Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

What Kind Of Pesto Do You Like?

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Making the classic Ligurian pesto of basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil, is really just a start. Play with the formula to create your own pesto version for tossing with pasta or spooning over just about anything from the grill.

Here are a few ideas.

  • Vary the herbs. Tender leaves, like parsley, oregano and mint also work well. Or skip the herbs and try baby kale, baby spinach or arugula.
  • Switch up the nuts. Try almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts, which make a heartier pesto. Or add pistachios or Brazil nuts, which both have a natural buttery flavor that’s delicious in a sauce.
  • Add vegetables. For an especially chunky pesto, add your farmers’ market finds, from asparagus to red peppers to tomatoes.
  • Mix and match. After you get comfortable with varying the formula, you can come up with creative combos, like oregano-pistachio or olive-hazelnut.

Carrot Top Pesto

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A new cookbook, Root to Stalk Cooking by Tara Duggan, inspired me to think about how I could use the carrot tops that came with my CSA share. The spread I created is delicious over grilled chicken breasts and grilled fish fillets.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed carrot leaves (washed well and stems removed)
  • 6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon each fine sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons roasted pistachio nuts (see below)
  • 1/2 of a lemon, squeezed

Directions

If you did not purchase roasted nuts then spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in a preheated 350-degree F oven and toast the nuts until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, nuts can be browned in a microwave. Spread in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power, stopping to stir once or twice, until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

To Make the Pesto:
In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Process until finely minced. Add the nuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice and pulse just until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Traditional Handmade Basil Pesto

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Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pine nuts (6 ounces)
  • 5 cups basil leaves, chilled and very dry
  • 6 small garlic cloves, quartered
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sealing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for about 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Coarsely chop the basil leaves.

In a large mortar, combine the basil and garlic and pound to a coarse paste. Add the nuts and pound until a smooth paste forms. Stir in the Parmesan, then 3/4 cup of the olive oil.

Transfer the pesto to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Smooth the surface and pour a little olive oil on top to seal.

Cavatappi with Basil Pesto and Eggplant 

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Modern method for making pesto.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta or short pasta of choice
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small eggplant, diced in small cubes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Mix eggplant with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until light, golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Combine basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper in a blender, pulse for 5 seconds. With processor running add 6 tablespoons of olive oil and puree. Remove the pesto from the blender and transfer to a large pasta serving bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt. Cook pasta 1 minute less than packaged directions. Drain pasta and place in the bowl with the pesto.

Add lemon juice and eggplant and toss to combine. Top with shredded Parmigiano cheese before serving.

Spinach Pesto

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This pesto does incredible things for grilled chicken.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse.

With the machine running, gradually add the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste.

Olive-Mint Pesto

Olive-Mint Pesto

Stir this pesto into mixed ground meats to make meatloaf, serve it on bruschetta with shaved Parmesan cheese, stir it into soups or whisk it into vinaigrettes.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons tightly packed mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons small capers, drained
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted mixed olives, such as Kalamata and Cerignola
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

In a food processor, pulse the mint with the capers, garlic, lemon zest and crushed red pepper. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the olives and pulse until coarsely chopped. Season the pesto with pepper.

Olive-Mint Pesto Meatballs

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Ingredients

  • 3 slices good quality packaged white bread, crusts removed, bread torn
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup Olive-Mint Pesto, recipe above
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 pound ground turkey
  • 3/4 pound ground beef (or use all turkey)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

In a large bowl, soak the bread in the milk for 1 minute, mashing it. Using your hand, press out the milk and drain it off.

Add 1/3 cup of the olive-mint pesto, the scallion and the egg to the soaked bread and mash to a paste. Add the ground turkey and beef and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Mix until well blended.

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using lightly moistened hands, roll the meat mixture into twenty-four 1 1/2-inch balls and transfer to the baking sheet.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned all over and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve over pasta, if desired.

Mixed-Herb Pesto

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Whisk the pesto with a little vinegar to create a delicious herb dressing for a salad, sliced tomatoes or grilled fish.

Makes 2 ½ cups

Ingredients

  • 1 large garlic cloves
  • 4 lightly packed cups basil leaves
  • 2 lightly packed cups flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup roasted nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pine nuts or pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • Salt

Directions

In a food processor, chop the garlic. Add the basil, parsley and mint and pulse until chopped. Add the nuts and oil and pulse until a smooth paste forms. Add the cheese and pulse until incorporated. Season with salt to taste.

Spoon the pesto into 1/2-pint freezer containers. Smooth the surface and pour a little olive oil on top to seal. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Walnut Pesto

Walnut Pesto

Mix this pesto with cooked tortellini or roasted vegetables, spread it on thickly sliced tomatoes and broil, or stuff it under the skin of a chicken  before roasting.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves (6 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden. Cool the walnuts and finely chop.

In a processor, combine the garlic with a pinch each of crushed red pepper and salt. Process until a paste forms.

Add the walnuts, parsley and slowly add the olive oil until blended. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with additional salt, if needed.

Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto

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Use this pesto on top of grilled chicken, lamb or vegetables; as a sandwich spread; or mixed with cream cheese on a bagel. It is quite delicious on whole wheat spaghetti, also.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or
  • 15 drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

Directions

In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes; remove from the pan. Or toast the pine nuts in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, put the pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, oil, water, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.

6. Fusilli with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

To Make a Pasta Salad:

Cook 1 lb fusilli pasta according to directions. Drain.
Toss the pasta with a 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the sun-dried tomato pesto, 1/2 cup of roughly chopped pitted black olives, 2 cups baby spinach leaves, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Serve at room temperature.

