Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Healthy Italian Cooking

The Bacon's grow a variety of produce for their own consumption, including these bell peppers, at the Bacon Century Farm in Jonesborough, Tennessee. The farm is designated a Tennessee Century Farm, which was founded in 1891. In 2004, Bruce H. Bacon Jr., the grandson of founder Robert B. Bacon, obtained the land. JCI Photo- Jeff Adkins

Peppers are plentiful this time of year and can be found at a reasonable cost. So this is the perfect time of year to think about preserving some of the peppers you buy for the winter months when they cost a fortune.

Some of the pepper varieties that are common are: California Wonder, Big Bertha Green, Red, Yellow and Orange Bell, Marconi, Italian Roaster, Mariachi, Pimento, Super Cayenne, Chinese Lantern, Jalapeno, Hot Banana, Cajun Belle, Cubanelle, Poinsettia and Sangria.

Peppers are extremely easy to freeze. Wash them, pat them dry, chop or slice them, place them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer! Diced into small chunks, peppers are ready for casseroles, egg dishes, stir fry, fajitas, etc. Whole peppers are perfect for stuffing and baking. Defrosted frozen peppers will be a little mushy but they are perfect for cooking.

Of course, you know you can add peppers to omelets, soups, pizza or pasta. One of my favorite recipes is to make roasted red peppers. They are delicious in salad, on pizza and in sandwiches. They are also perfect for an antipasto platter.

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Roasted Red Peppers

Wash and dry red peppers – leaving them whole with the stem intact. Char the peppers using an outdoor grill set for  medium heat. Place the peppers directly on the grate until one side is charred. Work carefully so that as soon as one section of a pepper is blackened, turn the peppers to a side without charring. (Charring can also be done on a grill pan or in the broiler.)

Once all the sides of the peppers are blackened, place them in a large bowl.  Cover the bowl with a clean towel. (Or place in a plastic bag and seal or place in a brown paper bag and close it.) The steam will help to loosen the skin, making them easy to peel once they cool.

When the peppers are cool to the touch, remove and discard the skins. Remove the stem, seeds and ribs. Cut in quarters. Place in a covered container and drizzle with a little olive oil and vinegar. They will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

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Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

You can make a delicious sauce from the roasted red peppers that you can use over grilled meat or over pasta.

Ingredients

  • 2 large roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Basil leaves

To make the pepper sauce:  Place all of the ingredients in a processor and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with basil leaves.

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Italian Vegetable Soup

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz. boneless chicken, cut into small cubes
  • 2 Italian frying peppers, finely diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced or 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • 6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried short pasta
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Brown chicken in a Dutch oven or a stock pot with the olive oil.  Add the peppers, onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pan and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add seasonings and broth. Cover the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Increase heat to high and bring soup to boil. Add pasta and boil until tender, about 5-6 minutes.

Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese.

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Italian Pepper & Egg Sandwich

My favorite sandwich growing up.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 green or red bell peppers (or Cubanelle or Italian sweet frying peppers) seeded and sliced.
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 5 large eggs, whisked in bowl with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced or 4 ciabatta rolls
  • Crushed red pepper

Directions:

In large skillet add olive oil and garlic and saute on low until garlic is golden, (do not burn). Add peppers and onion, season with salt and pepper, stir to coat the vegetables with oil.

Continue cooking on low heat, stirring frequently, until the peppers are soft. Raise heat to med-high and add eggs, stirring well to mix the eggs into the peppers.

Cook eggs thoroughly, but be careful not to burn them. Sprinkle with cheese and red pepper. Serve on an Italian roll or on Italian bread.

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Rigatoni with Peppers & Pancetta

Sometimes I add sliced and browned Italian sausage instead of the pancetta.

5 servings

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dried rigatoni
  • 4 slices pancetta, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2/3 cup sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup small pitted ripe olives
  • 1/4 pound Provolone Cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Cook rigatoni just to the al dente stage. Drain.

Cook the pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the pancetta from the pan; set aside.

Add the olive oil, bell peppers, onion and garlic to the reserved pan drippings in the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender.

Add cooked rigatoni, pancetta and all the remaining ingredients except the parsley. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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Baked Chicken, Sausage, Potatoes and Peppers

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • One 3 lb. organic chicken, cut into 10 pieces or 1 whole bone-in chicken breast, cut into 4 pieces and 6 bone-in thighs,skin removed
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey), cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, cut in fourths
  • 2 green and 2 red bell peppers, cut into one inch strips
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into eighths

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan and spread over the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down.

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken pieces and scatter the sausage around the chicken.

Bake 15 minutes. Turn the chicken and sausage pieces and bake 15 minutes more.

Squeeze the lemons over the chicken and place the lemon skins in the roasting dish. Sprinkle chicken with minced garlic and the oregano.

