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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pizza lovers have strong convictions. They either love thick pizza and hate thin pizza or they love thin pizza and hate thick pizza! What is your conviction? Well, when you first consider the differences between thick and thin pizza crust, it might seem pretty obvious – one is thick, while the other is not! However, they each have their own intended purpose and your preference may depend on what you want to eat on your pizza.

Pizza that has a thick crust is considered to be the most traditional form of pizza. The pizza dough for this style isn’t really much of a dough at all but, rather, a bread that forms the bottom and side layers of what could very well be labeled a casserole rather than pizza. The advantage to this type of pizza is that you can add as many ingredients as you’d like and fit it all comfortably on the pizza. Because of the thickness of these pizzas, they do take longer to cook in the oven.

Thin crust pizza is a thinner piece of  dough that is stretched to cover the pizza pan bottom. This type of crust cooks very quickly; but because of the delicateness of the dough, toppings are usually limited to one or two.

Make pizza the way you like it. The recipes below give you a variety of options: thick or thin; knead or don’t knead, pan or no pan.  

Thin Crust Pizza

To make the dough

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100°F to 115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To make the dough:

Stir together the yeast, water, honey, and 1 cup of the flour in a large mixing bowl, in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover the mixture and let it stand for 30 minutes; it’ll be very soupy.

Add 2 cups of the remaining flour, the vital wheat gluten and the salt to the yeast mixture, along with the olive oil. Mix and knead the dough-by mixer for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to make a smooth elastic dough. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for at least 2 hours, or until it’s doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  If you’re using a baking stone, preheat the oven to 500°F. with the baking stone in the oven.

Assembling the pizza:

Divide the dough in half, roll each piece on a floured surface into a 13″ to 15″ round (depending on the size of your pizza pans) and place the rounds on lightly oiled pans. (A 13″ diameter yields a thin crust; a 15″ diameter yields a cracker-thin crust.) Turn in the overhanging edge to form a rim.

15 ” cracker like crust

If you plan to use a baking stone to bake the pizza, place the dough on a baker’s peel, dusted with cornmeal. You will then slide the prepared pizza onto the baking stone.

Add the topping as directed below.

Bake the pizzas in the pans for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the top and bottom crusts are nicely browned. If you’re using a baking stone, bake for about 7 – 10 minutes.

Thin Crust Spinach Feta Cheese Topping

Topping for one pizza

  • one 10-ounce package frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • big pinch of salt
  • 2 peeled, minced garlic cloves
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

 Directions:

Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze it in your hands (or a paper towel, or a dish towel) until it’s very dry.

Heat the olive oil and saute the spinach, salt, and garlic for a couple of minutes, just until hot and well combined.

Top the crust with the spinach and, then, the feta. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano.

 

No Knead Thick Pizza Crust

To make the dough;

  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

Oil a 14″-diameter pizza pan or a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

Directions:

Stir the crust ingredients together to form a slightly sticky, soft dough.

Let the dough rise, covered, for 30 minutes.

A little trick, I learned to get an evenly thick pizza, is to let it rise, a second time, in the pizza pan before adding any toppings.

Place the dough in the oiled pan and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then pat and stretch it to cover the bottom of the pan. Let it rest, covered, for another 30 minutes.

Thick pizza dough rising in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Add the topping as directed below.

Bake the pizza for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Thick Crust Sausage and Vegetable Topping

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large bell peppers: red, green, and/or yellow, sliced thin
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces pepperoni or browned sausage meat, casing removed
  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese sliced

Directions:

Brown sausage in a large skillet. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Add oil to the skillet and and cook peppers and onions until soft. Add mushrooms and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Add sausage and set aside.

Layer cheese, alternating provolone and mozzarella cheeses on top of the dough. Spread pizza sauce on top of cheeses and layer the vegetable/sausage mixture on top.

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Green beans and string beans are actually the same bean. Green beans are string beans without the string. The string, a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down both sides of the pod, cannot be found in most of today’s varieties. There are many varieties of green beans: string beans (the classic variety), snap beans, butter beans… and green beans are categorized according to size.  These plants are grown worldwide specifically for its edible beans and there are two main classifications— edible pod beans and shell beans — and the colors and shapes of pods vary tremendously. In fact, there are more than 200 species of beans.

Green beans are edible pod beans that can be grown as bush beans or pole (running) beans. They are often referred to as string beans because originally a fibrous string ran along the seam of the bean pod. The string was noticeable when snapping off the end of the pod. This snapping noise is the reason for its other common nickname, snap beans. The pod color can be green, golden, purple, red or streaked, but the beans inside the pod are always green. Green beans range in shape from thin to wide types.

The common bean was cultivated in ancient Mesoamerica as early as 8,000 years ago. Beans were even found in the mummy covering of a woman in a Peruvian cemetery dating back to pre-Inca civilization. Green beans originated in the tropical southern part of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and part of Costa Rica. They spread from this center of origin to North and South America long before European explorers ever arrived. Early explorers, including Christopher Columbus, found the climbing beans typically planted alongside maize (corn). The first drawings of the bush bean were recorded by the revolutionary German doctor Leonhart Fuchs in 1542 and were also described in detail by explorers John Verazanno and Samuel de Champlain. Green beans was introduced to France by the Conquistadors about 1597. For a long time rare and expensive, this vegetable became widespread only in the 19th century. The first to put green beans on their menus were the French.

When first discovered, green beans had a “string” that ran on the outer curve of the pod shell. Botanists, however, found a way to remove the string through breeding and in 1894 the first successful stringless bean plant was cultivated. Calvin Keeney bred the first stringless bean, termed the “green bean,” in 1894. Burpee Seed Company promoted it. Because green beans required less work to prepare than string beans, they gained in popularity. Today, nearly all varieties of edible pod beans are grown without strings.

While green beans come in a variety of colors, they all taste about the same and can be used more or less interchangeably. The same is true for pole beans, which grow on vines that wrap around poles, and bush beans, which grow on a bushy structure. 

Green beans, wax beans, string beans, or snap beans are long and rounded.

Haricots vert, French green beans, filet beans. These delicate green beans are very thin.

Purple string beans are simply a purple version of classic green beans or wax beans.

Romano beans are flat and wide and flavorful. Smaller ones tend to be more tender. Large ones will have more developed bean seeds inside. They require a bit more cooking, but have more flavor.

Sometimes called yard-long beans, these beans are, in fact, a completely different family of plant from green beans. They are similar in flavor and look (except for their length) to green beans, however, and can be cooked in the same ways.

When cooking green beans, your main concern should be what you are going to cook with them. It does not really matter too much, in most cases, what type of beans you use, since they all taste very similar. However, if you wish to create a dish with purple green beans, then you should either serve them raw or cook them as little as possible, since the color will bleed out and make your food look funny.

Green beans that are thin and tender can be eaten raw or cooked. They are usually about 4 inches long, slightly pointed at each end, and hold a number of small seeds arranged in a row inside the bean itself.

