onions), capers, halibut (instead of cod though pricier), fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and some marscapone cheese in the sauce for a creamier flavor. Celery is optional.

Directions

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato and anchovy paste.

Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

If your fish is thick like ours was, you should put it in first. Keep in mind none of the fish will take long to cook.

After 2 minutes or so, add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and scallops. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open).

Optional: Add a tbsp of butter for a nice finish.

Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Garlic Bread:

Simply place the butter, garlic, oil and parsley in a small pot and heat on medium. Don’t bring to a boil or simmer. You just want the garlic flavor to flavor the butter and oil.

Spread on the garlic bread, add salt and pepper, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown. An optional treat: add some fresh mozzarella!

Caramelized Onion Tomato Sauce

My friend Sarah participated in a CSA this year that gives her locally grown produce every week. She gave me a bag of tomatoes she couldn’t get through that were absolutely delicious. It’s rare to get a really good tomato anymore so when I do, I will usually just sprinkle salt on it and eat it like an apple! But since I had this big bag of beautiful tomatoes and not much in the fridge, I decided to make a quick sauce for lunch this weekend. It’s fresh from the garden- a little bit sweet and creamy balanced by a dash of spice!

I will apologize in advance for the photo quality as my iPhone camera has taken a turn for the worse. Hopefully this will be remedied soon!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Whole Wheat Penne
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2-3 cloves, garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp (or so) vodka (could substitute with white wine or red if you take out the balsamic)
  • dash of cream or half and half
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Slice your onions very thin and put them in a pan with oil. Cook on medium to high for 30 or so minutes. The longer they cook, the sweeter they will get!

  • Put a pot of boiling water on for the pasta. When it comes to a boil add the penne and cook until al dente. It should take about the same amount of time to finish the sauce.
  • Add your diced tomatoes to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Grate one carrot into the pan. It will take away the bitterness of the tomatoes and add hearty flavor. (I often throw a whole carrot in my pot of sauce while its cooking and remove it before serving.) Then add the chopped garlic.

  • Pour in vodka and raise the heat, let it come to a boil and then lower to simmer and reduce. Add balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. Let cook for a few minutes.

  • Add a spoonful or two of water from the pasta if you need some more liquid in the pan. Put the sauce on low.
  • Pour in a touch of cream and stir.
  • Add in the pasta to the pot of sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Fettuccine con Pesto

In continuing my theme of using ingredients from the garden, my friend Alex and I recently made pesto sauce. It’s a great time of year to make pesto and it is extremely easy to make. You can switch up ingredients depending what you have on hand making it a very versatile recipe.

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My favorite kind of pesto is a mixture of basil and arugula. Sometimes I use parsley or spinach but since I have a huge fresh basil plant, I wanted that to be my primary ingredient today. I also happen to have a small bagful of arugula in my fridge which I added. Pesto is great on pasta and you can easily add it to proteins such as grilled shrimp or chicken. You can marinate them in pesto or brush it on after it comes off the grill.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts) lightly toasted
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (remember the garlic is raw so the flavor will pack a punch and you don’t want to overpower the pesto)
  • 1-2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil depending on how much pesto you are making. You want your mixture to be smooth.
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Directions

Put a large pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil and salt well. Add your pasta. In the meantime, prepare your pesto.

Toast your pine nuts in a small pan until they start to produce an aroma and turn golden brown.

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Using a small food processor add the basil, arugula, pine nuts, red pepper flakes salt and pepper. Blend for roughly 15 seconds. I don’t have a machine that allows you to pour olive oil in while it is running. If you do, this is a great time to use it. If not, just simply add the olive oil and blend until smooth. Finally add the cheese and blend until smooth again.

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When your pasta is al dente strain it and set aside until your pesto is ready. Toss all together in a large bowl and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

If you have leftover pesto, put it in a small glass jar in the fridge and use it as seasoning on future meals. For example, the next morning I had a nice piece of Italian toast and put 2 slices of tomatoes on top from the garden. I then added a smear of pesto to each tomato. I topped the sandwich with a fried egg over easy. When you cut into the egg it will warm the pesto and you have yourself a fresh and delicious breakfast.

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