Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pasta


Pumpkins haven’t always been popular. In fact, pumpkins were hardly eaten by people for a considerable part of the 19th century. Now, we have pumpkin flavored yogurt, coffee, candies, muffins and more. While the round orange pumpkin is the most recognizable pumpkin, pumpkins come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. Pumpkins are native to Mexico, but are grown on every continent except Antarctica. Americans love pumpkin, but so do the people on the other 6 continents who choose to grow them. America’s love is usually concentrated around Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Today, more pumpkins are grown in Italy than in America. In all of Italy’s diverse 20 regions, it is the people of Veneto, who give the pumpkin its highest esteem. The pumpkin — marina di Chioggia, also known as sea pumpkin, after its native town in the lagoon, is the most popular. The pumpkin’s bland and compact flesh make them an ideal canvas for the savory and sweet creations of Italians cooking, such as pumpkin risotto, pumpkin tortelli, cappelletti and gnocchi.

Italian Pumpkin

Italian Pumpkin

Smaller is Better

Choose sugar pie pumpkins or other flavorful varieties. Small and sweet with dark orange-colored flesh, they’re perfect for pies, soups, muffins, and breads.

A medium-sized (4-pound) sugar pumpkin should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.

Field pumpkins, which are bred for jack-o’-lanterns, tend to be too large and stringy for baking.

Choose A Cooking Method

There are three ways to transform an uncooked pumpkin into the puree used in baking:

Baking Method

Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast.
In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil.
Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender.
Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it.
For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve.

Boiling Method

Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides.
Peel the pumpkin and cut it into chunks.
Place in a saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to a boil and cook until the pumpkin chunks are tender.
Let the chunks cool, then puree the flesh in a food processor or mash it with a potato masher or food mill.

Microwave Method

Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides.
Microwave on high power for seven minutes per pound, turning pieces every few minutes to promote even cooking. Process as above.
You can refrigerate your fresh pumpkin puree for up to three days, or store it in the freezer up to six months, so you can enjoy fall pumpkins for months to come.


Pumpkin and Leek Risotto


  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus additional for serving


Cook the pumpkin:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Toss the pumpkin with a tablespoon of olive oil and one, small minced garlic clove  in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange the pumpkin in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Roast until tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Wash the leek well and dice the white and light green parts.

In a saucepan, bring 6 cups stock to a simmer.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the diced eek. Stir for 4-5 minutes or until soft. Reduce heat to low. Add 2 cups Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter.

Add 1/2 cup dry white wine and cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed. Add stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring after each addition until all liquid is absorbed.

When rice is almost cooked, add the pumpkin. Continue cooking,.until the pumpkin is hot and the rice is tender.

Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Serve topped with extra Parmesan cheese.


Pumpkin Gnocchi

3-4 servings


  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (plus more as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Ground white pepper
  • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more as needed)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts,toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust it with flour; set aside.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. (Do not heat the water if you plan to freeze the gnocchi.)

Drain the ricotta in a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl for a few minutes. Place in a mixing bowl and add the pumpkin, egg yolks, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg and a few pinches of white pepper. Stir to combine. Add the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. (It will be very soft and slightly sticky, but don’t overwork the dough or it will become tough and heavy.)

Generously flour the work surface and turn out the dough. Pat it into a rough rectangle and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Gently roll 1 piece into an even rope about 3/4 inch in diameter, flouring the surface as needed.

Cut the rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Lightly flour your forefinger, your thumb and the tines of a salad fork. Using your thumb, lightly press the cut side of the gnocchi into the back of the fork tines, then roll it off with your forefinger; your thumb will leave a concave impression in the gnocchi that’s handy for holding sauce.

Place the gnocchi on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting the remaining 3 dough pieces.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat.

Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add a third of the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they float, about 2 to 3 minutes, then let them cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute more so they’re just cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the second prepared baking sheet. Repeat cooking the remaining gnocchi in 2 more batches.

Set aside a large serving bowl.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foaming. Add 1 teaspoon of the sage. a pinch of black pepper and half of the gnocchi and cook, shaking the pan often, until the gnocchi are browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer with the slotted spoon to the reserved large bowl. Repeat with the remaining butter, sage, gnocchi and more black pepper..

Gently toss the gnocchi with the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with the hazelnuts, if using. Serve immediately.