The green bean is a great favorite of dieters everywhere because they can be served in a wide variety of ways, have lots of vitamins and minerals and are just plain good for you. They contain vitamins C, A and K, as well as manganese. This makes them great for bone, cardiovascular and colon health. Green beans are anti-inflammatory, which means that they can help calm respiratory problems like asthma and other inflammatory disorders like arthritis. One cup of raw green beans provides thirty percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for Vitamin C, (15% DV) for fiber and Vitamin A. and the essential vitamins: thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K.

Cleaning and Preparing Fresh Green Beans:

Wash fresh green beans thoroughly in clear, cool water. Lift beans from the wash water and leave garden debris behind. Rinse again.

Break off the end (the top and tail) as you wash them. Leave whole or cut into desired lengths. Beans can be cooked whole, cut crosswise, diagonally or French-cut. If you want sweet tasting, crisp fresh beans, cut them as little as possible. Cut older, more mature beans in the French style. Make sure all the pieces are similar in length so they cook evenly.

Cooking Fresh Green Beans:

Boiling, steaming or microwaving are popular ways to prepare fresh green beans. Stir-frying preserves the best qualities of the fresh green bean. Whatever cooking method you choose, remember to cook fresh green beans as little as possible using the smallest amount of water as possible. The fewer beans in the pan, the quicker they cook and the better they taste. If cooking more than one pound of green beans at a time, use separate pans.

Important To Remember: The beans will continue to cook after you remove them from the heat source. Either take them out just before they are cooked the way you like or plunge them in ice water immediately to stop the cooking process.

Boiling Green Beans:

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water to a gentle boil. Add trimmed green beans and cook, uncovered, 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender (you may need to experiment with the degree of doneness you like). Immediately drain the green beans in a colander.

Steaming Green Beans:

To steam green beans, set a steamer basket with the green beans into a saucepan just large enough to hold it tightly covered. Add one-inch of water, bring to the boil, and cover the pan tightly. Regulate heat to moderate. Green beans will take only 3 to 5 minutes.

Microwave Green Beans:

Place prepared beans in a microwave-safe bowl. Add approximately 2 tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a small corner open. NOTE: If you seal them completely, the plastic wrap will almost shrink-wrap itself to the beans. Microwave on high for approximately 3 to 4 minutes (you might need to experiment to get the beans done to your liking). It is more difficult to get green beans cooked to a precise and even level of doneness when microwaving.

Cooking Green Beans Ahead-of-Time:

Green beans may be cooked several hours in advance. To keep their freshly-cooked taste, once cooked to your liking, dry them thoroughly in clean towels and then refrigerate them in a covered bowl. They will keep for about 4 days, wrapped in a plastic bag or wrap, refrigerated.

Cooking With Green Beans:

Italian Flat Green Beans With Tomatoes and Garlic

This dish is reminiscent of an Italian method of cooking green beans with tomatoes for a long time, which was especially good for tenderizing tough, old beans. Here, fresh Italian flat beans are cooked quickly and added to fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil.

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian green beans (romano) or string beans, ends trimmed; cut on the diagonal into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, cut into very thin slices (a scant 1/4 cup)
  • 1 large tomato, preferably peeled, cored and seeded, then cut into 1/2-inch dice (8 ounces)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (stacked, then rolled tightly and cut into very thin strips)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Drain immediately.

While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic slices, distributing them evenly. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the slices become almost translucent and start to brown on the edges; be careful not to let the garlic burn.

Add the diced tomato and salt and pepper to taste, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, so that the tomato is heated through. Add the cooked green beans and heat through for 1 to 2 minutes; mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Italian Green Bean Chicken Saute

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 pound fresh green beans – rinsed, trimmed, left whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and saute until aromatic oils are released, then add green beans, oregano and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Saute for 5 minutes and remove to a bowl.

Add chicken and cook through, until no longer pink.

Stir in tomatoes, crushed red pepper, remaining salt and pepper and basil and bring to a boil; add green beans and reduce heat to low. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Green Bean, Zucchini and Potato Stew

Serves 6 to 8

Serve with crusty Italian country bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed, halved crosswise
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces zucchini, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 8 ounces russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1-26-ounce container Pomi Italian chopped tomatoes

Directions:

Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 5 minute. Add green beans and cayenne pepper and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, potatoes and parsley. Pour tomatoes and their juices over vegetables. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring frequently, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

green-bean-salmon-potato-salad

Salmon, Potato and Green Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes (about 12 oz.), thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, skin removed
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Lemon for garnish

Directions:

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large pan. Line a steamer basket with parchment cut to fit the basket. Arrange potatoes on top; sprinkle with salt. Place salmon over potatoes; sprinkle with salt. Lower steamer into pan (don’t let basket touch the water). Steam for 6 minutes. Place green beans over salmon, cover and continue steaming until potatoes and beans are tender and fish is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes longer.

Transfer potatoes, beans and salmon to a large bowl; flake salmon. Let cool slightly. Add olives to bowl, drizzle with oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and serve with additional lemon slices.

 

Green Bean and Meatball Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 pounds mixed ground beef, pork and veal (or any combination you like)
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 bunch parsley, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cans (28 ounces each) Italian peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 pounds small red potatoes, skin on, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 pounds green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Directions:

In a soup pot, heat the oil and cook the onion, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until onion begins to brown.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the beef, pork and veal with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and eggs. With clean hands, work the mixture well. Shape it into meatballs about 1-inch wide; set aside.

To the onions, add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir well. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add salt and red pepper. Add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.

Add the green beans in a layer on top of the potatoes. Do not stir. Add the meatballs in a layer on top of the green beans. The layering is important: it keeps the potatoes and meatballs whole, and keeps the meatballs at the top. Do not stir the pot at all until the dish is served. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are solid and cooked through.

With the back of a ladle, gently press the meatballs into the liquid so they’re just submerged. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour without stirring.

Red Wine Beef Stew with Potatoes and Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef chuck for stew, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 small onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans reduced-sodium beef  broth
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 cup canned crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 handfuls of green beans, ends trimmed

Directions

Season the beef cubes lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add half the beef and raise the heat to high. At first, the beef will give off some liquid, but once that evaporates, the beef will start to brown. Cook, turning the beef cubes on all sides until the pieces are as evenly browned as possible, about 5 or 6 minutes after the liquid has boiled off. If the pan starts to get too brown at any point, just turn down the heat a little. Spoon the beef into a bowl and brown the rest of the beef the same way using the remaining oil.

Spoon out the second batch of beef, then add the carrots and onions and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour until it has been worked into the veggies and you can’t see it any more. Pour in the broth, wine, crushed tomatoes and rosemary. Slide the beef back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil.

Turn down the heat so the liquid is just breaking a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook 50 minutes. Stir the stew several times while simmering, so it cooks evenly and nothing sticks to the bottom.

Stir the potatoes into the stew, cover the pot completely and cook until the potatoes and beef are tender, stirring occasionally, about another 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes until the green beans turn bright green and are cooked through.


