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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Essentially, a stew is any combination of two or more ingredients, cooked slowly in a liquid. Before the invention of pottery, ancient people were using turtle shells and large mollusk shells for stewing. Cooking became easier after the development of pottery and there have been many references to stew throughout history. The first actual recipe for a stew, a ragout, can be found in a 14th century French cookbook.

Every culture has its own version of stew. The traditional Irish stew consisted of mutton and root vegetables. After the Irish immigrated to North America, the Irish stew was made with better cuts of meats and Guinness stout. The benefits of stewing are numerous. In times of famine and hardship, it was a good way to make a substantial meal out of available ingredients with the cheapest cuts of meat. Stewing makes otherwise tough cuts edible, and also disguises their appearance in the gravy. How else could you serve an oxtail? Goulash has sweet paprika; Bourguignon has red wine, the New England Boiled Dinner is corned beef, onion and cabbage. But they are all stews.

Stewing is a great way to free you from the kitchen while dinner cooks. It is also a good way to make use of your crock pot. The longer, slower cooking allows all of the flavors to develop and mingle. In fact, many stew lovers would argue that the stew is better the second time it is heated up, which makes it a great meal, when you have a large crowd coming and you need to get all of your preparations done the day before. The very best part is that there is only one pot to clean after dinner.

Italian stew is usually a main dish and is often served in a bowl alongside bread. Some stews are served on top of polenta. Italian stew is usually one of two things: a meat with or without vegetables or a chunky sauce to pour over Italian pasta dishes. Common stews served in Italy include osso buco, stracotto, and spezzatino. These dishes are served year-round in Italy, becoming more common in wintertime, especially around Christmas. The sauce in Italian stew can range in texture from thin, watery broth to a thickness similar to mashed potatoes. Typical Italian stews are simply meat braised in broth or wine over low-heat. Italian stews can also contain any type of meat and/or vegetables and can be made on the stove, in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Vegetables used in this type of stew can be numerous, but, most often, include carrots, celery, and fennel. Potatoes, onion, and garlic are also common additions depending on the region of origin. Italian stew, sometimes, contains beef, but other meats are more typical, such as, chicken, pork, or veal. Rabbit is a popular stew meat in Northern Italy and sausage is a common stew meat in southern Italy. 

Many Italian stew recipes that are popular did not actually originate in Italy. Since the cuisine of Italy has been influenced by nearby cultures, typical stews in Italy, include some that originated in Hungary and Croatia. The Italian stew called jota containing beans, bacon, garlic, potatoes, and meat, originally came from Croatia. In countries other than Italy, particularly in the United States, some dishes labeled as Italian stew are simply pasta dishes with Italian flavors that have been converted into stews, generally by reducing the broth or thickening the sauce in the mixture and adding pasta.

Italian Sweet and Sour Eggplant Stew

This stew of eggplant and vegetables is usually prepared agrodolce meaning sweet and sour because of the addition of  sugar and vinegar. However, like so many traditional dishes, there seems to be an infinite number of variations. Usually the savory mixture contains tomatoes, capers, and olives along with the eggplant. In some areas of Italy, potatoes, fish, anchovies, pignoli nuts, raisins, bell peppers, asparagus or carrots might be included.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound eggplant, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, peel according to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 small red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 6 large black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or a sugar alternative
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves
  • 5 stems fresh parsley, leaves only
  • Salt to taste

 Directions:

In a large, deep skillet or Dutch Oven (large enough to hold the cut eggplant in a single layer), heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the pieces are golden brown and tender. Season with salt. Remove to a separate bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, potatoes and celery and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Add the tomatoes, capers, and olives. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the eggplant to the tomato mixture. Turn the heat to medium. Add the vinegar and sugar and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.

Chop the basil and parsley together. Stir them into the eggplant mixture.

Chicken Stew with Olives and Lemon

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons each salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 and 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-in. cubes
  • 1 package thawed frozen artichoke hearts, quartered if large
  • 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup pitted medium green olives
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper.

Cut each chicken thigh into 2 or 3 chunks. Add chicken to the plastic bag, seal, and shake to coat.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken (discard excess flour) in a single layer and cook, turning once, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, capers, and lemon zest and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, and chicken and return to a simmer. Lower heat slightly to maintain simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes.

Add artichokes to the pan and stir. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, lemon juice to taste, and olives. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with lemon wedges on the side.

Italian Sausage Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds pork, turkey or chicken Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 ounces) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounces) container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup short pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven heat oil and brown the sausage. Drain the sausage on paper towels. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, water, broth and wine. Bring to a boil, add pasta and browned sausage to the pan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Top each serving cheese. 8 servings.

White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, large stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1-14 1/2 oz. can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • One 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Salt

Directions:

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until tender, 8 minutes. Drain the greens and gently press out excess water.

Return the saucepan to the stoves, add oil and heat on medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans and simmer over moderately high heat for 3 minutes. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until the flavors meld, 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and thyme.

Tortellini Spinach Meatball Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 can (16 ounces) low sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the egg, spinach, bread crumbs, salt and

pepper. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 3/4-in. balls.

In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, brown meatballs in batches in the 1 tablespoon oil. Remove meatballs to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add onion to the pan and saute for 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots; saute 2 minutes longer. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, basil and oregano. Add meatballs; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Return to a boil. Add tortellini; cook for 7-9 minutes or until tender, stirring several times. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. 6 servings

Resources:


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“According to an Aegean legend and praised in song by the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the first artichoke was a lovely young girl who lived on the island of Zinari. The god, Zeus was visiting his brother Poseidon one day when, as he emerged from the sea, he spied a beautiful young mortal woman. She did not seem frightened by the presence of a god, and Zeus seized the opportunity to seduce her. He was so pleased with the girl, whose name was Cynara, that he decided to make her a goddess, so that she could be nearer to his home on Olympia. Cynara agreed to the promotion, and Zeus anticipated the trysts to come, whenever his wife Hera was away. However, Cynara soon missed her mother and grew homesick. She snuck back to the world of mortals for a brief visit. After she returned, Zeus discovered this un-goddess-like behavior. Enraged, he hurled her back to earth and transformed her into the plant we know as the artichoke.”  

 The Sensuous Artichoke, by A. C. Castelli and C. A. Catelli, published by A. C. Castelli Assoc., 1998.

A Little History:

Beginning about 800 A.D., North African Moors begin cultivating artichokes in the area of Granada, Spain, and another Arab group, the Saracens, became identified with artichokes in Sicily. This may explain why the English word artichoke is derived from the Arab, “al’qarshuf” rather than from the Latin, “cynara.”  Between 800 and 1500, the artichoke was improved and transformed, perhaps in monastery gardens, into the plant we would recognize today.

Artichokes were first cultivated in Naples around the middle of the 15th century and gradually spread to other sections of Europe. After Rome fell, artichokes became scarce but re-emerged during the Renaissance in 1466 when the Strozzi family brought them from Florence to Naples.

In the 16th century, Catherine de Medici, married to King Henry II, is credited with making artichokes famous. She is said to have introduced them to France when she married. They were later brought to Louisiana by French colonists and to California in the Monterey area by the Spaniards in the late 1800’s.