Penne Pasta with Pumpkin & Italian Sausage


  • 1 lb hot or sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can pumpkin puree, not pie mix
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound penne pasta or any short pasta
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and sage leaves for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the sausages until well-done, 165°F as measured by a meat thermometer. Slice into ¼-inch slices and set aside.

Add the garlic and onion to the skillet and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the bay leaf and wine. Cook until the wine reduces by half; about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and pumpkin; cook, stirring, until sauce bubbles. Add sliced sausage and reduce heat and stir in cream. Season with nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.

Remove the bay leaf from sauce and add the cooked pasta. Toss together over low heat 1 minute. Garnish with grated cheese and sage leaves.


Italian Pumpkin Strata

A strata is a  brunch dish, similar to a quiche or frittata, made from a mixture of bread, eggs and cheese. It may also include meat or vegetables. The bread is layered with the filling in order to produce layers (strata) and baked.

Servings: 10


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb Italian bread, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cups half & half (fat-free works fine)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree, not pie mix
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


In a large skillet cook sausage, onion, peppers and garlic in oil until the sausage is no longer pink; drain.

Combine bread, cheese and sausage mixture in a large bowl.

Mix together the half & half, pumpkin, eggs, salt, pepper and seasonings.

Pour over the bread mixture and stir gently until bread is moistened.

Pour into a greased 13×9 inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until set.

Serve warm.

pumpkin 5

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Serves 9


  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
  • 25 Savoiardi Ladyfingers
  • 6 ounces Amaretti cookies, crumbled


In an electric mixer beat cream and sugar together until stiff peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese, pumpkin and spices and beat until smooth.

Pour the Amaretto liqueur into a shallow bowl. Dip each ladyfinger in the liqueur before arranging them along the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking dish, overlapping to fit.

Spread one-third of the filling over the ladyfingers, sprinkle evenly with one-third of the Amaretti cookie crumbs and repeat with two more layers.

Smooth the top of dessert and wrap tightly in plastic and foil. Refrigerate. Best when chilled overnight.


Yesterday we roasted chicken and today we have leftovers. So what can you do with the leftovers?

It makes sense for us to get smarter about fully using the food that we purchase. And that means getting smarter about leftovers.

Even a small amount of  leftover roast chicken can easily become another meal and there are numerous ways to do this without being boring. With leftover chicken in the refrigerator you can make convenient and versatile weeknight dinners,

Leftover chicken can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for three to four days, and in the freezer for about four months.  Just remember to plan your leftover meals ahead so that when you’re at the market, you can pick up the ingredients you’ll need.

How much meat from a 6-lb. roasting chicken?

Leftover Amount Yield
1 whole chicken 7 cups
1/2 chicken 3-1/2 cups
1 breast 1 cup
1 leg (thigh and drumstick) 1 cup

Make A Salad


Roasted Chicken and Romaine Salad

For 4 servings


  • 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Leftover roast chicken (about 6 ounces per serving), sliced thin
  • 3 hearts of romaine, trimmed and torn into pieces
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices country-style white bread, each about ¾ inch thick
  • Additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black pepper for garnish


Whisk the dressing ingredients until smooth.

Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast on both sides in the broiler until lightly brown. Cut the bread into small cubes to make croutons.

Cut the chicken into thin slices and cut the bread into croutons. Place the romaine on serving plates and top with chicken and croutons. Serve right away with the dressing on the side.

Mix the romaine, chicken and croutons in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss.

Divide the salad onto 4 serving plates and garnish with black pepper and cheese.


Make Chicken Soup


To make the broth:

After you cut all the meat off the chicken, use the bones to make broth. Place the bones in a large soup pot and add 4 quarts of water.Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour.

Place a colander or strainer over a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into it. Let the mixture cool. Pick through the bones and remove any meat; discard skin and bones. Add the meat to the broth; cover and set aside.

To make the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Additional cooked chicken and noodles, optional


Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.

Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot. Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked noodles and extra cooked chicken, if desired.

Make A Pasta Dish


Chicken Lasagna Rolls

6 servings


  • 6 dried lasagna noodles
  • One 8 ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 of a 10 ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup marinara pasta sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a  3-quart rectangular baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles and cut each noodle in half crosswise; set aside.

For the cheese sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add milk, beating until smooth. Stir in Romano cheese and chives.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl stir together 1/2 cup of the white sauce, the chicken, broccoli, roasted red peppers and black pepper. Place about 1/4 cup of the filling at an end of each cooked noodle and roll. Arrange rolls, seam sides down, in the prepared baking dish.

