Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

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How To Make The Best Roast Chicken

Whenever possible, buy the best quality chicken you can find. The taste difference between a pasture-raised organic chicken and a traditional feedlot chicken is huge. Big chickens ― often labeled roasters (generally 6 lbs.) have a richer and more complex flavor than smaller ones. Young chickens (also called broilers and fryers; about 3-4 lbs.) can be roasted but by the time the skin is an appealing color, the breast meat of smaller birds is dry.  A roasting chicken, however, cooks evenly.

Season the entire chicken generously with salt and pepper. Don’t forget the back, underneath the wings, between the thighs and inside the cavity. Other additions, like ground spices and finely chopped herbs add flavor to the outside. Stuffing the chicken with aromatic ingredients, like citrus quarters, full sprigs of herbs, smashed garlic and onion can infuse it with flavor from the inside.

Some of my favorite flavor combinations:

All Purpose Dry Mix For Poultry

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix the salt, basil, rosemary, garlic powder, mustard, paprika, black pepper, thyme, celery seed, parsley, cumin and cayenne pepper together until blended. Rub all over chicken, inside and out before roasting.

Other flavorings that go well with chicken include: lemon and orange juice, garlic, white wine, ginger, pesto, honey, maple syrup, smoked paprika, mustard and chili peppers.

Before you prepare the chicken for roasting, give it time to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Placing the chicken directly from the refrigerator into the oven will increase its roasting time and the chicken will cook unevenly. Another common mistake is not properly drying the chicken before roasting it. A damp chicken makes for limp, soggy skin. There’s no need to rinse the chicken, simply remove it and place it on a paper towel-lined sheet tray. Thoroughly pat it dry, inside and out, then proceed with your recipe.

While it is probably hard to break the habit, don’t wash raw chicken before cooking as germs can be spread through splashed water on the counter or in the sink. Cooking chicken at the right temperature will destroy any bacteria present and you need to make sure that chicken is properly cooked through; the juices should run clear and the meat should not show any signs of pink.

There are two common ways to roast a chicken: low and slow or hot and fast. To make the right decision, you first have to decide how you want to serve the chicken. For sticky, rotisserie-style skin with fall-apart meat, cook it at a low temperature for several hours. If it’s crispy, crackling skin you’re after, cook the chicken quickly at a high temperature. Sear the chicken on the stove-top in a pan (preferably cast-iron). Once the skin is golden, transfer the skillet to an oven set at 425˚F. The chicken will cook in just 35-40 minutes—depending on its size.

Once you take the chicken out of the oven, remove it from the pan and let it rest for 15 minutes. The juices need time to redistribute throughout the meat or else they’ll wind up on your cutting board. After 15 minutes the chicken will also be cool enough to carve.

Classic Roast Chicken

It is very practical to roast two chickens at the same time, so that you can have plenty of leftovers for weeknight meals.

6-8 Servings


  • One 5 pound roasting chicken, at room temperature
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 garlic bulbs
  • 2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces (cut any large pieces in half lengthwise)
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, plus extra
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle inside and out with 1-1/2 teaspoons of the salt and the pepper. Cut one-half of one of the onions into two pieces; place onion pieces and the thyme sprigs in the body cavity of the chicken. Skewer neck skin to the back; tie legs to the tail. Twist wing tips under the back. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

Cut the remaining 1-1/2 onions into wedges. Cut off the top 1/4 inch of the garlic bulbs to expose the ends of individual cloves. Keeping the garlic bulbs whole, remove any loose, papery outer layers.

In a large bowl combine onion wedges, garlic bulbs, carrots, celery, 1/4 cup broth, oil, bay leaves, sage sprigs, thyme leaves and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Arrange vegetables around the chicken; spoon liquid from the bowl over the chicken.

Roast, uncovered, for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until drumsticks move easily and the chicken is no longer pink (180 degrees F), stirring vegetables a few times. Add small amounts of additional broth if the vegetables and the bottom of the pan begin to get too brown.

Remove from oven when cooked and cover with foil. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Remove and discard bay leaves and sage sprigs. Serve chicken with vegetables and pan juices.


Sticky Chicken Rotisserie Style

8 servings


  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 (4 pound) whole chickens, at room temperature


In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic powder.

Remove and discard giblets from the chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub each chicken, inside and out, with the spice mixture. Place 1 onion into the cavity of each chicken.

Place chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

Place chickens in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 5 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let the chickens stand for 15 minutes before carving.


Honey-Spiced Roasted Chicken

6-8 servings


  • 1 (5-6 pound) whole roasting chicken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan.

In a bowl, mix together the honey, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and garlic powder. Using your hands, rub the honey mixture all over the chicken. Baste chicken with the melted butter.

Roast the chicken in the preheated oven until the skin begins to brown, 30 to 45 minutes. Baste the chicken with juices in the roasting pan. Cover the pan with foil.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and roast until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting occasionally during roasting. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).

Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil and allow to rest in a warm area for 15 minutes before slicing.


Italian Flavored Roast Chicken

6-8 servings


  • 1 roasting chicken (6 to 8 lbs.), at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 14 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 rosemary sprigs, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 lb. total)
  • 2 yellow bell peppers (about 1 1/2 lb. total)
  • 2 onions (about 1 lb. total)
  • 8 Roma tomatoes (about 2 lb. total)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup oil cured black olives
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Remove giblets and pull off and discard lumps of fat from the chicken. Pat dry and fold wing tips under the first joint. Set chicken, breast side up on a V-shaped rack set in a medium pan.

In a small bowl, mix chopped rosemary and basil. Starting at the neck, gently ease your fingers under the skin to loosen it over the breast area. Push 1/3 of the rosemary-basil mixture under the skin and spread it evenly over the breast.

Place 6 garlic cloves and 3 rosemary sprigs in the body cavity. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Stem and seed the bell peppers; cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips. Peel onions and cut each into 6 wedges. Core tomatoes and cut in half lengthwise.

Distribute peppers, onions, and remaining garlic around the chicken in the pan. Set tomatoes, cut side up, on top of the pepper mixture and sprinkle vegetables with another 1/3 of the herb mixture and the remaining salt and pepper; drizzle with the olive oil.

Roast until the vegetables begin to brown and a thermometer inserted through the thickest part of the breast or the thickest part of thigh at joint reaches 180°, about 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours.

Insert a carving fork into the chicken cavity, lift the chicken and drain the cavity juices into the pan. Set the chicken on a rimmed platter; let rest, covered with foil, in a warm place for 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a shallow bowl; sprinkle with olives and keep warm.

Skim and discard fat from the pan; add vinegar, wine, broth and remaining herb mixture. Stir often over high heat, scraping browned bits free, until reduced to 3/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a small pitcher or bowl.

Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetable mixture. Add pan juices and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish the serving platter with the remaining rosemary sprigs.




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


Autumn Chowder

Serves: 4

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


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

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

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


Hearty Greens and Pasta Soup

Serves 6-8


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


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

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

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


Creamy Pumpkin Soup

6 servings


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


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

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

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

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


Brown Rice Chicken Soup

Serves 8


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


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

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

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


Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

6 servings


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


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

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

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

 Note To My Readers

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There are three categories of symbolic foods for Rosh Hashanah and each has its own meaning. The first is sweet tasting foods, such as apple and honey, which are symbolic of the wish for a sweet year. The second, which includes pomegranates and fish, are foods that allude to abundance and to the wish to be fruitful and multiply. The third category, which includes foods such as carrots, beets, leeks and cabbage, allude to the destruction and eradication of sin. The combination of sweet and sour is also prominent in Jewish cooking because it correlates with times that are hopeful and happy while also remembering the challenges of Jewish history.

What makes these basic food categories particularly fascinating is how their preparations can vary as we move from country to country and culture to culture.

Since 1442, when the Kingdom of Naples came under Spanish rule, considerable numbers of Sephardi Jews came to live in Southern Italy. Following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, from Portugal in 1495 and from the Kingdom of Naples in 1533, many moved to central and northern Italy. In addition to Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Italy has been host to many Sephardi Jews from the eastern Mediterranean, Dalmatia and many of the Greek islands, where there were large Jewish communities and for several centuries they were part of the Venetian Republic. As such, they have greatly influenced the cuisine of Italy.

Italian Jewish cuisine for Rosh Hashanah often includes chestnut turnovers, goose or veal, spinach or swiss chard, artichokes, caponata and fennel. The seder often begins with figs (fichi). Figs are in season in Italy in the fall and they represent renewal for a good and sweet year (Shanah Tovah Umetukah). It is also full of tiny seeds (like the pomegranate) representing abundance and rebirth.

First Course


Fish in Tomato Garlic Sauce


  • 1 ½ lbs. fish fillets, such as halibut, grouper, cod or tilapia
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine, vegetable broth or water
  • 4 medium-size tomatoes, diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons. chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley, basil)


Check fish carefully and remove any bones. Rinse fish and thoroughly pat dry. Cut it in 8 pieces.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick. Add fish, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and sauté over medium to medium-high heat 1 minute per side. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Added remaining oil to the pan and add the garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring. Add tomatoes and heat for about 1 minute. Returned fish to the pan, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 2 or 3 minutes or until its color has changed from translucent to opaque. Add pepper flakes and herbs. Serve fish in the sauce.


Sephardic Challah

Sephardic Jews of the Mediterranean favor their challah seasoned with caraway and anise. Many challahs are braided, but this one is twisted into a round, turban-shaped loaf.


  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons anise seeds
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Cornmeal for dusting
  • 2 large egg yolks


In a skillet, toast the sesame, caraway and anise seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 2 tablespoons of the water and let stand until thoroughly moistened, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour with the olive oil, the honey and the remaining water and mix at low-speed until a very soft dough forms. Add the kosher salt, yeast mixture and all but 1 tablespoon of the seeds and mix at medium-low speed until the dough is supple and smooth, 10 minutes. Using oiled hands, transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free spot until the dough is risen, 1 hour.

Lightly oil 2 small cookie sheets and dust them with cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press to deflate. Cut the dough in half and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll each piece into an 18-inch-long rope and let rest for 5 minutes longer, then roll each rope into a 32-inch rope. Beginning at the center and working outwards, form each rope into a coil and tuck the ends under the coils.

Transfer each coil to a baking sheet and cover each loaf with a large, inverted bowl. Let stand for 1 hour, until the loaves have nearly doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the egg wash over the loaves and let stand uncovered for 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash once more and sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon of seeds.

Bake the loaves side-by-side in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until they’re golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer the loaves to racks and let cool completely before slicing.

Second Coursejewishnewyear3

Chicken with Pomegranate Sauce

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2/3 cup bottled pomegranate juice (100% pure juice)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • About ½ cup white flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • About ½ cup pomegranate seeds


Add the honey to the pomegranate juice and stir to combine; set aside.

If using chicken breasts cut each in half and remove any fat; pat dry with paper towels.

Pour the flour into a shallow bowl and lightly dust each piece of chicken with the flour.

Heat the olive oil over low heat in a large nonstick frying pan. When hot, add the chicken and sprinkle  with salt. Turn the heat up and let them cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.

Add the pomegranate and honey mixture and reduce the flame. Let cook for another few minutes, adding more salt and turning each piece so it absorbs the sauce well.

Arrange on a large serving platter, pouring the sauce on top and sprinkling with the fresh pomegranate seeds to garnish.


Saffron Rice


  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


Stir the saffron into 2 tablespoons hot water in a bowl, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pan. Add the onion and nuts; cook over medium heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the nuts are fragrant and beginning to change color.

Lower the heat, and stir in the rice. Add the saffron water, the bay leaf, the salt, freshly ground pepper to taste and 2 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff the rice with a fork and  remove the bay leaf.


Sephardic Spinach Patties


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach, stemmed, cooked, chopped, and squeezed dry, or 20 ounces thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry
  • About 1 cup matzo meal
  • About 3/4 teaspoon table salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Lemon wedges for serving


In a large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the spinach, matzo meal, salt and cayenne. Stir in the eggs. If the mixture is too loose, add a little more matzo meal. The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.

Shape the spinach mixture into 3 inch patties. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat. In batches, saute the patties, turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm, accompanied with lemon wedges.

Dessert Course


Honey Cake

The cake can be made a day ahead; just wrap it tightly in plastic, store it at room temperature, and glaze it just before serving.

Serves 10-12


  • 2 3⁄4 cups flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, plus for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh orange juice, divided
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 1 1⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar


Heat oven to 325°F. Oil and flour a 4-qt. Bundt pan; set aside.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, baking powder and soda and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Beat 3⁄4 cup sugar and egg yolks in a bowl on medium-high speed of a mixer until tripled in volume, about 4 minutes. Stir in oil, honey, 2 tablespoons orange juice, zest and liqueur.

Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Beat egg whites in a bowl on high-speed of a mixer until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into batter.

Pour into the prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes.

Let cool and invert onto a serving plate. Whisk remaining juice with confectioners’ sugar; drizzle over cake.


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

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

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

To make my lasagna, you will need the following:


Lasagna Sauce


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



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


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



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


Fresh Pasta Noodles


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

Making the pasta in a food processor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lasagna Cheese Filling


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


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


Completing the Lasagna:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish

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


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


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


Making  one dish meals can be a very economical way of preparing delicious and healthy meals. This type of dinner is especially desirable for busy people. It is really very easy and doesn’t take a great deal of time. The term one-pot meal is almost synonymous with crock-pot dinners, hearty stews and pot roasts coming to mind; however there are plenty of lighter and faster variations to this concept. A one dish meal need not require hours and hours of cooking, but may be as simple as a stir-fry or a summer pasta with vegetables and seafood.


Tortellini with Broccoli, Olives and Beans

2-3 servings


  • 9 ounces refrigerated or frozen cheese-filled tortellini
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • One 15 ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup slivered pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
  • 1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil


In a deep large skillet bring 2 inches of water to boiling. Add tortellini; cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli; cook for 2 minutes or until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Drain in colander. Return tortellini and broccoli to the skillet.

Stir in beans, olives, oil, vinegar and red pepper. Heat through. Sprinkle with tomatoes, feta and basil. Serve in pasta bowls.


Salmon and Swiss Chard in Mustard Sauce

4 servings


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh skinless salmon fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (1 small)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, stems removed and the leaves cut into 1-inch pieces


Brush the oil over the bottom of a large deep skillet with a cover.

Rinse and pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Place salmon in the skillet, tucking under any thin edges. Sprinkle the salmon with the garlic.

In a small bowl stir together mustard, honey, vinegar and dill and transfer 2 tablespoons of the mixture to another small bowl to serve later.

Stir the onion, broth and mustard mixture together and pour over the salmon.

Cover and bring to a slow boil, reduce heat to medium and poach until the salmon flesh is firm, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Carefully transfer salmon with a slotted spoon to a serving platter.Add the chard to the skillet and cook until tender, about

Stir the reserved 2 tablespoons of mustard mixture into the chard mixture. Spoon the chard onto the platter with the salmon.


Turkey Cutlets with Barley Saute

6 servings


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 6 –  1/2-inch-thick turkey breast slices (cutlets) (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 cups sliced fresh cremini mushrooms (8 ounces)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Snipped fresh oregano
  • Lemon wedges


In a large skillet with a cover, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle turkey cutlets lightly with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until browned and no longer pink, turning once. Remove turkey from the skillet; set aside on a platter and cover with foil..

Add the mushrooms, onion, carrot and bell pepper to the skillet and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth, barley and oregano. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is nearly absorbed.

Stir in lemon peel and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Return turkey cutlets with any accumulated juices to the skillet. Cover and cook for 1 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Garnish with additional fresh oregano and serve with lemon wedges.


Pork Tenderloin with Carrots, Parsnips and Chickpeas

6 servings


  • Two 1 pound pork tenderloins (455 g), trimmed of fat and silverskin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup drained canned chickpeas (85 g), rinsed and blotted dry
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (120 ml)
  • ½ cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth (120 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon pimenton ( smoked paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano


Place rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season pork generously on all sides with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork. Sear on all sides until browned, about 6 minutes total. Transfer the pork to a large plate; set aside

Add carrots to the pan. Cook and stir until browned at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 1 minute more. Using a spatula, make two wide spaces through the vegetables. Place pork tenderloins in the spaces so they rest directly on the pan surrounded by the carrots and chickpeas.

Transfer the pan to the oven. Roast 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of a tenderloin registers 145 degrees F. The center should be rosy when cut into with a knife. Transfer the pork to a carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Carefully place the pan with the vegetables over medium heat on top of the stove. Add orange juice, wine or broth, brown sugar, fennel and paprika; mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in butter, parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt.

To serve, cut the pork on a slight diagonal into slices 1-inch-thick. Serve with roasted vegetables.



Chicken and Vegetable Saute

4 servings


  • 1 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts or a combination
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into two-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, halved crosswise and cut in 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced



In a 12-inch skillet brown chicken and pancetta in olive oil over medium-high heat, turning chicken to brown evenly. Add garlic, asparagus and squash. Sprinkle chicken and vegetables with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes.

Carefully add broth; cover and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink (165 degrees F) and vegetables are tender. Transfer mixture to a serving platter and top with sliced green onions.



IMG_0189In 2007 Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, authored, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking” and it does just that!


You simply mix the recipe ingredients in a large bucket, cover and let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 hours; then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. You will have enough dough to make 3-4 loaves of bread or 3-4 pizzas with very little work. Once I discovered the Artisan Bread method, I have been making most of my breads following their process.

If you would like to know more about this method visit their website:  The authors have recently written a book on how to make gluten-free bread with this method.

I like to use Italian “00” flour for making pizza. Italian “00” flour is lower in protein and makes a supple, smooth and easy dough to shape.The “00” refers to the grind of the flour and this flour is fine-textured. The resulting baked goods are light, airy and have a crisp snap to the crust. It’s ideal for pizza, flatbread, focaccia and crackers.

I purchase the flour from King Arthur. Of course, you can use other types of flour but the ingredient amounts will vary slightly.

Homemade Pizza with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Pesto

No Knead Pizza Dough

I use the method and recipe for the dough from “Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The bucket should not be airtight, so leave the lid ajar or, do what I did, drill a tiny hole in the top center of the lid.


Ingredients for the dough

  • 3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 7 ½  cups 00 Italian Style flour

Ingredients for Oven Dried Tomatoes:

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1 lb sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1 recipe oven dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • Crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions for making the oven dried tomatoes:

Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Pour the oil into a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the minced garlic over the oil in the pan. Place the tomatoes in an even layer on the baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Bake for about 90 minutes until the juices have stopped running, the tomato edges are shriveled and the tomato pieces have shrunken slightly. Make ahead and store in the refrigerator.


Directions for making the pizza dough:

Pour the water into a 5 quart bowl or lidded food container. Add yeast and salt to the water.

Measure the flour with the “scoop and sweep” method. (Dip cup into flour and scoop it up. Level the cup with the back of a knife.)

Add all the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. You only need to mix it until all ingredients are combined. No kneading is necessary. (The dough will be very moist and will actually conform to the shape of the container you put it in.)


How the dough looks after it is mixed.

Cover, but don’t seal the lid tightly, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it begins to flatten on the top (about 2 hours).


DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! This method is designed to retain as much gas in the dough as possible. After rising, refrigerate the dough in the container and use the dough over the next 14 days. Once it’s refrigerated the dough will collapse and it will not rise again in the container — that’s normal. Extra dough may also be frozen with equally excellent results.

Directions for making the pizza:

Pull up and cut off a 1 1/3 pound piece of dough from the container of refrigerated pizza dough. My pizza pans are large, so I usually get 3 pizzas from a batch of dough.

Hold the dough in your hands and dust your hands with flour, as needed, to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Form a ball, by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides and rotating the dough a quarter-turn as you go.


Place the ball in an oiled pizza pan and press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

After the dough has rested, add the toppings.


Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the dough. Spread the pesto sauce over the cheese layer.

Distribute the tomatoes evenly over the pizza and grind some fresh black pepper over the top.


Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Place the pizza on the bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

This will be one of the best pizzas you have ever had.





The Northwest

As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout the United States, many brought with them a distinct regional Italian culinary tradition. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for the local communities and later for Americans nationwide.


Pocatello, Idaho

Pocatello, Idaho

Italians came to Idaho, mostly during the years 1890 to 1920, to mine, farm, ranch, construct railroads, and start businesses. In 1910, 2,627 Italians in Idaho lived in enclaves in Kellogg and Wallace, Bonners Ferry, Naples, Lava Hot Springs, Roston in Minidoka County and Mullan and east of Priest River. The largest concentration was in Pocatello, where as many as 400 families were supported by railroad jobs.

Portrait of an Italian Immigrant in Idaho:

Giacomo Manfredo was born 18 June 1875 in Casamassima, Bari Province, Italy. He immigrated from Monopoli, Bari province, Italy arriving on the Hamburg at Ellis Island 25 June 1911. (My grandfather also came across the ocean on the S.S. Hamburg but in 1914.)

Giacomo’s daughter, Christina, remembers that he immigrated with Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Elio, friends from Bari province. Giacomo worked for the Pennsylvania RR, then, and migrated through Winnipeg, Canada to Las Vegas and, eventually, arrived in Pocatello, Idaho, where he worked freight for the Union Pacific. The Elio’s, also, settled in Pocatello.

Giovanna, Giacomo and friends. Back yard of Fifth Street house about 1950

Giovanna, Giacomo and friends. Backyard of Fifth Street house about 1950.

Mount Carmel Parish had an Italian priest and sermons were delivered in Italian. It was at Mount Carmel where Giacomao met Giovanna Palombo, a young woman from Vicalvi, Italy with a 2-year-old daughter, Filomena. They married in 1917. Giovanna and Giacomo raised Filomena along with two more children, Dominic and Christina (Crissy). A second son, Ralph, born in 1922, died in 1923 due to complications from measles.

Giacomo prided himself as the winemaker for the local Catholic parish. He ordered grapes from California every year, pressed the grapes and made wine in the cellar of their home. He insisted that the children help stomp the grapes and once spent Giovanna’s kitchen money to purchase a pair of rubber boots for the wine production. When told that he needed a license to produce the wine, he dutifully purchased one and proudly directed the local authorities to the certificate several years later. Unfortunately, it was an annual license and the moment was rather tense until the officials decided that if he agreed to purchase a current permit, they would not arrest him for his past crime. The family purchased their first wine-press from Sears in 1944.

Giacomo and Giovanna purchased a substantial brick house at 529 N. 5th street from Charlie Busco, another Italian immigrant and they were very proud of their purchase. They rented out the main floor for several years until the payments became more affordable. Giovanna crocheted lace for St. Anthony’s altar and, at times, cleaned Pullman cars in addition to her full-time housewife duties.

Giacomo had a brother, Giuseppe, who lived with them in Pocatello. He worked with Giacomo for the Union Pacific and lost a leg in a railroad accident. After the accident he moved to Denver where he opened a bar. Giovanna’s brother, Dominic Palombo, lived in Pocatello with them for a while and worked for the railroad until his brother, Angelo, talked him into moving back to Pennsylvania, Unfortunately, he was killed in a steel mill accident there.

Both Giacomo and Giovanna were illiterate. Their daughter, Filomena remembers that Giacomo’s surname was spelled incorrectly on his paycheck. It did not seem to make any difference to him, though, as long as he got the money. Giacomo’s pronunciation was interpreted as Manfredi at Ellis Island and family friends in Pocatello wrote it in this manner. Other spellings, on such documents as their immigration registration forms and paychecks, include Monfreda, Manfredi, Monfredi, Monfredo, Maffreda and Moffreda. One of the railroad paycheck versions was Montfraid. The spelling became consistent only after Filomena entered first grade, when Manfredo became the family name. When Giacomo died in 1959 at the age of 84, his name was legally designated Manfredo.


Potato Pizza Margherita Style


  • 3 large Idaho russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper, ground, to taste
  • 2 eggs, large, beaten
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the baking sheet
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 3 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1/4 cup Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano, grated


Preheat the oven to 400° F. Oil a 15 x 10-inch cookie sheet.

Cook the unpeeled potatoes in boiling water until they are easily pierced with a knife but not falling apart, no more than 20 minutes. Allow the cooked potatoes to steam dry slightly in a strainer, then peel and press through a ricer or pass through a fine strainer onto a sheet pan to cool completely.

Scrape the potatoes into a bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in the eggs and make a smooth dough.

Add the minced garlic to a quarter cup of olive oil; set aside.

Slice the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Brush with a little garlic olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the dried oregano. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Side aside.

Cut the woody ends off the asparagus spears. Cut stalks in half. Brush with a little garlic olive oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Lay a piece of parchment paper, the size of the baking sheet, on the counter and dust with flour. Shape the dough into a rectangle and place it on the floured parchment. Dust the top of the dough with a little more all-purpose flour. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and roll the dough out evenly, so that the dough is about the size of the cookie sheet.

Remove the top parchment paper and flip the dough onto the oiled cookie sheet. Remove the parchment paper. Push the crust into the edges of the pan.

Brush the dough generously with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon dried oregano.

Par-bake the crust in the preheated oven for 9-10 minutes until the crust begins to turn a light, golden brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven and top the crust evenly with alternating slices of mozzarella cheese, Roma tomato slices and halved asparagus spears, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges.

Drizzle the top of the pizza with 2 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon of dried oregano and the freshly grated Grana Padano cheese.

Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown on the bottom, about 10 more minutes. Allow the pizza to cool slightly on the baking sheet. Top the pizza with the fresh basil and cut into squares.



The first Italian immigrants reached Seattle a hundred years ago, exactly four centuries after Columbus discovered the Americas and Amerigo Vespucci gave them his name. Most Italians, settled into cities on the eastern seaboard and only a small fraction of the Italian immigrants made it to Washington in 1900. However, Seattle in the decade following the Klondike rush enjoyed the greatest growth in its history, tripling its population from 80,000 to 240,000 between 1900-1910.  Italians, along with other immigrants and native-born Americans, shaped much of the Seattle we know today. They built buildings, constructed water mains and sewer lines.  They made Elliott Bay uniform by placing dirt from the nearby hills which transformed Seattle into a world-class waterfront.

Italian immigrants working on the railroad.

Italian immigrants working on the railroad.

Most of Seattle’s Italians were unskilled laborers and some were illiterate. Yet nearly all of them were able to become successful and a remarkable number would become very well-to-do. Rocco Alia, for example, was a construction laborer who started his own underground and roadway construction company.  His son, Orly went to work for his father as a waterboy and recalls that the laborers’ clothes were always soaked with sweat.  Orly, as soon as he could, also started his own company and so did his son Richard, now head of R. L. Alia Co. This pattern of sons following in their father’s’ footsteps even to the fourth generation would become a tradition among Seattle’s Italian families.

By 1915, 20 per cent of Seattle’s Italian community members were in business or in one of the professions.  They included Doctors Xavier De Donato and A. J. Ghiglione (who founded a macaroni factory); Joe Desimone, who owned the Pike Place Market; Frank Buty, a real estate executive, Attilio Sbedico, professor of literature at the University of Washington and Nicola Paolella, publisher of the Gazetta Italiani. Paoella also produced and announced an Italian language radio show for 26 years and was the recipient of the Order of Merit, Italy’s highest civilian decoration.

The most eminent scholar in the Northwest was Henry Suzzallo, whose family came from Ragusa.  In 1915, he was appointed to the presidency of the University of Washington.  He held the position until 1926. He achieved even more prominence by becoming chairman of the board of trustees and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning.  He stayed there until he died in 1933.

Original Pike Place Market

Original Pike Place Market

Angelo Merlino, while still working in the mines, imported cheese, pasta and olive oil in bulk.  He quit mining and opened a store in 1900 that was so successful that he was soon importing Italian food by the shipload.  Today Merlino and Sons is one of Seattle’s biggest distributors of Italian foods.

Gradually, Seattleites developed a taste for Italian foods and other Italian food businesses, such as, Oberto’s and Gavosto’s Torino sausages, DeLaurenti’s, Magnano’s and Borracchini’s food stores became household words.


Linguine with Shrimp in Pink Sauce

Recipe courtesy of DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine Shop

Serves 4


  • 3 garlic cloves – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup carrots – chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery – chopped
  • 1 cup sweet onion – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme – minced
  • 28 oz can DOP San Marzano tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 lb. Italian dried Linguine
  • 1 lb. shrimp – peeled, deveined and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chilies
  • 3/4 cup fish stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Italian parsley – chopped for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Saute the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat, covered for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, being careful to keep the onions from burning. Add carrots, celery, thyme and cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Crush tomatoes by hand, add to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the sauce to a blender or processor and puree (this turns it pinkish). Return the sauce to the pan and set aside.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil with 2 tablespoons salt. Add linguine and cook al dente.

While the pasta cooks, season shrimp with salt & pepper. In a separate sauce pan, saute shrimp in 1 tablespoon olive oil and red pepper flakes until almost done, approximately 3 minutes – shrimp should still be a bit opaque in the middle. Transfer shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add stock and wine to the pan and reduce by 1/3, approximately 5 minutes. Ladle red sauce into stock & wine mixture and heat through.

When cooked, add the drained pasta to the sauce and mix. Add shrimp and heat through. Plate pasta, garnish with Italian parsley and serve immediately.


Oregon Vineyards

Oregon Vineyards

In and around cities like Portland, immigrants found work as laborers, shopkeepers and farmers. The Italian population of Portland surged from 1,000 in 1900 to 5,000 by 1910. They first settled south of town near Marquam’s Gulch, a district shared with Russian Jews. Later, Italians moved to Ladd’s Addition, Brooklyn and Parkrose.


Italian immigrants worked in a wide array of professions. Many hundreds of Italian immigrants worked in Portland’s extensive railroad yards or served as street graders and built and maintained roads throughout the city.  Italian entrepreneurs, like Francesco Arata, established shops and restaurants in Italian neighborhoods on both the west and east sides of the Willamette River.  Almost 1,300 Italians lived and worked on the east side.  They rented land and grew vegetables and berries and some families operated truck farms that sold produce to individuals and businesses across the city. The Italian Ranchers and Gardeners Association organized and established the first retail produce market on the west side but frequent flooding forced organizers to move it to the east side in 1906.  The new market covered a complete block and growers brought their produce there to sell before loading the remainder on trucks to be sold throughout the city.


Grapes first came to the Oregon in the mid 19th century, along with the influx of French, German and Italian immigrants, bringing with them their tastes and cultures of wine. Early planting in Washington County included Zinfandel, Muscatel, Riesling, Burgundian varietals (Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and their derivatives) and Hambourg (Black Muscat).


Ponzi children planting vines.

Family, business and Italian heritage are not separate subjects for Michel Ponzi. Born into a first-generation American-Italian family, where his old-world, European roots were at the forefront of his upbringing. Michel grew up in a household where the Italian immigrant work ethic met the American possibility. His grandparents sacrificed their own familiar life and culture in Italy in hope of a brighter future in America. Their American born children practiced the importance of hard work and following a dream. Michel’s parents, Dick and Nancy Ponzi, followed their dreams that led them and their young family to Oregon.

Michel was only six years old when his parents pursued an idea that had yet to be proven – to grow pinot noir grapes in Oregon and make world-class wines. In the late 60’s, early 70’s, Oregon was timber country filled with lumberjacks, hunters and farmers, with plenty of property available for purchase. Through trial and error, like a handful of other wine enthusiasts, his family started a winery.  As a boy, he planted vines on the rugged property and worked throughout his childhood, pruning them and picking grapes at harvest. Later, he became a row boss, tractor driver and, also,  worked the bottling line, in packaging and in product delivery.  With a business degree in hand, he continued his lifelong career of developing the family business into a prosperous entity, side-by-side with his mother and father, Dick and Nancy Ponzi, founders of Ponzi Vineyards.


Ponzi Italian varietals

In 1999, the Ponzi Family recognized that the rapidly increasing enthusiasm for wine touring was not supported sufficiently by fine dining facilities located in the local wine country. They constructed and continue to operate a culinary center in the tiny town of Dundee. The Dundee Bistro and the Ponzi Wine Bar, showcasing the region’s finest wines are the result of their endeavor. Reception to the facility has been overwhelming, garnering excellent reviews and recommendations in the national media.

The Ponzis wanted to create a casual, friendly atmosphere that welcomed tourists, families, local residents and wine makers still in their overalls and field boots. On a given day it’s possible to order handmade pizza, fish and chips, a salad of mixed organic greens with seared foie gras, Kumamoto oysters fresh from the Pacific 60 miles away, roasted butternut squash soup with chanterelles, loin of venison or local, natural pork smoked all day over local walnut to tender perfection. A meal can end with simple house blackberry sorbet or flaming Oregon cherries jubilee, either one accompanied with piping hot Italian espresso.


Pork Tenderloin in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce

Courtesy of Christopher Flanagan, Executive Chef, The Dundee Bistro


2 pork tenderloins (approx. 2 lbs)


  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons star anise pods, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and pepper


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1/2 cup Port
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate concentrate
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 star anise pods, whole
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2/3 cups toasted walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Garnish: Pomegranate seeds, fresh mint sprigs


Marinade: Combine marinade ingredients in a sealable plastic bag with the pork tenderloins. Refrigerate for 2–3 hours. Remove tenderloins and pat dry; reserve marinade.

Sauce: Sauté shallots in olive oil for 2–3 minutes. Add Pinot Noir and Port. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Add pomegranate concentrate, orange juice, chicken stock, star anise and reserved marinade. Continue to simmer until reduced by half again, or until the sauce thickens enough to coat back of wooden spoon. Cautiously add vinegar, honey and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, strain and add walnuts and butter. Keep warm.

Tenderloins: Brown by grilling (5–6 minutes/side) or sauté in olive oil 4–6 minutes/side without overcooking. Hold tenderloins at least 5 minutes in a tinfoil tent. Slice into 1/3-inch slices.

To serve: spoon a pool of sauce on individual plates.  Arrange sliced pork on top, then additional sauce.

Garnish: with pomegranate seeds and mint sprigs.

Recommended accompaniments: a simply prepared rice pilaf, barley, oven-roasted potatoes or pasta dressed with butter, olive oil and salt.

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