In 1922 Andrew Molera, a landowner in the Salinas Valley of Monterey County, California, just south of San Francisco, decided to lease his land, previously dedicated to the growing of sugar beets, to Italian farmers that he encouraged to try growing the “new” vegetable. His reasons were economic, as artichokes were selling at high prices and farmers could pay Molera triple what the sugar company did for the same land.

In Italy, artichokes (carciofi) are served in a myriad of forms and preparations—fried, baked, braised, boiled and frittatas. Sometimes the same recipe can be served as an antipasto, a side dish (called a “contorno” in Italian) or as a first course (the “primo”)—for example, Carciofi al forno con patate, which is a combination of roasted artichokes and potatoes. For main dishes artichokes go very well with roasted meat or fish; they are also used as a main ingredient in pasta sauces and risotto. Carciofi gratinati (baked artichokes with melted cheese and breadcrumbs) is a typical dish in many parts of the central southern regions of Italy. Artichokes are often combined with other ingredients like cheese, ground meat and béchamel, and then baked. One of the most popular artichoke dishes comes from an old Roman Jewish recipe, called Carciofi alla Giudea, in which the artichokes are deep fried and served with lemon.

Types of Artichokes

Fresh: Artichokes should be firm and heavy for their size, with the outer leaves just beginning to open. Store unwashed, sprinkled with water and refrigerated in airtight bags for up to a week.

Fresh Artichoke

Canned: Artichoke hearts in cans are usually packed in brine. Their soft texture makes them ideal for creamy dips and casseroles. Rinse and pat dry before using to remove any excess salt.

Ingredients: Artichoke Hearts, Water, Salt, Citric Acid.

Marinated: Hearts marinated in oil and dried herbs (like oregano and thyme) have a strong flavor. Use them in a recipe only if specifically called for, as they can overpower a dish. They can be used in salads, or as a pizza topping or added to a sandwich.

Ingredients: Quartered Artichoke Hearts, Vegetable Oil (Soya or Sunflower), Water, Vinegar,Salt, Spices, Citric & Ascorbic Acid to Preserve Color.

Frozen: Artichoke hearts from the freezer case are the healthiest option after fresh as they have no added calories or fat. They’re only partially cooked, so they keep their texture better than canned or jarred when they’re roasted or sautéed. Thaw and pat dry before using to avoid ending up with too much liquid in your dish.

Ingredients: Artichoke Hearts, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid to Preserve Color

Personally, I only use fresh or frozen artichokes because I do not care for the additional ingredients in the canned and marinated products. I can easily make marinated artichoke hearts with the frozen product by defrosting the artichoke hearts and dressing them with my own fresh dressing. (See recipe below) No additional preservatives here. They are also a great, healthy convenience food. Traditional cooks make their own artichoke hearts by trimming fresh artichokes down to the heart but this is a very time consuming preparation.

How To Select Artichokes

Choose globes that are dark green, heavy, and have “tight” leaves. Don’t select globes that are dry looking or appear to be turning brown. If the leaves appear too “open” then the choke is past its prime. You can still eat them, but the leaves may be tough. (Don’t throw these away. They can be used for artichoke soup). Artichokes are available throughout the year with the peak season being from March to May and a smaller crop in October.  It is best to use them within 4 days of purchase.

How To Eat an Artichoke:

Pull each leaf off the choke and hold the pointed end between your fingers and drag the leaf between your teeth. Most of the edible portion is on inside bottom 1/3 of the choke leaf. When you serve artichokes, put a bowl on the table for the discarded leaves. Once you’ve eaten all the leaves you’ll see the heart or flower of the choke. The rest of the base of the choke is edible, referred to as the heart.

How To Clean and Prepare Artichokes For Stuffing

1. Before doing any trimming, wash the artichoke thoroughly. Hold the artichoke under cold running water. Rinse in between the leaves without pulling on them. Turn the artichoke upside down (stem side up) and give a good shake. Dry the artichoke with a clean towel.

2. Cut off the stem and pull off lower petals which are small or discolored.

3. Cut stems close to the base.  Use a stainless knife to prevent discoloration.

4. Cut off the top 1 1/2″ to 2″ of the artichoke. This is where the leaves are most tightly bunched.

5. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut off the sharp points from the leaves.

 

6. Open up the artichoke so that you can see the purple-topped leaves. Pull out the purple leaves. Use a serrated spoon to scrape the fuzzy choke out of the artichoke heart:

 

7. After you have scraped out as much as you can, rinse the artichoke well and either rub it with lemon juice or dip it in a combination of lemon and water to keep the cut edges from becoming brown.

8. Stuff the artichoke leaves right over the bowl. Starting at the bottom, working your way up and around until you get to the top, tighter leaves. Gently pull out each leaf and use your hand to scoop some of the mixture into the leaf.

Stuffed artichokes ready for baking.

How To Make Homemade Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Serves 4                                                                                                                                               

Ingredients

  • 1  9-oz. box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1. Rinse artichoke hearts under cold water. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, thyme, oregano, and pepper flakes in a 1-qt. saucepan set over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld, 10 minutes.

2. Let cool to room temperature and stir in lemon juice. Serve or refrigerate in a covered container for up to 1 week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Stuffed Artichokes With Lemon Zest, Rosemary and Garlic

This makes a wonderful appetizer that can be prepared in advance.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lemons, zested, then halved
  • 4 large globe artichokes (about 12 ounces each before trimming)
  • 2 1/4 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus 4 whole sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped capers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze juice from the two lemon halves into water. Cut off artichoke stems, peel them with a vegetable peeler, rub them all over with remaining lemon half (this prevents browning) and drop them into water.

Use a heavy, sharp stainless knife to cut the top 1 1/2 inches off an artichoke. Pull out the pale inner leaves from center. At the bottom, where the leaves were, is a furry bed, the choke. Use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works well) to scoop out choke.

Next, using kitchen shears or a pair of scissors, trim the pointy ends from outer leaves of artichoke. As you work, rub a lemon half over cut parts of artichoke. When you are finished trimming, drop the artichoke into the bowl of lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

To prepare stuffing: in a large bowl combine lemon zest, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped parsley and rosemary. Mince 6 garlic cloves and add to the bowl. Add capers, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss.

In a small roasting pan or baking pan large enough to hold the artichokes, scatter onion slices. Add reserved artichoke stems, 4 sprigs parsley and remaining garlic cloves.

Holding artichokes over the stuffing bowl, stuff choke cavity and in between the leaves with bread crumb mixture. Stand stuffed artichokes upright in pan and generously drizzle olive oil over the center of each artichoke.

Fill the baking pan with water until it reaches 1/4 way up the artichokes. Add wine and remaining salt and pepper to water. Cover pan with foil and poke several holes in the foil. Bake artichokes for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender; when done, a knife should slide easily into an artichoke and a leaf should pull out easily.

Yield: 4 servings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Spinach Fettuccine with Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato olive oil from the jar
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 -9 oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound fresh spinach fettuccine, cooked and drained (1/4 cup pasta water reserved), use dried if fresh is not available
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender. Add artichokes, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook until artichokes are tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add wine and simmer until just thickened. Stir in reserved 1/4 cup pasta water, sun-dried tomatoes and thyme; then add pasta, salt and pepper and toss well. Transfer pasta to bowls, garnish with cheese and serve.

