Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Italian Cuisine

chieticover

The province of Chieti is a located in the Abruzzo region on the eastern coast of Italy. The province is hilly and mountainous with many valleys that run along the rivers and creeks. The northern part of the province is pretty desolate, while the southern part is dotted with numerous tiny villages.

The province has  quite a history.

It was first settled by the Osci people around 1000 BCE. The area was also lived in by the Greeks, who named it Teate. The province and surrounding areas were conquered by the Romans in 305 BCE, but after the fall of Rome in 476 CE, it became a Lombard fortress. The area had been occupied by the Franks, the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins and Aragonese rulers until it was taken over by Charles V of France. Later, it was ruled by the House of Bourbon.

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The Caracciolo nobility rebuilt the area of Chieti in Medieval times. Ferrante Caracciolo began teaching his house staff his cooking techniques, a tradition that continued within the noble family’s household for centuries. Many of the well-trained cooks were sent all over Italy and to other countries to work for royalty and heads of state. This training led to the creation of Villa Santa Maria’s culinary and hotel management school. Every year in October the province is host to La Festa dei Cuochi (the Cook’s Festival) in which locals and visitors from the world over gather to celebrate the local cuisine.

During World War II, the area was the place of a battle between German and predominantly British and Canadian forces where over 2,000 civilians died and many of the towns were  destroyed.

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The area is well-known for growing saffron but it has a different flavor from the saffron used in Spain. The first saffron bulbs were brought to Italy in 1400 by a Dominican friar named Santucci,  who brought them from his birthplace in Spain. He successfully planted the bulbs in his monastery garden and the spice was used to flavor sauces and as a curative herb.

During the autumn harvest, the first presses from the olives are often infused with chili. This is known locally as olio santo or holy oil and used on the table during meals. To experience the significance of this spicy ingredient in the region’s cuisine, visit their famous chili festival held in late August in the small town of Filetto in the province of Chieti.

Lamb is the predominate meat in cooking, vegetables are abundant and there are a large variety of herbs and the use of hot pepper called Peperoncino. Seafood dishes include fish stews, fried fish and fish sauces served over pasta, as well as fresh-water fish, mountain trout and river shrimp.

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This is a cheese loving land and they produce a number of cheeses, many of them flavored with the local herbs. Among the most famous cheeses are provolone, both mild and strong, ricotta and pecorino (made with sheep’s milk).

Desserts tend to be simple and include torroncini (a hard candy), pies and cookies often flavored with amaretto, dried figs, cinnamon, chocolate and  pine-nuts.

And not to be forgotten are the fine regional wines, such as the red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the whites Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. Local liqueurs are also very famous, particularly the Amaro Abruzzese.

Italian Seafood Salad

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Serves 8

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons red chili pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Seafood:

  • 1 1/2 lbs calamari rings
  • 1 1/2 lbs small fresh shrimp, peeled
  • 1 1/2 lbs bay (small) scallops
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 3 lemons

Salad:

  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped yellow and red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • Freshly ground black pepper for garnish

Directions

Combine the dressing ingredients and set aside.

In a large pot combine 10 cups water, the wine, bay leaves and crushed garlic. Cut the 3 lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the shrimp. Cook 2 minutes, then remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon or spider and place in a serving bowl.

Repeat the procedure with the calamari, cook 2 minutes and remove to the bowl with the shrimp.

Repeat the procedure with the scallops, cook 2 minutes and remove the scallops to the bowl with the shrimp and calamari.

Be sure to drain off any water that has collected in the bowl and return the fish to the bowl.

Add the celery and the peppers to the seafood, season with salt and pepper and pour the dressing over the mixture. Mix well, cover the bowl and refrigerate the salad for at least six hours.

Just before serving, toss the salad and add the parsley and basil. Garnish with black pepper and serve with the lemon wedges.

Crepes in Broth (Crespelle-en-brodo)

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Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Broth:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 lb chicken wings
  • 1 lb beef bones
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 plum tomato, cored and halved

Crepes:

  • 1/4 cup minced parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

Directions

Make the broth:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Working in batches, cook chicken wings and beef bones until browned, 35–40 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

Add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic to pan; cook until golden, 6–8 minutes. Return wings and bones to pan. Add parsley, bay leaf, tomato and 20 cups water; simmer, skimming as needed, for 4 hours.

Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan; keep warm.

