Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Healthy Winter Soups

hot cup of steaming tomato soup being held in gloved hands

Eating soup to take the chill off during a cold winter day is not its only benefit. Enjoy it regularly to help manage your weight. Studies based on adults who participated in a National Health and Nutrition Survey suggest that there’s a relationship between body weight and soup consumption — meaning weight goes down with more soup intake. Research conducted at Penn State finds that eating low-calorie soup before a meal (think appetizer course) may help you reduce the total calories you consume during the meal — perhaps by 20 percent.

Losing weight can be a challenge because you may feel hungry or deprived when you need to reduce your food intake. Soup can help by filling you up without too many calories and by offering you an option to order at restaurants when you go out to eat. According to the Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fiber and protein are filling nutrients, so choose a soup with ingredients such as vegetables, beans and lean protein.

Soup will not help you lose weight if it is high in calories, so avoid soups such as cheddar cheese or broccoli and cheese soup, as well as cream-based soups, such as cream of mushroom, cream of tomato or white clam chowder. If you order soup in a restaurant and it comes in a bread bowl, save yourself hundreds of calories by refraining from eating the bread bowl. Also skip croutons and other high-calorie toppings that often accompany soup courses. The soup recipes below will fill you up, but won’t add a lot of calories to your daily menu. All of the recipes are quite easy to pull together.

soup5

Vegetable Bean Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into small dice
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 onion, cut into small dice
  • 3 medium zucchini, cut into small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon, dried
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon, dried
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, discard seeds, cut flesh into small dice

Directions

In a large pot, combine all the ingredients except the tomatoes, green beans, white beans and herbs. Simmer over very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

soup1

Italian Butternut Squash, Kale and White Bean Soup

Italian Kale: Lacinato kale (also called cavolo nero, literally “black kale”, in Italian and often in English) is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially in Tuscany.

This soup comes together very quickly.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can cannellini beans (no salt added), drained and rinsed
  • 8 oz Italian kale chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, squash, rosemary, pepper and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Simmer uncovered until the squash is just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the kale and cook while stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice, adjust seasoning and serve.

soup2

Meatball & Rotini Pasta Soup

This soup makes a great dinner.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 oz whole-grain or brown rice rotini pasta
  • 8 oz extra-lean ground beef or lean ground turkey breast
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 whole jarred roasted red peppers 
(packed in water), drained and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus
 additional leaves for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to package 
directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine beef, egg whites, oats, parsley, fennel and pepper flakes. Mix well and shape into 24 one-inch balls.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil 
on medium-high. Working in batches, add meatballs and cook, turning frequently, for 
7 to 8 minutes, until cooked through and brown.

To the empty pasta pot, add the broth, red peppers, oregano and salt; bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Add cooked pasta and meatballs and cook until just heated through.

Spoon into serving bowls, sprinkle cheese on top and garnish with 
additional oregano.

soup3

Winter Chicken & Barley Soup 

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/3 slivered almonds, toasted (toast by heating over medium heat in nonstick frying pan, stirring often, until golden brown)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic and sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned (about 7 minutes).

Stir in carrots, diced chicken and broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the barley, cover the saucepan, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about an hour or until the barley is tender.

Turn off the heat and stir in parsley and almonds. Add pepper and salt to taste.

soup4

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and diced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 turnips or baking potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 pint Brussels sprouts, cut in quarters
  • 3 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the onions, carrots, celery, turnips or potatoes and Brussels sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into a roasting pan and place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until caramelized, stirring and shaking the pan occasionally to prevent sticking and to make sure the vegetables cook evenly.

While the vegetables roast add the vegetable broth and chopped tomatoes to a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Gently simmer for 15 minutes and then keep warm.

To make the pesto:

Place the parsley leaves, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese in a blender and puree until smooth.

When the vegetables have roasted, remove and transfer them to the hot vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.

Pour the soup into serving bowls and serve with a spoonful of parsley pesto.