Add the potatoes, onions and peppers to the pan and sprinkle with salt.

Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Cover the pan with foil and bake 1 hour, turning the ingredients after 30 minutes. Serve with warm crusty bread, if desired.

 


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The one-skillet breakfast can have it all: eggs, cheese, meat, vegetables and potatoes. It is a savory breakfast dish that is sure to please all types of appetites. This easy to prepare meal provides a delicious way to begin the day.

This type of dish is also a popular concept for breakfast in many breakfast restaurants throughout the US and around the world. While traveling around the country, one may find the basic procedure is the same but the ingredients can vary, especially by locality.

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Southern Style Skillet Breakfast

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper,
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed red potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning (recipe below)
  • 1 cup diced, smoked ham
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

In a large skillet, cook the onion and bell pepper in butter until tender. Add the potatoes and season to taste with the salt and pepper; stir, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, without stirring.

Beat together the eggs, milk, seasoning and ham. Pour over the potatoes and cook over low heat, without stirring, until set on the bottom. Lightly stir and turn eggs to shift uncooked eggs to the bottom and cook gently until eggs are cooked through, but still a little shiny and wet. Don’t overcook.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, and stir in half of the cheese. Transfer to plates or a serving platter and top with remaining cheese.Serve immediately with a side of fresh, seasonal fruit.

Creole Seasoning

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 teaspoons sweet paprika

Combine the ingredients and mix well. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

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Italian Style Breakfast Skillet

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 8 oz. Italian sausage
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz.)

Directions

Brown the sausage in a skillet  and cook until no longer pink. Remove to a platter to cool. Cut into thin slices.

Add oil to the skillet  and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the potatoes; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the sliced sausage, mushrooms and vegetables ; cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.

Beat eggs, milk, salt and oregano in bowl until blended.

Reduce the heat to medium and pour the eggs over the mixture in the skillet. As the eggs begin to set, gently pull the eggs across the pan with an inverted spatula. Continue cooking until the eggs are thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly.

Sprinkle with the cheese and remove the pan from the heat; cover pan.

Let stand until the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.

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Farmers’ Market Skillet

2 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow summer squash
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Combine the filling ingredients in a 10-inch skillet cook and stir over medium heat until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and keep warm.

Beat eggs, water, cheese, seasoning and garlic  in medium bowl until blended. Heat the butter in the same pan over medium-high heat until hot. Pour in the egg mixture.

Gently push the cooked egg portions from edges of the pan toward the center with a spatula so that uncooked eggs can reach the hot pan surface.

When the top surface of the eggs is thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, place the filling on one side of the egg mixture.

Fold the uncovered portion of the eggs on top of the vegetables with the spatula. Divide in half and serve.

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Mediterranean Skillet

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Chop tomatoes. Crumble feta cheese. Thinly slice spinach leaves.

Heat the olive oil in a 10 inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper. Toss quickly until leaves are barely wilted, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes.

Whisk the eggs, cheese, oregano, salt and pepper together until thoroughly combined.

Add the egg mixture (do not stir) and cook over low heat until the eggs are set, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Place the skillet under the broiler for 30 to 45 seconds to finish cooking the top.

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Egg and Sweet Potato Skillet

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Bottled hot pepper sauce

Directions

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper; set aside.

In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add sweet potato and green onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are lightly browned and just tender, about 8 minutes. Add spinach. Cook until slightly wilted, about 1 minute.

Pour egg mixture over potato mixture in skillet. Cook, without stirring, until mixture begins to set on bottom and around edges. Lift and fold partially cooked egg mixture so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through but still glossy and moist. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Remove from heat and serve with bottled hot pepper sauce.


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Florence’s hot temperatures, al fresco dining and a busy open-air arts and concert season make it one of Italy’s most vibrant cities in the summer.

The classic Italian dinner, or “cena”, has a very specific structure. Traditional dinners begin with “apertivo,” which is usually a drink with snacks to get ready for the large meal to come. “Antipasta,” the appetizer, comes next, followed by the “primo”, which can be a pasta, a soup, polenta or a rice dish. The “secondo” follows the primo, which is the major protein of the meal, consisting of meat, eggs or fish and often accompanied by “contorno,” or a side dish of vegetables. The meal is then topped off by “dolce,” dessert and a “café,” coffee.

At the heart of Florentine cuisine, you will find bread (plain, unsalted, well-baked with a crispy crust and light and airy inside); without any doubt the best extra-virgin olive oil, Florentine steaks of beef, roasted or wine-braised game such as boar, deer and rabbit and wine.

