Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: tomatoes

Now it’s hot. The kind of hot that forces you to sit still, preferably under a ceiling fan, sipping a cold drink. You can almost hear the grass growing taller and the air conditioner spending money. Everyone slows down. It’s so hot you don’t want to cook – not for anybody! But you still have to eat! At least with the recipes below, you won’t have to turn the oven on.

Menu 1

Omelet with Summer Vegetables

This satisfying entrée for one or two is good for any meal, from breakfast to dinner. Serve with fruit or the salad below.
1-2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil plus cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 large egg whites plus 1 large egg or you can use ¾ cups egg substitute
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheese of your choice

Directions:

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray and add the olive oil. Add corn, zucchini and onions to the pan; sauté 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove vegetable to a bowl.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, water, pepper, egg whites, and egg, stirring well with a whisk. Return skillet to heat. Pour egg mixture into pan; cook until edges begin to set (about 2 minutes). Gently lift the edges of the omelet with a spatula, tilting pan to allow the uncooked egg mixture to come in contact with the pan. Spoon the corn mixture onto half of the omelet; sprinkle the corn mixture with cheese. Loosen the omelet with a spatula, and fold in half over the corn mixture. Cook 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Carefully slide the omelet onto a plate.

Baby Greens with Oranges

Blood Oranges are attractive in this salad when they are available in your area.

Makes 4 (1-1/2-cup) servings.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups mesclun or other mild salad greens
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 thin slices red onion, separated into rings
  • 1 cup orange sections
  • 3 tablespoons mixed country olives or regular kalamata olives
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Place greens in a large salad bowl. For dressing, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, and vinegar in a small dish. Pour dressing over greens, gently tossing to mix.
Divide mixture into servings and top with onion rings, orange sections, and olives. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Menu 2

Linguine With Fresh Herbs

6 servings

This is a lean pasta dish, filled with flavor as well as color. Serve as a main entree with the Caprese Salad (recipe below).

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from cubed Italian or French bread, including crust, coarsely ground in food processor
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth, low-sodium canned
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 pound linguine

Directions:

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and toast until golden, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.

In same skillet, heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil over low heat. Add red onion and saute, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft, about 30 seconds. Stir in chicken broth and simmer until heated. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.

Transfer mixture to a pasta bowl, and add basil, mint, parsley and thyme. Stir to combine.

Cook pasta in 6 quarts salted boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, transfer to pasta bowl, and toss with herb mixture. Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs on top and serve.

Frugal Tip:  I keep a zip bag in the freezer and add any leftover pieces of bread I have from dinner.  When I need fresh breadcrumbs, I can pour out the amount needed and process them into crumbs.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

4 servings
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly-ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Alternate fresh mozzarella slices with sliced tomatoes, overlapping, in a circular design on a serving plate.
Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Just before serving, drizzle with top-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Menu 3

Chicken and Pepper Stew

This dish can also be cooked in your Slow-Cooker (about 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high).

Serve with Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes and Green Salad.

Frugal Tip:  Bell peppers are in season now, so take advantage of their lower price. I buy extra peppers, slice them into thin strips and place them in freezer bags for the winter months. Frozen peppers work very well in casseroles or omelets or in sauces.

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs or legs, skinned
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds (4 large) mixed green or yellow or orange or red bell peppers, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1-28-ounce container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or fresh basil leaves sliced thin

Directions:

1. Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken pieces, in batches, on each side for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl or plate.
2. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, until the onions begin to soften. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and sweet peppers, a bit of salt and the garlic, and cook, stirring, until the peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir together until the tomatoes begin to bubble and smell fragrant, about 5 minutes.
3. Return the chicken pieces to the pan. Cover and cook 25 to 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring at regular intervals and turning the chicken pieces over so that the ingredients don’t scorch and the chicken cooks evenly. The peppers should be very soft and the chicken quite tender. Add  oregano, basil and freshly ground pepper; taste and adjust the salt.

Olive-Oil Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold  potatoes
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup skim milk or buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with cold water by 2 inches and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil; cook until potatoes are very tender and easily pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Using a potato masher or fork, mash potatoes with olive oil and milk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with more olive oil before serving, if desired.

Menu 4

Italian Bean Salad With Tuna

Frugal tip:  Early in the week, grill fresh tuna fillets for dinner and include an extra half a pound to cook and save for this recipe later in the week.

Serves 4.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. fresh cooked tuna
  • 2 cans of low sodium white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 red onion finely minced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano 
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
  • Grilled Italian Bread slices

Directions:

In a large non metallic bowl combine all the ingredients, and mix well.

You can serve this dish right away or refrigerate for two to three hours and serve with the grilled bread.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley just before serving.

Menu 5

Steak Salad with Tomatoes, Peppers, Sweet Onions and Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 Servings

Ingredients:

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the grilled steak:

2 top sirloin steaks, about 8 ounces each

For the green salad:

  • 8 cups romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, rinsed and sliced in half
  • 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion

4 small whole grain crusty rolls

Directions:

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

Place the shallots and vinegar in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

For the grilled steak:

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper.

Grill the steaks on both sides until it is cooked as you prefer, about 5-6 minutes per side for medium and depending on the thickness of the steak. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board to rest for five minutes. (The steak can be grilled in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

For the green salad:

Slice the steaks into thin strips and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and onion slices and half of the balsamic vinaigrette.

Place the romaine lettuce in a separate salad bowl and toss it with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the steak, tomato, bell pepper and onion mixture on top. Serve with a roll.

Tropical Sherbet

Last-Minute Tropical Sherbet

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups cubed mango or 1 (12-ounce) package frozen mango chunks 
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 (6-ounce) carton lemon low-fat yogurt 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
About these ads

Types of Scallops

There are three kinds of scallops that are consumed in the United States—sea scallops, bay scallops and calico scallops.

  • Sea scallops are relatively large, often 1½”-2” in diameter, and are often presented in beautifully seared platings of two or three.

  • Bay scallops are much smaller, although some aficionados find them to be sweeter than sea scallops.  Because of their small size, bay scallops are not the ideal scallop for searing but are excellent in stir-fries and even cooked as scampi to be served as a light pasta sauce.

  • Calico scallops are harvested off of the US Gulf and Southern Atlantic coasts. Unlike sea and bay scallops, their shells are tightly closed, and they must be steamed open before further preparation.  Although similar in shape, size and color to bay scallops, they are less sweet and less tender than their Northern cousins.

