Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: potatoes


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

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

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

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

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


Pork Cutlets in Mustard Sauce

4 servings


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


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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

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

Coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

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

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

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

Serve pork with the vegetables.


Roasted Cod with Salsa

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

4 servings


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Pasta with Sausage and Peas

6 servings


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


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

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

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

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


Root Vegetable Chili

Corn muffins would go quite well with this dinner.

4 servings


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


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

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



Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Friday night can still be pizza night.

4 servings


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


Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat a large rimmed baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

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

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

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

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



The following are some of the favorite side dishes my family has come to enjoy on Thanksgiving. I don’t make all these dishes at one time but tend to rotate them each year to keep things interesting.

Italian Bread & Sausage Stuffing


Yields enough to fill a 12- to 14- pound turkey and a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.


  • 14 cups Italian bread, like ciabatta, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes (about 3 loaves)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 lb sweet Italian fennel sausage (casings removed)
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 large ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth, plus extra for the baking dish


Pile the bread cubes into a very large bowl and set aside. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula into 1-inch pieces, until light brown, about 5 minutes With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the bowl with the cubed bread.

In the fat left in the pan, sauté the onions, celery and garlic until the onions are translucent and just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes Stir in the thyme, sage, salt and pepper, cook 1 minute and then add the mixture to the cubed bread. Add the broth to the bread mixture; stir until well combined.

Put some of the stuffing in the turkey just before roasting. Pack the stuffing loosely, leaving enough room to fit your whole extended hand into the bird’s cavity. Cook the stuffing in the turkey in a 325 degree F oven to 165ºF, checking with an instant-read thermometer.

Place the remaining stuffing in a casserole dish or large baking pan, pour a cup or two of extra stock over the stuffing to replace the juices the stuffing would have absorbed from the turkey. Bake it covered until heated through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. For a crunchy top, uncover it for the last 15 minutes of baking.

Polenta-Stuffed Squash


Makes 6 servings


  • 3 acorn squash, each about one pound
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, minced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup fine to medium ground polenta or cornmeal
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 ounces Italian fontina cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Using a sharp knife cut the squash in half; discard the seeds. Place squash cut side up in two 13-in. x 9-in. baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Rub the flesh and skin of each squash with 1 tablespoon oil. Scatter garlic inside.

Roast the squash in a baking pan until the flesh is tender but the sides are not yet collapsing, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Heat butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, the sage and thyme; cook, stirring often, until the onions are just starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add polenta or cornmeal, then whisk in broth. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, whisking frequently, until the polenta is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, scrape about 1 cup of flesh out of each squash, leaving a layer in the shell so it retains its shape. Mash the flesh into a coarse puree and add to the polenta along with the Fontina cheese; stir well. Spoon into the squash shells. Sprinkle the top of each with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake the stuffed squash until the cheese is melted and the polenta is steaming hot, about 20 minutes. Serve garnished with additional sage, if desired.

Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes


6 servings


  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Add spinach and garlic; cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.

In a bowl, combine bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Add the spinach and cheese to the crumb mixture. Sprinkle tomato shells with salt and pepper and stuff with the spinach mixture. Place in a greased 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 375° F for 20-25 minutes.

Italian Baked Macaroni and Cheese


8 servings


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound small shell macaroni
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese
  • Salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Dice the butter and place in a large bowl. Warm the half & half in the microwave, about 1 minute. Cover to keep warm. Shred the Fontina cheese and add to the bowl with the butter. Set aside.

When the water comes to a boil, add salt and the shells and cook until they are 1 to 2 minutes shy of al dente. Drain.

Add the warm half & half to the Fontina and butter. Stir until the cheese starts to melt. Season with salt to taste and the nutmeg.

Stir the shells into the bowl with the cheese. Toss to coat well. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Combine the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; sprinkle over the pasta.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Glazed Cipollini Onions



Cipollini means little onion in Italian.

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 cipollini onions, trimmed and peeled
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onions, stem side down, and cook, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue browning on opposite side, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

Add vinegar and honey; cook, until slightly syrupy, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, thyme, and garlic; bring to a boil. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until onions are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

Olive Oil and Spinach Mashed Potatoes



  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 rosemary sprig, leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 thyme sprig, leaves removed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water by 2 inches and add 1 tablespoon coarse salt and the garlic cloves. Bring to a boil; cook until the potatoes are very tender and easily pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup potato cooking water. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.

Heat together the milk, spinach, chopped rosemary leaves and chopped thyme leaves then remove from the heat, cover and set aside to infuse flavors.

Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes with the olive oil and some of the reserved cooking water as needed to moisten. Add the milk and spinach mixture.  Stir until well combined and season with salt and pepper.



Como is a province in the northern part of the Lombardy region of Italy that borders Switzerland. Its proximity to Lake Como and to the Alps has made Como a popular tourist destination and the area contains numerous works of art, churches, gardens, museums, theaters, parks and palaces. Como’s climate is humid and subtropical. Winters are not long, but foggy, damp and chilly with occasional periods of frost; spring and autumn are pleasant while summer can be quite oppressive and hot.


The most famous area within the province is Bellagio, a historic town surrounded by ancient city walls with narrow roads that run through the hills. The town’s ancient origins are visible in its Romanesque Cathedral dedicated to San Giacomo, the interior of which seems unchanged from the 12th Century. Another interesting town is Laglio that lies near the “Bear Cave” (buco dell’orso), where fossils of prehistoric bears and other remains found in the cave are displayed in the Town Hall. The annual Medieval Palio takes place at the beginning of September and is a knightly jousting contest between various province districts that is reenacted in the town of Cernobbio.


Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian) is located in this province and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe. The lake is shaped like the letter “Y” and has been a popular retreat for aristocrats and wealthy people since Roman times. Many famous people have or have had homes on the lake’s shores. The lake’s deep-blue waters, set against the foothills of the Alps, makes for a stunning view.


The Cuisine of Como Province

Lake Como’s cuisine is shaped by the three geographic areas that make up the Como area – the lake, the mountains with their valleys and the hills of Brianza (the area between Milan and Como). The province’s cuisine is closely tied to its primary natural resource, the lake, that provides an abundance of freshwater fish. Lavarello , a popular local lake fish, is usually served fried with a squeeze of lemon. Misultitt (a type of Shad) is usually dried and preserved with bay leaves in special tin containers. Another traditional dish is Risotto al Pesce Persico (European Perch filet Risotto), a fish grown in Lake Como, that is prepared with white wine, onion and butter.

Polenta is popular especially in the mountain valleys. In this area, it is common to make polenta by mixing corn flour and buckwheat flour together. It is usually served with meat, game, cheese or fish.

South of Como, the food becomes more Milanese. Popular in this region are polenta e osei (polenta served with poultry), cassoela (a stew with pork ribs and cabbage), cotechino sausage with beans and many different kinds of salami and cheese.

As far as traditional sweets and cakes are concerned, in Lake Como, you can find fritters often filled with apple and, Resca de Comm, a panettone made with raisins, citron, pine nuts and anise, that is baked in a cylindrical tube.

Among the red and white wines produced in the province are Rosso di Bellagio and Vespertò di Canzo. The best liqueurs are made by the Piona friars using local herbs.

Valtellina Pizzoccheri


Pizzoccheri is one of Lake Como’s typical winter pasta dishes. It usually consists of flat short tagliatelle noodles, made from buckwheat flour that is common in the area of Valtellina in Northern Italy (on the east shore of Lake Como). The buckwheat flour gives the noodles a grayish color and they are easy to make at home. However, most supermarkets now sell boxes of dried pizzoccheri, which has helped to spread the word of this delicious recipe throughout the country and, of course, cuts down on preparation time.

The noodles are served with a mixture of greens and diced potatoes and dressed with butter, sautéed garlic, sage and Swiss Casera and Parmesan cheeses (or grana padano). There are several variations to the recipe, including substituting the cabbage with Swiss chard, spinach or green beans depending on what you have on hand. The amount of butter can also be altered to your own preference although the original recipe states that the pizzoccheri should be practically drowning in the sage and garlic-infused butter. Vatellina Casera cheese can be difficult to find outside of Lombardy, so a good alternative is Italian Fontina, which is more widely available.