There is a reason that Italians live long lives and everyone looks healthy and happy: they eat really, really well with a focus on seasonal vegetables, simple cooking techniques and lots of olive oil. The bean and chickpea salads we serve at backyard barbecues, marinated vegetable salads and the cooling end to a meal with panna cotta and gelato, all have their roots in Italian summer recipes. There is even a minestrone designated for summer and it is one of the best because of all the fresh tomatoes and squash available at this time of year.

Italian cocktails… are delicious year-round. But in summer, when the temperature rises and the humidity sets in, there’s nothing more refreshing than—a Bellini, spritz or limoncello.

Eat the Italian way: slowly and moderately, while enjoying the food and each other’s company.

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Florentine Market

Cocktails

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Classic Negroni

This classic was first created for Count Camillo Negroni in 1919 at Florence’s Café Casoni.

For each cocktail:

  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

Directions

Stir Campari, gin and vermouth in an ice-filled tumbler; pour into a glass and garnish with an orange slice.

Appetizer

Caprese Salad with Red and Yellow Tomatoes and Buffalo Mozarella

Pesto Caprese Salad

Serve with Italian bread.

Serving 6

Ingredients

  • 6-8 fresh tomatoes, depending on their size
  • 8 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • High quality balsamic vinegar

Directions

Slice the tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick and place on a serving platter. Slice the mozzarella cheese about 1/4 inch thick. Place cheese slices between the tomato slices. Tuck fresh basil leaves in between the tomatoes and the cheese.

For the dressing:

Stir together the basil pesto and olive oil to make a thin dressing.  Drizzle over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Splash a little balsamic vinegar over the salad. Serve.

First Course

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Pasta zucchine e ricotta

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 8 medium-sized zucchini
  • 20 leaves of basil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 oz. short pasta, such as penne
  • Grated parmesan cheese for serving

Directions

Slice the zucchini into rounds and cut each round in half.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the zucchini on a high heat until they turn lightly brown.

Add the garlic, cook for 5 seconds and turn off the heat, continuing to stir so that the garlic infuses the zucchini but does not burn. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente (a good minute or two less than the package instructions; until it is cooked but still firm to the bite).

Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a warmed bowl, combine the pasta with the ricotta, remaining olive oil and the pasta cooking water.

Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and stir into the pasta. Serve with grated cheese.

Second Course

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Tuscan Pork with Spinach and Chickpeas

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2″-thick slices
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 bags (10 ounces each; 15 ounces total) baby spinach leaves (15 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes until the onion softens. Push the onions to one side of the pan.

Add the pork. Cook for about 4 minutes, turning once, until well browned on both sides. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt. Stir. Adjust the heat so the sauce is at a moderate simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the spinach, a large handful at a time, covering the pan between each addition. Cook until all the spinach wilts. Remove the pork to a serving plate.

Add the lemon juice to the pan. Stir to combine. Spoon the spinach mixture over the pork slices. Serve.

Dessert

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Zabaglione & Orange Liqueur

Use any fruit that is in season in this recipe.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups peaches, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled amaretti cookies
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, cut into quarters
  • 7 tablespoons orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Fresh mint for garnish

Directions

In the top half of a double boiler, whisk the egg yolks and sugar to a creamy consistency. Place the egg mixture over the hot water in the bottom of the double boiler, making sure that the pot containing the eggs doesn’t touch the water. Beat the mixture well with a whisk until it starts to thicken. It should take about 5 minutes. Be careful not to beat too long or you will cook the eggs.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of the orange liqueur, whisking until it is well incorporated. Return the pan to the double boiler and whisk until the mixture is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Divide the strawberries and peaches among 6 wine glasses or dessert bowls, Sprinkle each with the amaretti crumbs and spoon 1 tablespoon of orange liqueur over each. Top with some of the custard and decorate each with a mint sprig, if you wish.

This dessert can be eaten warm or it can be refrigerated and eaten later.


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Small plate dining is very appealing when it is hot, as it is right now where I live. It is appealing for two and even for a small gathering of friends. This type of dining, often called tapas dining, used to be called a cocktail or appetizer party years ago. Eating lightly in such hot weather also makes sense for health reasons.

Doctors advise that in the summer, light food should be preferred because it can easily be digested. Vegetables with high water content like onions, tomatoes and cucumbers should be regularly eaten as they will not only cool down the body but provide the daily quota of nutrition as well. Foods high in fat and sugar will cause the body to work harder to process these foods. Contrary to conventional thinking, when it is really hot, you are not going to exercise these calories away.

Summer eating should be enjoyable and entertaining should be fun, even if it is hot. Small plates can be the answer and not overwork the host. You can even ask friends to bring a small plate to share with 6 or 8 friends. Here are some ideas for small plate options with an Italian flavor. Just add a few cool drinks and you are all set.