Characteristics of Scallops

Speaking of shape, size and color, the adductor muscle itself can range in color from pale ivory to beige.  Raw scallops are somewhat translucent and are generally round. Large sea scallops might be up to an inch thick and up to 2” in diameter, while bay and calico scallops, while shaped the same, are much smaller.

Calico-Scallops

Calico Scallops

Bay Scallops

How Are They Harvested?

Scallops are harvested in one of two ways—by trawling or by diving. Trawling is done by scraping the ocean floor and pulling up scallops (and whatever else is down there) without regard to maturity or to the damage possibly being done to the ocean floor.

A more environmentally friendly, albeit expensive, method of harvest is by diver and the scallops are known as “diver scallops.” A diver scallop is not another species of scallop, nor does it designate size.  Rather it describes the manner in which the scallops were harvested. Divers go down and choose mature scallops by hand, leaving behind immature scallops as well as leaving the ocean floor alone.  Since the ocean floor is not disturbed by the divers, diver scallops are usually less gritty than those harvested by bottom trawls.

Like shrimp, scallops are sold by count-per-pound.  Sea scallops might be marked at 10/20, meaning that between 10 and 20 scallops are in each pound. Of course, larger sea scallops tend to be the most expensive.  Another weight designation you might see is U/10 or U/15.  This means that it takes fewer than, or under, 10 (or 15) to make up a pound.  Here again, the larger the U number, the smaller the scallop.  Bay scallops, being smaller than sea scallops, generally fall in the 70/120 range.  

When purchasing scallops, make sure to buy from a reputable fishmonger and be sure to smell the scallops before purchase.  The scallops should smell clean and sweet and like the ocean.  If they have a strong fishy smell, do not buy them.

The muscles should be in one piece, so inspect them carefully.  If you see signs of the muscle fibers pulling apart, pass them by as this is a sign that the scallops are past their prime.  As mentioned before, dry pack scallops should feel slightly sticky but not be slimy.  If the rubbery side muscle has been left on the scallops, remove them.  

Sea Scallop

How To Store Fresh Scallops

Fresh scallops need to be stored at temperatures below 38F.  This is generally lower than most people keep their refrigerators, so you will have to make some adjustments.  An ideal set up for storing scallops is to have a shallow plastic container with holes in the bottom that is set in a deeper plastic container. Place ice in the shallow container and spread the scallops on the ice.  Cover everything with a damp paper towel, and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator.  Even with this care, make sure to use the scallops within a day or two.  Because they are so perishable, using them the same day you purchase them is ideal.

Cooking Scallops                                                                                                                                                                   

Scallops are a very lean protein, and as such, they can toughen very easily during cooking.  It is very important not to overcook scallops as they can go from succulent to rubber pretty quickly.  Don’t take your eyes off them when cooking and make sure that you remove them from the heat while they are still moist and plump.

Sautéing, broiling and grilling are all simple, dry heat methods by which you can cook large sea scallops to really showcase them.  Moist heat methods, including stir-fry with a sauce and simmering (as in soups, stews and risottos), are perfect for the small, sweet bay scallops.   

 

Scallop Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers and White Wine Vinaigrette

Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds calico or bay scallops
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallots
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 8 leaves Boston Bibb lettuce

Directions:

Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat the 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet and saute scallops for 2 to 3 minutes or until the scallops have a nice sear on each side. Add garlic to the pan and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove the scallops and garlic from the pan, and place in a large, heat-resistant bowl. Toss tomato halves and cucumber with the warm scallops.

In a small bowl combine the extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and the shallots. Whisk until well blended. Pour dressing over warm scallop mixture, tossing to coat. Adjust seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle chopped oregano and parsley over the salad, and toss to coat.
Arrange two lettuce leaves on each salad plate. Divide the scallop salad among the 4 plates, on top of the lettuce. 

   

  

Parmesan Breaded Scallops With Lemon Garnish

Ingredients

  • 20 large sea scallops (about 1 1/4 lbs) 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Coating:

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/3 cup  freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley 
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

Directions:
Combine the coating ingredients on a plate & mix with your fingers.
Wash scallops & remove the small, tough side muscle.

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels & place this in a small bowl.
Add the olive oil & mix to coat.

Dip the scallops in the coating, turning to cover evenly.
Gently press the crumbs onto the scallops.
Place the scallops in a single layer on a clean plate.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the crumbs.

Garnish:
Finely chop the parsley and lemon zest and mix together.
Add the olive oil and lemon juice.

Grease a grill tray that fits over the grill grates generously with oil.
Place the scallops on the grill tray 1-2 inches apart and grill over direct medium heat until just opaque in the center, about 8 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time.
Treat them carefully when turning.
Remove from the grill, place a little of the garnish onto each scallop and serve warm.

Spaghetti with Scallops, Fresh Tomatoes, and Basil

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium clove garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • 12 fresh basil leaves

Directions:

1. Fill a pot to cook the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
2. Peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop them. Peel the garlic clove and finely chop it.
3. Put the garlic, hot red pepper flakes, and the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes. Season with salt and cook   until the liquid the tomatoes release has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.
4. While the tomatoes are cooking, cut the scallops into ¼-inch dice.
5. When the tomatoes are ready, add about 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
6. Shred the basil leaves and add them to the pan with the tomatoes. Raise the heat to high and add the scallops. Cook until the scallops are done, 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
7. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, and serve. 

Bay Scallops with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Grilled Italian Sausage

Bay Scallops with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Italian Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil, divided
  • 3 sweet Italian sausages
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into l-inch cubes
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into l-inch cubes
  • 18 white button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 pounds fresh bay scallops
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Pour 1 teaspoon oil into a small saute pan, heat and spread oil, add the sausages, and cook until they are lightly browned and cooked through. Drain the sausages on paper towels. Set aside and keep warm.  Slice each sausage on the bias into 1/2-inch slices.
  2. To the pan add 1 teaspoon oil and add the peppers and mushrooms. Saute quickly for several minutes. Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Remove from the pan and add to sausage.
  3. In the same pan, add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil  and heat on high. Saute the scallops for several minutes until just lightly browned. Do not overcook. Add the remaining garlic and the sausage, peppers and mushrooms, and continue cooking for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice, remove from heat, and add the butter and parsley.  Serve with crusty bread.

Grilled Scallops with Lemon Risotto                                                                                                                                   

Serves 4
Herb-Rubbed Grilled Scallops
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 large sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh lemon wedges, for garnish
  • 4 Skewers

Directions:

In a small bowl combine the tarragon, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, pepper and oil. Add the scallops and toss to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate 2 to 10 hours.
Oil a ridged stove-top griddle or outdoor grill and preheat it. Season the scallops lightly with salt and thread 3 on each skewer, and grill about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until slightly firm. Remove and set aside.

Lemon Risotto

  • 1 large leek, white part only, well washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups low-sodium broth, chicken or vegetable
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions:

  1. Sweat the leek in 2 teaspoons of butter over low heat in a tightly covered straight-sided saute pan for 6 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  2. Add the rice and raise the heat to medium, stirring often for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of stock, season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Add the remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly after each addition. When all of the liquid is absorbed, add the zest and continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, until the rice is al dente.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice. Season well with salt and pepper, add the chives, stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter until it melts, and serve hot.

Serve with cooked spinach

scallops



With a nod to good health and great taste, consider some out-of-the-ordinary vegetarian entrée options for grilling this summer. There’s more to vegetable grilling than just throwing some sliced vegetables onto the grill. With the right recipes, you can create tasty meat-free menu items that are substantial enough to take center plate at your cookout. They’ll be just as hearty as the meat options you’re serving, and full of fantastic flavor, thanks to time spent on the grill.
Don’t be surprised if the meat-eating guests take to these dishes as much as the vegetarians do. And if the attending carnivores want further motivation besides great taste, here it is: Research has shown that reducing the amount meat in your diet can cut your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

At backyard barbecues around the country, a vegetarian can often feel like the odd person out — forced to bring his own entrees or to pick around the edges. Fortunately grilling season kicks into high gear just as vegetable produce peaks. Not only are gardeners growing veggies by the bagful, but supermarket prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are also low. This is a chance for hard-core grillers to bring their talents of outdoor cookery to dishes for the meatless crowd.

In addition to providing the smoky flavor that emanates from the coals, grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables and makes them taste extra sweet. Just about anything that sprouts from the ground or grows on a tree can be suspended over coals, including corn on the cob, zucchini, potatoes, onions, pineapples, mangoes, and mushrooms. Most vegetarian foods are more delicate than meat and have less fat. So to keep food from sticking to the grill and falling apart, it’s important to keep the grill clean and well-oiled.

Once the grill is hot, scrape it well with a grill brush to remove burned-on bits of food. Then fold a paper towel into a small square, soak it with vegetable oil. Grab it with your long-handled tongs and rub down the grill thoroughly.

For sandwiches, cut veggies like zucchini and eggplant lengthwise into thin slices–or into thick rings, in the case of onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Round out the meal by serving grilled veggies over pasta, rice, or polenta. Asparagus is one of the best and simplest vegetables to grill and is terrific in pastas and rice dishes. Leave the spears whole and simply lay them perpendicular across the grill grates!

No Fake Meat And No Tofu Recipes:


How To Make Pizza On the Grill

Grilled pizzas are a specific style of pie: typically thin-crusted, they’re lightly sauced (too much liquid means a soggy crust) with minimal toppings. They also cook very fast.

Make the Dough

Use your favorite crust recipe or see recipe below. Divide the dough into two or more pieces and shape into balls for individual-sized pizzas. Set the dough aside to proof while you prepare your toppings.
Tip: if you have a heavy-duty mixer or bread machine, double the recipe. Divide and shape the dough, and freeze each portion in a plastic freezer bag greased with about a tablespoon of olive oil for another dinner.

Assemble Your Toppings

With grilled pizza, the crust is the star. Choose a few simple ingredients that can showcase the smoky flavor and crispy crust. Or go for minimalism: top the grilled bread with a brushing of good olive oil, a sprinkling of coarse salt, and bit of chopped fresh herbs.
Suggested bases: marinara, pesto, flavored olive oil, salsa verde.
Suggested cheeses: mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, feta cheese, Parmesan, Gorgonzola.
Ideas for toppings: grilled vegetables, fresh figs, fresh herbs, fresh arugula, toasted pine nuts, olives or capers, caramelized onions, roasted garlic.

Grill the Crust

Prepare the grill for high heat.

Shape the dough into rounds, either stretching it by hand or using a rolling pin. Each round should be no more than ¼ inch thick. You can stack the rounds by layering waxed paper, parchment, or a clean well-floured kitchen towel in between the individual crusts. When the coals are hot, have all of your toppings ready near the grill.

The easiest method for grilling pizza is to par-bake the crust: grill one side just long enough to firm up the crust so you can move it easily. By taking it off the heat, you can take your time arranging the toppings and are less likely to burn the bottom of the pizza.

Begin by placing one or two dough rounds on the grill.

  • You can oil the grill grates, but it’s not necessary; once the crust has set, after about three minutes, it should be easy to pull off the heat with tongs, a spatula, or your fingers.
  • Don’t worry if it droops a little through the grate–it’ll firm up fast.
  • After two to three minutes, give it a little tug–it should move easily. If it sticks, give it another minute or so.
  • When the crust is set, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a plate or peel; flip it over so the “done” side is up, and add the toppings.
 

Grill the topped pizzas until the cheese melts and the toppings are heated through. Depending upon the heat of the grill and the size of your pies, this can take two to 10 minutes (if your grill has cooled dramatically, you might need to cover it with a lid to finish the cooking).

Grilled Veggie Pizza

4 pizzas

Ingredients:

Dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour ( or half whole wheat and half white flour)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast (or active dry yeast, dissolved)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups room temperature water

Directions:
Combine  ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook and knead for six minutes. Let rise until doubled. Divide into 4 balls of dough and keep covered.

Toppings: (Enough for 4 pies)

  • 2 pounds mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • Fresh oregano or basil

Directions:
Place ingredients in small bowls near the grill for easy access.

Simple sauce:

  • 2 cups tomato sauce (depending on how saucy you like your pies)
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Big pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
Stir together sauce ingredients and place near grill.

Appetizers

Eggplant Caponata Crostini

Serves 8                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar or Truvia sugar substitute equivalent
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8- 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices Italian bread
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat a  BBQ grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of eggplant slices lightly with oil. Grill 6 minutes on each side. Cut into ½ inch cubes.
  2. Start sauce while eggplant grills. Don’t turn off grill.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste, cocoa powder, and sugar; cook, stirring, until tomato paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar, and 1/3 cup water.
  5. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and more sugar (up to 1 tablespoon), as desired.
  6. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil. Grill, turning once, until toasted and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side.
  7. Top grilled bread with caponata; garnish with basil leaves. Caponata can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container; let cool completely before storing.

Grilled Caprese Sandwiches

4 Sandwiches                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices round narrow Italian bread
  • 2 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 slices (6 oz.) fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (8 slices)
  • Pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Rub a side of each slice of bread with a cut side of garlic and brush with oil. Spread the plain side of half the bread slices with a thin layer of pesto.

Layer cheese and tomatoes on top of the pesto.  Sprinkle with black pepper. Top with remaining bread, garlic side up. Grill sandwiches until grill marks appear and cheese is beginning to melt, 6 minutes, turning once.

Main Dishes

Stuffed Grilled Zucchini

4 servings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-in. shells. Brush with 2 teaspoons oil; set aside. Chop pulp.
In a skillet, saute pulp and onion in remaining oil. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, oregano and salt.
Spoon into zucchini shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Grill, covered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Cannellini and Couscous

Serves: 6

After the initial assembly, this dish takes care of itself. If you like, you can prepare and grill the tomatoes well ahead of serving. The flavors will get even better.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  • ½ cup couscous
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin), divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 6 large ripe but firm tomatoes (10 ounces each; about 4 3/4 pounds total)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Directions:

Preheat the grill. Coat a 9″ x 6″ disposable foil pan with cooking spray.
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion is softened.

Meanwhile, cut 1/4″ slices from the tomato tops. Discard the tops. With a serrated knife or spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh, leaving 1/4″-thick walls. Set aside. Finely chop the tomato flesh. Add to the onion along with the beans, parsley, Italian seasoning, pepper, vegetable broth and the couscous. Stir to combine. Spoon into the reserved tomato shells, mounding slightly. Spoon any extra stuffing into the base of the pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Cover with aluminum foil.

Place on the grill away from direct heat. Grill, rotating the pan occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the tops are golden.  Allow to stand for 20 minutes.

Grilled Stuffed Eggplant 

Serves: 6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Ingredients:

  • 3 small eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 3 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Preheat a covered grill to medium-high.
With a small, sharp knife, scoop out the flesh of each eggplant leaving 1/4-inch thick shells  and place in a medium bowl. Add the cheese, bread crumbs, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to mix. Stuff the mixture tightly into each eggplant half. Drizzle with the oil.
Place the eggplant halves in a disposable aluminum foil pan. Set on the grill. Cover and grill for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft and the top is golden and crisp.

Portobello Burgers with Roasted Peppers, Mozzarella, and Caramelized Onions

Serves: 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

This grilled “burger” with all the trimmings will satisfy even devoted beef fans. Serve some oven sweet potato fries on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, about 3 1/2-4 ounces each
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, about 2 ounces
  • 4 (100-calorie) light multi-grain english muffins or hamburger buns
  • 2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips

Directions:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Preheat the grill.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the vinegar in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the mushroom caps and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Grill, covered, turning occasionally, until tender, 9 to 11 minutes. Top each with 1 slice of the cheese and grill until the cheese melts, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Toast the muffins or rolls. Place the bottom half of each muffin on a plate and top with 1 portobello cap, one-fourth of the roasted peppers, and one-fourth of the onion. Top with the remaining muffin halves.


Pasta salads are ideal for summer days when it’s too hot to eat fresh-from-the-oven dishes. Lighten up traditional pasta salad by substituting the fattiest ingredients often found in the dish with leaner options. Omitting the mayonnaise or substituting a low-fat version, using  low-fat cheese and adding fresh vegetables, such as spinach, are among the ways that a traditionally calorie-heavy side dish can be transformed into a healthy main course that’s perfect for summer entertaining.

Whatever type of pasta you have in your cupboard, from spaghetti to rigatoni, you can create a great salad in the time it takes the pasta to cook and cool. The first thing to do before you start cooking any noodles is to look through your kitchen and decide which ingredients will be added to the salad.

Here are a few ideas:

1-Vegetables:

You can put just about any vegetable in a pasta salad. Onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, raw spinach, etc. are good examples. If you prefer to have your vegetables cooked rather than raw you can add them to the pot with your pasta. I would wait until the pasta is partially cooked about 3 minutes before adding them to keep the vegetables from overcooking. Tomatoes, roasted red peppers and cucumber should be raw and added after the pasta is cooked and cooled slightly.

2-Meat and Seafood:

Deli-style meat or leftover cooked meat makes a great addition to a pasta salad. Beef, chicken, ham and turkey are good examples. It doesn’t matter if it’s cubed or thinly sliced, it will blend into the salad nicely.

Seafood is another popular ingredient, freshly cooked or canned. The easiest is to add a can of salmon or tuna to your salad. Freshly cooked seafood is becoming quite popular. Some examples are scallops, shrimp, prawns, crab, squid, mussels, oysters, clams, and any finfish. Smoked salmon is full of flavour and my favorite seafood to add to a salad.

Although meat and/or seafood can enhance your pasta salad, they are not required, so if you would prefer to omit them, you can still make a perfectly fine salad without them.

3-Cheese:

Many pasta salads have parmesan cheese added to them but any cheese will add flavor. You can use cheese in any form such as grated, sliced or cubed.

4-Olives:

Any kind of olive enhances a salad.

5-Spices:

Add spices sparingly, use any of your favorites. Some popular ones are: oregano, basil, thyme or chives.

6-Dressing:

For dressing you can go with creamy or an oil and vinegar mix. Any bottled dressing will work or you can make your own. Homemade dressings taste better. For creamy dressing use about a cup of  low-fat mayonnaise or yogurt with 1/4 cup of either vinegar, wine, lemon or lime juice. Add a little spice, salt and pepper to taste and you have a creamy dressing. For an oil/vinegar dressing just substitute the mayonnaise or yogurt with about 1/4 cup salad oil.

Now that you have decided on your ingredients it’s time to boil your pasta. Follow the directions on the package and cook until al dente. In other words, cook pasta until tender but firm (usually about 8-10 minutes).

Drain pasta in a colander and pour into a large serving bowl.  Add dressing sparingly until salad is completely coated. Pasta will absorb the dressing better while it is warm. Add all the other ingredients you have decided upon and mix well. Cool salad for about 2 hours before serving.

Lemon-Basil Chicken-Pasta Salad  

 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 2 cups uncooked rotini or rotelle (spiral) pasta (6 ounces)
  • 10 asparagus stalks (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 5 ounces cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2  cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Directions:
Fill a 4-quart Dutch oven about half full of water. Add salt and cover with lid; heat over high heat until water is boiling rapidly. Add the pasta. Heat to boiling again. Boil uncovered 9 to 11 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender but not mushy. While water is heating and pasta is cooking, continue with recipe.
Break off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus stalks where they snap easily; wash asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces to measure 2 cups. Add asparagus to the pasta during the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking.
Peel and finely chop the garlic. Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch cubes to measure about 2 cups. Tear the basil leaves lengthwise into narrow strips.
Place strainer or colander in the sink. Pour pasta and asparagus in the strainer to drain.
In a large bowl, toss pasta, asparagus and chicken. Stir in garlic, basil, cheese, oil and lemon peel. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until chilled.

Caesar Pasta Salad

Cooked cold shrimp makes a great addition to this salad.

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • 12 ounces curly pasta, such as fusilli 
  • 1 1/2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 9 flat anchovies, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 10 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
  • Chopped fresh basil

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, about 10 minutes, or as package label directs.
2. While pasta is cooking, combine garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, mayonnaise, olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender and blend until smooth.
3. Drain pasta. Toss with half of the dressing and tomatoes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Toss with Parmesan.
4. Toss lettuce with remaining dressing and divide among 4 shallow bowls. Spoon pasta salad over lettuce, sprinkle with basil and serve.

Orecchiette with Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil

Taking its cue from Italy’s insalata caprese, this easy dish combines fresh mozzarella cheese with basil and tomatoes. Choose the ripest, most flavorful tomatoes for this delicious pasta salad.
4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked orecchiette (about 8 ounces uncooked
  • 3 cups chopped plum tomato
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) diced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions: drain.
Combine pasta, tomato, and remaining ingredients.
Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Chicken-Thyme-Penne Salad

Servings: 6 servings (1 cup each)

Ingredients:

  • 11/2 cups uncooked penne pasta (10 oz)
  • 2 cups cubed deli rotisserie or leftover chicken (from a 2- to 2 1/2-lb chicken)
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
  • 1 medium stalk celery, sliced 
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 11/2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions:
Cook pasta as directed on package and drain.
In large bowl, mix pasta, chicken, grapes, celery and onion.

In small bowl, mix oil and 1/2 tablespoon of the fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon of the dried thyme). Pour oil mixture over chicken mixture; toss to coat. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, honey, mustard, salt and remaining thyme.

Cover chicken mixture and mayonnaise mixture separately; refrigerate at least 4 hours but no longer than 24 hours. Up to 2 hours before serving, toss chicken mixture and mayonnaise mixture. Cover; refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, stir in 1/4 cup of the walnuts. Sprinkle salad with remaining walnuts.  

Macaroni Salad with Summer Tomatoes

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup salad, about 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs, and 3/4 teaspoon basil)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked medium elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
  • 4 cups chopped seeded tomato (about 6 tomatoes)
  • 1 (1-ounce) slice sandwich bread
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions:

Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
Combine white balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon basil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, sugar, and crushed red pepper in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, stirring with a whisk. Add cooked pasta and tomato; toss well to coat.
Place bread in a food processor; pulse 5 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt and basil.  Sprinkle over pasta mixture.

Pesto Pasta Salad

An easy homemade pesto elevates a casual pasta salad. Grilled tuna or scallops would be a good addition.
8 Servings

Ingredients:

Pesto:

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Salad:

  • 1 pound gemelli or other short pasta
  • 1 cup plain 2 percent Greek yogurt
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Directions:

Make pesto: In a food processor puree basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and pine nuts until smooth. With motor running, add olive oil and process until a thick paste forms. Add Parmesan and pulse twice. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Make salad: Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
In a large bowl, combine pesto and Greek yogurt and stir until well blended. Add pasta and toss to coat with dressing. Top with tomatoes. Serve salad at room temperature or cover and refrigerate to serve chilled.

Related articles

When I think back to when I was growing up, I remember that we did not eat any differently during  the summer months than we did during the winter months.  When it was hot and my mother did not like the heat, she often fixed the meal ingredients as much as she could in the morning.  Still, there was the cooking to do to put it all together during those hot evenings.  The meals were not lighter, nor did they vary in content. It was never too hot for Sunday’s pasta dinner or veal scaloppine with mashed potatoes during the week.  Salad was always served along side the dinner entree.  Occasionally my father would grill steaks or sausage on a hot summer night because that was the time of year one could grill in NJ. Many a time, though, I did not feel like eating those meals in the heat.

As times have changed and society has gotten away from big, formal dinners due to hectic lifestyles and the growth of a multitude of convenience foods, meals of the present generation are more spur of the moment. The old conventions of what constitutes a meal has also relaxed, and if, we want a grilled cheese sandwich or a salad for dinner, we just do it. When it is hot, as it has been much earlier than usual this year, salad for dinner seems just right. I have put together a collection of some salad recipes than can be a great dinner meal on their own or paired with a grilled protein of your choice.

Avocado, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad                                                                     

Add grilled shrimp for a complete meal.
4 servings

  • 4 small plum tomatoes, halved

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped

  • 6 oz small buffalo mozzarella balls, torn in half

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

  • Basil leaves, roughly chopped

  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, pitted, skinned, and quartered

Position a rack 5-6 inches from the source of heat and preheat the broiler. Arrange the tomatoes, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the garlic and scallions. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the tomatoes.
Broil the tomatoes for 4–5 minutes, or until they just begin to soften and the garlic is golden brown.
Place the hot tomatoes, garlic, scallions, and all cooking juices in a bowl.  Add the mozzarella, remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, vinegar, capers, and basil and toss gently.

Place 2 avocado quarters on each of 4 plates. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the avocados and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Penne and Vegetable Salad

4–6 servings

  • 1 lb. penne

  • 3 cups broccoli florets

  • 2 cups asparagus tips

  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed

  • 2 large carrots, cut into julienne

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil or oregano

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook the penne in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, according to the package instructions, until al dente.
Meanwhile, steam or microwave the broccoli and asparagus for 4 minutes. Add the snow peas and carrots and steam about 3 minutes more, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a large bowl, then gradually whisk in the oil. Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl. Toss in the vegetables and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Zucchini and Mint Salad

Add grilled chicken breast for a complete meal.
Serves 4

  • 8 zucchini, halved lengthwise

  • 4 sprigs fresh mint leaves, chopped

  • About 2/3 cup croutons, see recipe below

  • About ½ cup toasted almonds

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Juice of 3 lemons

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Lay the zucchini on a baking sheet, skin side up, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until the zucchini are golden brown on the flat, fleshy side. Let the zucchini cool slightly and then slice into half moons. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and make croutons.