Spoon the remaining white sauce over the rolls. Top each roll with some marinara sauce. Cover with foil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until heated through.

Make A Sandwich


This sandwich can also be grilled in a panini press. You can also add a slice of your favorite cheese to each sandwich.

Chicken Focaccia Sandwich

6 servings


  • One round 8 inch tomato flavored focaccia bread or sourdough bread
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups sliced roasted chicken
  • ½ cup roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips


Using a long serrated knife, cut bread in half horizontally. Spread cut sides of the bread halves with mayonnaise..

Layer basil leaves, chicken and roasted sweet peppers between bread halves. Cut into wedges.

Dinner Entrée


Roasted Chicken Stuffed Zucchini

Yield: 2 halves


  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or parsley
  • ½ cup leftover roast chicken, chopped
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons shredded  mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut both ends off the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out most of the inner flesh, taking care to leave the shells (zucchini skin) intact. Chop the zucchini flesh.

Season the shells with sea salt and cracked black pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet or in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

Add the oil to a skillet and heat on medium. Add the onion and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the bell pepper to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chopped zucchini flesh, tomatoes and basil. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the tomato starts to soften. Mix in the cooked chicken pieces to reheat and season everything to taste with sea salt, cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper and lemon juice.

Scoop the filling equally into each zucchini shell and sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender.




As the weather cools, there’s nothing better than filling, warming soups loaded with a variety of gorgeous fall vegetables. The foundation of onion and carrots is enhanced with chunks of squash, potatoes and strips of hearty greens in a broth infused with herbs and spices. Here are a few easy, to make soup recipes, using seasonal ingredients for you to try. What is your favorite fall soup?


Autumn Chowder

Serves: 4

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 ears corn
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a large pot on medium, heat oil. Add celery, onion and bell pepper and sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir until coated and thickened, about 45 seconds.

Cut corn kernels off the cobs, reserving cobs. Add corn cobs, broth, milk, coriander and thyme to the pot. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the cobs.

Add corn kernels and sweet potato. Continue to cook until sweet potato is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in half-and-half, salt and pepper and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.


Hearty Greens and Pasta Soup

Serves 6-8


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic , chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion , chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 2 carrots , chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound) , roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch escarole (about 1/2 pound) , stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound dried bow tie (farfalle) pasta
  • 1 (3-inch) Parmigiano-Reggiano rind , plus grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish
  • 1/4 pound baby spinach


Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid is released and absorbed, about 5 minutes more. Add carrots and 8 cups water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Stir in chard, escarole, pasta and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until broth is flavorful and greens and pasta are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and season with salt and pepper.

Remove and discard bay leaf and cheese rind from soup then ladle into bowls, garnish with grated cheese and serve.


Creamy Pumpkin Soup

6 servings


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped leeks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin 
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, toasted


Lightly coat an unheated large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray. Add olive oil; heat over medium-high heat. Add leeks and garlic; cook and stir until leeks start to brown, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pumpkin, broth, pepper and cloves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. (Or use an immersion blender directly in the saucepan.) Return all of the pureed mixture to saucepan.

Stir in the milk, water and honey; heat through, but do not boil. Serve warm garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts.


Brown Rice Chicken Soup

Serves 8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion , chopped
  • 3 medium carrots , chopped
  • 2 stalks celery , chopped
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 whole boneless chicken breast , cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch of your favorite greens (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards) thick stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil and add onion, carrots and celery and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, water, rice, chicken and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender.

Remove bay leaf and stir in greens and continue cooking until wilted and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add parsley, salt and pepper.


Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

6 servings


  • 3 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots (about 4 )
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leek or chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Two 14 1/2 ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • Sour cream


In a large covered saucepan cook squash, carrots, and leek in hot butter over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and thyme. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Cool slightly.

Place one-third of the squash mixture in a food processor or blender. Cover and process or blend until almost smooth. Repeat with remaining squash mixture. Return all of the mixture to saucepan. Or use an immersion hand blender.

Add white pepper and nutmeg; bring just to boiling. Add half-and-half; heat through. If desired, garnish each serving with sour cream.

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falldinnerscoverCrisp autumn days have us looking forward to soups, pot pies, roasts and casseroles. Pick from any number of fall ingredients to add flavor and color to your main dishes, sides and desserts.

This is also the perfect time of year to roast vegetables. Fall root vegetables and squash take to roasting and taste so much better for it.

How to Roast Any Vegetable

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.

Roast vegetables either whole or chopped. The larger the piece, the longer it will take to cook. Whole beets can take an hour or more, while asparagus will be cooked in about 10 minutes.

Place the vegetables in an oven-safe pan.

Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, just enough to very lightly coat the vegetables when tossed.

To see if the vegetables are cooked, prick with the tip of a paring knife. The knife should pull out easily.

Serve with a light sprinkle of sea salt and chopped or whole toasted nuts, breadcrumbs or grated cheese on top.


Squash Carbonara

Serve with a green salad.

6 Servings


  • 1 ½ pounds fall squash, such as butternut, delicata, acorn, etc
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces pancetta, unsliced; about a 1 inch thick piece
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Pecorino (for serving)


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and slice crosswise into ¼”-thick half-moons. Toss with oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the squash slices on a large rimmed baking sheet; place pancetta next to the squash. Roast until the squash is tender but hasn’t changed color and the pancetta is brown, about 30–35 minutes. Transfer the squash to a plate and set aside.

Let pancetta cool slightly, then cut into ¼” pieces. Pour any rendered fat on the baking sheet into a large skillet. Add the pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a small bowl. Reserve skillet with the drippings in the pan.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add pasta to the reserved skillet along with a ½ cup pasta cooking water and toss to coat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.

Lightly beat egg yolks and lemon zest in a large bowl just to combine. Working quickly, add the egg mixture to the hot pasta in the skillet and toss vigorously with tongs until a thick, glossy sauce forms, about 4 minutes. (If sauce still looks watery, keep tossing.)

Add pancetta and reserved squash to the pasta, season with salt and pepper and toss everything together in a large serving bowl. Shave Pecorino over pasta and top with more pepper just before serving.


Italian Bean Soup

Serve with crusty bread.

4 servings


  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Two 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 32 ounce box reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • One 5 ounce package fresh baby spinach
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook and stir carrots and onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add beans, broth and seasoning. Bring to boiling and slightly mash some of the beans. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach; toss with tongs 1 to 2 minutes, just until wilted. Remove from the heat. Ladle soup into serving bowls; top with spinach, grated cheese and sprinkle with pepper.


Sea Scallops with Peppers and Corn

6 servings


  • 3 ears corn (about 2 1/2 lb. total), husked, silks removed
  • 1 1/4 pounds sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 red bell peppers, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves


Holding each ear of corn upright in a deep bowl, cut kernels from the cobs.

Rinse scallops, remove side muscle and pat dry; sprinkle lightly all over with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the corn, bell peppers, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove to a wide, shallow serving bowl.

Add remaining oil, butter and scallops to the skillet. Cook until the scallops are browned on the outside and barely opaque in the center (cut to test), about 5 minutes.

Top the vegetables with scallops and any pan juices. Sprinkle with basil and serve.


Broiled Turkey Breast with Orange Spinach

4 servings


  • Two 8 ounce boneless turkey breast tenderloins, halved horizontally
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 oz. pancetta, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Two 9 ounce packages fresh spinach
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges


Lightly sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Place on an unheated broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 5 minutes. Turn turkey pieces over; broil for 4 minutes more.

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, the Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs. Spread over turkey. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes more or until topping is golden and turkey is no longer pink (170 degrees F).

Heat butter in a large skillet and cook pancetta until crisp. Add spinach, half at a time and cook 1 minute or just until wilted. Add orange wedges and orange juice with the second batch of spinach and cook until wilted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using tongs, remove the spinach to a serving platter. Top with turkey and orange wedges. Drizzle with remaining juices from the skillet and serve.


Pork with Squash Barley Risotto

4 servings


  • ½ cup regular barley
  • One 32 ounce container vegetable stock or broth
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces pork tenderloin
  • Snipped fresh basil, oregano and thyme for garnish


Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add barley; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted. Stir in broth and squash; bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover; boil 15 minutes more or until the squash and barley are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (mixture should still appear creamy). Remove from heat. Stir in basil and oregano.

Place garlic, salt and pepper on a cutting board. Using the flat side of a large knife, smash the garlic. Drag the flat side of the knife across the garlic in one direction then the opposite direction until a smooth paste forms. Place paste in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil; set aside.

Slice pork into 1/2-inch thick slices and flatten the slices with the palm of your hand. Rub garlic mixture over the pork slices.