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Lambrusco Cooler

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 (750-ml) bottle lemon Italian soda, chilled
  • 8 ounces fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle Lambrusco

Directions

Put 1 cup of lemon soda in a large pitcher with cherries and strawberries and crush the fruit using a wooden spoon to release the juices. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, stir in Lambrusco and remaining soda and pour over ice.

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Crostini Di Scampi

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, plus 1 teaspoon minced
  • 16 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4  ½ inch thick slices Italian country bread cut in half or quarters, brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted

Directions

Heat oil and garlic in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the whole rosemary sprig, turning once, until crisp, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rosemary to a paper towel to drain.

Season shrimp with pepper; add to skillet and saute, turning once, until golden about 2–3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve shrimp on toasted bread. Sprinkle with minced rosemary and freshly ground black pepper.

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Zucchine Ripiene Con Ricotta

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 medium zucchini (about 2 lbs.), halved lengthwise
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Using a small spoon, scoop out the pulp (save pulp for another use) from each zucchini half, leaving a ¼ inch rim around the edges.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the Pecorino cheese, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs, parsley, oregano and the egg. Fold in the onion mixture and season with salt and pepper. Set the filling aside.

Arrange an oven rack about 7″ from the broiler element and heat. Rub the insides of the zucchini with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season lightly with salt.

Place zucchini cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven and fill each zucchini half with enough of the ricotta mixture that it mounds slightly but doesn’t spill over the edges of the zucchini.

Sprinkle each stuffed zucchini with the remaining Pecorino cheese and bread crumbs and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Broil until the zucchini are soft and the tops are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

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Orange Seasoned Dry Cured Black Olives

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lb. dry-cured black olives
  • 1 large sprig rosemary, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from the orange, taking care to peel as little of the white pith as possible; roughly chop zest and transfer to a medium bowl.

Juice the orange and add the juice to the zest along with the olives, rosemary and pepper; toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour to marinate before serving.

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Peperoni Arrostiti Sotto Olio

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 leaves fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil the grate. Reduce grill heat to medium.

Grill whole peppers until charred on all sides, turning about every 5 minutes. Place charred peppers in a paper or plastic food storage bag. Allow peppers to cool in the bag.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a deep serving container.

Remove cooled peppers from the bag and scrape off charred skins. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and stems. Slice peppers into long strips and place in the oil mixture. Mix well. Serve.

Store leftover peppers in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Balsamic Glazed Meatballs

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Balsamic Glaze, recipe below

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs and milk. Mix in tomato paste, vinegar and eggs and then add the remaining seasonings. Combine well and form into small, bite sized meatballs.

Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

In a medium bowl, combine ingredients for the glaze and whisk together. Brush glaze over meatballs and bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Balsamic Glaze

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine ingredients in a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine well. Set aside until needed.

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Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 12 medium button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup pancetta, diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a spoon or your fingers, pop out mushroom stems and set aside. Finely dice 1/3 cup of the reserved mushroom stems. Reserve the rest for another use.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced mushroom stems, pancetta and onion. Cook until soft and lightly brown; add garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add bread crumbs, Parmesan and wine. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Place mushrooms, stem side up in a baking dish. Spoon ricotta inside each mushroom then top with bread crumb mixture.

Drizzle remaining olive oil on top of the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 25 minutes until soft and brown.


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What do you do when it is getting close to dinner time but you just don’t feel like cooking? Maybe it has been a week of very hot weather or you had a tough day at work. Canned foods, deli ingredients, frozen fully cooked meat, such as chicken breasts, turkey cutlets, cooked shrimp and fresh summer produce can all be used to make excellent no-cook meals.

Of course, there are always salads and adding a few new ingredients will make them exciting again. Going a step further in using summer’s fresh produce means making gazpacho or other chilled soups — very refreshing plus easy to make.  Don’t forget about other raw foods as well. This is an ideal time to explore all the ways you can avoid heating up the kitchen.

Here are some ideas on what to fix on those days without heading to the nearest fast food restaurant.

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Tuna-Nectarine Salad with Pita

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
  • 12 oz canned tuna in water, drained
  • 4 ripe, yet firm, nectarines or peaches, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 2 whole pita breads, quartered

Directions

In a bowl whisk together Greek yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise and garlic powder until smooth. Stir in chives.

Add tuna and nectarines to the yogurt mixture; toss gently to combine. Spoon tuna mixture onto salad plates; sprinkle with pecans. Serve with pita bread.

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Cucumber Soup With Prosciutto Sandwiches

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallot
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives or basil, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices Italian country bread
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions

In a food processor combine 1 1/2 cups of the cucumber, the buttermilk, yogurt, shallot, garlic, crushed red pepper and lemon-pepper seasoning. Cover and process until mixture is smooth.

Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the chives, balsamic vinegar and the remaining 1 cup cucumber.

Chill until serving time.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with chives or basil.