Fish Fillets with Potatoes and Artichokes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • 1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons sliced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oi, divided
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fish stock
  • Four 6-8 ounce bass, snapper, cod or grouper fillets
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl combine the artichokes, potatoes, garlic, rosemary, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat.

Place the potato mixture in a large ovenproof baking dish, add the fish stock, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Spoon out a quarter of the vegetables into a bowl. Reserve.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and rub the fillets with the remaining olive oil. Arrange the fillets on the potato and artichoke mixture and add the wine. Cover the fish with the reserved potato mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.


Soup and sandwich pairings are a great go-to choice when you’re looking for warm, comforting meals in a hurry. You can make delicious soups and substantial sandwiches that are tastier, healthier, and cheaper than eating out or picking up fast food meals.

While you might think of sandwiches or soup as just for lunch, they are a good dinner choice when you get home after a hectic day. Sandwiches are endlessly versatile—you can pile lots of delicious, healthy toppings on whole-grain bread and many hearty soups can come together in 30 minutes or less with just a little advance planning.


How To Keep Sandwiches Healthy:

Better Choices:

Bread

Pick a bread with has three to five grams of fiber per serving

  • High-fiber whole wheat bread
  • High protein bread
  • Wraps and pita bread (they are thin and have fewer calories)
  • Reduced calorie bread
  • Multi-grain bread

Proteins

  • Lean deli meats preferably without nitrates : Turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef or homemade meatloaf
  • Vegetarian spreads: Hummus, peanut butter, cashew butter, tahini or vegetarian patties
  • Salads: Tuna fish salad, seafood salad, chicken salad made with low-fat dressing

Cheese

  • Harder cheeses (such as Swiss and Cheddar) usually have less fat.
  • Softer cheeses (like light cream cheese) may have more fat, but if spread thinly, can add overall less fat than slices of hard cheese

Condiments

  • Mustard, nonfat salad dressings, salsa, and nonfat mayonnaise all add little calories and lots of flavor.
  • Avoid high-fat salad dressings, regular mayonnaise and oil-based dressings.

Vegetables.

A sandwich is a great way to slip vegetables into a meal. 

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Cucumbers or pickles
  • Onions: Sweet, hot, or red
  • Peppers: sweet or hot
  • Lettuce
  • Apples or pears (especially good with ham and turkey)
  • Sauerkraut
  • Herbs (Basil with toasted cheese and tomato)

How To Keep Soups Healthy:

Fat

Most soups begin with a fat, such as oil, to saute vegetables and bring out their flavor. Fat isn’t always unhealthy; monounsaturated fats can help improve your blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats reduce your risk of type-2 diabetes and can help improve your blood cholesterol. Healthy fats are usually liquid at room temperature: Peanut oil, corn oil, safflower oil and olive oil are healthy choices. Always use the least amount of oil as possible in your cooking. I believe that you never need more than 1 tablespoon of oil in a recipe to saute ingredients.

Soup Base

In high-sodium soups, the base is often a salty stock. Keep the sodium low by using a salt-free stock. Chicken, beef, vegetable and fish stock often are available in salt-free varieties. Canned low sodium tomatoes are readily available and make a fine base for soup on its own or mixed with stock, depending on how thick you want the broth. Milk or fat free half works for creamy soups. Do not add salt or use full-sodium broth. There are 860 milligrams of sodium in 1 cup of full-sodium chicken stock and only 72 milligrams in low-sodium chicken stock. If you add 1 teaspoon of salt to the base, you increase the soup’s sodium content by 2,325 milligrams.

Protein and Fiber

Most soups include a source of protein, either meat or legumes. Legumes are also an excellent source of fiber. Lean beef, chicken, pork, turkey or fish are good choices. For legumes, don’t choose a sodium canned variety — they can have as much as 818 milligrams of sodium per 1-cup serving. There are many no salt added canned beans in the markets today. Almost any legume works in soup. For additional fiber, add whole grains, such as barley, quinoa or brown rice, all of which are low-sodium. If your soup recipe has noodles, choose a whole grain variety. In addition, use only fresh — not canned — veggies to avoid excess sodium. Onions, carrots, garlic, celery, corn, spinach, kale and potatoes are good choices for soup.

Seasoning

The seasonings make lower sodium soup tasty. They complement the flavor of the other ingredients and finish your soup. Add seasonings to taste — stir, taste and then add more if necessary. Most spices and herbs do not contain sodium. Provided it does not have added salt, any seasoning works. Rosemary, thyme and marjoram make a tasty combination, so do chili powder and cumin. Parsley and basil complement almost any type of soup.

Quick Soups and Healthy Sandwiches  

Vegetable Beef Barley

Saute 1 pound lean ground beef in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; drain fat.

Add 4 cups low-sodium beef broth, 1 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cover; simmer 15 minutes.

Add 1 cup frozen mixed veggies, 1 14 ½ oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, and 1/2 cup quick-cooking barley. Cover; simmer 15 minutes.

Warm Prosciutto-Stuffed Focaccia

 

 Ingredients:

  • 1 (9-ounce) round loaf focaccia bread, whole grain if possible
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced Provolone cheese
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette

 Directions:

Cut bread in half horizontally, using a serrated knife. Top bottom bread half with prosciutto and next 3 ingredients.

Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette; cover with top bread half. Wrap in aluminum foil; place on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until warm. Cut focaccia into six wedges. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Many markets sell butternut squash peeled and cut into cubes in the produce section of the market, usually next to the cut up fruit.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1 and 1/2 pounds after trimming)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fat free half half

Directions:

Melt the butter in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the squash, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and cook 10 minutes, covered. Add the chicken broth and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes, stirring once in awhile. Remove the bay leaf.

Purée the soup with a hand blender and add the half and half. Warm gently, and serve immediately.

Grilled Eggplant Pita Sandwiches with Yogurt-Garlic Spread

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 (1-pound) eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plain reduced-fat Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
  • 2 cups arugula

Directions:

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, yogurt, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Brush eggplant and onion slices with oil. Place eggplant and onion slices on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Fill each pita half with 1 1/2 tablespoons yogurt mixture, one quarter of eggplant slices, one quarter of onion slices, and 1/4 cup arugula.

Crab Chowder                                                                                              

6 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 cup cored fennel bulb, finely diced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups diced red potatoes, unpeeled
  • 28 oz container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 1 pound pasteurized crabmeat

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, diced fennel, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are just starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add broth, water and potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 20 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, crabmeat and fennel fronds. Return to a boil, stirring often; immediately remove from heat.

Turkey, Apple, and Swiss Melt

 Serves 4 (serving size: 1 sandwich)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 8 (1-ounce) slices whole-wheat bread
  • 4 (1-ounce) slices Swiss cheese
  • 5 ounces thinly sliced Granny Smith apple (about 1 small)
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced lower-sodium deli turkey breast
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

Combine mustard and honey in a small bowl. Spread one side of each of 4 bread slices with 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard mixture.

Place one cheese slice on dressed side of bread slices; top each with 5 apple slices and 2 ounces turkey. Top sandwiches with remaining 4 bread slices.

Coat both sides of sandwiches with cooking spray. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sandwiches to pan.

Cook 2 minutes on each side or until bread is browned and cheese melts.

Black Bean Soup 

Saute 1 chopped onion, 1 tablespoon cumin, and 4 minced garlic cloves in 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Add one 32 oz. carton (4 cups) low-sodium chicken broth, 1- 14 ½ oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, two 15-ounce cans low sodium black beans, and one 1.4-ounce can diced green chili peppers. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro and 1 tablespoon light sour cream. Garnish with baked tortilla chips.

Avocado Tomato Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 whole wheat tortillas (10 inches), room temperature
  •  Lettuce leaves
  • 1 medium tomato, thinly sliced Avocado Tomato Wraps
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

In a small bowl, mash a fourth of the avocado with a fork; spread over tortillas. Layer with lettuce, tomato and remaining avocado.

Sprinkle with cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper; roll up. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 servings.


The Campo dei Miracoli from above. The leaning tower is on the left, the Duomo is in the center and the Baptistery is on the right.

Legend says it was mythic Trojan refugees from Greece who founded Pisa. The City of Pisa was first settled in a region of Italy that was relatively uninhabited at the time. Of course, ” Italy ” wasn’t around then, and Pisa was a Roman settlement. As a coastal town, Pisa was an important Roman port and merchant center. Pisa existed long before the Roman empire though, and in ancient Roman texts, Pisa is called an old city.

River Arno in Pisa

A city of Etruscan origin, Pisa reached its highest splendor in the 11th century, when it became one of the four influential Italian Maritime Republics along with Genoa, Venice and Amalfi. During most of the Middle Ages, it dominated the western Mediterranean Sea. The construction of what would become the city’s most famous monuments: the Duomo of Pisa, the Leaning Tower and the Monumental Cemetery began during that time.

The Tower of Pisa leans sideways because it was built on unstable soil. In 1173 construction started on the 180-foot bell tower and the building began to lean as soon as the first three floors were completed. Nevertheless, building continued and the seven-story structure was finished between 1360 and 1370. The tower continued to lean a little bit more each year and was closed for repairs in 1990, when it was leaning fourteen and one-half feet to one side. Engineers worked to stabilize the foundation, straightening the tower only slightly to help prevent irreparable damage without taking away the uniqueness of the structure.

Most often Pisa acted as a commercial center for the region but, during times of war, Pisa was able to maintain control of the Mediterranean Sea with its formidable fleet of warships. The Romans used the port of Pisa to launch naval attacks against the Gauls, Ligurians and Carthagenians.

Pisa was a wealthy city with colonies in northern Africa, in southern Spain and along the southern coasts of Asia Minor. The 1284 war with Genoa marked the beginning of Pisa’s decline. Florence conquered Pisa in 1406, however, under Medici rule, the city flourished and commissioned the new construction, such as, the University that later attracted Galileo Galilei, the famous astronomer, physicist, mathematician as department chair.

The City of Pisa, as we know it today, is the result of many global influences that affected the entire world, not just Italy and the surrounding areas. World War II took its toll on the city, damaging many of the famous buildings and historic areas. However, both residents of the City of Pisa and Italy itself have beautifully restored Pisa to a state that is modern and functional, as well as historic.

http://www.leaningtowerofpisa.net/

Pisa Duomo Angel Silhouette (www.free-city-guides.com)

The interior of the Duomo in Pisa

The Cuisine of Pisa

The cuisine in Pisa offers lots of variety and taste, as diverse as the lands around it. From the sea to the farmland and on to the hilly landscape dominated by grain, olives and grape vines to the rugged, wooded landscape.The many restaurants in the historic center offer typical dishes from Pisa, as well as fine, protected products, such as Monte Pisano olive oil, Pecorino cheese, Parco di Migliarino lamb, Pisan beef, San Miniato truffle, pine nuts, mushrooms, Pisanello tomatoes and much more. Tuscan bread, made without salt, is an essential element of Pisan cuisine and the base of many canapés which are served as appetizers.

Pisa’s cuisine varies from fish and seafood specialties to game dishes. A typical dish of the area is a simple soup called “Sullo Scio” prepared by frying some garlic, rosemary and peeled tomatoes in oil, adding water, broken up tagliatelle (wide pasta noodles) and served with Parmesan cheese. Mushrooms are an important feature in Pisa’s cuisine and they can be eaten simply sliced and dressed in a salad or in more elaborate pasta sauces.

As far as desserts, a particular mention goes to “Torta con i Bischeri”, a pastry based tart filled with rice cooked in milk and flavored with lemon, vanilla and nutmeg with the addition of chocolate pieces, candy fruit, raisins and maraschino liqueur. Desserts are based on the traditions of the poor and are made with dried fruit, chestnuts, pine nuts, chocolate and wine.

The Popular Eels

Fruit Market in Pisa

In the past, one of the great traditional specialties was “Cee alla Pisana” or baby eels, caught in the River Arno. According to this recipe, the eels were sautéed with garlic, olive oil, sage and Parmesan cheese, but they are no longer allowed because“cee” fishing is now prohibited. Local fish dishes usually include leeks or chickpeas and are served with a sweet-and-sour sauce or an onion and tomato sauce. Chickpeas are widely used, especially to make cecina, a flat bread snack, very similar to the Genovese farinata ( a thin, crisp, pizza-like pancake) made with chickpea meal cooked in copper baking-tins in a wood-burning oven.

Cecina

Vegetables grow in abundance here, given the mild climate of this part of Tuscany, and are used mostly to make quiche and frittatas. Beans are widely used. Bordatino, a soup made of red beans, black cabbage and corn meal, octopus and beans and  tuna bean salad are some of the dishes in which they feature beans. Fresh pasta dishes seasoned with sauces made from game and poultry such as boar, hare and duck are also popular.

From the local peasant heritage come recipes like Maggese, made with diced pig shoulder and Pecorino cheese, pig’s cheek mousse to spread on warm toast, and Testicciola alla Pisana, the head of a calf or lamb cooked in water with spices and herbs, boned and seasoned with capers, anchovies, pickles, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Finally, the province of Pisa also includes among its varied resources a flourishing wine-making industry that produces DOC and IGT wines (meaning a wine produced and guaranteed to be from a specific area). Typical local wines include the Chianti Colline Pisane (protected by the DOC label), Bianco Pisano di San Torpé, Colli dell’Etruria Centrale, Montescudaio and and Vin Santo.

Pisa Inspired Recipes For You To Make At Home

Antipasto Course

Broiled Clams

Ingredients:

For the Clams:

  • 24 fresh Littleneck clams
  • Salt
  • Cornmeal or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white wine

For the Topping:

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted red sweet pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped pancetta
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions:

Scrub the clams to remove exterior dirt and place them in a large bowl along with cold water and the cornmeal or flour. Let soak 10 minutes. Scrub each clam clean under cold running water to remove remaining softened dirt from the shells and return to soak in fresh cold water. If necessary, repeat the scrubbing process a couple of times until the clams are completely clean and the soaking water is free of sand. Drain and chill until ready to cook.

In a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, bring the wine to a boil. Add the cleaned clams, cover immediately, and steam until the clams are open, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Using tongs, remove the shellfish from the pan to a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid in the pan.

Preheat a broiler. In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, bread crumbs, roasted red pepper, parsley, and pancetta. Mix well.

Leave the whole clam meat in one of its shells and discard the other shell half.

Spoon equal amounts of topping on each clam. Drizzle reserved clam liquid over the topping and  place the clams in a flameproof baking dish, 9 inches from the broiler.

Broil for about 6 minutes, watching carefully to be sure the topping does not burn. If it browns too quickly, move farther from the flame and add a little more clam liquid or wine before returning them to the broiler. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Yield: 4 servings

 

Primo Course

Pisan Style Chickpeas

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. beet greens or other greens, such as mustard or chard, tough ribs removed, blanched
  • 1 cup diced Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Toasted Tuscan-style bread
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Drain the chickpeas from their soaking water and place in a medium-size saucepan with several inches of water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until soft but not breaking apart, about 2 hours, uncovered or partially covered. Drain, reserving 1/ 2 cup of the chickpea cooking water.

In a large nonreactive skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic, tomato paste and tomatoes with their juices, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the chickpeas and their reserved liquid and cook another 10 minutes. Add the beet or mustard greens and cook until heated through, an additional 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Gently turn several times to mix the ingredients.

Toast the bread, set it in soup bowls, and ladle the chickpeas and their broth over it.

Secondi Course

Pisan Braised Beef Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beef round steak
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  14-1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed or 1-1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Trim fat from round steak and cut meat into 4 serving-size pieces. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add meat pieces to skillet and brown both sides of each piece. Remove meat from skillet.

Add mushrooms, onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic to the skillet. Cook until vegetables are nearly tender. Then, stir in undrained tomatoes, herbs, and red pepper. Add meat to skillet, spooning vegetable mixture over the meat. Cover and simmer about 1-1/4 hours or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. 

Transfer meat to a serving platter. Spoon vegetable mixture over meat and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings.


gnocchi_wideweb__470x383

Gnocchi (pronounced NYOK-ee) pasta is basically a thick, soft, dumpling type of pasta. You can make gnocchi from many different things. Semolina flour or unbleached flour makes a great gnocchi while potatoes, ricotta, spinach and even sweet potatoes make other kinds of delicious gnocchi. The most common way to prepare gnocchi is to combine mashed potatoes with flour, forming bite-sized balls of dough and serve them in a light butter sauce with fresh sage.

The word gnocchi is derived from the Italian word “nocchio” meaning a “knot of wood” or from “nocca” meaning knuckle. It was introduced by the Roman Legions during the expansion of the empire into the countries of the European continent. In the past 2000 years each country developed its own specific type of small dumplings, with the ancient Gnocchi as their common ancestor. In Roman times, gnocchi were made from a semolina porridge-like dough and are still found in similar forms today, particularly in Sardinia, where they are known as malloreddus.

These small dumplings are one of the oldest preparations in the history of food, recorded as far back as the cookbooks of the thirteenth century. In a fragment of a book from the 1300’s there is a recipe for gnocchi written in the Tuscan dialect of the time.

If you want gnocchi take some cheese and mash it, then take some flour and mix it with egg yolks as if you are making dough. Place a pot of water over a fire. When it starts boiling, place the mixture on a board and slide it in the pot with a spoon. When they are cooked, place them on plates and top them with a lot of grated cheese.”

Since Gnocchi simply consist of dough shaped in small dumplings and don’t need any special skill or technique to flatten or cut the dough, they are probably even older than pasta. In fact, Gnocchi has a very close link to pasta, and sometimes it is difficult to tell if a dish should be considered pasta or gnocchi. For example, orecchiette from the Apulia region are formed from a small dumpling of pasta pressed into an “ear” shape. Troffie from Liguria are made by rolling a piece of dough around a stick and served with pesto sauce.

Ricotta Gnocchi

My favorite way to prepare gnocchi is with ricotta cheese instead of potatoes. This is just as authentic as its potato relative, but lighter in texture and much easier to make.

Unlike potato gnocchi, ricotta gnocchi require no precooking (opening a container of ricotta cheese is much easier and faster than boiling, peeling and mashing a pound of potatoes) Just stir together ricotta, eggs, grated Parmesan and a little flour — just enough to bring everything together. I like to serve these with a light sauce since they are delicate in flavor, usually a little marinara or a light pesto. Choose a sauce that leaves room for to the ricotta flavor to come through and, since they are also delicate in texture, toss them lightly.

You can make the gnocchi up to 12 hours ahead, spread them out in a single layer on a floured tray, cover them with a towel, and refrigerate until needed. Handmade gnocchi cook very quickly. They should be boiled in salted water and removed with a slotted spoon just as soon as they rise to the top of the pot.

For perfect gnocchi, don’t work the dough too much and add as little flour as possible. It’s okay if the dough is a little sticky.

Ingredients for the gnocchi:

1- 15 oz. container skim milk ricotta cheese

Drain excess water from the ricotta by placing it in a colander lined with cheesecloth over a bowl and leaving it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (overnight is even better) before using.

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

To make the gnocchi:

Mix together in a large bowl, the drained ricotta cheese with 1 slightly beaten egg, Parmesan cheese and salt. Add flour and work mixture in with your hands until a soft dough is formed. If your fingers are sticky, add some more flour to your hands.

Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead lightly until the dough becomes smooth and firm. Be careful not to overwork it. Divide the dough into fist size pieces, and roll into long logs as thick as your thumb.

Then cut it into small 1 inch pieces.

Roll each piece under the flat part of a fork in order to create the ridges.

Place on a floured board.

To cook the gnocchi:

2 tablespoons salt

When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Add the 2 tablespoons of salt. Drop in the gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface, about 1-2 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Fold in the sauce with a rubber spatula, dilute with as much of the gnocchi water as needed to create a light sauce.

Tomato Basil Sauce                                                                                                                                                                     

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. container Pomi chopped Italian tomatoes
  • Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, season and let simmer until thickened. Stir in basil and add additional salt to taste.

Serve gnocchi with the sauce and extra grated Parmesan.

Spinach Ricotta Gnocchi Variation

  • 3 ounces frozen spinach, squeezed dry
  • 1- 15 oz. container skim milk ricotta cheese, drained overnight
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1  1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Follow directions above for making and cooking the gnocchi.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Variation

Sweet potatoes make these gnocchi a bit sweet and full of antioxidants. Serve them as you would other gnocchi. Sweet Potato Gnocchi are particularly good simply dressed in brown butter and sage. The heartier texture of sweet potatoes means these gnocchi can be made using whole wheat pastry flour for extra fiber and nutrients.

This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi. Any extras can be laid on a baking sheet, frozen, and transferred to a resealable plastic bag and kept frozen for up to six months.

Ingredients

  • 2 one pound sweet potatoes, rinsed, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
  • 1  15-ounce container fresh ricotta cheese, drained in sieve 2 hours
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place sweet potatoes on plate; microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and cool. Scrape sweet potato flesh into medium bowl and mash; transfer 3 cups to large bowl. Add ricotta cheese; blend well. Add Parmesan cheese and 2 teaspoons salt; mash to blend. Mix in flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; divide into 6 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into 20-inch-long ropes (about 1 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. Cut each rope into 20 pieces. Roll each piece over tines of fork to indent. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Bring large pot of water to boil; add 2 tablespoons salt and return to boil. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer gnocchi to a clean rimmed baking sheet or a serving bowl. Mix with your favorite sauce.

For another variation, I refer you to my recipe for Butternut Squash & Potato Gnocchi on the post cited below.

https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/23/need-some-new-potato-recipes/

Marinara Sauce

Pesto Sauce


The saying, “As American as apple pie,” is referred to as the symbol of America. The word “apple” comes from the Old English word “aeppel.” Apples probably have more symbolic value than any other fruit on earth, from the forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve to the offering of the Evil Queen to Snow White, the apple has always represented beauty, love and good and evil.

Carbonized remains of apples have been found by archeologists in prehistoric lake dwellings in Switzerland, dating back to the Iron Age. There is also evidence to show that apples were eaten and preserved by slicing and sun drying during the Stone Age in Europe. In China, Egypt, and Babylon records were found that mentioned man understood the art of budding and grafting fruit trees as long as twenty centuries ago.

When the English colonists arrived in North America they found only crab apples. Crab apple trees are the only native apples in the United States. European settlers arrived and brought with them their English customs and favorite fruits.

Johnny Appleseed

One of America’s fondest legends is that of Johnny Appleseed, a folk hero and pioneer apple farmer in the 1800s. There really was a Johnny Appleseed, however, his actual name was John Chapmen (1774-1845) and he was born in Leominster, Massachusetts. His dream was for the land to produce so many apples that no one would ever go hungry. Most historians today classify him as an eccentric but very smart businessman, who traveled about the new territories of his time, leasing land and developing nurseries of apple trees.

When covered wagons traveled over the Oregon Trail westward, they carried apple trees and “scion wood” for grafting as part of their cargo. Often the family orchard was planted before the ground was broken for their log cabin home. Josiah Red Wolf, a Nez Perce leader, planted apple trees at Alpowa Creek near the Snake River in southeast Washington. He is probably the first Native American to have had a European-style garden and orchard. Red Wolf’s trees lived for decades. America’s longest living apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Governor Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard on the corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street. The tree was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.

There are approximately 10,000 different kinds of varieties of apples grown in the world with more than 7,000 of these varieties grown in the United States. Apples are a member of the rose family of plants and the blossoms are much like wild-rose blossoms. There are between 25 to 30 kinds of wild apples grown throughout the world with seven kinds in the U.S. Most wild apples are crab apples with small, sour, hard fruit. 

Resource Information: Apples: History, Folklore, Horticulture and Gastronomy, by Peter Wynne, Hawthorn Books, New York, N.Y., 1975.

How To Care For Apples                                                                                                                                                        

Short Term Storage

Apples do best in the fruit drawer of the refrigerator, where they keep for up to 3 weeks. At room temperature, they ripen too quickly and become mealy after 2 days. Storing apples next to broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, greens or cauliflower could cause these vegetables to spoil faster, since apples give off ethylene gas, which causes faster ripening.

Long Term Storage

Almost any kind of apple will keep for three or four months, or even longer, if stored properly. It’s cheap and easy to do. All you need is newspaper, a box or basket, and apples. A root cellar is optional, but not necessary.

The main causes of apple spoilage are time, bruises, and contact with a rotten spot on another apple. Only perfect apples should be used for long-term storage. Even minor imperfections speed spoilage , so scan them and set aside any with bruises for immediate use.

Prevent contact between apples stored for the winter by wrapping them individually in sheets of newspaper. The easiest way to do this is to unfold a section of newspaper all the way and tear it into quarters. Then stack the quarters.

Place an apple on top of the stack and fold the top sheet of paper up around the apple, wrapping it in paper. Give the corners a slight twist—just enough to make them stay wrapped. If you twist them too hard, the paper will tear. It’s not necessary to exclude air. Just twist hard enough so the paper does not come unwrapped before the apples are boxed. The paper prevents contact between apples, so just one rotten apple won’t spoil the whole bunch. 

Boxed apples need to be kept in a cool, dark spot where they won’t freeze. Freezing ruptures all of an apple’s cells, turning it into one large bruise overnight. Keep wrapped apples in a cardboard box. It need not be airtight, just tight enough to impede air circulation. Store the boxed apples in an unheated basement, a pantry, an enclosed porch, an unheated attic or a root cellar

Apple Equivalents:

1 large apple = 2 cups sliced or chopped = 1 1/2 cups finely chopped =1 1/4 cups grated.

1 medium apple = 1 1/3 cups sliced or chopped = 1 cup finely chopped = 3/4 cup grated.

1 small apple = 3/4 cup sliced or chopped = 3/4 cup finely chopped = 1/2 cup grated.

1 pound apples = 4 small apples or 3 medium apples or about 2 large apples

1 (9″ or 10″) pie = 2-1/2 pounds (4 to 5 large or 6 to 7 medium or 8 to 9 small apples)

Peck = 10-1/2 pounds

Bushel = 42 pounds (yields 20-24 quarts of applesauce)

Below is a chart with some of the best baking and cooking apples in North America.

Name Best Uses Flavor Characteristic, Appearance
Braeburn Sauce Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color
Cortland Pies, Sauces, Fruit Salad Tart, crisp, larger than McIntosh
Fuji Baking Sweet and juicy, firm, red skin
Gala Dried, Cider Mild, sweet, juicy, crisp, yellow-orange skin with red striping (resembles a peach)
Granny Smith Baking Moderately sweet, crisp flesh, green skin
Jonagold Pie, Sauce Tangy-sweet, Yellow top, red bottom
Jonathan Sauce Tart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skin
McIntosh Sauce Juicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh, red skin
Newtown Pippin Pie, Sauce, Cider Sweet-tart flesh, crisp, greenish-yellow skin
Rhode Island Greening Pie Very tart, distinctively flavored, grass-green skin, tending toward yellow/orange
Rome Beauty Baking, Cider Mildly tart, crisp, greenish-white flesh, thick skin
Winesap Sauce, Pie, Cider Very juicy, sweet-sour flavor, winey, aromatic, sturdy, red skin

 

Italian Apple Desserts

Italy is a major apple producer, one of the top five worldwide. The region most Italians associate with apples is the Val di Non, in Trentino. It’s not alone, however. Apples are also grown in Emilia-Romagna, the Veneto, Piemonte, and Campagna areas. The crop begins in August and continues on through spring. As is the case elsewhere, most of the commercial production concentrates on a tiny fraction of the roughly 7,000 known strains of apples, and if you visit an Italian market, you will likely find (depending on season) Granny Smiths, Goldens, Golden Delicious, Starks, Renettes, Gravensteins, or Galas.

In modern Italian cooking, apples generally appear at the end of the meal, either in a bowl of fresh fruit or in a cake prepared for a special occasion. Golden Delicious apples are favored eating apples, while the Red Galas are a more recent addition in Italy and have become extremely popular.

When one thinks of Italian fruit desserts, it is usually a dessert made with pears, figs, or nuts. Apples are not usually associated with Italy. Apples are typically American! However, I learned in doing research for this post that apples are plentiful all year round in Italy and apples are used in a variety of dishes.  A very common dessert in Rome, and other parts of Italy, is the torta di mele, meaning a simple apple cake.

Granny Smith Apple Sorbet With Muscat Wine and Grappa

Marcella Hazan writes in her book, Marcella Cucina, about this recipe:

This is the most deliciously fresh sorbet, I know, she says. What makes it so is the felicity with which the ingredients act upon each other. The Granny Smith apples and the grappa both have bite, but the grappa isn’t all bite. It is packed with the aromatic esters of the pomace, the grape skins left over after making wine, from which it is distilled. The honey is all suavity with its characteristically musky aftertaste. The Muscat brings its own soft touch and the scent of peaches and apricots. These qualities don’t stand apart, but coalesce to produce this sorbet’s unique, zephyr-like refreshment. If you have all the choices in the world, use the low-alcohol Moscato naturale d’Asti, a shyly sweet Muscat from Piedmont. Only slightly less desirable, but far more available, is Asti Spumante, which you must beat lightly with a fork to drive away some of the bubbles.

Grappa is one of Italy’s most popular alcoholic drinks, with somewhere in the region of forty million bottles of grappa being produced every year. It’s also a very Italian drink; since 1989 the name has been protected by the EU, meaning that the drink can only be called grappa if it’s sourced and produced in Italy. The main ingredient of grappa is pomace, which consists of the grape skins, seeds and stalks that are left over from the wine making process. These are taken through a second process of distillation, which extracts the remaining flavors from the pomace before the waste is discarded. The grappa is then either bottled at once, which creates white grappa (grappa bianca), or aged in wooden casks to create the yellow or brown-hued grappa known as riserva.

Muscat is the only grape to produce wine with the same aroma as the grape itself. Sweet Muscats have a rich nose of dried fruits, raisins and oranges. Muscat grapes range from white to almost black in color. Muscat vines and wines are found throughout Italy usually producing light wines with distinct aromas. The basic wine styles made are spumante (sparkling), frizzante (half-sparkling), and sweet dessert wines, some of which are fortified. (Fortified wine is wine to which a distilled beverage (usually brandy) has been added).  This unique wine is often labeled simply as “Moscato” or if it’s grown and produced in Italy’s Northwest region of Piedmont, it’s labeled with its full name of Moscato d’Asti (named after the grape, Moscato, and the Italian town of Asti). A close relative of Piedmont’s Asti Spumante, Moscato d’Asti is generally produced in smaller quantities than Spumante.

Marcella Hazan’s Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup muscat wine or other sweet wine
  • 2 tablespoons grappa.

Directions:

1. Peel and core the apples and cut them into pieces about the size of a walnut.

2. Put the honey, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil over low heat. Cook down to a syrup half its original volume.

3. Put the apples, the honey and sugar syrup, the juice from the lemon, the muscat wine and the grappa in a food processor and puree to a creamy consistency.

4. Freeze to a very firm consistency in your ice-cream maker. Serve when done or transfer to suitable containers and store in the freezer.

Yield: About 2 pints sorbet.

The following recipe is a typical method of preparing fruit for the end of an Italian meal. 

Apples Simmered in Wine

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 pounds Golden Delicious apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white wine, not too dry
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • The juice of a half a lemon

Directions:

Add the lemon juice to a bowl of cool water. Peel, core, and slice the apples, slipping the pieces into the bowl of water to keep them from discoloring. When you are done, drain the apples and transfer them to a pot with the wine, sugar, and butter. Cook them over medium high heat, stirring them occasionally, until they are just tender. Don’t overcook them or they will be mushy. Transfer them to a heated serving bowl, arranging the slices so they don’t appear jumbled, pour the cooking liquid over them and serve. A scoop of frozen yogurt is a nice addition when you serve this for guests.

How Did Strudel Get To Be Italian?

People generally think that strudel is an Austrian dish, however, this sweet is originally Turkish. In fact, the precursor to the strudel is baklava, a Turkish dessert stuffed with dried fruit and spices. The Hungarians and Austrians were introduced to baklava during the invasion of Eastern Europe by the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. From 1526 to 1699, the Turks controlled Hungary and, during these two centuries, the Hungarians adopted many different aspects of the Ottoman culture, including various Turkish recipes.

In 1699, when the Turks lost their power over Hungary to the Hapsburgs, the recipe for baklava spread throughout Austria and became known as strudel. Unlike traditional baklava, strudel was made with the apples that grew across Europe. Then, during the Congress of Vienna in 1816, Austria gained control of Venice and the surrounding region and strudel spread throughout Northeastern Italy.

Italian Apple Strudel

Make the pastry and the filling the day before you want to serve it.

Ingredients for the pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions for the pastry:

Place all the ingredients in the work bowl of the processor. Mix until the dough forms a ball

If the mixture is too dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough out on a floured board and knead a few times.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature 2 to 3 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (Remove refrigerated dough to room temperature at least 1 hour before rolling the dough.)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 2 lb. firm apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 1/4 cup raisins, golden is preferred
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Rum
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar

Directions for filling:

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a pan, add the bread crumbs and brown well. Set aside until you roll out the pastry.

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Cut away the seeds and cores and cut the apple quarters into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.

Mix the apples with the pine nuts, raisins, grated lemon zest, sugar, cinnamon and the rum.

For best flavor, refrigerate the apple filling at least overnight. Filling will last in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.

Assemble and Bake the Strudel:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pastry dough at room temperature.

  1. Flour the rolling surface and pin lightly as you work to prevent the dough from sticking.
  2. Roll out the dough from the center to the edges into a very thin rectangle that measures about 36 x 24 inches. The dough will relax more as you roll it. As it gets thinner, you should be able to pull and stretch it gently with your hands to coax it into the shape you want; it doesn’t have to form a perfect rectangle.
  3. Place the dough on a clean, dry kitchen towel. Arrange the dough with one of the longer sides facing you. (This will help you move the strudel to the baking sheet once it is formed.)
  4. Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1 1/2-inch-wide border on all sides of the rectangle.
  5. Arrange the apple mixture in a long mound along the side closest to you. The mound of apples should measure about 4 inches wide and as long as the bread crumb mixture, remembering to leave the 1 1/2-inch-wide border.
  6. Using the towel for assistance, fold the pastry closest to you over the apples. Begin rolling the strudel into a fairly tight roll, starting at one end of the apple mound, giving it a half-roll and gradually working your way down the roll. Repeat as necessary, working your way down gradually down the roll each time.
  7. You should end up with a fairly even, lumpy looking roll that is centered, seam side down, on the kitchen towel.
  8. Use the towel to transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet, bending the strudel into a crescent shape, if necessary to fit it on the pan. Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining half tablespoon of butter.
  9. Seal the ends of the strudel by folding the ends of the roll underneath and pressing them firmly with your fingers. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375º F. Bake 30 minutes. Check the strudel: the top should be a light golden brown. If deeper in color than that, reduce the temperature to 350º F.
  10. Rotate the baking pan in the oven so the strudel cooks evenly. Continue baking until the strudel is deep golden brown and the crust is firm, about 30 minutes. Remove the strudel from the oven and cool 30 minutes. With two metal spatulas, carefully lift the strudel to a wire cooling rack and let stand until completely cooled. Dust with powdered sugar.
The Second Fold

Use a kitchen towel to help roll the strudel.

Apple-Ricotta Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is perfect for a brunch and will keep for a couple of days, so it can even be made the day before you plan to serve it.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 firm cooking apples; peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 lemon                                                                                                                                                                   
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus more to dust cake pan
  • 3/4 teaspoon. baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon. salt
  • 1/2 cup Smart Balance butter blend sticks for baking; at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar or light sugar alternative
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup skim milk ricotta cheese

Streusel Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons Smart Balance butter blend sticks for baking; cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.

Sprinkle the apple slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown, while you prepare the cake mix.

Streusel Directions:

Combine all the dry streusel ingredients (except butter and pecans) in a food processor.

Add butter in pieces. Pulse about 10 times then process for 5 to 10 seconds until there are no visible lumps of butter.

Cake Directions:

Mix together 1 and 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer beat the butter for about 30 seconds, then beat in granulated sugar and vanilla.

Add eggs, one at a time or 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add flour mixture and ricotta cheese to batter. Mix on low speed after each addition until combined. Note: this batter will be rather thick and stiff.

Assemble and Bake:

Spread 1/2 of the batter into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the filling mixture and half the pecans: then the diced apples. Spoon remaining batter over apples. It will not spread smoothly, so drop dollops of batter over the apples. Sprinkle with remaining topping and nuts.

Bake 45-50 minutes more or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool at least 1 hour on a wire rack.


Swordfish Marinara

When many of us think of swordfish, we think..well, isn’t it endangered? The answer — at least for American swordfish — is no!

It is true that swordfish stocks were low in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but, now, North Atlantic stocks are on the rebound and environmental watchdog groups list them as a “good alternative.” 

Under an international rebuilding plan for swordfish, the United States implemented a number of management measures to reduce the amount of fishing, to protect undersized swordfish and to allow the swordfish population to grow and rebuild. Fishermen, managers and scientists worked together to develop new management measures that reduced the impact U.S. fishery had on marine animals, making it one of the most environmentally responsible industries in the world. The North Atlantic swordfish rebuilding program is one of the great success stories in fishery management.

As for Pacific swordfish, they were never in trouble — especially in the waters around Hawaii. They get an “A” rating as a sustainable seafood choice by groups like the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You should buy swordfish that has been caught off the coasts of America because the technique used for catching imported swordfish is controversial and unregulated.

The swordfish is found in oceanic regions worldwide, including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. It is found in tropical, temperate, and sometimes in cold waters. The swordfish is a highly migratory species, generally moving to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters in the summer. Swordfish have been prized since men first set to sea and Sicilian fishermen still put to sea on open boats, calling out in an Ancient Greek dialect, they believe capable of drawing the fish within range of their hand-thrown harpoons. Swordfish is very popular in Italy, especially in the southern regions.

Swordfish is one of the most powerful fish in the ocean. Elusive and combative, the swordfish is prized by recreational anglers. Its name comes from its long, flat, sword-like bill, which is larger than those of other billfish species. When hooked and brought near the boat, the swordfish aggressively wields its bill, forcing anglers to use extreme caution to avoid being injured.

Like other billfish, females grow larger than males. Swordfish feed near the surface at night on squid and other small fish and, during the day, they move into deeper water to feed on larger fish that they stun with their slashing bill. Swordfish generally live about nine years, although, some have lived to 15 years. Fully grown, they can exceed 14 feet in length. Sexual maturity occurs between five and six years. In the Gulf of Mexico, spawning takes place year-round, and peaks from late April to July near the Gulf’s Loop Current.

Because of their size — the average swordfish weighs about 110 pounds — they’re sold as steaks, and while this makes cleaning and boning quite easy, it also means that an unscrupulous fishmonger may be tempted to pass off other steaks, in particular dogfish, as swordfish. For this reason fishmongers usually put the head on display when they set out swordfish steaks. How to be certain it’s swordfish? The spine is true bone, not the cartilage of a dogfish, and there will be an X of darker flesh bracketing the vertebra. Swordfish is popular because of its mildly sweet flavor, moist, meaty texture and moderately high fat content. It is an excellent source of selenium, niacin and vitamin B12.

Swordfish is made for the grill. The meat is so firm it that appeals to many who do not like fish. The texture, also, helps prevent the steaks from falling apart on the grill.

A typical swordfish meal is prepared with a simple olive oil-based marinade, grilled and served simply with lemon, salt and herbs. Good swordfish needs nothing more than this.

Cook swordfish like you would a rare steak: Use high heat to sear the outside and let it stay a little rare in the middle.

Make sure to leave the skin on when you grill, but take it off to serve: The skin is rubbery, but helps to keep the fish moist.

Swordfish is also an excellent stewing fish because it won’t fall apart. Use it for a fish chowder, or as a component in Cioppino or another fish stew or slowly simmer it in tomato sauce.

Swordfish is also good in a salad such as a Nicoise or even a classic tuna salad. 

When choosing swordfish, look for the little strip of dark meat to be red, not brown. If it’s brown, the meat is old. Know that East Coast swordfish tends to be a little rosier than Pacific swordfish due to their diet. Tightly wrapped swordfish freezes well for about 3-4 months; beyond that goes downhill fast.

A few of my favorite ways to prepare swordfish are included here for you to try. The recipe for the dish pictured at the top of the post, Swordfish Marinara, is just below.

 

Swordfish Marinara

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-28 ounce container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons pine  (pignoli) nuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 4 (6-ounce) swordfish fillets, about 1 inch thick

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in an oven-proof skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in olives, crushed red pepper flakes, pine nuts, basil, oregano, wine and salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine bread crumbs, parsley, remaining olive oil, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle swordfish with sea salt and pepper. Place fish in the tomato sauce and top each with 1/4 cup of the breadcrumb mixture. Place skillet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until swordfish is cooked to your liking..

Serve with pasta or crusty Italian bread and a salad.

Swordfish Piccata                                                                                                                                                       

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 fresh boneless swordfish, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • Lemon garnish

Directions:

Combine the flour, pepper, and salt in a shallow dish such as a pie plate. Dredge the swordfish slices in the flour mixture and shake off any excess.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil with the butter. When hot, add the fish and cook until browned on the underside, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn fish over and cook until well browned on the other side. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

To make the sauce:

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and wine to the pan and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and add the capers. Adjust the salt seasoning to taste. Return the swordfish to the skillet and let the fish cook for a few minutes so that it can absorb the flavors of the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve at once, garnished with lemon.

Swordfish in Orange Sauce                                                                                                                                  

Serves 4

Serve with orzo tossed with chopped fresh basil and toasted pine nuts.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (6-ounce) swordfish steaks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pitted, chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion

Directions:

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and black pepper. Add fish to the pan and sauté about 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fish from pan; cover and keep warm.

Add garlic and crushed red pepper to the pan and sauté for 30 seconds. Add raisins, orange juice, olives, roasted pepper and onion to pan and cook for 1 minute. Top fish with sauce and serve.

Baked Swordfish Fillets

Serve with green beans.                                                                                                                    

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 swordfish steaks about 6 oz each, skin removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped oregano
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the swordfish with salt and pepper. Coat a large baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Spread the fennel in the baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

Place the swordfish on top of the fennel in a single layer. Top with the tomato and lemon slices. Mix the parsley, oregano, rosemary, and thyme together and sprinkle over the fish. Pour the wine and the oil over the fish. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and flakes with a knife. Serve with the pan juices poured over the fish.



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