Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Original Lake Washington floating bridge: Opened on July 3, 1940, this was the concrete bridge that started them all in Washington state. The state's highway chief, Lacey V. Murrow, endorsed a concrete floating bridge despite intense skepticism. As former WSDOT chief bridge engineer Charles Gloyd wrote about the bridge's debut in a 1988 article, "certain wags wore life jackets to show their lack of faith."

Original Lake Washington Floating Bridge

Most Italian immigrants crowded into cities on the eastern seaboard. Only a small fraction made it to Washington, which in 1910 had less than one per cent of the Italians living in America. Most of them were men who had first lived in the east or who had worked their way west building the railroads. Few came directly from Italy to Seattle.

There was plenty of work, especially in construction. Seattle, in the decade following the Klondike rush, enjoyed the greatest growth in its history, tripling its population from 80,000 to 240,000 between 1900-1910. Italians, along with other immigrants and native-born Americans, shaped much of the Seattle we know today. They constructed water mains, sewer lines, buildings and shaped the Elliott Bay seawall with dirt from Dearborn, Denny and Jackson Hills which made Seattle into a world-class waterfront city.

File:Elliott bay - rotated.jpg

Elliott Bay Waterfront

It was not a way to get rich. Laborers made as little as $1.25 for a ten-hour day and the work was difficult. Orly Alia, now retired from his construction business, recalls an uncle who stacked 95-pound bags of cement from a rapidly moving line, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. “They were machines,” Alia recalls, “They wore themselves out and they were gone by the time they were sixty.”

Truck and trailer just off Lake Washington Floating Bridge in Seattle around 1947

The majority of the Italian immigrants found jobs in the city, even though they had been country farmers in Italy. The reason was simple. Industrial and mining jobs paid more than farm work and most of the good agricultural land on the frontier had been claimed prior to the Italians arrival. Moreover, Italians didn’t like the harsh climate or the isolation of the Western plains. The ones who got to Seattle, however, found, to their delight, that it was quite possible to enjoy the benefits of city and country life at the same time. They could make good wages in construction and in the mills and have kitchen gardens, rabbits and chickens in the yards of affordable single-family homes.

Most of Seattle’s Italians were unskilled laborers and some were illiterate. Yet nearly all of them were able, by working hard, to become successful. Alia’s father, Rocco, for example, was a construction laborer who started his own construction company. Orly went to work for his father as a waterboy and recalls that the laborers’ clothes were always soaked with sweat. Orly, as soon as he could, also started his own company and so did his son, Richard, now head of R. L. Alia Co. This pattern of sons following in their fathers’ footsteps, even to the fourth generation, would become a tradition among Seattle’s Italian families.

By 1915, 20 per cent of Seattle’s Italian community belonged to the business and professional class. They included Doctors Xavier DeDonato and A. J. Ghiglione; Joe Desimone, owner of the Pike Place Market; Frank Buty, a real estate agent whose generosity to new immigrants is still talked about by their descendants; Attilio Sbedico, professor of literature at the University of Washington; Nicola Paolella, publisher of the Gazetta Italiani. Paolella produced an Italian language radio show for 26 years.

Pike Place Market 1912

Henry Suzzallo, whose family came from Ragusa, Italy was appointed to the presidency of the University of Washington in 1915. He held the position until 1926 when he quarreled with the state governor and resigned. He achieved even more prominence by becoming chairman of the board of trustees and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning. He stayed there until he died in 1933.

Angelo Pellegrini

Angelo Pellegrini (1904 – 1991) was an author of books about the pleasures of growing and making your own food and wine and about the Italian immigrant experience. He was also a professor of English Literature at the University of Washington. Pellegrini’s family came from Tuscany in 1913 and his father worked for the railroad. His first book, The Unprejudiced Palate (1948) is an important work in the history of food literature and is still in print. In 1946, Sunset Magazine published Pellegrini’s recipe for pesto, likely the first major publication of a pesto recipe in the United States.

Albert Rosellini

In 1956 Albert Rosellini (January 21, 1910 – October 10, 2011) was elected governor of Washington – the first Italian American governor west of the Mississippi. Rosellini was an activist leader who worked to reform the state’s prisons and mental health facilities, to expand the state highway system, to create the University of Washington Medical School and Dental School and to build the second floating bridge across Lake Washington. Rosellini is the longest-lived U.S. state governor ever, having reached the age of 101 years, 262 days before his death.

Mario Batali

Mario Batali, one of the country’s most celebrated chefs, grew up in Seattle, Washington. He is one of three children born to Marilyn and Armandino Batali. He spent his childhood watching his grandmother make oxtail ravioli and other Italian specialties passed down in the family. Mario’s father, an engineer for Boeing for 30 years, opened a meat-curing shop in Seattle as a retirement project, attempting to recreate the Italian food store Mario’s maternal great-great grandparents opened in 1903. The Batali family’s roots are almost entirely in the West. Mario’s great-great-grandfather left Italy for Butte, Montana in 1899 to work in the coal mines and eventually moved further west to settle in Seattle.