For the pasta:

  • 2 cups (200 grams) fine buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) plain flour
  • About 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) water
  • Pinch salt

For the pizzoccheri:

  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) savoy cabbage
  • 4 1/2 ounces (125 grams) potatoes (2 to 3 small potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup (70 grams) unsalted butter
  • 8-10 sage leaves
  • 4 1/2 ounces (125 grams) Valtellina Casera DOP or Bitto (Gruyere or Fontina can be substituted), thinly sliced or shaved
  • 2 ounces (about 60 grams) Grana Padano, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Freshly ground pepper

For the pasta:

Combine the two flours in a bowl and gradually add the water, mixing until well incorporated. Work the dough for a few minutes. It should be smooth and compact, but not dry or crumbly and it shouldn’t stick to your hands. If it’s dry, add a little more water until it becomes smooth. Rest the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out with a rolling-pin to a thickness of 2-3 millimeters (1/10 of an inch). With a sharp knife, cut the dough into large strips about 7-8 cm (2.5 to 3 inches) wide then cut these into short pasta strips about ¼ inch thick. (If you have a pasta machine, I would use it)

For the pizzoccheri:

Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and chop roughly.

Boil a large saucepan of salted water, cook the potatoes for 20 minutes and then add the cabbage and pasta and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a separate pan and saute the garlic and sage.

Drain the potatoes, cabbage and pasta and layer in a dish with the melted butter, slices of cheese and black pepper.

Serve with Grana Padano cheese.

Risotto with Perch Fillets


This recipe is the national dish of Lake Como and one that is used in most of the area’s restaurants. Perch is one of the most valuable species of freshwater fish because of its tender and delicate meat and the fish can be found in all the lakes of Northern Italy.

Serves 5-6


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups risotto rice
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 4 perch fillets (per person) – about 18 total
  • Flour  for coating
  • Butter or oil for frying


In a heavy saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter until it melts.

Add the chopped onion and cook until tender. Add the rice and mix it well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates. Add the broth, a small amount at a time, stirring it constantly until all the liquid is absorbed.

When the rice is just about tender, add the salt, pepper and Parmigiano cheese.

Dredge the fillets in the flour and cook in a hot skillet in butter or oil, turning them over once, until each side is golden brown.

Spoon the rice onto a serving dish and top with the fish fillets.

Parmesan Barley Soup


Barley is a healthy high-fiber, high-protein whole grain containing numerous health benefits. When cooked, barley has a chewy texture and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice. Although soup is the most popular way to eat barley, you can use it like any other grain, such as couscous or rice.  Hulless barley is unprocessed and takes longer to cook than pearl or pearled barley, which is more common. Quick cooking barley is just as healthy and takes only 10 minutes to cook. Try adding a handful of quick cooking barley to a simmering pot of soup.


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup barley
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Parmesan rinds
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Sea or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


Pre-soak the barley in water to cover for one hour. Drain well and set aside.

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil for a minute or two, then add the diced carrots and celery. Reduce the heat and cook for another two to three minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the red wine vinegar, stirring to coat the vegetables well.

Reduce heat to medium low and add the barley and vegetable broth, stirring to combine.

Heat for ten minutes, then add the Parmesan rinds and simmer for fifteen minutes, or until the barley is almost cooked.

Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese, milk, white wine and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat another five minutes or until the barley is fully cooked.

Remove the Parmesan rinds and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.



Lake Como’s sweets are mainly cakes, tarts and pies that are eaten for breakfast and afternoon snacks. Among them you can find the cutizza, a homemade focaccia made of flour, milk, sugar and lemon peel. The cutizza is a sweet bread known as the poor man’s cake because it uses only a small amount of flour. This is a very old and rustic recipe.


  • ½ lb white flour
  • 6-7 oz whole milk
  • Oil for frying
  • 3 eggs
  • Lemon rind
  • Vanilla sugar
  • Salt


Break the eggs in a bowl, add the flour and mix well. Add the grated lemon and milk and mix until smooth. Add the smaller amount of milk at first and then more, if needed, to make a smooth dough.

Heat enough oil in a frying pan to just cover the bottom and pour in the mixture. Cook on one side and then turn over to cook the other side. Sprinkle with sugar and serve warm.

Variation: add some chopped apple to the mixture before cooking.

The cutizza can be eaten as a snack or as a dessert accompanied by a glass of Moscato.



Fall brings us lots of hearty, nourishing toppings for pizza. If the chill in the air has you wanting to turn out some cool weather pizzas, think apples, butternut squash, sage, kale, mushrooms, cauliflower and figs for something different. Roasting vegetables first, makes them even tastier.

Roasted Fall Vegetables


  • 2 pounds (about 1 medium) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds small red new potatoes (12 to 14), well scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 pound medium red onions (about 2 to 3), peeled and quartered
  • 1 pound carrots (6 to 8 medium), halved lengthwise, if thick, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the vegetables and garlic in a bowl with the oil, salt and pepper.

Divide the vegetables and garlic evenly between two rimmed baking sheets. Roast until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, tossing them and rotating the sheets from top to bottom, halfway through cooking.


Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza


  • Olive oil, for the baking sheet and drizzling
  • Flour, for dusting surface
  • 1 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cups (about 1/2 of the recipe above) Roasted Fall Vegetables, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Brush a large baking sheet (preferably rimless) with oil.

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough into a 12-by-16-inch oval (or as large as will fit on your baking sheet); transfer the dough to the pan.

Sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella. Scatter vegetables on top and drop tablespoons of the ricotta on top; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and rosemary.

Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rest five minutes and cut into serving portions.


Pizza with Zucchini and Fresh Herbs

Sometimes I add a sliced red onion to the roasting pan with the zucchini and add it to the pizza.

Serves: 4


  • 1 lb homemade or store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • Juice of 2 large lemons, divided
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil


For the zucchini:

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the zucchini rounds in a bowl. Reserve a tablespoon of the lemon juice for the finished pizza and squeeze the remainder over the zucchini, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. With your hands rub the mixture into the zucchini rounds in the bowl.

Then place them on the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until soft.

For the pizza:

Turn the oven up to 500 °F. If using a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat in the oven for 30 minutes before baking on it.

Stretch out the pizza dough round onto a pizza peel dusted with flour or onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan (if not using a pizza stone).

Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the pizza dough and place the roasted zucchini evenly on top of the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle the fresh Parmesan cheese directly over the top and slide the prepared pizza into the oven.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling if using a pizza stone. A pizza pan will take longer, 15-20 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, garnish with freshly chopped parsley, thyme, a grind of black pepper and the reserved tablespoon of lemon juice.


Deep Dish Mushroom Pizza

Serves 8


  • 1 lb homemade or store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces Fontina Valle d’Aosta, fontina, provolone or mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 large sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups assorted sliced mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster, cremini, chanterelle, morel and/or button)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
  • Snipped fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Stretch the pizza dough across the bottom and up the sides of an oiled 13 x 9 x 1 inch baking pan. Arrange cheese slices on top of the dough in the pan.

In a large skillet, cook onions, covered, in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat for 13 to 15 minutes or until the onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 5 to 8 minutes more or until onions are golden. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, combine mushrooms, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the garlic and rosemary. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are tender; drain well. Spoon mushroom mixture over the cheese on the pizza dough. Top with the onions.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the crust bottom is slightly crisp and brown.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Cut the pizza into 3-inch squares and serve immediately.


Sausage, Fennel and Ricotta Pizza


  • 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 8 oz Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili)
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Stretch the dough to fit an oiled 14-15 inch pizza pan.

Heat in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and sausage, cook until the sausage is lightly browned. Break the sausage into large pieces. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Add the sliced fennel and cook until the fennel is tender.

Mix together the ricotta and garlic.

Separate the red onion slices and spread over the pizza dough along with the fennel seeds and the crushed red pepper. Top with spoonfuls of the ricotta and the sausage pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20  minutes, until golden.


Antipasto Pizza

Makes: 8 servings


  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced in strips
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in strips
  • 16 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced in strips
  • 2 small to medium tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta


Place a pizza stone or invert a heavy baking sheet on the rack of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onions in hot oil about 10 minutes, until translucent. Stir in sugar and balsamic vinegar; cook until the juices bubble. Transfer the onions to a strainer set over a bowl. Drain for 3 minutes. Return the drained juices to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture turns into the consistency of honey. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cooked onions to skillet and stir to coat, then set aside.

For the pizza:

Stretch the dough into a circle that fits on a pizza peel (pizza-size spatula) or a rimless cookie sheet dusted with flour.

Top the dough with the onion mixture then arrange the artichokes, peppers, sliced tomatoes and olives on top. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the toppings bubble and the pizza edges are golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

You can also bake the pizza in a regular 14-15 inch pizza pan and cook the pizza for 10 minutes longer.


Cristoforo Colombo (Columbus) was born in 1451 in the territory of the Republic of Genoa, now part of modern Italy (in Liguria). Once a fishing village, Genoa grew without plan or forethought across a series of hillsides. Its roads meander down steep slopes some over 100 feet above your head, many accessible only by walking or by helicopter. Because of its topography, Genoa has evolved as a diverse collection of neighborhoods. Navigating from one part of the city to another can be challenging. Genoa’s old port still offers the atmosphere of a working waterfront. At the height of its economic powers, Genoa bought, sold and shipped goods all over Europe and established trade colonies on the Black Sea, in the Crimea and Turkey.

The first recipe identified in print as Genoese was a formula for torta alla genovese (a type of pie filled with apples, dates, raisins, almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts) that appeared in 1520 in, Libre del coch, the cookbook by Mestre Robert, probably the chef to the king of Naples. In the centuries that followed, Genoa’s culinary sophistication grew.

With simple cooking methods and an abundance of vegetables, herbs and olive oil, the Genoese have skilfully invented dishes that have become world known, such as pesto and focaccia. Other specialities include filled pasta, such as ravioli and the local pansotti (with a Swiss chard, egg and ricotta filling); corzetti, a fresh pasta made in the shape of small figure eights, savory herb pies filled with cooked Swiss chard or artichokes, squash, spring herbs, eggs and cheese and stuffed squash flowers. Other typical dishes of the local cuisine include vegetable minestrone alla genovese; farinata, a thin, unleavened pancake made from chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil and cooked in a wood-burning oven, fried sticks of chickpea flour, stuffed veal rolls and stuffed vegetables. Being on the sea, the region offers many seafood specialties, including fish soups, stews and salads.

Columbus Day Menu


Minestrone, Genoa Style

8-10 servings


  • 1/4 pound Italian dried beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 leeks, washed and chopped, white and light green part only
  • 1 medium eggplant (1 pound), peeled and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups hot vegetable broth
  • 4 cups hot water, plus extra if needed
  • 1 cup chopped raw spinach
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1/4 pound thin spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons Basil Pesto
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Drain the beans from the soaking water, place them in a pot, cover with water and cook about 30 minutes, or until still quite al dente, and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, leeks, eggplant, carrots, celery and potatoes and sauté for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables just begin to exude their juices.

Add the tomatoes, hot broth, hot water, beans and additional hot water, if needed to just cover the mixture. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes.

Add the spinach, zucchini, cabbage and pasta and cook another 20 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Stir in the Pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.


Farinata (Chickpea Flatbread)


  • 1 1/4 cup of chickpea flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary


Sift chickpea flour into a bowl and add the  salt, pepper, sage and rosemary. Stir.

Slowly add the water, whisking the whole time. Allow the batter to rest for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

If any foam has formed on the chickpea batter, remove with a spoon.

Pour olive oil into a 12-inch round baking pan  Add the  batter into the pan.For a crisp farinata, bake for about 25 minutes. Check on it, though, as ovens differ and you do not want the batter to burn! For a soft bread, bake for about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting!


Riccola al Forno (Fish, Roasted with Potatoes and Olives)

In Genoa this dish is made with riccola, a fish similar to U.S. pompano.

Serves 4


  • 2 lbs. red new potatoes scrubbed and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 fish fillets (8 ounces each)
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • Lemon wedges for serving


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with garlic, rosemary and 1 tablespoon oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange potatoes in a single layer, cut side down. Bake, tossing potatoes once, until beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.

Rub fish with the remaining teaspoon of oil; season all sides with salt and pepper.

Remove baking sheet from the oven. Add tomatoes and olives to the potatoes; stir to combine. Push vegetable mixture to one side; place fillets flat on the baking sheet, next to the vegetables.

Return the pan to the oven and roast until the fish is cooked through and the potatoes are brown and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer fish and vegetables to a serving platter. Serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges.


Zucchini Salad


  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into paper-thin slices using a mandoline
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, cut into small dice
  • 2 tablespoons pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
  • 1 scallion (green onions), finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 salted anchovy filet
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper


Arrange the zucchini on a serving platter and sprinkle with tomato, scallions and pine nuts.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the anchovy and the mustard together and squeeze in the lemon juice and then mix well. Whisk in the olive oil to make the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle all over the sliced zucchini.


Sweet Genoa Fritters


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup lard or butter
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


Mix the sugar, salt and flour.

Cut the butter or lard into small pieces and mix it with the flour.

Beat the egg. Mix the white wine and egg together.

Combine the liquid and flour mixtures and work into a dough, kneading for about 5 minutes (Add more flour if it’s too soft, add more wine if it’s too dry).

Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in clear plastic and let it rest for about an hour at room temperature.

Using a pasta machine (or a rolling-pin), roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch.

Using a pastry wheel cut the dough into rectangles — 4 inches long and 1 1/2 wide.

Heat the oil and fry the fritters, a few at a time, until they are barely golden.

Remove each fritter and place on kitchen paper towels to drain.

Before serving dust with powdered sugar.


For a great tasting dinner, without a lot of cleanup, look no further than a one-pot meal. The recipes for these comforting and healthy dishes below are complete meals that use ingredients that are in seasons. Add a salad, if you like, and some great tasting bread.

One of the best features of one-pot cooking is that the recipes often include vegetables, meat, rice, pasta, fresh herbs and spices all in one pot, making it a great way to cook a convenient and nutritious meal the whole family. One-pot meals can be steamed, sautéed, braised or baked and the “one pot” can be a saucepan, skillet, crock pot, pressure cooker or baking dish.

I find a large ovenproof skillet with a cover, the best pot to have in your kitchen. It can do the work of several pans in one.


Eggs Over Roasted Vegetables

6 servings


  • 3 cups small broccoli florets (about 1 inch in size)
  • 12 ounces yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the baking dish
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 ounces Italian Fontina cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with olive oil. Add  broccoli, potatoes, onion, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, tossing to coat all the vegetables.

Spread the vegetable mixture evenly in the dish. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir vegetables; roast about 5 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender and starting to brown. Remove the baking dish from the oven and reduce the heat to 375 degrees F.

Make six wells in the layer of vegetables. Break an egg into each well. Bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheese and bake for 10 minutes more or until the egg whites are set and the yolks start to thicken. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve with some crusty Italian bread.


Roasted Chicken With Beans

6 servings


  • Two 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained Great Northern beans, or other white beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 chicken thighs (about 2-1/4 pounds total), skin removed
  • Coarse sea salt and coarse black pepper for the chicken
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 14 1/2 – ounce diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle the chicken with the coarse salt and pepper.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; reduce heat to medium-low. Brown the chicken about 10 minutes, turning once to brown both sides. Remove chicken from the skillet to a plate and set aside.

Add carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the drippings in the skillet. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in drained beans, undrained tomatoes, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper.

Bring to boiling. Arrange chicken thighs on top. Place skillet in the oven and bake, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until the chicken registers 180 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.


Spicy Braised Pot Roast And Vegetables

Coffee adds a rich, deep flavor to beef roasts.


  • 3 pound beef chuck pot roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into eighths
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red (chili) pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Trim fat from the meat. Rub meat with the espresso powder, salt and black pepper.

In a 6-quart Dutch oven brown roast on all sides in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Transfer to a plate.

Add onion, bell pepper and garlic to the Dutch oven. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onion and garlic are tender. Return roast to the Dutch oven. Add broth, crushed red pepper and allspice. Bring to boiling.

Bake, covered, for 1 3/4 hours. Add squash. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour more or until the meat and vegetables are tender.

Transfer meat and vegetables to a platter; cover to keep warm. Bring liquid in the Dutch oven to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes until slightly thickened.

Serve sauce over meat and vegetables.


Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. homemade or store-bought pizza dough
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup frozen chopped broccoli, defrosted and dried on paper towels
  • 2 roasted red peppers, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives and cut in half
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Let the dough come to room temperature about an hour before you are ready to make the pizza.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Coat a 12-inch cast iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet or baking pan with the 1 tablespoon of oil.

Stretch the dough into a 14 inch circle on a floured board or counter.

Carefully transfer the dough to the skillet and then turn the dough over, so both sides are evenly coated with oil. Gently press the edges of the dough 2 inches up the side of the skillet.

Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the dough; top with broccoli, peppers, olives, tomatoes, garlic, basil and Pecorino cheese.

Bake pizza 45 minutes or until the dough is puffed and golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting the pizza into slices.


Risotto With Shrimp And Peas

Technically this is not a one-pot meal because the broth needs to be heated before it can be added to risotto. At least it will be an easy pan to wash.

4 servings


  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus extra for the shrimp
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for the shrimp
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined


Heat broth in a saucepan and turn the heat down to low.

Heat oil in a second saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, salt and pepper; sauté 2 minutes.

Add rice and stir to coat in the oil. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.

Add wine and cook until the wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add 1 cup warm broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue adding broth 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes.

Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add green peas and shrimp to the risotto and cook, stirring gently, until the shrimp are just until firm and bright pink.