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Italian Treasures – Lake Nemi

Nemi

Lake Nemi, Diana’s Sacred Grove, is a small circular volcanic lake in the Lazio region of Italy, 30 km (19 miles) south of Rome. The shores of the lake were the setting for one of the cruellest religious rites in honor of a local divinity, Diana of Nemi also known as “Diana of the Woods”, an Italian version of the Hellenic goddess, Artemis. Her sanctuary was found on the northern shore of the lake, beneath the cliffs of the town of Nemi. The lake has often been referred to by poets and scholars as, “Diana’s Mirror.” Diana is one of the more complex goddesses of mythology and her cult at Nemi was especially violent.

The “Rex Nemorensis” or king of the sacred grove, was the high-priest of Diana’s temple. The legend says that in her sacred grove there grew a large oak tree from which it was absolutely forbidden to break off a branch. Only a runaway slave could break off a branch, thus earning the right to fight the presiding high priest of the temple to the death. If the slave won, he could take the place of the priest and adopt his title of “rex nemorensis”. This violent rite of succession was based on the premise that the High Priest of Nemi always had to be at the height of his powers. He could never be ill nor could he die of old age.

Diana

Diana

This ritual continued up until the Imperial era, according to the ancient Roman historian, Suetonius. Emperor Caligula, angered by the fact that the high priest of Nemi had been in his role for too long, ordered him to be killed by an opponent of greater strength. In the II century AD the fight to preside over the sacred altar became symbolic in nature and the cult of Diana itself began to wane, almost completely disappearing after the advent of Christianity. The origins of the cult of Diana are mixed with legend and it is probable that this ancient myth on the Italian peninsula had Greek origins.

The locals will tell you that the spirit of the “rex nemorensis” still wanders in the woods around the lake and that you should take special care when walking in these parts. However, the lake is most famous for its sunken Roman ships, discovered there in the XV century. These ships were very large and technologically advanced for their time.

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, acquired the nickname Caligula when he was still a little boy, playing in soldier’s boots several sizes too big for his feet. People started calling him Caligula which means “Little Boots” and they still called him that when he became the Roman Emperor in 37 A.D.

Caligula

As one of his royal passions, Emperor Caligula ordered several large barges to be built to use on Lake Nemi. For centuries scholars and historians debated Caligula’s reason for building the barges. Some contend that Caligula built the barges to show the rulers of Syracuse, Sicily and Egypt that Rome could match any luxurious pleasure barges that they built. Caligula bragged that his ships were the most luxurious in the world. Other scholars argue that Caligula designed one of his ships as a floating temple to Diana and some say that the other ship may have been used as a floating palace where Caligula and his court could indulge in the depravities that history has credited to him.

Suetonius, the Roman historian, described the two biggest barges as being built of cedar wood adorned with jeweled prows, rich sculptures, vessels of gold and silver, sails of purple silk and bathrooms of alabaster and bronze. The floors were paved with glass mosaic, the windows and door frames were made of bronze and many of the decorations were costly.

The flat-bottomed Nemi barges were not self-propelled. Instead, they were attached to the shore by chains and bridges stretching across the water so people and commerce could travel back and forth. The two largest ships were about 250 feet long and 70 feet wide, nearly covering Lake Nemi.

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Nemi 2

Caligula had no suspicions that officers of the Praetorian Guard and members of the Roman Senate and of the Imperial Court were conspiring to assassinate him. Although they successfully assassinated Caligula on January 21, 41 AD., the assassins were unsuccessful in their goal of restoring the Roman Republic. After Caligula’s assassination, the Roman Senate and the Praetorian Guard attempted to destroy everything connected with him, including his barges, which they pillaged and sank.

Fishermen handed down memories of Caligula’s palatial Nemi ships to their descendants, some swearing that they could see the shadowy outlines of the ships in the waters of Lake Nemi. The ships were actually buried in the mud 200 yards distant from each other in five fathoms of water; one 150 feet from the bank and the other 250 feet from the bank.

Legends of Caligula’s sunken ships filled with fabulous treasures were passed down through generations of Lake Nemi citizens. For centuries local fisherman considered Caligula’s sunken barges local landmarks and some explored the wrecks and took small treasures from them, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that anyone tried to explore and raise Caligula’s legendary ships.

In 1446 Cardinal Prospero Colonna, an Italian humanist, and Leon Battista Alberti, a  renowned engineer, followed the clues in the local legends about the Nemi barges, but the wrecks lay too deep to be salvaged effectively at the time. The Fascist government of Benito Mussolini worked to recover Caligula’s ships for about five years – from October 1928 to October 1932. Mussolini ordered the Italian Navy engineers to drain Lake Nemi. A London Times story reported that everyone on the site cheered as the waters receded to reveal the first Nemi ship.

With all of the water removed, the level of Lake Nemi dropped 66 feet and a mud shower occurred as a result of the sinking of the lake floor. Work stopped while the government and the archaeologists debated the future of the project and Lake Nemi began refilling with water. The second ship had already begun to dry out and re-submerging caused a great deal of damage to it. The Italian Minister of Public Works ordered the project and all of the research related to it to be abandoned on November 10, 1931. The Navy Ministry, which had participated in the original recovery, petitioned the Italian Prime Minister to resume the project on February 19, 1932 and the government granted permission. Pumping out the waters of Lake Nemi resumed on March 28, 1932 and the second ship was recovered in October 1932.

The hulls of the Nemi ships and their contents were recovered, as well as items scattered around the ships, including bronze and marble ornaments, tiles and utensils. The recovery of the Nemi ships settled a prolonged and contentious scholarly argument. Before the ships were recovered, many scholars scoffed at the idea that the Romans were capable of building large enough ships to carry grain, despite ancient sources that said they had built such ships. The size of the Nemi Ships proved that the ancient sources were correct.

Over the centuries, scholars have also debated whether or not the lead bars found on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea were from anchors used on Roman ships. The Nemi ships were built during the transition between the use of wooden and iron anchors and they were the first Romans ships found with intact anchors. The Nemi ships confirmed that the lead bars were from the anchors. Additionally, the Romans made ball bearings out of lead and they probably used the ball bearings on the Nemi ships to make the statues of the gods rotate.

Both of Caligula’s Nemi ships contained several hand-operated bilge pumps working like modern bucket dredges, the oldest example of this type of pump ever found. Piston pumps on the two Nemi ships supplied hot and cold running water through lead pipes. The Romans used the hot water for baths and the cold water for fountains and drinking water. This piston pump technology later was lost to history and not rediscovered until the Middle Ages.

The Italian government built a museum called the Lake Nemi Museum over both ships in 1935 and it opened in January 1936.

Source: History Because It’s Here

The Cuisine of the Roman Empire

Food, like the weather, seems to be a universal topic of conversation, endlessly fascinating and a constant part of our lives. In addition to art and archaeology, we have information on Roman food from a variety of written sources. Here are two ancient recipes for porridge written by Cato the Elder from De Agricultura.

Recipe for Punic porridge:

Soak a pound of groats in water until it is quite soft. Pour it into a clean bowl, add 3 pounds of fresh cheese, 1/2 pound of honey, and 1 egg, and mix the whole thoroughly; turn into a new pot.

Recipe for wheat pap:

Pour 1/2 pound of clean wheat into a clean bowl, wash well, remove the husk thoroughly, and clean well. Pour into a pot with pure water and boil. When done, add milk slowly until it makes a thick cream.

For those who could afford it, breakfast, eaten very early, would consist of salted bread, milk or wine and perhaps dried fruit, eggs or cheese. The Roman lunch, a quick meal, eaten around noon could include salted bread or be more elaborate with fruit, salad, eggs, meat or fish, vegetables and cheese. Dinner, the main meal of the day, would be accompanied by wine, usually well-watered. An ordinary upper class dinner would include meat, vegetable, egg and fruit.

An Ancient Roman Meal

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Roman Egg Drop Soup – Stracciatella

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts (liters) mixed meat broth
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano
  • 1 tablespoon very finely minced parsley
  • 3 tablespoons semolina
  • A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Directions

In a bowl, combine the eggs, semolina, grated cheese, nutmeg and parsley. Add a ladle of cold broth and beat the mixture lightly with a fork or whisk.

Bring the remainder of the broth to a boil. Add the egg mixture all at once, stirring vigorously with a whisk or fork to break up the egg, which will form fine, light flakes or small rags (straccetti, in Italian) that give the soup its name.

Simmer for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, and serve with a little more grated Parmigiano on the side.

SAMSUNG CSC

Aliter Lenticulam (Lentils)

Ingredients

  • 750 ml sweet white wine
  • 250 g green lentils
  • 3 large leeks, sliced
  • 1 large bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • Pinch of asafoetida (an ancient spice similar to garlic with an onion flavor)
  • Dash of bitters
  • Generous handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • 225 g honey (This amount used in the recipe’s translation is excessive, as a reader kindly pointed out. After researching amounts of honey used in the Roman days, I would say no more than a half a cup should be used, if that. A couple of tablespoons would probably suit our current tastes. That was all I used when I tested the recipe.)
  • Generous splash of wine vinegar
  • Generous splash of must (grape juice boiled until it’s reduced to 3/4 of its volume)
  • 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Add a little oil to a pan and, when hot, stir-in the asafoetida and coriander seeds. Cook until the seeds begin to splutter, then grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar. Add the rosemary leaves and pound to crush them. Add just enough vinegar to bring the mixture together as a paste and add a dash of bitters.

Combine the sweet wine and lentils in a pan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are tender (about 60 minutes). When the lentils are almost done add the leeks, honey, coriander and mint along with the spice and vinegar blend. Flavor with a little more wine vinegar and must.

Simmer for a further 15 minutes or until the leeks are tender. Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil and black pepper, then serve.

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Aliter Sepias

This is a traditional ancient Roman recipe for a classic dish of cooked squid or cuttlefish served in a spiced and herb white wine sauce thickened with an egg yolk.

1 kg cooked squid or cuttlefish

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon lovage seeds (or celery seeds) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled 
  • 1 raw egg yolk 
  • 1 teaspoon honey 
  • 60 ml fish stock 
  • 60 ml white wine 
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Pound together the pepper, lovage (or celery) seeds, coriander and mint in a mortar. Work in the honey, stock, wine, vinegar and olive oil then pour into a pan.

Heat slowly and, when warm, gently whisk in the beaten egg yolk. Bring to a simmer (do not boil) and cook on low heat until thickened.

Arrange boiled or fried squid (cuttlefish) on a warmed serving dish, pour the sauce over the squid.

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Honeyed Quinces

This is a traditional ancient Roman recipe for a dessert of quinces boiled in a sauce of white wine and honey. Pears can be substituted but quinces are more tart. If using pears reduce the honey by 1/3 and add the juice of half a lime.

Ingredients

  • 10 quinces 
  • 100 ml honey 
  • Cinnamon 
  • 250 ml sweet white wine

Directions

Peel, core and dice the quinces and put them in a saucepan. Add the wine and honey and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until they are soft (reduce the cooking time for pears). Chill before serving. Pour into individual bowls.

 

Healthy Summer Salad Dressings

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Salads are

  • a great source of fiber
  • an excellent way of getting multiple fruit and veggie servings
  • a filling dish that usually has a low-calorie count

But, having a salad alone doesn’t ensure good nutrition. Too much cheese, fried meats and bread can ruin a healthy salad. Another culprit is the salad dressing itself. Store-bought dressings have lots of trans fats, sugars, artificial ingredients and a surprising number of calories.

So, what’s a health-conscious, calorie-conscious person to do?

Start from scratch! Homemade salad dressings give you the flexibility to use fresh, natural ingredients and make healthy substitutions where they are needed.

Salad dressing is one of those foods where we tend not to notice how much we’re putting on and, if you’re watching calories, they can add up fast. One tip for keeping serving sizes reasonable: It really only takes a small amount of an oil-based dressing to coat the leaves of a salad. The trick is to put a small amount in a bowl and toss the salad very well. This not only uses less oil, it tastes better when the salad has an even coating of dressing instead of being poured on the top.

It’s quite surprising how much sugar and other carbohydrate can be added to salad dressings, so keep sweeteners to a minimum.

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The best oils for salads dressings have high amounts of monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is probably the best choice, at 73% monounsaturated fat and it also has other good-for-you nutrients. Canola oil has 59% monounsaturated fat.

In the summer when fruits, vegetables and fragrant herbs are in abundance, homemade dressings are refreshing drizzled over just about anything. When you think healthy, you don’t think creamy, cheesy salad dressings. But, there are definitely ways to balance taste and nutrition without giving up either. Making healthy substitutions to your salad dressing is not as challenging as it may seem. In fact, it’s rather easy.

Herbs (dill, chives, rosemary), spices, garlic and shallots help add flavor to any salad dressing. Red or white wine vinegar, lemon or orange juice (or any citrus) and chicken or vegetable stock are low-fat and can replace some of the oil when making a vinaigrette. Mustards like Dijon can also replace a portion of oil as well as add thickness to the dressing. Classic vinaigrettes generally contain a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio of oil to vinegar. Using some of the ingredients mentioned above, you can bring those calorie numbers down, yielding a healthier and more flavorful dressing.

Tofu might not seem like an obvious substitution choice, but pureed in the blender it’s a perfect base for a creamy dressing. Tofu is also a great source of protein and calcium. Low-fat sour cream and low-fat plain yogurt also make good substitutions in creamy dressings, like Thousand Island.

The key is to reduce the high calorie and fat ingredients and bump up the ingredients that add flavor and texture.

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Balsamic Herb Vinaigrette

Balsamic vinegar, a reduction that comes from grapes, is a low-calorie liquid; a tablespoon only has about 14 calories. Additionally, it’s low in sodium and fat, making it an excellent base for a healthy salad dressing.

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or 1 tablespoon of minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon of minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Whisk everything together and set aside until you are ready to make a salad.

dressings 1

Creamy Herb Dressing

I like this drizzled over seafood salads.

Makes ½ cup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons refrigerated egg substitute or 1 large pasteurized egg yolk
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh dill leaves
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fennel fronds
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Directions

Pulse egg, garlic and vinegar in a food processor until smooth. With motor running, gradually drizzle in oil and process until emulsified. Add dill and fennel and process. Add a tablespoon of water, if needed, to make the dressing the consistency of heavy cream; season with salt and pepper.

dressing 2

dressing 3

Orange-Poppy Seed Dressing

Delicious over a fruit salad.

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions

Combine first 5 ingredients in a blender; process until blended. Pour into a serving bowl and stir in the poppy seeds.. Cover and refrigerate.

dressing 4

Blue Cheese Dressing

Excellent over roasted beets.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

dressing 5

Homemade Coleslaw Dressing

Dressing makes enough for half a medium cabbage and one carrot, shredded.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise 
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced onion 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry yellow mustard 
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Directions

Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill.

Mix with your favorite coleslaw ingredients the day you are planning to serve the coleslaw. Chill the coleslaw before serving.

dressing11

Healthy Caesar

Yield:1 cup – 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces cubed Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 11/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 11/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup silken soft tofu
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Starting on the lowest speed, chop the cheese cubes in the blender until it settles into the bottom of the jar, gradually increasing the speed. Add the garlic down the chute and chop until minced.

Next, add the mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt,pepper and tofu to the blender and blend until smooth. While the blender is running, drizzle olive oil down the middle and blend until it reaches salad dressing consistency.

dressing 6

Dressing for Salads with Fruit and Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Whisk together the vinegars, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in the oils. Taste and adjust seasonings.

dressing 8

Thousand Island Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

In a blender or food processor blend all ingredients and salt, if needed, until smooth, adding up to 2 tablespoons additional water, if necessary to thin to a desired consistency.

dressing 9

Yogurt-Feta Dressing

Good over sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

Directions

In a blender or food processor, combine feta, yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, mint, lemon zest and juice; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Blend or process until smooth, adding more oil if you need it to reach a smooth consistency.

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 marinade

Marinade Rub Mop Sauce BBQ Sauce
What Is It? Liquid mix of fat (such as oil) and acid (such as vinegar) Powder or paste of herbs, spices, and other ingredients Thin liquid with ingredients like tomato juice or beer Usually thicker, often sweet sauce
What Does It Do? Flavors and slightly tenderizes Forms crust that flavors each bite Adds moistureduring low-heat slow cooking Adds flavor and caramelized coating
How Is It Used? Soak foods 30 minutes to 2 hours before cooking Pat on foods 15 to 20 minutes before cooking Baste foods during cooking Brush on during last 5 to 15 minutes of cooking
Best with: Leaner or blander foods, such as chicken breast, pork chops, vegetables Fattier meats, such as pork ribs, pork loin, lamb chops, salmon, skin-on chicken Tougher, long-cooking cuts, such as ribs, pork butt, and brisket Almost anything, especially chicken, ribs, and shrimp
Example: Grilled marinated chicken breasts Barbecued ribs (also has barbecue sauce) Carolina pulled pork Barbecued ribs (also has a rub)

Source: Elizabeth Karmel’s Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned: A Complete Guide to Flavoring Food for the Grill

More flavoring ideas:

  • An herb butter is great on top of steak or fish.
  • Pork and chicken are delicious with a fresh salsa or relish.
  • Pestos, chimichurris and tapanades are a fantastic garnish for almost any grilled ingredient.
  • Dipping sauces are served at the table for diners to customize their own flavors.

Marinades

marinade 0

Marinades are flavor-infusing liquids best suited for tougher cuts of meat. In addition to herbs, condiments, spices and oils, marinades typically include an acid, like lemon juice, wine, vinegar and even dairy.
Adding sweet ingredients to the marinade can help form appealing caramelized, crispy coatings on grilled meats.
Yogurt and buttermilk, common ingredients in marinades, contain both the fat and the acid as one ingredient. Marinades generally only penetrate the outer quarter-inch of the foods you’ll be grilling, but since you get some of the surface with each bite, this is enough.

How to Use It

Thirty minutes to two hours before cooking (any earlier and food could get mushy), soak food in a nonreactive (i.e. glass, plastic or stainless-steel, not aluminum) container in the refrigerator. Resealable plastic bags also work well. Drain before cooking.

How Long Does It Keep?

The fresher the better and flavors will be brighter if you use a marinade immediately. However, in a pinch most marinades can be refrigerated up to two days.
Don’t put used marinade on cooked food—it could be contaminated with microbes from the raw meat. If you want to reuse a marinade, you must boil it for three minutes.
A variation on a marinade is a brine. Rather than combining fat and acid, this is simply a salty liquid. Food soaked in a brine absorbs the liquid and the salt, adding moisture and flavor.

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Simple Olive Oil Garlic Marinade

Makes about 1 cup / Use with chicken, shrimp or vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard 
  • 2/3 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Stir all the ingredients together.

marinade 3

Steak Marinade

Great for flank steak or London broil.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

Directions

Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, pepper hot sauce and garlic in a blender. Blend on high-speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.

Pour marinade over steak. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cook meat as desired.

Marinade 1

Italian Herb Marinade

Use for chicken, vegetables and fish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, trimmed of thick stems
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Finely chop the parsley, fresh oregano, basil and garlic and place in a small bowl. Stir in the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Use immediately or refrigerate. If chilled, return to room temperature before using. You can store this marinade in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Marinade for Grilled Vegetables

Good for eggplant, squash and peppers

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and the pepper. While whisking, add oil in a thin stream. Stir garlic into marinade. Pour into a ziplock bag and add cut up vegetables. Grill according to taste.

Rubs

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Rubs are seasoning mixtures rubbed on meats before grilling to add spicy or smoky flavors.The ingredients slightly penetrate the meat and also form a crust that flavors each bite. Rubs are great on fattier meats that can benefit from a crisp, toasty crust, such as pork ribs, pork loin, lamb chops, salmon and skin-on chicken. They’re popular in classic American barbecuing, where they’re used on slow-cooked items like ribs, often in conjunction with a mop or sauce.

The best rubs enhance the flavor of the meat without being overbearing and are often blends of strong and mild spices and herbs. When oil or another wet substance is included, it is called a wet rub. A little moisture helps the rub adhere to the meat.

How to Use It

The word “rub” is actually a misnomer: About 15 to 20 minutes before cooking, sprinkle then gently pat the rub onto the surface of the food. If you want the flavor to sink in deeper, you can season foods the night before. If you put your rub on the night before, don’t include salt: The salt would draw out the juices and leave the meat dry. Instead, sprinkle the meat with salt just before cooking.

How Long Does It Keep?

Rubs are a great make-ahead option: Most rub mixtures keep for several months in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Coffee Rub for Steak

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons espresso ground coffee
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a small bowl, combine espresso, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, the sugar, paprika and pepper. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the rub over one side of a 1 ½ lb steak and press in with your hands.Turn steak over and repeat with another 1 tablespoon of the rub. Let steak rest at room temperature for one hour and grill according to taste.

Don’t throw away leftover rub. It can be mixed into meatloaf, rubbed onto chicken thighs or sprinkled over salmon before cooking.

marinade 4

Wet Rub for Chicken

Makes enough for 5-6 boneless chicken breast halves

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Whisk lemon juice and olive oil into remaining rub and brush on both sides of the chicken breasts

In a small bowl, combine lemon peel, garlic, coriander, salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne. Sprinkle on both sides of the chicken. Grill chicken about 12 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.

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All-Purpose Meat Rub

Especially good on pork.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, pepper, oregano and thyme.

To use: coat meat entirely in mixture and then grill as desired.

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BBQ Dry Rub

Good on ribs, pork chops and salmon

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients until well combined. Rub on ribs 10 minutes prior to grilling. Store any leftover rub in a sealed container.

 

Summer Seafood – Italian Style

seafood

As the seasons change, so do our appetites and nutritional needs. Between the spring and summer, our food habits undergo a gradual metamorphosis. By the time the hottest months have arrived, most of us are naturally inclined to avoid heavy foods and the long cooking preparations required for them. Leggero (light) or restare leggeri (staying light) is the Italian credo in the summer—fresh, light, colorful and simple foods are what everyone craves on hot days.

Italians tend to eat lukewarm or cold food in the summer; tables are often laden with all kinds of variations of salad—from lettuce-based and raw vegetable salads, to insalata di pasta (pasta salads), insalata di riso (rice salads) and insalata di mare or polpo (seafood or octopus salad).

Insalata di mare (Seafood salad) is a delicate preparation usually made with boiled fresh octopus, clams and mussels; the shellfish open when cooked in a covered pan. Sometimes this salad includes shrimp—previously boiled and cleaned—and baby calamari. Crabmeat or other fresh seafood can also be added. The freshness of the fish, the quality of the extra virgin olive oil and the addition of good-quality lemon make all the difference. The dressing for this salad is made simply with two essential ingredients of the Italian cuisine—lemon and olive oil, along with a bit of garlic, parsley, salt and white pepper. Insalata di polpo (octopus salad) is another favorite in Italy, especially along the coasts. It consists of just boiled fresh octopus and tiny slices of celery, seasoned with the same dressing as in the seafood salad. Sometimes it’s served cold or at room temperature, but it can also be served warm with potatoes.

seafood 1

Crab Risotto

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 fennel bulbs with tops
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake, porcini, or button
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth, heated
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups fresh crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Directions

Trim fennel bulbs, reserving tops. Quarter bulbs lengthwise and slice. Measure 1 cup sliced fennel. Snip enough of the fennel tops to measure 1 tablespoon; set aside.

In a large saucepan heat olive oil and cook the 1 cup fennel, the mushrooms, pepper and fennel seed in until tender. Stir in rice. Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the 1/4 broth and bring to a boil.

Gradually add the remaining warm chicken broth, one cup at a time, until all the broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Remove saucepan from the heat. Stir in crabmeat and green onions. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the snipped fennel tops and serve. This dish can also be served at room temperature.

seafood 2

Shrimp Pizzettas

Ingredients

  • 1 pound homemade or refrigerated pizza dough
  • 4 medium plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 8-10 oz cooked shrimp (cut in half lengthwise)
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves

Directions

Lightly grease a baking sheet; set aside. Unroll the pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16 inch rectangle. Cut dough into eight squares.

Place squares about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. If desired, fold over about 1/4 inch of the dough on each edge; press with a fork.

Bake in a 425 degrees F oven for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Divide tomato slices among the squares. Divide shrimp among the squares. Sprinkle with snipped oregano and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 5 to 6 minutes more or until cheese melts. If desired, garnish with basil.

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Fettuccine and Scallops in Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh scallops
  • 6 ounces fettuccine or linguine
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 4 medium carrots, thinly sliced (2 cups)
  • 8 green onions, sliced (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Cut any large scallops in half.

In a 4 to 5-quart Dutch Oven, bring 3 quarts of water to boiling. Add pasta; return to boiling. Cook for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, carrots and green onions. Return to boiling.

Cook, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes more or until pasta is tender but al dente and vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain pasta and vegetables; keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl stir together wine, lemon juice and cornstarch; set aside.

In the empty pasta pot melt butter. Add garlic; cook over medium-high heat about 1 minute. Add scallops, wine mixture, lemon zest, Italian seasoning, parsley and pepper to the pan.

Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes more or until the scallops turn opaque.

Arrange pasta mixture on a large platter. Spoon the scallop mixture over the pasta mixture. Makes 4 main-dish servings.

seafood 4

Seafood al Cartoccio (Grilled Red Snapper and Shellfish)

Ingredients

Seafood

  • 4 red snapper fillets, 6 ounces each, skin on, scaled and bones removed
  • 6 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined or clams or mussels or a combination of all
  • 1/2 cup fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Herb Butter

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 oregano sprigs, chopped
  • Juice of 3 fresh lemons
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Foil Packets

  • Aluminum foil, heavy strength
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

To make the herb butter

1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until butter is blended evenly.
2. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the foil packets

1. Cut 4 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, approximately 14 x 18 inches in size.
2. Place sheet of foil shiny side down, narrow edge toward you, on the work surface.
3. Spray the foil with cooking spray. Arrange 1 fish fillet skin side down, 3 to 4 shrimp, a few scattered cherry tomatoes and scallions on each foil sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Using a teaspoon, place several small dollops of the herb butter on the fish and shrimp.
4. Fold the foil over the seafood and bring the top and bottom edges together. Fold the edges over several times to make a tight seal and turn edges up.

Grilling

1. Preheat grill to highest setting.
2. When ready to cook, place the foil cartoccio(skin side down) in the center of the hot grate. Cover the grill and cook until foil pouches are dramatically puffed, approximately 7 to 9 minutes.
3. Remove the packets directly from the grill to a plate. Using a sharp knife, cut the center of the foil pouch lengthwise and open. Be careful of the hot steam.

seafood 5

Marinated Seafood Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound fish fillets of choice
  • Poaching liquid
  • 1/4 pound small bay scallops
  • 1/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1/4 cup sliced celery
  • 3/4 cup black olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Directions

Gently poach fillets, scallops and shrimp in liquid of your choice: water, broth, white wine or a mixture of the liquids.

When fish and shellfish are firm to the touch and cooked through, remove from poaching liquid and cool.

Cut fillets into 1-inch chunks.

Combine fish, scallops, shrimp, celery, olives and green onions in a large mixing bowl. Season with olive oil, lime juice, parsley, salt and cayenne.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Quick Chicken Breast Dinners

chicken Tight on time? No problem. Try one of these simple yet delicious chicken recipes for dinner tonight. People love chicken for its taste, healthfulness and low-fat content, as well as how easy it is to cook with. Chicken is one of the fastest cooking meats but it’s easy to overcook chicken breasts. These recipes for quick chicken use lots of different vegetables, herbs and spices to make delicious. Once you’ve mastered a recipe, try changing it! Add different ingredients and seasonings.

Spices work well when blended together into a rub for chicken. Spices like cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander seed and black pepper make a good blend for a Spanish or Mexican dish. Indian spices include saffron, sesame, turmeric and ground ginger while many Eastern European dishes flavor chicken with spices like paprika, cinnamon, allspice and mace. Use salt sparingly for more healthful eating and rely on true spices for the majority of your flavoring.

Savory herbs such as rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon and sage go well with chicken. Use one flavor, such as rosemary for a singular accent or create a blend, adding in lighter herbs like chives or parsley for balance. Don’t try to blend two very strong flavors, like rosemary and sage or the palate will be confused. Other good herbs for chicken include lemon balm, fennel, mint, marjoram, coriander and garlic. An alternative to applying these herbs directly to the chicken is to toss a few fresh sprigs into the frying or roasting pan and cooking them alongside the chicken to capture the strong aromas in the meat.

Basic directions for quick grilled and seasoned chicken breasts:

Rub equal amounts of Seasoning Mixture under the skin of each bone-in breast. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken on grill over medium heat and cook about 25 minutes or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced with a tip of a knife, turning over once.

  • Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Seasoning: In small bowl, mix 2 minced sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil and 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped.
  • Garlic-Herb Seasoning: In small bowl, mix 2 garlic cloves,minced, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel.
  • Sage-Butter Seasoning: In small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon softened margarine or butter and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves.

 

chicken1

Chicken Caprese Style

4 servings Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), cored, seeds squeezed out, and diced
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs or refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/2 pounds total)

Directions

In a medium-size bowl, mix tomatoes, mozzarella, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and chopped basil for the Caprese salad. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve. Place flour on a large plate. Lightly beat eggs in a shallow bowl. Spread the bread crumbs on another plate.

Dip chicken first in the flour, then in the egg and finally into the bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Sprinkle both sides with the remaining salt and pepper. Place on a large plate.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Turn a few times, if necessary, to avoid burning.

To serve, spoon an equal amount of Caprese salad over each piece of chicken. Garnish with additional basil and serve with sautéed greens and garlic bread, if desired. chicken2

Chicken and Polenta

Ingredients

  • Half of a 6 1/2 ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes with Italian herbs
  • 4 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 to 1-1/4 pounds)
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup assorted olives, drained
  • ½ cup dry white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 small bay leaves 
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drain sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, heat the reserved oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in hot oil 3 minutes on each side or until browned; remove skillet from the heat. Add tomatoes, olives, wine and bay leaves.

Transfer skillet to the oven. Bake, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into chicken.

Meanwhile, for polenta, in a large saucepan bring the 3 cups water to boiling. In a medium bowl combine polenta, the 1 cup cold water and the 1 teaspoon salt; gradually stir into the boiling water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; stir occasionally. Remove chicken from the oven; discard bay leaves. Serve chicken with polenta and olives. chicken3

Braised Balsamic Chicken

This dish is good served over your favorite quick cooking rice and green beans make a nice side dish.

Servings: 6 Ingredients

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 teaspoon garlic 
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Season both sides of chicken breasts with garlic salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook seasoned chicken breasts until chicken is browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan to a plate and set aside.

Add remaining oil, onion, mushrooms and brown sugar to the skillet; cook and stir until onion is browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Stir well and return chicken to the pan.

Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). chicken4

Pesto Chicken Packets

4 servings Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas or asparagus
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill. Cut four 18 x 12 inch pieces of heavy-duty foil. Place a chicken breast half on each piece of foil. Divide tomatoes and sugar snap peas over chicken.

In small bowl, combine pesto with mayonnaise. Divide this mixture over the chicken on each piece of foil. Fold foil over chicken and seal edges, using a double fold method.

Cover and grill packets 6″ from medium coals or on a moderate gas grill for 25-30 minutes or until chicken registers 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer.

You can also bake the packets in a preheated 450 degrees F oven for 23-30 minutes or until done. chicken5

Grilled Chicken Kabobs Over Greek Salad

Just add some warm pita bread. Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 12-inch metal skewers
  • Greek Salad, recipe below

Directions

Mix chicken, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, mint, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Let marinate 30 minutes.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons oil and lemon juice in small bowl to blend. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Pull off large mint leaves from stems.

Alternate chicken, onion, and mint leaves on skewers; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until chicken is just cooked through, turning and basting occasionally with oil-lemon mixture, about 9 minutes. Serve over Greek Salad.

Greek Salad

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound tomatoes, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups diced seeded peeled cucumber (from about 1 large)
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper (from about 1 large)
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)

Directions

Mix the first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Gently mix in cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Grilled Salads For Those Really Hot Days !

grilledsalad

If you’re looking for something lighter, healthier and tastier than typical grilled fare, think about cooking up a salad on the grill. Not only can you cook the obvious chicken breast or steak for your salad, but the grill also does wonders with vegetables, fruits and even sturdy lettuces.

Grilling gives the ingredients a hint of smoke, a touch of char, that regular salads just don’t have. I like to make my dinner salads with protein, so I cook chicken, steak and fish on the grill. Don’t stop there, though: veggies and fruit go on too.

Any vegetable you like to oven-roast is a good candidate for the grill. Think: onions, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, fennel and asparagus. Grill thick slices until marked on both sides, then reduce heat (or move to a cooler part of the grill) and cook until tender. Try grilling sturdy greens like romaine and escarole. A few minutes on the grates makes them delightfully smoky and pleasantly wilted.

To keep food from sticking, oil a paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub on the preheated grill rack. Don’t use cooking spray on a hot grill. To prep veggies for the grill, toss them with oil so they brown nicely and don’t dry out.

For smaller items like cherry tomatoes use skewers to keep them from falling through the grates. A Grill Basket is also great for small vegetables. Just place mushrooms or onion slices into the basket and stir occasionally until done.

Meat Substitutes

Tofu, tempeh, veggie dogs, veggie sausage and veggie burgers all taste great when cooked on the grill!

  • Meat substitutes tend to stick to the grill, so be sure to use a light brushing of oil to help prevent sticking. A non-stick grate or foil packets lightly coated with oil can also be helpful.
  • When grilling tofu, use firm or extra-firm and press it prior to cooking to remove as much of the moisture as possible.
  • Grill over a preheated grill (not too hot!) for 5-7 minutes per side. Place the tofu directly over moderately hot coals or use the indirect heat method. Rotate or move it to a cooler part of the grill during cooking as necessary to ensure that the outside doesn’t cook too quickly.
  • Try marinating tofu overnight or for quicker turnaround time, 30 minutes will get the job done.
  • Burger and hot dog alternatives grill up fairly quickly over indirect heat. Follow instructions on the packaging, as ingredients and cooking times may vary.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 flat anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices baguette
  • 1 large pasteurized egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 3 hearts of romaine (18 ounces)
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)

Directions

Purée anchovies, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper in a blender until smooth.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

Brush both sides of baguette slices with some of anchovy dressing, then grill bread, turning over occasionally, until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg and lemon juice to dressing in blender and blend until emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt.

Cut romaine hearts in half lengthwise, then grill, cut sides down, covered only if using a gas grill, until grill marks just appear, about 2 minutes. Cut romaine crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips and transfer to a bowl.

Halve or quarter toasts and add to romaine along with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Toss salad with just enough dressing to coat and serve immediately.

grilledsalads 1

Grilled Pork and Peach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium peaches or nectarines, pitted, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground black pepper and salt
  • 3 cups torn fresh Bibb lettuce
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup bias-sliced green onions (2)

Directions

On four 10-inch skewers, thread pork cubes. On three more 10-inch skewers, thread peach cubes. For a charcoal grill, place skewers on the grill rack directly over medium coals.

Grill, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until peaches are browned and for 10 to 12 minutes or just until pork is slightly pink in the center, turning occasionally.

(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place skewers on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as directed.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl stir together the honey, orange juice, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. When pork skewers are done, remove pork and peaches from skewers and place in honey mixture; toss to coat.

To serve, arrange lettuce and spinach on serving plates. Spoon pork and peaches evenly over greens. Sprinkle with green onions. Makes 4 servings.

grilledsalad 6

Grilled Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Steak seasoning
  • 8 cups mesclun or spring salad greens or spinach
  • 3/4 cup seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions

For vinaigrette, in a screw-top jar combine oil, vinegar, dill, garlic, pepper, and oregano. Cover and shake well; let stand 1 hour.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken breast halves lightly with steak seasoning. Grill chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals or in a closed gas grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until tender and no longer pink (165 degrees F), turning once. Cool slightly.

Arrange salad greens on 4 plates; top with grapes, cheese and pine nuts. Slice each chicken breast and arrange one sliced breast on each salad. Shake dressing and drizzle over the salads. Makes 4 servings

grilledsalad 2

Grilled Salmon Penne Salad

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen skinless, boneless salmon fillet or other fish fillet
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar or any flavor vinegar that you like
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces dried penne pasta (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup bias-sliced, trimmed fresh asparagus spears or any vegetable in season
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries or sliced fresh strawberries
  • Cracked black pepper 
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Directions

Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, garlic, and pepper. Remove 2 teaspoons of the oil mixture for brushing on the fish; set aside remaining oil mixture to toss with pasta.

Preheat an outdoor grill. Place fish directly on the greased grates or in a foil grill pan. Brush the 2 teaspoons oil mixture over fish. Grill fish with closed cover. Allow 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions, adding the asparagus for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain well. Return pasta mixture to saucepan. Pour remaining oil mixture over pasta; toss to coat.

Flake cooked salmon. Add salmon to pasta; toss gently. Cover and chill for 2 to 4 hours.

To serve, add berries to pasta mixture; toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with green onions and cracked black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

grilledsalads 3

Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges*
  • 2 green and/or red sweet peppers, halved, stems, membranes, and seeds removed
  • 6 large cremini mushrooms, stems removed
  • 3 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Fresh thyme

Herb Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground black pepper

Directions

Herb Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, snipped fresh parsley, snipped fresh thyme, snipped fresh rosemary, salt and dash ground black pepper.

In a very large bowl, combine eggplant, onion wedges, sweet peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Add olive oil and cider vinegar. Toss to coat vegetables.

Place vegetables on greased of an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals or on a covered gas grill. Grill for 3 minutes; turn vegetables. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes more or until vegetables are tender.

To serve, cut each pepper half into 3 strips. Arrange vegetables on a platter. Drizzle with Herbed Vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, garnish with fresh thyme. Makes 4 servings.

*Leave onion wedges attached at the root end to hold wedges together.

grilledsalad 4

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak Salad

Ingredients

Creamy Basil Dressing, recipe below

  • 1 lb beef flank steak
  • 4 small yellow and/or red sweet peppers, stemmed, seeded, and halved
  • 2 ears fresh corn, husked and silks removed
  • 4 green onions, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • Fresh basil sprigs

Directions

Divide dressing in half.
Trim fat from the steak. Score both sides of the steak in a diamond pattern by making shallow diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals. Place steak in a resealable plastic bag. Pour one portion of the dressing over the steak in the bag; set remaining dressing portion aside. Seal bag; turn to coat steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Brush sweet pepper, corn, and green onions with olive oil.

For a charcoal grill, grill steak and corn on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals until steak is desired doneness and corn is tender, turning steak once halfway through grilling and turning corn occasionally.

For steak, allow 17 to 21 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees F) to medium (160 degrees F). For corn, allow 15 to 20 minutes. Add sweet pepper halves to the grill for the last 8 minutes of grilling and green onions to the grill for the last 4 minutes grilling, turning frequently.

(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place meat and, later, vegetables on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)

Thinly slice meat against the grain. Coarsely chop sweet peppers and green onions; cut corn from cob. Serve meat, vegetables and tomatoes over romaine lettuce. Drizzle with the reserved portion of the dressing. Garnish with basil sprigs. Makes 4 servings

Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 12 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

grilledsalads 5

Grilled Shrimp & Plum Kebabs

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 raw shrimp, (8-12 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 4 hot peppers or jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
  • 3-4 plums, depending on size, pitted and cut into sixths
  • 1 bunch arugula, washed, dried, and torn

Directions

Whisk oil, oregano, lime zest, lime juice and salt in a large bowl. Set aside 4 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl to use as dressing. Add shrimp, jalapeños and plums to the remaining marinade; toss to coat.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Make 4 kebabs, alternating shrimp, hot peppers and plums evenly among four 10-inch skewers. (Discard the marinade.) Grill the kebabs, turning once, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 8 minutes total.

Mix the arugula with the reserved dressing. Divide onto 4 plates and top each with a shrimp kabob. Makes 4 servings


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