Where I live it is very hot during the summer months and vegetables to do not grow well during July and August – in fact, they burn up. So what the north gets in July and August, we get in April and May and, then again, in October and November. If you are a reader of this blog, you know I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Jeta Farms is part of the Slow Food USA movement that aims to rediscover and catalog forgotten flavors by documenting excellent food products that are in danger of disappearing. Since the international initiative began in 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been added to the list. The movement serves as a resource to those interested in reviving rare breeds and learning about endangered foods, with the goal of encouraging the continued production and consumption of these foods.
In the past, I have shared with you recipes I made with some of my share produce:
This is the first year my CSA farm has offered a share in the fall and here are some of the recipes I made.
Cheesy Patty Pan Squash
- 3 medium patty pan squashes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 12 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the squash in half, place in an oiled baking dish and brush the tops with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 25 minutes. Place 2 tablespoons cheese on top of each squash half and return the pan to the oven for five more minutes. Serve immediately
Serves 4 as a side dish; 2 for a main course
- 2 Gialla Nostrale squash (short, fat zucchini)
- 1/4 of a medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped pickled (spicy cherry or banana) peppers
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh leaving about a 1/4 inch shell. Dice the squash pulp.
Sprinkle the squash shells lightly with salt and pepper and place them in an oiled baking dish.
Heat the olive oil in a small skillet and add the onion, celery, garlic, diced squash pulp and the chopped peppers. Cook until all the liquid evaporates.
Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the bread crumbs and allow the mixture to cool.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Stuff the zucchini shells with the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until the stuffing is crispy and the squash shells are tender.
Both squash recipes above can be grilled on an outdoor grill instead of baked in the oven, if you prefer.
Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
- 2 large sweet potatoes, washed and patted dry
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Peel the potatoes. Cut each potato into 8 wedges and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with the salt, pepper and the rosemary.
Roast for 15 minutes; toss and continue to roast until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Serve immediately.
Southern Field Peas
Field peas or cowpeas, aren’t really peas at all. They are beans that grow very well in the South because they are heat and drought tolerant and grow in just about any soil. They’re categorized generally in four groups – crowder, cream, black-eyed and field peas and there are many varieties to be found in each of those categories.
- 4 cups of freshly shelled southern field peas
- 2 ounces bacon
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth, plus extra if needed
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Cook the bacon in a large saucepan. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel plate and reserve for later.
Add the onion and celery to the hot bacon fat and cook until tender. Add the peas and saute for a minute or two.
Add the thyme and 2 cups of chicken broth or just enough to cover the peas by about 1 inch. Add more if the peas are not covered.
Bring to a low boil and add the sugar and stir well.
Scoop off any foam that forms and discard it.
Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, let simmer for about 25 minutes.
Add the pepper and salt, stir well and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.
Taste the peas for tenderness, they should be tender after this amount of time but not mushy. Drain.
Top with the crumbled bacon and serve.
Pasta with Grilled Sausage and Vegetables
I often cook a pound of Italian sausage on the grill and reserve half for another meal, such as pizza with grilled sausage and banana peppers from the garden.
- 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
- 1 lb hot Italian sausage, divided
- Half an onion
- 1 large zucchini squash
- 1 large yellow squash
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing the sausage and vegetables
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly grated black pepper
Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grates. Brush the sausage onion and the squashed with olive oil. Turn off the burners on one side of the grill and place the sausage over the indirect heat. Grill 15 minutes, turn the sausage over and grill another 15 minutes. During the last 15 minutes place the squash and onion over the direct side of the grill and cook until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the sausage and vegetables to a plate to cool. Slice half of the sausage into thin slices and reserve half for another use. Dice the vegetables; set aside the sliced sausage and diced vegetables.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta in a colander. Set aside.
In the pasta pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the garlic, parsley and oregano. Cook until the garlic is lightly browned and add the diced vegetables and sliced sausage. Cook until hot.
Add the drained pasta and the pasta cooking water. Stir until evenly combined. Add the Parmesan and black pepper. Serve immediately.
There is nothing quite so good as a fresh, crusty loaf of bread. If you do not have a great bakery down the street, as I do not, then making your own bread is what I do. Homemade bread is always a hit when I entertain, so I make loaves of bread in advance, wrap them tightly in heavy-duty foil and freeze them for when I will be entertaining. This method works for me and allows me to have the bread available for an antipasto or a first course without having to do this preparation last-minute when there are other foods to prepare. Simply place the frozen bread on the kitchen counter overnight in its wrapping. Just before serving time, heat the oven to 375°F, remove the wrapping and place the bread directly on the oven rack. Immediately spritz water on the bread and the oven walls and heat for 5-10 minutes for a crispy, crusty loaf of bread. Slice and serve.
I also like to bake bread in a clay cloche pan because the results are so professional. The cloche mimics a brick oven and turns out loaves of bread with a tender and moist interior and a crispy golden crust. The unglazed clay absorbs heat to ensure even baking on all sides, while the porous surface absorbs moisture to create a crispy crust.
Here are some of my favorite appetizer breads.
Rosemary Olive Sourdough Bread
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
- 1 cup chopped Kalamata olives or dry cured Italian olives
Combine all of the ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth dough in an electric mixer.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover the bowl and allow it to rise until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
Shape the dough into a round loaf in a floured board. Place the loaf on the bottom part of a cloche pan. Put the cover on and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake the bread with the cover on for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F to 200°F. Remove the bread from the oven and carefully turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Semolina Cheese Bread
Semolina is the hard grain left after milling the flour and it is used in making puddings, pasta and bread.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded Provolone cheese
- 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
Combine everything but the three cheeses and beat on medium speed of an electric mixer to make a soft, smooth dough.
Add the three cheeses and mix until well combined.
Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 2 hours, until very puffy.
Shape the dough into a round or oval loaf. Place the loaf on the bottom part of a round or long loaf cloche pan. Put the cover on and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bake the bread with the cover on for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F to 200°F.
Remove the bread from the oven and carefully turn the bread out of the pan onto a rack to cool.
Garlic And Herb Wheat Bread
Makes 2 loaves
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large electric mixer bowl add the water, yeast, salt and honey and mix well. Then add the oil, herbs and garlic.
Add half of the whole wheat and half of the all-purpose flour to the yeast mixture. Mix by hand or with the electric mixer’s paddle attachment. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until all of it is incorporated. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Continue kneading until the dough is no longer sticky; this should take about 7 to 8 minutes. The dough should be a little tacky but not sticky.
Divide the dough in half and form into two free-form oval loaves or place them in two oiled 9″ X 5″ X 3″ loaf pans . Let rise until double in size, about 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Place the loaves in the center of the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the bread is golden brown. Test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of each loaf and, if it comes out clean, the bread is ready. Remove the pans from the oven, take the bread out of the pans and place on a rack to cool before slicing.
Cut the bread into ½ inch thick slices and cut in half again to serve on the antipasto tray.
This bread will keep 3 to 4 days in an air-tight container and it freezes well for 2 months.
There is plenty of cool weather produce available in the fall that you can make into delicious, seasonal salads.
Apples are plentiful during the autumn months. For salads, choose varieties that are sweet and crisp. Popular salad apples include Red Delicious, Fuji and Winesap. Buy firm apples that smell fresh and have smooth skins.
It’s also the time of year to sample all types of pears. Select those with even color and a slight blush. Be careful when handling pears because they are delicate and bruise easily. Although there are thousands of known pear varieties in the world, there are a handful recognized especially for their superb flavor and fresh eating qualities, such as Bartlett, Anjou, Bosc and Comice.
Tip: To keep pear slices from browning, sprinkle them with lemon juice or serve them immediately after slicing.
Fresh cranberries are very tart and are usually sweetened before they go into a salad. Dried cranberries add beautiful color and sweet chewiness to salads.
Grapes are harvested when sweet and ripe, so look for plump clusters that are firmly attached to green stems. Once at home, refrigerate grapes until ready to use and then rinse with cold water, halve them and mix them into your favorite salad.
Fall beets come in red, pink, orange, yellow and white varieties, as well as a range of sizes. Both the bulbous root and the leafy stalk are edible. For salads, select small to medium beets with firm, smooth skin and no soft spots or punctures. Those with stems and leaves still attached are best. The foliage should be green and fresh-looking. Store beets, greens and all, in a produce bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Tip: Use disposable latex gloves from the drugstore when peeling beets. They’re thin enough to allow dexterity while protecting your hands from stains.
Fennel is available in the fall and adds a hint of fresh sweet licorice flavor to any salad. This aromatic plant is pale green with a celery-like stem and feathery foliage. Its root base and stems can be treated like a vegetable and baked, braised or sliced and eaten raw in salads. The greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped like dill to enhance many recipes. Fennel’s licorice-like flavor is sweeter and more delicate than anise and, when cooked, becomes even milder and softer than in its raw state.
The cabbage family is wide and varied: broccoli and cauliflower are members. Some of the best heads of cabbage for salads are the crinkled-leaf “Savoy” types, also sold as Napa, January King or Wivoy cabbage. These are thin-leafed, tender and mild. When choosing a head of cabbage, look for fresh, crisp leaves that are firmly packed; the head should feel heavy for its size.
Cauliflower and Broccoli
These vegetables are available year-round, but they are especially plentiful in the spring and fall. When buying cauliflower, select one that is white or creamy white in color, firm and heavy. Cauliflower may be stored for up to one week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Keep it dry and any brownish colored portions may be trimmed away before cooking.
When shopping for broccoli, look for leaves and stems with dark green heads. Look for tender, young stalks that are firm with compact buds in the head. Yellow flowers in the buds or very rough bumpy heads may indicate the broccoli is past its prime.
Fall Spinach Salad
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon chopped pecans
- 1/2 of an apple, cored and diced
- 1 tablespoon diced red onion
- 2 tablespoons grated carrot
- 1/4 of an avocado, peeled and diced
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic salad dressing, or to taste
Stir the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a bowl; slowly stream the olive oil into the mixture while whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper.
Place spinach, cranberries, pecans, apple, onion, carrot and avocado into a salad bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Wild Rice, Kiwi and Grape Salad
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup wild rice
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans
Place broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, or until tender. Drain excess liquid, cover and let cool.
Whisk together lemon juice, oil and honey in a small bowl until the honey is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper.
Place cooled rice in a salad bowl, along with kiwi, grapes and pecans. Add dressing, gently toss and serve.
Cabbage Salad – Waldorf Style
- 1/4 head savoy cabbage
- 4 unpeeled apples, cored and diced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 6 stalks celery, diced
- 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Slice cabbage into thin pieces 1 to 2 inches long. Do not use the large ribs of the cabbage, as they are too strongly flavored for this salad.
In a large serving bowl, toss together the cabbage, apples, walnuts and celery.
In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, honey and salt. Mix with the cabbage salad until evenly coated. Serve immediately.
Beet, Fennel and Apple Salad
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium cooked red beet, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 medium crisp tart apple such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, toss together the beets, fennel, apple and parsley. Add the dressing and mix gently to coat all of the ingredients evenly. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours. (If refrigerating, remove from the refrigerator and let stand 30 minutes before serving.
Fall Fruit & Nut Salad
- 3/4 cup cashew halves
- 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 (10 ounce) package mixed salad greens
- 1 medium Bosc pear, thinly sliced
- 1 cup halved seedless red grapes
In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast cashews until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove cashews to a dish to cool slightly.
Return skillet to medium-high heat, cook bacon strips until crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Coarsely chop bacon.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the bacon, rosemary, brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and toasted cashews.
In a small bowl, stir together white wine vinegar, mustard and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large salad bowl, toss half the dressing with the greens, pear slices, grapes and sprinkle with nut/bacon mixture.
Serve with the remaining dressing in case anyone wants additional dressing on their salad.
Although the first U.S. reference to panini dates to 1956 and a precursor appeared in a 16th-century Italian cookbook, panini sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars, called paninoteche, in the 1970s, when office workers were looking for quick lunch choices. Trendy U.S. restaurants, particularly in New York, began selling the sandwiches, whose popularity then spread to other U.S. cities, each producing distinctive variations of of the sandwich.
Food historians generally agree, panini, as we know them today, originated in the sandwich shops of Italy, perhaps as early as the 1960s. A survey of newspaper articles confirms that the panini sandwich caught the American consumers attention in the mid-1970s. As time progressed, panini evolved from upscale fare to trendy sandwiches for everyone.
In many English-speaking countries, a panino (Italian pronunciation: [paˈniːno] from the Italian, meaning “small bread, bread roll”) is a grilled sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread. The plural form of “panino” in Italian is panini. Examples of the bread types used for panini are ciabatta, foccacia and Italian baguettes. The bread is cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients or other foods and then pressed in a grill. There is widespread availability and use of sandwich presses, often known as “panini presses” or “toasted sandwich makers.”
In Italy classic filling combinations are:
mozzarella, tomato (plus arugula and/or prosciutto);
prosciutto and fontina cheese
prosciutto, chese and olive tapenade;
bresaola, goat cheese or stracchino (plus lettuce and/or tomato);
speck (smoked cured prosciutto from Tyrol), arugula and cheese
grilled vegetables and cheese.
When Italian panini are offered outside of Italy, they tend to differ quite substantially. The biggest no-no’s are the use of:
More than one kind of meat (this is very unlikely in Italy);
Large amounts of meat (in Italy, more than a few slices would be considered overpowering);
Too many ingredients (in Italy, it’s never more than 3 or 4 in total);
Any kind of dressing (oil and vinegar are for salads, not for sandwiches);
Honey-mustard, barbecue sauce, spicy mayo (since they don’t exist in Italy).
Do you know who invented the sandwich press?
Thomas Edison. Before sandwich grills, people had to toast each slice of bread individually using an electric toaster or a griddle. The sandwich grill made it possible to brown two slices of bread at the same time. Unfortunately, Edison’s novel approach to sandwich-making didn’t get much attention from home cooks. It was discontinued in the early 1930s, according to the museum at Thomas Edison’s winter estate in Fort Myers, FL, where the celebrated scientist’s sandwich grill is on display. Edison’s contribution to the world of grilled sandwiches was entirely forgotten by the time Breville came out with its panini press in 1974.
A panini press, which is essentially a two-sided grill, used to grill a sandwich. This method may also be accomplished by placing the sandwich on a grill, pressing down firmly with a spatula, then turning the sandwich over and repeating the process. Depending on your preference, the outsides of the bread may or may not be buttered or brushed with extra virgin olive oil to give it a crisp texture.
Thinly sliced grilled chicken, turkey and roast beef can also make delicious panini. The meat needs to be cooked before being placed in the sandwich — grilling a panini only heats it through and does not actually cook the meat. After you’ve selected the bread, meat and cheese, decide on the extras.
Some popular additions to panini include spinach, roasted red peppers, basil, olive oil, olives, tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and oregano. For a vegetable panini, use eggplant or zucchini, or any other vegetable that can be grilled. Panini make for a delicious and filling meal that is simple and quick to make and one that can be customized to your tastes.
Classic Italian Panino
- One 6″ rectangular piece focaccia or ciabatta bread
- 2 thin slices prosciutto or speck
- 2 thin slices taleggio or fontina cheese
- 1⁄2 cup arugula
- 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Split the bread in half and place prosciutto, fontina, and arugula on the bottom half. Drizzle with vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cover with the top half. Place in a panini press and grill just until the cheese begins to melt.
In central Italy, herb-and-garlic-seasoned pork roast is called porchetta. If you cannot find delicatessen porchetta (sold in some specialty food stores), use roasted pre-marinated Italian pork tenderloin. Cool the pork before cutting into thin slices. If you can’t find the olive mix, chop some garlic-stuffed green olives and mix in a bit of olive oil.
- 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread
- Olive oil
- 6 ounces thinly sliced porchetta or cooked Italian-seasoned pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons minced green olive mix or tapenade
- 2 ounces sliced Asiago cheese
Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.
Divide pork, olive mix and cheese between 2 slices of bread. Top with remaining bread.
Brush the outsides of the bread lightly with oil.
Place sandwiches on a panini grill or stove top griddle. Cover with grill top or a grill press.
Grill 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and cheese starts to melt.
Tomato, Artichoke and Fontina Panini
- 4 slices sourdough or multi-grain bread
- 4 slices Italian Fontina cheese (3/4 ounce each)
- 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, well-drained and sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
- 4 slices tomato
On two slices of bread, layer half the cheese, artichokes, spinach, two slices of tomato and the remaining half of the cheese.
Top with the uncovered bread slices.
Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill until bread is toasted and the cheese melts.
Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Panini
- One small onion (sliced)
- 2 bell peppers, red or yellow (seeded and each cut in 4 wedges)
- 2 zucchini (sliced)
- 4 oz. (100 g) provolone, scamorza or fontina cheese (sliced)
- One handful of fresh arugula
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt and cayenne pepper
- 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread
In a small skillet, saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
Grill the bell peppers and zucchini on a stove-top or outdoor grill (lightly sprinkled with salt) for about 15 minutes over medium heat.
When the peppers are ready, put them aside and peel off the skin (it should come off easily – if it doesn’t, let the peppers rest for 10 minutes in a sealed zip-lock while they are still warm).
Assemble the sandwich by layering the cheese, the grilled vegetables, the onions and the arugula on one half of the bread slices. Cook the sandwiches in the press until the cheese melts.
Pesto Chicken Panini
- 2 (2- to 3-ounce) Ciabatta rolls or foccacia bread
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 2 ounces mozzarella or fontina cheese, sliced
- 6 ounces thinly sliced grilled or roasted chicken
- 1 tomato, sliced thin
Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.
Slice the bread in half. Spread the cut sides if the bread with pesto.
Top one side with chicken, cheese and tomatoes. Place the top on and brush lightly with olive oil, if desired.
Place in the grill or on a griddle. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden and the cheese starts to melt.
No matter what the calendar says, Memorial Day kicks off the start of summer and the grilling season. Here are some tips on how to be a successful griller:
Treat your grill just like any other cooking surface — give it a good cleaning before and after you cook. Scrubbing and oiling the grill grates not only protects the grates but creates a nonstick surface for cooking.
A hot grill makes for easier cleaning (as any of the stuck-on food bits become brittle and easier to scrape off), but if your grill really needs a deep clean, preheat the grill then turn it off while you scrub and oil.
When preparing a charcoal grill, don’t skimp on the charcoal. Light the coals at least 30 minutes before you plan to begin cooking. Do not put foods on the grill until the fire dies down to glowing coals.
Even gas grills need to preheat. Turn on the flame at least 15 minutes before putting food over the fire. This will help to warm up the grate and stabilize the temperature of the grill environment.
Don’t grill anything too fatty or with too much marinade, as this can cause flare-ups. Most recipes will direct you to trim excess fat or shake off any excess marinade — this step is included for your safety.
Metal skewers get hot which helps meat to cook more evenly — just remember to use tongs or an oven mitt when turning them on the grill. Double-skewer items that might fall off, such as shrimp, chicken strips or slices of summer squash. In this case, skewers can help keep ingredients from twirling and also maintain the shape of the ingredient.
Grill delicate of small foods in a perforated grill pan — it will keep the food from falling through the cooking grate.
For larger cuts, such as chickens, roasts or a rack of ribs, do most of your cooking away from any actual flames and keep the grill lid closed. This allows for slower cooking and more even temperatures. Unless you have a serious cookout in the making, most grills are big enough to prepare one side for lower heat cooking and one side for high heat. Move hot coals to one half of the grill or turn off one or more burners to create indirect heat.
Can’t decide whether to use a direct or indirect method? If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat.
If the grill gets too hot, turn it off or pull everything off the grill. If it’s not hot enough, close the lid, as this will help to build heat quickly.
GRILLING BEEF & PORK
The appropriate heat levels and cooking times are crucial for grilling meat, so that it stays tender and juicy. Each type of cut has its own rules:
Use direct heat for chops, steaks and hamburgers.
Use indirect heat for Italian sausage, roasts and larger cuts of meat.
Cover the grill when cooking less tender cuts of meat.
Slash the edges of steaks and chops on the diagonal, about ¼ inch into the center to prevent the edges from curling.
Resist the urge to squeeze or press down on the grilling meat! This will result in a tougher, less juicy cut.
Steaks like filet mignon, ribeye, top sirloin and New York strip are naturally tender and need nothing more than a seasoning rub or a bit of salt and pepper before grilling.
Larger steaks like flank, skirt steak and London broil are best when soaked in a flavorful marinade before grilling.
Cuts like brisket, shank and chuck demand long, slow, indirect cooking.
Ribeye is excellent on the grill because of its marbling and its ability to hold up to strong flavors in spice rubs and marinades.
Lean, tender pork chops can be marinated or rubbed with spices and then cooked over the coals.
Pork spare ribs and baby back ribs can be prebaked and then grilled to achieve a smoky flavor.
Pork tenderloin grills quickly, is low in fat and can be sliced easily for an attractive presentation.
Treat larger cuts of pork, like pork shoulder, the way you would larger cuts of beef.
Keep this homemade Italian Vinaigrette on hand to quickly give foods flavor before grilling.
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian mixed herbs
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk all the ingredients together and drizzle olive oil in a little at a time. Yields: ¾ cup
Always cook all types of meat thoroughly and use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the meat. Wait a couple of minutes before reading and follow these simple temperature guidelines:
|Cooked meat||Temperatures in degrees F|
Italian Flank Steak
- 1 large (1 1/2-pound) grass-fed flank steak
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves
- 1/4 pound provolone cheese, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Soak 8 toothpicks in water for at least 20 minutes and prepare the grill for medium heat cooking. Don’t forget to oil the grill grates.
Butterfly steak by slicing it horizontally with a very sharp knife, stopping about 1 inch before you would slice all the way through. Open meat up, like opening a book, and sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.
Layer opened steak with spinach, basil and provolone slices. Starting on one long side, roll up tightly.
Secure the rolled steak at the seam and ends with the soaked toothpicks.
Brush the outside of the steak with oil and grill, turning frequently, until the steak is deeply browned all over, about 12-15 minutes for medium rare (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should register 125-130°F). Don’t overcook or the steak will be dry.
Transfer steak to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Remove toothpicks and thinly slice. Arrange on a serving platter.
Grilled Sausage and Pepper Salad
- 4 fresh pork or turkey Italian sausage links
- 1/2 large white onion, cut into 2 thick slices
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
- Olive oil for brushing
- Prepared Italian salad dressing
Oil the grill grates and prepare the grill for medium-high heat cooking. Prepare one side of the grill for indirect heat
Brush the onion slices and sausages with oil.
Grill sausages on the indirect heat side of the grill for 30 minutes turning then after 15 minutes.
Grill onion on the direct heat side of the grill, turning occasionally, until the onion is tender, 8 to 10 minutes
When cool enough to handle, slice sausages thickly on the bias and cut the grilled onion into chunks.
Toss romaine, feta and red peppers in a large salad bowl with a little Italian salad dressing.
Spoon romaine mixture onto serving plates and top with sausages and onion.
The mild flavor of poultry makes it ideal for grilling. Whether you choose chicken, duck, turkey or game hen, marinating or using a dry rub will maximize flavor. Once you’ve selected your specific cut of poultry and seasoning method, follow these tips:
Thin pieces of poultry can be cooked over direct heat; larger pieces of chicken should be cooked over indirect heat.
Cook whole and butterflied poultry breast-side down.
Turning poultry pieces every 5 minutes and rotating pieces around the grill can help ensure even cooking.
Place a drip pan under a whole chicken or turkey breast to catch the juices.
Allow turkey to rest 20 minutes before carving. Remember, smoked turkey may appear a little pink even when thoroughly cooked.
Always cook poultry thoroughly. Test with an instant read thermometer (it should reach 165°F).
Insert the thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the meat, taking care not to touch any bone. Wait a couple of minutes before reading. For whole poultry, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.
|Part of the Poultry||Time|
|Whole Chicken||15-20 minutes per pound, about 1 3/4 hours|
|Butterflied Whole Chicken||About 1 hour|
|Bone-in Breast, Leg & Thigh||12-15 minutes per side|
|Wing||2-3 minutes per side|
|Boneless Chicken Breast||4-6 minutes per side|
|Boneless Turkey Breast (up to 3 pounds)||1-1 1/2 hours|
|Boneless Turkey Breast (3-9 pounds)||2-3 hours|
Grilled Chicken and Peppers Over Arugula
- 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
- 7 tablespoons prepared Italian salad dressing, divided
- 2 bell peppers (red or green, or 1 of each), quartered
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 6 lightly packed cups arugula leaves
Split the chicken breasts by placing them on a cutting board and using a sharp knife to slice evenly through them, while applying slight pressure on top with the other hand.
Oil the grill grates and prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking.
Brush chicken breasts on both sides with 3 tablespoons of the salad dressing.
In a small bowl, toss bell peppers with 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
Place chicken on one side of the grill and the peppers on the other side. Grill chicken and peppers, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and peppers are tender and browned, 6 to 7 minutes.
Toss onion and arugula with the remaining 2 tablespoons of salad dressing and arrange on a platter. Slice chicken and peppers; place them on top of the arugula salad.
Pesto Turkey Burgers with Grilled Onions
- 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
- 1/3 cup prepared basil pesto
- Olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, peeled, but leave the root ends intact and cut into 4 thick slices
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 slices
- 4 hamburger buns
In a large bowl, combine turkey and pesto. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each about 3/4-inch thick.
Brush the onion slices and burgers with oil.
Oil the grill grates and heat the grill to medium. Grill burgers and onions until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Place burgers on the buns and top each with a slice of mozzarella and a slice of grilled onion.
Part 2 Tomorrow
The region of Abruzzo is hilly and mountainous and stretches from the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea. In this part of the Adriatic, the long sandy beaches are replaced by steep and rocky coasts. L’Aquila is the regional capital. Pescara, Chieti and Teramo are other important cities.
Abruzzo boasts the title of “Greenest Region in Europe” thanks to one third of its territory, the largest in Europe, being set aside as national parks and protected nature reserves. In the region there are three national parks, one regional park and 38 protected nature reserves. These ensure the survival of 75% of all of Europe’s living species and are also home to some rare species, such as the small wading dotterel, golden eagle, Abruzzo chamois, Apennine wolf and Marsican brown bear. Abruzzo is also home to Calderone, Europe’s southernmost glacier.
The Abruzzo region has two types of climate: the first is strongly influenced by the presence of Abruzzo’s Apennines range. Coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild winters, rainy hills and a climate where temperatures progressively decrease with increasing altitude. Precipitation is also strongly affected by the presence of the Apennines mountain ridges with increased rain on the slopes of the mountains in the region.
Until a few decades ago, Abruzzo was a region of poverty in Southern Italy. Since the 1950s, Abruzzo has had steady economic growth. In 1951, the Abruzzo per capita income or GDP was 53% of that of Northern Italy, the nation’s richest region. By 1971, Abruzzo was at 65% and, by 1994, the per capita income was at 76% of Northern Italy’s per capita income, giving Abruzzo the highest per capita GDP of Southern Italy and surpassing the growth of every other region in Italy. The construction of superhighways from Rome to Teramo (A24) and Rome to Pescara (A25) opened Abruzzo to easy access. Abruzzo also attained higher per capita education levels and greater productivity growth than the rest of the South.
The 2009 L’Aquila earthquake led to a sharp economic slowdown. However, according to statistics at the end of 2010, it seems that the economy of Abruzzo is recovering, despite the negative data regarding employment. At the end of 2010, Abruzzo’s growth was placed fourth among the Italian regions with the highest annual growth rates after Lazio, Lombardy and Calabria.
Abruzzo’s industrial sector expanded rapidly, especially in mechanical engineering, transportation equipment and telecommunications. Both pure and applied research are carried out in the region where there are major institutes and factories involved in research, especially, in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, electronics, aerospace and nuclear physics. The industrial infrastructure is spread throughout the region in industrial zones, the most important of which are Val Pescara, Val Sangro, Val Trigno, Val Vibrata and Conca del Fucino.
A further activity worthy of note is seaside and mountain tourism, which is of considerable importance to the economy of the region. In the past decade, tourism has increased due to Abruzzo’s wealth of castles and medieval towns, especially around L’Aquila. Beach-goers also flock to places like Tortoreto, Giulianova, Silvi Marina, Roseto and, further south, Ortona, Vasto and San Salvo. Ski resorts are equally popular.
Agriculture has succeeded in modernizing and offering higher-quality products. The mostly small, agricultural properties produce wine, cereals, sugar beet, potatoes, olives, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Traditional products are saffron and liquorice. Most famous in the wine world is Abruzzo’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy.
Abruzzo has a rich culinary tradition, with various traditions attached to each province.
Battered and fried zucchini blooms, spit-roasted scamorza cheese, vinegar-poached lobster, salame di pecora (a rare sheep’s meat salami), crepes loaded with cheese and vegetables in a rich mutton broth, hearty ragus, ricotta cheese drizzled with honey and dusted with saffron powder .… are just a few of the complex and elegant flavors to be found on Abruzzi tables.
Ragus are a generalized term for any type of meat-based sauce. Ragus are heavily associated with the cooking of Southern Italy, as well, and seem to have begun their migration southward from the Abruzzi region.
This is a cheese-loving region and mozzarella and scamorza take center stage on the dairy scene. Both cow’s milk cheeses are young, mild, creamy and sweet with smooth textures and a stringiness that allows them to hold up equally well in baked dishes or on their own as table cheeses.
The maccheroni alla chitarra are highly renowned (homemade pasta cut on a machine with thin steel blades) and scrippelle are thin strips of pasta eaten in soup. On the coast, most first courses are fish-based, often made with tomato to enhance the taste of “poor man’s fish,” that are caught off the shores of ancient fishing villages.
As for second courses, a typical recipe is scapece, which is pickled fried fish. Guazzetto or fish broth is also popular in coastal towns. Other than sea fare, one will find plenty of lamb, kid and mutton on the dinner table, while pork is used for prosciutto, lonza, ventricina and other typical salamis that are produced locally. Abruzzi lamb, in general, is considered superior in flavor to other lamb found elsewhere because of the animals’ mountain-grazed diets rich in herbs.
Among the desserts, often made with almonds and honey, you will find nougat or torrone; confetti (typical sugared almonds) and cicerchiata, small balls of fried dough covered in honey.
Traditional Recipes from Abuzzo
Potato Soup with Saffron
- 1 ¼ lb potatoes
- 10 oz cannarozzi – spaghetti cut into small pieces
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 teaspoon Saffron threads
- 2 ½ oz extra virgin olive oil
- Celery leaves for garnish
Lightly sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil. As soon as the mixture has cooled, add the saffron, mix well and then let rest to dissolve the saffron.
Boil and peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks.
Add 8 ¼ cups of water to the pot containing the saffron mixture and then salt to taste. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. When the pasta is cooked, add the potatoes. Heat and serve garnished with celery leaves.
Timballo di Crespelle
This recipe is often served at wedding lunches, where it generally follows the soup course.
For the crespelle (crepes):
- 50g [2 oz] all-purpose flour
- Olive oil, for the pan
- 3 eggs
- 6 tablespoons water
For the filling:
- 125g [4 oz] ground meat
- 100g [3 1/2 oz] spinach
- 75g [2 1/2 oz] mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 20g [1 scant oz] butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 artichokes
- 2 tablespoons grated Grana or Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 chicken liver
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
To make the filling.
Mince the chicken liver and combine it with the ground meat.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan and gently brown the ingredients over moderate heat for 3 minutes. Set aside.
Clean the spinach, blanch in a little salted water for 5 minutes; drain, squeeze out any excess water and lightly cook it with the butter for 4 minutes. Set aside.
Clean and trim the artichokes, discard the tough outer leaves and trim off the tips; cut in half, discard the inner fuzz and slice them. Sprinkle with the parsley and a dash of salt and cook in a saucepan with 3 tablespoons olive oil for 20 minutes, moistening with a little water, if need be. Set aside.
Break the egg into a mixing bowl, add the milk and egg yolk and whisk with a fork. Set aside
To make the crespelle.
Put the flour, eggs and 6 tablespoons water into a mixing bowl and beat with a fork. Take a small frying pan, the bottom should be as wide as the ovenproof dish to be used for the timballo, and heat a little olive oil in it over a moderate to low heat.
Place 2 tablespoons batter into the pan, tilting to make sure it spreads out to cover the bottom; let it set and then flip. When the crespelle is ready, remove it from the pan and continue until all the batter has been used, greasing the pan each time with a little oil.
To assemble the timballo.
Butter an ovenproof dish and lay a crespelle on the bottom.
Make separate layers of sliced mozzarella, meat, spinach and artichokes, separating each with a crepe, adding a sprinkling of Grana cheese each time and a couple of tablespoons of the egg and milk mixture.
Make sure there are at least 2 layers of each ingredient, cover with another crespelle and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and egg-milk mixture.
Place the dish in the oven and bake at 220°C/425°F for 30 minutes.
Penne with Abruzzi-Style Lamb Ragu
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 1/2 pound boneless lamb, cut into very fine dice
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juices
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
Put the oil and onion in a large skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is pale gold. Add the pancetta and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta fat is rendered; the pancetta should remain soft.
Add the lamb and cook until browned, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Add the wine and simmer until evaporated, 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until the fat begins to separate from the sauce, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse salt, cover and return to a boil.
Add the pasta to the pot and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Cover and bring back to a boil. Uncover and cook the pasta, stirring frequently, until it is al dente.
Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to a warmed bowl. Toss with the lamb sauce and the 1/3 cup of grated cheese. Serve at once, passing additional cheese at the table.
But among Abruzzo’s desserts, Parrozzo is the most remarkable. In ancient times, Abruzzo peasants made cornmeal bread in the shape of a dome and baked it in a wood-fired oven. They called this “pan rozzo” meaning ‘unrefined bread,’ as opposed to the regular and more expensive white flour bread eaten at the time only by higher classes. At the turn of the 19th century, pastry chef Luigi D’Amico re-invented that recipe by using eggs instead of cornmeal to obtain the bread’s golden hue. He kept the dome shape and topped it with a dark chocolate coating to reproduce the bread’s charred crust.
- 2 cups 70% dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sweet almonds
- 10 bitter almonds
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 eggs, separated
Blanch almonds in boiling water and peel off the husk, and grind them with 2 tablespoons of sugar in a processor. Work butter with a fork, add the remaining sugar and the egg yolks and whisk well. Fold in the ground almonds and then the flour and cornstarch. Beat the egg whites in a mixer until soft peaks form and then and fold into the almond mixture.
Pour mixture in a buttered Bundt pan or dome-shaped cake mold and bake at 450° F for 45 minutes.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and once the parrozzo has cooled, spread the chocolate sauce over the entire surface. Allow the chocolate to set before cutting.