Hamburgers patties can be made with numerous different cuts of meat and using different methods of cooking.  Common cooking methods for hamburger patties include grilling, broiling and pan frying. However, where broiling and grilling causes the natural juices (fat) to drip away from the burgers as they cook, pan frying (or searing) the patties allows them to actually cook in their own juices. A number of preparations, both external and internal, can make flavorful hamburgers.

Sometimes, the simplest approach is the best. When making hamburger patties in a pan, a liberal use of salt and black pepper, maybe all you need to bring out the best flavor. Salt and black pepper (use kosher salt or sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper) allows the flavor of the meat to come through. Just dusting salt on the exterior of shaped patties isn’t enough. Put the ground meat in a bowl. Lightly break up the meat with your hands and sprinkle evenly with salt and, then, pepper. 

For some additional flavor, spices and seasoning can be added prior to cooking the patties. Add dried spices and seasonings, such as onion and garlic powder. For a little kick, add a small amount of ground cayenne pepper to the meat prior to shaping into patties. Oregano, thyme and paprika are also dried spices that go well with hamburger, as well as ground mustard seed. Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce can be added before you make your patties. They impart extra moisture to your burgers, as well as extra flavor.

The more you handle the meat, the denser and more rubbery it will become when cooked. After you’ve seasoned the meat, divide it into individual portions and, with lightly cupped hands, shape into patties. As soon as the patties hold together, stop.

Turn the burgers just once during cooking—and don’t be tempted to press on them. Pressing down on the burgers as they cook squeezes out the flavorful juices, which end up in the pan instead of in the burgers.

Many of us depend on thermometers when we’re cooking expensive steaks, but when it comes to burgers, we think it isn’t necessary.  Burgers should be cooked to just the right degree of doneness, don’t guess. Take the temperature in the center of each burger with an instant-read thermometer.

MEDIUM-RARE BURGER: 125 to 130 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side

MEDIUM BURGER: 135 to 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side

MEDIUM-WELL BURGER: 145 to 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes per side

WELL-DONE BURGER: 160 degrees and up, 5 minutes and up per side

Cooking on Top of the Stove:

If the meat has been frozen let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Divide the meat and shape into patties, however big or small and thick or thin that you want them. Remember that ground beef shrinks when cooking, so take that into account when sizing.

Place the burgers in a large, deep skillet and turn the burner on medium heat. Make sure the handle is turned away from the front of the stove, especially if you have children.

Place a lid on the skillet. This will prevent grease from spattering all over the stove, making more of a job for you to clean up.

Cook the burgers for about 4 minutes for medium and then turn them over in the pan. Cook for 4 or 5 more minutes. It doesn’t take long to cook burgers, just watch them so they won’t burn or overcook.

Variation:

Heat a deep, large skillet.

Slice and cook 1 onion in 1 tablespoon butter; set aside in a small bowl and keep warm.

Shape the patties large and thin, when cooking they will shrink and become much thicker and juicy.

Place the patties in the pan and cover with a lid. Cook on medium-low heat.

Turn the burgers once the top is starting to brown.

DO NOT press down-if you press down you will not have juicy hamburgers.

When they are done (use the temperature chart above), cover the top with the cooked onion and put a slice of cheese on top of the hamburger. Cover the pan again for about a minute until the cheese starts to melt.

Cooking in the Oven:

Use a broiler pan that allows fat to drip away from the meat. If the burgers are large and thick, roast at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes and then finish under the broiler to brown.

Variation:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil- put a cookie rack on top. Place the burgers on the rack and season them. Bake for about 15 minutes/ 20 minutes.

The following method works well for turkey burgers:

Ground turkey is a good substitute for ground beef or pork. Turkey is a leaner meat and it contains less fat. Instead of frying the turkey burger in oil on the stove top, you can bake them in the oven. Oven-baked turkey burgers take slightly longer to cook, but baking in the oven gives you a less crisp texture.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Apply nonstick cooking spray to a baking dish.

Combine 1 lb. of lean ground turkey, 1 lightly beaten egg, 1 cup of crushed crackers or bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together well.

Form the turkey mixture into four equal sized patties. Place them in the baking dish.

Bake the turkey burgers for 30 minutes or until they have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the turkey burgers over once while they are baking in the oven.

Add a slice of cheese during the last 2 to 3 minutes of the cooking time. Once the cheese melts, remove the turkey burgers from the oven and serve them while hot.

The Perfect Indoor Burger

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80 percent lean) or ground turkey (90 percent lean)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns, split; toasted, if desired

Directions

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.(This prevents the burger from bulging in the center while cooking.)  Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.

 

IF USING A GRILL PAN: Heat a grill pan over high heat on top of the stove. Brush pan with the oil. Cook the burgers until desired doneness, according to the temperature chart above. Turn burgers half way through the cooking time. Cook turkey burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes on the second side.

IF USING A SAUTE PAN : Heat the oil in the pan over high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Cook the burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes for beef and 5 minutes for turkey. Turn over the burgers. Cook beef burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, 4 minutes for medium rare (3 minutes if topping with cheese) or until cooked to desired degree of doneness. Cook turkey burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes on the second side.

Add the cheese to the tops of the burgers during the last minute of cooking. and top with a basting cover, close the grill cover, or tent the burgers with aluminum foil to melt the cheese.

Serve the hot burgers on toasted buns with your favorite condiments.

img_1733

Pesto Turkey Burgers

Servings: 4

This Mediterranean-style turkey burger is flavored with basil pesto and crumbled feta cheese.

Ingredients::

  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for topping
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sliced tomato and lettuce
  • Greek yogurt

Directions:

Add oil to a saute pan and heat to medium high. 

Mix together ground turkey, pesto, garlic, feta cheese, seasoned salt and breadcrumbs in a bowl until evenly blended. Form into 4 patties.

Cook pesto burgers until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side.

Serve on whole wheat buns or pita bread with tomato, lettuce, yogurt and additional feta cheese.

 

Chicken Parmesan Patty Melts

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted

Directions

In a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons marinara sauce, pepper and salt.

Crumble chicken over mixture and mix well. Shape into four patties.

Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165° and juices run clear.

Top with remaining marinara, the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.

Broil 1-2 minutes longer or until cheeses are melted. Top each roll half with a patty.

Pork Burgers

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced Spanish onions
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green olives
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
  • 2 whole jarred roasted red peppers, halved lengthwise

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Set aside half the onion for topping; finely chop the other half.

Preheat a stove top grill pan to medium.

Place the chopped onion in a large bowl; add pork, olives, garlic, paprika, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the salt. Gently combine, without over mixing, until evenly incorporated. Form into 4 equal patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Oil the grill pan. Cook the burgers, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 10 to 12 minutes total. Top with cheese (1 tablespoon per burger) and cook until it is melted, about 1 minute more.

Assemble the burgers on toasted buns with the lemon mayonnaise, some of the reserved onions and  half a roasted pepper.

Salmon Burgers with Green Goddess Sauce

Serve on toasted hamburger buns or focaccia bread.

The key to perfect salmon burgers is to handle the fish delicately: don’t over season, over handle or over cook it.

Makes 4 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 1 pound wild salmon fillet, skinned
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Green Goddess Sauce (recipe follows)

 Directions:

With a large chef’s knife, chop salmon using quick, even, straight-up-and-down motions (do not rock the knife through the fish or it will turn mushy) until you have a mass of roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Transfer to large bowl and gently stir in onion (or scallion), basil, hot sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper, being careful not to overmix. Divide the mixture into 4 patties, about 1 inch thick. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before cooking.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook until browned on both sides and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Serve with 1 tablespoon Green Goddess Sauce on each burger.

Green Goddess Sauce

Makes 1 1/4 cups

 Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, chives, parsley, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

 


Little Italy isn’t just one neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, it’s a group of neighborhoods all across America. These neighborhoods have been incorporated into the fabric of the towns they reside in and have become an essential part of each city. With a desire to maintain Italian culture, these neighborhoods prosper today through a strong work ethic that keeps Italian Americans tied to their Italian heritage.

An exodus from Italy began in the 1880’s commencing in the regions of Calabria, Campania, Apulia, Basilicata and included Sicily after 1900. From 1876-1924, more than 4.5 million Italians arrived in the United States and over two million came in the years 1901-1910 alone. Despite these massive numbers, it should be noted that roughly two-thirds of the Italian migration went elsewhere, especially to Europe, Canada and South America. Immigration to the United States before and after this period accounted for approximately one million additional arrivals—a considerable movement in its own right. Yet, there were precursors. Italian explorers and sailors venturing outward in the employ of other nations touched America in its earliest beginnings. The most famous was, of course, Christopher Columbus, a Genoese mariner sailing for Spain. Other seafarers such as John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto), Giovanni da Verrazzano, Amerigo Vespucci and important missionaries, such as, Eusebio Chino and Fra Marco da Nizza all played roles in early exploration and settlement. After the American Revolution, a small number of northern Italian artisans, painters, sculptors, musicians and dancers came to America, filling skilled job openings not easy to fill. An old Italian proverb says: Chi esce riesce (He who leaves succeeds).

Italian immigrants arriving at Elis Island in New York.

This initial Italian movement dispersed widely throughout America, but its numbers were too small to constitute a significant presence. By 1850, the heaviest concentration was in Louisiana (only 915 people), the result of Sicilian migration to New Orleans. Within a decade, California contained the highest total of any state—a mere 2,805—and New York, soon to become home to millions of Italian immigrants, counted 1,862. Everything changed with mass migration, the first phase of which consisted primarily of young, single men of prime working age (15-35) who lived in urban centers where jobs were more available. In the years following 1910, immigrants brought with them their family-centered cultures and their Italian regional affiliations. They typically viewed themselves as residents of a particular village or region in Italy, not as “Italians.” The organization and daily life in the early communities reflected these facts, as people limited their associations largely to kin and paesani (fellow villagers). The proliferation of regional clubs and festas ( feste or feast days) honoring local patron saints were also manifestations of these tendencies. Using kin and village-based networks to form “Little Italies,” they clustered in cities in the Mid-Atlantic, New England and the Midwest states, with smaller groupings in California and Louisiana. More than 90 percent settled in 11 states—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Louisiana—and approximately 90 percent congregated in urban areas. These patterns largely hold true today, although immigrants have branched out to locations such as Arizona and Florida. 

 

Italian American Cuisine

The difficult economic conditions of daily life in Italy dictated frugal eating habits. A majority of Italians consumed simple meals based on whatever vegetables or grains (lentils, peas, fava beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, and wild greens) were prevalent in each region. A staple for most common folk was coarse bread. Pasta was a luxury and meat was eaten only two or three times a year, usually for special holidays. Italian cuisine was—and still is—regionally distinctive with even festive meals varying widely. The traditional Christmas dish in Piedmont is agnolotti (ravioli), anguille (eels) in Campania, sopa friulana (celery soup) in Friuli and bovoloni ( snails) in Vicenza.

In the United States, many immigrants planted small backyard garden plots to supplement the table and continued to raise cows, chickens and goats whenever possible. As their economic lives improved in America, pastas, meats, sugar and coffee were consumed more frequently. “Italian cooking” in the United States came to mean southern-Italian, especially Neapolitan cuisine, which is rich in tomato sauce and pasta. Spaghetti and meatballs and pizza soon became well known “Italian” dishes in the United States. More recently, northern Italian dishes— characterized by rice ( risotto ), corn ( polenta ) and butter— became well known. Garlic, olive oil, mushrooms and nuts of various types are common ingredients found in Italian cooking. Wine, consumed in moderate amounts, is a staple. Overall, Italian dishes have become so popular that they are an integral part of the American diet.

New England

Providence, Rhode Island

Federal Hill is the Italian neighborhood of Providence with many restaurants, bakeries, cafes, art galleries, cigar shops and markets. DePasquale Square is the center of the neighborhood. Historic Federal Hill is the “Heartbeat of Providence” and begins at Atwells Avenue, the street that flows under the arch. The gateway arch over Atwells with the La Pigna (pinecone) sculpture hanging from its center, a traditional Italian symbol of abundance and quality and the symbol of Federal Hill, is often mistakenly referred to as “The Pineapple”. It is a place dedicated to the Italian immigrants who gathered here as a community and it remains today a place of charm, warmth and hospitality to all.

The jewelry and silverware industry in Providence attracted Italian immigrants to Rhode Island at the turn of the twentieth century. They settled close to downtown Providence in Federal Hill, about a mile from Narragansett Bay and the harbor. The fast-industrializing city became home to a large Italian population — 50,000 by 1930 — and businesses providing food, merchandise and services, they required, soon filled the area.

The Italian population isn’t as prominent today, but the Italian presence is felt with the numerous Italian restaurants and business that line the main thoroughfare, Atwells Avenue and its surrounding area. Garibaldi Square with a bust of the “Hero of Two Worlds,” DePasquale Plaza with outdoor dining and two bocce courts all contribute to the Italian atmosphere.

The centerpiece of the area is the fountain at DePasquale Plaza, where tables turn the square into a sitting area for the surrounding cafes. At one such café, Scialo Bakery (257 Atwells Ave.), the Scialo family has been serving Italian classics from their brick oven since 1916. Around the corner, Venda Ravioli (265 Atwells Ave.), has been in the pasta business since the 1930’s, beginning as a small pasta shop and expanding into a large storefront offering 150 kinds of pasta with an espresso bar for waiting customers. Another throwback to bygone times is Antonelli’s Butcher Shop (62 De Pasquale Ave.), where customers can have their chicken or rabbit slaughtered to order. Toward the end of the block, two landmark restaurants still serve the diverse needs of the community. Camille’s (71 Bradford St.) opened in 1914 as an upscale restaurant and Angelo’s Civita Farnese (141 Atwells Ave.), opened in 1924 as a workingman’s restaurant.

Italian Specialties of Providence

Lobster and Asparagus Agnolotti

From Venda Ravioli, Providence, RI

Yield: 1 serving. This dish can easily be doubled.

Ingredients:

4 agnolotti filled with lobster and asparagus (available fresh or frozen at Venda Ravioli and other upscale Italian Markets)

SAUCE:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 Rhode Island Littleneck clams
  • 3 large shrimp, with heads still attached
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 small ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

In a pot of boiling water, cook the agnolotti according to directions on the package.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the red pepper flakes, clams and shrimp. Once the clams have opened and the shrimp have turned pink in color, add the white wine and diced tomatoes. Allow the wine to evaporate. Finally, add the chopped parsley. Drain the agnolotti and place on a serving dish. Pour the sauce over the agnolotti. Serve with salt and pepper for individual seasoning.

Almond Biscotti: Quaresimale

Recipe courtesy Scialo Brothers Bakery, Providence, RI

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 3 cups whole almonds (skin on)
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3 tablespoons pure vanilla
  • 1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put brown sugar, white sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, butter, and almonds in a large mixing bowl. With mixer on low speed, add beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix just until dough holds together.

Put dough on a floured surface. Cut in half. Roll each piece into a log. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten each log slightly with palm of the hand. Lightly brush the top of each log with egg wash.

Bake for 25 minutes or until firm to touch. Remove from oven. Cut dough diagonally into biscotti. For harder biscotti, return to 300 degree F. oven until sufficiently dry.

New Haven, Connecticut

Italians came to New Haven to work in factories in the late 1800’s and formed a community around Wooster Square. Between 1890 and 1939 the Italian settlement had developed and its major institutions had formed. There were 41,858 Italians in the city in 1930, of whom 14,510 had been born in Italy. One or both parents of another 27,348 had come from Italy. The Italians comprised about one-fourth of the total population and were highly concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of New Haven. 

Life was not easy in the first half of the century, but the neighborhood provided its people with all their needs: a live chicken market, Italian banks, bakeries, drug stores and push carts loaded with homemade meats. The founder of Pepe’s pizza rode a wagon through the streets from which he’d sell hot pizzas for 25 cents. In the summer children played baseball in a vacant lot or at Waterside Park, at the site of Long Wharf. Good times were not just for kids; the Amendola Brothers had a music store with numerous instruments. Every Sunday morning, after church, there would be some kind of performance. People would gather around the piano and sing. During the summer, the windows were all open, operas would be playing and people would sing along. The bakers in the neighborhood cooked during the night and they delivered on foot at five o’clock in the morning. One baker, known for his singing, would often wake up the entire neighborhood.

Today Wooster Square, nicknamed the Little Italy of New Haven, has preserved many traditions of an old Italian village. The park in the center of the square is framed with precision by an iron fence and with an oval path laid out inside it. Throughout the year the park is filled with festivals and surrounded by parades in honor of patron saints of native Italian towns. The restaurants and pizza parlors along Wooster Street have retained their old family recipes through many generations. And at the heart of the neighborhood, beside the Square itself, stands the oldest Italian church in Connecticut, St. Michael’s, whose gold dome can be spotted from all over New Haven. Along the park at Chapel Street are two major sculptures, one dedicated to the square’s Italian past and another to the neighborhood men who gave their lives in World War II. 

This metal arch over Wooster Street welcomes visitors to New Haven’s Little Italy

The most famous contribution to the Italian American culinary repertoire is New Haven-style pizza. In New Haven, Connecticut, a different style of pizza, known as apizza, evolved from the same Neapolitan roots. Frank Pepe opened his pizzeria in that city’s Little Italy in 1925 and today his establishment and neighboring ones still make pies that are thinner, wetter and more heavily charred than most New York-style pizzas. In 1960 Pepe introduced its signature, clam pizza. The locals call their crust Neapolitan style, but it is definitely not like the original Italian Neapolitan style. The dough is more bread like, puffed up along the edges, crackly and slightly charred underneath. Rhode Island Littleneck clams, freshly shucked on the premises, garlic, dried oregano, a dusting of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and good olive oil are the toppings. No tomato sauce. No mozzarella. No sausage or pepperoni.

Pepe’s is one of those “only in America” stories. Frank Pepe was born in 1893 in the village of Maiori on the Amalfi coast of Italy, southwest of Naples. Broke, illiterate and only 16 years old, he made the crossing with many other immigrants in 1909. He worked for a short while in a factory and then returned to fight for Italy in WWI. He married Filomena Volpi, also from Maiori, and in 1919 they moved to New Haven, where he worked for others making macaroni and then bread on Wooster St. In 1925 he started his own business, a bakery at 163 Wooster. Apizza was among his baked goods and it took off. In 1937 Pepe bought the larger building next door, now the main restaurant. The original location with the original oven is still running under the name, Frank Pepe’s –  The Spot. Frank, Filomena, and their daughters, Elizabeth and Serafina, lived upstairs. Filomena could read and write and learned English quickly and was essential to operating the financial side of the business.

Italian Specialties of New Haven

Pepe’s New Haven White Clam Pizza

The dough

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 to 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt cornmeal

The topping                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 dozen just-shucked littleneck clams
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Make the dough:

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup of the warm water in a small bowl. Stir the remaining 3/4 cup water into 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl. Add the salt, and when the yeast is bubbly, add it, too. Stir it all together and turn the dough out onto a floured board. Let the dough rest while you clean and oil a large ceramic bowl.

Knead the dough vigorously for a full 15 minutes, adding flour if necessary to create a silky dough. Return it to the bowl and cover it with two tight layers of plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 2 to 3 hours.

 Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Punch down the dough and flatten it on a lightly floured board. Pounding with the heel of your hand, carefully and methodically, work the dough into a circle no more than 1/4 inch thick in the center, rising to a 1/2- inch ring around the circumference. Sprinkle a baker’s peel generously with cornmeal and put the circle of dough on it. Cover it lightly with a sheet of plastic wrap (so it doesn’t dry out) and let it rest while you open the clams.

Make the topping:

While the dough is resting, mince the garlic and let it steep in the olive oil. After the dough has rested for 10 to 12 minutes, brush on the oil and garlic, leaving the half-inch circumference untouched. Spread the clams around the dough with a dash of their own juice. Sprinkle on the oregano and cheese.

To bake:

Use the baker’s peel to transfer the pizza to the preheated stone in the oven. (The cornmeal will act as miniature ball bearings to help it slide neatly onto the stone.) Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is light brown. Remove the pizza, slice and serve with beer or soda and plenty of napkins. Makes  1 – 12-inch pizza.

Some New Haven Classics

Chicken Parm Sub

Tiramisu

Cannoli

Eggplant Rollatini

 


Homemade Calzones

Prepare the pizza dough and the tomato sauce in advance of making the calzones. It is important to refrigerate the calzone dough overnight so that it can fully rise.

Nearly any topping that works for a pizza makes a great calzone filling, Including some other bulky ingredients like vegetables or meats. Just be sure to precook those other ingredients, or else they will give off moisture.

Yields four individual calzones

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Pizza Dough, refrigerated for at least 8 hours, recipe below
  • Unbleached bread flour or semolina flour, for dusting
  • 1 cup No-Cook Tomato Sauce, recipe below
  • 2 cups low-moisture mozzarella or other soft melting cheese
  • 1 cup filling (see choices below)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Kosher salt (optional)

Directions:

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, set it on a lightly oiled work surface, and divide into 4 equal pieces of about 7 oz. each. Roll each piece into a tight ball.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly oil it with olive oil or cooking spray. Set each ball at least an inch apart on the parchment. Lightly spray or brush the balls with olive oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let the dough warm up and relax at room temperature for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Shape the dough:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F (a baking stone is optional). Fill a small bowl with bread flour, or semolina if using, and dust a clean work surface with a generous amount.

With floured hands, transfer one of the dough balls to the floured work surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and press it with your fingertips into a round disk.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into an oval or round shape about 3/16 inch thick and 9 inches across. Dust with flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

If the dough resists rolling and springs back, let it rest for a few minutes and move on to the next dough ball. Roll out the remaining three dough balls.

Fill and bake the calzones:

Brush the edge of a dough round with cool water to make a damp band about 1/2 inch wide all the way around. Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce over the lower half of the dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella over the sauce, and then top with one-quarter of the filling ingredients and 1 tablespoon of the Parmigiano cheese.

Fold the top half of the dough over the filling. Crimp the dough either with fingers or a fork, sealing the damp edge tightly. Transfer the calzone to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Repeat with the remaining dough circles and filling ingredients. Brush the tops with olive oil and cut three steam vents in each.

Put the baking sheet in the oven (or on the baking stone, if using) and reduce the oven temperature to 450°F. Bake until the crust turns a rich golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool for 3 minutes before serving.  Serve with extra sauce.

Pizza Dough for Calzones

It’s best to mix the dough at least a day before you plan to bake. The dough keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer. To freeze the dough: After kneading the dough, divide it into 4 equal pieces for calzones. Freeze each ball in its own zip-top freezer bag. They’ll ferment somewhat in the freezer and this counts as the rise. Before using, thaw completely in their bags overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Then treat the dough exactly as you would, if they had not been frozen and continue with the directions for making the calzones.  A recipe for whole wheat dough is below.

Makes enough dough for 4 calzones

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour; more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt (or 2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • Semolina flour

Directions:

Combine the flour, honey, salt, yeast and olive oil in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add 1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cool (60º to 65ºF) water.

With a large spoon or the paddle attachment of the electric mixer on low speed, mix until the dough comes together in a coarse ball, 2 to 3 minutes by hand or 1 to 2 minutes in the mixer. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Knead the dough:

If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, either by hand on a lightly floured work surface or with the mixer’s dough hook on medium-low speed. As you knead, add more flour or water, as needed, to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple and fairly tacky but not sticky. When poked with a clean finger, the dough should show only a slight indentation. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides.

Chill the dough:

Lightly oil a bowl that’s twice the size of the dough. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat it with the oil, cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. It will rise slowly in the refrigerator, but will stop growing once completely chilled. If the plastic bulges, release the carbon dioxide buildup by lifting one edge of the plastic wrap (like burping it) and then reseal. Use the dough, as directed in the recipe above.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Replace 25% to 50% of the flour with an equal amount of whole wheat flour. It may be necessary to add more white bread flour as you knead. Your goal is to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple and fairly tacky but not sticky. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides of the bowl. When poked with a clean finger, the dough should leave only a slight residue.

No-Cook Pizza Sauce

Yields 3-1/4 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 26-oz. container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • Kosher salt or table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried (or 1 tablespoon. finely chopped fresh) oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, or parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Whisk the tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice and remaining ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to six months.

Filling Choices

Use one or more of the following (1 cup total for each calzone):

  • Crumbled, cooked bacon, pancetta or ham
  • Cooked sausage, sliced
  • Small meatballs, cooked
  • Sauteed eggplant cubes
  • Sliced, sauteed mushrooms
  • Sauteed onions
  • Steamed broccoli or broccoli rabe
  • Sauteed spinach
  • Sauteed bell peppers or roasted red peppers
  • Sliced olives
  • Cooked (or canned, drained) artichoke hearts
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Substitute another soft melting cheese for the mozzarella, such as Monterey Jack, Provolone, Gouda, smoked Mozzarella, or smoked Gouda.
  • Substitute another dry aged grating cheese for the Parmigiano, such as Asiago or Romano.

One of My Favorites: Eggplant Parmesan Calzone

Follow directions above for the dough but divide into 2 pieces.

Yield: two 12″ calzones, 4 – 6 servings.

Eggplant Filling

  • 2 medium (about 2 pounds) eggplant, cut in 1/2″ slices; peeled or not, your choice
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 2/3 to 2 cups panko or other coarse bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded or grated mozzarella cheese, or a combination of your favorite pizza cheeses

Directions:  Picture Directions Are Below:

Lightly grease two large baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice eggplants about 3/8″ thick. Whisk together the egg and milk. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow dish and add salt to taste.

Dip each eggplant slice into the egg/milk mixture, and let it drain. Then dip both sides into the bread crumbs. Lay the slices in a single layer in the prepared pans. Drizzle or spray with olive oil.

Bake the eggplant for 40 minutes, or until it’s soft and the crumbs are beginning to brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool right on the pan.

Working with one half at a time, place the dough onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Pat it into an 11″ to 12″ circle.

Brush the dough with sauce, leaving 1/2″ clean all around the edges. Use as much sauce as you like.

Arrange half the eggplant, slightly overlapped, on half of the dough circle. It’ll seem like a lot of eggplant but don’t worry; it’ll settle as the calzone bakes. Drizzle the eggplant with additional sauce, if desired. Top with 1 cup of the cheese.

Fold the uncovered half of dough over the eggplant and cheese, pressing the edges together to seal.

Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape. Brush with olive oil.

Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and filling ingredients.

Let the calzones rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes, while the oven preheats to 450°F.

Bake the calzones for 18 to 22 minutes until they’re golden brown.

Remove the calzones from the oven and slice into pieces to serve.


The one dish meal, while an inventor cannot be named, probably began life during prehistoric times, when whatever foods were available were thrown into a pot and cooked for the tribe’s dinner. Soups and stews made with harvested vegetables and hunted game were most likely the first one dish meals. As cooking processes advanced from an open fire to microwaves and convection ovens, the one dish meal has survived and thrives for busy families.

One dish meals provide the cook with a way of feeding the family without a lot of fuss. Because only one dish or pot is used in the preparation, after meal cleanup is quick. One dish meals also allow for the combining of various leftovers into a new meal that is fresh and appealing to eat.

Types of one dish meals can range from simple soups to elaborate meals, such as Beef Stroganoff or Italian Lasagna. Many one dish meals are considered to be comfort foods with macaroni and cheese topping the list. Pot pies, another popular one dish meal, are most often made with chicken or turkey and vegetable leftovers from previous meals. The crock pot revolutionized one dish meals with the idea that a busy cook could have dinner waiting to be served when returning home from work.

Most one dish meals usually combine a protein, one or more vegetables and a starch such as pasta or rice. These meals can be oven baked or cooked on the top of the stove. Since most meals are prepared by simply combining ingredients, one dish meals are a good way to introduce children to cooking.

One dish meals can be made to feed a single person or a crowd. Many pot luck meals include numerous one dish meals meant to serve a number of people. Casserole dishes that can be warmed up in minutes are a popular way to introduce yourself to new neighbors or help a friend who is ill.

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen small whole onions
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1 -14 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved

Directions

Remove skin from chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt and ground black pepper. In 12-inch skillet, cook chicken in hot oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown evenly. Remove chicken.

Add carrot and onions to skillet. Cook about 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add vermouth, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Return chicken to skillet. Pour broth over chicken; sprinkle with parsley, thyme, and rosemary.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, adding mushrooms during last 10 minutes of cooking.

White Bean and Sausage Stew

6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste.

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the tomato paste and oregano to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.

 

 

Vegetable Beef Soup

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 pound beef stew meat (such as chuck) or lamb stew meat (shoulder or leg), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium beef broth or water
  • 1- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 small parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, leaves included, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 12 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 8 sprigs fresh basil, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 ounces angel hair pasta (capellini), broken into small pieces (about 1/2 cup), or orzo, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and turmeric; stir to coat. Add meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and the meat is no longer pink, 4-5 minutes. Add broth (or water), tomatoes and their juice, parsnips, carrots, celery and saffron. Tie parsley and basil sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the meat is tender, 45-50 minutes.

Stir in zucchini and cook, covered, until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add pasta and cook until soft, 6-10 minutes, depending on the type of pasta. Discard the parsley and cilantro sprigs. Season with salt (start with 1 teaspoon if you’re using beef broth; add more if you’re using water) and pepper. Serve sprinkled with parsley and/or basil leaves, if desired.

 

 

Oven Roasted Brisket and Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 lb. potatoes, quartered
  • 5 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 pounds lean beef brisket, trimmed, use the flat half
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Spread onion slices and garlic on bottom of a non-stick roasting pan; top with carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. Arrange beef over vegetables.

In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and sugar; stir to dissolve sugar.

Pour tomato mixture over brisket and vegetables; tightly cover with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Roast for 2 hours and then remove from the oven; uncover, stir and use pan juices to baste meat.

Return brisket to oven and roast for about 1 hour more, uncovered, basting every 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Serve meat and vegetables with sauce spooned over top.

Winter Vegetable Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 cipollini onions (pearl onions can be substituted), peeled
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • One 1/2-ounce bundle of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano
  • One 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat and add onions; cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add stock and herbs; simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potatoes and fennel; cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add green beans and cook, covered, about 5 minutes more. Remove cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens, 10 to 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

 


The onion or allium family is a large and diverse one containing over 500 species. It has not one, but four possible wild plants it could have evolved from, all of which originally grew in central Asia, according to many archaeologists, botanists and food historians. Because onions are small and their tissues leave little or no trace, there is no conclusive evidence about the exact location and time of their origin. 

Wild Onions

It is presumed that our predecessors discovered and started eating wild onions very early, long before farming or even writing was invented. Very likely, this humble vegetable was a staple in the prehistoric diet. Since onions grew wild in various regions, they were probably consumed for thousands of years and domesticated simultaneously all over the world. 

Onion Planter 1890

For over 4000 years, onions were used for medicinal purposes. Egyptians numbered over 8000 onion alleviated ailments and there is documentation which describes the onion’s importance as a food and its use in art, medicine and mummification.

Onions grew in Chinese gardens as early as 5000 years ago and they are referenced in some of the oldest Vedic writings from India. There is evidence that the Sumerians were growing onions as early as 2500 B.C.

Onions may be one of the earliest cultivated crops because they were less perishable than other foods of the time. They were transportable, easy to grow and could be grown in a variety of soils and climates. In addition, the onion was useful for sustaining human life. Onions prevented thirst and could be dried and preserved for later consumption when food might be scarce.

In India as early as the sixth century B.C., the famous medical treatise Charaka – Sanhita celebrates the onion as medicine “…a diuretic, good for digestion, the heart, the eyes and the joints”.

It was the Romans who introduced the onion family to Europe. The Romans ate onions regularly and carried them on journeys to their provinces in England and Germany. Pliny the Elder, wrote of Pompeii’s onions and cabbages before he was overcome and killed by the volcano’s heat and fumes.  He cataloged the Roman beliefs about the ability of the onion to cure vision, induce sleep, heal mouth sores, dog bites, toothaches, dysentery and lumbago. Excavators of the destroyed city would later find gardens where, just as Pliny had said, “onions grew”. The bulbs had left behind telltale cavities in the ground.

By the Middle Ages, the three main vegetables of European cooking were beans, cabbage and onions. In addition to serving as a “…food for both the poor and the wealthy…” onions were prescribed to alleviate headaches, snakebites and hair loss. They were also used as rent payments and wedding gifts.

The Greek physician, Hippocrates, prescribed onions as a diuretic, wound healer and pneumonia fighter. Likewise, Dioscorides, another Greek physician noted several medicinal uses of onions. The Greeks used onions to fortify athletes for the Olympic Games. Before competition, athletes would consume pounds of onions, drink onion juice and rub onions on their bodies.

The first Pilgrims brought onions with them on the Mayflower. However, they found that strains of wild onions already grew throughout North America. Native American Indians used wild onions in a variety of ways, eating them raw or cooked, as a seasoning or as a vegetable. Such onions were also used in syrups, poultices, as an ingredient in dyes and even as toys. According to diaries of the colonists, bulb onions were planted as soon as the Pilgrim farmers could clear the land in 1648.

Onion Field

During World War II, the Russian soldiers were so taken with the onion’s ability to prevent infection, that they applied onions to battle wounds as an antiseptic.

And through the ages, there have been countless folk remedies that have ascribed curative powers to the onion, such as putting a sliced onion under your pillow to fight off insomnia.

Yet today, onions are still considered a modern day preventative and healer. Herbalists use the plant for treating such ailments as earaches, hemorrhoids and high blood pressure. While garlic, another allium, has been highly touted as a cancer preventative, most people consume far greater quantities of onions.

There are many varieties of onions, each with a different taste and/or texture. They are generally categorized by two types, green or dry onions. Green onions are ones that are harvested when roots are still very young and stems are green. These onions are typically used as toppings for salads and soups. Dry onions on the other hand are harvested after their shoots have died. These onions are distinguished by a papery shell that must be removed before cooking.

Why Onions Are A Healthy Choice.

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. In addition, onion extracts are recognized by WHO for providing relief in the treatment of coughs, asthma and bronchitis. Onions are known to decrease bronchial spasms. An onion extract was found to decrease allergy-induced bronchial constriction in asthma patients.

Onions are a very rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides. These molecules  stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon.

Onions contain a number of sulfides similar to those found in garlic, which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. In India, communities that never consumed onions or garlic had blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels substantially higher and blood clotting times shorter, than the communities that ate liberal amounts of garlic and onions. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions are also natural anti-clotting agents since they possess substances with fibrinolytic (means the ability to suppress blood clots) activity and can suppress platelet-clumping. The anti-clotting effect of onions closely correlates with their sulfur content.

Onion extracts, rich in a variety of sulfides, provide some protection against tumor growth. In central Georgia, where Vidalia onions are grown, mortality rates from stomach cancer are about one-half the average level for the United States. Studies in Greece have shown a high consumption of onions, garlic and other allium herbs to be protective against stomach cancer.

 Here are a few characteristics about the most popular onions.

Leeks

Leeks are known for tasting like a cross between an onion and garlic. The edible part is the long white stem which is generally cut up and used to make soup and stews .

Red Onions

These onions are of the dry variety and have a purple shell. They are semi-sweet and actually can grow quite large. They do not keep long as their fleshy inside layer is very thin. Raw red onions are popular as toppings for a salad as well as cooked in dishes.

Shallots

Though commonly thought of as a separate vegetable, shallots are actually part of the onion family. They have a mildly sweet flavor and are grown the same way as garlic. They are slightly more delicate than other onion varieties and are best used in fine, thin sauces.

Vidalia or Walla Walla Onions

The Vidalia is considered the sweetest onion variety. They are rounded with flat bottoms and have a copper-gold, thin skin with milky, white flesh. Their delicate sweetness can be attributed to a mild climate, sandy, low sulfur soil, selective seed varieties and farming practices.

Scallions

Scallions are another green onion known for their mild taste and decorative appeal. The stems are the edible part and are usually diced up in a vegetable medley for seafood and meat dishes.

Yellow Onions

Yellow Onions are the most common onion characterized by a brown shell and white fleshy insides. These onions have a strong, sharp flavor and its taste cuts through when used with multiple ingredients.

White Onions

These onions have a white skin. They have a strong flavored flesh that is usually used in Mexican recipes. These can be sauteed to a deep brown color. They are great in recipes that require a sweet and sour flavor.

 

Pearl Onions

These onions are a small-sized variety, that are also called baby onions. They are sweeter than bulb onions and are often used in casseroles.

 

Bermuda Onions

This is a sweet onion that is not very pungent when compared to other varieties. It is a big onion that has white flesh and a mild flavor. It is often used as a condiment on hamburgers.

 

Boiling Onions

Boiling onions are good storage onions. They have a very thin skin and this makes them a favorite ingredient in stew recipes.

Cipollini

Cipollini are small onions that originated in Cipolla, Italy. They have a very rich and sweet taste with a high sugar content. They tend to be as small as a ping-pong ball and have a flat top. They are used in baking dishes, such as roast chicken and roast pork.

Egyptian Onions

Also known as tree onions or walking onions and they grow as a cluster of bulblets. The name “Walking Onion” was given to this plant because it literally walks to new locations. When the cluster of topsets becomes heavy enough, it will pull the plant over to the ground. They have a strong flavor and have a tough skin. They are elongated in shape and look similar to scallions.

Green Onions

Green onions are small varieties that are harvested when the shoots are still green. They are often confused with scallions but are thinner. These are used as toppings for many uncooked dishes.

 

Pickling Onions

Pickling onions are usually thin layered and small.  They are similar to pearl onions but a little larger, yet a little smaller than boiling onions. Pickled onions have a very pungent flavor.

 

Spanish Onions

These are long storage varieties that come in yellow, white and red colors. Each variety has a distinct taste and flavor.

Spring Onions

They are also known as summer onions. They come in three different varieties red, yellow and white. They are very thin-skinned and light in color. They have a high water and sugar content. They are usually used for salads and recipes that do not require long cooking.

Ramps

This North American native spring onion is edible in its entirety, from the tops of its lily of the valley looking leaves and stems, all the way down to the bulb. Eaten raw, a ramp tastes strong and more like garlic than scallion, but if cooked, its flavor turns mildly sweet.  They are also used in salads.

 

Some New Ways To Use Onions:

Homemade Beer-Spring Onion Mustard

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons safflower canola oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds thinly sliced Vidalia onions
  • 1/2 cup mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup pale ale

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Reduce heat to medium. Cook onions, stirring often, until very soft, about 30 minutes. Stir in mustard powder, salt, and turmeric. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in cider vinegar and raise heat to high. Add pale ale, and cook, stirring often, until mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely.

Baked Onion Rings

Cornflakes and a hot sheet pan are the secrets to the crispiness of these onion rings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups cornflakes
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, sliced crosswise and broken into rings (discard small center rings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a food processor, pulse cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form, then transfer to a medium bowl.

In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper.

Dip onion rings in egg mixture (letting excess drip off) and dredge in cornflake mixture; place on a large plate.

Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and heat 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil.

Arrange onion rings on sheet. Bake, turning once, until onion rings are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Season with salt.

 

Tomato-Onion Compote

Use as a topping for bruschetta. This sauce is also very good on a hamburger. You can skip the ketchup.

Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • 4 plum tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion (about 3/4 pound), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil

 Directions:

Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spread tomatoes cut side up on baking sheet. Season with sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Scatter thyme and garlic on top, and oven-dry for 4 hours.

Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onion and season with salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Cool tomatoes, then peel and place on a cutting board. Finely chop tomatoes with cooked garlic. Place in a bowl. Pull oven-dried thyme leaves off their stems and add to the tomatoes; discard stems. Add sun-dried tomatoes, onion and basil to bowl and combine. Taste compote and add salt and pepper if needed.

Yield: About 1 1/2 cups.

Caramelized Onion Jam

Use as an appetizer with Brie or other soft cheese and serve with crisp crackers or crostini.

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown malt vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

Heat butter in large pan, add onions and cook gently for 20 to 30 minutes until onions are very soft and lightly browned. Add sugar, stir to melt sugar, simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick and caramelized. Add vinegar and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes until thickened slightly. Stir in the rosemary.

 

Sausage-Stuffed Red Onions

Makes 8

Ingredients

  • 8 small-to-medium red onions
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/3 cup grated tart green apple, such as Granny Smith
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese (3 ounces)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice off a thin layer from the tops and bottoms of the onions, leaving at least a 2-inch diameter exposed at the top. Scoop out the inside of each onion (about halfway down) using a melon scoop or a grapefruit spoon. Season insides with salt. Transfer onions to a baking dish, and cover with parchment, then foil. Bake until just starting to soften, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Crumble sausage into skillet, and cook, stirring, until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add apple and fennel seeds, and cook until sausage is no longer pink, about 2 minutes.

Drain sausage mixture. Finely chop the sausage mixture and place in a mixing bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs, parsley, sage and 1/4 cup Gruyere. Let cool.

Fill onions with stuffing (about 3 tablespoons each), then top with remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere. Bake until tops are crisp and brown, about 20 minutes more.

 



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