Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

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BalancedLunch

Eating a healthful lunch can help control blood glucose, hunger and weight. Lunch is a chance to keep you full until dinner and fit in some important food groups. Get more mileage out of your lunch by including fiber from whole grains and protein from low-fat dairy products and other lean protein sources.

Build a Balanced Lunch

Studies show people who tote their meals with them weigh less, eat more healthfully and spend less money.

When compiling your midday meal, remember this simple formula, even at home: whole grain + dairy/protein +vegetables = healthy lunch.

Include whole grains for the starch portion of your meal. You’ll get hearty satisfaction from grains with all their fiber and nutrients intact. This will be your main carbohydrate source.
The dairy/protein digests more slowly than carbohydrates, helping you feel satisfied and adding staying power to your lunch. Vegetables add color, flavor and antioxidants to your meal.

If you love sandwiches, use a variety of whole-grain breads, pitas and wraps. Choose lean fillings like sliced eggs, tuna fish, cheese or lean meats. Then add interest to your sandwiches with assorted greens, fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, onions, pickled peppers and tomatoes.

But sandwiches are far from your only option when you’re brown-bagging it. Last night’s dinner, anything you enjoy at home can, be packed up and eaten for lunch. In fact, you might want to make extra food for dinner, so you’ll have leftovers to bring for lunch. Leftovers are the perfect food to pack and take for lunch because you can control the portions and calories in the meal to ensure it will be nutritious, filling and delicious.

For example, pack the leftovers from last night’s casserole into a reusable container that can be microwaved at the office. Add some carrot, celery and pepper strips for a hearty and satisfying lunch. To take this idea a bit further, try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, make a big pot of chili, chicken noodle soup or rice and beans and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work in a flash.

Keep it cold. For safety’s sake, pack lunch with a reusable ice pack.

Pasta Lover’s Lunch Salad. Make the salad with lean meat or fish, some cubed or shredded cheese (for protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition and usevwhole wheat or whole-grain pasta. Toss everything together with a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil. Pack into individual lunch containers.

Mediterranean Pita Pocket. Fill a whole wheat pita with homemade or store-bought hummus, tabouleh and sliced cooked chicken. All you need is a piece of fruit to round out the meal.

Fruit and Cheese Plate. Fill a divided plastic container with assorted cubes or slices of cheese and easy-to-eat fruit, such as apple and pear slices, grapes, berries or melon. Add some whole-wheat crackers to your lunch.

Everything Is Better on a Mini Bagel. Whole-wheat bagels are a wonderful foundation for sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or desk all morning. Start with two mini bagels. Add tuna, smoked salmon, oven baked turkey or roast beef. Top it off with cheese, fresh tomato, onion and Romaine lettuce. Two mini bagels can supply 6 grams of fiber to the meal.

Enjoy Lunch Salads. A plastic container can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. For a Cobb salad, fill it with spinach or chopped dark green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, shredded cheese, lean ham or turkey. Or toss in the ingredients for a chicken salad: dark salad greens, shredded chicken, shredded carrots, sliced green onion and toasted sliced almonds. Pack the dressing separately and add it to the salad just before eating.

Lunches at Home

Include more whole foods and choose lunch items with higher amounts of fiber and nutrients (like calcium, protein and vitamin C). Include fewer processed foods such as cookies, chips and snacks, which have higher sodium, added sugar and saturated fat.

spicypoachedegg

Spicy Poached Eggs

5 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 large eggs

Directions
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, oregano, cayenne and salt. Add the tomato mixture to the skillet with the onions and peppers and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make 5 hollows in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs into each hole. Cover and cook until the eggs set, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot with a small whole wheat roll.

spanakopita-quiche-h-4

Spanakopita Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained well
  • 1 (9-inch) pie crust (homemade or store-bought) 
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill 

Directions
Heat oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add spinach and stir until spinach is dry, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place pie crust in a 9-inch quiche dish or pie pan. Press into the pan, sealing any cracks. Crimp the edges.

Mix flour with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over bottom of the crust, followed by the crumbled feta cheese. Top with spinach mixture.

Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Pour over spinach.

Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake about 50 minutes or until the top is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly. Cut in to wedges and serve.

chicken-salad-rs-1213081-l

Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Pound it to an even thinness between pieces of plastic wrap.

Place the chicken in a large, wide saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.

Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the peanuts, basil and remaining salt and pepper. Toss and divide among individual plates.

unhealthy lunch

Unhealthy lunch

Lunches For Work

Taking a healthy lunch to work is one of the simplest ways to trim your budget. Most people think nothing of spending $10 or so for a restaurant lunch, but over the course of a month — or a year — the expense can really add up.
Beyond the cost savings, most meals packed at home are healthier than foods from restaurants or fast food counters. When we eat out, we’re often faced with huge portions and fattening extras — like the french fries that routinely come with sandwiches. But when you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.

tuna

Tuscan Tuna Wrap

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ounces tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped black olives
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 2 whole-wheat wraps
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

Directions

Break up the tuna in a mixing bowl and mix in the parsley, lemon, oil, tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper.  Divide the mixture between the wraps, top with spinach leaves and roll up. Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

pesto-turkey-club-1994854-x

Pesto Turkey Sandwich

If you would like a little crunch in your sandwich, add a slice of cooked turkey bacon.

1 serving

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons prepared pesto
  • 2 slices pumpernickel bread
  • 2 ounces sliced turkey
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices tomato

Directions
Spread pesto on the bread. Top 1 bread slice with turkey, lettuce, tomato and top with the remaining bread slice. Place in a large plastic sanwich bag.

corn salad

Corn & Black Bean & Mango Salad

Make ahead salad to pack for lunch. Serve with healthy toasted corn tortillas.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups frozen corn, defrosted and drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Directions
Whisk lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the corn, beans, cabbage, tomato, mango, parsley and onion; toss to coat. Sprinkle nuts on top. Refrigerate in lunch containers with a lime wedge.

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artichoke-ranch-980x360

ArtichokeBlossom The artichoke is a perennial vegetable in the sunflower family and is believed to be a native of the Mediterranean region. The artichoke that we eat is actually the plant’s flower bud. If allowed to flower, the blossoms measure up to seven inches in diameter and are a beautiful violet-blue color. There are more than 140 artichoke varieties but less than 40 are grown commercially. Spring is the peak season and most artichokes grown worldwide are cultivated in France, Italy and Spain, while California provides nearly 100 percent of the United States crop.

How To Buy Artichokes

Select artichoke globes that are deep green, with a tight leaf formation and those that feel heavy for their size. A good test of freshness is to press the leaves against each other which should produce a squeaking sound. Browning of the tips can indicate age, but can also indicate frost damage. To store fresh artichokes at home, sprinkle them with a little water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Do not wash before storing. They should last a week when stored properly.

How To Prepare Artichokes

Wash artichokes under cold, running water. Pull off the lower petals and cut off the bottom stems (cut flush with the base). Cut off about 1/2 inch of the pointed top of the artichoke.  Pull out pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom is a furry bed, the choke. Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works wonderfully) to scoop out the choke. Always use a stainless-steel knife and a stainless-steel or glass pot. Iron or aluminum will turn artichokes an unappetizing blue or black. For the same reason, never let aluminum foil come in contact with artichokes. Trim tips of leaves with scissors to remove thorns. Dip in lemon juice to preserve color.

TrimBottom

 

TrimmedArtichoke

How To Cook Artichokes

Boiling Method:
Stand up the prepared artichoke in a deep saucepan or pot with 3-inches boiling water (if desired, oil, lemon juice and/or seasonings can be added to cooking water). Cover with a lid and gently boil approximately 25 to 40 minutes, depending on size of the artichokes, or until a petal near the center pulls out easily. When done cooking, remove from the pot and stand artichoke upside down on a rack to drain.

Steaming Method:
Place prepared artichoke on a rack above 1- to 2-inches of boiling water. Cover and steam approximately 25 to 45 minutes, depending on size, or until a petal near the center pulls out easily.

baby-artichokes-at-market

Baby Artichokes

Baby artichokes are not a separate variety but merely smaller versions of larger artichokes. Their size comes from their location on the artichoke plant. They are picked from the lower parts of the artichoke plant where the plant fronds protect them from sun, in effect stunting their growth.
Small artichokes, which are being shipped fresh more frequently today, make a savory appetizer, salad or vegetable accompaniment when marinated, either whole or cut lengthwise in halves. They are also delicious in poultry, beef, pork or lamb stews.

Baby artichokes are sold in plastic bags or containers or loose. Their size can vary from walnut to jumbo egg size. Size is no indication of age. (Some babies are bigger than other babies!) Choose baby artichokes that are firm and heavy for their size. Most do not have a fuzzy choke.
Bend back lower, outer petals of artichokes until they snap off easily near base. Continue doing this until you reach a point where the leaves are half green (at the top) and half yellow (at the bottom).

Using a sharp stainless steel knife, cut off top third of artichokes or just below the green tips of the petals. Pare all remaining dark green areas from bases. Cut off stems.
Halve or quarter as desired. If center petals are purple or pink remove center petals and fuzzy centers. Dip or rub all surfaces with lemon juice.

Cooking Artichokes

Preparing fresh artichokes for cooking can be intimidating. Luckily, preserved versions of this spring vegetable are just as delicious. Here are a few ways to use artichokes, whether fresh, jarred or frozen.

Whole. Steaming whole artichokes to serve with butter or mayonnaise mixed with capers, lemon and smoked paprika. Or, stuff them with your favorite stuffing mix.
Sauteed. When cooked, the leaves on trimmed fresh artichokes fan out and get crisp.
Grilled. Boil trimmed artichokes until tender, then finish them on the grill to give them a smoky flavor.
Pasta sauce. Simmer oil-packed artichokes in cream, then puree for a luxurious pasta sauce.
Bread pudding. Layer marinated artichokes with sourdough cubes and cheese, then cover with eggs and milk and bake for a savory brunch dish.
Dip. Instead of the usual cream cheese base, use Greek yogurt and silken tofu in a healthy version of creamy artichoke dip.
Involtini. Roll up marinated artichoke hearts with celery leaves in smoked salmon for a super healthy hors d’oeuvres.
Pizza. Marinate frozen artichoke hearts in herbed olive oil and add them to a white pizza or a pizza with the works.

artichokes and potatoes

Sautéed Artichokes and Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 artichokes (they should be firm and feel solid)
  • Juice of a half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 pounds baby potatoes 
  • A bunch parsley, minced
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

If the potatoes are young and thin skinned, wash and rub them with a rough cloth. Otherwise, peel them and cut in half.

Trim the tough outer leaves off the artichokes, cut the tops off (perpendicular to the length of the artichoke) and cut them into eighths, putting the slices into water acidulated with lemon juice to keep them from turning black.

When you have finished cutting them up, pat them dry and sauté them in a large skillet with a cover with the oil, garlic, salt and minced parsley. Begin over a low heat, covered, and after a little while uncover them and turn them often so they cook well on all sides, browning and almost coming apart. Remove the artichokes with a slotted spoon to another bowl and set aside.

Add the potatoes with a half cup of water to the skillet. Let them cook gently at first, covering the pot so that they soften, and then raise the heat and uncover them to brown them.
Once the potatoes have browned, add the artichokes together with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for about ten minutes over a very low flame.

GrilledBabyArtichokes

Grilled Baby Artichokes

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 12 baby artichokes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare the Lemon Vinaigrette; set aside until ready to use.

Bend back lower, outer petals of the artichokes until they snap off easily near the base. Continue doing this until you reach a point where the leaves are half green (at the top) and half yellow (at the bottom). Using a sharp stainless steel knife, cut off top third of artichokes or just below the green tips of the petals. Pare all remaining dark green areas from bases. Cut off stems.

In a large saucepan, bring 1 1/2 quarts of water to a boil. Add prepared baby artichokes and cook approximately 7 to 10 minutes or until you can easily pierce them with a fork, but they still offer some resistance. Drain and immediately and immerse in cold water to stop the cooking.

When cool, cut the baby artichokes in half lengthwise, sprinkle them with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare an outdoor grill. Place the artichokes cut side down on oiled grill grates, cover with the grill lid, and cook over a medium-hot fire, for about 5 minutes, or until the cut sides are well browned. Remove the artichokes to a bowl and pour the Lemon Vinaigrette over the grilled artichokes and toss.

This can be served right away, but it is much better to let them sit for an hour or so in the vinaigrette for the flavors to mingle. They will keep, covered and refrigerated, for about 3 days. .
Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted black olives
  • Freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Directions

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil, olives and pepper. Whisk together well.

artichoke pizza

Artichoke Cheese Pizzas

This is one of our favorite pizzas. Since I use convenient frozen artichoke hearts, this recipe can be made any time of the year.

Ingredients

  • One 9 ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, drained, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 thyme sprigs, leaves removed
  • Salt
  • Cornmeal, for dusting
  • One homemade or store-bought pizza dough
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Italian Fontina cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, combine the artichoke hearts with the olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic and thyme leaves. Season with salt. Cook until the artichokes are soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Dust a pizza pan with cornmeal and stretch dough to fit the pan.

Spread the ricotta cheese over the dough and sprinkle the fontina and mozzarella cheese over the ricotta.

Distribute the cooked artichoke hearts and sauce over the cheese. Season with salt and pepper and place the pizza to the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the edges are browned. Serve hot.

artichoke stuffed

Stuffed Artichokes

This is my favorite way to stuff artichokes.

Ingredients

For 2-double ingredients for 4

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 medium artichokes
  • 1 1/4 cups plain panko crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, reserve the stems
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 minced garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Half small onion sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a bowl with water and squeeze juice from the lemon into the water and reserve the lemon shell. Cut off the artichoke stems, peel them with a vegetable peeler, rub them all over with lemon shell (this prevents browning) and drop them into the lemon water.

Use a heavy, sharp stainless steel knife to cut the top 1 1/2 inches off an artichoke. Pull out pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom, where leaves were, is a furry bed, the choke. Use a spoon to scoop out the choke.

Next, using kitchen shears or a pair of scissors, trim pointy ends from outer leaves of artichoke. As you work, rub the lemon shell over cut parts of artichoke. When you are finished trimming, drop the artichoke into the bowl of lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

To prepare stuffing:

In a large bowl combine the panko crumbs, Parmesan, chopped parsley, rosemary, half the garlic, capers, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Toss.

In a small roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold the artichokes, scatter onion slices, artichoke stems, parsley sprigs and remaining garlic.

Holding artichokes over the stuffing bowl, stuff each choke cavity and in between the leaves with the bread crumb mixture.

Stand stuffed artichokes upright in the baking dish and generously drizzle olive oil over the center of each artichoke.

Fill the baking dish with water until it reaches 1/4 of the way up the artichokes. Add wine and remaining salt to the water. Cover pan with foil and poke several holes in the foil.

Bake artichokes for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender; when done, a knife should be easily inserted into the artichoke and a leaf should be easily pulled out.

fish

Halibut with Braised Artichokes, Fennel and Lemon

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 9 oz package frozen artichokes, defrosted
  • 1 medium onion, halved crosswise and thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, halved crosswise, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips 
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed or ground
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for coating fish
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 halibut fillets or any white firm fish (each about 6 ounces and 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick)
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions

Squeeze juice from 1 lemon; cut the remaining lemon crosswise into very thin slices.

Put onion, fennel, artichokes, coriander, reserved lemon juice and lemon slices, 3/4 teaspoons salt, 4 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large saute pan.

Cover pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until artichokes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove to a bowl. Set aside.

Combine flour with remaining salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge fish in flour.

In the same pan heat the remaining tablespoon oil over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add fillets. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook fillets, without moving them, until the bottoms are golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Carefully turn the fish and cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily, 2 to 3 minutes more. Return artichoke mixture to the pan and warm a minute or two.

To serve: spoon 1/2 cup of the artichoke mixture onto each serving plate and top with a fish fillet. Garnish with basil.

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natural_sweetnersLooking for alternatives to refined sugars?

Natural sweeteners like unrefined brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, barley malt syrup, rice syrup, honey and agave nectar are common these days and for good reason. Each has a unique flavor and set of uses that’ll satisfy any craving for sweetness in everything from your salad dressings to your roasted pork loin.

Today, the main sources of commercial sugar are sugar cane and sugar beets, from which a variety of sugar products are made:

Granulated white sugar is common, highly-refined all-purpose sugar. Look for organic varieties for a more natural choice.

Confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar) is granulated white sugar that’s been crushed to a fine powder that is used for icing and decorations.

Unrefined brown sugar (raw sugar) is slightly purified, crystallized evaporated cane juice. This caramel-flavored sugar comes in a variety of flavors, including demerara, dark muscovado and turbinado.

Unrefined dehydrated cane juice is generally made by extracting and then dehydrating cane juice with minimal loss of the original flavor, color or nutrients.

Turbinado sugar is a sugar cane-based, minimally refined sugar. It is medium brown in color and has large crystals. It’s often mistaken for traditional brown sugar because of its light brown color, but it’s made in a different way. Many people consider it to be healthier than both white and brown sugars, since it is generally less processed and less refined. Recipes that call for turbinado sugar tend to use it as a replacement for traditional brown sugar. It contains more moisture than regular white or brown sugars, which can be beneficial in things like cookies or muffins.

natural

Honey: – the world’s oldest-known unrefined sweetener. Honey’s flavor and color are derived from the flower nectar collected by bees. This accounts for the wide range of honey available around the world. Note that dark honey generally have a stronger flavor than lighter ones. Since bees can forage up to a mile from their hive and are indiscriminate in their nectar choices, so when a particular flower is named on the label of a honey container, it simply means that flower was the predominant one in bloom in the harvest area.

Here are a few of the most popular varieties:

Clover: mild flavored and readily available in colors ranging from white to light amber

Wildflower: generally dark with a range of flavors and aromas depending on the flowers that provided the nectar

Alfalfa: light in color with a delicate flavor

Orange Blossom:  distinctive citrus flavor and aroma and light in color

Blueberry: slightly dark with a robust, full flavor

Tupelo: fragrant, light and mild

Chestnut: dark, tangy and slightly bitter with a high mineral content

Storage tip: Keep honey in an airtight container and, if used infrequently, at temperatures below 50°F. Liquid honey will eventually crystallize but can be returned easily to a liquid state by placing the container in warm water for a few minutes.

Maple syrup is simply the boiled down tree sap of the sugar maple tree. As for maple sugar, it’s twice as sweet as white sugar and has a caramel flavor. Until the arrival of the honeybee (introduced from Italy in 1630) maple sugar was the only form of concentrated sweetener in North America. Both maple syrup and maple sugar are among the least refined sweeteners.

Storage tip: Refrigerate maple syrup to help it retain flavor, prevent slow fermentation and mold formation. When you store it right, maple syrup will keep for a year or more. If your syrup develops sugar crystals, simply warm the syrup to dissolve them.

Molasses: With its strong, fragrant dark caramel flavor, it is about 65% as sweet as sugar and is actually produced during the refining of sugar. (The syrup remains after the available sucrose has been crystallized from sugar cane juice.) Light molasses is from the first boiling of the cane, dark molasses is from the second and blackstrap, the third. Though molasses can be sulfured or unsulfured, unsulfured molasses is preferred because the fumes used in manufacturing sugar aren’t retained as sulfur in the molasses.

Date sugar is not extracted from anything. It’s just dried dates, pulverized into a powder. Date sugar is very sweet. It clumps and doesn’t melt, so it can’t be used in all the ways we use white sugar. Still you can usually substitute it in recipes that call for brown sugar. Some cooks suggest that you use only two-thirds the amount of date sugar in place of brown or white sugar called for in your recipe, otherwise, the end result may taste too sweet.

Barley Malt Syrup: Made from soaked and sprouted barley, which is dried and cooked down to make a thick syrup. Barley malt is a sweetener that’s slowly digested and gentler on blood sugar levels than other sweeteners.

Storage tip: I keep this sweetener in the refrigerator, so it does not develop mold.

Rice Syrup: Made in almost the same way as barley syrup and it is usually a combination of rice and barley. Some of the best Chai teas are sweetened with rice syrup.

Agave: Nectar is a multi-purpose sweetener obtained from the core of the Mexican Agave cactus, the same plant whose sap is a source of tequila. Agave nectar may resemble honey — its color ranges from pale to dark amber — but it’s slightly less viscous and dissolves more easily in liquids. Keep in mind that agave nectar is about 25% sweeter than sugar and that darker agave nectar has a more robust flavor with a hint of molasses.

So which one is the best?

The truth is that no sugar, regardless of where it comes from, will ever be optimal for regular consumption. From the above natural sweeteners, blackstrap molasses and pure maple syrup are the most nutritious. But whatever sweetener you choose, make sure that you get the least processed, pure version of it! In other words, if you are going to consume a sweetener, it is best if it comes from the fruit, herb or vegetable kingdom and be as raw/living as possible (not overheated and not overly processed) for optimum health.

Want to substitute natural sweeteners for refined sugar in recipes, keep this guide handy.

Sweetener

Substitution Ratio

Reduce Liquid?

Confectioners’ sugar

1 3/4 cups for each 1 cup sugar

No

Brown sugar

1 cup firmly packed for each 1 cup sugar

No

Turbinado sugar

1 cup for each 1 cup sugar

No

Maple syrup

3/4 cup for each 1 cup sugar

Reduce by 3 tablespoons

Honey

3/4 cup for each 1 cup sugar

Reduce by 1/4 cup

Barley malt or rice syrup

3/4 cup for each 1 cup sugar

Reduce by 1/4 cup

Molasses

1 1/4 cups for each 1 cup sugar

Reduce by 5 tablespoons for each cup used

wafflesOld-Fashioned Waffles (Barley Malt Syrup)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond milk or 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons barley malt syrup (room temperature)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions

Preheat a waffle iron.

In a large bowl, use a fork or whisk to vigorously mix the milk, vinegar, oil and barley malt syrup.

Add remaining dry ingredients and mix together until the  batter is smooth.

Coat the waffle irons with non-stick cooking spray and cook waffles according to waffle iron instructions.

carrotmuff

Carrot Spice Muffins (Agave Nectar)

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or a mixture of 3/4 cups whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flours)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax-seed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (about 3)
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick spray or use muffin liners.

Mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Add the liquid to the dry and mix just long enough to combine. Add the carrots and raisins and stir to combine.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups–it will be very thick.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

ham

Ham with Maple Syrup and Orange Marmalade Glaze

Ingredients:

  • 1 (7-pound) pre-cooked spiral-sliced ham
  • 1 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Using a sharp paring knife, make shallow crosshatch cuts all over the outside of the ham. Arrange ham in a large roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine syrup, marmalade, juice, ground cinnamon, pepper and cloves in a small bowl to make a glaze. After the ham has baked for 30 minutes, remove it from oven and increase the oven temperature to 425°F.

Arrange oranges and cinnamon sticks around ham in the roasting pan, then brush ham and oranges liberally all over with the glaze, pouring remaining glaze over the ham. Return to the oven and bake, basting about every 10 minutes, until ham is hot throughout and caramelized on the outside, about 45 minute more.

Transfer ham to a platter and set aside to let rest for 15 minutes. Arrange oranges and cinnamon sticks around the ham and serve.

honey-dressing-sl-1886379-x

Broccoli with Honey-Lemon Dressing

Serve this salad dressing over fresh garden greens, steamed green beans, asparagus or broccoli.

Makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 head of broccoli, steamed

Directions

Whisk together chopped fresh parsley and next 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If chilled, let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Whisk before serving. Pour over cooked broccoli before serving.

gingerbread

Gingerbread Squares (Molasses)

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat (1% or 2%) milk
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • Cooking spray for the pan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper, letting paper extend about 1 inch over the short ends of the pan. Spray the paper and flour the pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat oil and brown sugar together until light. Beat in molasses. Beat in eggs one at a time. In 3 additions, stir in flour mixture, alternating with additions of milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in 2 tablespoons of crystallized ginger.

Scrape batter into the prepared pan and level the top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Lift gingerbread out with the edges of the paper and cut into 12 squares.

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                           La Lingua Della Cucina

The passion that Italians bring to the kitchen is reflected in the language that they use to describe techniques and individual ingredients or recipes. Since Americans first started cooking spaghetti and tomato sauce in their homes in the early part of the twentieth century, they have expanded their preparation of Italian foods within the home. Lasagna, risotto, chicken cacciatore, minestrone, tiramisu –  just to name a few; all came to be commonly prepared in the homes of Americans over the last century.

At the time when Julia Child caused a sensation by convincing American cooks that they could create the wonders of classic French cuisine in their own kitchens, Italian food was already a loved and accepted mainstay of the American diet. Today, it seems more popular than ever. America’s steady love of Italian food, in recent years fueled by a host of cookbooks and television shows, has thrust Italian home cooking once again into the spotlight. Attracted to “authentic” Italian food’s simplicity and affordability, Americans have taken to cooking Italian food at home.

Here are some of the culinary terms, you will most often come in contact with in your Italian cooking.

Aioli – A garlic mayonnaise is a delicious accompaniment to cold or hot grilled vegetables, steamed or boiled artichokes, boiled potatoes and grilled or baked fish and shellfish.

Al dente – “To the teeth.” The expression is used to describe pasta that is still firm and chewy when bitten into. When pasta is al dente, it is considered fully cooked and ready to eat.

Al forno - an expression used for baked or roasted in the forno (oven). Pasta al forno is a layered pasta, much like lasagna, but made with a shorter shaped pasta, such as penne or ziti.

Antipasto – Translates as before the meal, i.e. pasto, and not before the pasta, as some mistakenly believe. A selection of antipasti can be modest or extravagant, but in all aspects of Italian food, quality is always more important than quantity.

Arancine – ‘little oranges” are rice croquettes, perhaps stuffed with veal or a soft cheese such as caciocavallo or a cow’s milk mozzarella. Their orange hue originates from the addition of saffron to the rice and the subsequent frying in vegetable oil.

Arrabbiata – “Angry.” A tomato-based pasta sauce spiced with chilis and Amatriciano is a similar spicy sauce with the addition of pancetta.

Bagna Cauda - a warm anchovy–olive oil sauce served as a dip for vegetables.

Battuto – The action of the knife striking ingredients against the cutting board, in short, the first stage of the preparation of any dish, which requires basic and efficient skills with a sharp blade.

Besciamella - More commonly referred to in the French form, béchamel, this cooked sauce of butter, flour, milk and some nutmeg is often used in baked pasta dishes and as a sauce for vegetable side dishes, such as cauliflower.

Bolognese – A pasta sauce native to the Bologna area of Italy. It traditionally features finely chopped meats and a soffrito of onions, celery and carrots with a small amount of tomato paste.

Bufala – The water buffalo of the southern region of Campania produce the milk for the softest, creamiest form of mozzarella cheese. So very delicate in flavor that it is better used in a salad (Caprese Salad) instead of on a cooked dish, such as pizza.

Burro – Butter is traditionally viewed as the favored fat in northern italy where it is used for sautéing.

Capelli d’agelo – “Angel hair.” Long, thin strands of pasta that are thinner than capellini.

Carbonara – a spaghetti sauce based on eggs, cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano), bacon (guanciale or pancetta) and black pepper.

Contorni - Accompaniment to the meat or fish course of the meal, usually consisting of prepared vegetables such, as green beans, spinach or braised fennel.

Crostini – toasted bread, but usually topped with chopped tomatoes or porcini mushrooms or roasted peppers or chicken livers – called crostini in Tuscany and bruschetta in Rome.

Dolce -or the plural form, i dolci, on restaurant menus, refers to the sweet or dessert course of the meal, such as zabaglione, tiramisu and gelato (ice cream).

Fiorentina -a substantial slab of meat roughly equating to an American T bone steak. Not to be tackled without a hearty appetite.

Formaggio - cheese.

Insalata – The salad course, usually positioned between the main (meat or fish) course and the dessert, can consist of a simple bowl of greens or something more elaborate. Olive oil combined with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little seasoning, or perhaps balsamic vinegar used sparingly, is all that is required to make the perfect dressing.

Polpette – meatballs.

Pomodoro – a meatless tomato sauce. The name means “golden apple” and refers to tomatoes that are yellow in color. Yes, I know – tomatoes are red. Here is the story:

David Gentilcore, professor of early modern history at the University of Leicester, writes, “ When explorers first brought tomatoes to Europe from the New World, they also brought over tomatillos. Tomatoes and tomatillos were considered interchangeable (they are botanical and culinary cousins) and many tomatillos are yellow. Italy and most of the rest of Europe soon took a pass on the tomatillo, but the name stuck. “Pomodoro” it was.”

Primavera – “Spring.” A pasta sauce traditionally made in the spring that features fresh vegetables as the main ingredient.

Primo - The first course (after the antipasto), hence the name, it usually involves a risotto or pasta dish.

Puttanesca - (literally “a la whore” in Italian) is a tangy, somewhat salty pasta sauce containing tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and garlic.

Saltimbocca -( literally “jump into the mouth”). In Rome this dish is prepared with veal and prosciutto crudo, or cured meat, and sage, all held together by a skewer in a sauce of  white wine or marsala. Chicken and pork cutlets work just as well.

Secondo – the main dish of the menu that usually consists of meat or fish.

Semolina – A coarse flour made from durum wheat: a hard wheat with a high protein/low moisture content and a long shelf life.

Soffritto – the foundation of many Italian recipes, especially a pasta sauce or a braise of beef or lamb. It consists of finely diced carrots, onion, garlic and celery, or any combination of them depending on the recipe.

Below are a few sample courses to get you started.

Antipasto

Flatbreads w/Onion Raita, Grilled Pumpernickel w/Avocado, Charred Corn & Tomato Salad & Bruschetta w/Straccitatella, favas, mint & Lemon. A110526 Food & Wine Fast Sept 2011

Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Favas Beans

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups canned fava beans (Progresso is a good brand), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 16 grilled baguette slices
  • 1/4 pound buffalo mozzarella, torn into thin strips
  • Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves

Directions

Transfer the favas to a food processor and add the oil, lemon juice and zest and pulse to a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the fava-bean puree on the toasts and top with the mozzarella strips. Drizzle the toasts with the balsamic vinegar and scatter the basil on top.

Primo

primavera

Pasta Primavera

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti or linguine
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Shaved Parmesan

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and green beans; cook 4 minutes. Add peppers and cook 1 more minute. Scoop out vegetables with a large slotted spoon and place in a colander.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook to the al dente stage, about 7-8 minutes. Drain; return to the pot.

In a mixing bowl, combine half-and-half, chicken broth, cornstarch, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the half-and-half mixture and simmer for a few minutes, stirring until slightly thickened.

Add cooked vegetables and tomatoes. Cook, stirring a few times, for about 2 minutes.

Pour into the pot with the pasta and stir gently. Add grated Parmesan and parsley. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Serve in pasta bowls with shaved Parmesan on top.

Secondo

chicken-scarpariello

Chicken Scarpariello

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 small skinless, boneless chicken thighs (2 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise and lightly smashed
  • 4 large rosemary sprigs, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup spicy Italian pickled peppers, sliced

Directions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned and crusty on both sides, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Transfer the chicken to a platter, leaving the rosemary and garlic in the skillet.

Add the stock to the skillet and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and butter and swirl until emulsified.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Add the peppers and cook, turning the chicken until coated in the sauce, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the chicken and sauce to a platter and serve.

Food & Wine, American Express Publishing

Spinach Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarse dry bread crumbs (see tip below)
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Directions

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat until foaming. Add the anchovies and cook until dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Add the thyme sprigs and let steep for 20 minutes. Discard the thyme and season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet, toast the bread crumbs over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, about 4 minutes. Let the bread crumbs cool.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach with half of the dressing and half of the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the salad to plates or a platter and top with the remaining bread crumbs and the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pass the remaining dressing at the table and serve with lemon wedges.

MAKE AHEAD

The bagna cauda dressing can be refrigerated overnight. Warm gently before using.

To make bread crumbs, tear 2 slices of day-old white bread into pieces, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 300°F oven until dried but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times until coarse crumbs form.

Dolce

cake

Almond Crusted Limoncello Pound Cake

16 servings

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 3/4 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • Grated zest & juice of 2 large lemons, divided
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Limoncello
  • Oil for coating the pan

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup Limoncello
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Use a pastry brush to thoroughly oil a 12 cup bundt pan, then sprinkle almonds evenly in the pan and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest, reserving the lemon juice for later use, with the mixer on low speed until creamy, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 cup of cake flour, blending well, then add the salt and remaining eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add the remaining flour with 3 tablespoons Limoncello, beating just until mixture is well blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, gently tapping the filled pan on the counter a few times.

Bake in the preheated oven until a wooden skewer inserted near the center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.

Just before the cake is done, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, blend Limoncello, reserved lemon juice, sugar and butter. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 2 minutes.

Remove cake from oven after it tests done, then pour the glaze mixture over the top of the hot cake while still in the pan.

Let cake cool in the pan, placed on a wire rack. The glaze will be absorbed into the cake as it cools.

When the cake is cooled, invert it onto a serving plate and serve.

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Surprisingly, there are a number of foods that make winter their season and, if you stock up on these basics, cooking satisfying and wholesome meals in the dead of winter will be doable. Availability will vary from region to region, but here’s a general list of foods that make winter their season, along with tips on how to incorporate these ingredients into your meals.

Winter Vegetables

Kale. This hearty green is a rich source of minerals (including calcium), and although it is available year-round, it actually tastes the sweetest in the winter. To eat, wash leaves thoroughly and tear them into small pieces—discarding the tough stem. Place in a steamer and steam until tender (five minutes). Sauté in garlic olive oil with a sprinkling of salt as a side dish or toss right into a hot bowl of soup to boost its nutritional content.

Leeks. A mild-flavored member of the onion family and an essential ingredient in potato-leek soup, this winter vegetable adds delicious flavor to many recipes. Try them in your favorite winter stew.

Radicchio. A type of bitter lettuce, radicchio can be grilled or used in salads.

Radishes. Most commonly used in green salads and vegetable trays, this spicy root vegetable can also be cooked as a side dish. Thinly slice radishes and steam them until tender. Then sauté steamed radishes in butter with a few cloves of garlic, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of dried dill weed.

Rutabaga. Another root vegetable, try mashed rutabagas instead of mashed potatoes.

Turnips. These spicy root vegetables can be braised, sautéed, pickled or roasted. As a rule, smaller turnips are usually tastier than large ones.

Winter Fruits

Depending on your region, these citrus fruits may be abundant at this time of the year. While they’re fabulous straight out of the peel, there are some creative alternatives for enjoying these vitamin-rich fruits.

Grapefruit. Try an orange-grapefruit-pomegranate compote for a healthy dessert.

Lemons. Whip up a batch of lemon bars.

Oranges. How about some freshly-squeezed orange juice to start your day? Also try adding orange zest to some of your favorite baked goods, like muffins and sweet breads.

Tangerines. Toss a peeled tangerine into a blender along with frozen banana chunks and some orange juice for a smoothie.

 

Salads are a tasty, easy meal solution no matter what the time of year. Preparing delicious salads, even warm salads, in winter are as simple as knowing what’s in season.

This time of year switch to cold-weather vegetables like broccoli, beets and squash and seasonal fruits like pears and citrus. Add roasted root vegetables and more flavorful dressings to balance the heartier tastes and textures of winter produce.

For a full-meal salad, finish with cooked beans, meat, poultry or seafood and a bit of cheese and toasted nuts.

Ready to put it all together? Start with a mix of greens such as baby kale, spinach, arugula, Napa cabbage or your favorite salad greens.

Add one of these combinations and toss with your favorite dressing. See how to make an easy dressing at home below.

• Radishes, chives, citrus segments

• Bean sprouts, ginger, green onions, almonds

• Red peppers, corn, chiles, lime

• Radicchio, garlic, lemon, watercress

• Roasted turnips, sliced apples, tarragon

• Carrots, fennel, walnuts, citrus segments

• Roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, chives

• Roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced apples, pine nuts

• Roasted butternut squash, pears, pecans

• Watercress, beets (roasted or grated raw), citrus segments

Homemade Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing Ingredients

Enjoying a salad bowl filled with winter lettuce, red onions, fresh herbs, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, peppers and more is a great way to kick off the New Year. But the veggies are only half the picture. The salad dressing on top can turn that healthy choice into an unhealthy one. A quick trip down the salad dressing aisle at any conventional grocery store features an astounding array of bottled chemicals, sugars and high fructose corn syrup, overly processed oils and preservatives.

On the other hand, a good salad dressing not only adds great flavor but nutritional value as well. It’s actually quite simple to make your own dressing. Nuts and fruits can make for a creamy and flavorful salad dressing. Save money by using your imagination and what’s in your pantry to come up with new flavor combinations.

Here’s a starter recipe for a healthy salad dressing:

1/3 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts, cashews, almonds or pecans

1/2 cup chopped fresh fruit, such as apples, plums, peaches, blueberries or strawberries

1/4 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk or fruit juice, such as pomegranate or orange

1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice (or vinegar)

Purée all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender until smooth. For thinner dressings, add a little more soy milk or fruit juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon or lime juice as needed.

Making your own dressing really doesn’t take much time. Try it and see for yourself!

If you do buy bottled dressings, be sure to look for preservative and additive-free dressings based on ingredients such as vinegar, mustard and expeller-pressed oils. Shy away from buying dressing made with added sugar, fructose or high fructose corn syrup.

Red Apple Salad with Oranges and Feta

Ingredients

  • 3 seedless oranges
  • 6 cups baby arugula
  • 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese

Directions

Grate rind from 1 orange into a small bowl and set aside.

Peel all the oranges and section. Reserve juice, squeezing more for the dressing if needed. Combine arugula, orange sections and apple in a large bowl.

Whisk 3 tablespoons orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper with orange rind in a small bowl. Pour over salad and toss gently. Spoon onto individual serving plates and sprinkle with feta.

Kale Salad with Almonds

Kale Salad

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head Tuscan, black, or Dino kale
  • 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
  • 1 small shallot or garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Rinse kale leaves and pat them dry. Trim off stem ends and slice the leaves, crosswise, into ribbon-like pieces. Set aside.

Finely mince the shallot or garlic clove and put it in a large salad bowl. Add vinegar and sugar and let sit 10 minutes. Whisk in oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Add kale and almonds. Toss gently until the leaves are evenly coated.

Spinach Salad with Figs

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
  • 8 ounces spinach, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 dried figs, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or cheese of choice

Directions

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; pour off 1 tablespoon of the fat and set aside. Leave 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the skillet and discard any additional fat. Crumble the bacon, when it has cooled and set aside.

Add chickpeas to the skillet with the bacon fat and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and slightly crisped, 7 to 10 minutes. Place spinach in a large bowl; scatter chickpeas over spinach.

Remove skillet from heat and whisk in vinegar (watch out, as mixture may spatter). Add mustard and, while skillet is still warm, whisk in reserved bacon fat and olive oil. Quickly scrape dressing into bowl with spinach and chickpeas. Add figs and crumbled bacon. Toss together and sprinkle with blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Radicchio Salad With Green Olive Dressing

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head radicchio
  • 18 green olives
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Trim the radicchio and cut or tear it into shreds or bite-size pieces. Put the radicchio in a large salad bowl.

Mince the olives and garlic into a paste. Then mix with oil, vinegar or lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. (You can also do this in a blender, if you like.)

Toss the radicchio with the dressing. Serve topped with plenty of shredded Parmesan cheese.

Pear Fennel Walnut Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 2 pears
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions

Trim the fennel, cut the bulb in half lengthwise and slice the fennel very thinly. Core the pears and slice them very thinly. You can peel the pears, if you prefer. I like to leave it on.

In a large bowl, toss the fennel and pear slices with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice (this will help keep the fennel and pear slices from browning).

Whisk the walnut oil, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juic, and salt to combine.

Arrange the fennel and pears on 4 plates and drizzle each plate with dressing. Sprinkle walnuts on top. Serve immediately.


In many countries, new year celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. On this day revelers often enjoy foods that are thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people eat a dozen grapes right before midnight-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and insure future financial success, as in Italy where lentils are eaten and in the southern United States where black-eyed peas are served for dinner. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary and Portugal. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, are found on the table in the Netherlands, Mexico and Greece. In Sweden and Norway rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve. It is said that whoever finds the almond can expect 12 months of good fortune.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular, “Auld Lang Syne”. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot.

Times Square

In the United States, the most well known New Year’s Eve tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 700-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere, 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds. Various towns and cities across America have developed their own versions of the Times Square ritual, organizing public drops of symbolic items ranging from pickles to pelicans to possums at midnight.

New Year’s Eve is a perfect opportunity to show your softer side by planning a romantic dinner for the special person in your life. Enjoying delicious food in a romantic setting with someone you care about is the perfect way to help make sure your New Year’s Eve is special. Here is a suggested festive dinner menu for two, that is intended to inspire your planning for a special evening.  The cooking of this dinner comes together quickly, if you do most of the preparation ahead of time, so that you have plenty of time to enjoy the evening with your loved one.

Italian Rice Balls

Rice symbolizes prosperity and wealth, so rice balls are good for New Year’s and wedding celebrations in many cultures. Another nice touch you can use with these is to put a small cube of mozzarella cheese in the middle of each rice ball. The rice balls can be prepared ahead of time and reheated in a moderate oven.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, in cubes (optional)
  • Marinara Sauce

Directions

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, basil, pepper and salt; cover and refrigerate.

Pour the chicken broth and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a large saucepan and bring to a boil; stir in the rice, cover and reduce the heat to low.

Cook the rice until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 17 minutes.

Remove the pan the from heat and gradually pour in egg mixture, continually stirring rapidly to coat the surface of the rice and prevent the egg from scrambling; allow rice mixture to cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Pour bread crumbs into a shallow dish.

Dampen your hands with water and roll 1-inch balls from the rice mixture. If using the mozzarella, insert a cube in the center of the rice ball. Be sure the rice completely covers the mozzarella.

Coat each rice ball with bread crumbs.

In a small, deep skillet, heat enough oil to an adequately brown the rice balls. Fry the balls 4 to 6 at a time, turning as needed to ensure even browning. Drain on paper towels.

Serve warm with heated marinara sauce.

Arugula and Tomato Salad 

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1 tomato, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Champagne Vinaigrette

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground black pepper

Directions

Champagne Vinaigrette

In a jar with a screw top lid, combine shallots, oil, champagne vinegar, lemon peel, salt and ground black pepper. Cover and shake well.  Makes about 1/2 cup.

Salad

Arrange greens, tomatoes, cheese and hazelnuts on two serving plates. Dress with some of the salad dressing.

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca

Ingredients

  • 2 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 4 thin strips
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Lemon wedges (optional)
  • ½ bunch asparagus

Directions

Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Place 3 sage leaves on each cutlet; wrap 2 prosciutto slices around each cutlet, securing sage leaves in place.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place asparagus on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven to roast until desired tenderness, usually 15 minutes.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add chicken to the pan; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Combine broth, lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Place chicken and asparagus on serving plates and spoon sauce over chicken. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Chocolate Truffles With Liqueur

The truffle yield will depend on how small you roll the truffles; You should get at least 15.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature ( do not use margarine)
  • 2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted through a sieve to remove lumps
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for coating or rolling

Directions

In a microwave using medium-low power, melt chocolate in a medium-sized bowl– about 1 minute.

Whisk in butter and egg yolk until blended; then whisk in liqueur and powdered sugar until smooth.

Cover and refrigerate until firm enough to shape, about 1 hour.

Shape mixture into small balls, roll balls in cocoa, then place in tiny foil or paper cups.

The rolling process can be a bit of a messy job; if mixture gets too soft, return it to the refrigerator to stiffen up again.

Keep truffles refrigerated in a covered container; remove about 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off them.


The second Monday in October is designated in the United States as Columbus Day. This day commemorates Christopher Columbus’ first voyage and sighting of the Americas on October 12, 1492. However, Columbus Day as a federal holiday was not officially recognized until 1937.

The first Columbus Day celebration took place in 1792, when New York’s Tammany Hall–held an event to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the historic landing.. Taking pride in Columbus’ birthplace and faith, Italian and Catholic communities in various parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage with patriotic festivities, writing, “On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”

President Johnson signed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill in 1968, making Columbus Day a federal holiday celebrated annually on the second Monday in October. The bill took effect in January, 1971.

Columbus' boats at Rabida - Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria

Full scale replicas of Columbus’ three ships, Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, moored at Rabida in Andalucia

Some historians have argued that Columbus came from Spain or Portugal, but such theories have been discounted thanks to the discovery of various documents. The Galata Museum of the Sea holds one of the most important documents to demonstrate the navigator’s Genoese origins. Known as the ‘Documento Assereto’ (Documento Assereto) after the man who discovered it in the Genoese state archives in 1904. The document was written in Genoa on 25 August 1479 by a notary. In it, the young Columbus declares that he is a Genoese citizen and about to set off in search of financial backing.

(Sources: http://www.italymagazine.com/ and

http://www.galatamuseodelmare.it/jsp/index.jsp)

The fact that he was an Italian citizen and put America on the map is the reason why Italian Americans are proud to celebrate him. He only sailed for Spain, because they provided the money. In many parts of the United States, Columbus Day has evolved into a celebration of Italian-American heritage. Local groups host parades and street fairs featuring colorful costumes, music and Italian food.

Columbus was born in Genoa in the northwestern region of Liguria in Italy. So when you get home from the parade this afternoon, celebrate Columbus Day with a few authentic Genovese dishes that are easy to do.

Vongole al Forno (Baked Clams)

Ingredients

  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Italian Parsley, Finely Chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Dozen Cherrystone Clams, Cleaned, Shucked & Half the Shells Reserved
  • 3 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Melted Butter
  • Lemon Wedges

Directions

Preheat broiler.

Combine the garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

For an easy way to open clams, see my post: http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/10/08/pasta-night/

In a small bowl, combine clams with lemon juice. Divide clams one to each half shell and top each half shell with some breadcrumb mixture.

Drizzle melted butter over each clamshell and broil until the top is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with lemon.

Trenette with Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb. Trenette Pasta
  • 1 Cup Fresh Basil
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Smashed
  • 2 Oz. Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 1 Oz. Grated Pecorino Cheese
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Oz. Pine Nuts
  • Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Directions

Place basil, garlic and cheeses in a food processor. Pulse while slowly drizzling olive oil into the processor. Once creamy, transfer to a bowl, season with salr and pepper and stir in pine nuts.

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and place in a serving bowl. Toss pasta with pesto mixture, Adjust seasoning and sprinkle additional cheese over the dish, if desired.

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Serves 4 to 8

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large crusty baguette (whole-wheat preferred)
  • 1 tight-packed cup (5 to 6 ounces) shredded Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients, except the bread and cheese, and set over medium-low heat. When the butter melts, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes to soften the garlic. Take care not to brown it. Once the garlic is soft, uncover the pan and simmer until you hear the mixture sizzling. This is the signal that the water has cooked off. Take the pan off the heat immediately.

Split the baguette in half horizontally. Divide the garlic blend between the two halves. Sprinkle each with half of the cheese. Set them on a foil-covered baking sheet, cheese side up, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Slice, and serve hot.

Mixed Green Salad

Fresh greens are all a salad needs

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups torn Italian salad greens
  • 1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin

Directions

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, basil and pepper flakes; shake well.

In a salad bowl, combine the greens and onion. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.

Yield: 6 servings.

Tiramisu

Ingredients

SYRUP:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua

FILLING:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup dark or light rum
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 6 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 (3-ounce) packages ladyfingers

TOPPING:

  • 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa for dusting

Directions

To make the syrup, blend the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture for about 5 minutes and set it aside.

To make the filling, combine the sugar, cream cheese, rum, ricotta, yogurt and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed to blend well, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually pour in the whipping cream. Partially cover the bowl with plastic wrap, so that it doesn’t splatter while it whips, and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until thickened (about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes).

To assemble, line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform or the bottom of a 9 x 13- inch pan with a layer of the ladyfingers. Drizzle 4 to 6 tablespoons of the syrup over the top. Spread half of the filling over the syrup-soaked ladyfingers. Cover with the remaining ladyfingers and drizzle about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the syrup over the top. Spread the remaining filling over the top and use a spatula to smooth.

Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Before serving, dust the top with cocoa (using a sifter or dusting cup).

Happy Columbus Day Everyone


Basil is undoubtedly the most loved and popular herb in Italy. Although we tend to associate the herb with Italy and other Mediterranean countries, it actually originated in India and was brought to the Mediterranean via the spice routes in ancient times. Tulsi, as the herb is known in Hindi, means “Sacred Basil,” and some of the many varieties of the plant were incorporated into Indian cooking centuries ago. From India, basil traveled not only to Europe and Africa, but spread to other parts of Asia as well, most notably to Thailand. Today, there are at least a dozen varieties grown for culinary use.

Sweet Basil (Ocimum bacilicum) and, its close relative, basilico genovese are the only varieties used in Italian cooking. Its flavor has been described as spicy and peppery, with a hint of clove and mint – but of course this doesn’t come close to capturing its unique essence. Perhaps it’s more helpful to talk about what it pairs with best: olive oil, garlic, lemon, rosemary and thyme – and, of course, tomatoes. Basil and tomatoes seem to have been made for each other – as in the famous, insalata caprese – tomato mozzarella salad, as well as, tomato sauces. But, this herb also enhances other vegetables – such as zucchini and eggplant, to name just a few, and is widely used in many pasta dishes.

If you’re growing basil in your garden or on a window sill,  cut the basil leaves, often, from the top of each stem. The leaves grow back quickly and stronger. Basil preserves well in oil and can also be frozen. It is rich in antioxidants and, some claim , it has anticancer and antiviral properties. In Italy, basil is believed to help along the after-lunch nap that millions of Italians still enjoy on hot summer afternoons.

Basil is one herb in particular that really shines when it’s fresh. Just think of a homemade marinara sauce using fresh basil — would it be the same using dried? But beyond those familiar dishes we most associate with basil (tomato sauce, pizza, meatballs, pesto), the herb can actually work wonderfully well in many more dishes, including cocktails and desserts.

Basil is my favorite herb and I grow quite a bit of it every year – at least 4 containers worth, Naturally, I cannot let it go to waste. As a result I have become very creative in using this herb in any number of ways. I also freeze it for use in winter time tomato sauces. Not quite as good as the fresh leaves, but way better than dried.

Emerald Gimlet

1 Serving

Ingredients:

  • 3 big basil leaves
  • Ice Cubes
  • 1/2 ounce Lemon Simple Syrup
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces good Vodka

Lemon Simple Syrup:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

Mix the basil leaves with ice in a cocktail shaker. Add lemon simple syrup, lime juice and vodka. Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a lime slice or a basil leaf.

To make lemon simple syrup: 

Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring regularly until the sugar dissolves.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for one minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it rest until it cools to room temperature.

Add the lemon juice and stir with a wooden spoon or disposable stirrer.

Transfer the lemon simple syrup to a sterilized glass bottle. Store the simple syrup in the refrigerator between uses.

 

Fresh Basil Vinaigrette

Fresh basil and a bit of garlic are whirled into a simple fresh basil vinaigrette for your next salad.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basil leaves (about 1 large bunch)
  • 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, whirl the basil, oil, vinegar and garlic until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 1 cup.

Corn, Tomato & Basil Salad

Use only the freshest, sweetest corn for this recipe – corn that’s so tender and sweet you can eat it raw! This salad is wonderful as a side with any grilled meal or as part of any no-cook summer dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 ears sweet corn
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs basil

Directions:

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix oil, vinegar and salt. Add onion to the dressing. Set dressing aside.

Husk corn and cut off kernels. Core, seed and chop tomatoes. Cut basil into thin strips (chiffonade).

Toss corn and tomatoes with the dressing. Let marinate for a few hours at room temperature.

Sprinkle with basil and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Chilled Summer Squash and Basil Soup

4 Serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds mixed summer squash
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cups homemade or store-bought vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Lemon quarters for serving

Directions:

Roughly chop the squash, onion and garlic.

In a large saucepan heat oil; add squash and garlic. Cook vegetables gently to soften, partly covered, in the heated oil, stirring now and again.

Pour in 4 cups of the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Add 3/4 cups of the basil leaves, then blend together with an immulsion blender until smooth with tiny flecks of basil visible. Season to taste.

Allow to cool, then chill for four hours or overnight. The soup may be a little thick, but the basil ice and lemon juice addition will thin it.

Meanwhile, place the remaining basil leaves and the remaining stock in a shallow container. Push the basil into a single layer and freeze the mixture until set.

Break the ice into cubes and add pieces of the basil ice to each serving of soup. Garnish with lemon quarters.

 

Orange-Basil Grilled Mahi-Mahi

2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound filleted Mahi-Mahi, skin on (or fish of choice)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons shredded basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steamed green beans, for serving

Directions:

Make the sauce by combining and mixing the ingredients together. Set aside.

Oil and lightly salt the fish. Place fish on a greased grill pan, skin side up, then slide the pan under a hot broiler until the skin is blistered.

Turn the fish over with a wide spatula and spoon on some of the sauce.

Cook for a minute or two. Lift fish onto plates (or shallow bowls) and pour over the rest of the sauce.

Serve with green beans.

Tip: Take care not to overcook the fish; – it must stay moist to be at its best.

Basil Stuffed Zucchini

Zucchini stuffed with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil make a fresh summer side dish. For the nicest presentation, use long, relatively skinny zucchini.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium 2-inch-wide zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions:

Trim both ends off the zucchini and cut each in half lengthwise. Cut a thin slice off the underside of each zucchini, so each half sits flat. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Finely chop the pulp; set aside.

Place the zucchini halves in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and microwave on High until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. (Alternatively, steam in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water in a large skillet or pot.)

Whisk oil, vinegar, shallot and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cheese, basil and the reserved zucchini pulp; toss to combine. Divide the filling among the zucchini. Serve.

 

Grilled Beef Braciole with Tomato-Basil Sauce

Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves

For the beef:

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

3 (8-inch) pieces butcher’s twine, soaked in cold water

Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Directions:

Heat the grill to high and oil the grill grates.

For the sauce:

Cut the tomatoes in half, brush them with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the tomatoes on all sides until slightly charred and soft. Remove the tomatoes from the grill, chop and place in a serving bowl.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, onion, vinegar, basil and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Set aside while the beef cooks.

For the beef:

Place the steak on a flat surface.

Combine the cheese, basil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the steak on the side facing up with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over the steak, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the sides.

Starting with the long end, tightly roll the meat up like a jelly roll and tightly tie with the butcher’s twine on the ends and in the center. Brush the entire outside of the steak with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place on the grill, seam-side up and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before slicing into 1/2-inch thick slices. Serve several slices per person topped with some of the tomato sauce. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

 

Green Apple and Basil Granita

8 Servings

Guests will welcome this refreshing granita after a heavy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1,000-mg) tablet vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

Equipment: cheesecloth

Directions:

Crush the vitamin C tablet in a large bowl with the back of a spoon. (Vitamin C will keep the basil bright and green.)

Line a sieve with a dampened triple-layer of cheesecloth and set it over the bowl with the vitamin C.

Puree apples with the water in a food processor (do not use a blender) until almost smooth, then pour into the cheesecloth lined sieve. (Do not clean processor bowl.)

Squeeze as much clear juice as possible through the cloth and discard solids remaining in the cheesecloth.

Puree basil with sugar until it is deep green, then add apple juice mixture and puree until combined.

Freeze mixture in an 8-inch square baking dish, scraping and stirring with a fork every 30 minutes, until frozen, at least 3 hours. (It will be too hard to scrape once fully frozen.)

Make ahead: Granita can be made 2 days ahead (cover once frozen). Let stand at room temperature about 10 minutes and re-scrape before serving in glass dishes.


In the summer when fruits, vegetables and herbs are in abundance, homemade sauces and dressings made from these ingredients are simply delicious drizzled over just about anything.

When vegetables are puréed in a blender or food processor with some additional ingredients, they add bright flavor, creamy body and vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your salad bowl of leafy greens.

But don’t stop there, serve homemade no-cook sauces over grilled beef, chicken, pork or seafood, tossed with beans or pasta, drizzled over grilled vegetables or over cooked grain salads.

No-cook sauces use up produce, spice up summer foods and save time and energy during the hot summer months. Not only do herbs and vegetables taste great when eaten fresh, they’re also healthier since there’s no heat or water to dilute their nutrients.

Aside from the health benefits, no-cook sauces also eliminate the use of unhealthy fats, like butter and cream. No-cook sauces mean limited oven and stove use, which helps keep the kitchen and house cooler. The best part of no-cook sauces, though, is the aroma of fresh chopped herbs and vegetables that fills the kitchen and lingers in the air as these sauces rest a bit before being used.

During the summertime, it is great to serve pasta dishes with raw sauces; the Italians call them “pasta con salsa a crudo”. With raw sauces, there’s no cooking beyond boiling the pasta—the only heat applied to the sauce is the gentle warmth from the cooked pasta. Children usually love these dishes and they’re fast and easy to prepare. Keep your pantry well stocked with high-quality condiments (see below), check out what looks good at the market and you’ve got dinner for family or guests at a moment’s notice.

You’ll always be able to whip up easy, fast pastas if you keep ingredients like these on hand:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Prosciutto
  • Capers
  • Black and green olives
  • Anchovies
  • Dried chiles
  • Sardines
  • Canned tuna
  • Pine nuts
  • Almonds
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Fennel seeds
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Dried pasta of various shapes and sizes

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This sauce is perfect for burgers, chicken, pasta and sandwiches.

Ingredients:

  • 3 roasted red bell peppers from a large jar or homemade
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 sun-dried packed in oil, drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Place garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add roasted peppers and remaining ingredients; puree until smooth. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

No-Cook Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 large fresh vine ripe tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Chop tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Add garlic, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Toss gently.

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 2 to 4 hours

When ripe tomatoes sit at room temperature, they get juicier and juicier.

Toss this sauce with pasta or spoon it over grilled chicken, beef or vegetables.

Creamy Zucchini Dressing with Tahini and Lemon

This tart sauce perfectly dresses up grilled fish or vegetables and makes a tasty dressing for a tossed green salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (paste made from ground sesame seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender. Whirl until smooth. Makes 2 1/4 cups.

Easy No-Cook Homemade Barbecue Sauce

No cooking – just brush on your grilled meats or vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pineapple Juice

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for later. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Cucumber-Dill Sauce

Use this sauce with grilled salmon, swordfish, shrimp, baked potatoes or veggie burgers.

Makes: 4 cups

In a medium bowl, combine:

  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium red onion, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1/2 cup finely minced fresh dill
  • 4 tablespoons Champagne or white-wine vinegar
  • A few drops of Tabasco
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

When ready to serve:

Stir in 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Sauce can be stored, refrigerated, up to 3 days.

Fresh Mango-Mint Chutney

Try it with: grilled tofu, pork or tuna

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 2 large mangoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup julienned fresh mint, according to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
  • 1/2 hot red pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Directions:

Let rest at least 1 hour at room temperature. Adjust seasoning, if needed and serve.

Chutney can be stored, refrigerated, for 3 days, but it is best if consumed the same day it is made.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Experiment by trying different vinegars and mustards to perfect your blend. A mild honey such as clover or orange blossom works best in this recipe. Toss dressing with salad greens or serve as a dipping sauce for chicken, fried mozzarella sticks or vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Whisk the mayonnaise with the olive oil to combine. Whisk in remaining ingredients.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at once or chill in a covered container for up to 5 days.


 

Seafood provides a lot of meal choices, but instead of dipping shrimp into cocktail sauce or baking up a new batch of fish sticks, try adding seafood to a salad. Multiple salad mixtures are available to cater to all types of seafood, including salmon, tuna, shrimp, lobster, scallops and crab meat.

The many salad options that feature fresh seafood are both diverse and unique, combining ingredients that increase the nutritional quality of the salad, as well as the taste. Fresh lobster, grilled salmon and canned tuna are common ingredients in seafood salads. Some seafood salads may be used as a spread for sandwiches or an impressive arrangement of shellfish may be the centerpiece of a salad on a bed of lettuce or other leafy greens. Fresh herbs and spices are also used to complement the flavor of seafood and popular additions like onion, mayonnaise and egg are commonly found in the recipes.

The most common seafood salad, both because of its affordability compared to other fresh and canned fish, as well as its taste, is tuna salad. Fresh tuna can be seared, grilled, pan fried or baked and then placed over various leafy greens like romaine lettuce, spinach and arugula with the addition of a delicious dressing.

Let’s get more creative, though, and think about how other seafood options can be used to form some great salads, especially at this time of year.

Salmon in a Salad

Smoked Salmon can be cut into small strips to become the main ingredient in a salad mixture. To complement the fish, mixed greens are combined with other ingredients like pine nuts, black beans, feta cheese and sliced oranges that provide a little sweet taste. The salad mixes best with a citrus vinaigrette dressing, but Italian dressing goes well with the salad, too.

Salmon for a salad can be seared, baked, fried or grilled and is delicious on top of dressed fresh greens. The addition of tomatoes and croutons can act as a complement to the taste of the salmon. Sometimes the addition of another seafood, such as shrimp, may also be added and doesn’t usually interfere with the flavor of the salmon. Different herbs and spices, like tarragon and dill can bring out the flavor of the dish even more.

Shrimp in a Salad

Adding shrimp to a regular tossed salad adds a little crunch and chewiness. Cut up your favorite salad vegetables and mix them in with lettuce, spinach or other greens. Cook and peel fresh shrimp or simply thaw pre-cooked shrimp, cut it up and add it to the salad. Use a vinegar based dressing to get the most flavor out of the shrimp.

Lobster in a Salad

Fresh, cooked lobster meat is also a popular ingredient used in a seafood salad, but not used as often as tuna or salmon due to its cost. Diced lobster meat is often placed on a bed of lettuce leaves, with an accompanying creamy dressing. Lobster meat can also replace canned tuna in a tuna salad or as spread suitable for sandwiches or on crackers as a snack or appetizer.

Tuna in a Salad

Use a can of tuna to create a fast simple salad for lunch. Mix the tuna with shredded carrot, chopped celery, onions and a little mayonnaise. Leftover grilled tuna can be used in any number of salads.

Scallops in a Salad

Slice a mango into small cubes. Cook the scallops. Mix the scallops and the mangoes with a bed of greens to create the basic salad. Add more flavor to the salad by adding olives, cucumbers and shredded carrot or any vegetable you like in this combination. Add a citrus dressing.

Italian Seafood in a Salad

Frutti di mare, the Italian mixed seafood salad you see in deli counters and restaurants all over the country, combines a variety of seafood but most often includes squid (calamari), snails (scungilli) and octopus (polpo).

Seafood Salads

Crab, Watercress and Apple Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette

Dressing:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad:

  • 2 bunches of watercress (about 14 ounces), thick stems discarded
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab, picked over for shells, drained and toasted
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the shallot and mustard. Whisk in the walnut and olive oils and season with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, toss the watercress with 3 tablespoons of the dressing.

In another medium bowl, gently toss the crab with the celery, apple, walnuts and the remaining dressing. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the watercress to serving plates, top with the crab mixture.

Poached Shrimp, Melon and Frisée Salad

Frisée, a member of the chicory family, has a frizzy texture, as well as a deliciously bitter edge. Look for fresh-looking leaves that go from green to white.

4 Main-Course Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 1 small leek, white and tender green part only, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups water
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced cantaloupe (1/2 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced honeydew (1/2 pound)
  • 1 small head of frisée, tender inner leaves only, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine half of the fennel with the leek, garlic, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, orange zest, orange juice, white wine, water and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the saucepan and cook over low heat until pink and curled, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the shrimp marinate in the warm liquid for 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate. Halve each shrimp lengthwise and refrigerate until cool. Strain the poaching liquid, reserving 1 cup.

In a small saucepan, boil the reserved poaching liquid over high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, 15 minutes; transfer to a large bowl and whisk in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and cayenne. Add the cantaloupe, honeydew, frisée, tarragon, shrimp and the remaining sliced raw fennel. Toss gently and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Serve in a hollowed out melon half for an impressive presentation.

MAKE AHEAD The poached shrimp and dressing can be prepared up to 1 day ahead; refrigerate separately.

Grilled Tuscan Tuna Salad

Serves: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

Tuna:

  • One 1 1/2 pound fresh tuna steak
  • 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Loaf of Italian bread

Salad Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for serving
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 anchovy fillets, patted dry and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed to a paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Salad:

  • One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed well and drained again
  • 1 cup Gaeta or other Italian olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/2 bulb of fresh fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 4 ounces mixed baby greens
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh-flat leaf parsley

Directions:

For the tuna:

Remove the tuna from the refrigerator 20 minutes before grilling. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to high for direct grilling. Mix together the ground fennel, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush the tuna with oil on both sides and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Grill, turning once and cooked to medium, about 5 minutes per side. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into medium dice. Grill the bread while the tuna is resting. Brush the bread with olive oil as soon as it is finished grilling.

For the salad dressing:

Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, rosemary, anchovies, honey and garlic in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking, until it all emulsifies.

For the salad:

Combine the beans, olives, fennel, onion, tomatoes and tuna in a large bowl. Add the dressing and gently toss to coat. Add the greens, basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.

For serving:

Mound the salad on a platter and sprinkle the remaining lemon juice over the top and serve with the grilled bread

Octopus Salad with Potatoes and Green Beans

Octopus Salad with Potatoes and Green Beans

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 pounds octopus tentacles, separated
  • 1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Fill a large saucepan with water, add the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add the octopus and simmer over moderate heat for 1 hour, until tender. Let the octopus cool in the liquid, then drain. Using a paper towel, wipe the purple skin off the tentacles, leaving the suckers intact. Cut the tentacles into 1-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the green beans until tender, 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a plate and pat dry. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook until tender, 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel and dice the potatoes.

In a large bowl, combine the octopus with the potatoes, green beans, garlic, parsley and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Salmon Panzanella

4 servings, 2 cups salad with 3 ounces salmon each

Ingredients:

  • 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 thick slices day-old country bread (see Tip below)
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 pound center-cut salmon, skinned (see Tip)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat grill to high. (See Tip)

Oil the grill rack. Season both sides of salmon with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Grill the salmon until cooked through, 5 minutes per side. Cool and cut into cubes.

Brush bread with oil and grill just until grill marks form. Cut into cubes.

Whisk chopped olives, vinegar, capers and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until combined. Add bread, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and basil. Gently stir in salmon cubes.

Tips:

  • If using fresh bread, you can grill the bread slices along with the salmon and then cut them into cubes. Alternatively, cut bread into cubes, place on a baking sheet and bake at 300°F until dry.
  • How to skin a salmon fillet: Place salmon fillet on a clean cutting board, skin-side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either.
  • To oil the grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray before placing it on the grill.

Lobster Salad with Summer Vegetables

Lobster Salad with Summer Vegetables

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 1 1/4-pound live lobsters (You can also purchase steamed lobsters from your fish market.)
  • 3/4 pounds red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (cut from 2 large ears of corn)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Additional fresh basil leaves

Directions:

(Skip this step, if you buy steamed lobsters.) Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Drop 1 lobster headfirst into water. Boil until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer lobster to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining lobsters. Cool lobsters.

Twist claws and tails off lobsters. Crack claws and claw joints; remove meat. Remove lobster meat from tails. Cut lobster meat into 1/2-inch cubes. (Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.)

Steam potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute until golden and crisp, about 12 minutes. Cool.

Place tomatoes, corn, sliced basil and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in medium bowl; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Add lobster and onion to potatoes; mix in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Mound lobster and potato salad in the center of platter. Spoon tomato and corn salad around the lobster mixture. Garnish with additional basil leaves.



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