Healthy Winter Salads

wintersaladcover

Longing for a salad even though it is cold outside? By using seasonal produce, you can make salads even with snow on the ground. This time of year switch to dark leafy greens, cold-weather vegetables like broccoli, beets and squash and seasonal fruits like pears and citrus. Add flavorful dressings to balance the heartier tastes and textures. For a full-meal salad, finish the salad with cooked beans, meat or seafood and a bit of your favorite cheese or toasted nuts. Winter vegetables also make delicious salads, especially after they have been roasted.

wintersalad1

Winter Salad with Spinach, Pears and Walnuts

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 Anjou, Bosc or Comice pears
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon German Dusseldorf mustard or yellow prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 pound spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

Chop 1 pear and slice the remaining two.

Put the chopped pear, oil, vinegar, mustard and honey into a blender and purée. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons water, more if needed, to make a thin, pourable dressing.

Put spinach, onion, walnuts, feta cheese, sliced pears and dressing into a large bowl and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

wintersalad2

Chickpea Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

Serves 2

VINAIGRETTE

  • ¼ cup finely minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp stone-ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

SALAD:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • ¾ cup cooked black lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 3 handfuls Italian kale
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions

Place all dressing ingredients in a jar. Seal and shake vigorously until well combined. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preferences.

Cut the avocado in half and discard the pit. Chop the flesh into a small bowl and toss with a squeeze or two of lemon juice to help prevent browning.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all salad ingredients together.

Pour about half the dressing over the top and toss with salad tongs or a large fork and spoon to thoroughly blend the ingredients and coat lightly with the dressing.

Top with a big squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing, if needed. Serve immediately.

wintersalad3

Winter Citrus Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons pistachio, almond or any nut flavored oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon white or golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 oranges (segmented)
  • 2 pink grapefruits (segmented)
  • 2 tangerines or satsumas (peeled)
  • 3 oz mixed baby salad greens (about 3-1/2 cups, lightly packed)
  • 4 cups frisée or curly endive, oak leaf or red leaf lettuce, lightly packed
  • 1/3 cup shelled, roasted pistachios
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Remove the peel and white pith from the fruit with a small, sharp knife. Working over a shallow bowl, slice down either side of each membrane, releasing the citrus segments into the bowl.

Remove any seeds from the fruit. Drain and reserve the accumulated juices for the dressing.

Place the oil, orange juice, vinegar, agave and salt in a small glass jar and seal the lid. Shake vigorously to combine. (The dressing can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days. For best flavor, bring to room temperature before using.)

Place the segmented citrus in a large salad bowl. Drizzle some of the dressing over the fruit and toss to coat. Add the greens and toss to combine, adding more dressing to lightly coat the greens as well.

Transfer the salad to a platter and sprinkle with the pistachios. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

wintersalad4

Italian Barley Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked, quick-cooking barley
  • 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (chilled) or one package of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • 12 pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the barley. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until the barley is just tender but firm. Transfer the barley to a colander. Drain well. Place in a medium bowl to cool.

Dry artichokes on paper towels. Coarsely chop the artichokes and olives, dice the bell pepper, quarter the tomatoes and cut the cheese into one-quarter inch cubes.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, dried basil, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil.

Combine the cooked and cooled barley with the vegetables and cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to blend. serve immediately of refrigerate until serving time.

wintersalad5

Red Grapefruit and Beet Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 medium beets, greens removed
  • 2 red grapefruits
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Wrap beets individually in aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beets are tender when pressed through the foil and a knife slides easily into them when unwrapped, 50 to 60 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, unwrap beets and rub each with a paper towel to remove skins. Halve and slice beets.

Cut thin slices off the top and bottom of a grapefruit and set on a cutting board. Slice down along the curve of the fruit, removing all skin and white pith and cutting all the way to the flesh.

Working over a bowl, cut along each side of the membranes to release the sections, allowing them to fall into the bowl along with any juice. Repeat with remaining grapefruit.

Gently stir in honey and salt. Add beets and toss. Garnish with mint. Serve or chill until serving time.

"And that's the real difference between summer and winter. Saucepans. Lots of saucepans."