In a bowl, mix the zucchini, mint sprigs, croutons, and almonds. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, toss, and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange on a serving platter and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Homemade Croutons                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 oz. (about 2 cups) bread cubes; (Italian or French bread), diced into 3/4-inch cubes.
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Toss bread cubes with garlic and olive oil to coat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until just golden brown. Halfway through the baking time, give the pan a shake to make sure the croutons toast evenly. Remove from oven and completely cool croutons. Store in an airtight container.

Shellfish Salad with Oranges and Fennel

Serves 8
Orange paired with anise-scented fennel is a traditional Sicilian flavor combination. This recipe adds shrimp and scallops, but you can use any fish you like in this recipe. Thinly sliced celery is a nice alternative if your market does not have fennel.

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup fresh orange juice

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground coarse black pepper

  • Salt

  • 3 navel oranges

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, cored, trimmed, and thinly sliced lengthwise

  • 2 cups dry white wine

  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 lb. sea scallops, foot muscle remove and cut in half

  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fennel leaves for garnish

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and the citrus juices. Whisk in the pepper and the salt to taste, Set aside.
Working with 1 orange at a time, cut a thin slice off the top and bottom to reveal the flesh, Stand the orange upright and remove the peel in wide strips, cutting downward and following the contour of the fruit. Holding the orange, cut along both sides of each segment to release the segments from the membrane. Using the knife tip, pry out any seeds from the segments. Squeeze the membrane over the bowl to collect extra juice that you can add it to the vinaigrette at serving time.

Place the fennel in a bowl, add half of the vinaigrette, and toss to coat evenly. Divide the fennel evenly among 8 salad plates, forming a bed on each one, or arrange the fennel in a bed on a large platter.
In a saucepan, bring the wine to a simmer over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook gently until they turn pink and are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Do not overcook or they will be tough. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Add the scallops to the pan and simmer gently until just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Transfer with the slotted spoon to the bowl holding the shrimp. Drizzle about one-third of the remaining vinaigrette over the seafood and toss to coat evenly.
Place the orange segments evenly over the fennel. Then distribute the warm seafood evenly over the oranges. Add the orange juice from the bowl to the remaining vinaigrette and drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. Top with the parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Artichoke Salad

Makes 4 servings
Add grilled salmon fillets for a complete meal.

  • 1 lemon

  • 1-10 oz.package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted

  • 1 large bunch of arugula

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Add the juice and rind of the lemon to a small saucepan and place the artichoke hearts in the pan with enough cold water to just cover the artichoke hearts.
Add a pinch of salt to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook the artichokes for 5 minutes. Drain well and let cool.
Divide the arugula and artichokes among 4 plates. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Salad of Roasted Peppers, Olives, and Fontina, Piedmont Style

4 Servings
The cuisine of Piedmont includes numerous, interesting cooked vegetable salads that are served as appetizers.  This dish is often served as a first course, but you can add a grilled beef tenderloin steak or sirloin steak to complete the meal.

  • 1 each large, yellow, red and orange bell peppers

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

  • Salt

  • Freshly milled white pepper

  • 2 tablespoons sliced, pitted imported green olives

  • ¼ pound fontina, cut into long, thin strips

Arrange the peppers on a grill rack above a charcoal fire, or 2 to 3 inches under a preheated broiler, or in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F.
Roast them until they are charred all over and tender inside, turning them frequently to insure they blacken evenly. Set aside to cool.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, using your fingertips, peel off the skins. Cut the peppers in half and remove and discard the stems, ribs, and seeds. (Do not do this under running water; it will wash away some of the smoky flavor.) 
Cut the peppers lengthwise into ½-inch-wide strips and place in a bowl. Add the oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, olives, and cheese and toss gently to mix well. Serve at room temperature.

Cannellini Beans and Tuna                                                                                                  

Serves 8 or more

  • 2 cups (1 pound) dried cannellini (white kidney) or Great Northern beans

  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

  • 1 sprig fresh sage

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 (6-ounce) can Italian-style tuna fish packed in oil, drained and flaked

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Rinse the beans and place in a bowl of cold water to cover. Set aside for 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Drain the beans and place them in an ovenproof casserole. Stud the onion halves with the whole cloves and bury them in the casserole with the garlic, thyme, and sage. Add enough cold water to cover by ½ inch and cover the casserole. Place casserole over low heat and bring contents to a simmer. Remove from the heat and place in oven. Bake until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes to be sure that the liquid is simmering and is still above the level of the beans, adding boiling water if necessary.) Season with the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Set aside, uncovered, until cooled. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
When ready to serve, remove the onion, garlic, and herbs. Fold in the oil and drained tuna. Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with parsley.



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                                                                         

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

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

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.

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                                                                                                                                                             

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

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              

  • 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

    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

  • 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

1. 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.
2. 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

  • 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.

1. 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.
2. Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on medium.
3. 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.
4. 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

  • 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

1. Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on high.
2. 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.
3. 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

  • 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
  • ⅓ ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ lemon
  • 24 fresh mint leaves
  • Sugar


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.


Zucchini

Bell Pepper

Eggplant

Tomato

Bell Peppers, eggplants, zucchini, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes are the vegetables usually used for stuffing.  As I looked through my cookbooks, every one of them has a different version of how to stuff a vegetable.  I am sure that in any culture where there is an abundance of farm raised crops, home cooks try to figure out how to utilize the produce and make dishes that have  variety, as well as appeal.

As a child I remember my mother making stuffed green peppers, regularly, because my father liked them. I wasn’t fond of them and I don’t think my siblings were either. They were always made with ground beef, rice, and tomato sauce. Since I am not overly fond of green bell peppers, that was strike one.  As an adult my tastes for different vegetables improved and, because my husband would often ask for stuffed peppers, I began experimenting with recipes for different fillings and vegetables that we eventually liked.