Drizzle bread with olive oil and top with the prosciutto, dividing evenly. Serve sandwiches with the soup.

nocook2

Crab  Rolls

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound lump crab meat or chopped cooked shrimp, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 radishes, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons celery leaves
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 hot dog buns, split
  • Pickles and low salt sweet potato chips, for serving

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, radishes, celery, celery leaves, apple, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Dividing evenly, fill the buns with the crab mixture. Serve with the pickles and chips.

nocook4

Roast Beef Salad

Serve with bread sticks.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 small heads Boston (tender) lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 12 ounces deli roast beef, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions

Divide the lettuce, roast beef, tomato, onion, and blue cheese among four salad bowls.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle over the salad. Serve.

nocook5

Antipasto Plate

Serve with with fresh seasonal fruit.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound Provolone (or cheese of choice) cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup mixed Italian olives
  • 1/2 small loaf Italian country bread

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, roasted peppers, parsley, scallions, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Serve with the cheese, prosciutto, olives and bread.

nocook6

Seasonal Fruit with Orange-Ricotta Cream

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup  ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup vanilla low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier), optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries or whatever fruit is in season
  • 2 whole strawberries

Directions

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Spoon cheese mixture into a small bowl; cover and chill for 3 hours.

Spoon 1/2 cup quartered strawberries or other fruit into each of 2 small dessert dishes and top each with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture.

Garnish each serving with a whole strawberry or other fruit.


fruitbuttercover

Preserve some of summer’s fresh fruit for later in the year with a few batches of fruit butter. Complicated canning techniques are not required. These fruit butter recipes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 year.

Fruit butters are spreads made by cooking fruit pulp with sugar or honey to a thick consistency. The smooth, spreadable texture of fruit butters makes them an ideal substitute for butter on bread, toast or muffins. Fruit butters are also good stirred into plain yogurt or spread on a salmon fillet or chicken breast before cooking. A little fig butter is delicious in a grilled cheese sandwich. There are so many ways to use fresh fruit butter.

Using several varieties of a particular fruit can yield a better tasting fruit butter. Adding certain spices can give fruit butter a distinctive flavor. Spices can safely be adjusted to suit your taste.

Fruit butters are made by cooking down fruit mixture until it is thick and sticky instead of adding pectin to set the mixture, as you do when making jam.

Butters are meant to be smooth, so stone fruit, such as apricots, nectarines, peaches apples and pears should be peeled. If you’re making a butter with “seedy” berries, such as blackberries, raspberries or even blueberries, you can puree the butter and pass it through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove the seeds.

How to prepare the fruit:

Berries: Remove stems; hull strawberries. Measure whole.

Cherries: Remove stems and pits; halve. Measure halves.

Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines & Plums: Peel and cut into 1/2-inch pieces; discard pits. Measure pieces.

Apples & Pears: Peel and quarter, remove seeds and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Measure pieces.

To peel stone fruit: dip them in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen their skins. Let cool slightly, then remove the skins with a paring knife.

Because of the long slow cooking of a fruit butter, it is very easy to scorch or burn the butter. Fruit butter should be simmered rather than boiled. It should also be stirred constantly as it thickens. Even a small amount of scorching will cause the entire mixture to taste burned.

All the recipes can be doubled but remember the cooking time will be longer.

Basic Fruit Butter Recipe

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 6 cups prepared fresh fruit
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar or brown sugar or 3/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon, lime or orange juice
  • 2 jars (1 cup capacity) with screw top lids

Directions

If the fruit tastes sweet, use the lesser amount of sugar.

Combine fruit, water and sugar in a Dutch oven; add juice. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer and cook, mashing the fruit and stirring occasionally at first and then often as it thickens, until the mixture is very thick, 20 minutes to 1 hour (depending on the type of fruit).

To test for thickness, put a spoonful of fruit butter on a plate. If no liquid seeps from the edges, it’s done. If liquid is present, return to a simmer and cook until thickened.

For a very smooth fruit butter, puree in a food processor or blender, then strain and push the mixture through a sieve before storing.

For freezing or refrigerating:

Ladle the fruit butter into clean, sterilized jars to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Wipe the rims clean. Cover with lids. Let the jars stand at room temperature until cool before refrigerating or freezing.

Some Variations

fruitbutter1

Pear Butter

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe but firm Bartlett pears, (1-1 1/4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3/4 cup pear nectar

Directions

Place pears and pear nectar in a heavy medium saucepan; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pears are very tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the ripeness of the pears.

Mash the pears with a potato masher. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the puree has cooked down to a thick mass (somewhat thicker than applesauce), 20 to 30 minutes more. Stir almost constantly toward the end of the cooking. Scrape the pear butter into a bowl or storage container and let cool. Refrigerate.

fruitbutter2

Roasted Apple Butter

Making apple butter in the oven, rather than on the stove-top, produces a spread with a distinctive caramelized flavor. Stir in a teaspoon of apple pie spice to the cooked sauce for more flavor.