Cooking the Italian Provinces – Campobasso

Samsung

The Province of Campobasso is a province in the Molise region of Italy and is situated in eastern Italy on the Adriatic coast. It is bordered in the north by Abruzzo, in the southeast by Apulia and in the south by Campania. The terrain is varied and extends from the mountainous Apennines, down through hills, lakes and inland rivers to the Adriatic coast.

campobasso6

The province’s mountains offer beautiful views and the forests are a natural habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including wolves and rare birds of prey. The province is also known as the perfect location for mountain climbing and for exploring a network of caves that have been carved into the limestone. Among the province’s most renowned places is Campitello Matese, part of the Municipality of San Massimo and a leading ski resort with outstanding courses and modern lifts.

campobasso8

Campobasso boasts two nature reserves, the LIPU Oasis in Casacalenda and the WWF Oasis of Guardiaregia-Campochiaro. Those who love the seaside will appreciate the 24 miles of Adriatic coastline with its host of resorts.

campobasso7

Beans, potatoes, grapes and olives are primary crops of the region. Durum wheat is also important to the region, so pastas are both hearty and abundant. Polenta dishes are common throughout the region. Because animals have been generally raised for sale, recipes are often vegetarian or use very small amounts of meat. Most dishes are prepared simply and use few ingredients.

Campobasso kitchen

Campobasso kitchen

Appetizers include soups made with legumes grown in the area, such as lentils, pearl barley and beans, especially fava.

Caponata is the dish that best characterizes Campobasso’s cuisine. It is made with wheat (tarallo) dampened with water and vinegar and flavored with tomatoes, celery, peppers, anchovies, black olives and boiled eggs.

Crioli con le noci is another specialty, dried cod cooked with chopped nuts, as is tacozze e fagioli, homemade pasta sauce with beans and pork rind.

Campobasso is also home to delicious sausages and cured meats: capicola or seasoned pork, ciccioli pork rinds, ham, pork sausage, salami, torcinelli (roulade, essentially of the “rest of the pig”), and pork belly.

The area’s woodlands are ideal for producing a variety of mushrooms, among them porcini, field mushrooms, gallinaccio and, of course, the renowned truffle.

Cheeses include caciocavallo, burrino, mozzarella and pecorino. Among the province’s most famous wines are Biferno (white, red and rosé) and Moscato.

campobasso1

Bread with Broccoli Rabe

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 14 oz (400g) stale durum wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ¼ lbs (1000 g) rapini or broccoli rabe
  • Pinch salt
  • Black pepper or chili pepper

Directions

Slice the bread into ¼ inch (0.5 cm) thick slices.

Wash and clean the broccoli rabe.

Boil for 3 minutes in water to cover, add the bread and drain immediately.

Arrange the bread in layers along with the broccoli rabe. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or red chili flakes).

campobasso2

Bean Soup

12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 cup bite-sized ham pieces
  • 2 large onions, halved
  • 1 whole large garlic, skinned and cloves smashed with the side of knife
  • Fresh or dried basil or both (to taste)
  • 5 large bay leaves
  • 5 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 whole celery stalks and 4 stalks sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 lb dried navy or great northern beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

Simmer in large soup pot approximately 1 1/2 hours: the ham bone with enough water to cover, onions, garlic, basil, bay leaves, 2 whole celery stalks, salt & pepper to taste.

Drain beans and place in a large pot covered with water by three inches. Add the baking soda. Simmer for 45 minutes, then drain and change the water. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add more water if necessary. When the beans are almost cooked add 1 teaspoon of salt, drain and set aside.

Strain the ham broth and discard the bone and vegetables. Add the broth to the cooked beans, ham pieces and all the remaining ingredients. Simmer for approximately one hour.

Season with salt and pepper.

campobasso5

Campobasso-style Tagliolini

Pork is preferred in the mountains, while the coastal areas are mainly characterized by seafood dishes.

4 servings

  • 10 ½ oz (300g) fresh egg pasta, Tagliolini
  • 3 oz (80g) ham, julienne or peeled medium shrimp
  • 1 hot chili pepper, minced
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 ¾ oz (50g) olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente and reserve some of the pasta cooking water. Drain

In a skillet, heat the oil and fry the chili with the onion. Cook at moderate heat till soft, stirring often with a wooden spoon.

