Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: salmon

salmon1

Salmon is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. It is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the immune and circulatory systems. Salmon is also good for the heart and is low in calories and fat compared to other protein sources.

Salmon purchased at a grocery store or fish market should still have the skin on to maintain its freshness and moisture. Try to buy a whole salmon side or a fillet that is cut from the thickest part of the fish. Request a center cut piece of salmon. Purchase 6 oz. of salmon (170 grams) per person. Avoid salmon with a strong fishy odor. Look for moist, clean-cut fillets.

There are several different kinds of salmon.

  • King Salmon (Chinook) is known for its buttery flavor and texture. It is the largest salmon species and has the highest Omega-3 and oil concentrations of any salmon. It is generally the most expensive salmon you can buy.
  • Sockeye Salmon or Red Salmon is more abundant than King Salmon. It has a bright red-orange color and a very rich flavor. It has a high fat and Omega-3 content. Sockeye is the most common salmon you will find in your local grocery store.
  • Coho Salmon usually appears in grocery stores around August and September. It has a milder flavor that King and Sockeye salmon and is sometimes referred to as silver salmon.
  • Chum Salmon is most often used for canned salmon. It varies greatly in quality and is generally lower in oil than other types of salmon.
  • Pink Humpback Salmon is the most abundant salmon of the species. This salmon is generally canned or smoked. It has a mild flavor and lighter colored flesh.

Salmon fillets adapt well to all cooking methods: baking, broiling, grilling, pan-searing or poaching. Adding a marinade is a common way to infuse the fish with extra flavor. Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or an experienced cook, there’s no reason to fear salmon. Use the marinade and then choose one of the cooking methods below.

All purpose marinade for salmon:

4 salmon fillets, 6-oz (170 g) each
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) garlic salt
3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

Combine the garlic salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Whisk the three ingredients together in a small bowl and transfer to a 1-gallon (4-liter) resealable plastic bag.

You can also use a glass dish covered with plastic wrap instead of the bag.

Place the salmon in the marinade and seal the bag. Turn the bag several times to coat all sides of the salmon. If using a glass dish, turn the fillets in the marinade several times to coat all sides, then cover the dish.

Place the bag with the marinade and salmon fillets in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Salmon, like all fish, is not as dense as red meat and poultry. As a result, it does not need to be marinated for long in order to absorb flavor. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator at least 10 minutes prior to cooking. Doing so raises the temperature, allowing it to cook more evenly throughout.

bakedSalmonFilet

Baking

Preheat the oven to 400℉ (200℃) Prepare a baking sheet with shallow sides by covering it with nonstick aluminum foil and coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Transfer the salmon to the prepared baking sheet. If the salmon fillets have skin on them, lay them skin-side down on the sheet. Position the fillets in a single layer, spaced evenly.

Place the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 15 minutes..

When done, you should be able to easily flake the salmon apart with a fork. The middle should also be opaque

broil-salmon

Broiling

Allow the broiler to heat up for 5 to 10 minutes.

Many broilers only have an “on” setting, but if yours has a separate “high” and “low” setting, set the broiler to high.

Coat the rack with nonstick cooking spray before putting the salmon on it. Using cooking spray can drastically reduce the amount of salmon that gets stuck to the broiler pan rack. You can also cover the broiler rack with foil and poke a few holes in it to make clean up easier.

Transfer the fillets to a broiler pan. Place the fillets on the interior rack inside the pan with the skin-side facing down. Arrange the fillets in a single layer and space them apart evenly.

Place the broiler pan 5 1/2 inches (14 cm) away from the top heating element and cook the salmon for 10-12 minutes.The salmon is done when you can flake the fillets with a fork. The center should be opaque.

You can turn the salmon once during cooking to ensure even browning, but it is not necessary. Turning salmon fillets over can be difficult and may cause the salmon to fall apart.

grilled salmon

Grilling

Preheat the grill. You can use both gas and charcoal grills to prepare salmon fillets.

If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius).

If using a charcoal grill, spread a layer of charcoal on the bottom of the grill and light. Allow the coals to burn to a gray color, about 30 minutes.

Place each fillet in the center of a piece of aluminum foil. (You can add herbs, seasoning and lemon slices if you like.) Bring the sides up and fold them together, sealing the packet. Press any raised aluminum foil flat.

Transfer the packets to the grill and cook for 14 to 16 minutes. Turn the packets over once, at the 7 or 8 minute mark, using grill tongs or a heatproof spatula.

Checking the fillets for doneness may be difficult since the foil will be hot to the touch. You may need to wait until after you pull the fish from the grill. If the fillets do not flake easily with a fork or if the center is not opaque, seal the foil again and return to the grill.

Allow the salmon to sit off the grill and in their foil packets at room temperature for 5 minutes, then serve.

Pan-Seared-Salmon-600x400

Pan-Searing

Preheat a skillet or saute pan over high heat. The pan should get hot, but it should not begin to smoke. Coat the pan with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil.

Place the fish in the preheated pan. Cook for 4 minutes before turning each fillet over and cooking for an additional 4 minutes.

Use a fish spatula to turn the salmon. Do not use tongs, since the salmon will likely break apart if handled with tongs during the cooking process.

The salmon is done when you can flake the center apart with a fork and when the entire fillet is no longer translucent. After removing them from the heat, you should let the fillets rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before you serve them.

poaching salmon

Poaching

Place 1-2 inches of water in a saucepan with tall sides. Heat over medium heat until the water starts to gently simmer.

If desired, you can salt the water as it heats up. You can also add one chopped shallot or green onion and several sprigs of fresh dill, rosemary or other herbs.

Add the salmon fillets to the pan, skin-side down. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on its thickness.

If the salmon flakes apart easily with a fork and is no longer translucent inside, it has finished cooking.

Remove the pan from the heat and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the fillets with a slotted spatula to a serving platter.

Variations

Experiment with the marinade ingredients by using different combinations of oil, acid and seasoning. Acids usually include vinegars and citrus juices and seasonings can be dry or wet. For instance, you could create a marinade using soy sauce, rice vinegar, olive oil and brown sugar. You could also use a vinaigrette dressing, which already combines vinegar, oil and seasonings.

If baking or pan-searing the salmon fillets, you could coat the fish with a layer of fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil or dill and bread crumbs.

You can prepare a second, separate batch of the marinade and use it as a sauce or glaze. To use it as a glaze, coat grilled, pan-seared or broiled salmon halfway through the cooking process with the mixture using a pastry brush. To use it as a sauce, thicken it on the stove top by cooking the marinade over medium-high heat until it reduces. Pour over the cooked fish.

Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare salmon.

salmon and pasta

Linguine With Roasted Salmon and Lemon

This is a great recipe to make when you have leftover salmon. In fact, cook extra the first night you serve salmon and save some for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb linguine pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked salmon (see recipes above)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaf

Directions

Cook linguine to the al dente stage.

While the linguine is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the thyme and cook about 1 minute. Add wine and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, olives, lemon juice, capers and lemon zest and bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

When the linguine is cooked, drain and add it to the pan with the olive-caper mixture. Add the salmon and toss to mix well.

Cook 1 minute just to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and stir in basil.

parmesan salmon

Parmesan Crusted Salmon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Large zip-top bag
  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets (skin removed)
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions

Combine seasoned salt and flour in zip-top bag. Cut salmon into 4 portions. Place in the bag; seal tightly and shake to coat.

Preheat a large sauté pan on medium 2-3 minutes. Place fish on a cutting board; spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise over all 4 portions, to coat. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese over the mayonnaise and press lightly until cheese sticks.

Place salmon in the saute pan with the cheese side down. Lightly coat fish with remaining 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and 1/4 cup cheese, pressing lightly until cheese sticks.

Cover and cook 5-6 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 145°F (or fish is opaque and separates easily with a fork).

sweet-and-smoky-salmon-kabobs-xl

Sweet and Spicy Salmon Kabobs

Ingredients

  • 12 (10-inch) metal or bamboo skewers
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium (8-ounce) zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Directions

If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in hot water at least 30 minutes.

Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on medium heat and oil grates.

In large bowl, combine sugar, paprika, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Rub mixture between fingers to break up any lumps of sugar.

Add salmon and zucchini and toss to evenly coat with spice mixture.

Thread zucchini slices 2 at a time, alternating with salmon, onto the skewers. Place on hot grill grate and cook 9 to 11 minutes or until salmon turns opaque throughout, turning occasionally.

salmon-blts-lemon-dill-0607-xlg

Salmon BLT

Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel
  • 4 pieces (1-inch thick, about 6 ounces each) salmon fillet with the skin
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 8 slices (1⁄2-inch thick) country-style bread
  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 6 slices fully cooked bacon, each broken in half

Directions

Lightly grease grill rack on an outdoor grill. Prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling over medium heat.

In a small bowl, stir mayonnaise, dill and lemon peel until mixed; set aside.

Sprinkle salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Place salmon, skin-side down, on hot grill rack and cook, covered, 10 to 12 minutes or until salmon is opaque throughout, without turning over.

Slide a  thin metal spatula between the salmon flesh and skin. Lift salmon from skin and transfer to plate; discard the skin.

Place bread on the grill rack and cook about 1 minute on each side or until lightly toasted.

Spread lemon-dill mayonnaise on 1 side of the toasted bread slices.

Place 1 lettuce leaf, folding to fit, on each of 4 bread slices.

Top each with 2 or 3 tomato slices, 1 salmon fillet, 3 pieces of bacon and another bread slice.

About these ads

Most people are creatures of habit. We go to the grocery store on the same day every week and fill our carts with the same stuff. If it’s Monday, chicken’s for dinner and Wednesday, always means spaghetti. We are comforted with knowing what to expect—even if our meals aren’t that exciting–we know what we’re going to eat.

That’s what makes eating healthier so scary sometimes. We are so used to eating a certain way that we rarely think about what we’re actually putting into our bodies. So planning a healthier diet means paying attention to what’s on your plate.

Explore these tips for eating well:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat whole grains, such as whole wheat, oatmeal, and brown rice
  • Use healthy fats in your cooking, such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Choose low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Choose lean sources of protein and don’t forget to add nuts to your meals.
  • Compare sodium in foods, especially soup and frozen meals and choose foods with less sodium.
  • Eat seafood at least twice a week
  • Pay attention to portion size.
  • Drink tea.

All you need to round out these entrees is a garden salad with Italian dressing (made with olive oil) and some whole grain Artisan country bread.

 

Homemade Vegetable Soup

Makes about 9 cups; 60 calories per cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 6 cups vegetables fresh or frozen vegetables (about 28 ounces total)(see choices below)
  • 4 cups liquid (water, stock or broth), enough to cover
  • 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbs such as basil, Italian seasoning or other spice blends
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, if using water for liquid, otherwise to taste

Directions:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil until shimmery on medium high. Add onion, celery and carrots and stir well to coat with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables turn golden.

While the onion-celery-carrot mixture cooks, prep the other vegetables.  It helps to keep starchier vegetables (potatoes and sweet potatoes) separate from the rest. Stir vegetables in (starchier ones first) and let them cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add the non-starchy vegetables and saute a few minutes more.

Cover with liquid. Add tomatoes, dried herbs and salt. Bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are done.

Notes:

Vegetable Choices

Aim for 4 to 6 kinds of vegetables, varying color and shape and kind of vegetable. Use all fresh vegetables or half fresh vegetables and half frozen vegetables. Good fresh vegetables include bell peppers (red for color, green for price), turnips, fennel, rutabaga, sweet potatoes (peeled), potatoes (skins on), turnips, zucchini, bok choy, kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, spinach. Good frozen vegetables include corn, green beans and green peas.

Cooking Tips:

The trick to this soup is flavor and texture. For flavor, let the onion/carrot/celery mixture cook really well, until golden. For texture, the other vegetables should be cooked just until done.

Fresh Broccoli and Red Pepper Frittata

Makes 4 servings. (serving size: 1/4 of a 10-inch Frittata) 211 calories

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper strips
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fat free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium nonstick skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, and return to a boil. Cover and boil 2 minutes or until just crisp-tender. Drain well in a colander.

Wipe skillet dry with a paper towel. Reduce heat to medium; add oil, and heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook 3 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring frequently. (Note: Do not overcook peppers, as their color will start to fade.)

Meanwhile, combine eggs, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, thyme, and ground red pepper in a medium bowl. Stir until well blended.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add broccoli to onion/pepper mixture in skillet, and stir gently. Pour egg mixture evenly over all. Cover tightly, and cook 12 minutes or just until set. Remove from heat; sprinkle with remaining salt, and top with cheese.Place in the broiler and cook until top starts to brown lightly.  watch carefully so the top does not burn. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

 

Italian Seafood Stew

6 servings

Serving Size: 2 cups; calories 214

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces fresh or frozen cod or other white fish
  • 8 ounces fresh or frozen shrimp
  • 1 cup finely chopped leeks
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-26 ounce container Pomi diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 1 pound mussels, soaked, scrubbed, and beards removed or clams
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Directions:

Thaw fish and shrimp, if frozen. Rinse fish and shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. Cut fish into 1-inch pieces. Peel and devein shrimp; halve shrimp lengthwise. Set fish and shrimp aside.

In an 8-quart Dutch oven, cook leeks, fennel, celery, carrot, and garlic in hot oil about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato paste and Italian seasoning; cook for 1 minute. Add wine and stir until wine is nearly evaporated.

Stir in tomatoes, broth, the water, and clam juice. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Add mussels or clams and fish. Cover and cook about 5 minutes or until shellfish open. Discard any that do not open. Add shrimp; cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until shrimp are opaque. Stir in half of the parsley. Ladle into shallow soup bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Makes 6 servings (2 cups each)

Tip

Scrub mussels or clams in shells under cold running water. Remove beards on mussels. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, combine 4 quarts cold water and 1/3 cup salt; add mussels or clams. Soak for 15 minutes; drain and rinse. Discard water. Repeat soaking, draining, and rinsing twice to rid the shellfish of sand.

 

Spaghetti with Tomatoes & Shrimp

Makes: 4 servings; Calories 275 per serving

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-26 ounce container Pomi chopped tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Chopped fresh basil (optional)

Directions

In a medium saucepan cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp and garlic and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, capers, and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Return the shrimp mixture to the pan and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add pasta and heat. Turn into serving bowl and garnish with basil.

Peppered Chicken in Marsala Sauce

Makes: 6 servings; 275 calories per serving

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken breast halves (about 3 1/2 pounds total)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or Wondra instant flour
  • 1 ¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup dry Marsala
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Skin chicken. Brush chicken with oil; sprinkle black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt over chicken. Arrange chicken in a 15 x 10 -inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink (170 degrees F).

Meanwhile, for sauce, in a medium saucepan, cook mushrooms in hot butter until tender. Stir in flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add broth and Marsala. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 1 minute more. Place sauce on serving plates and top with a chicken breast. If desired, sprinkle with additional pepper.

Roasted Pecan Salmon Fillets

4 servings; 265 calories per serving:

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon fillets (5-6 oz. each)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Wedges of fresh lemon

Directions::

1. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on baking sheet.

2. Combine mustard and honey, brush on top of salmon.

3. Mix topping of bread crumbs, nuts, and parsley or rosemary and sprinkle over salmon.

4. Bake at 400°F 15-20 minutes or until flaky. Serve with wedges of fresh lemon.


There are so many wonderful things about salmon that it’s hard to know where to start.

It’s firm enough to grill, can be cooked in many different ways, and doesn’t dry out. It comes fresh, frozen, smoked, and canned. Wild salmon can be eaten without fear of excess contaminants or mercury and it has a very high nutrient profile, including the highly regarded omega-3 fatty acids.

The American Heart Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other health organizations, recommend you consume two servings of fatty fish per week. Salmon makes a good choice for these meals as it is high in healthy fats, protein and other vitamins and minerals. Regardless of the type of salmon you choose, it makes a positive impact on your diet.

Should You Buy Wild or Farmed?

The first choice you should make is whether to buy wild salmon (and all Alaskan salmon is wild-caught) or farmed Atlantic salmon. In most instances,opt for wild salmon because environmental groups, such as Seafood Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund, have put nearly all farmed salmon on their “red” or “avoid” list. The reason is because many farms use crowded pens where salmon are easily infected with lice, may be treated with antibiotics and can spread disease to wild fish (one reason Alaska has banned salmon farms). In addition, it can take as much as three pounds of wild fish food to raise one pound of salmon.

There’s some good news. Salmon farmers are currently in talks with environmental groups about improving their practices and there is a proposal before Congress to set standards for aquaculture. Some farms, such as Sweet Spring in British Columbia, are raising coho in closed pens and that reduces the impact on wild fish. Others, such as Verlasso in Patagonia, are using feeds fortified with the omega-3 EPA, which helps cut back on the amount of fish needed to feed the farmed salmon. (Source: Eating Well Magazine)

What to Serve With Salmon?

Grilled salmon can be the focal point of many meals depending on what you serve it with. Not only can it be served hot on a plate with a few strategic sides and sauces, it can be made into a sandwich like tuna, used in a salad and tossed in a dish of pasta. Whether you are cooking American, Asian, Italian, or Latin cuisine, you can make your meal feature grilled salmon. To give it the right ethnic flavor, change the glaze or the sauce you serve it with.

Plain grilled salmon goes well with homemade bread and a green salad. Steamed asparagus and a tangy potato salad are another meal. Serve homemade low calorie tartar sauce along with sliced lemons and  fresh dill.

Chilled pieces of grilled salmon make a gourmet salad. Add it to a bowl of mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, olives, onions and blueberries. Pour a citrus-based vinaigrette dressing over the top and add fresh croutons.

Slice grilled salmon into bite-size pieces. Toss them into a bowl of cooked pasta with capers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, green peas and sliced fresh tomatoes. Fold in a low calorie white sauce with a generous portion of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve with white wine and Italian bread.

Serve grilled salmon with a special sauce to give it an ethnic flavor. Make it Mediterranean by brushing on olive oil and sprinkling on minced garlic, thyme, mint and oregano. Make it Italian by adding basil and chopped fresh tomatoes in place of the mint. Give your grilled salmon an Asian flavor with a maple soy glaze spiced with garlic and ginger. You can even make it spicy Mexican by creating a lime-butter sauce flavored with cilantro and jalapeno peppers. To give grilled salmon a traditional American flavor, cover it with a honey-mustard sauce, and add a few whole mustard seeds.

Dinner For The Family

 

Salmon with Peppers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick-cooking brown rice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (5 ounces each) skinless center-cut salmon fillets
  • 2 limes, 1 cut into wedges
  • 3 small peppers (red, orange, and yellow)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Prepare rice as label directs.  Slice peppers and onion very thinly. 

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet on medium 1 minute. Add peppers, onion, 3 tablespoons water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Uncover; cook 3 to 5 minutes longer or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil and cook until wilted.  Squeeze 1 tablespoon lime juice into mixture. Pour into a bowl and keep warm.

In same skillet, heat 1/2 teaspoon oil on medium 1 minute. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on salmon. Add salmon to the skillet; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through, turning once. Transfer to serving plates. Grate peel of whole lime over fish.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine spinach and pinch salt. Cover with vented plastic wrap; microwave on High 3 minutes or until wilted. Spoon next to salmon, along with rice and pepper mixture. Serve with lime wedges.

 

On The Lighter Side

Italian Baked Salmon

Serve with a green mixed salad.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 4 salmon steaks or fillets, about 6 oz. each

Directions:

Put all ingredients except salmon in the food processor.

Blend ingredients together until well combined and basil is finely chopped.

Put some of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Place salmon in dish and mound rest of sauce over salmon.

Bake in a 400 degree F.  oven for 20-25 minutes or until done to your preference. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top of the cooked salmon.

When You Want Something Different For Dinner

Warm Italian Salmon Salad

Serve with sliced tomatoes and a whole wheat roll.

4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups torn spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 4 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, or cheese of choice

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Sprinkle salmon evenly with salt, oregano, and black pepper. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; break into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks.

Combine pasta, salmon, spinach, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well.

For Entertaining

 

Pomegranate Glazed Salmon with Horseradish Sauce & Potatoes

Here’s a recipe for a special occasion meal that will impress your guests, but doesn’t take very long at all to prepare.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless salmon fillets (about 6 oz each)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (see Notes)
  • Coarse salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 apple
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh horseradish (see Notes)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the potatoes:

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound tiny potatoes (see Notes)
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion (green parts only)
  • Pomegranate seeds and chives for garnish

Directions:

Sprinkle the salmon fillets on all sides with a little coarse salt. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then dry the fillets thoroughly with paper towels.

Mix together the balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses. Brush the fillets on all sides with the glaze and place them on a plate. Sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and place uncovered in the refrigerator while preparing the sauce.

Peel, core, and chop the apple, and toss with the lemon juice. Set aside.

Pulse the horseradish in a food processor or blender to get it as fine as possible. Add the apple and pulse until very finely minced. Add the cottage cheese and salt, and process until completely smooth.

Heat oil in a skillet and add the potatoes, tossing to coat. Cook the potatoes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color (about 7 minutes.) Stir in the shallots and cook until potatoes are softened and shallots are caramelized. Keep warm.

Place the salmon on a broiling pan and broil on Low (or in the lower position) for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.

To serve, sprinkle potatoes with coarse salt and pepper and toss with the scallions. Divide the potatoes between four plates. Set the salmon on top and spoon the sauce on top. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and chives.

Ingredient Notes

Pomegranate molasses is available at Indian and Middle Eastern groceries. You can make your own by cooking down pure pomegranate juice very slowly over low heat until thickened. 1 cup of juice will cook down to about 1/4 cup and you’ll have plenty for the recipe. This can be prepared days in advance, so you are not making this the day you are entertaining.

If fresh horseradish is unavailable, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish (available in jars in the refrigerated case of the supermarket.)

If you can’t find tiny baby potatoes (about the size of a large grape), use the smallest ones available, cut in half or quarters depending on size.


Whole Grains

Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and nutrients of the entire seed. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver approximately the same balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.  

LIST OF WHOLE GRAINS

The following are examples of generally accepted whole grain foods and flours.

WHOLE WHEAT VS. WHOLE GRAIN

A question that gets asked regularly is, “What is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain?” The answer is in another question: “What is the difference between a carrot and a vegetable?”
We all know that carrots are vegetables but not all vegetables are carrots. It’s similar with whole wheat and whole grain: Whole wheat is one kind of whole grain, so all whole wheat is whole grain, but not all whole grain is whole wheat.
If you’re reading this in Canada, be aware that Canada has a different regulation for whole wheat flour. Canada allows wheat flour to be called “whole wheat” even when up to 5% of the original kernel is missing. So in Canada you’ll hear two terms used:

  • Whole Wheat Flour in Canada — contains at least 95% of the original kernel
  • Whole Grain Whole Wheat Flour in Canada — contains 100% of the original kernel

“Whole grain whole wheat flour” would be redundant in the U.S.A. — whole wheat flour is always whole grain in the United States. 

Source of Essential Nutrients

The charts below list some of the nutrients that whole grains contribute to a healthy diet, and the proportion of the Daily Value for each.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers a food to be a “good source” of a nutrient if a standard-size serving provides 10% of the recommended daily value; an “excellent source” provides 20% or more than the recommended daily value. We’ve noted when some nutrients in whole grains go even farther above these levels.  Note that a blank, white block does not mean that a particular grain contains none of that nutrient. Very often levels fall just short of reaching the “good source” level – but these foods can still make important contributions to your nutrient needs, in combination with other healthy foods. Whole Grains Council May 2004

A SERVING OF 100% WHOLE GRAIN FOODS

If you enjoy foods made entirely with whole grain, you can follow the suggestions in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, where a serving of whole grain is defined as any of the following:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-wheat pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
  • 1 ounce uncooked whole grain pasta, brown rice or other grain
  • 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin
  • 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal

The Whole Grains Council has created an official packaging symbol called the Whole Grain Stamp that helps consumers find real whole grain products. The Stamp started to appear on store shelves in mid-2005 and is becoming more widespread every day.The 100% Stamp assures you that a food contains a full serving or more of whole grain in each labeled serving and that ALL the grain is whole grain.

You can easily add whole grains to your meals, often using favorite recipes you’ve always enjoyed. Try some of the following:

MAKE EASY SUBSTITUTIONS

  • Substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour in your regular recipes for cookies, muffins, quick breads and pancakes. Or be bold and add up to 20% of another whole grain flour such as sorghum.
  • Replace one third of the flour in a recipe with quick oats or old-fashioned oats.
  • Add half a cup of cooked bulgur, wild rice, or barley to bread stuffing.
  • Add half a cup of cooked wheat or rye berries, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum or barley to your favorite canned or homemade soup.
  • Use whole corn meal for corn cakes, corn breads and corn muffins.
  • Add three-quarters of a cup of uncooked oats for each pound of ground beef or turkey when you make meatballs, burgers or meatloaf.
  • Stir a handful of rolled oats in your yogurt, for quick crunch with no cooking necessary.

TRY NEW FOODS

  • Make risottos, pilafs and other rice-like dishes with whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, millet, quinoa or farro.
  • Enjoy whole grain salads like tabbouleh.
  • Buy whole grain pasta, or one of the blends that’s part whole-grain, part white.
  • Try whole grain breads. Kids especially like whole grain pita bread.
  • Look for cereals made with grains like kamut, kasha (buckwheat) or spelt.

Whole-Grain Spaghetti with Peppers, Turkey Sausage, and Cheese

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

12 ounces whole wheat or dark spelt* spaghetti (available at some supermarkets and natural food stores)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet Italian turkey sausage link, (about 4 to 5 oz.) casing removed
1/2 red onion, sliced
4 bell peppers (one each red, green, orange, and yellow), cored and sliced
1/2 crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar, or to taste
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced
Black pepper

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Cook per package instructions until al dente, then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and saute, crumbling it with a spatula, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
3. Pour off any fat, then heat the remaining olive oil in the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the bell peppers and crushed red pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are soft and beginning to brown, 15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar.
4. Add the drained pasta and reserved cooking water to the pan and toss over medium heat for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and toss the pasta with the cheese. Season with black pepper and serve.

Notes * Spelt is related to wheat, but it’s higher in protein and vitamins. Its deep, nutty flavor gives pasta and breads a rich taste.

3-Grain Salad with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Parmesan

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup hulled barley*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup farro**
1/4 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 smashed garlic clove
1 cup drained, rinsed cannellini beans
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the barley and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; boil for 30 minutes. Add the farro; boil for an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until both grains are tender. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, bring 6 tablespoons of water to a boil in a small saucepan; add the bulgur. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let sit for 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the vinegar, onion, garlic, and remaining salt.
4. Add the grains to the vinegar mixture while still warm; toss well. Remove the garlic and stir in the beans, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil; season with black pepper to taste. Fold in the Parmesan and serve.

Notes:* With its chewy, pasta-like texture, barley is a great addition to soups and stews. It’s loaded with satisfying protein and fiber.
** A hearty grain with plenty of protein, farro is used in soups and salads. It has a distinct nutty taste.

Spicy Salmon with Olives and Lemon Quinoa

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped scallions
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Nonstick cooking spray
1 pound skin-on salmon fillet
1 cup quinoa*, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons pitted, chopped black olives
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the scallions and red pepper with the salt and 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil.
2. Spray a small roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray and lay the salmon in it skin side down. Cover the fish with the scallion and red pepper mixture. Roast the salmon in the top third of the oven until it is opaque at the center of the thickest part, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the quinoa; cover and cook over low heat until the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining olive oil and the pine nuts, olives, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Serve the salmon over the quinoa.

Notes * Technically a seed, quinoa is packed with protein and magnesium, a nutrient that lowers blood pressure. Light and fluffy, quinoa is perfect for salads and side dishes.

Tabbouleh with Feta and Shrimp

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup bulgur*
1 packed cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
8 ounces medium cleaned, shelled, tail-on shrimp, thawed if frozen
1 large pickling cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup crumbled feta

Directions:

1. Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the bulgur. Bring the liquid back to a boil and then cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let sit for 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon of the parsley with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, oregano, and mint.
3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and simmer for 1 1/2 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cool water.
4. Place the bulgur in a serving bowl and toss with the shrimp, cucumber, tomato, scallion, feta, the remaining parsley, and the dressing. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note:* Bulgur cooks quickly and has a subtle, nutty flavor. Try it in soups, salads, and stuffings or as a substitute for rice.

Creamy Cannellini Bean and Amaranth Soup


Cannellini beans, fresh herbs, and amaranth, a wonderful whole grain thickener,  makes this hearty soup filling enough to be a main dish. For a thick and creamy soup, puree all of the soup rather than leaving half of the beans whole.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons. extra virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white parts only, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup amaranth
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 cup tomato paste
2 cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon. sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, then add the amaranth grains, stock, bay leaf, and tomato paste and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the bay leaf from the amaranth mixture, add 1 cup of the beans, and use a handheld immersion blender to puree in the pot until smooth. (Alternatively, puree the beans in a food processor, add the amaranth mixture – working in batches if necessary – and puree again until smooth, then return to the pot.)

4. Stir in the remaining beans, the herbs, and the salt. Warm gently just to heat through. If desired, thin the soup with additional stock. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Robin Asbell’s The New Whole Grains Cookbook, published by Chronicle Books, has more than 75 recipes that take advantage of the abundance of grains now available in both supermarkets and specialty stores.



Just like the rest of our food, when the days warm up, appetizers should get light ! If you’re planning a springtime/summer party, keep finger food healthy with lots of  fresh fruits and veggies.  Graduation, pre-prom parties, communions, anniversaries or whatever the occasion,  appetizer parties are a great way to entertain.

One factor to consider in selecting the foods is to serve an appealing contrast of hot and cold appetizers. As you plan, you will need to weigh such practical matters, as how much space is available in your refrigerator or freezer and how many appetizers you can heat at one time.

Foods served together should offer different textures. Crisp, crunchy vegetables and crackers match up well with creamy dips, spreads and cheeses. Think about flavor and variety as well. An hors d’oeuvre assortment in which the same seasonings and herbs are used to flavor every dish would be monotonous. Pair spicy, dense, or richly flavored foods with something uncomplicated, like maybe some ice-cold radishes.

For a variety at a large party, plan on serving at least one appetizer from each of these categories: meat or poultry, fish or seafood, cheese and vegetables or fruits. You’ll want a good balance for a small gathering too, but on a less ambitious scale.

Eye appeal is always important for party appetizers. No matter how attractive foods are individually, you must also consider their collective impact. Make sure the colors of food served side by side contrast appealingly.

Tips

Use this handy Portion Calculator to figure out how many appetizers you need per guest.
http://www.theperfectbiteco.com/about/planning-guide

  • Prepare dips and marinated dishes one or two days ahead.
  • Pre-slice and chop ingredients and store them in plastic bags or containers in your refrigerator – assemble them the day of the event.
  • Decorate the party area and set out non-perishables including serving utensils and dishes the night before.
  • Try to have a balance between appetizers that you can prepare ahead of time and those that need to be baked just before serving.

Appetizers That Taste Good And Are Good For You

appetizers

Salmon Pastries with Dill Pesto                                                                                                                                         

Basil Pesto can also work if you are not a fan of dill.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed chopped fresh dill weed
  • 1/3 cup Light Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, if desired
  • 3/4 pound salmon fillet, patted dry
  • 1 box (15 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, room temperature
  • Dill weed sprigs

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. In food processor bowl with metal blade or in blender, place chopped dill weed, oil, walnuts, lime juice, garlic, mustard, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the salt and pepper. Cover; process, stopping once to scrape side of bowl, until smooth.
  2. If salmon has skin or bones, remove them; rinse filet and pat dry with paper towel. Cut salmon into 24 (1-inch) cubes.
  3. On cutting board, roll 1 pie crust into 12-inch round. Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows to make 12 (4×3-inch) rectangles. Repeat with remaining crust. (Rectangles cut at edge of crust will have rounded side.)
  4. Spoon 1 level teaspoon dill pesto onto center of each rectangle; top with 1 salmon cube. Bring 4 corners of each rectangle over filling to center and pinch at top; pinch corners, leaving small openings on sides to vent steam. (For rectangles with rounded side, bring 3 points together at top, pinching to seal.) 
  5. On ungreased large cookie sheet, place pastries 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Place remaining pesto in small resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut small tip off 1 bottom corner of bag; squeeze bag to drizzle pesto over serving plate. Place pastries on serving plate. Sprinkle pastries with remaining cheese and garnish with dill weed sprigs. Serve warm.

appetizer1

Creamy Seafood and Red Pepper Spread

2-1/4 cups or 18 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 8 oz. 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 6 oz. lump crab meat
  • 8  oz.cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Directions:
Remove 2 tablespoons green onions and set aside.
Mix remaining onions with all remaining ingredients
Refrigerate at least for 1 hour
Sprinkle with reserved onions. Serve with crackers and squash chips. 

Fresh Squash Chips

Offer a healthy side dish option at your next cookout by serving thin slices of summer squash in addition to chips. Serve these fresh veggie “chips” with your favorite dip.
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

  • 2 yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch-thick round

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and 4 cups cold water in a large bowl. Cover and chill 30 minutes; drain and pat dry with paper towels.

appetizers1

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms  

For parties, make the stuffing and have the mushrooms cleaned and stems removed ahead of time but don’t cook them until close to serving time. Once cooked, stuffed mushrooms do not hold up well for long periods. Bake some, serve and repeat.

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 24 Cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Progresso Italian bread crumbs
  • 24-1 inch (or cut to the size of the mushroom cap) slices of Fontina or Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 cup (packed) fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • Additional olive oil, to brush on mushrooms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Brush 15x10x2 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

 Remove mushroom stems and set caps aside. Heat olive oil in a heavy, medium skillet over medium-high heat. Chop stems and add to heated olive oil in skillet.

Add fennel, tomatoes, basil and garlic. Sauté until stems and fennel are tender and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes; transfer to medium bowl. Cool off a little, for approximately 2-3 minutes. Season filling to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in egg and breadcrumbs..

Arrange mushroom caps cavity side up in prepared baking dish. Brush mushroom cavities lightly with additional oil. Mound filling in mushroom cavities, pressing to adhere. Place the 1 inch square slices of cheese on top of each stuffed mushroom prior to baking. Bake until mushrooms are tender and filling is heated through, about 10-12 minutes.

appetizers3

Marinated Olives      

Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups Sicilian cracked green olives
  • 1 1/2 cups Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:
Stir the oil, lemon and orange zest, and red pepper flakes in a heavy small skillet over medium heat just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the olives and toss to coat. 
Add the basil; toss to coat. Serve.  (Can be made ahead but add the basil just before serving.)

appetizers4

Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Spread      

Makes 3 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. sweet bell peppers, preferably a combination of red and orange
  • 1 small eggplant, about 1 lb.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cover 2 baking sheets with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray. Set pans aside.

Halve peppers lengthwise and seed them. Arrange peppers cut side down on one prepared baking sheet. Place eggplant on second baking sheet and prick with fork all over. Roast peppers and eggplant for 30 to 40 minutes, until skin of peppers is blistered and blackened. Eggplant should be soft but not collapsed.

Using tongs, transfer peppers to large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam for 20 minutes. Wrap eggplant with foil that covered the baking sheet, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Using your fingers, peel peppers. Cut flesh into 2-inch chunks, place in food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times to chop peppers coarsely. Scoop chopped peppers into mixing bowl. Pull skin from warm eggplant, using your fingers. Place eggplant flesh in food processor. Add garlic, oil and salt, and whirl to smooth puree. Add pureed eggplant mixture to peppers and stir to combine. Mix in vinegar.

Let spread sit for 1 hour to allow flavors to mellow.  Serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles. This spread will keep, covered in refrigerator, for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

appetizer2

Italian Style Sausage Skewers

For variety, you could substitute cubes of melon in place of the grape tomatoes.

12 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Italian style chicken sausage, such as Al Fresco
  • 8 large basil leaves, or more depending on size
  • 24-1 inch cubes fresh Mozzarella or Provolone cheese
  • 24 grape tomatoes
  • 24 (6-inch) wooden skewers
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Cook the sausage according to the directions on the package and cut it into 1-inch rounds. Cut the basil leaves lengthwise into thirds.
Put a cheese cube about 1/3 of the way down onto a skewer. Then add 1 strip of basil, folding so it fits nicely on the skewer. Follow with 1 grape tomato and a round of sausage. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.

I always include a bowl of fresh fruit, no matter what type of party I am hosting. Folks dig in every time.

Fresh Fruit Bowl

Use whatever fresh fruit is in season.
Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 cups fresh melon cubes
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 bunch seedless red grapes, halved
  • Fresh mint leave

Directions

Combine fruit, cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving garnish with fresh mint leaves..

  • Yield: 3-4 quarts.


Eating fruit as part of your daily diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and some cancers. Also, fruit contains a great variety of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates and fiber. So, eating the right combinations of fruit is particularly good for you. For instance, an apple is high in fiber but low in vitamin C, but if you add an orange and some strawberries, then you will get all the vitamin C you need for that day.
If you didn’t know fruit was good for you, you would not eat it. But, as much as you would prefer to eat potato chips for a snack, you know that fruit is an important part of a balanced diet. Don’t forget about fruit when you plan your weekly meals.
Plan your meals before you go shopping; make sure they include fruit. Breakfast cereal can be topped with bananas, low-fat yogurt can be mixed with blueberries, and pancakes can be decorated with fresh strawberries. Seedless grapes make an easy side to your lunchtime sandwich. You can even top your dinner salad with chopped apples or sliced oranges.
According to USDA’s, My Pyramid, you want to eat around 1-1/2 to 2 cups of fruit everyday. Aim for fresh, seasonal fruit whenever possible. If fresh fruit is not available, dried, canned or frozen fruit are other options. Remember, portions of dried fruit are smaller–a serving is typically 1/4-cup.
Don’t always stick to the same foods, as you could find that you are still lacking in some nutrients. Make sure that you include a variety of foods in a variety of colours – the brighter the better.  Summer is the perfect time to start.

Guide to fruit portions:

Fresh fruit:

  • Small-sized fruit: 2 or more, for example 2 plums, 2 satsumas, 3 apricots, 2 kiwi, 7 strawberries, 14 cherries.
  • Medium-sized fruit: 1 medium fruit, such as 1 apple, banana, pear, orange or nectarine.
  • Large fruits: half a grapefruit, 1 slice of papaya, 1 slice of melon (2-inch slice), 1 large slice of pineapple, 2 slices of mango (2-inch slices)

Dried fruit:

  • 1 tablespoon of raisins, currants, sultanas, 1 tablespoon of mixed fruit, 2 figs, 3 prunes, 1 handful of banana chips

Canned or frozen fruit:

  • Roughly the same quantity of fruit that you would eat as a fresh portion: 2 pear or peach halves, 6 apricot halves, 8 segments of tinned grapefruit

Juices:

  • A glass (6 oz.) of 100% juice (fruit or smoothie) counts as 1 portion, but you should only count juice as 1 portion per day, however much you drink. This is mainly because it contains very little fiber and more sugar than fresh fruit.

EASY WAYS TO EAT MORE FRUIT

  1. Add fruit slices to sandwiches. Sliced pear and apple add a unique texture and unexpected flavor.
  2. Mix chopped fruit into plain yogurt. When comparing six-ounce containers of Greek yogurt, plain offers 18 grams of protein for 100 calories, and strawberry is 140 calories with 14 grams of protein. Instead of buying the premade flavors, make your own by adding pureed or chopped fruit. You’ll save money, avoid added sugars, and be able to customize the flavor to your taste buds with distinct combos like blackberry peach or strawberry pear.
  3. Add fruit to baked goods. We’ve all made banana bread, but that’s not the only fruit-based treat you can bake. Lower the fat in just about any recipe by replacing half the oil with applesauce, or get creative with muffin recipes by adding diced strawberries, or mix bits of dried apricots into cookie dough.
  4. Cut up fruit and store it in the fridge. It takes effort to wash and cut fruit, enough to make you reach for something easier and less healthy. Make fruit as accessible as a bag of chips by storing cut up fruit in portion size containers in the refrigerator.
  5. Eat fruit for dessert. Save calories and skip the refined sugars by enjoying nature’s dessert.

Recipes That Add Fruit To Your Daily Meal Choices

Breakfast

Buttermilk Oat Pancakes

4 servings, 3 oatcakes & 1/4 cup fruit sauce each

  • 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. To prepare oatcakes: Whisk buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl. Combine oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt in another medium bowl. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and let stand for 15 minutes. The mixture will bubble slightly as it sits.
  2. Using a pastry brush coat a griddle or large nonstick skillet with canola oil; heat over medium heat. Using 1/4 cup of batter for each, cook 3 or 4 oatcakes at a time until bubbles dot the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until browned, 1 to 2 minutes more, reducing heat if necessary to prevent over browning.  Keep warm in a 200 F. oven.
  3. Serve the oatcakes with the fruit sauce.


Fruit Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh berries, whatever is in season
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Meanwhile, place berries, maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are mostly broken down and syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Good For You Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped fresh, seasonal fruit (blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, leave whole)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs or ¾ cup egg substitute

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan.
Whisk together the flours, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and fruit.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until just blended.
Using an ice cream scoop put batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup three-quarters full. Bake the muffins for 15 to 18 minutes, until they are light golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Remove them from the oven, and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a rack. Serve warm.

Lunch

Florida Citrus Salad with Shrimp


Makes 4 servings

  • 8 small potatoes (fingerling, or red or yellow)
  • 3 grapefruit or oranges or tangerines
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 whole cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds, optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped herb of choice (oregano, tarragon, dill, basil)
  • 1 head radicchio, washed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

12 jumbo shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. While potatoes cook, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in medium bowl.
Slice cooked potatoes and place them immediately into vinaigrette while hot to infuse flavor.
Zest grapefruit or orange to get 2 to 3 tablespoons of peel. Then, peel and segment fruit over a strainer set over a bowl to save juice for searing shrimp.
In hot sauté pan, cook shrimp in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook shrimp 1 or 2 minutes on each side until pink. Add grapefruit zest and reserved juice to pan.
Combine shrimp, fruit and remaining salad ingredients, toss and serve.

Spring Greens and Strawberries With Poppy Seed Dressing

4 servings

Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups watercress leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups torn arugula leaves
  • 2 cups torn tender spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • Orange Poppy Seed Dressing, recipe below

In a large bowl, combine the watercress, arugula, spinach and strawberries.  Pour the dressing to taste over the salad and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with almonds.

Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

Makes 1-1/2 cups

  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • 1-1/3 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Stir in the orange juice, vinegar, mustard and honey. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in poppy seeds and salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Dinner


Salmon with Fruit Salsa

Makes: 4 servings

Salsa:

  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries or chopped, peeled peaches or nectarines
  • 1/3 cup chopped, peeled kiwi fruit or fresh apricots or mango
  • 1/4 cup small diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Salmon

  • 16 ounces fresh, skinned salmon, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • Salt

Pat dry fish dry with paper towels. Cut into 4 serving-size pieces.

For fruit salsa: in a medium nonreactive bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir to blend. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes before serving..

Brush both sides of each fish piece with oil. Sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning and salt.
Oil the unheated rack of a broiler pan, or grill pan or outdoor grill. Place fish on pan or grill.

Broil 4 inches or from heat or grill for 8 to 12 minutes or just until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through cooking. Serve with the fruit salsa.

Chicken With Peaches and Basil

  • 3 tablespoons Wondra all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ripe fresh peaches or 2 nectarines
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

In a shallow dish, combine flour and half of the salt and pepper, set aside 2 teaspoons for sauce.
In remaining flour mixture, coat chicken well; shake of excess.
In a large  saute pan, heat oil over medium heat; cook chicken, turning once, for 15 to 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside.
Transfer to plate and keep warm.
Meanwhile, peel and pit peaches; cut into wedges.
Add onion, garlic and reserved flour mixture to skillet; cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
Pour in stock and lemon juice; bring to boil, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from bottom of pan.
Add peaches; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.
Stir in basil and remaining salt and pepper.
Pour over chicken to serve.

Dessert

Summer Berry Crisp

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2  tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1  tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 2  teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 6  cups assorted fresh berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, hulled strawberries or raspberries)
  • 2  tablespoons orange juice
  • 1  tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4  cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2  cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 6  tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2  cup regular rolled oats
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl combine ½ cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, orange peel and lemon peel. Add berries, orange juice and lemon juice; toss gently to combine. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine flour, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, allspice and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats. Sprinkle over fruit mixture in dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and juices are bubbly in the center of the dish. Cool slightly and serve warm with a spoonful of frozen yogurt, if desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.



outdoor grilling entertaining

The keys to good Italian grilling are the use of olive oil and fresh herbs.  The fresh herbs play a large role because they help bring out the full flavor of the dish.  The Italian grill also uses a lot of skewered meatsl, which is great for parties. So, if you’re looking for something a little different when planning your next cookout, you might want to try it Italian-style. Spiedini, which means “skewers”—are one of the many ways Italians enjoy grilled food. Basically, spiedini are the equivalent of “shish kebab.”  The skewers can be made of metal or wood—though, sometimes, simply rosemary sprigs are used. (If using wooden skewers, first soak them in cold water for about 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.)

The preparation for spiedini is simple: Small chunks of meat or fish are placed on skewers (each one an individual serving)—sometimes including vegetables—which are then cooked over a grill. In addition to being versatile—really any combination of meat, vegetable or fruit that can be cut and skewered may be used—spiedini are a great time saver. They may be served as an appetizer, accompaniment (contorno), entrée, or dessert. In fact, using the suggestions here, you can prepare an entire meal outside on the grill—from start to finish—without the need for any indoor cooking at all.
As appetizers, vegetables work well. First, brush the grill with vegetable oil and then grill long slices of eggplant and/or zucchini—cut the vegetables on a diagonal or longitudinally so the slices will be long enough not to fall through the grill grate.. Before serving, drizzle the grilled vegetables with olive oil and garnish with herbs, such as parsley and thyme, and chopped (or roasted) garlic.
If you like anchovies, another great antipasto idea is “Spiedini di alici pomodoro e olive”—grilled fresh anchovies (which are then rolled) and sliced zucchini, with raw tomato wedges and pitted black olives. These spiedini can be served on a bed of lettuce-heart leaves, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with basil.

As a main course, meat spiedini are the most popular in Italy. For these, it’s important to choose tender cuts of meat—such as chicken breast, lamb, pork, and sausages—evenly cut into approximately one-inch pieces. If you want to use beef, select tender cuts, but they don’t have to be particularly lean. To make Spiedini misti di carne (mixed meats), alternate onions, peppers slices, and cubes of various meats, and then grill. A leaf of fresh sage and/or a bay leaf between the pieces of meat will add flavor. To enhance the taste, try marinating the meat—already cut and ready to be skewered—for a few hours prior to grilling, mixing now and then. To make the marinade, simply coat the pieces of meat with olive oil (not too much), and add rosemary leaves (finely chopped), sage, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Fish spiedini (spiedini di mare) are also popular in Italy. For these, the most commonly used seafood are shrimp, scallops, tuna, swordfish, cuttlefish or calamari. The fish is usually lightly marinated or else brushed before grilling with olive oil, herbs (parsley or thyme), sometimes garlic, and salt and pepper. Spiedini di mare are usually served with lemon and a fresh green salad.

Grilled fruit can provide a sweet, healthy finale to your outdoor feast. The grilling process caramelizes the fruits’ natural sugars and concentrates the flavors. Peaches, pears, and apples—simply cut in half and pitted—are great for grilling. Adding just a little lemon juice will preserve the fruit’s color and a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon will enhance the natural flavors. Be sure to brush the grill with vegetable oil so the fruit doesn’t stick. You can then serve the fruit alone or with scoop of ice cream. It’s delicious with yogurt too. Or, try a fresh fruit spiedini using cubes of fresh pecorino and raw pears; or you can serve spiedini di frutta (mixed fresh fruits)—using slices of uncooked peaches, apples, pears, and whole strawberries. Squeeze lemon juice over the fruit to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown.

The following is a list of essential ingredients for the Italian Grill pantry:

  • Anchovies (cured): Salted anchovies are a key ingredient in Italian grilling, any recipe that calls for them.
  • Bread Crumbs: A strange ingredient for the grill, but a lot of meats have a light coating of breadcrumbs..
  • Bread  Cubes: The bread cubes are used in a lot of skewered recipes in Italy, generally they are cut up in 1-inch cubes.
  • Caciocavallo: A cheese made from cow’s milk and is a firm cheese.  The cheese is usually in the shape of a spindle and can  be found in Italian stores or very well stocked grocery stores.  If you are unable to find it, you may substitute with provolone cheese
  • Lemons: The juice of lemons are used a lot in grilling, and only fresh lemon juice should be used.
  • Pancetta: An Italian-style that is cured, but not smoked like American bacon.
  • Flat-leaf parsley, Oregano, Rosemary, Fennel or Sage are the most common types of herbs used.
  • Pecorino: A hard cheese made in Italy that is made from sheep’s milk.   This cheese can be found at most grocery stores,
  • Prosciutto: Domestic prosciutto is good for cooking with, but imported from Italy is far superior.
  • Olive Oil: Use inexpensive extra-virgin olive oil, unless a recipe calls for something else.

Appetizers

Grilled Summer Squash with Pesto and Balsamic Syrup

Ingredients                                                                        

  • 1-1/2 lb. assorted summer squash, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick ovals
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Directions

Prepare a high gas or charcoal grill fire. In a colander, toss the squash with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, put the  the basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a food processor and purée until smooth.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, boil the balsamic vinegar until syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 8 to 10 minutes.
Toss the squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons. extra-virgin olive oil and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Grill, flipping once, until golden and tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Arrange on a platter, dot with the pesto, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and the balsamic syrup to taste. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Grilled Bread Salad With Basil and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium loaf (about 1/2 pound) rustic Italian bread (like ciabatta), cut lengthwise into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 12 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 8 oz bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls), halved or substitute a large fresh mozzarella cut into 1-inch pieces.

Directions

Prepare a medium-high fire on a gas or charcoal grill. Clean and oil the grates to prevent sticking. Using a pastry brush, dab both sides of the bread slices with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Grill the bread until it browns and gets good grill marks, about 2 minutes. Grill the other side until browned, about 2 minutes, and transfer to a large cutting board to cool. Rub the cut sides of the garlic over the bread and discard the garlic. Put the cherry tomatoes and scallions in a large serving bowl with the basil. Cut the bread into 1-inch pieces and add to the bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining oil with the red-wine vinegar, pour over the bread mixture, and toss well. Let the salad sit for up to 2 hours before serving. Just before serving, fold in the bocconcini and season with salt to taste.

Main Dishes

Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken  

Ingredients                                                                                                                                                          

  • 4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1. lb.)
  • Garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large basil leaves
  • 1/4 lb. Italian fontina cheese, thinly sliced
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto (preferably imported)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Prepare a medium charcoal fire or light a gas grill to medium high.
Meanwhile, prepare the chicken breasts. Cut through each one horizontally almost all the way through and open it like a book. Sprinkle the chicken all over with 1/2 teaspoon each garlic salt and pepper. Layer the basil leaves and fontina evenly on half of each breast and then fold it closed. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each breast to hold it closed and then brush lightly on both sides with the olive oil.
Reduce the heat on the gas grill to medium. Grill the chicken breasts, covered, until they are well marked, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook, turning every few minutes, until the chicken is just firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the breast registers 165°F, 10 to 12 minutes more. Let cool for a couple of minutes and then serve.

Grilled Rosemary-Salmon Skewers

Ingredients             

  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Red Onion, cut into 1 inch squares and/or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skinned or tuna, cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high. Combine rosemary, oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add salmon; toss to coat. Alternating the salmon and tomatoes/red onion squares, divide them among eight 12-inch skewers.  Oil the grill rack. Grill the skewers, carefully turning once, until the salmon is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. 

Grilled Sicilian-style Sirloin Steak

In this recipe the steaks are marinated for about 12 hours before breading and grilling.  

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, and more for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 sirloin steaks (about 3 3/4 pounds total)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste

Directions

In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of the olive oil, the vinegar, garlic, basil, and pepper to taste in a 9 x 12-inch ceramic or glass baking pan.  Dip both sides of the steaks in this mixture and then leave to marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 12 hours, turning several times.  Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 15 minutes before grilling.
Remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade.
Spread the bread crumbs on a large plate and mix in the cheese and oregano.  Salt the steaks to taste and dredge in the bread crumbs, patting the steaks to coat them thoroughly.
Place the steaks on the grill and cook, turning only once, to desired doneness, 12 to 15 minutes in all for rare.

Grilled Skewered Meatballs

This Sicilian recipe is an example of cucina arabo-sicula, Sicilian cuisine influenced by the medieval Arab era. The Arab influence is evident in the molding of the ground meat around the skewer.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/4 egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 1/2 loaf French or Italian bread, cut into eighteen 1-inch cubes or you can substitute vegetables, such as sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
  • Twelve 8- to 10-inch wooden skewers
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for basting or drizzling

Serve with the Grilled Pepper Recipe, below.

Directions

In a medium-size bowl, mix the ground beef, egg substitute, pecorino, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Form the meat with wet hands to prevent sticking into 18 walnut-sized balls.  Leave the meat to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on medium.
Double skewer all the ingredients: place a meatball on a cutting board and skewer the meat balls alternately with the  bread cubes, keeping the 2 skewers parallel to each other about 1/2 inch apart.
Place the skewers on the grill and cook, turning occasionally and basting with olive oil, until the meat and bread are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Grilled Red, Yellow and Green Peppers

Grilling bell peppers of different colors is common in Sicily and Sardinia and makes a very attractive presentation.  Their flavor is a natural accompaniment to grilled meats.  The charred skin of the peppers is peeled off before serving, leaving the smoky flavor.  You don’t have to core or halve the peppers before grilling.
Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on high.
Place the peppers on the grill and cook, turning, until they have blackened on all sides.  When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and remove the core and seeds.  Cut into strips and arrange attractively on a platter.
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil, and season with salt and pepper.  Pour over the peppers at the last moment and serve.

Dessert

Grilled Fruit Skewers

Spiedini alla frutta

Ingredients

  • 2 golden delicious or gala apples, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 bananas, peeled and cut crosswise into 8 pieces
  • 2 ripe but fairly firm peaches, pitted and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/3 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 24 fresh mint leaves
  • Sugar

Directions

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

Arrange apple, banana, peach and pineapple on a platter.  Squeeze lemon over apple and banana.  Alternately thread fruit and mint leaves onto 8 skewers.

Sprinkle fruit with sugar.  Let stand until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Lightly brush grill rack with oil.  Grill fruit, turning once, until lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes.



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