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 8 medium McIntosh apples, (2 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored and quartered
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange apples in a large roasting pan. Pour apple juice over the apples. Bake until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Using a fork or potato masher, thoroughly mash the apples in the roasting pan.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake the apple puree, stirring occasionally, until very thick and deeply browned, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Scrape into a bowl and let cool. Place in a storage container and refrigerate.

fruitbutter3

Plum Butter in a Slow Cooker

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ to 2 pounds of plums
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Wash plums; peel, pit and cut into halves.

Place the sugar and plums in a slow cooker. Stir. Let the mixture cook for about 12 hours on low. Stir whenever you think of it. Add vanilla after the mixture has thickened.

Pour into jars with a screw top lid and cool. Refrigerate or freeze.


part10cover

As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout 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 local communities and later for Americans nationwide.

Nevada

part10renocover

For almost 150 years Reno, Nevada, has had an Italian American presence. After arriving in American ports on the West and East Coasts, the immigrants sought out areas of the United States where the climate would be similar to the one they had left behind in Europe. They also desired to move to locations where either a plentiful number of jobs were available or where the land was cheap enough so that they could earn a living from farming or ranching. Northwestern Nevada satisfied all these demands. The dry, mountainous terrain is similar to that of many of the provinces in northern Italy where most of the local Italian families emigrated from and the area featured cheap and fertile land.

Initially, Italians streamed into the area to work on the Transcontinental Railroad. After the completion of the railroad in 1869, Italian immigrants continued to move to the area in significant numbers to work at the local ranches and lumber companies. This trend lasted through the first few decades of the twentieth century.

part101

After arriving in Nevada, Reno’s Italian Americans gradually created distinctive ethnic neighborhoods throughout the valley. Three major Italian areas developed in the region: one in central Sparks along Prater Way, one in north Reno along Washington Street and one along the Truckee River just west of downtown. These districts were conveniently located within easy walking to some of the major employers of local Italian Americans—the Union Pacific freight depot in Sparks and the many Italian-owned shops, restaurants and other small businesses located along Lake Street in downtown Reno.

Each of these neighborhoods featured a particular style of architecture. From the 1910s until the 1940s, Italian immigrants constructed Craftsman-style homes in their Reno neighborhood. These houses distinctively feature shallow sloping roofs, upstairs dormer windows and tapered columns. The immigrants built these wide, low-rising dwellings to take full advantage of the small sizes of their neighborhood lots. While this style of home design is not exclusive to the Italian American community, this particular local immigrant group did make almost exclusive use of this style because of its efficient use of lot space, its simple design and construction and the inexpensive nature of the required building materials.

part102

Today, many Craftsman-style homes remain in all three of the major Italian American neighborhoods and, while not carrying the weight of a full historic district, the city provides guidance and information for homeowners interested in restoring their historic properties. The valuable historic character of this collection of homes and streets, so important to the area’s Italian American community, is now being painstakingly preserved by volunteer residents with the official backing of the City of Reno.

The many small business enterprises run by northern Nevada’s Italian Americans functioned as a major means of achieving financial stability and social mobility among its members. Many local Italians, lacking a formal American education, saw the formation of small shops, restaurants and other enterprises as an accessible path to financial and social success for both themselves and their families. Some of Reno’s most popular businesses, past and present, have been owned and operated by local Italian Americans. The Eldorado Hotel and Casino, the Mizpah Hotel, the Sportsman, First National Bank of Nevada and Pioneer Citizens Bank are a few examples of prominent establishments that were started by local Italians. On a smaller scale, Italian American–owned neighborhood shops such as the Dainty Cake Shop and Pinky’s Market were also staffed mostly by Italian Americans who were either related to or were close friends with the owners. In addition to their influence on Reno’s  business community, Italian Americans had an impact on local leisure activities through games and gatherings they did for fun and relaxation. Some of these activities included gardening, wine making, and bocce ball tournaments. (Source: http://www.onlinenevada.org)

Ivano Centemeri, executive chef at Eldorado Hotel Casino’s La Strada restaurant in Reno, has been bringing Italian flavors to area eateries since 1995. Born and raised in Monza, Italy, near Milan, Centemeri came to Reno to share his culture through food. He’s happy that people enjoy learning about his background. Centemeri began his cooking endeavors at just 15 years old. After the required amount of schooling, he enrolled in culinary school to make cooking his career path. In addition to indulging in the cooking process at work and at home, Centemeri works with the owners of Arte Italia to further share his culture with others. The Italian arts and culinary center is devoted to the preservation of historical Italian traditions and heritage. A huge part of any culture is the cuisine, which is why, several times a year, the center hosts chefs from around Italy to demonstrate authentic cooking from their respective regions.

part103

Porcini Risotto

(courtesy of Chef Ivano Centemeri)

Porcini mushrooms have a smooth, meaty texture and woodsy flavor. They are a natural enhancement to a smooth Risotto. Chef Centemeri serves this dish topped with pan seared scallops.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups Carnaroli or Arborio, an Italian rice
  • 3 cups prepared chicken stock
  • 2.5 oz dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated

Directions

In a saucepan, simmer the Porcini mushrooms in the chicken stock on low for 15 minutes.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.

Add onion. Sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Add rice and while stirring, add 1/2 cup broth with the Porcini mushrooms.

When liquid in rice mixture has reduced, add an additional 1/2 cup stock with the Porcini mushrooms, always stirring.

As liquid reduces continue to add stock with Porcini mushrooms 1/2 cup at a time, continually stirring until stock and mushrooms are used, about 20 minutes.

Mixture will be creamy and rice slightly al dente. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fold in 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

Arizona

part104

The Roosevelt Dam, the US’s first project under the Federal Reclamation Act, is the tallest masonry dam in the world and is located on the Salt River in Arizona. “I want to recollect the men who built the dam, who made the road to the Roosevelt Dam from Phoenix.” President Theodore Roosevelt spoke these words during his March 18, 1911 dedication at the new dam named after him. It was indeed a diverse community of men, some with families, the President chose to acknowledge that day. One of the unique traits of the American West was just how quickly immigrants from around the world came together to create a new society. The people who hired on to build the dam reflect this trait.

The Roosevelt Dam was designed as a masonry dam that required each block of stone to be precisely cut and shaped. Stonemasons from around the world were sought out and hired for the demanding job. The dam was faced from boulders cut or blasted from the surrounding sandstone cliffs and then bonded with mortar and concrete. The first stone, weighing six tons, was set September 20, 1906 by stonemasons, many of whom were Italian immigrants.

Between the boulders, laborers placed large stones weighing up to ten tons each, carried by the cable ways at night to free the units for mortar hauling during the day. Each stone was lowered into waiting mortar and fitted into place. Workers filled the gaps with small rocks and the vertical spaces with mortar. Although construction was hampered by floods throughout the building process, the Roosevelt Dam was completed by February 1911. Four years later, the reservoir was full and water was released over the spillways.

The Roosevelt Dam was located in a very remote canyon 40 miles from the railroad at Globe and about 60 miles from Phoenix, inflating the cost of freighting supplies and adding to the difficulty of construction. Construction of a road from Mesa, called the Apache Trail, took three years to build. Houses for workers and a few stores were built on a hillside within walking distance of the dam site. The town and the campsite were provided with water, sewer lines, an ice plant, telephones and electricity. Roosevelt had utilities other towns in Arizona wished for but it also went without something every other boom town had. The government forbade the sale of alcohol.

. Here twenty-six Italian stonemasons pose for the Reclamation Service photographer Walter J. Lubken in 1906.

. Here twenty-six Italian stonemasons pose for the Reclamation Service photographer Walter J. Lubken in 1906.

When construction workers first came in 1903, the project was called Tonto Dam or Tonto Basin Dam, after the valley that holds the lake. The dam was built where the river was narrowed to 200 feet as it entered a rugged canyon just below a point called “The Crossing.” Exactly when the town came to be named Roosevelt is not clear. There is evidence that it was first called Newtown. But the Post Office was established January 22, 1904 as “Roosevelt,” and probably by then everyone knew it would be called Theodore Roosevelt Dam, after the president who supported its construction. (Source: Arizona State History)

part106
Bass in Pesto Fish Broth

The Theodore Roosevelt Dam created Roosevelt Lake and it is the largest of four lakes created as part of the project. This lake has some of the best fishing waters in the country. The game fish include large mouth bass, small mouth bass, crappie, carp, channel catfish, flat head catfish, bluegill, buffalo fish and an occasional rainbow trout.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 medium leeks
  • 1 cup fish stock or clam juice
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 bass fillets, 6 ounces each
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

For the leeks:

Cut off the root ends. Slice off the white part of the leeks just before the stem turns green. Split the leeks in half lengthwise. Cut into ½ inch-wide strips. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the leeks for 1 to 2 minutes, or until soft. Drain well. Reserve.

For the pesto broth:

Bring the fish stock or clam juice to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer and add the pesto. Stir well, and keep warm while the fish is cooking.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Season the bass fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a large, ovenproof saute pan and add the olive oil. When hot, carefully add the fillets to the hot saute pan. Sear until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn over the fillets and place the pan in the oven. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

To serve:

Place 4 equal mounds of leeks in the center of 4 large bowls. Place the fish on top of the leeks. Place the tomatoes around the fish in the bowl. Finish by ladling the pesto broth around the fish. Serve immediately. (Source: The Arizona Republic)

New Mexico

part107

KiMo Theater

Yesterday

Although the railroad represented the city’s major industry, other enterprises played an important role in the early development of Albuquerque. Italian immigrants built many of the city’s premier buildings. In 1886 Gaetano Palladino and Michael Berardinelli built the first county courthouse. They also built the ornate, brownstone Nicholas T. Armijo Building. Luigi Puccini, cousin of the famed composer, is responsible for the Puccini building, now home to both the El Rey Theater and Puccini’s Golden West Saloon. Oreste Bachechi built both the Savoy Hotel in 1905 and in 1927 the KiMo Theater.

Bachechi initiated the process of Italians settling in Albuquerque. Born in Bagni de Lucca, Italy in 1860, he came to Albuquerque in 1885. He opened a small tent saloon near the railroad to cater to the needs of travelers and railroad employees and later expanded this business into a prosperous wholesale liquor dealership. News of his economic success influenced other Italians to try their fortune in Albuquerque. Additionally, Bachechi lent some Italian immigrants money for their passage and helped them find work when they arrived.

In 1925, Oreste decided to achieve his true dream – building his own theater. Envisioning a unique southwestern style, he soon hired an architect to design it, winding up with the Pueblo Deco style. This architectural style fused the spirit of Native American culture with Art Deco. The KiMo Theater was opened on September 19, 1927 and the first movie shown in the KiMo was Painting the Town Red. The first talking movie was Melody of Broadway. Frances Farney played the Wurlitzer organ during each performance.

The KiMo was also an important employer for young people just getting started in the entertainment business. Vivian Vance, who gained fame as Lucille Ball’s sidekick in the I Love Lucy series, started working at the KiMo. The theater also hosted such Hollywood stars as Sally Rand, Gloria Swanson, Tom Mix and Ginger Rogers. A year after the realization of his dream, Oreste Bachechi died, leaving the management of the KiMo to his sons, who combined vaudeville and out-of town road shows with movies. Extra revenue came in from the luncheonette and curio shop on either side of the entrance. (Source: History of Albuquerque)

part108

Today

The New Mexico Italian Film & Culture Festival (formerly the NM Italian Film Festival) has become an Albuquerque tradition and is held in February each year. Eleven films were screened this past February (three in Santa Fe and eight in Albuquerque., The festival also features music, art, Italian food and a silent auction. Extending over 11 days, the festival, a benefit for the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital, starts at the Jean Cocteau Cinema with a wine and food reception and a screening. All films are in Italian with English subtitles and include a great mix of genres, from comedy to drama to romance. The mission of the New Mexico Italian Film & Culture Festival is to promote and raise awareness of Italian culture in New Mexico while contributing to a valuable state institution that benefits all New Mexican children. (Source http://www.italianfilmfest.org/home.php)

La Lama Mountain Ovens is a high-altitude bakery located in New Mexico with an Italian emphasis. Old family recipes and old-world techniques are being recorded and tested and then preserved on their website along with modern translations.

As a family project, their primary mission is to record, test and preserve the best of the Italian-American old family recipes and translate them to fit today’s families. They have also developed an appreciation for the differences that their 8,000 foot altitude makes to the cooking and baking, process – and intend to share tips and techniques useful to anyone trying to prepare food above 2,000 feet.

'

Baked Ziti with Four Cheeses

by CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens

Serves six

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ziti pasta
  • 3/4 lb. whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 lb. Italian Fontina cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 lb. whole milk Mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 quart tomato sauce
  • 2 cups Bechamel sauce

Bechamel Ingredients

  • 2 cups cold whole milk
  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

For the Bechamel Sauce

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan – add flour and stir to blend; cook the butter/flour mixture 2 minutes. Add the cold milk all at once and whisk to blend. Add salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened.

Butter a glass casserole dish, approximately 13 x 9, and set aside.

For the Ziti

Cook the ziti to the al dente stage in a large quantity of boiling salted water.

While the pasta is cooking, warm the tomato sauce and put it into a bowl large enough to hold all ingredients.

When the pasta is cooked, drain well, add to the bowl with the tomato sauce. Add the Bechamel sauce and then add the ricotta, fontina and mozzarella cheeses. Mix vigorously until well combined.

Pour into the buttered casserole, top with the Parmesan cheese and bake 30-35 minutes until bubbly.

Let sit five minutes before serving. (Source:http://www.parshift.com/ovens/home.htm)

part109

 

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Read Part 3

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Read Part 5

Read Part 6

Read Part 7

Read Part 8

Read Part 9



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