Add the ham or the shrimp and heat it quickly.

Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water, the minced parsley and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Serve.

campobasso4

Old Style Ricotta Pie

2 pies

Ingredients

Pie Filling:

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 pounds ricotta cheese

Sweet Crust:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening plus 1 tablespoon shortening, chilled
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions

For the filling:

Beat the 12 eggs, the 2 cups sugar and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Stir in the ricotta cheese. Set aside.

For the crust:

Combine the flour, baking powder and the 1 cup sugar together. Cut in the chilled shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Mix in the 4 beaten eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Divide dough into 4 balls, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease two deep-dish 9 inch pie plates.

Roll out 2 of the balls to fit into the pie pans. Do not make the crust too thick, as it will expand during cooking. Do not flute the edges of the dough.

Roll out the other 2 balls of dough and cut each into 8 narrow strips for the top of the crust.

Pour the ricotta filling evenly into the two pie crusts. Top each pie with 8 narrow strips of dough. Brush the top of the pie with milk. Place foil on the edge of the crust.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes; remove foil. Rotate pies on the rack so they will bake evenly. Continue to bake until a knife inserted in the center of each pie comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Cool completely on wire racks. Refrigerate until serving.

campobassomap

Healthy Casseroles For Winter Nights

Kate Hackett Ceramics

Kate Hackett Ceramics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

casserole1

Meatballs and Bean Casserole

6 servings

Ingredients

Meatballs

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

Casserole

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

Directions

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

To make the meatballs:

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

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

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

Cover the pan and transfer the mixture to the oven.

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

casserole3

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

4 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

casserole5

White Bean and Kale Casserole

4 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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

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

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

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

Sprinkle with diced prosciutto.

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

casserole4

Vegetable Pasta Bake

6 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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

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

For the cheese sauce:

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

Stir sauce into pasta and vegetables.

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

casserole2

Pizza Casserole

8 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Healthy Stews For Winter Nights

stewcover

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

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

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

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

stew1

Seafood Stew

8 servings

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

Directions

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

Meanwhile, soak clams in cold water for 20 minutes.

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

stew2

Easy Oven Beef Stew

Serves 6; 1 cup per serving

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

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

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

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

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

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

stew3

White Bean and Sausage Stew

6 to 8 servings

Directions

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

Directions

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

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

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

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

stew4

Chicken Stew with Lima Beans and Cauliflower 

4 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

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

stew5

Pork and Vegetable Stew

4 servings

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthy Desserts For Winter Nights

dessertcover

Just because you’re trying to eat healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have dessert. You just have to choose carefully. High fat ingredients contain saturated fat and they can cause higher cholesterol levels in the body. Desserts and sweets don’t have the nutritional value that other foods do, but if you stick with healthier recipes and less-frequent, reasonable portions, desserts can fit into your healthy eating plan. Make fruit a part of your dessert menu as much as possible, whether it is the dessert itself or is part of a recipe. Although fruit is high in carbohydrates, it’s also filled with vitamins, minerals and fiber. If you crave something more, try adding fruit to sugar-free gelatin or mixing up a quick fruit salad. You will be amazed at how delicious these healthy dessert recipes taste.

dessert1

Almond Brown Rice Pudding

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped slivered almonds

Directions

Place dates in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup boiling water over them. Let soak 15 minutes, then transfer dates and water to a blender and puree until smooth to make a date syrup.

Bring rice and almond milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the almond milk, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Stir date syrup, raisins, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon and almonds into the cooked rice and serve warm or cold.

dessert2

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pitted dates (6 ounces whole dates)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine peanuts and oats in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 25 times to create a coarse meal. Add cocoa and salt and pulse a few more times to combine.

Put pumpkin purée and peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the peanut butter and pumpkin are incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes.

Add vanilla and dates and mix until combined, about 1 minute. On low-speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture. Mix until completely combined, forming a dense dough.

Scoop up tablespoons of dough and roll them into balls. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Press down on the balls with the back of a fork first in one direction and then in the other to form a checkerboard design on each cookie.

Bake until the cookies are firm and dried, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Place cooled cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 1 week.

dessert3

Carrot-Almond Cake

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided, plus more for the pan
  • 3 cups grated carrots, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, make the crumb topping by combining 1 cup carrots, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1 1/2 cups almond flour and the 1 cup all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a second large bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla, eggs, remaining 3/4 cup sugar and remaining oil. Add flour mixture to the large bowl and whisk again until incorporated; fold in the remaining 2 cups carrots.

Transfer to the prepared pan and scatter crumb topping over the top. Bake until the cake springs back in the middle when pressed, and is deep golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes.

Set aside to let cool until warm, then remove from the pan and transfer to a plate, discarding the parchment paper. Cut into squares or wedges and serve.

dessert4

Sweet Potato Apple Pie

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 1 (9 to 9 1/2-inch) unbaked pie shell
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake about 1 hour or until very tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Line pastry shell with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake on the lower rack of the oven about 15 minutes or until just starting to set. Remove the weights and continue to bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

Meanwhile, peel sweet potatoes and transfer flesh to the bowl of a food processor. Discard skins. Process until potatoes are puréed. Transfer 1 1/4 cups purée to a large bowl. Add milk, sugar, flour, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and whisk until combined and smooth.

Layer apple slices in concentric circles in the bottom of the cooled crust. Pour sweet potato filling into the crust over the apples. Bake about 50 minutes or until just set in the center of the pie.

Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Serve or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

dessert5

Pear Crumble

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 medium pears, cored and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Frozen vanilla yogurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine oats, flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix with a fork until combined. Add the butter and work it in with your fingers, a fork or a pastry blender until the mixture begins to form clumps.

In a large bowl toss the pears with the water, lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Transfer pear mixture to a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the oat mixture evenly over the pears.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the topping is golden and the pears are tender. If desired, serve warm with frozen yogurt.

Tip
To make individual servings, prepare as above, except divide the pear mixture among six 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins. Sprinkle with oat mixture and bake about 35 minutes or until the pears are tender. Serve as above.

Cooking the Italian Provinces – Rovigo

rovigocover

The Province of Rovigo is located in the Veneto region in the northwestern section of Italy. Rovigo lies in the southern part of the region in the Po Valley and is crossed by two major rivers: the Po and the Adige. It is a land where a dense network of canals, drainage units, reclaimed lands and plantations coexist with nature. A quiet world, where silence is only interrupted by the sound of birds and the flow of the Po River.

The Medieval influence can be seen in the towers that look over the cities in the province, such as the tower in via Pighin and the two leaning towers: Donà – one of the highest Italian towers – and the Mozza tower. The Cathedral dedicated to St. Stephen preserves many sculptures and paintings. The National Archaeological Museum contains Etruscan and Roman artifacts.

rovigo3

True to Italian tradition, many feasts and festivals are held throughout the Province of Rovigo, celebrating age-old customs that still flourish today. Strawberries, wheat and polenta are just some of the foodstuffs that are featured in these festivals in addition to the traditional Christmas and Easter celebrations. The Sagra degli Aquiloni (Kite Festival) is an event dedicated to children with prizes for the most beautiful and the highest-flying kite. The carnival celebration in Fratta Polesine might be one of the most beautiful events. The parade of carnival floats, games and events among the monuments of the old town on the last Sunday of carnival is very popular, as is the carnival cuisine.

rovigo2

Many crops grow well in the fertile Po Basin. Beans, radicchio, asparagus, pumpkins, squash, corn, celery, artichokes and cherries. All lend themselves perfectly to the region’s cooking. Excellent honey is produced here. Wine culture is strong in the region, with many types of whites and reds being produced here. Wine and grappa making are  favorite hobbies because of the excellent quality of the region’s grapes. There are a great variety of excellent local wines, such as Refosco ai Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lambrusco and Raboso. White wines include Malvasia, Sauvignon, Riesling and Trebbiano.

rovigo1

Rice production has been honed to a fine art in the region, with countless creamy risotto recipes giving testament to the fact that rice is important. Cattle farming and the dairy industry are highly prized in this area (butter is often used instead of olive oil in cooking) and cheeses find their way into many dishes.

The typical cuisine of the region is based on local products that, of course, would include rice. Along the coastline, fish and shellfish are favorite additions and typical foods include platters of steamed shellfish, pasta with cannucce (mantis shrimp) and gnocchi with baby mullet and fried local fish. Risotto (cooked with eel, mullet and bass), rice in a fish broth, guinea fowl “in tecia” (cooked in an earthenware pot) or the fòlaga (bald coot stewed with beans) are all popular dishes.

A well-known appetizer is “sarde in saor” (sardines in sweet and sour sauce). Another great food tradition in the region is cicchetti, small snacks or side dishes that are usually eaten with a small glass of wine at the popular wine bars. These snacks are often tiny sandwiches, plates of olives or other vegetables, halved hard-boiled eggs, small servings of a combination of one or more of seafood, meat and vegetable ingredients laid on top of a slice of bread or polenta and very small servings of typical full-course plates. Like Spanish tapas, one can also make a meal of cicchetti by ordering multiple plates.

rovigobarfood

Once you go inland, away from the sea, the food of the hill and mountain towns becomes more hearty, with polenta, gnocchi, horsemeat and wildfowl, particularly duck, are the featured ingredients for main dishes. Bigoli are a rough, thick homemade spaghetti, usually made from wheat flour, that are laboriously extruded through a special tool used only for that purpose. Radicchio is popular with varieties all named after cities they are grown in or near: Treviso, Verona, etc.

rovigosardines

Sweet and Sour Sardines (Sarde in Saor)

Ingredients

  • 12 fresh sardines, cleaned
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) white wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • Toasted pine nuts and lemon wedges, to serve

Directions

Brush sardines with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large grill pan or frying pan over medium heat and cook the sardines, turning once, for 8 minutes or until just cooked. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a clean frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until softened. Add wine and vinegar and simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly reduced, then add cinnamon, raisins and thyme. Simmer for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Pour onion mixture over the sardines, then cool completely. Drizzle with remaining oil and scatter the pine nuts on top. Serve with lemon.

rovigocrostini

Crostini with Radicchio 

20 crostini

Ingredients

  • 7-8 oz (200 g) radicchio leaves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 2/3 fluid oz (50 ml) red wine
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ oz Grated Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 20 baguette slices

Directions

Cut the radicchio into thin strips. Sauté the onion and the radicchio in hot oil and deglaze the pan with the red wine.

Add salt and pepper and stir, making sure that the liquid doesn’t boil away completely. Mix the parsley into the dish and spread the mixture on the baguette slices.

Bake the baguettes in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F (220°C) for about 6 minutes, sprinkle them with cheese and serve.

rovigosoup

Supa da ajo (Garlic soup)

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 4 thin slices of stale bread, cut into small cubes
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of hot chicken stock
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

Crush the garlic cloves.

Pour the oil into a large saucepan.

Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes on very low heat.

Remove the garlic.

Add the bread cubes. Stir.

Pour in the hot chicken stock.

Season with salt.

Let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk them.

Pour them slowly into the hot soup.

Cook for 3 minutes stirring continuously.

Serve garnished with parsley.

rovigognocchi

Italian Pumpkin Gnocchi

Ingredients

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 ½ lbs (700 g) pumpkin
  • 8 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ½ oz (100 g) flour, plus extra for the forming the gnocchi
  • 1 ¾ oz (50 g) grated Grana Padano cheese
  • Salt & pepper

For the sauce:

  • 3 oz (80 g)  butter
  • Sage leaves
  • 1 ¾ oz (50 g) grated Grana Padano cheese

Directions

To cook the pumpkin.

There are two ways:

  1. Cut the pumpkin into pieces, leaving the skin on, and put it in the oven (350ºF/180°C) for 30 minutes. Then peel it and mash the pulp.
  2. Peel the skin, cut the pumpkin into pieces and put it in the microwave with a couple of tablespoons of water and microwave on high for 15 minutes.Cool to room temperature.

Mix the pumpkin with breadcrumbs, egg and salt. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms.

Flour the counter or a pastry board and form the dough into 1 inch thick long ropes. Cut each rope into 1 inch pieces and gently press each with the prongs of a fork on two sides.

Put the prepared gnocchi on a floured cutting board or baking sheet. When all the gnocchi are formed, you can cook them.

Cut the butter and sage into small pieces and place them on a baking sheet. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F., then turn it off.  Place the baking sheet with the butter in the oven.

Boil a large pot of salted water and add the gnocchi, a dozen at a time. As soon as they rise to the surface, scoop them out with a skimmer and place them on the baking sheet in the oven.

As the gnocchi are cooked add them to the baking sheet.

When all the gnocchi are cooked, place them in a serving bowl with a generous amount of grated Grana Padano cheese.

rovigomap


Sons of Italy Blog

THE Blog for the Italian American Community!

That’s So Jacob

random thoughts 'n things from the life of jacob

Plate it up

food that lifts your mood!!!

Ego Silencer

Silence the Ego and Live Happy and Healthy.

eastbaybounty

Running, books & other write worthy tid-bits

Love, Food & Beer

Teacher by day. Lover of food and beer by... always.

For Your Good Health

Taking care of your most precious commodity: your health.

dominicspoweryoga

Welcome to Dominic's Power Yoga for Health and Fitness Tips plus more!

Silvia's Cucina

Welcome to my authentic Italian home cooking blog

Simple Style Finds

This blog is about what inspires me and hopefully will inspire you too

Rafferty's Rules

Bits & Bobs & Thingamajigs (and other Miscellany)

mycookinglifebypatty

Adventures in Healthy Living

Mama Miyuki Easy Pantsy

Bringing restaurants in to your home

Run4joy59's Blog

Ending chaos, creating balance.

KOSHER LIKE ME

COMING SOON

welcomebackbelly

Because Life Can be Shemomedjamo.

carluzza

Foolish the doctor who despises the knowledge acquired by the ancients. ~Hippocrates

thispixielife

Going Inward While Living a Delicious Life

Food Tours in Parma & Beyond: Food n Wine n Whisky Quality Food Tours

Healthy Living Food Tours - We are leading the way in Magical Gourmet Tours

Jude The Foodie

Living a "Glass Half Full" Life!

AKulinary Blog

Narrative of a Hungry Chef

Gourmet Dad, Don’t Let The Title Fool You

I think I enjoy the cooking more than eating, there is nothing better than to watch the smile grow after someone’s first bite. Note from Steve: I am a flow of thought writer and apologize up front if I lose you. My family is used to it.

From Nona With Love

Cooking advice, recipes, scratch cooking and cooking tips

Barbara Melnik Carson

Narrative Sculptor

Living Too Large

Thoughts on food addiction, weight loss, etc

In Her Chucks

Navigating the Journey of Mommyhood, Kitchen Queen and Music Maker in My Chucks!

midatlanticcooking

The Evolution of MId-Atlantic Cuisine

Bear's Journey

One man's adventures on his first ever diet!

marezeram

An amalgamation of good, great, and questionable things

Romancing the Bee

Beautiful Beekeeping, English Cottage Gardening, and Cooking with Honey

Urban Eating

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

Putney Farm

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

Awareness. Education. Motivation.

Butter Beans Blog

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

Foodie Joanie

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

A Vegetarian Foodie's Guide to Life

My Daily Prompt Blog

Where I do my Daily Prompts

DixiesDiary.org

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

Healthy Food Coach

Healthy eating made easy for you and your family

glitzgirlzglamourguide

"A Girls Glamual to Life"

putraculinary

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

spontaneous tomato

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

Lil' Suburban Homestead

Sharing Our Passion for Sustainable Living on a Budget

THE SCARECROW

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

The Thrifty Senyorita

thrifty fashion, style, travel, food, and fun

Yummyfoodmadeeasy

Delicious food made simple for you

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,257 other followers

%d bloggers like this: