Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Appetizer

July4cover

Make this fabulous BBQ sauce a day or two before the holiday and it can be used on anything you decide to grill. It is especially good on ribs, pork chops and chicken. I usually make a combination of some pork chops and some chicken because that is best for a crowd. Don’t forget plenty of vegetables to grill for your vegetarian friends. This sauce is great on veggies as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon regular chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire, dry mustard, cayenne, allspice and 1/4 cup water and mix to combine. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

Baste the meat with some sauce during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Transfer meat to a platter and baste again with more sauce.

July4pork

If you choose pork chops:

8 bone-in pork chops (about 8 ounces each and 1-inch thick). Grill pork chops until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

July4chicken

If you choose chicken:

Bone-in Breast, Leg & Thigh 12-15 minutes per side.

July 4appetizer

Peach and Prosciutto Bruschetta Appetizer

The cheese mixture can be prepared in advance. Do not assemble the bruschetta until just before serving, otherwise the peaches will turn brown and the bread will lose its freshness.

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (6-ounce) baguette, cut diagonally into 16 slices
  • Olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 ounce regular or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 large ripe peach, cut into 16 wedges
  • 1 ounce Italian prosciutto, cut into 16 thin slices

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill to high. Oil the grates.

Lightly coat bread slices with olive oil; grill 2 minutes on each side or until toasted.

Combine mascarpone and next 3 ingredients (through cream cheese) in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Spread cheese mixture evenly on the toasted bread slices.

Wrap each peach wedge with 1 prosciutto slice. Top each bread slice with 1 wrapped peach wedge.Arrange bruschetta on a serving platter and sprinkle with remaining chopped basil.

Serve immediately.

July4potatoes

Lemony Green Bean Potato Salad

This type of potato salad goes well with the rich BBQ sauce used on the meat. It can also handle the July heat much better than mayonnaise dressed salads.

12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

Directions

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Add the green beans to the pot during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, herbs, vinegar, lemon peel, salt and pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl.

Drain potatoes and green beans. Place in a serving bowl; add onion and pour the lemon dressing over the potatoes; toss to coat.

Chill in the refrigerator until serving time.

July4 tomato

Mediterranean Tomato Salad

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Kalamata  olives, pitted and sliced

Directions

Alternate tomatoes and onion on an attractive serving platter.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, basil and oregano together; drizzle over the vegetables. Top with the sliced olives and then the cheese. Serve at room temperature.

July4cake

Blueberry Shortcakes

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F

.Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; cook 3 minutes or until berries begin to pop, stirring frequently. Set aside.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, baking powder and salt in a food processor; pulse 3 times to combine.

Add butter and lemon zest to the processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Place mixture in a large bowl; add milk, stirring just until moist. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into an even rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut dough into 8 even wedges.

Place wedges one inch apart on a baking sheet. Combine egg white and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Lightly brush the tops of the wedges with the egg white mixture; sprinkle evenly with sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Place cream in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

Split shortcakes in half horizontally; spoon 1/3 cup berry mixture over each bottom half. Top each with 2 tablespoons whipped cream; cover with shortcake tops and serve.


tomatocover

Summer is a great time for tomatoes. This is when they are at their best – deep red, juicy and intense in flavor. There are Beefsteak, Roma, Vine-Ripened, Grape, Cherry, Heirloom and so many other types of tomatoes. Each has their own flavor and each can be used in multiple ways.

Perhaps you grow tomatoes, or you are the lucky recipient of someone who has too many to use or maybe you are indulging in the bounty at the farmers’ market. However, you come by your tomatoes, now is the perfect time to try new and exciting things with them. Of course, you know, you can use fresh tomatoes to make tomato sauce, salsa or bruschetta and, you know, they taste great in salads and sandwiches. Below are a few different ways to use up some of your tomatoes.

tomato3

Tomato, Watermelon and Feta Appetizer

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups 1-inch watermelon cubes
  • 4 ounces whole feta cheese, cut into 18 cubes
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 18 (3-inch) wooden skewers
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Directions

In a large bowl, place the tomatoes, watermelon, lime juice, mint, salt and pepper. Gently toss the ingredients, cover the bowl and chill 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Thread 1 tomato piece, 1 watermelon cube and 1 feta cube onto a skewer and place on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining skewers.

Drizzle with the remaining marinade in the bowl and a little olive oil. Serve immediately.

tomato4

Chilled Green Tomato Soup with Crab Meat

Have green tomatoes? Here is something to make instead of fried green tomatoes.

Makes about 3 quarts

Ingredients

  • 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm green tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 14 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, stems removed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 small hot peppers, seeded and sliced
  • Lump crab meat

Directions

Melt butter with oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; add onions and cook, stirring often, 15 minutes. Add celery and chopped green bell pepper; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Stir in arugula, basil and parsley. Let cool 30 minutes.

Process soup with an immersion blender in the pot or, in batches, in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and hot sauce and add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Ladle chilled soup into serving bowls and top each serving with some crab meat and a few slices of hot peppers.

tomato1

Fresh Mozzarella, Corn and Tomato Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn-on-the-cob, in the husk
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 lb (8 oz) plum (Roma) tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes, optional
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 5 cups baby arugula, spinach or romaine lettuce for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Soak corn in the sink or in a bowl filled with cold water for 15 minutes.

Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, chives, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Once the corn has soaked, place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 25 minutes or until the corn kernels are tender.

Cool to room temperature; then discard husks and silks. Cut the kernels off the cobs and put them in a large serving bowl. Add mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, avocado, if using, and basil.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss gently to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and serve over a bed of greens.

tomato2

Fresh Tomato Cheese Tart

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes (You will need enough to make 2 layers)
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine bread crumbs, flour, butter and salt in a food processor until dough comes together.

Using your hands, press the dough into a 10-inch tart pan or pie plate. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Slice the tomatoes thinly and place on paper towels. Lightly sprinkle the tomatoes with salt so they can release their juices and set aside.

In a food processor, combine ricotta, mozzarella, eggs and basil leaves just until blended.

Top the baked tart shell with a layer of tomatoes followed by the cheese filling.

Top with another layer of sliced tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake the tart until golden brown and set in center, 45 to 55 minutes.

Let rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting.

tomato5

Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage and Fresh Tomatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound(12 oz) farfalle (bowtie) pasta or your favorite short pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved or shredded
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.

Preheat a large skillet. Cut the casing off the sausage and add it to the pan, crumbling it into small pieces.

Add garlic and cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Add cooked sausage to the pasta with the basil, tomatoes, cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.


fathersdaycover It’s great that Father’s Day falls during the month of June – that’s grilling season. Most dads love it when dinner comes off the grill. What is even better for the person cooking the meal is that most of the dinner can be made on the grill. Easy clean-up. Give Dad the day off and let someone else tend the BBQ. Even though it is a special day that calls for special foods, I like to keep things somewhat on the healthy side and prepare foods with Mediterranean flavors. Don’t forget the wine. A Riesling or a fruity Sauvignon Blanc would be perfect for the appetizer. For the main course, a light red, such as Zinfandel or Syrah would be ideal for the BBQ chicken.

Appetizer

fathersday2

Herbed Shrimp Kabobs

6 servings Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon white champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for the grill
  • 24 peeled and deveined medium shrimp (about 1 pound)
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 24 small wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Directions Preheat the grill to medium high. Combine basil, parsley, vinegar, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a blender and puree. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Thread one tomato and one shrimp on each skewer. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with oil and grill 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until the shrimp turn pink. Place the skewers on a large serving platter and brush the grilled shrimp on both sides with the herb sauce. Serve immediately.

Main Course

fathersday3

Spicy Grilled Chicken Thighs

6 servings Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crumbled sage
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs

Directions Coat the grill rack or grill pan with oil; heat for direct, medium-high cooking. Combine sage, paprika, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl; dredge chicken on all sides in the mixture. Grill until browned and well marked on the undersides, about 10 minutes. Turn and cook until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the center reads 165 degrees. Move to a serving platter, cover with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Red Cabbage Slaw

Serves 6-8 Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 medium red cabbage (about 1 1⁄2 pounds), cored and shredded
  • 2 large carrots grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Directions In a large bowl, whisk together the orange and lime juices, oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Add the cabbage, carrots and chives. Toss to combine. Let sit, tossing occasionally, for at least 45 minutes before serving. fathersday4

Grilled Corn with Herb Butter

6 servings Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ears corn, husked

Directions Prepare grill for direct-heat grilling. Thoroughly combine the softened butter, basil, parsley, lime juice, zest and salt in a small bowl. Place each corn ear on a sheet of foil large enough to enclose the corn. Brush each ear with the herb butter on all sides. Roll the corn in the foil and secure the ends tightly. Grill over direct heat, turning occasionally, for about 12 minutes, or until corn kernels are just tender when pierced with a fork. fathersday1

Grilled Zucchini Salad

This dish can be cooked first and set aside while the remaining foods are grilled. Ingredients Serves 6 Ingredients

  • 2 pounds medium zucchini (about 6), halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions Heat grill to medium-high. Brush the zucchini with 1 tablespoon of the oil and grill until tender, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Cut the zucchini into 1-inch pieces and toss in a large bowl with the scallions, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, oregano, the remaining tablespoon of oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Serve at room temperature.

Dessert

fathersday5

Grilled Peaches with Cherry Wine Sauce

6 servings Ingredients For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons. Kirsch (cherry liqueur)

For the peaches:

  • 6 medium peaches
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons. brown sugar
  • Vanilla frozen yogurt
  • Mint garnish, optional

Directions To make the cherry sauce: In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, combine the pitted cherries, sugar, red wine and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée until completely smooth. Return the mixture to the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the Kirsch. Simmer until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. To make the grilled peaches Cut the peaches in half and remove and discard the pits. Place the halves in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together. Coat the peaches with the butter mixture. Grill the peaches over direct medium heat on an oiled grill until grill marks are clearly visible and the peaches are soft, 10 to 12 minutes, turning once halfway through the grilling time. To serve: While the peaches are still warm, layer each serving dish with 2 peach halves, 1 scoop of frozen yogurt and 2 tablespoons of cherry sauce. Garnish with mint, if desired and serve immediately.


basilcover

I always grow way too much basil. As soon as the weather is hot, these plants grow like weeds. I don’t like to see the leaves turn brown and wither, so I am constantly thinking of ways to use this wonderful scented herb. Of course, there is always basil pesto in my refrigerator or freezer, of which I make plenty. It is wonderful in the winter on spaghetti. But just using basil for pesto all summer gets boring.

Basil is the perfect complement to tomatoes, olives, olive oil, capers, garlic, cheese and summer vegetables. Serve it slivered over thick tomato slices with a drizzle of olive oil or serve it sandwiched between thick slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato with a sprinkling of pine nuts, capers and a drizzle of olive oil.

Here are some of the ways I try to make use of this flavorful herb.

basil5

Fresh Tomato and Basil Dressing

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Serve this light dressing over a fresh green salad with a slice of warm garlic bread on the side.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

basil1

Tomato, Watermelon and Basil Appetizer

:6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) watermelon, cut into 32 (1 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 32 small basil leaves (or torn larger leaves)
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 16 (6-inch) skewers

Directions

Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

Starting with the watermelon squares, push the watermelon to the very tip of the skewer, then skewer a basil leaf; then a tomato half. Continue with another watermelon, basil leaf and tomato half. Place the skewer on a serving platter so it stands upright, using the lowest watermelon square as a base. Continue with the remaining skewers.

Drizzle the skewers with the reserved balsamic syrup and the olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve.

basil9

 

Chilled Basil Melon Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chopped honeydew
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, plus more to taste

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a blender and purée, stirring often, until very smooth. Transfer to bowls and serve. Alternately, transfer to a container, cover and chill before serving.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives, and Fresh MozzarellaSpaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives and Fresh Mozzarella

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, halved
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 6), chopped
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped fresh basil

Directions

In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes with the mozzarella, basil, olives, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until just al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, add to the tomato mixture and toss.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour the oil over the pasta and toss again. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

basil8

Brown Rice Salad

This salad makes an excellent side to grilled fish or meat.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked long-grained brown rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped seedless cucumber
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup frozen and thawed peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a jar. Shake vigorously. 

Put the cooked rice and vegetables into a large serving bowl and toss gently to combine. Add the dressing and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

basil7

Steak with Italian Salsa Verde

Serves 4 to 6

You’ll have some salsa verde left over, so enjoy it on chicken, fish or vegetables as well as the beef in this recipe. This is a sauce you will want to have on hand, so I would even double the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 anchovy fillet, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak
  • 5 cups baby field greens

Directions

In a food processor, purée the parsley, basil, garlic, capers and the anchovy fillet. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the olive oil, pulsing until completely combined. Add lime juice and pepper. Process until blended and the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. The anchovy will contribute salt, so additional salt may not be needed. Set sauce aside.

Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill, broil or pan fry to your liking. Slice it thinly and drizzle with salsa verde. Serve over greens.

basil6

Lemon Basil Sherbet

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Juice of 3 lemons, chilled
  • Pinch fine sea salt

Directions

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the half-and-half, sugar, honey and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and add 4 whole basil leaves. Using the back of a large spoon or ladle, bruise the basil leaves against the bottom of the pot. Cover and let steep 15 minutes.

Remove the basil leaves and discard, then whisk in the milk. Place the mixture in an ice-water bath or refrigerate until completely chilled.

Slice the remaining 4 basil leaves in very thin strips. Whisk the lemon juice into the chilled sherbet base, add the sea salt and stir in the sliced basil. Taste for sweetness; adjust by adding an additional tablespoon or two of honey, if needed.

Freeze the sherbet mixture in an ice-cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions. For optimal flavor and texture, freeze the sherbet for a couple of hours before serving.

 


cheesecover

Whether it be a simple wedge of aged cheddar paired with apples or something more elaborate, cheese is the perfect appetizer. It is my go to ingredient for making appetizers for simple get-togethers or important celebrations. You can create a cheese board with fruit and meats for a group or you can use cheese to make an appetizer for a few guests. They all work and guests are always pleased.

Cheese falls into three main types:

Soft Ripened

The term “soft-ripened” describes those that are ripened from the outside in and they are very soft and even runny at room temperature. The most common soft-ripened cheeses have a white rind that is sometimes flecked with red or brown. The rind is usually edible and these cheeses are easy to spread on crackers or fruit. Examples include Brie, Camembert and Triple Crèmes.

Semi-Soft

“Semi-soft” describes selections that have a smooth, creamy interior with little or no rind. These are generally high in moisture content and range from very mild in flavor to very pungent. Examples include Blue, Colby, Fontina, Havarti and Monterey Jack.

Blue cheese has a distinctive blue/green veining created when the penicillium roqueforti mold, added during the cheese-making process, is exposed to air. This mold provides a distinct flavor, ranging from fairly mild to strong and pungent. Common examples are French Roquefort, Italian Gorgonzola and Danish Blue.

Hard Cheese

This is a very broad category. Profiles range from very mild to sharp and pungent. They generally have a texture that ranges from elastic at room temperature to hard enough to be grated. This category includes Gouda, Cheddar, Dry Jack, Swiss (Emmenthaler), Gruyere and Parmesan.

Try some of these easy to make appetizers for your next party.

cheese5

Tomato-Basil Skewers

16 skewers

Ingredients

  • 16 small fresh mozzarella balls
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, a variety of colors if you can find them, cut in half
  • White balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
  • Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Thread mozzarella, basil and tomatoes on small bamboo or wooden skewers.

Arrange on a serving platter.

Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, the white balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper just before serving.

cheese2

Parmesan Artichoke Spread

Lower calorie versions of cream cheese and sour cream work well in this recipe.

20 servings

Ingredients

  • One 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pepperoncini (pickled Italian peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 20 toasted baguette slices (1/4 inch thick)

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Stir in chopped artichoke hearts, olives, peppers, parsley and lemon peel. Chill until serving time.

Serve on the toasted baguette slices.

cheese1

Gorgonzola and Pear Tart

Cut this tart up into small pieces for an elegant appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (8.6 oz.), defrosted over night in the refrigerator and at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack set on the bottom shelf of the oven.

Lay dough flat on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Poke holes all over the dough with a fork, leaving the outer inch untouched.

Bake until the dough starts to puff, about 10 minutes.

Whisk together the egg and Gorgonzola cheese until smooth and spread over the baked dough, using a spoon to move mixture toward the edges of the pastry.

Sauté onion in oil in a small frying pan until softened. Scatter onion and pear over the cheese layer.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the egg is cooked, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and cut into small serving squares. Arrange on an attractive serving platter.

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Steak and Cheese Rolls

16 appetizers

Ingredients

  • 16 thin slices of grilled, very tender steak, such as filet mignon (about 8 ounces) or deli roasted beef slices, not cut too thin
  • 16 tablespoons light Boursin cheese 
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced red and yellow bell peppers

Directions

Spread each slice of steak with 1 tablespoon of the cheese and top each with an even amount of bell pepper slices.

Roll the steak around the bell pepper slices. Secure with a toothpick and arrange on a serving platter.

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Warm Spinach and Artichoke Bites

24 appetizers

Ingredients

  • 24 small wonton wrappers
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise made with olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar is fine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Place 1 wonton wrapper in each of 24 mini muffin pan cups sprayed with olive oil cooking spray, with the edges of the wontons extending over the top of the muffin cup.

Bake for 5 minutes.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Spoon the spinach artichoke mixture evenly in each wonton cup.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until the filling is heated through and the edges of the wontons are golden brown. Remove to a serving platter.

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Mascarpone Apricots with Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • Crushed seeds from 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 ounces dried whole apricots (the soft, ready-to-eat kind)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese)
  • 1 cup unsalted pistachios

Directions

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the crushed cardamom seeds, lemon juice and apricots. Let the apricots simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until they puff up. Remove the pan from the heat.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apricots to a baking sheet or large plate; let the apricots cool.

Finely chop the pistachios and place in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Using a small, sharp knife cut a pocket in each apricot (they will already have a small hole from where the stone was removed, so just make it larger).

Using a small spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, stuff each apricot with some mascarpone cheese. Dip the stuffed apricots, cheese side down, in the chopped pistachios.

Arrange on a platter and refrigerate until serving time. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Whether you’re grilling vegetables, poultry, beef, pork or seafood, it only takes a little flavor to make everything taste good.

Dry Rubs

Dry rubs will add depth of flavor to your favorite grilled foods. They are great for tofu, fish, pork chops or ribs, chicken breasts and vegetables.

Prepared dry rubs already contain the right mix of flavors ranging from Asian to Mediterranean styles. Or mix your own rub and store in an airtight glass jar in a cool place.

Three to four tablespoons of spice rub should be enough for two pounds of food.

To apply a rub, sprinkle it over your choice of meat, poultry, fish or vegetable and lightly rub into the surface with your hands. Or place the rub in a large plastic bag with the meat and shake to coat. Then let the food sit in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

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Marinades

Marinades enhance flavor and can increase the tenderness of many types of meat, poultry, seafood and produce.

For best results:

Marinate seafood and vegetables for 20 minutes to develop flavor.

Marinate poultry for up to an hour for best results. For some cuts, longer than 1 hour may be too long and the poultry can either toughen or get mushy.

Beef and pork will benefit from 30-60 minutes of marinating, but can also be left to marinate overnight.

Experiment with flavor: try using wine, beer, fresh juice, spices, herbs or a combination.

Wait to brush on any sugar-based barbecue sauce or other ingredients until the final 5-10 minutes of grilling. This allows the charcoal flavor to penetrate the food first and prevents the sauce from becoming charred.

Check my recipes from last July on Rubs and Marinades For Your Summer Grilling.

GRILLING VEGGIES AND FRUITS

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Grilling intensifies the natural sweetness and flavor of most vegetables and fruits.

To achieve good results:

Use a light brushing of oil on vegetables and fruits to prevent sticking. A non-stick grate, grilling basket or foil packets, lightly coated with oil, can also be helpful.

Some vegetables (including artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, parsnips and potatoes) can be precooked to shorten grilling time and ensure that the inside and outside cook evenly.

To precook: Steam or blanch the vegetable until just barely tender. Pat dry, brush lightly with oil, then grill until completely tender and lightly browned.

Veggies like eggplant, fennel, onions, mushrooms, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash and tomatoes should be raw when placed on the grill.

Ideal fruits for grilling should be firm and barely ripe. Watermelon, pineapple, apples, peaches and pears can all take the heat. Soak them in a marinade or drizzle with honey before grilling for added flavor.

Meaty portabella mushrooms are a great burger substitute, while button mushrooms are excellent for use in kabobs.

Cook all fruits and vegetables directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move them to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside isn’t cooking too quickly.

Grilled Caprese Appetizer

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Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 (12-ounce) container fresh mozzarella, drained and cut into (1-inch) chunks
  • 1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into (1-inch) cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves

Directions

Brush the grill grates with oil and heat the grill to medium.

Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Alternating ingredients, thread tomatoes, mozzarella and bread onto 8 skewers and brush them all over with oil.

Grill skewers, turning once, just until the cheese starts to melt and the bread shows grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes total.

Transfer the skewers to a platter, drizzle with vinegar and garnish with basil.

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Grilled Zucchini with Olive Dressing

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olives
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Directions

Oil the grates and prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking.

In a blender or food processor, combine olives, vinegar, pepper, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; blend until smooth and set aside.

Place zucchini in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Grill the zucchini on both sides until well-marked and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Layer zucchini on a serving platter, drizzle each layer with some vinaigrette and sprinkling with some tomato. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

GRILLING SEAFOOD

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Quick-cooking seafood is a great choice for grilling, especially on busy weeknights. When grilling seafood take extra care not to overcook it.

When it comes to seasoning, it’s best to select lighter marinades and seasonings that do not mask the delicate flavor of the seafood.

Fish

Oil fish well to help keep it moist.

Fish cooks quickly using the direct heat method. Remove it from the grill as soon as it’s done; it will continue to cook once it has been removed from the fire.

Once you place fish on the grill, don’t touch it for at least three minutes. A crust needs to form on the outside, which will allow the fish to naturally pull away from the grates. Once the crust has formed, it can be turned over without sticking or falling apart.

Thin pieces of fish can be wrapped in foil and grilled.

Firm fish, such as swordfish and tuna, are ideal for cooking on the grill.

Placing fish on cedar planks when grilling imparts a subtle woodsy flavor. Try different woods for slightly different flavors. Soak the plank in water for at least an hour prior to grilling to prevent it from catching on fire. Most fish fillets will cook on a plank, without turning, in about 20 minutes.

Fish is naturally tender and should not sit in an acid-based marinade (like lemon juice) for longer than 20 minutes, or it will start to “cook” the fish, turning it mushy.

Shrimp

Choose jumbo varieties, which are easier to handle. These can also be butterflied (leave the tail intact when shelling, then slice along the back of the shrimp without cutting all the way through).

Shrimp should be marinated or brushed lightly with oil.

Cook shrimp just until they turn pink and opaque, about 5-7 minutes. Turn them halfway through cooking. Take care not to overcook shrimp or it will become tough.

Use an oiled grill basket or skewers to contain shrimp so they don’t slip between the grates.

Rosemary Salmon Kabobs

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless wild caught salmon fillet, cut into large chunks
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (Meyer lemon, if possible)

Directions

Place salmon, zucchini, bell pepper and onion in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk together the garlic, rosemary, oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour mixture over the salmon and vegetables, toss and marinate for 30 minutes.

Oil the grates and preheat a grill for medium-high heat cooking. Skewer the salmon and vegetables, reserving the marinade. (If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes before assembling.)

Grill kabobs, turning once, until salmon is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. While the kabobs cook, boil the reserved marinade in a small saucepan for 5 minutes. Drizzle over the skewers just before serving.

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Grilled Shellfish and Vegetable Packets

 

Serves 4

Use any combination of shellfish and vegetables that appeal to you.

Ingredients

  • 8 small red potatoes, halved
  • 8 small (mini) bell peppers, cut in quarters
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 ears of corn on the cob, cut in fourths
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt
  • 16 small oysters, scrubbed or 16 shrimp, peeled
  • 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 16 large mussels, scrubbed
  • Chopped chives for garnish
  • Warm crusty bread, for serving

Directions

Heat a gas grill to high.

In a large bowl, drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt.

Tear off eight 16-by-18-inch pieces of heavy-duty foil. Layer the sheets in pairs. Divide the shellfish evenly among the four pairs of foil and drizzle with olive oil.

Arrange the vegetables over the shellfish and drizzle with more olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of water to each. Fold the foil tightly into neat rectangular packets.

Arrange the packets on the grill. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, rotating once or twice, until the packets are puffed and sizzling, about 25 minutes.

Carefully open the packets, watching out for the hot steam and garnish with chopped chives. Serve with the bread on the side.


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Central States

As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout the various regions of the United States, many brought with them a distinct regional Italian culinary tradition. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for the townspeople and later for Americans nationwide.

Minnesota

The Italian Cultural Center

The Italian Cultural Center

The ICC (The Italian Cultural Center) was established as a center in Minneapolis for all things Italian and to serve as a beacon for classic and contemporary Italian culture through language, art, music, design, cinema, architecture and technology. The ICC draws Italian-Americans who want to learn more about the culture and connect with their roots.

Discovering modern Italy is a goal for ICC’s students. Some of the students who come to study language here also enjoy learning about what Italy is like now. The Center’s seven university-trained teachers are from Italy and bring their own diverse heritages into the classroom, giving students a glimpse of life in some of the small towns and villages.

Films are a big part of the Italian cultural experience. Since the development of the Italian film industry in the early 1900s, Italian filmmakers and performers have enjoyed great international acclaim and have influenced film movements throughout the world. As of 2015, Italian films have won 14 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, the most of any country.

Every year, the ICC presents a series of outstanding contemporary films in their annual Italian Film Festival. They also offer screenings throughout the year in the CineForum series.

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Through the lens of drama, comedies, documentaries and movies, the view of Italy is broadened and offers a fresh perspective on the country and its people. It is a way to take a journey to Italy without leaving Minnesota.

The desire to show Twin Cities’ residents the real Italy has led them to select films by modern Italian directors for the ICC’s annual free film festival, held in collaboration with the Italian Film Festival USA and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). The Italian film series offers a glimpse into award-winning, post-war Italian films and the high fashion industry they launched.

Antipasti Skewers

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Serves 8

Inspired by her travels and studies in Tuscany, Carmela Tursi Hobbins created Carmela’s Cucina to teach the art of Italian cooking and entertaining. Her experience blends years as co-owner of a successful catering business and her background as a classroom teacher. She has written two cookbooks, Carmela’s Cucina and Celebrations with Carmela’s Cucina.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound package of fresh tri-colored tortellini
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 pint fresh bocconcini mozzarella balls
  • 1 pint pitted olives
  • 1/2 pound salami sliced thin
  • 2 envelopes Good Seasons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing mix
  • Bamboo skewers

Directions

Boil the tortellini for about 6 minutes in salted water.  Drain and put the tortellini into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Wash the tomatoes and basil and pat dry.

Thread the tortellini, tomatoes, basil leaves, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, olives and salami (folded into quarters) onto the skewers.

Using one package of the Italian salad dressing mix, make up the dressing following the directions on the package and drizzle the dressing over the prepared skewers.

Sprinkle the contents of the second envelope of dried Italian Salad mix over the skewers and let marinate for several hours.

When ready to serve, assembled skewers can be stuck into a melon or pineapple half or laid on a lettuce lined tray.

Nebraska

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Little Italy is a neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska that, historically, has been the home to the city’s Italian population. Omaha’s first Italian community developed during the 1890s near the intersection of South 24th Street and Poppleton Street. It was formed by immigrants from southern Italy and Italian immigrants who moved there after living in the eastern states. In 1905, Sicilian immigrants settled along South 6th Street in the hills south of downtown. Additional immigrants from Sicily arrived between 1912 and 1913 and following World War I.

Two brothers, Joseph and Sebastiano Salerno, are credited with creating Omaha’s Little Italy, located near the Union Pacific yards in downtown. When Sebastiano took a job as an agent for a steamship company in 1904, he encouraged friends from Sicily to emigrate. Joseph then secured housing and jobs for the immigrants, particularly in the downtown Omaha’s Union Pacific shops that included grocery stores, clothing and shoe stores and the Bank of Sicily, established by the Salerno brothers in 1908.

Today, the Festival of Santa Lucia is still celebrated throughout Little Italy, as it has been since the arrival of the first immigrants. An annual festival called “La Festa” is held to unite the city’s Italian community and celebrate its heritage. Many other remnants of Little Italy endure, making this area distinct within the city.

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Little Italy has several landmarks, including St. Francis Cabrini Church, built in 1908 at 1335 South 10th Street. Other landmarks include the Santa Lucia Festival Committee Hall at 725 Pierce Street; Marino’s Italian Grocery at 1716 South 13th Street; Sons Of Italy Hall located at 1238 South 10th Street and Orsi’s Bakery at 621 Pacific Street.

Orsi’s Bakery and Pizzeria is a gold mine for Italian fare. Their Sicilian style pizza, in particular, has been popular since they first opened in 1919. Passed through the Orsi family for over 90 years, the interior and the owners may have changed, but the recipes have stayed the same. Along with pizza, their Italian deli offers a variety of meats, cheeses, olives, peppers and desserts.

Steakhouse Spaghetti

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Chefs at Omaha’s Piccolo Pete’s flavor the sauce for their spaghetti with beef steak trimmings and pork and beef bones. In the true sense of Italian American cuisine this recipe combines Italian heritage cooking with Omaha’s love of beef.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. beef shank bones, trimmed
  • 1/4 lb. raw steak trimmings (ask your butcher for this)
  • 1 pork neck bone
  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons. celery seeds
  • 4 sprigs basil
  • 3 (28-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Heat the oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook bones and steak trimmings until browned, 7–9 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add garlic and onion; cook until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add sugar, celery seeds, basil, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add bones and trimmings. Cook, until the sauce is reduced by a third, about 1 hour. Discard bones, trimmings, basil and bay leaves; shred the meat and add it to the sauce.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and divide among serving bowls; ladle with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Kansas

Heart of America Bridge

Heart of America Bridge

The Columbus Park area is Kansas City’s Italian neighborhood. Although ethnic lines are less distinctly drawn than in years past, the unique character of the neighborhood remains. Unlike other Little Italys that blur into other neighborhoods, Columbus Park has established boundaries: the Missouri River on one side and the Heart of America Bridge on the other. As one of Kansas City’s oldest immigrant neighborhoods, it has also had a long history of social infrastructure and culture. By 1920 there were about 10,000 Italians living in the area.

The heart of the community is the Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Built in 1895, the Church was the result of petitioning by the local Italian community for a church. Bells still toll on Sunday mornings and services have continued in the building for more than 100 years.

The main business area is found along 5th street, where there are many Italian restaurants and grocery shops. You will find traditional foods and products at Garazzo’s Ristorante, LaSala’s Deli and LaRocca’s Grocery.

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Wish-Bone Salad Dressing originated in Kansas City. In 1945, returning World War II veteran, Phillip Sollomi, opened a family-style chicken restaurant in Kansas City called, The Wish-Bone®. In 1948, Sollomi began serving his mother’s salad dressing made from a recipe she brought with her from her native Sicily. As demand grew, Sollomi began mixing the dressing in a 50-gallon drum and bottling it. The dressing became known as“The Kansas City Wish-Bone® Famous Italian-Style Dressing. Word of this unique salad dressing spread throughout the heartland. In 1957, Sollomi sold the business to Lipton.

Chef Jasper Mirabile grew up in an Italian family. Each year he travels back to Italy and his family’s hometown of Gibellina, Sicily to see family and friends. He also goes to do research on the authenticity of Sicilian cuisine and to learn as much as he can about its rich history.

He writes in The Kansas City Star, “ I like to say my mother is “old school” in her style of cooking. No short cuts, no microwaves, no cheating at all, just respecting traditional recipes and cooking methods. Unlike me, a short order line cook, mama measured everything exactly, never doubling a recipe, never experimenting with different ingredients, just preparing the same tried and true recipes over and over again since she learned to cook as a teenager. Mama learned to prepare her Sunday sauce, meatballs and braciole from her mother, Rosa Cropisi. Grandmother Cropisi brought the recipe over from Corleone, Sicily, never-changing a single ingredient. My mother claims my father only married her for her mother’s meatball recipe.”

Jasper Mirabile’s Recipe for Meatballs

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Makes about  20

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Ground Pork
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Freshly Grated Romano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Parsley, (Chopped)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, (Minced)
  • 1/2 cup Onion, (Minced)
  • Salt and Pepper, (To taste)
  • 2 cups Plain Bread Crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 cup Olive Oil

Directions

Place pork & beef in a large bowl. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley, minced garlic, onions and salt and pepper to taste. Mix.

Add the bread crumbs and blend into the meat mixture. Slowly add the water until the mixture is moist. Shape the meat mixture into 2 1/2- to 3-inch balls.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the meatballs and fry in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan.

When the bottom half of the meatballs are well browned and slightly crisp, (usually takes about 5 to 6 minutes), turn them over and cook the other side for 5 minutes more.

Remove the meatballs from the heat and drain them on paper towels. Simmer in your favorite sauce.

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. runs his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, Jasper’s, with his brother. He is the author of The Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook. Chef Mirabile is a culinary instructor, a founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He hosts a weekly radio show, “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM.

Oklahoma

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Krebs began as a small coal-mining camp inhabited by the English, Irish and Italian miners. The commercial exploitation of coal in the Native American Territories began in 1872, with the completion of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway. A few years later, the Osage Coal and Mining Company leased the property on which the town of Krebs emerged. The first mine opened in 1875 and twenty years later, 15 mines were operating in the area.

Krebs, Oklahoma is considered the center of Italian culture in the state of Oklahoma. Most of the immigrants who found their way to Oklahoma settled in the coal-producing communities in Pittsburg County and in the Choctaw Nation. Italian immigrants to Oklahoma were predominantly from northern Italy. They came as families and often established strong ethnic communities. In 1910, there were 2,162 Italians living in Pittsburg, Latimer and Coal counties. Later on the region attracted immigrants from southern Italy.

First-generation Oklahomans learned Italian from their parents. There aren’t many first-generation Italian Americans left in Krebs. The language hasn’t made it down through the generations, but it can still be heard during festivals and community events, especially over a game of bocce ball. The Italian Festival has been running for 40 years and is the community’s biggest single event.

When Kreps’ resident, Joe Prichard, took his family back to the Italian town his grandfather emigrated from, he was surprised by how familiar it felt. “The little village my grandfather left was almost a clone of the village he came to in Oklahoma,” he said. Joe discovered that San Gregorio Magno, in the Campania region, was not only the same size as Krebs, but community life there also centered around the Catholic Church. Even the town’s differences created parallels for him.

Krebs is famous throughout Oklahoma for its many Italian restaurants. Isle of Capri, “Pete’s Place” and Roseanna’s, to name a few, have been there for generations. A specialty of the region is Lamb fries, the name generally given to lamb animelles (testicles) that have been peeled, rolled in cracker meal and fried. Lamb fries are served in many Italian restaurants, particularly in Oklahoma’s “little Italy” and the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse located in the Oklahoma City Stockyards.

Original Pete's Place

Original Pete’s Place

Three years after his arrival, at the age of 11, Pietro began working in the coal mines, changing his name officially to “Pete Prichard.” Through hard work and determination, he managed to make a meager living. However, in 1916, when Pete was 21 years old, a massive cave-in nearly cost him his life. He survived, but the accident crushed his leg in such a way that he couldn’t return to work in the mines.

To help pass the time, Pete took an interest in brewing beer. He found a unique recipe brewed by the local Native American tribe, the Choctaw, which made use of the plentiful supply of golden wheat that grew on the Oklahoma plains. Pete experimented and tested until he perfected his own version, which he named choc® beer.

Before long, other immigrant miners began gathering at his house regularly to relax and enjoy a beer during breaks. Then, it only seemed natural to start fixing the men a hearty lunch to go along with the beer. That’s the Italian way! He served “family-style” helpings of homemade Italian specialties like spaghetti, meatballs, ravioli and sausage. In 1925, Pete officially opened a restaurant in his home and, since everyone had always just called it “Pete’s Place®”, the name stuck.

Caciocavallo Cheese

Caciocavallo Cheese

When Mike Lovera’s Grocery first opened in 1946 in Krebs, it was a regular mom-and-pop general store and meat market. But it was the homemade Italian sausage that made Lovera’s store stand out from the competition. A specialty Italian grocery store would find it hard to survive in most towns of 2,000 people. But Krebs has been largely Italian since immigrant coal miners arrived in the 1870s and the town has no problem supporting a grocery store, three Italian restaurants and a Catholic church.

Along with about 40 imported Italian products, Lovera’s is famous for its caciocavallo, a milky cheese covered in wax. Initially, Lovera bought caciocavallo from local Italians who made it at home, but when the supply started to dry up, Lovera learned how to make it.

Sausage and Peppers

part7-03

Source: News OK, Dave Cathey, Food Editor

Ingredients

  • One 16-ounce coil of fresh Lovera’s sausage
  • 1 whole garden-fresh green pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion sliced in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeno cut in thick slices, optional
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush sausage with 1 tablespoon oil and place in a cast-iron skillet or small roasting pan.

Roast sausages 20 minutes.

While the sausages are roasting, toss onions and peppers with remaining oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.

After 20 minutes in the oven, turn the sausages over and top with the onion-pepper-oil mixture. Roast another 20 minutes and remove the pan from the oven.

Remove the sausages from the pan, let sit five minutes, then cut in slices and toss with the onions and peppers in the pan.

Serve with pasta and Italian tomato sauce or with crusty bread.

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Our Growing Paynes

A journey about gardening, cooking, and knitting.

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musings of a baking fiend

thewhitedish

Let's talk recipes, great food and FITNESS!

on the road with Animalcouriers

pet transport through Europe and beyond

jittery cook

recipes worth sharing

charuyoga

vibrant inspiring nourishing yoga

pattytmitchell

site for Patricia Mitchell, author

Something Sweet Something Savoury

Family friendly recipes from a chaotic kitchen

Simply Sophisticated Cooking

Effortless home cooking recipes, tips and methods for busy lives to encourage fine eating in instead of out.

FARMINISTA'S FEAST with Karen Pavone

Farm to Table Adventures in California's Beautiful Bay Area

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