Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Olive Oil

Kate Hackett Ceramics

Kate Hackett Ceramics

There are many motivations for sticking with a healthy diet. Eating more of the good stuff (and less of the junk) can help you prevent cancer, extend your lifespan, protect your heart and manage your weight. But one thing we don’t always remember is that your diet affects not just your weight, but your body from the inside to the outside. Your body transforms the foods you eat into the cells that make up your hair, nails, skin and bones, along with your brain, heart and joints. You literally are what you eat.

Add lean meats and beans to your diet to help keep your body in hormone balance and prevent hair loss. B-vitamins from leafy greens, peas, tomatoes and carrots also support cell growth for healthy hair.

Essential fatty acids (named “essential” because your body cannot make them) help you grow brain cells and stay sharp, so feed your brain with regular doses of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.

The antioxidants for brain health also help the eyes, so include foods with lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants, found in spinach, collard greens and kale, protect the retina from macular degeneration.

Most adults need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, spinach and soybeans are all good sources of dietary calcium.

Boost your vitamin C intake with fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries, oranges, pineapple, cauliflower and green peppers to keep your joints healthy.

Fiber is also essential. Whole grains, especially oats and bran, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables can help you get your daily 20-35 grams of fiber.

Maintain disease-free and healthy looking skin with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This antioxidant is more powerful than vitamins C and E and protects your skin cells from damage and many of the elements it’s exposed to each day. ALA can be found in spinach, broccoli and beef. Vitamins C, E, K, and A, as well as B-vitamins, are also important for nourished skin. Enjoying a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help you reach the recommended amounts.

Winter comfort foods can be good for you. Sweet potatoes are filled with vitamin A and anything filled with green vegetables will give you a vitamin C boost. Switching up some ingredients for healthier ones in your favorite casserole dishes can improve a recipe’s nutrition. Also, be careful about the amount of cheese, bread and cream in a recipe.

The next time you look forward to making a comforting dish, try out one of the healthy recipes below instead of your usual go-to casserole. Another bonus is that all of the recipes below are between 300 and 350 calories per serving. That leaves some room for a healthy dessert.

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Meatballs and Bean Casserole

6 servings

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 pound lean ground meat (pork, beef, 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 for the baking pan

Casserole

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (2 medium)
  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery (1 stalk)
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 2 ½ cups homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (marinara sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • Two 15 ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion tops

Directions

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

To make the meatballs:

Mix all the ingredients, except the oil,  together in a large bowl. With wet hands form into 12 equal sized meatballs. (Use an ice cream scoop to make them uniform in size.)

Place the meatballs on the prepared pan and bake the meatballs in the oven for about 25 minutes.

In a large Dutch Oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and celery; cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add green beans. Cook for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato sauce and oregano. Stir in beans and meatballs.

Cover the pan and transfer the mixture to the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes. Uncover. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until heated through. Sprinkle with green onion tops just before serving.

casserole3

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • ¼ cup fat-free milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces uncooked ground turkey breast or a mix of white and dark meat or lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely diced zucchini (1 medium)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (2 medium)
  • ½ cup frozen yellow corn
  • ¼ cup water
  • One 8 ounce can low salt tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, cook sweet potatoes and garlic, covered, in enough lightly salted boiling water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain.

Mash the sweet potatoes and gradually add milk and salt, mashing the potato mixture to make a light and fluffy mixture. Cover and keep warm.

In a large skillet cook turkey or beef and onion over medium heat until meat is brown, stirring to break up the meat as it cooks. Drain, if needed.

Stir in zucchini, carrots, corn and water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sage and pepper to the meat mixture; heat through.

Spoon mixture into a 1-1/2-quart casserole dish, spreading evenly. Spoon mashed potato mixture on top of the pie mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until heated through.

casserole5

White Bean and Kale Casserole

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded kale (stems removed)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • Two 19 ounce cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ cup dry Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan cook kale in a small amount of boiling water for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain well in a colander.

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery; cook for 4 minutes or until tender.

In a large bowl combine cooked kale, onion mixture, beans, tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, the oregano, garlic and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 2 tablespoons bread crumbs and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle over the bean mixture.

Sprinkle with diced prosciutto.

Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until heated through and the prosciutto is crispy.

casserole4

Vegetable Pasta Bake

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 ½ cups cauliflower florets (1/2 medium head)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 12 ounces spinach, stems removed, leaves torn
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large Dutch Oven, cook pasta al dente according to package directions; add cauliflower during the last 4 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery; cook just until carrots are tender. Add spinach; cook just until wilted. Stir in pasta mixture and peas.

For the cheese sauce:

In a small saucepan melt butter; stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk all at once; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; add cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until melted.

Stir sauce into pasta and vegetables.

Transfer to a 2 1/2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 5 minutes more.

casserole2

Pizza Casserole

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 yellow, red and/or green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 14 1/2 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 fully cooked chicken sausage links, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb package pizza dough
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and garlic; cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, sliced sausage, half of the Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to the mixture in the skillet. Bring to boiling; boil gently, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates.

Place pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a knife or pastry wheel, cut pizza dough into 16 strips.

Remove skillet from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Arrange pizza dough strips  on top of the casserole in a lattice pattern. Sprinkle with remaining Italian seasoning. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


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Traditional meat stews can add up to 1,000 calories per serving. The calories really depend on the protein used, as fatty cuts of meat contain more calories. The sodium level can also be off the charts, providing much more than the amount recommended per day. Watch portion sizes, also.

Ground turkey isn’t always the leanest choice – it depends on which part of the turkey is ground. And, while ground turkey breast is the leanest, it can end up rather dry after cooking. The best solution is a combination of white and dark ground turkey meat which will keep the meat moist while saving on calories.

A healthy version of traditional beef stew should use 4 ounces of beef per serving while adding lots of vegetables. To keep sodium under control use a low-sodium beef or vegetable broth. Seafood is also a good choice for stew. Lentils are also a good stew ingredient because they contains both healthy protein and carbs and they are filled with fiber to help keep you satisfied.

So, take control of the ingredients and make your own delicious, healthy stews. Since it is quite cold here in the south today, the Bean and Sausage Stew is on our menu.

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Seafood Stew

8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili pepper, seeded and 
thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-oz can Italian diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 lb littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 lb frozen cooked crab claws
  • 1 lb cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 lb sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf 
parsley

Directions

In a 5-quart Dutch Oven, melt butter. Add onions and 
cook, stirring occasionally until onions soften slightly, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add celery, fennel, chili, oregano, thyme, basil and cayenne; stir to combine. Add wine, tomatoes, broth and clam juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, soak clams in cold water for 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer clams to the stew pot.  Cover and cook until clams open, about 20 to 25 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Add crab claws, cover and cook until heated through, about 
10 minutes. Add cod and scallops. 
Cover and cook until the fish is firm, about 
5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

stew2

Easy Oven Beef Stew

Serves 6; 1 cup per serving

What makes this stew easy? Toss all the ingredients together in a Dutch oven, place it in the oven and forget about it for two hours or cook it all day in your slow cooker.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds lean boneless round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup onions
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Pat meat dry with paper towels. In a large plastic bag with a tight-fitting seal, combine flour, salt and pepper. Add meat and shake until well coated. Shake off excess flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until just starting to smoke.

Add half of the beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total, reducing heat if oil begins to smoke. Transfer beef to large plate.

Repeat with remaining beef and oil. Leave the second batch of meat in the pot after browning and add the browned beef on the plate and the remaining ingredients to the Dutch Oven. Mix well.

Cover, place in the oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is tender, stirring once or twice during the cooking time. Taste and adjust for salt. Serve hot.

stew3

White Bean and Sausage Stew

6 to 8 servings

Directions

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 1/2 pound lean sweet Italian turkey sausage, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 fresh large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Place on a plate and refrigerate until the beans are cooked.

Add the tomato paste and oregano to the same pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and the bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sausage is hot. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.

stew4

Chicken Stew with Lima Beans and Cauliflower 

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco®
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) frozen lima beans (no need to thaw)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped (1/2 – inch chunks) cauliflower (about 1/2 of a large head)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried

Directions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add chicken thighs and hot sauce; saute until chicken is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Add broth, lima beans, tomatoes, cauliflower and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the beans are tender. Serving size: one chicken thigh and one-fourth of the stew.

stew5

Pork and Vegetable Stew

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, medium, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 cup canned diced Italian tomatoes
  • 14 1/2 oz canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, torn
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

Directions
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add pork pieces and shake to coat. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper and mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté pork on all sides, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Return sautéed vegetables to the Dutch Oven. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

Season with salt and pepper, garnish with basil and oregano and serve.


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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.

pasta2

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.

pasta4

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.


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One of the best things about cooking seafood is its versatility — it can be grilled, broiled, poached, baked or cooked in a skillet. Seafood is actually one of the easiest ingredients to cook with and can be one of the fastest to prepare. Fish is also healthy.

Health studies show that eating fish at least once a week, especially cold-water species high in omega-3 fatty acids, reduces the risk of heart problems. Other research suggests that regularly eating omega-3–rich fish may prevent or relieve depression, joint problems, Alzheimer’s disease and several cancers. Even seafood low in omega-3s, like scallops and crab, are rich in other key nutrients.

Fish is delicate so it needs gentle techniques to make sure that it is tasty, cooked and yet retains all the benefits. Any way you choose to cook fish, remember that its flesh cooks quickly. The best way to cook fish and not lose its health benefits is to steam, bake, poach or grill the fish. Frying fish can cause fatty fish rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, to lose its beneficial oils; those oils get replaced with unhealthier oil in which the fish is fried. Evidence from Harvard researchers on a study of more than 4,700 older people indicates that eating fried fish or fried fish sandwiches was associated with a higher risk of stroke. Conversely, the study also found a direct relationship between consumption of broiled or baked fish and a reduced incidence of stroke.  When you bake fish, you can use herbs to accentuate the flavors. On the grill, the fire lends a smoky flavor to the flesh of the fish.

Following are some of my favorite fish recipes.

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Garlicky Baked Shrimp

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat 4 individual gratin dishes with cooking spray or a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Divide shrimp among dishes; set aside.

Combine breadcrumbs and the next 4 ingredients; stir in juice and oil.

Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over shrimp.

Place dishes on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until shrimp are done and breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

fish2

Baked Salmon with Red Wine and Honey

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces (skin left on)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 1/2 cup light red wine, such as Beaujolais or Pinot Noir
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish, drizzle olive oil and scatter thyme sprigs. Lay salmon on top of the thyme, skin side up. Arrange garlic cloves around salmon.

In a small bowl, whisk together red wine and honey and pour over salmon.

Bake 15-20 minutes and remove the dish from the oven. Peel off the salmon skin, if desired, and arrange fillets on a warm serving dish.

Pour dish juices into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Season sauce with salt and black pepper, spoon over the salmon and serve.

fish3

Panko-Crusted Catfish

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 6 drops hot sauce
  • 4 catfish fillets (about 6 ounces each) or any other thin white fish fillets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon blackened spice mix, see recipe below
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges (for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a shallow dish, mix milk and hot sauce. Add catfish, turn to coat well and marinate for 10 minutes.

In a pie plate, mix nuts, breadcrumbs and spices. Dip fillets into crumb mixture, pressing crumbs onto each fillet. Place fish on the prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle a 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over each fillet. Bake fish for 12-15 minutes until crispy, depending on thickness. Remove fish to a serving platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Blackening Spice:
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

fish4

Spicy Rainbow Trout Fillets

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 ounce) rainbow trout fillets (1/2-inch thick)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 green onion, sliced thin
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Pat fillets dry and lightly brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle both sides evenly with Cajun seasoning.

Place skin side down on an oiled broiler pan. Broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 4-5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Arrange on a warmed serving platter and sprinkle with parsley and sliced green onion. Serve with lemon wedges.

Cajun Seasoning

Combine 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, chili powder and dry mustard.

fish5

Halibut Packets with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • One 6-ounce boneless, skinless halibut fillet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemon slices
  • 6 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Parchment paper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange halibut in the middle of a 12 x 12-inch piece of parchment paper. Drizzle both sides of the fish with the oil.

Top with lemon and arrange tomatoes, artichoke hearts and parsley over the top and around the sides. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Fold up parchment like a package, making sure the seam is at the top to seal the ingredients inside; tuck under the ends.

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Place package on a plate and carefully open the parchment paper to release the steam before serving.

fishcartoon


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.


falldinnerparty2

With the weather getting cooler in many parts of the country, we may find ourselves entertaining friends for dinner rather than hosting casual, warm weather BBQs. There are so many good choices in the fall for your menu that it is difficult to know where to begin. Chicken is always a good choice but for a dinner party,  the chicken recipe should be something a little different; something your guests may not have had before – just to keep things interesting. Choose vegetables in season, a side of potatoes, noodles or rice and a great appetizer.

Please find below one of my fall dinner party menu suggestions and the recipes to go with it.

Entertaining Menu

Antipasto Stromboli

Wine: Pinot Grigio or Prosecco

Vinegar Braised Chicken with Pappardelle Noodles

Olive Oil Braised Broccoli Rabe

Wine: Barbera from Emilia-Romagna or a Chianti from Tuscany

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti and Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Fresh Fruit

Espresso

First Course

IMG_0066

Antipasto Stromboli

Ingredients

  • 2 (one pound) pizza dough balls, at room temperature
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa Salami
  • 1/4 Pound thinly sliced Pepperoni
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced Provolone Cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced pickled cherry peppers
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls to a 15 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush the dough lightly with olive oil.

Use half the meat, cheese and peppers, and cover the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.

IMG_0063

Roll the dough up into a log and brush the seam edges with beaten egg.

Leaving the seam at the bottom and pinching the ends closed, place the roll on one of the baking sheets. Complete the other roll in the same manner.

Brush the rolls with the beaten egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Second Course

dinnerparty

Vinegar-Braised Chicken

Ingredients

  • 8-10 pieces of chicken – combination of bone-in breasts cut in half if large and thighs (skin on or off; your choice)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), sliced thin
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz pappardelle noodles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F and position a rack in the upper third.

Coat the chicken in flour and season generously with salt and pepper.

In a Dutch Oven or large ovenproof skillet heat half of the butter and half of the oil. Add half the chicken, skin side up, and cook over high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook the chicken for 1 minute. Remove to a large platter. Repeat with the remaining butter, oil and chicken. When brown place on the platter with the first batch of chicken.

Add the scallions and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and vinegar and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on top, skin side up and roast for about 25 minutes, until it is cooked through.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pappardelle and cook until the al dente stage. Drain. Place the noodles on a large serving platter.

Place the Dutch Oven on top of the the stove and transfer the chicken with a slotted spoon to the  platter with the noodles, arranging the chicken attractively over the noodles.

Bring the mixture in the pot to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add a little of the sauce to the sour cream, mix well and whisk the sour cream into the mixture in the pot. Simmer until the sauce is hot and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Do not boil or the sour cream will curdle. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

dinnerpartybroccoli

Olive-Oil-Braised Broccoli Rabe

Look for broccoli rabe with vibrant green leaves and plump stems.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 2 bunches (1 1/4 pounds each) broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon julienned lemon zest, plus fresh lemon juice for serving
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

Directions

Heat the oil and garlic in a large straight-sided skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until garlic is sizzling and aromatic, but not browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the broccoli rabe, zest and 3/4 teaspoon salt, then use tongs to toss and coat in oil. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until broccoli rabe is tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

Transfer contents of pan (including liquid) to a serving bowl. Grind pepper over top and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

Dessert Course

dinnerpartydessert

Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Makes about 36 biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the tops of the dough
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Reserve one baking sheet for later when you bake the biscotti slices.

Place pistachios in a single layer on a third baking sheet and toast the nuts in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix toasted pistachios, cherries, sugars, baking powder and flour.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla extract until well blended. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times.

Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands, until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 2 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough and, using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. If it’s sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Place the two logs on one baking sheet. Brush the loaves all over with 1 lightly beaten egg.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a sawing motion to prevent crumbling. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.

Place slices on their sides on the baking sheets. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the biscotti for 20 minutes, until toasted and crisp. Turn the biscotti slices over and rotate the pans after ten minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool the biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Makes about 36 biscotti (3/4-inch-wide cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing the tops of the dough
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur

Directions

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Reserve one baking sheet for later when you bake the biscotti slices.

Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a third baking sheet and toast the nuts in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside to cool. Chop the nuts into large pieces.

In a large bowl, mix toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips, sugars, baking powder, cocoa, flour, cinnamon and espresso powder.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and coffee liqueur. Add to the flour mixture. Stir a few times.

Work the batter together with lightly floured hands. The mixture will be sticky, but persevere. Keep squeezing the batter with your hands, until a dough starts to form. Once the dough is firm, form a ball. Divide the ball into 2 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, place one piece of dough and, using your hands, roll into a log shape that is approximately 8 inches long and 2 inches wide. If it’s sticky, simply dust your palms with more flour. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Place the two logs on one baking sheet. Brush loaves all over with 1 lightly beaten egg.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through, or until the tops of the loaves are shiny and deep golden. Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Place a loaf on a cutting board. Using a large serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch-thick slices, either straight or on the diagonal. Use a sawing motion to prevent crumbling. If the cookie is crumbling, then let it cool a few more minutes. Don’t let it rest too long, however, or it could become too hard to slice.

Place slices on their sides on the baking sheets. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the biscotti for 20 minutes, until toasted and crisp. Turn the biscotti slices over and rotate the pans after ten minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool the biscotti completely before storing in an airtight container.


fallcsacover

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:

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2015/06/29/fresh-from-the-farm/

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2014/06/26/cooking-from-my-csa-share/

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 

fallcsa1

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 3 medium patty pan squashes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

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

Stuffed Squash

fallcsa4

Serves 4 as a side dish; 2 for a main course

Ingredients

  • 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

fallcsa2

fallcsa3

Directions

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

fallcsa6

Serves  4

Ingredients

  • 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

fallcsa5

Directions

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

1c1a9e344e77b86268dabc18fc072b1e

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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

sausagepasta3

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.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 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

sausagepasta1

sausagepasta2

Directions

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.

sausagepasta4



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An amalgamation of good, great, and questionable things

Romancing the Bee

Beautiful Beekeeping, English Cottage Gardening, and Cooking with Honey

Urban Eating

"I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is two weeks." - Totie Fields

Putney Farm

Get some good food. Cook it. Share with friends. Have a cocktail.

Awareness. Education. Motivation.

Butter Beans Blog

seasonal school meals, fun cooking classes + food & garden summer camp

Foodie Joanie

Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all. ~Harriet Van Horne

A Vegetarian Foodie's Guide to Life

My Daily Prompt Blog

Where I do my Daily Prompts

DixiesDiary.org

If your a broke,burnt out and unappreciated then this blog is for you. I do everything from product reviews to just whine about booboos

Healthy Food Coach

Healthy eating made easy for you and your family

glitzgirlzglamourguide

"A Girls Glamual to Life"

putraculinary

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

spontaneous tomato

from the kitchen & travels of an always-hungry tomato-lover. (updated every other thursday)

Lil' Suburban Homestead

Sharing Our Passion for Sustainable Living on a Budget

THE SCARECROW

The planet is fine, the people are f'ked!

The Thrifty Senyorita

thrifty fashion, style, travel, food, and fun

Yummyfoodmadeeasy

Delicious food made simple for you

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