I still have my mother’s recipe written down on a recipe file card.  It is fading, but still readable. This was pretty much my mother’s way to make Stuffed Green Peppers:

  • 6 large green peppers
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 of a small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Directions
Cut off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.
Cook peppers in enough boiling water to cover for 5 minutes and then drain.
Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic and then drain off fat.
Stir in rice, salt, and half the tomato sauce.  Heat through.
Stuff each pepper with beef mixture and stand upright in an ungreased square baking dish.
Pour remaining tomato sauce over the tops.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and uncover dish.
Sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 15 minutes.
 

As in the recipe above, many recipes for stuffed vegetables call for boiling the vegetable before stuffing.  I don’t do this because this step makes the vegetables soggy and they will spend the better part of an hour in the oven. Also, I feel the vegetables lose nutrients when boiled.

The recipes for fillings I am including here can be used in any vegetable of your choice and there are both meat versions and vegetarian versions. Preparations of the vegetables before stuffing will vary.

Stuffed Red Peppers

  • 6 medium red peppers

    Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground turkey breast or lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-8 oz package shredded 2 % Italian mixed blend cheese
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs

Directions

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and discard seeds.

In a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.

Add the turkey, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper; cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.

Transfer to a bowl; stir in half the cheese, the chopped tomatoes and bread crumbs. Spoon into pepper halves.

Place in a large baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 40 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to the oven and heat, uncovered, until cheese is melted.

 Yield: 6 servings.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 cup cooked couscous, or cooked farro, or cooked barley (This would also be a good place to use leftover risotto.)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup prepared pesto ( see earlier post on Everyday Sauces)
  • 3 large yellow or orange peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 cups homemade tomato sauce (see earlier post on Welcome to Jovina Cooks Italian)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish (with lid or you can use foil) with cooking spray and large enough to accommodate all of the peppers.
Combine the couscous or farro or rice and pesto. Stir together. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and if needed.
Fill the halved peppers with this mixture, and arrange in the casserole. Pour the tomato sauce over the peppers.
Cover and bake 45 minutes to an hour or until the peppers are soft but still hold their shape. Remove from the heat, and serve with some of the tomato sauce spooned over the top.
Sprinkle the tops of the peppers with cheese and garnish with basil leaves.
 
Stuffed Zucchini or Eggplant
  • 4 medium to large zucchini or 2 medium eggplant

    Stuffed Zucchini

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground lean turkey or beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 seeded and diced plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 egg, beaten or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 
Directions:
Cut the zucchini or eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the flesh from the inside of the zucchini or eggplant.  The shells should be about 1/4 inch thick. Be careful not to pierce the shell.  Reserve and dice the flesh that has been scooped out.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the ground meat and sauté until lightly browned, stirring occasionally – about 8  minutes. Remove the meat to a bowl.
Using the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the chopped mushrooms and reserved chopped zucchini flesh. Sauté until tender – about another 5 minutes. Add the ground meat back into the skillet.
Add the wine and diced tomato. Sauté until tomato is soft and heated through. Stir in the pine nuts. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before adding the egg.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  When the mixture has cooled, stir in egg or egg substitute, Parmigiano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
Fill the zucchini or eggplant halves with the mixture, slightly mounding.  Arrange the stuffed zucchini or eggplant in a greased 13x9x2 baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Pour about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the baking dish. Place in the oven.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and the vegetables are tender.
 
Vegetarian stuffed tomatoes or zucchini make excellent side dishes.

Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 4 large tomatoes – a thin slice cut from the top and the insides scooped out and reserved
  • 1 cup cooked farro or rice or barley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

    Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated plus 2 tablespoons for topping
 
Directions
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Place olive oil, onion and garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat, and saute until onion is soft but not browned – about 5 minutes.
Add tomato insides, parsley, basil, oregano and simmer another few minutes until thoroughly heated – about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add cooked grain of choice and the 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Fill tomatoes with stuffing until overfilled and top with  the additional grated cheese.
Place in  an oiled baking dish, and bake until cheese begins to melt and the filling browns – about 20 minutes.
Garnish with basil leaves.

 Spinach Stuffed Zucchini or Tomatoes

  • 4 large summer squash or zucchini
  • or 6 medium tomatoes with top cut off and the insides discarded
  • 2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup  chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 oz  low-fat cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon  salt
  • ½ teaspoon  pepper
  • 1/8 red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut squash lengthwise in half  and remove some of the center flesh to make room for the filling and place in a  greased 9 x 13 pan. If using tomatoes, cut off a thin layer from the top and scoop out the insides.
Heat oil and saute onions and garlic over medium heat until soft. Add spinach, cream cheese, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes, stirring until cheese is melted and everything is heated through. Spoon evenly into shells, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake the squash for 30 minutes and the tomatoes for 20 minutes.. Larger squash may take an additional 10 minutes or more. Test the side with a knife to see if tender.

Mason Disick Eating

Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

Years ago, Italians often took three hour lunch breaks and ate mutli-course meals.  As times have changed, it is more rare for Italian families to gather at the table during lunch and have a full home-made meal. Italy’s economical situation is such that many mothers have had to take on full-time jobs, children are in school until mid-afternoon and most people do not have time to go home during lunch time.  Typically, people working in offices have a 1-hour break and eat lunch at a bar or pasticceria, that offers foods to go, such as fresh made sandwiches, prepared salads, or square slices of pizza or stuffed focaccia.    Italian sandwiches aren’t multi-layered, American style sandwiches but, usually,  just  simple focaccia bread with a few lean slices of prosciutto, some sliced tomatoes with mozzarella or pecorino cheese.  Italian pizzas are very thin. have limited toppings and are usually vegetarian.   Bread without butter and salads are also very common at lunch. Pastas are also popular and usually full of vegetables.  One exception is on Sundays, many families will have a large, 2-3 hour lunch and often eat this meal out in a restaurant.

As a child growing up in an Italian-American home, I remember Sundays were pretty much reserved for family. My father would take us to visit our grandparents or other relatives while my mother prepared the Sunday meal.  Sunday lunch was really dinner but held early in the afternoon. After my grandmother died, when I was quite young, my grandfather would often join us for Sunday dinner. As my children were growing up. I tried to make meals an important time to be together and we kept some of the traditions built around meals. Lunch, however, was lunch – a quick meal. Through the years I have gravitated toward lighter and healthy selections for lunch.

Antipasto

My favorite food for lunch is soup, so I keep a number of containers in the freezer to pull out when I feel like soup for lunch.  Salads or typical items found on an antipasto tray are also a favorite.

Below are two soup recipes that are substantial enough for lunch and two salad recipes that I hope you will enjoy.