In a 12-inch skillet heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until browned and cooked through. Serve pork with barley mixture and sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.


Folklore states that cooks aboard Neapolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after the Spaniards introduced the tomato from America to Europe. The original recipe was resistant to spoilage due to the high acid content of the tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented. Historically, the first Italian cookbook to include tomato sauce was Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward), written by Italian chef, Antonio Latini, and was published in two volumes in 1692 and 1694. This early tomato sauce was more like a modern tomato salsa.

Today, the sauce is usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs and onions. Its many variations can include the addition of capers, olives and spices and it is occasionally sweetened with a dash of red wine. This sauce is widely used in Italian-American cuisine, which has greatly diverged from its Old World origins.

Keep your freezer or pantry stocked and you’ll always be minutes away from a great, easy meal. Visit this link for my homemade marinara recipe or use your favorite brand.

For Breakfast or Lunch:


Marinara Baked Eggs

4 servings


  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 4 eggs
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Warm marinara sauce; pour 1/4 cup into each of four lightly greased 6-ounce ramekins.

Top each with 1 egg. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the egg white is set and the yolk is thickened.

To serve:

Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve crusty bread on the side.


Italian Stew

4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (1 medium)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (1 small)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 ¼ pounds uncooked ground turkey breast
  • Four ½ inch slices of Italian bread, toasted (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)


In a 3 1/2 to 4-quart saucepan, heat oil and add ground turkey. Cook until brown.

Add mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.

Pour marinara sauce over all. Cover and cook on low-heat for 1 hour.

To serve:

Heat the broiler

Pour stew into 4 individual ovenproof bowls. Top with a slice of bread and sprinkle each with mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.

You can also skip the bread and just top the hot stew with mozzarella cheese.


Pizza Stuffed Potatoes

4 servings


  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup pre-cooked additions, such as chopped bell pepper, chopped mushrooms, crumbled Italian sausage or chopped ham
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sliced olives, optional


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Scrub  potatoes thoroughly with a brush; pat dry. Prick potatoes with a fork and rub with olive oil. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender.

Split each potato in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the flesh of each potato, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Place in a baking dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

In a bowl mash scooped-out potato flesh; add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 cup desired fillings and 2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning.

Spoon 1/4 cup marinara sauce into the bottom of each shell; divide the potato mixture evenly among the shells. Sprinkle each potato half with 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake about 15 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with sliced olives, if desired.

For Dinner:


Italian Style Pot Roast

4 servings


  • One 3 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 3 medium carrots, cut in 2-inch lengths (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges (1 cup)
  • 3 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups hot cooked penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Trim fat from the meat.

In a small bowl, combine garlic salt, fennel seed and pepper; rub into the roast on all sides.

In a 5-quart Dutch Oven heat oil and brown the roast on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Place the fennel, carrot and onion in the bottom of the pot and and place the roast on top.

Pour the marinara sauce over the roast  Bring liquid to simmer over medium heat, then place a large piece of foil over the pot and cover tightly with the lid; transfer the pot to the oven.

Cook, turning the roast every 30 minutes until fully tender and a meat fork or sharp knife easily slips in and out of the meat, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Toss the cooked pasta with parsley and place on a serving platter. Slice the roast. Place the sliced pot roast slices and vegetables on the plate with the pasta.

Pour the sauce over all and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve.


Marinara Poached Chicken

Serve this dish with cooked pasta, mashed potatoes or couscous.

4 servings


  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil for garnish


Pour marinara sauce into a large, deep skillet with a cover; warm over medium heat.

Sprinkle skinless, boneless chicken breast halves with salt and ground black pepper. Add to the skillet and turn to coat in the sauce.

Heat just until beginning to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and a meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese and basil before serving.


For really delicious, melt in your mouth lasagna, you need fresh lasagna noodles. You can make them yourself or purchase the fresh noodles ready-made. For me, dried lasagna noodles, especially with the edged ridges, are not delicate enough for a really good lasagna. Of course, having these noodles in the pantry is expedient.

Fresh lasagna noodles do not need to be boiled before baking. Fresh noodles also freeze well, so make extra for a future recipe. Place a layer of wax paper between each noodle and place them in a freezer container. You do not even need to defrost the noodles before using them in a lasagna.

I never make lasagna with a meat sauce because I think it weighs it down and takes away from the creaminess of the cheese. Meat can be served on the side. I also like my lasagna to have lots of ricotta cheese and sauce between the layers, so that it is not dry.

To make my lasagna, you will need the following:


Lasagna Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 of a sweet onion, finely minced
  • 1 small carrot, finely minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4-26 to 28 oz. contains Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 2-6 oz. cans of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
  • 6 basil leaves, minced
  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano, leaves minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley



To make mincing the vegetables easier, I put them in the food processor and process until finely chopped.


Place the minced vegetables and the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook on low until softened. Do not let the vegetables brown. Add the tomato paste and cook for two minutes. Fill the empty tomato paste cans with water and add them to the saucepan. Stir until the paste is dissolved.



Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, black and chili peppers and herbs. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to very low and simmer sauce until very thick, about 3 hours. Taste to see if more salt is needed.


Fresh Pasta Noodles


  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups Italian 00 flour or  unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the pasta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Making the pasta in a food processor:

To protect the dough from overheating, use the eggs cold – right from the refrigerator.

Place the eggs and oil in the bowl of the processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add about 2 1/4  cups of the flour and pulse until the dough just comes together.

If the dough is very sticky, add the remaining ¼ cup flour. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. If the dough seems dry add a tablespoon or two of water.

Pulse a few times and then scrape the dough onto a lightly floured board.

Cut the dough into quarters. Roll out one-quarter at a time, keeping the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic. Shape the dough into a flat rectangle.

Set the rollers of a hand-cranked or electric pasta machine at their widest opening. Run the dough once through the machine. Remove and lightly dust with flour. Fold the dough in thirds, like a book, pressing down with your fingers, and run through the machine again. Repeat this step at least two more times, dusting lightly with flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Now change the rollers of the pasta machine to the next decreasing setting and roll out the dough once without folding. Keep rolling the sheet through the machine on decreasing settings until you have rolled it through the last (thinnest) setting. Repeat with the remaining dough. Keep the rolled out pasta sheets covered with kitchen towels.

For lasagna noodles, cut the pasta strips into 4 x 8-inch pieces.


Lasagna Cheese Filling


  • 32 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced thin


Mix all the ingredients, except the mozzarella cheese, together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.


Completing the Lasagna:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish

Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of noodles on top.


Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce. Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.


Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Makes at least 12 servings.


Eating less meat and more grains, beans, fruits and vegetables means you’ll be consuming fewer calories and less saturated fat. People who eat less meat are healthier, less prone to cancer, especially colorectal cancer, and suffer from fewer heart problems. Another benefit is that you’ll save money. Meat costs more per pound than most foods and it can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget.

Committing to a 100% vegetarian diet isn’t necessary to achieve the health benefits that vegetarians enjoy. There aren’t specific guidelines to exactly how much meat to cut out to achieve these benefits, but cutting back even slightly is a positive change. A national health campaign known as “Meatless Monday” promotes cutting out meat one day each week, but you could try meatless lunches during the week for the same effect. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable diseases and it can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like freshwater and fossil fuel.

How to make veggies taste good:

Go big when it comes to seasoning your veggie-friendly food. Fresh herbs are great but try something besides rosemary and thyme. Hearty roasted root vegetables are the perfect blank canvas for experiments using dried spices. A blend made with shallot, onion and garlic, adds lots of flavor to vegetables. Like things hot? Try Aleppo pepper, a spicy-sweet pepper. Don’t be shy with the sauces, either. Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chile paste that’s a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Harissa added to yogurt brings the heat and then the yogurt calms it down. This sauce is delicious drizzled over roasted carrots. Or, use a herb-packed vinaigrette made from parsley, tahini, lemon and garlic. Choosing in-season produce at the peak of ripeness ensures that the color will be rich the taste will be fresh and flavorful.

Dinner One: Lentil Chili and Corn Muffins with Cheddar Cheese

veggie night1

Lentil Chili

Serves 8


  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (16-ounce) package brown lentils (about 2 1/4 cups lentils)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to brown, about 6 minutes.

Stir in garlic and chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add lentils, tomatoes and broth.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.

Uncover and cook 10 minutes longer. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper and serve.


Corn Muffins with Cheddar Cheese


  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter 12 standard muffin cups or use cupcake liners.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl.

Whisk together buttermilk, egg and butter in a separate bowl.

Add buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir just until combined. Gently fold in 1 cup of cheese and the corn kernels.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes, until golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from the tins and cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

Dinner Two: Penne Pasta with Eggplant Sauce and Garden Salad


Penne Pasta with Eggplant Sauce

4-6 servings


  • 1 medium to large eggplant, trimmed and diced (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • One 28 – ounce can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
  • One 6 – ounce can Italian tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine or beef or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 4 cups hot cooked penne pasta (about 8 oz. uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped


Peel eggplant and cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes.

Heat the oil a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the eggplant and a generous pinch of salt and allow to cook, shaking and tossing occasionally, until the eggplant is brown and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, cover with foil, and set aside.

Add the onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, salt and red chili flakes.

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Once the tomatoes have softened, gently break them apart with a potato masher. Then add the wine and water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta, parsley and eggplant, cover, and heat over medium until hot. Stir in basil and olives, season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with pignoli and Parmesan cheese.


Garden Salad

4 servings


  • 1 cup torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup torn curly endive
  • 3/4 cup baby arugula
  • 1 small red, green and/or yellow bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow grape, pear or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small carrot or half of a large carrot, thinly shaved
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese, finely shredded (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Homemade Salad Dressing (recipe below)


In a large bowl, combine romaine, spinach, curly endive, arugula, bell pepper strips, red onion, and cherry tomatoes. Top with carrot and cheddar cheese. Toss with the dressing and serve.

Homemade Salad Dressing


  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


In a blender, combine broth, vinegar, honey, paprika, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and salt.

With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil through the hole in the lid and continue blending until mixture is emulsified.

Cover and chill for up to 1 week. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Dinner Three: Oven Baked Asparagus and Pepper Frittata; Sautéed Garlic Spinach and Braised Baby Potatoes


Oven Baked Asparagus and Pepper Frittata

6 servings


  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut asparagus at an angle into two-inch pieces and blanch in boiling hot water to cover about two minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof skillet with a cover. Add bell peppers and cook until soft, but not browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in onion and  asparagus pieces; sauté for 1 minute. With a slotted spoon remove the vegetables to a large mixing bowl.

Whisk chopped parsley, salt and pepper with the beaten eggs. Stir in cheese and mix with the sautéed vegetables in the mixing bowl.

Coat the inside of the skillet with the softened butter. Pour the egg mixture into pan. Bake, covered, until the eggs are just firm, about 35 minutes. Remove cover; bake until top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Divide into six wedges and serve.


Sautéed Garlic Spinach

Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Thick strips of zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 pounds spinach, cleaned, thick stems discarded
  • Freshly ground pepper


In a small saucepan, stir together the olive oil, garlic, chili pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the lemon zest. Bring the oil to a gentle simmer over low heat and cook until the garlic begins to brown slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the oil infuse for 1 hour. Remove the lemon zest with tongs and discard.

In a large skillet a large heat the infused oil and add some of the spinach and cook over moderately high heat until wilted. Add the remaining spinach until it is all wilted..Season with additional salt, if needed and serve.


Braised Baby Potatoes

Serves 4


  • 16 small red or new potatoes, halved
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves


Place the potatoes, chicken stock, olive oil, salt and black pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and place in a serving bowl. (I save this broth for soup or cooking other vegetables at a later time.)

Add the lemon zest and basil. Toss well and serve

Dinner Four: Mediterranean Salad with Hummus and Pita


Easy Hummus


  • One 15-ounce can of no salt added chickpeas, drained, 1 tablespoon of the liquid reserved
  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for top
  • Pinch of sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


In a food processor, combine the chickpeas with the liquid, garlic, lemon juice and tahini and puree to a chunky paste. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the paprika and puree until smooth. Season the hummus with salt and drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with Pita bread.


Mediterranean Salad


4 servings

  • 1/2 cup bulgur (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/4 of a medium head green cabbage, cut into 1”-thick wedges, then very thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 sweet onion (such as Vidalia), finely chopped
  • 2 cups assorted small tomatoes, halved, quartered if large
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped flat leafed parsley
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt


Place bulgur in a large bowl and add 3/4 cups boiling water. Let soak until softened and water is absorbed, 40–45 minutes.

Mix bulgur, cabbage, onion, tomatoes, mint, oil, lemon juice and Aleppo pepper in a large bowl to combine; season to taste with salt.

Do Ahead: The salad (without oil and lemon juice) can be made 4 hours ahead. Toss with oil and lemon juice just before serving.

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