Add butter, cream and cheese, stirring until incorporated. Serve immediately.



Most Italian Americans, I know, grew up on spaghetti and meatballs. However, meatballs can sometimes be difficult to make because it is tough to get the texture and the seasonings just  right. Often, they come out spongy or dry or dense.

Here are some of my tips for making good meatballs.

Some recipes call for beef and others call for pork. Some call for a mixture of beef and pork. Others call for beef, pork and veal. Then, there are the decisions about how much cheese, breadcrumbs and herbs to add or whether the meatballs should be cooked in the sauce or separately.

Meatballs need seasoning.  As a rule, about 1 teaspoon of salt per pound will make for perfectly seasoned meat. Herbs are also important. Without them, your meatballs will end up tasting like a burger. Change the flavor a bit with herbs like mint, oregano and marjoram.

When using all beef to make meatballs, the meat should not be too lean. You need some fat for flavor, so buy ground beef that is labeled 75% lean. Another way to add flavor is to use part ground beef and part ground pork in the meatball mixture.

Eggs are not used for moisture. They are in the meatball mix to bind the meat, breadcrumbs, cheese and herbs together. For one to two pounds of meat, you won’t need more than one egg.

Be sure not to add too many bread crumbs–about a half cup per pound of meat will be enough.

Put all the ingredients into a bowl at once and use your hands to mix them. The light touch of your hands incorporates all of the ingredients without crushing the meat.

Depending on how you’ll serve the meatballs, you should roll them to the size appropriate for the dish. In soup, for instance, you’ll want small, bite-sized meatballs. If they’re on top of spaghetti, make them medium. If they are the main course, make them 2 inches in diameter.

If you roll meatballs with dry hands, the meat mixture will stick to your skin. To remedy this, wet your hands with water.

I never fry meatballs to keep them healthy. Baking or broiling work just fine.


Here is my basic formula for meatballs:

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

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

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

Place the meatballs on the prepared pan and broil 5 minutes each side or until completely brown. Or bake the meatballs in the oven for about 25 minutes.

If I am making the meatballs to go with spaghetti, then I simmer them in the sauce for the last hour of cooking.


Meatball Soup



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 leeks, white and pale green parts, chopped
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups pearl barley
  • 8 cups chicken broth


  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/2 cup chopped parsley for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


To make the soup:

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks and garlic and saute until very soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and wine, stir to combine and cook for 4 minutes.  Add the barley and the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the barley is tender, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Oil a rimmed cookie sheet.

To make the meatballs:

In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, the 2 tablespoons parsley and tomato paste.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mix with your hands. The mixture will be very sticky.

To form the meatballs:

Use two small spoons or a small ice cream/melon scoop to form small (1 inch) meatballs. Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until the meatballs are cooked through and no longer pink in the center, about 10-12 minutes.

Add the meatballs to the soup and stir in gently. Serve the soup garnished with the 1/2 cup parsley.


Italian Meatball Stew

My mother made this often when I was growing up and I made it for my children when they were young. This dish is popular with kids if you find the right combination of vegetables that appeal to them.


  • Basic Meatball recipe above, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Large baking potato, peeled and diced
  • 4 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch-long pieces or the equivalent frozen
  • 26-28 oz. container crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion, carrot and garlic until softened. Add the potato, green beans, tomatoes and seasonings.

Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and cook mixture until the potatoes and beans are tender.

Gently stir in meatballs and heat until the meatballs are hot and the mixture has thickened slightly.


Meatballs Stuffed With Mozzarella Cheese

This makes a great entrée with a salad and Italian bread. If you make them smaller, they are very good as an appetizer.


  • Double batch of the Basic Meatball recipe, above
  • 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes or mini fresh mozzarella cheese balls called pearls
  • 3 cups store-bought marinara sauce or homemade spaghetti sauce


Heat the oven to 450°F. Line a 15 x 10 inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Form meatball mixture into 2″ balls.

Press a cheese cube or ball in the middle and seal the meat around it.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown all over. Place in a large serving bowl.

Heat marinara sauce and pour over the meatballs in the serving bowl.


Italian-American Meatball Lasagna

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


  • One recipe of basic meatballs from above
  • 12 traditional lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Two 15 ounce containers ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lb  mozzarella cheese, sliced thin


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

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

To make the lasagna:

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

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

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

To assemble the lasagna:

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

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

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

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

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