        Tortellini Soup with Escarole

  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-32 oz. cartons low sodium chicken broth (8 cups)
  • 1 bunch escarole (or 8 cups spinach) washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1-9 oz. pkg. fresh tortellini
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable and member of the chicory family, along with frisée, endive and Belgian endive. You can find it in the lettuce department of your supermarket.

Directions

In soup pot, heat oil and saute shallots for two minutes.

Add both containers of chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add tortellini, return to boiling, reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add the escarole and simmer until the greens are wilted.

Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve soup with shaved Parmesan cheese strips.

Lentils are a small but nutritional member of the legume family and are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber.
Lentil colors range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black

Lentil Soup

  • 1 lb. dried brown lentils ( about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup medium pearl barley
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1-16 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cover the lentils with water in a large bowl.  Let soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

Heat oil in a large soup pot and add garlic, onion, celery, carrots and potato.

Cook, stirring several times, for 10 minutes.

Add water, chicken broth, lentils and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Check the lentils and barley, to see if they are tender, after 45 minutes.

Add tomatoes, oregano salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Salads

My favorite salad is made of fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

4 servings

  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

    Tomato Mozzarella Salad

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly-ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Alternate fresh mozzarella slices with sliced tomatoes, overlapping, in a circular design on a serving plate.  (See photo)

Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Just before serving, drizzle with top-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Chickpea Salad

4 servings

  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1- 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 8 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Chickpeas are a legume used in many Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Round and tan colored, chickpeas have a mild, nutty flavor. They are also known as garbanzo beans.

Whisk olive oil and lemon in a salad bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Chill.

Serve over tender lettuce leaves (such as, Bibb).

I like to top this salad with leftover shrimp or grilled tuna.  Roasted red peppers are also a good addition


My goal for this blog is to share with you what I have learned from my grandparents and parents about good Italian home cooking.  Creating Italian dinners should not be difficult or time consuming and they should be healthy as well as delicious. In future posts I will share with you more information about my relatives and their enthusiasm for cooking. One of the first things I learned was the importance of a quality tomato sauce, either marinara or meat based, as so many Italian dishes rely on such a sauce. It is not difficult to make your own sauce and you will know what is in it. Jarred sauce often contains sugar, too much salt and preservatives or additives.

Start with quality canned tomatoes.  I prefer the boxed 28 oz. POMI Italian chopped tomatoes. The only ingredient in this product is tomatoes.  If you can’t find this product, try to find tomatoes with as few added ingredients as possible, such as Muir Glen.

You can prepare this sauce on the weekend if you have a busy week schedule. This recipe makes several meals and you can keep some of the sauce for up to a week in the refrigerator for a weeknight dinner and you can freeze the rest in several containers for a few other meals.

In the next post I will tell you how to prepare meatballs and sausage to add to this basic sauce.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 4-28 oz. boxes Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper and dried thyme.
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute the vegetables and garlic. Add the tomato paste. Fill the empty can with water and add it to the pot. Add 4-28 oz. boxes Pomi tomatoes.

Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon each black pepper and dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper and dried thyme.

Simmer, uncovered, for another hour or until the sauce has thickened.

Taste the sauce to see if it is very acidic. If it is, add a teaspoon of honey or agave syrup.

Pomi Tomatoes



Culinary Cuts By Cameron Dunlap

Always fresh and from scratch

DonDari's Culinary Food Blog: Me, You and the Cuisine

Food: The culture, the history and the people it represents

Wow Pam!

Explosions of flavor and fun

Young and Hungry

delicious doesn't have to be difficult

Eating Well Diary

A vegetarian's notes on healthy cooking

chef mimi blog

So Much Food. So Little Time.

Lovely Delight Bite

For delicious moments......Find out about my secret special treats for yourself, family and friends

Family Answers Fast

You are worthy. Your roles ~ invaluable.

Mirror of Health & Natural Beauty

Natural beauty,skin care,organic food

Poem & Dish

Poetry and Food Lover's site...

News Anchor to Homemaker

From deadlines...to diapers and delicious dishes

Pig Love

Adventures of Bacon and Friends

Shivaay Delights

Sharing my passion for cooking and baking ♡

The kitchen is my playground.

A blog about my experiments in the kitchen, successful or otherwise.

Andrews' Family Cookery & Household Management

Households that create happiness, and Foods that celebrate life

Back Road Journal

Little treasures discovered while exploring the back roads of life

Tuscas värld

Smaker, dofter och gömställen kring Medelhavet

Eating My Feelings

Because food just makes life so much better.

LauraLovingLife

Lover of cooking ~ Wanting to share my adventures in the kitchen!

The Sunny Cook

Easy, healthy, frugal and delicious recipes to brighten your everday life.

Il mondo di Macdelice

Il blog rosa di Maria Cavallaro

Good Food Everyday

From the heart of the Mediterranean ....

Culinary Adventures of The Twisted Chef T

Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours!

therapy bread

no, not just bread: crafting edible creations as a way to feed the spirit, body, friends and family <3

healthy.yogi.mama

Fitness, recipes and babies in NYC

The Good, the Bad and the Italian

food/films/families and more

SOLE Food Kitchen

SUSTAINABLE. ORGANIC. LOCAL. ETHICAL. THAT'S HOW WE ROLL.

vinicooksveg

Amazing & fun.........Indian cooking!!

What's Cooking

Fine dining my way

Chocolate Spoon & The Camera

A clumsy newbie in the kitchen. Una principiante ai fornelli.

An eye for food

Food is to be admired as well as desired. It should speak to you visually and make you want to taste it!

mycookinglifebypatty

Adventures in Healthy Living

Things My Belly Likes

Where eating to live and living to eat are not mutually exclusive

Our Growing Paynes

A journey about gardening, cooking, and knitting.

Silvia's Cucina

Welcome to my authentic Italian home cooking blog

gotta get baked

musings of a baking fiend

thewhitedish

Let's talk recipes, great food and FITNESS!

on the road with Animalcouriers

pet transport through Europe and beyond

jittery cook

recipes worth sharing

soulofspice

delicious nourishing energizing spice

pattytmitchell

site for Patricia Mitchell, author

Cookie's cakes and bakes

Seeking world domination - through the power of baking!

Simply Sophisticated Cooking

Effortless home cooking recipes, tips and methods for busy lives to encourage fine eating in instead of out.

FARMINISTA'S FEAST with Karen Pavone

Farm to Table Adventures in California's Beautiful North Bay

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,213 other followers

%d bloggers like this: