Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: tuna

Tuna has been fished from the warm, temperate parts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans since ancient times. As a member of the mackerel family, tuna naturally has a stronger, more robust flavor than whitefish. In 1903, when sardines were the canned fish of choice, canner Albert P. Halfhill managed a shortage by packing tuna in cans and persuading local grocers to stock them. More than a century later, tuna is a household staple as a protein-packed, quick-yet-wholesome meal.

Tuna is one of the most popular types of fish used for canned seafood products. It is high in protein and vitamins, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and has an appetizing taste and texture. The are many different types of tuna but there are only a few that are highly desired by the canned tuna industry. The most popular types of canned tuna are:

  • Skipjack Tuna is one of the smaller species of tuna and is commonly found at the surface of tropical oceans. It is fast, sleek and can grow up to three feet in length. The Skipjack tuna is a healthy tuna stock and is currently quite stable. It has a faster breeding cycle than other tuna and is a popular choice for many fisheries.
  • Albacore Tuna is one of the most plentiful species of tuna found in the ocean and, as such, is one of the most common types of canned tuna found in stores. A full sized Albacore tuna can weigh close to one hundred pounds and be close to five feet in length. It has a darker blue color and is silver on the underneath side. At present many Albacore tuna stocks are fairly healthy and are not at current risk of being overfished.
  • Yellowfin Tuna, when canned, is typically called Chunk Light Tuna and is usually very easy to find in grocery stores and supermarkets. Yellowfin tuna is a large predator fish that can weigh close to 500 pounds when full sized and reach lengths of over 7 feet. It’s name comes from a stripe of yellow that runs along its side and its yellow fins.Yellowfin tuna is usually canned in salt water, oil or natural spring water. This type of tuna will have a stronger flavor than Albacore Tuna and may be similar in taste to swordfish. Unfortunately the Yellowfin Tuna is in decline because of excessive human consumption and unsustainable fishing practices.

These three species of tuna fish are the most commonly consumed and most commonly used for canning. They each have unique characteristics, flavor and ocean habitation patterns. Knowing more about what species of tuna you are eating and it’s relative strength as a species is a good start for choosing a sustainable tuna brand. Of course when buying canned tuna always ensure that the tuna species is listed prominently on the can and try to choose canned tuna that is caught by pole and line fishing. As connoisseurs of canned tuna we want to help promote sustainable canned tuna, to ensure the world can enjoy eating tuna for many years to come.

tuna packed in olive oil

tuna packed in water

Turns out tuna is not just for sandwiches! In fact, it’s perfect for appetizers, soups, main dishes, casseroles, pasta dishes and all kinds of salads.Tuna consistently makes the top-choices list for “best canned items” to keep on hand. You’ll find canned tuna packed in water, oil or brine; it can be salted or unsalted and you can choose the variety of tuna you want. Below are some of my favorite ways to use canned tuna.

Tuna Florentine Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pouch (6.4 oz.) or can white tuna in water
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans (cannellini)
  • 1/2 cup dry orzo (or other small pasta)
  • 6 cups low sodium Chicken Broth
  • 3 oz. fresh spinach (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Mix in white beans, orzo and chicken broth and cook for 7 -8 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Stir in pesto and tuna. Add spinach and stir until just wilted.

Serve with parmesan cheese.

Tuna Sliders

For 10 mini burgers

Tuna Patties

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small celery stalk, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (or any hot pepper)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 3 cans tuna in olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 3 minced scallions
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons flour (+ extra flour for dusting the patties)
  • 10 slider rolls

Coleslaw

  • 1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded white cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

For the coleslaw:

In a large bowl, mix the cabbages with the sugar and the salt, cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Then add the carrots and parsley. Mix the rest of the slaw ingredients together and add them to the cabbage. Adjust salt if necessary.

For the patties:

In a small pan add the olive oil, jalapeno, celery, garlic, cayenne pepper, celery seeds, salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes and set aside.

In a large bowl, shred the tuna; add the panko, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, flour, egg and scallions. Mix well and add the cooked celery and garlic mixture.

Flour your hands and make small balls (size of a golf ball) and gently flatten them to the desired size (just a little bit bigger than the bun you will use, as they will shrink while cooking.

Lightly flour each patty and refrigerate them for 10-15 minutes on wax paper. This will make them firmer and easier to saute.

Saute the patties in a large skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of hot oil. Cook until golden brown.

Warm the buns without toasting them. Put a patty in each bun and top with the slaw to serve.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and diced
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tuna, packed in water, drained
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata or black olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 cups mixed greens

Directions

Combine eggs, tuna, onion, olives and feta cheese. Combine olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl; whisk until well blended. Add to tuna mixture. Season with pepper. Serve over mixed greens.

Zucchini Fettuccine

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 onion finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cups half & half or cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2 zucchini cut lengthwise, into thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 cans or pouches tuna in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of minced scallion
  • 3 teaspoon of lemon juice

Directions

Boil water with salt and cook the pasta “al dente”.

Place the zucchini ribbons in the pasta water during the last 2 minutes.

Drain the pasta and the ribbons and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter; add the onion, salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown. Approximately 5 minutes.

Add the white wine, boil for 1 minute and add the broth. Boil again for a couple of minutes, add the peas and the half & half; cook for 1 minute and add the tuna at the just to warm it. Do not over mix or shred the tuna. Add the fettuccine and ribbons to the sauce, the lemon juice, parmesan cheese and scallions. Gently mix and serve with a little Parmesan cheese on top.

Tuna Stuffed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 red skin medium-large size potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cans or pouches tuna in olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato (small cubes without seeds)
  • 1/4 cup julienned roasted peppers
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large pot of cold water put the unpeeled potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and boil. After the water returns to boiling, cook for 20 minutes or until tender.

In a bowl mix the ricotta cheese, tomatoes, roasted pepper, salt and pepper to taste.

When the potatoes are done, drain and set aside to cool. Cut off the top of the potato and with the help of a spoon remove about a third of the potato and add it to the ricotta mixture. Repeat with remaining potatoes.

Then add the mozzarella and tuna to the ricotta mixture. Carefully combine; don’t flake the tuna.

Stuff the potatoes with the filling, top each with parmesan cheese and place in a baking dish.

Bake for 8-10 minutes and the parmesan is golden brown.

Tuna Stuffed Shells

Ingredients

24 jumbo shells, cooked “al dente”

Stuffing:

  • 1/2 cup fat free half and half
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans or pouches tuna in olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 baby zucchinis, sliced thin and each slice cut in half
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Sauce:

  • 4 cups canned diced Italian tomatoes 
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped bell pepper
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

For the stuffing:

In a skillet sauté the mushrooms in the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook for 10 minutes. Add the white wine, reduce to half and add the half & half. Cook for 5 more minutes and set aside to cool.

In a bowl: mix the ricotta and mozzarella cheese, add the tuna with the olive oil, the cooked mushroom mixture, parsley, zucchini, half the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Mix gently.

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan; add the garlic, onion and bell pepper. Cook for 5-8 minutes on medium heat, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 20 more minutes until flavors are blended and the sauce has reduced about 20%. Add salt and pepper to taste followed by the parsley and oregano. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Stuff the shells with the tuna and ricotta stuffing. Place about 1″ of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the stuffed shells over the sauce, stuffing face up. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350° F. Uncover, add the remaining Parmesan and cook for 5 more minutes.

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Only about one percent of tuna comes to the market to be sold fresh. The rest goes to the cannery, because canned tuna is America’s most popular fish.

The word tuna dates back only to 1880 in print and is attributed as a Spanish American derivation of the English counterpart, tunny. It is derived from the Latin Thunnus, the name of its scientific genus. Tuna has been fished from the warm, temperate parts of the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans since ancient times. As a member of the mackerel family, tuna naturally has a stronger, more robust flavor than whitefish.

Tuna meat differs from that of many other fish because it is pink or red rather than white. It is one of the most widely consumed types of fish, however, some varieties are endangered and therefore avoided or protected. In addition, the high levels of mercury in some kinds of tuna is a health concern, particularly for children and pregnant or nursing women.

Tuna can cruise up to 55 miles per hour and they are constantly in motion. To keep this speed machine going, the tuna eats up to ten percent of its body weight daily. Depending on the variety, weights average from 10 pounds up to 600 pounds per fish. The majority of the commercial tuna harvest comes from California. The average consumption of tuna in America is 3.6 pounds per person, per year, most of which is canned.

Tuna are saltwater fish and there are nine different species.

The different species are:

Albacore

Bigeye

Blackfin

Karasick

Longtail

Northern Bluefin

Pacific Bluefin

Southern Bluefin

Yellowtail

Skipjack makes up most canned light tuna.

Italian Cuisine

Tuna is a popular fish in the Italian cuisine. All along the Sicilian coast there were villages called tonnare that people would inhabit during the tuna season; when the tuna arrived (they’re migratory fish) the men would take to the sea, stringing nets that hung down from the surface like curtains, forming a corridor that guided the tuna into a final net with a bottom strung between the boats or in an inlet.

Like many other things, the traditional tonnara has fallen into decline, a victim of increasing industrial pollution in the Mediterranean and overfishing by commercial fleets that operate out at sea. However, some tonnare survive and, aside from the use of outboard motors and synthetic materials in the nets, little has changed in the fishing technique. Most of the catch is preserved, in part, by packing in oil.

Issues Over How Fish is Caught

Fishermen use different methods to catch tuna, however, methods that do not catch unwanted fish and sharks are preferred by environmentalists concerned about worldwide oceanic health.

Purse seines (see diagram) are very large circles of netting that can be lowered into the ocean around a school of fish. Fishermen then pull a drawstring at the bottom of the net closed and pull the net on board or use smaller nets to remove fish from the purse seine. Purse seining is most commonly used to catch tuna, however, this method frequently catches a considerable amount of bycatch or other fish including dolphins, very young tuna and sharks. Use of “fish aggregating devices,” floating objects around the netting, increases the bycatch when purse seining is used. Yellowfin, tongol, skipjack and blackfin tuna caught by this method have received an “avoid” ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch due to concerns about by catch.

Purse Seine

Longline fishing (see diagram) involves stringing a fishing line of anywhere from 1 mile to over 50 miles in length. Smaller fishing lines are then hung vertically at spaced intervals with baited hooks to catch tuna near the surface of the open sea. Longline fishing for tuna can result in bycatch of endangered and threatened species including sharks and sea turtles. With the exception of tuna caught by longline near Hawaii or in the United States Atlantic Ocean, longline caught tuna is rated “avoid” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

Longline Fishing

Trolling (see diagram) for tuna is a straightforward method where fishermen use a standard hook-and-line beside their boat or towed behind their boat. Trolling for tuna in this way is an environmentally sound way to catch tuna as lines are promptly reeled in after a fish takes the bait and fishermen can easily release unwanted fish. Troll fishing is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to catch tuna.

Troll Fishing

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch advises against eating any kind of Bluefin tuna at this time because the species are severely endangered. Bluefin is the most popular type of tuna used in sushi and is considered a delicacy. It has suffered extensive overfishing as a result. In addition, the great majority of Bluefin tuna is still wild-caught using methods that endanger other marine life, such as dolphins and sea turtles.

Tuna has been a popular fish for human consumption for centuries and has significantly suffered from overfishing as a result. Tuna farming has recently become more popular as a way to harvest the meat more safely. The different varieties of Bluefin are most widely used in these farming operations.

 Health Benefits of Eating Tuna

Tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, 464 mg per serving to be exact, which promotes heart health by reducing erratic heartbeats, lowering your risk of heart attacks and blood clots. Reducing blood clots has an added bonus of preventing and reducing risk of stroke.

A major health benefit of tuna, thanks to its high levels of selenium, is to flush toxins out of the liver. This promotes overall good health, which is a key factor in successful and ongoing weight loss.

Another health benefit of tuna is preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Thanks to the omega-3 and polyunsaturated fatty acids, tuna is a great way to control hypertension as well as prevent it for those at risk.

 Italian Style Tuna Recipes

Sicilian Tuna Steak – Tonno Alla Marinara                                                                                       

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen tuna steaks, 1 inch thick
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon minced)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped, or one 28-ounce container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup pitted ripe olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

1. Cut tuna into 4 portions. Rinse tuna; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, wine, and crushed red pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 7 minutes. Add olives, capers, and dried basil; cook for 3 minutes more.

3. Sprinkle tuna with kosher salt and black pepper. Add tuna to skillet on top of tomato mixture. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more or until tuna flakes easily when tested with a fork and is slightly pink in the center.

4. Transfer tuna pieces to 4 serving plates. Spoon tomato mixture over tuna. Sprinkle with fresh basil and drizzle with lemon juice.

Grilled Tuna with Rosemary – Tunnu a Palirmitana

4 servings                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen tuna cut 1 inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 teaspoon minced)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, slightly crushed
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs

Directions:

Cut fish into 4 serving-size pieces. Brush both sides of fish with oil and lemon juice; sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle garlic and rosemary evenly onto fish; rub in with your fingers.

For a charcoal grill, place fish on the greased rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium-hot coals. Grill for 8 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place fish on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)

Top grilled fish with capers. If desired, garnish with fresh rosemary.

Broiler method: Place fish on the greased unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 8 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, turning once halfway through broiling.

Spaghetti with Tuna and Cherry Tomatoes                                                                                         

Servings: 4 to 6 as a main course, 6 to 8 as a pasta course

  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound cooked fresh tuna (leftover grilled tuna is great) 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 whole, small, dried red chiles (such as chile de arbol) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed 
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half (about 2 cups) 
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a rolling boil and add the spaghetti. Meanwhile, chop the tuna (you should have about 1 cup); set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, chiles and fennel. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the garlic is lightly golden and the spices are fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the cherry tomatoes and the anchovies and cook for about a minute to break down the anchovies. Add the tuna and use a wooden spoon to break up the tuna and the tomatoes into a chunky mixture. Add red wine vinegar and salt to taste. The flavor should be sweet, fragrant and bright. Keep warm over low heat until the pasta is done.

4. When the spaghetti is done, drain it, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water, and add the noodles to the skillet. Turn the heat to high, add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook, tossing the noodles to coat lightly with the sauce. Mix in the basil, season to taste with salt and serve immediately.

Sicilian Baked Tuna – Tunnacchiu ‘Nfurnatu

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 pounds fresh tuna from a small fish, in one piece
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 an onion finely chopped
  • A small bunch parsley, minced
  • 2 pounds potatoes, quartered
  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine a quarter cup of olive oil with the onion, vinegar and parsley to make a marinade; season with salt and pepper and marinate the fish for about an hour, turning frequently.

In the meantime cut the potatoes and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay the fish in a baking dish, spoon some of the marinade over it.  Arrange the potatoes around it. Sprinkle everything with more marinade and the juice of the two lemons. Bake for 40 minutes and serve.

Lemony Pasta Salad – Insalata di Pasta Profumata al Limone

4 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 1 pound farfalle (butterfly) pasta
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 1/4 cup defrosted frozen peas
  • 12 ounces drained tuna, packed in oil, crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley and basil
  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • The grated zest of an organic lemon
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

Grate the carrots directly into a bowl. Crumble the tuna into the bowl as well, add the garlic, peas, the lemon juice and zest, stir in 5 tablespoons olive oil, season lightly with salt, dust with a grating of pepper, mix well, and chill the mixture, covered, for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

Bring pasta water to a boil, salt it, and cook the pasta. Drain it when it’s still fairly firm. When the pasta has cooled, stir it into the tuna mixture and season the pasta with the minced herbs.

If you don’t plan to serve it immediately, cover it and keep it chilled in the refrigerator.

Note: You can also use fresh tuna; you’ll need 2-8 ounce tuna steaks, which you will want to grill 3-4 minutes per side (season them with salt, pepper, and lemon juice) and dice.

 mosaic of fish


What makes a recipe healthy? To me, healthy eating means consuming a wide variety of whole foods, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, limiting fat and sodium intake and trying to meet the minimum vitamin and mineral recommendations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because we lead busy lives, we need healthy recipes that can be completed in a hurry and provide all those requirements.

Since many of us do use processed foods to cut down on time spent in the kitchen, learn to read nutrition labels. Make special note of the number of servings in each package, and the serving size. Most people eat far more than the recommended serving size of most foods. Also pay attention to ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ dates, to keep you and your family safe.

Besides the basics of paying attention to calories and serving size, here are a few tips from the Food and Drug Administration to guide you:

● Choose products with high daily value percentages (20 percent or more per serving) of fiber and of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

● Look for low daily value percentages (5 percent or less) of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

● The following terms signal added sugars, which contain lots of calories but little nutritional value: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey and maple syrup.

Ideally, if we had all the time in the world, we would cook everything from scratch for our families, using only the most fresh and organic products. But guess what? We don’t always have the time or energy. We know that life gets in the way of even the best plans, and sometimes we can use a little assistance in the form of a time saver when it comes to cooking. There are some convenience products that are great time-cutting products that, also, meet healthy standards for nutrition and flavor.

 

Here Are My Top 10. What Are Yours?

Washed Organic Lettuce or Spinach

Store Bought Pizza Dough. Check if they have a whole wheat variety.

Low Sodium Canned Beans

Fresh Pasta-Whole Wheat Ravioli. Notice the Whole Grain Stamp.

Quick Cooking Brown Rice

Frozen Steamed Vegetables

Low Sodium Organic Chicken Broth

Jarred Spaghetti Sauce with low sodium, sugar and fat

Frozen Sweet Potato Fries

Tuna or Salmon Packed in Water

 

Using Healthy Convenience Foods for Quick Dinners

The recipes below have a low percentage of fat, lots of fiber, cruciferous vegetables, and fruits, and a wide variety of ingredients.  They are ready in 30 minutes or less, or have a preparation time of 20 minutes or less. Try some of these recipes this week and feel good about the food you’re feeding your family.

 

Easy Baked Fish Fillets

Serve with quick cooking brown rice that cooks in 10 minutes.
4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4 ounce) fish fillets, such as, tilapia, flounder, cod, grouper.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen vegetables with broccoli and carrots (or any combination your family likes), defrosted and drained

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees F). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Place the fillets in the bottom of the baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
Combine spices and sprinkle over top of each fillet. Top each one with a slice or two of lemon.
Arrange the frozen mixed vegetables around the fish, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Cover the dish and bake for 2o to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until vegetables are tender and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Cheese Ravioli with Veggies                                                                                                                                                           Cheese Ravioli with Veggies

4 Servings
Use any combination of frozen vegetables that you like in place of the California Blend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen California-blend vegetables
  • 1- 9 ounce package whole wheat cheese ravioli
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic herb salt-free seasoning blend
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full with water; bring to a boil and add salt to the boiling water.

Add the frozen vegetables; cook for 5 minutes. Add the ravioli. Cook 5 minutes longer or until vegetables and ravioli are tender; drain.

Gently stir in oil. Sprinkle with seasoning blend and cheese.

Pork Chops With Chard and White Beans                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 4  boneless pork chops (3/4 inch thick; about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1  bunch Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leaves torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 cups)
  • 1  medium onion, chopped
  • 1  15-16 ounce can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar

Directions:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with the paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil.
2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems and onion and cook, tossing occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the beans, chard leaves, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the chard is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes more. Mix in the vinegar and serve with the pork.
Tip:
For a bit of sweetness, add a handful of raisins to the bean mixture.


Baked Eggs Florentine                                                                                                                                                                           

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 36 ounces frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook spinach according to package instructions. Wring out as much water as possible and stir in olive oil and butter. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread spinach over bottom of the dish. With a spoon, make 8 indentations; place tomato slices into indentations. Crack eggs over tomatoes and lightly season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Evenly divide and sprinkle parmesan over casserole.
Bake on middle rack of oven 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and eggs are cooked to desired level of doneness.

Fettuccine with Scallops                                                                                                                                                                           

Serve with a small salad on the side.

5 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each

Ingredients:

  • 8-9 ounces fresh whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 1 pound sea scallops or bay scallops
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, (Wondra all purpose flour works well here)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded Romano cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook fettuccine according to package instructions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, pat scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and scallops and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Whisk milk, flour, white pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour the mixture into the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the pan along with peas and return to a simmer. Stir in the fettuccine, 1/2 cup Romano cheese, chives, lemon zest and juice until combined. Serve with the remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

Quick Berry Cobbler                                                                                                                                 

Self Rising Flour is a time saver.  It is all purpose flour that already has the leavening ingredients (baking powder and salt) in it that gives quick breads, biscuits and other similar recipes the ability to rise. It is considered a convenience item for a baker because it cuts down on the number of ingredients to measure out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of sugar ( or use 1/2 cup light sugar-Domino or Truvia)
  • 1 cup of lowfat milk
  • 1 cup of Self Rising Flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups of fresh, washed berries *
  • 4 tablespoons butter or Smart Balance Blend

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter in a glass 8 inch square baking pan in the microwave.
Combine sugar, milk, water, and flour in a large measuring cup
Pour mixture over melted butter.
Pour berries over the top and spread them evenly.
Bake: 350° for 45 min.

* whatever berries are in season


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

LEO GERMANO AND JENNIFER EWING’s mural is entitled Papa Gainni which depicts an Italian fishing village. It is at Café Trieste located at 1667 Market Street, San Francisco.

Italy is water-bound, with thousands of miles of beaches, bays, and inlets. Almost everything that lives in the sea, from swordfish, which the fishermen still harpoon from the bows of their boats in the Straights of Messina, to arselle, little clams that live in the sand just beyond the shore and gathered with strainers, finds its way to the table. 

The role of fish in the Italian diet was, in the past, even more important than it is now. Up until the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church required that their followers eat fish on Fridays and days of penitence.  All large cities had fishmongers to meet the demand, as well as, traveling fishmongers who made the rounds of the towns too small to support a specialized store. 

Each of Italy’s main regions are known for specific types of fish and the ways of preparing it. When Italians emigrated to America, they first settled along the coastal areas and brought with them their style of preparing fish. Vegetables are often used to create sauces in fish dishes in traditional Italian cooking.  The following recipes are examples of this cuisine.

Tuna Steaks Simmered With Fennel

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, cleaned, and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, quartered, cored and cut across the grain into thin slices
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 pounds tuna steaks
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Directions:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until leeks are limp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the fennel and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook slowly for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the lemon juice, taste and adjust seasonings. The mixture should be very soft. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper and heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tuna steaks for 1 minute on each side and remove to a plate.
3. Return the fennel mixture to the skillet and place the tuna on top of the mixture. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through or cooked the way you like it.
4. Sprinkle on the parsley and serve, laying the fish on top of the fennel, with lemon wedges on the side.
Yield: 4 servings.
Advance preparation: You can cook the fennel up to 2 days ahead and refrigerate. Bring back to a simmer in the skillet, add the tuna fillets and proceed with the recipe.

Fast Italian Fish

Ingredients:

Directions:

Heat oven to 425°F. Trim ends off the zucchini and cut lengthwise into quarters.
Put on nonstick baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, wrap 1 slice prosciutto around each fish fillet.
Remove pan from oven, turn zucchini over and push to one side, and put fish on pan. Roast until fish is cooked and flakes easily and zucchini are tender, about 8 minutes. Top each fillet with 1 tablespoon pesto and garnish with basil leaves.

Pasta With Sardines, Bread Crumbs and Capers

Nutritionist and author, Jonny Bowden of  “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,”  has created a list of healthy foods people should be eating but aren’t.  Sardines is one of them. They are high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins. Choose sardines packed in olive oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, ideally made from stale bread
  • 1 onion, chopped and garlic
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound long pasta with a hole through the center, like perciatelli
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cans sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish.

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put half the oil (2 tablespoons) in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, less than 5 minutes, and then remove. Add the remaining oil and the onion to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender; drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Turn the heat under the onions to medium-high and add the lemon zest, capers, crushed red pepper and sardines; cook, stirring occasionally, until just heated through, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the pasta to the sardine mixture and toss well to combine. Add the parsley, most of the bread crumbs and some reserved water, if necessary, to moisten. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnishing with more parsley and bread crumbs.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Swordfish – a staple in Italian cuisine.


I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t swordfish endangered? No. Or at least it’s not endangered anywhere around the United States. The various fish watchdog organizations all give consumers the green light to eat as much swordfish as they want, provided it was caught in North American or Hawaiian waters. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch gives American swordfish either a “best choice” or “good alternative” rating, depending on how it’s caught.
If you’ve never worked with swordfish, it is dense and meaty. It also has an inedible rubbery skin around the outside that must be removed. When shopping for swordfish, pay attention to the bloodline, that red patch of meat in the steak. It should be red. If it is brown, the fish is old.
Good alternatives to swordfish, if you can’t find it, are yellowfin tuna or mahi mahi.

 

Swordfish Roll–Ups

Yield: Serves 4

Use a light hand when pounding the fish; it should be thin enough to roll around the simple bread-crumb-and-cheese filling, but not so thin that it rips.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 2 lemons, strained of seeds
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon drained, chopped capers
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 6-ounce pieces swordfish, cut long and thin so each is 4 or 5 inches long
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh or dried bread crumbs
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 ounces provolone, thinly sliced or grated

Directions:

1. To make the sauce: Put the lemon juice in a small nonreactive bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Stir in the parsley, basil, capers, and rosemary and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use. 

2. To make the fish: Lay the swordfish between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a small, heavy skillet, lightly pound the fish until it is about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the fish to a plate, season with salt and black pepper.

3. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

4. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the bread crumbs and sun-dried tomatoes.  Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the parsley, thyme, capers, and red pepper.  Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.

5. Spread the bread crumb mixture over the fish. Cover with the provolone and roll each piece of fish into a cylinder. Hold the rolls closed with toothpicks.

6. In an ovenproof sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and saute the swordfish rolls until golden brown on all sides. Turn them carefully with tongs or a wooden spoon. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, just until they are still moist in the center. Do not overcook.

7. Put each swordfish roll on a plate. Whisk the vinaigrette and spoon a little over each roll. 


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

  • 1/4 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

Directions

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

Directions

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

Directions

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

Directions

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

Directions

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

Directions

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.



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