Make the crepes:

Whisk the parsley, flour, cheese, oil, nutmeg, eggs and 1 cup water in a bowl until smooth.

Heat an 8″ nonstick skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, pour 2 tablespoons of the batter into the skillet while tilting the skillet to let the batter cover the bottom completely.

Cook until the crepe is golden on the bottom, 1–2 minutes. Turn and cook 1 minute more; transfer to a plate. Roll each crepe into a cigar shape.

To serve:

Divide the rolled crepes among soup bowls and ladle reserved broth over the top; garnish with parsley, Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Lamb Ragu

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This type of sauce is usually served over spaghetti alla chitarra, a regional pasta that is shaped on a tool that resembles a guitar. Since most of us do not have such a tool, bucatini or perciatelli pasta is just fine.

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Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 large red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced
  • 1 lb spaghetti alla chitarra or thick spaghetti
  • Grated Pecorino Romano, for garnish

Directions

Heat oil in a 6-quartt saucepan over medium-high. Cook lamb, stirring and breaking up the meat into small pieces, until browned, 6–8 minutes.

Add bay leaves and garlic; cook until garlic is golden, 2 minutes.

Stir in wine; cook until reduced by half, 2–3 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, 35–40 minutes. Stir in peppers; cook until peppers are tender but not falling apart, about 4 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, 10–12 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to the pan with the sauce. Using tongs, toss the pasta in the sauce. Divide pasta among serving bowls and garnish with pecorino cheese.

Ricotta Fiadoni

Samsung

Ingredients

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 8 ounces (200 g) fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup candied fruit
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 2 shots rum
  • 2 tablespoons anise seed
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, plus extra for the topping

Directions

Combine the 4 whole eggs, half the rum, half the anise, vanilla, lemon zest, the 1 tablespoon of sugar, the baking powder, and sufficient flour to make a homogeneous dough.

Combine the egg yolks, remaining rum and anise, raisins and candied fruit in a bowl, stirring well to mix thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).

Roll out the dough slightly less than 1/4-inch thick and cut out rounds with a round cutter or a glass. Place a tablespoon of filling on each round and fold them over to make half-moons. Seal edges with a fork.

Lightly beat the remaining egg white, brush the half-moons with it, sprinkle with sugar and transfer them to an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minute until golden brown.

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pastacover

Believe it or not, it is possible to eat and cook healthy with pasta. When prepared appropriately, pasta has many positive benefits in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and it can satisfy numerous dietary needs. Pasta is a great vehicle for enjoying other healthy foods that improve your diet as well, such as healthy proteins and vegetables.

The most important thing to remember about pasta is that when you prepare it at home, you have complete control over making sure it was cooked in a healthy manner.

Some tips on how to keep your pasta recipes healthy:

Pay Attention to Portions

First, we nearly always cook too much pasta. The USDA recommends 2 ounces of dry pasta per person, which works out to about 1 cup of cooked pasta per person.

Add Healthy Ingredients

Add sautéed  broccoli, peppers, spinach or sweet onions to your plain cooked pasta and mix in a tablespoon of olive oil for a delicious side dish with your meal. Add garlic, herbs and grated Parmesan cheese for flavor.

Always Use Olive Oil

Avoid saturating the pasta in rich, thick and high-calories fats. This is obvious for Italians, but always try to use olive oil, an unsaturated fat, which assists with the absorption of vitamins.

Choose Lean Proteins

Add drained and rinsed beans, such as cannellini beans or chickpeas, along with the sauce. Other healthy protein options include lean pork loin, grass-fed beef, fish, ground turkey and chicken or lean turkey sausage.

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Spicy Puttanesca

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 ounces green olives, such as Castelvetrano (Italian green olives), pitted and chopped (1/2 cup) plus extra for garnishing
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon drained capers, chopped
  • One 2-ounce can anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup canned crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the olives, capers, anchovies, jalapeno and garlic and cook over moderately high heat until sizzling. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and the almonds and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta for 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 3 cups of the pasta cooking water.

Add the spaghetti and the reserved cooking water to the sauce in the skillet and cook until the pasta is al dente. Stir in the parsley, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice and serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with additional olives, if desired.

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Linguine with Scallops

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 pound linguine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper (chili) flakes

Directions

Toast the pine nuts in a large dry skillet until golden brown. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the same skillet over moderately high heat until very hot. Season the scallops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and put them in the skillet.

Sear until brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and sear until brown on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the scallops to a bowl and cut them into quarters.

In the same pan, heat the remaining oil over moderate heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the red-pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the scallops and the pine nuts.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the linguine until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the skillet with the remaining 4 tablespoons of parsley. Toss well and serve.

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Rigatoni with Red Peppers and Spinach

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Directions

Cook rigatoni according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return pasta to the pot to keep warm.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Stir in onion, peppers and tomatoes. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté, stirring occasionally.

After 5 minutes, add spinach and continue to sauté until the vegetables are tender and the spinach is wilted, about 5 more minutes.

Add vegetables, reserved pasta water and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese to the cooked pasta and gently toss to combine.

Place in a serving bowl and top with basil and remaining Parmesan cheese.

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Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Capers

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup soft bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed, plus extra for garnish
  • One 1 1/2 pound head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (5 to 6 cups)
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions

Bring a 5- to 6-quart pot of salted water to boiling. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, except cook for 2 minutes less than the time given on the package for al dente. Drain spaghetti and return to the large pot.

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat. Add breadcrumbs to the hot oil; cook about 3 minutes or until crumbs are crisp and golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 clove of the minced garlic; cook and stir until garlic is tender. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and the lemon peel and set aside.

In the same large skillet heat the remaining the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt; cook about 3 minutes or until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 teaspoon thyme and the remaining 2 cloves minced garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add cauliflower, broth and capers; cover and cook about 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Stir in lemon juice and pepper.

Add cauliflower mixture to the cooked spaghetti. Cook about 5 minutes more or until spaghetti is al dente. Divide spaghetti mixture among six shallow serving bowls. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Garnish with additional snipped fresh thyme.

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Chicken, Green Beans and Pesto Pasta

6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 pound of penne pasta
  • 8 oz thin green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup of homemade or good quality prepared pesto
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Trim fat from the chicken breasts. If very thick, slice in half lengthwise to create two thin cutlets. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until melted.  Add in the chicken and sauté until browned on each side and almost cooked through – about 3 minutes per side. Place chicken on a cutting board and slice into one inch pieces and set aside.

Add the white wine to the pan and simmer for a few minutes to deglaze. Lower the heat. Add in the stock and simmer for a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and allow to simmer until cooked through.

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Add the green beans to the pasta pan for the final 6 minutes of cooking time.

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain pasta and green beans.

Add pasta and green beans to the skillet with the chicken. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pesto and add the remaining to the pasta. Stir to incorporate. If dry, add in as much pasta water as needed.

Arrange the pasta on a warmed serving plate and dot with the reserved pesto. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


Italian village with mountains in the background

The province of Catanzaro is one of the four provinces in the region of Calabria in southern Italy.  Catanzaro occupies both sides of the Calabrian Apennines and in the central part of the province is the isthmus of Catanzaro, a long narrow valley connecting the north and south parts of the coastline that feature beautiful white sandy beaches. Other parts of the province are mostly mountainous with steep-sided valleys formed along short rivers. There are large numbers of lakes surrounded by dense coniferous forests. The province includes much of the Sila National Park, a wild area with rough grassland and forests of pine, oak, beech and fir. The area is a main route to Naples and is a major terminal for goods traffic.

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Typical cuisine is similar to the Mediterranean diet, simple, local and healthy but also characterized by strong flavors. Extra virgin olive oil is the main condiment and is rarely replaced by lard. Hot pepper, introduced by the Saracens, is a basic ingredient in most dishes and in regional salamis.

catanzarocuisine

Pasta is mostly homemade and usually served with a simple fresh basil tomato sauce or with a ragu sauce. A traditional dish prepared for religious holidays is “pasta chijna”, layers of homemade pasta (lasagne) topped with small fried meatballs, slices of hard-boiled eggs, slices of spicy salami, caciocavallo cheese and grated pecorino cheese. You will also find pasta or bread combined in minestrone along with vegetables and herbs. Legumes are also common and replace meat in many recipes. The most used are fava beans served as a puree with tripe or with peas, lentils or chickpeas and pasta.

Among the meats, the pig is undoubtedly the most used meat, especially in winter as a second course dish.  However, most pork is used to make salami. The inland villages and towns utilize goat and sheep, of which every part of the animal is used, including the animal’s entrails, which are usually cooked with tomato, hot pepper and served inside pita bread, called “morzeddu” (the small bite).

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Along the coast fresh fish is cooked in different ways. Swordfish is usually grilled and served with a sauce called “salmoriglio” made with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar or lemon, garlic and spices. Tuna is topped with “ la cipolla” (onions), the famous red sweet onions of Tropea. Dried codfish is soaked before cooking and baby fish called “neonata ” are used to make small fritters.

Calabria is a region that produces a great variety of cheeses made with cow, sheep and goat milk. Caciocavallo cheese produced  in the Sila mountains and awarded  the DOP quality brand (protected origin designation); scamorza cheese; provola cheese and the “butirro” which is a caciocavallo with butter inside are among the most well-known cheeses. Cheeses most often made with sheep milk are fresh ricotta cheese and pecorino cheese,

The vegetables that  are commonly served are eggplant, parmigiana style or as balls; fried pumpkin and zucchini; pumpkin stem fritters; potatoes and green peppers; boiled wild vegetables (chicory, asparagus), mushrooms and dried tomatoes that can be stored in oil.

Clementines of Calabria IGP, chestnuts, figs covered with chocolate or spices are common fruits.

Typical regional sweets that are usually linked to specific days and holidays, are mostly made with ricotta sweetened with honey and flavored either by a figs or dried fruit or candied fruit. The best known are the multi-shaped “mostaccioli”, covered with honey.

catanzaroanchovies

 

Anchovies al Cetrarese

Cetraro, an important port in the Tirreno sea, where anchovies are caught in abundance.

Ingredients for 6

  • 1 ¾ lbs. (720 gr) anchovies, bones removed
  • 8 ½ oz (240 g.) stale bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • Chopped fresh wild fennel fronds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make a stuffing with the stale bread soaked in water and hand squeezed, wild fennel, eggs, salt, black pepper and grated Pecorino cheese.

Put anchovies in an oiled baking dish and stuff each with some of the bread mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.

Add wine and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve drizzled with the cooking juices and garnish with a handful of fennel fronds.

catanzaropasta

Bucatini Pasta with Anchovy and Bread Sauce

Ingredients for 4

  • 12 ½ oz (350 gr) Bucatini pasta
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 8 salt cured anchovies
  • 1 fresh chili pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Oven toasted bread crumbs
  • 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the garlic; add finely chopped chili pepper. Add the anchovies and breadcrumbs.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of lightly salted water. Drain when the pasta is al dente. Add the pasta to the pan with the anchovies, season with pecorino cheese and serve.

catanzaropork

Arrotolata Pork with Citrus Fruit

Ingredients for 6

  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) boneless pork
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fennel seeds, rosemary, pistachio nuts, parsley and 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil

Salsa:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cedro (citron/ugly looking Italian citrus fruit – use an orange in its place)
  • 1 grapefruit
  • Salt and pepper to taste, extra virgin olive oil and green onions

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butterfly the meat and season the inside with salt and pepper. Finely chop some parsley and the garlic. Spread on the meat and add fennel seeds and pistachios to cover. Moisten with olive oil.

Roll up the meat and close with cooking string. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish.

Cook for about an hour and a half. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of hours.

For the salsa:

Squeeze the lemon and grapefruit and finely chop the cedro peel. Season with salt and mix with enough oil to make a sauce. Add finely chopped onions.

Slice the pork when cool and serve on a plate dressed with the salsa.

catanzarofish

Sea Bream Stuffed with Ricotta

Sea Bream is a popular European fish that is a mild ocean fish similar to sea bass

Ingredients for 4

  • 4 small sea beam
  • 5 ½ oz (16og) ricotta cheese
  • ¾ tablespoon (16g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 oz arugula
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Ground red chilli pepper to taste
  • Mashed potatoes for serving
  • Almonds and parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the center bone from the fish. Lightly salt the fish.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the pine nuts, almonds, chopped mint, parsley, garlic, arugula, honey and a pinch of salt. Add enough lemon juice and oil to make a smooth filling.

Stuff each fish with some of the filling, cover the filling with foil and put the fish in an oiled baking dish.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Serve each fish on a bed of mashed potatoes. Garnish with almonds, parsley and ground chili pepper.

catanzarodessert

Aubergine and Chocolate Mousse

This is a sweet but unusual dessert.

Ingredients for 6

  • 10 ½ oz (300g) aubergine (eggplant)
  • 10 ½ oz (300g) chocolate, plus extra for serving
  • 1/1/2 oz (50g) citron
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) brandy
  • 1 tablespoon sultanas (raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon (10g) candied fruit
  • ¼ cup (30g) sugar
  • 2 egg whites

Directions

Peel and boil the aubergine in water along with the brandy and citron. Drain.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler saucepan.

Mix the aubergine and melted chocolate together adding mint, pine nuts, candied fruit, sugar. Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Fill small pots or bowls with the mixture and cool. Serve drizzled with additional melted chocolate.

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italianamericancover

Christmas was always a special time. As a child growing up in an Italian American family, it also meant that our family followed the same traditions year after year. What I remember of those years was that, after church on Christmas morning, my father would take us to visit the relatives where he would pick up all kinds of goodies from his sisters for us to eat later in the day. Those goodies included struffoli, panettone and homemade ricotta cookies.

On the way home, he would  pick up my maternal grandfather (who was a widower) so he could have Christmas dinner with us. My grandfather always had a huge box of all those delicious Italian pastries. While all this was going on, my mother was home preparing Christmas dinner. It was always the same dinner – that was how they liked it!

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A traditional Italian Antipasto – a large platter of Italian cold cuts alongside olives, anchovies, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, marinated mushrooms, Italian cheeses and lots of crusty bread on the side.

The next course was Meatball Lasagna – my mother’s specialty. A lasagna with little meatballs between the layers of noodles. I used to have to help her make those little meatballs and after making 20 or so, I was looking to quit.

The main course was always roasted boneless pork loin with potatoes. I liked the potatoes because they got brown and crusty from roasting alongside the meat, but, at the time, I wasn’t crazy about the pork. Thinking back, it may have been because my mother is a simple cook, who doesn’t use many spices in her cooking.

Sautéed spinach and a big mixed green salad were always the side dishes.

My mother was not one for baking lots of desserts and she never made Christmas cookies, as I have done all the years of my married life. She does bake great apple pies, chocolate chip cookies and  Capri cakes for special occasions – just not for Christmas. We had plenty for dessert with what my father’s sisters gave him and all those lovely pastries my grandfather had bought with him.

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Italian-American Meatball Lasagna

This is another favorite from my childhood days that my children and husband are also crazy about.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground meat (pork, beef, veal, chicken, turkey or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 finely minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil

Lasagna

  • 12 traditional lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups homemade or store-bought tomato sauce for pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Two 15 ounce containers ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lb  mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a rimmed cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the meatball mixture. With wet hands, shape into mini meatballs, using 2 teaspoons of mixture for each. Place the meatballs on the prepared cookie sheet and bake until brown all over, about 15 minutes.

To make the lasagna:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add noodles to the boiling water one at a time and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and place the noodles on kitchen towels.

Stir the chopped basil into the sauce. Reserve 1 cup of the sauce for the top layer.

In a medium bowl, blend ricotta, egg, parsley and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese.

To assemble the lasagna:

Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Top with 4 noodles, overlapping. Layer half of the mozzarella slices on top of the noodles, followed by half the ricotta cheese. Spread the ricotta with a spatula. Scatter half the meatballs over the noodles. Pour 1 cup of the  sauce over the meatballs.

Top with 4 more noodles and layer with the remaining mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Scatter remaining meatballs over the cheese. Pour 1 cup sauce over meatballs.

Top with the final 4 lasagna noodles. Spread with the reserved 1 cup of sauce. Top with the remaining Parmesan. Cover the dish with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

italianamerican3

Italian Roast Pork

Ingredients

  • One 3 pound center-cut pork loin roast
  • 4 large russet potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions

Rub the pork roast with garlic, thyme, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon of the ground rosemary.

Drizzle half of the olive oil on the roast and rub to coat.

Place pork into a roasting pan with a rack at the bottom.

Place potatoes around the roast and sprinkle them with the remaining rosemary, salt and pepper.

Pour the remaining olive oil over the potatoes. Add the white wine to the pan.

Place in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about 45 minutes.

Uncover and roast for another 30 minutes, until the meat registers 140 degrees F.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

italianamerican4

Struffoli

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • The zest of half a lemon, grated
  • The zest of half an orange, grated
  • 1 pinch salt

For the struffoli:

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3/4 pound (300 g) honey
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Colored sprinkles

Directions

Combine the ingredients for the dough, knead it well and let rest for at least an hour, covered. It does take a while for the dough to absorb the eggs.

Pluck off a piece, roll it out under your fingers to form a snake about as thin as your pinkie and cut the dough into quarter-inch long pieces.

Fry the pieces a few at a time in hot oil until brown and drain them on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining dough.

In another pot, preferably round-bottomed, put the honey, sugar and water in it. Boil the mixture until the foam dies down and it begins to turn yellow.

At this point reduce the heat as much as possible and add the struffoli. Stir to distribute everything evenly through the honey and turn the mixture out onto a plate.

Using your fingers shape the mixture into a wreath with a hole in the middle or in a dome shape, dipping your hands frequently into cold water so you don’t burn yourself.

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles.

italianamerican5


fishdinnercover

A healthy diet should include fish twice a week, including one oily fish, such as salmon, sardines or tuna. That’s because fish and shellfish are good sources of many vitamins and minerals and oily fish  is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to keep your heart healthy.

Fish that is steamed, baked or grilled is a healthier choice than fried fish. Frying makes fish and shellfish much higher in fat, especially if they’re cooked in batter.

To ensure there are enough fish to eat now and in the future, we should try to eat a wide variety of fish and to buy fish from sustainable sources. Check the chart on the Marine Stewardship Council’s site.

salmon3

Salmon Pinwheels

Ingredients

  • 12 oz center-cut salmon fillet
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise

Stuffing

  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 large basil leaves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 scallion (green onion) chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil or regular extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

salmon1

Make the stuffing:

Combine the panko crumbs with the remaining stuffing ingredients.

Butterfly the salmon filet and spread with the mayonnaise.

salmon2

Sprinkle the stuffing over the mayonnaise; roll up from long side and cut into 2” wide pieces. Secure each roll with a toothpick

Place in an oiled baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked to your likeness.

poachedfish2

Fish Poached in Tomato Sauce

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 26 -28 oz container Italian crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or more to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Four 6-ounce red snapper fillets or your favorite fish fillets
  • 4 slices of grilled sourdough bread

Directions

In a deep skillet that’s large enough for the fish fillets to lie flat without overlapping, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, chili flakes and a large pinch of salt.

Cover the skillet and bring the water to a steady simmer over moderate heat; simmer for 30 minutes.

poached fish1

Uncover the skillet and add the fish, skin side up, and cook for 2 minutes. Using two spatulas, gently turn the fillets. Season the fish with salt and simmer until just cooked through.

Put the grilled bread in shallow bowls and arrange the snapper fillets on top. Spoon the broth all around and serve. You may also serve the bread on the side.

almondcrustedfish

Almond and Mustard Crusted Fish

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 pounds white fish fillets, cut into 4 portions
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • Lemon wedges for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

Combine lemon zest, almonds, oregano, bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Place fish on the prepared baking sheet and spread each portion with 1 teaspoon mustard.

Divide the almond mixture evenly on top of each piece of fish, pressing  the mixture onto the mustard.

Bake the fish until opaque in the center, about 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness.

Serve the fish with green beans and lemon wedges.

fishdinner4

Fish with Sautéed Vegetables and Parmesan

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Four 6 ounce fish fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup canned or frozen and defrosted artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons jarred roasted red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, finely minced
  • 1 medium fresh tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season fish with salt and pepper.Heat oil in large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add fish and sauté on one side until lightly browned. Turn fish over and cook 2 – 3 minutes more.

Combine remaining ingredients except cheese in a bowl and spoon equally over the fish. Scatter cheese over the top and place the skillet in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

fishdinner5

Fish with Citrus and Herbs

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
  • Two 6 ounce fish fillets such as tilapia, grouper or arctic char
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions

Combine juice, shallot and tarragon in a small saucepan and simmer until thickened, 15-20 minutes; cover and set aside.

Heat the broiler.

Sprinkle both sides of the fish with oil, salt and pepper. Place the fish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the fish.

Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat, just until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes per half-inch of thickness.

Use a wide spatula to transfer fillets to serving plates, spoon sauce on top and serve.


The Piazza Barberini menorah designed by Galia Raccah and engineer Daniel Raccah is an architectural marvel weighing 6,878 pounds and standing at 22.5 feet. (Photos: Francesca Di Majo, public relations office of Rome)

The Piazza Barberini menorah designed by Galia Raccah and engineer Daniel Raccah is an architectural marvel weighing 6,878 pounds and standing at 22.5 feet. (Photos: Francesca Di Majo, public relations office of Rome)

Hanukkah (also Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Lights. The word Hanukkah means rededication (hanu kan). Today, the celebration honors the hard-fought victory for freedom. It is an eight-day holiday. The first night usually includes a big family dinner and after dinner the family gathers to light the menorah candles. Blessings and songs are part of the ceremony.

Given its proximity to Christmas, Hanukkah has taken on holiday importance in the United States and in many other countries where Christmas has been commercialized. It is traditional to exchange gifts with friends and relatives on each night of Hanukkah. With over thirty-thousand Jews calling Italy home, it isn’t surprising that Hanukkah is celebrated just as passionately as Christmas.

No festivities are complete without delicious treats and the Jewish communities celebrate with a fried feast. Fried Chicken, fried eggplant, latkes (potato pancakes) and sweet fried dough fritters are all part of an Italian Hanukkah meal.

Italian Hanukkah Specialties

hanukkaheggplant

Melanzane alla Giudia (Jewish-Style Eggplant)

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds eggplant
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Cut the eggplant into quarters lengthwise. Cut out the seeds and much of the flesh, leaving about ½-inch along the skin. Cut the eggplant into bite sized pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for a few minutes until lightly browned.

Add the eggplant and stir to coat in oil. Cook, partially covered and stirring often, until tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

hanukkahcheese

Fried Cheese with Tomato Sauce

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion and saute over high heat until transparent, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, add sugar and saute until tomatoes are very soft, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cool. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Cheese

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, finely diced
  • 6 eggs, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 sprigs parsley, stems removed
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup flour
  • Oil for frying

Directions

Melt mozzarella in a double boiler set over, but not touching, simmering water. Pour the cheese into the large mixing bowl of an electric mixer and beat in 2 eggs.

Add 1/4 cup bread crumbs, oregano, one clove of the garlic and salt. Mix well.

Press cheese mixture into 8-inch square glass dish. Cover and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Lightly beat remaining 4 eggs in bowl. Blend in vermouth. Set aside.

In a processor or blender, process remaining bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and remaining garlic. Set aside.

Cut cheese mixture into 1 1/2-inch squares (about 15 pieces). Dip each into flour, then egg mixture and finally into bread crumb mixture to coat evenly.

Place on paper towels and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees F in heavy skillet or deep fryer. Fry cheese pieces, a few at a time, until evenly golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute.

Drain on paper towels. Serve at once with the tomato sauce.

hanukkahchicken

Fried Chicken Cutlets, Italian-Jewish Style

This is an adaptation of “Pollo Fritto per Chanuka”, a recipe from Edda Servi Machlin’s, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, (Dodd, Mead & Co.)  This is a traditional Hanukkah dish in Italy.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken cutlets, pounded thin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges or tomato sauce for serving

Directions

Combine the salt, nutmeg, garlic salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chicken cutlets evenly on both sides with the mixture.

Place the cutlets in a shallow bowl or container. Mix the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small measuring cup and pour over the cutlets, lifting them to make sure that the liquid reaches all surfaces.

Cover and let the chicken marinate for an hour or place in the refrigerator for up to several hours. Move the cutlets around once in a while to insure evenness of seasoning.

Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large pan. Place the flour and beaten eggs in separate pie plates or shallow bowls.

Coat the cutlets in flour and then in the beaten egg.  Fry in the hot oil over moderately high heat for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Serve immediately or place in a preheated 400-degree F oven with the door slightly open (broiler-style) for up to 10 minutes, in order to keep warm and crisp. Serve with lemon wedges or tomato sauce.

hanukkahpolenta

Polenta Squares

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Marinated grape tomatoes, optional

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Add polenta slowly, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until polenta comes away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While still hot, spread polenta about 1-inch thick onto an oiled baking pan. Cool, cover and refrigerate until cold and firm, several hours or overnight.

Cut polenta into 2 inch squares and transfer to a large platter.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet and brown polenta, turning occasionally, until crispy on both sides, about 8 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining polenta, adding additional oil as needed. Serve immediately or reheat just before serving. Garnish with marinated grape tomatoes, if desired.

hanukkahricefritters

Sweet Rice Frittelle

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup medium-grain rice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Oil for frying
  • Granulated sugar for garnish

Directions

Mix rice and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the pan. As rice begins to cook, add 1 tablespoon sugar, salt and zest.

Cover the pan and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid and is reduced to a soft pudding, 20 minutes. Stir in butter and set aside to cool.

When the rice mixture cools, add egg yolks one at a time, then the vanilla and then the flour, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Heat oil in large saucepan to 360 to 375 degrees F.

Beat egg whites with dash of salt until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over them and continue beating until stiff.

Gently fold beaten egg whites into the rice mixture. (May be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to fry.)

Working in batches, drop batter by tablespoons into the hot oil and fry, turning once, until frittelle are crisp and brown, about 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and roll in sugar while hot.


healthydinnerscover

Overeating or overindulging – especially over a few days – can make you feel sluggish. Eating and preparing all your meals and snacks at home for the next few weeks will help you get back to healthy eating.

Making meals at home gives you the freedom to add in lots of lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains without added salt or fat that can be found in restaurant meals.

In addition to cooking meals at home, use cooking techniques and methods that are lower calorie or lower fat. Cooking in a lot of oil or butter or using higher fat, higher calorie ingredients may only perpetuate your overindulgence.

To make home cooking easier, go to the grocery store and stock up on your favorite healthy foods. Try to purchase: lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Healthy choices will be in your refrigerator or pantry when you need them.

Here are some healthy and lower calorie dinners to help you get started.

healthydinners1

Pork Cutlets in Mustard Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 thin boneless pork chops, 4-5 ounces each
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 pound small potatoes about 1 inch in diameter
  • 1 pound Japanese eggplant or zucchini, cut into 2 x 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place broth, smashed garlic and potatoes in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

Add eggplant or zucchini, carrots and the salt and pepper. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the vegetables are tender.

Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, dill, minced garlic and olive oil.

Place pork chops in the prepared baking dish and spread tops with an equal amount of mustard and dill mixture. Sprinkle bread crumbs over each chop.

Bake for 15 minutes or until an internal temperature registers 145 degrees in the center of the pork. Place the baking dish under the broiler for 1 minute until the crumbs are brown.

Serve pork with the vegetables.

healthydinners3

Roasted Cod with Salsa

Choose any fruit in season or the kind of fruit you like.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 nectarines
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 plums
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 large green or yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 1/4 pounds cod
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup brown rice or whole wheat couscous

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Coat a glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Pit nectarines, peaches and plums; dice and place in medium-size bowl. Add onion, bell pepper, lemon juice, parsley, oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Gently stir; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a small bowl combine the lemon zest, black pepper, thyme and oregano.

Cook the brown rice or couscous following package directions. Stir in half the lemon zest mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and set aside.

Place cod in the prepared baking dish and season with the remaining half of the lemon zest mixture and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Place brown rice or couscous on a serving plate, top with the cod and fruit salsa.

healthydinners2

Pasta with Sausage and Peas

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces penne or small shell pasta, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 links fully cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add pasta and cook al dente. Drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook 3 minutes, turning a few times, until browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the garlic. Cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and salt and cook 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, peas and browned sausage. Heat through.

Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Add sausage mixture and half the Parmesan. Toss to combine. Top with remaining Parmesan and serve.

healthydinners4

Root Vegetable Chili

Corn muffins would go quite well with this dinner.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • Two 14 1/2  ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • One 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground turkey, if using, and cook until brown. Omit this step if you want a vegetarian meal.

Add butternut squash, parsnips, rutabaga and carrots. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green pepper, tomatoes, chili powder, oregano and cumin. Simmer on medium heat, partially covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and heat through. Stir in the scallions. Serve lime wedges on the side.

healthydinners5

 

Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Friday night can still be pizza night.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 6 ounces sliced Portobello mushrooms
  • 4 large scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • One pound pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces mozzarella or provolone cheese, diced

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a large rimmed baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Place tomatoes, mushrooms and scallions in the prepared baking pan and toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and toss the vegetables with the basil and oregano.

Stretch the pizza dough out on a rectangular baking sheet. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the top. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the pan from the oven.

Scatter the diced cheese over the pizza and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more or until the pizza is crispy. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.



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