The community also included the first American saint, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. Mother Cabrini, who died in 1917, was canonized during World War II by Pope Paul in the Sistine Chapel. More than 40,000 people, including American soldiers witnessed the ceremonies in the basilica.

Rainier Avenue at Genesee Street, 1925

Our lady of Mount Virgin Church, on the slope of Mount Baker, overlooked the Italian neighborhood in Rainier Valley. It was the spiritual center for Seattle Italians and often the first place new immigrants went to get information and meet new friends. The first pastor was Father Lodovico Caramello. He was on his way to a foreign mission in 1913, when his superiors asked him to stop by Seattle and help the immigrants there to get the church they were building started. Father Caramello agreed to a brief assignment but stayed on the job until he died in 1949. “He had nothing,” recalled Nellie Ivie, who was 88 when she was interviewed by the Beacon Hill News. “He lived in a little corner of the building above the old church. He had a wooden cot, no bed, no furniture, not enough to eat hardly. He used to go out and shoot birds – pick their feathers off and eat them. He was really a saint; everybody loved him.” 

“You either loved him or feared him,” said Marie (Fiorito) Hagen in the same interview. She recalled attending a luncheon in Father Caramello’s honor, in which he insisted on covered knees and elbows, “in the house of God” even on sweltering hot days. “If your knees showed, he’d glare down from the pulpit and say, frogs’ legs,” Marie Hagen recalled.

The Rainier Valley neighborhood, which centered around the intersection of Rainier and Atlantic Avenues, was transformed into an Italian village, not unlike the ones the residents had left behind in Italy. It was a small village to be sure. Only 215 families lived there in 1915, but everybody knew everybody else. Rainier Valley was the biggest, but not the only Italian neighborhood. There were about 70 families each in Georgetown and smaller communities in South Park, South Lake Union, Youngstown and First Hill.

Italian School

Christmas at the Italian School.

Families were large and close-knit, as was the community. Children attended Mt. Virgin School, where they were taught by nuns who spoke Italian and could assist students – and parents – who didn’t speak English. A 1976 Seattle Times article, quotes Sister Manette, who taught at Mt. Virgin in the 1920s and ’30s: “The immigrant parents were poor and had to take what jobs they could get because of the language barrier, so they saw education as a doorway for their children and would sacrifice anything to get it for them.” But even though many parents were eager to see their children succeed as “Americans,” they also valued the connection to their heritage. Elizabeth Yorio, a student in the 1920s, told the Times reporter that Father Caramello, “taught Italian-language classes because he dreaded to see the children getting Americanized so quickly.”

Vegetable gardens were large and prolific and fathers played bocce on weekends and made wine in their basements. Everyone who lived there remembers the aromatic smells of Italian cooking that wafted through the neighborhood, especially on Sunday. The abundance of good food also helped make up for the hungry times some of the immigrants endured in Italy and helped them convince themselves that they had done the right thing by leaving their homeland and coming to this new world. The immigrants’ love of and respect for food would lead many of them into new careers and make some of them wealthy.

In time many immigrants decided they wanted to go back to the land after all. Seattle was surrounded by some of the best gardening land in the west and the weather was perfect for growing vegetables. Moreover the land was cheap. An immigrant needed only $75 to get into farming and if he had several hundred dollars he could buy land outright.

By 1915, Fred Marino was the leading truck farmer and, in that same year, it was estimated that there were 200 to 300 Italian farming households around Seattle. The most influential farmer was Joe Desimone who arrived in America in 1897 with half a dollar in his pocket. He worked as a swineherd in Rhode Island before he moved to Seattle where he went to work for the Vacca family and married one of their daughters. The Desimone family bought up land bit by bit, drained the Duwamish swamplands and ended up owning large tracts of some of the best farmlands in the area. Desimone also became an owner of the Pike Place Market. The Desimone family proprietorship continued until it came under public acquisition by a 1971 voters’ initiative.

Whether it was truck farming or mining, Italians not only survived life in America but prevailed. When the mining industry began dying off, Italians living in Black Diamond found other ways to make a living. Angelo Merlino, while still working in the mines, began to import cheese, pasta and olive oil in bulk. He quit mining and opened a store in 1900 that was so successful, he was soon importing Italian food by the shipload. Today, Merlino and Sons is one of Seattle’s biggest distributors of Italian foods. Gradually, Seattleites developed a taste for Italian food and Italian food businesses became household words: Oberto’s and Gavosto’s Torino sausages, DeLaurenti’s, Magnano’s and Borracchini’s food stores. Italians pioneered the transformation of Seattle into one of the best restaurant cities in America. One of the earliest restaurants was Buon Gusto established in 1910 on Third Avenue by Orlando Benedetti and Giovanni Panattoni. Later restaurateurs, such as Rosellini and Gasparetti, became citywide personalities whose names and faces were known to everybody.

Italian POWs

World War II spurred industrial growth and created thousands of jobs for Italian Americans and others. Italian parents sent their sons off to fight overseas just as other American families did but the war affected the Italian community in unique ways, as well. As “enemy aliens,” the Italian-born residents were subjected to curfews, travel and employment restrictions. The Italian social hall shut down during the war because anyone born in Italy had to be home by 8:00 p.m. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Nick Paolella, publisher and radio host, was detained by federal agents, along with dozens of other Italian newspaper and radio men in other cities on the West Coast. The newspaper, radio show and the community’s Italian language school all ceased operation during the war years.

Toward the end of the war, Italian POWs captured by U.S. troops in North Africa were shipped to Seattle. The presence of their countrymen in these circumstances was a complicated situation for Italian immigrants. Many of the Italian prisoners had been reluctant soldiers with no love for Mussolini. Ralph Vacca’s uncle, who served overseas, told him that “a lot of them, they’d see the Americans coming and they’d run up to them and say, ‘Hey, take me with you!’” These prisoners were allowed to join the Army’s Italian Service Unit (ISU) and were given special privileges and freedoms. Andy Bevilacqua remembers his father taking him to visit one of the POW camps when he was a child: “There were guys there from Tuscany, like he was.”

Ralph Vacca recalls:

“They weren’t hard line fascists and, so on weekends, the Italian prisoners would get passes to go out to visit Italian families. They couldn’t speak English—but I remember they would go over to my mother’s and my mother had nine brothers and sisters in her family. So every Sunday everyone went over there. They would play bocce ball and my God, at dinnertime, the table was from here to there – twenty or thirty people. And they would talk Italian and have spaghetti and whatever else was on the table.”.

Ralph’s aunt, Mary Vacca, wound up falling in love with one of these gentlemen, Miguel Prontera – and this certainly wasn’t the only friendship or romance that developed between young people on opposite sides of the POW camp fence. At the end of the war, Miguel Prontera and the rest of the POWs were sent back to Italy but Mary Vacca went to Italy, tracked him down, married him and brought him back to Seattle. Prontera opened a barber shop on McClelland Street, where he cut hair for more than 60 years. He retired in 2008 at the age of 90.

“Mike” Prontera, barber

Prontera was part of a new wave of Italian immigrants who arrived in Seattle in the 1950s. Many of these new arrivals merged seamlessly into the established community. The Pizzutos were from a rural village in southern Italy where opportunities were extremely limited and had been so even before the war. “Back in Italy”, Lauro Pizzuto later told his grandson Cory, “I played soccer and shot pool in pubs – that was it!” Lauro and his father came to Seattle to work on building the original Lake Washington Floating Bridge. The Mottola family arrived about the same time but were city people from Naples. Vince Mottola worked for an established Italian business – the Gai family bakery– before opening his own restaurant in 1957.

So many Italians arrived in Seattle in the 1950s that the Italian-born population of SE Seattle (as measured by the U.S. Census) nearly tripled: from 929 in 1950 to 2555 in 1960. Southeast Seattle’s population as a whole rose sharply during this period, but not as fast as the Italian population. The Italian percentage doubled, from 2% in 1950 to 4% in 1960. By the late 1950s, Seattle’s Italian community had reached a fairly comfortable place. The first generation of immigrants who had arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were now growing old and many of them could look back on their lives and accomplishments with some satisfaction. Several of these gentlemen were profiled in a 1956 Seattle Times article by Erle Howell. They were businessmen, musicians, professors, patriarchs and their children had, as Sister Manette put it, “turned out very well, a credit to themselves and the city.”

Annie and Grace

Annie and Grace Briglio on 26th Avenue. Courtesy of Patricelli Family

Leonardo Patricelli, “The Ditch Digger” profiled in Angelo Pellegrini’s, Americans by Choice, had arrived In Seattle in 1911, willing to work hard in order to give his children a chance at a better life. Forty years later he and his wife, Giovannina, had worked hard indeed – but they now had land of their own and a fine house built by Leonardo and his four sons. Leonardo had come to the U.S. hoping his children would have opportunities he had lacked in Italy and they did. His eldest son became a doctor. More recent arrivals like the Pizzutos and Mottolas could see a similar path unfolding for their own children in their newly adopted country. 

Seattle’s Italian Food

seattle1

Italian Meatloaf

Armandino Batali of Salumi in Seattle, writes: “My son, Mario Batali, may be the most recognizable foodie in the family, but the Batalis’ interest in Italian cooking and culture goes back generations. My grandfather opened Seattle’s first Italian-food import store in 1903. It was located just a few steps from where my restaurant, Salumi, is now, and it’s one of the things that inspired me to get into the business.

“The idea behind Salumi was to create a restaurant, deli and meat factory in one place, just like the salumerias in Italy. We’re known for homemade sausages and salami, but we also attract a large lunchtime crowd. Some of the specials, like meatloaf and frittata, have been in our family for years. They’re also easy to make at home.”

 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef 
  • 1 pound coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed, meat crumbled
  • 2 cups chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, divided
  • 3 large eggs, beaten 
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine the first 11 ingredients in large bowl. Gently mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce, eggs and wine.

Place meat mixture on large rimmed baking sheet and shape into 16 x 4-inch loaf. Brush with remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce.

Bake meat loaf until cooked through and thermometer inserted into center registers between 160°F and 170°F, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Italian Bean & Chard Soup With Cheese Toast

6 servings

Soup

  • 1 cup small dry white beans 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes, or 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed 
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth 
  • 4 cups chopped Swiss chard or escarole
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil 
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese .

Cheese toast: 

  • 12 thin baguette slices 
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or shredded Parmesan cheese 

To prepare the soup:

Put the white beans in a bowl, cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and put the beans into a soup pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Drain.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the same pot. Add the onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil and oregano. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Put the beans into the pot with the broth. Simmer 30 minutes. Add the kale, basil and pepper to taste. Cook 10 minutes.

To prepare the toast:

Spread the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Toast under a hot broiler. Remove from the oven and turn the bread slices over. Sprinkle with Gorgonzola or Parmesan and put back under the broiler until the cheese bubb.

Garnish each serving of soup with a spoonful of Parmesan and toast on the side.

seattle 2

Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower and Prosciutto

Recipe from Ethan Stowell chef at Tavolàta, Seattle

8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound farro, rinsed and drained
  • 2 carrots, halved crosswise
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 celery rib, halved crosswise
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 large heads of cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds each), cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped marjoram
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine the farro, carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Add enough cold water to cover the farro by 1 inch and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the farro is tender but chewy, 15 minutes; drain. Spread the farro on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Discard the carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil over moderately high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350° F. Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden, 5 minutes per batch; drain.

In a bowl, mix the farro, cauliflower, prosciutto, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

--Agrodolce

Seared Broccoli with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Recipe adapted from Maria Hines, Agrodolce, Seattle, WA

4 servings

Ingredients:

Anchovy Vinaigrette

  • 4 oil-packed anchovies
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli, trimmed into small florets
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Make the anchovy vinaigrette:

In a blender, purée the anchovies, vinegar and garlic together on high speed until smooth. Reduce the blender speed to medium and slowly pour in the oil, blending until the vinaigrette is emulsified and thick. Season with the pepper.

Make the broccoli:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and broccoli florets and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the florets are caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon juice and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the pepper.

Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter and drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette. Serve warm.

Strawberries marinated in Prosecco, with semolina cookies A100830_FW_Seattle_4thofJuly2011

Strawberries in Prosecco with Vanilla Ice Cream

8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • One 750-milliliter bottle chilled Prosecco
  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream

Directions:

In a bowl, mix the strawberries with the sugar and let stand until the sugar is dissolved, about 30 minutes.

Spoon the berries and any syrup into 8 glasses and top with the Prosecco and a scoop of ice cream. Serve right away.

 

Sources:

  • The Seattle Times
  • Neighborhoods: Southeast Seattle Community History Project: Mikala Woodward
  • Seattle Government City archives
  • History Link.org
  • Rainier Valley Historical Society
  • Italia Seattle Blogspot
  • Festa Seattle
  • Italian Club of Seattle
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In ancient mythology, the nine muses and Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, are often depicted with rosemary in their hands. Carried by wedding couples as a sign of love and fidelity, rosemary is also a symbol of friendship and loyalty. Through the ages, this aromatic herb has been linked with memory and remembrance. In ancient times, a sprig was often placed in the coffin to ensure that the deceased would not be forgotten. In the Middle Ages, it was common to keep some sprigs under the pillow to chase away bad dreams. Additionally, rosemary was used in purification rites and was known for its therapeutic qualities. The ancients believed that when used in moderation, rosemary could be a great digestive tonic and anti-inflammatory booster. To this day, this herb’s refreshing scent makes it a popular element in various health and beauty products.

In Italy you will find as many herbalist shops as you will pharmacies. Italians have been using natural cures and herbal teas for thousands of years. A herbalist must have a special degree in order to prescribe herbal remedies. Herbalists say that rosemary aids in blood circulation and helps fight against fragile capillaries, but it is not recommended for those with high blood pressure. In addition to its long and colorful legacy, rosemary has been an important ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine for centuries.

Rosemary growing wild in the Italian countryside.

A perennial plant from the Lamiaceae family, rosmarino is a familiar sight in the Italian countryside, growing in the wild throughout Italy and the rest of the Mediterranean regions. The botanical name, Rosmarinus officinalis, is derived from the old Latin term meaning “dew of the sea,” probably referring to its pale blue flowers and the fact that it often grows near the sea. The fresh leaves – thin, spiky, evergreen needles – have a particularly potent fragrance and flavor.

In Italy, rosemary is predominantly used to flavor roasted and grilled meats, poultry and fish. It is often coupled with garlic, wine and vinegar. When grilling, it’s a great idea to first marinate the meat in rosemary, sage, bay leaves, thyme, pepper and olive oil; then, just prior to cooking, sprinkle rosemary leaves and branches directly on the hot charcoal or in a grill box for a gas grill. The wonderful aroma of the burning herb will permeate whatever you are grilling.

Rosemary is often used in vegetable preparations – particularly, roasted potatoes and mushrooms. Cannellini beans are also enhanced by this herb. Rosemary is one of the five herbs comprising a bouquet garni – the bundle of fresh herbs used in stocks and stews. Unlike many other aromatic herbs, rosemary does not lose its flavor by long cooking. Another notable use of rosemary – alone or with other herbs – is to flavor olive oil.

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Fresh rosemary is now available at most grocery stores. You’ll often see it in packages of 4- to 5-inch sprigs or as bundles of long, straight branches. Be sure the leaves look fresh, green and pliable, not dry, brittle or blackened. Store rosemary in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp dishtowel for up to one week.

Homemade Infused Oil

Homemade infused oils are a great way to add an extra shot of flavor to your cooking, salads and marinades. They make perfect gifts for food lovers and serious cooks. Good flavorings to use include fresh herbs, garlic, whole spices, pink peppercorns or dried chilies.

Infused oils have the potential to support the growth of bacteria, so you should follow the procedures for bottling flavored oils carefully and make sure that any ingredients you use are washed and thoroughly dried first. Use pretty recycled bottles or jars for these oils.

Ingredients:

Use one of the following:

  • 1 large sprig (about 6 in.) of rosemary
  • 3-4 large ribbons of lemon peel
  • 3-4 whole chilies

2 cups light olive oil

Bottles or jars for storing

Directions:

It’s important to sterilize all bottles or jars and their lids before adding any ingredients. The dishwasher does a great job or after hand washing, place them upside down in a cold oven and heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Leave the bottles in the oven for 10–15 minutes. Place them upside down on a clean cloth until you are ready to use them, so dust or dirt, which could contaminate the oils, can’t be trapped inside. Alternatively, you can boil the bottles in a large saucepan covered with water for 15 minutes, dry them thoroughly with a fresh clean cloth and turn them upside down on another cloth until they are ready to be used.

Make the flavored oil a week before you want to give it as a gift. For rosemary oil, bruise a large sprig of fresh rosemary with the end of a rolling pin. For lemon oil use 3-4 large ribbons of lemon peel and for chili oil use 3-4 whole chilies cut in half lengthwise.

Put your choice of dry ingredients into a clear, sterilized glass bottle (at least 2 cups in capacity) and add 2 cups of light olive oil. Make sure the dry ingredients stay below the surface of the oil or they may turn moldy.

Secure the lid firmly and shake well once a day for a week to allow the flavors to develop. Add a gift label with instructions to store the oil in the refrigerator and use within a week.

Easy Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Topping:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary chopped
  • Sea Salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

To make the dough:

Mix the water and olive oil with the dry yeast (you’re looking to dissolve the yeast) in a medium bowl or measuring cup. Thoroughly mix the remaining dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the yeast mixture. With the paddle attachment mix for 2-3 minutes. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes; you’re looking for a fluffy/not too dense dough. Form the dough into a ball and coat the exterior with a bit of olive oil and place in a large bowl, covering the bowl with a kitchen towel. The dough should rest 30-45 minutes or until it doubles in size.

To make the focaccia:

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a 10 by 15 inch cookie sheet and thoroughly coat the bottom with the oil. Stretch the dough on your cookie sheet (you’re looking for a thickness of about 3/4 of an inch). Next, create dimples in the dough with your fingertips and drizzle a bit more olive on the dough. Next, add fresh rosemary and sea salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and bake the focaccia for 20-25 minutes, depending on how thin or thick your dough is. You’re looking for a golden brown top and a somewhat crunchy bottom.

Italian Navy Bean Soup with Rosemary

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups kale, minced
  • 1 15 oz can diced low sodium tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 15 oz cans low sodium navy beans, drained
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Using 5 tablespoons of broth, saute onion, carrot and celery in large soup pot over medium low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.

Add the rest of the chicken or vegetable broth, the kale and tomatoes.

Simmer for 30 minutes over medium heat.

Add beans, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for several minutes, so beans can heat through.

Mustard & Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

These potatoes start out looking very wet, but the mixture cooks down to leave the potatoes crisp and tangy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dry vermouth or other dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch dice

Serves four to six.

Directions:

Heat the oven to 400°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, vermouth, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat.

Pour the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer.

Roast, tossing with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are brown on the outside and tender, 50 to 55 minutes. Serve hot. 

Roasted Shrimp with Rosemary and Thyme

Roasted in an herb-infused oil, the shrimp turn pink and fragrant in just a few minutes minutes.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 large fresh rosemary sprigs, halved
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1-1/2 lbs shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.), preferably wild from the US, peeled and deveined
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

Pour the oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add the thyme, rosemary and black and red pepper and bake until the oil mixture is fragrant, about 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the dish and toss with tongs until coated. Bake the shrimp until just pink and firm, 7-8 minutes.

Add the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss well, and let rest at room temperature until the oil cools slightly, about 5 minutes and serve.

Serve the shrimp with rice and sautéed broccoli raab. 

Italian Style Roast Pork Loin

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork loin, about 4-1/2 pounds
  • 4-5 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a sharp knife, cut about a dozen slits all over the pork, making some deep and some shallow.

Finely chop rosemary leaves and garlic together. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in some salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture with a little olive oil to hold the rosemary and garlic together. Using your fingertip, insert a small amount of mixture into each slit in the pork, pushing mixture to the bottom of each slit.

Place the butter in a shallow roasting pan and put it into the oven to melt; spread butter around pan evenly. Sprinkle the coarsely chopped onion over the melted butter. Place the pork loin directly on top of the onions; do not use a roasting rack. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the pork and add wine to the pan.

Roast, uncovered, basting with the wine about every 20 minutes for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Transfer the pork to a carving board and let rest 10-15 minutes before carving.

Grilled Tuscan Chicken 

Basting the chicken with lemon juice while it’s on the grill gives it a tangy taste. For the marinade, steeping the rosemary in hot water intensifies the flavor of the herb.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 or 10 serving pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Sliced lemon for garnish

Directions:

Heat grill to medium. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup water and rosemary to a boil; remove from heat, cover and let steep 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth; let cool.

Combine chicken and pureed rosemary oil in a shallow dish or resealable plastic bag and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate at least 15 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator, turning chicken occasionally.

Remove chicken from marinade; place on grill. Discard marinade. Cook, basting frequently with lemon juice and turning as needed to prevent burning, until cooked throughout, 20 to 30 minutes.


Summer may be nearing its end, school might be back in session (in the south, they are), but some of the best great weather is yet to come. These can, also, be the best grilling days of all. So, keep cooking outside. In fact, keep it outside start to finish. In other words, grill your entire meal outside next time you fire up your grill and especially for this weekend’s Labor Day get together. Some ideas to get you started are listed below:

Appetizers

Slice prepared polenta (available in most grocery stores). Brush with olive oil and grill on both sides. Top with chopped fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and shredded Parmesan cheese. Move to an indirect heat spot on the grill, lower the lid and heat until the cheese melts. Cool slightly and serve as a first course appetizer with an arugula salad.

Side dishes

Grilling vegetables brings out all the natural sweetness of the vegetables. Just about anything works.

Grilled corn: If you haven’t tried this yet, you must. Pick up freshly picked corn from the closest farmer’s stand. Pull husks back about half way and remove corn silk. Pull husks back up and soak ears of corn in cold, salted water for at least 30 minutes. Heat grill to high and place corn on the grill, turning every few minutes. The husks will get well charred. Cook 15 to 20 minutes. To serve, pull husks down, but don’t remove them – the husks form a handle for the corn.

Grilled potatoes: Slice long russet potatoes or sweet potatoes lengthwise to about 1/4-inch thick. Oil very lightly and season with salt and pepper (or seasoned salt). Grill over slightly indirect heat until softened.

Grilled green beans: Lightly toss green beans with olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on the grill ACROSS THE GRILL GRATES or use a grill basket. If you place them lined up with the grill grates, the beans will roll right through the grill. Let them char slightly, rolling them along to turn them and cook all over.

Bread

Garlic Bread: Slice good, hearty Italian bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Grill both sides until toasted. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and rub with a garlic clove. Add a grating of Parmesan. (This is the classic base for a good bruschetta, too! Just top garlic rubbed toasts with chopped tomato tossed with fresh basil.)

Dessert

Grill slices of angel food cake or pound cake, homemade or store-bought. Top the grilled cake with a scoop of frozen low-fat yogurt or ice cream. Add toppings, if you like, (caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, fresh summer fruits).

Grill slices of fresh pineapple. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar, lower the grill lid and let the sugar melt lightly. This is also great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Labor Day Menu On The Grill For 8

Appetizer Course

Grilled Arugula Bruschetta

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices (16 slices)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped arugula
  • 8 tablespoons basil pesto
  • Cucumber rounds and slices of lime to serve on the side

Directions:

For a charcoal grill, grill bread over medium coals for 2 to 3 minutes per side or or until lightly toasted. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place bread on grill rack; grill as above.) Remove bread slices from the grill.

Rub one side of each toast with garlic; brush with olive oil. On each slice of toast layer 1/2 tablespoon pesto, 1 tablespoon arugula and 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese.

Return bruschetta to grill; grill for 5 minutes more or until cheese starts to melts and remove to a serving platter containing cucumber rounds and slices of lime.

 

Main Course

 

Grilled Chicken with Apricot-Balsamic Glaze

This simple glazed chicken is perfect for a small cookout. The glaze has just the right amount of sweetness and can be made ahead. To get the mix of thighs, drumsticks and breasts, you’ll need to buy two whole chickens and cut them into parts yourself or you can look in your store’s display case for bone-in parts that are about the same size—legs about 5 oz. each, thighs about 6 oz. and breast halves about a pound each.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves (preferably without corn syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for the grill
  • Two 4-lb chickens, each cut into 8 pieces, or 5 to 6 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, drumsticks and breasts, each breast half cut into two pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the preserves, vinegar, red pepper flakes, rosemary and a large pinch of salt; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. (If making ahead, store covered in the refrigerator. Before using, warm over low heat or microwave to loosen the consistency.)

Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire. Using a stiff wire brush, scrub the cooking grate thoroughly. Dip a folded paper towel into vegetable oil and, using tongs, rub it over the grill grate.

Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Set the parts skin side down on the grill. Cook, covered, until the skin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stay near the grill, especially during the first 10 minutes, to manage any flare-ups, by moving pieces out of the way. If the chicken is browning too quickly, turn the heat down slightly or close the vents partially. Flip the chicken and cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F in the thickest part of each piece, 5 to 10 minutes more. The thighs, legs and thinner breast pieces will cook a little faster than the thicker breast pieces. Transfer each piece to a platter when done and tent with foil.

When all the chicken is done, brush it with the glaze on all sides. Return the chicken to the grill and cook for another minute or so on each side to caramelize the glaze. Brush the chicken with any remaining glaze and serve.

Grilled Herbed Fingerling Potatoes

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Directions:

Light the gas or charcoal grill. Combine potatoes and herbs in a large bowl.

Combine oil and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle over the potatoes and toss well to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange the potatoes on a large piece of heavy duty foil and fold the edges to make a packet. (You can also make two separate packets, if that fits better on your grill.)

Place the foil packet on a hot grill over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, turning and shaking every 5 minutes.

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Mozzarella and Dill

Makes: 8servings

Ingredients

  • 6 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch planks
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, pulled into large pieces
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely snipped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

On a baking sheet arrange zucchini in a single layer. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

For a charcoal grill, grill zucchini directly over medium coals about 8 minutes or until tender, turning once. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat. Place zucchini on grill grate over direct heat. Cover and grill as directed.)

On a serving platter arrange grilled zucchini and mozzarella. Sprinkle with dill and crushed red pepper. Drizzle with lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Dessert Course

Chocolate-Sauced Kabobs

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1/3 cup butter or butter alternative, such as Smart Balance
  • 3/4 cups sugar or sugar alternative, such as Truvia
  • 3/4 cups canned evaporated milk 
  • 3 medium ripe nectarines or peaches
  • 1/4 of a pineapple
  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled
  • 8 whole strawberries, stemmed

Directions

For sauce, melt chocolate pieces and butter in a small saucepan over low heat or on the side of your gas grill, if you have a side burner. Add the sugar. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook and stir over low heat for 8 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Remove pits from nectarines or peaches; cut fruit into wedges. Cut the pineapple and bananas into 1-inch chunks. Alternately thread the peaches or nectarines, pineapple and bananas on eight 12-inch-long skewers. Add one strawberry to each skewer.

Grill kabobs about 5 minutes, turning once. To serve, push fruit from skewers onto dessert plates. Drizzle with the warm chocolate sauce. 

 


Achieving widespread US popularity, the ‘panino’ or Italian sandwich is known, more commonly, in English by its plural form ‘panini’. The difference between a panini and a regular sandwich is that it’s grilled, has ridges and the sandwich ingredients melt or fuse together, giving delicious flavor and texture to the filling. Panini sandwiches do not need additional butter or oil for grilling and a panini does not need to be turned over, the press does the work.

Panini are easy to make and can be made with any variety of food desired. Served with a salad or soup, a panini can make a complete, fast and healthy meal, eaten any time of the day.

The Panini Grill

A panini grill is very much like a waffle iron, where heat is applied from the top and bottom to cook both sides evenly. Unlike a waffle iron, the panini grill has a larger hinge to accommodate thick bread or flat buns. A panini grill usually has ridges on the top and bottom grilling surface and this creates the signature grilling lines.

If you do not have a panini maker, a George Foreman Grill will make a great panini, but make sure the grill is heated prior to using.

On the stove: Preheat a skillet with butter or oil to medium low. Add your sandwich, then press a heavy pan on top to weigh it down. Cook until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Here is how to make your own panini:

There is no one traditional type of bread used for panini, but generally the most popular are ciabatta, focaccia and sourdough. The most important requirement is that your bread be sliced thick enough so that the sandwich can be grilled.

You can use whatever filling you’d like, but here are some suggestions:

  • Italian cold cuts, peppers, mozzarella cheese, anchovies
  • Chicken, cheese, spinach
  • Cooked bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese
  • Leftover turkey or chicken, mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, Monterey-jack cheese
  • Sliced ham, provolone cheese, tomatoes, Dijon mustard
  • Sliced tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese
  • Grilled vegetables (red pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, onions) cheese
  • Brush one side of the bread with fig jam or jam of choice. Fill with sliced apple and manchego cheese.
  • Dijon mustard, shredded gruyere cheese, sliced roast beef, caramelized onions

Basic Directions:

Slice or use pre-sliced cheese.

Spread bread with condiments, if using.

Lay cheese on one bread slice.

Slice any other ingredients and place on top of the cheese.

Cover with another slice of bread spread with coniment of choice.

Place onto a preheated panini grill. Grill for 2 to 4 minutes.

Open the panini maker and check to see if the ridges are well-formed, the cheese is melted properly and the bread is toasted.

Remove the sandwich from the panini machine and cut in half.

Here are some panini for you to make. After that – use your ceativity.

Turkey Breast with Roasted Peppers and Mozzarella 

Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted peppers
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, sliced

Directions

In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a gentle simmer. Generously salt water. Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and black pepper. Add turkey and simmer until breast registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat and let turkey cool in liquid. Store turkey in liquid, covered and refrigerated, until ready to use.

Preheat a panini press according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove turkey breast from poaching liquid and thinly slice; divide evenly among 4 slices of bread. Top with peppers, basil leaves and mozzarella.

Sandwich with remaining 4 slices of bread and place on the panini press. Close the lid and apply slight pressure; cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes. If bread is sticking to the press, continue to cook and bread will unstick itself. If press is generating more heat from the bottom, flip the sandwich halfway through cooking.

Remove sandwich from press and cut in half before serving.

Steak and Cheese Panini

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb flank steak
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large vidalia onions, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 6 focaccia rolls or bread
  • 12 slices white cheddar cheese

Directions:

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Place in a sealable plastic bag. Add garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Seal bag. Shake until ingredients are evenly distributed. Place in the refrigerator for a 1/2 hour.

Preheat a panini grill.

In a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the marinade from the bag with the steak. Add steak to the pan and saute until medium rare, 5-7 minutes per side. Remove steak from pan and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.

Add onions to the pan with any remaining marinade. Saute until onions are soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes.

Cut the steak into thin slices across the grain. Put 5 to 7 thin slices of steak on each roll. Top each sandwich with onions and cheddar cheese.

Place the sandwich in the panini press and cook until the cheese melts.

Serves 6

Everything or Anything Panini

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 8 garlic-flavored sandwich pickle slices
  • 8 slices Italian bread (1/2 inch thick)

Directions:

In a large skillet, saute onions in oil until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Layer the cheese, ham, tomato, pickles and caramelized onions on four bread slices; top with remaining bread.

Cook on a panini maker for 3-4 minutes or until bread is browned and cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

Chicken Pesto Panini

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 focaccia bread, quartered
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1 cup sliced cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions::

Preheat a panini grill.

Slice each quarter of focaccia bread in half horizontally. Spread each half with pesto. Layer bottom halves with equal amounts chicken, bell pepper, onion and cheese. Top with remaining focaccia halves, forming four sandwiches.

Grill paninis 5 minues in the preheated grill,or until focaccia bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Tuna Melt Panini

4 Servings

 Ingredients:

  • Two 6-ounce cans albacore tuna
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, split
  • Dijon mustard for spreading
  • Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
  • Sixteen 1/8-inch-thick lengthwise slices of kosher dill pickles

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix the tuna with the onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a panini press.

Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and top each roll half with two slices of cheese. Spread the tuna mixture on top of the cheese and cover with the pickles. Close the sandwiches.

Add the sandwiches to the press and grill until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.

Red Pepper, Egg and Provolone Panini

2 servings

In the south of Italy, egg and bell pepper sandwiches are a classic. For variety, add some sautéed or grilled red onion slices.

Ingredients:

  • 4 (1/2-inch thick) Sicilian-style sesame semolina bread or Italian bread of choice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
  • 2 ounces sharp Provolone cheese, sliced
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, sliced

Directions:

Preheat panini grill or stovetop griddle pan.

In a small bowl, beat eggs, oregano, salt and pepper with a fork. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add egg mixture. Cook, lifting the edges with a fork, 2 to 3 minutes or until set.

Divide eggs, peppers and cheeses between 2 slices of bread. Top with remaining bread slices

Place on panini grill and cover. Grill 5 minutes until golden and cheese starts to melt.

And For Dessert

Chocolate Panini

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices challah or whole wheat bread or bread of choice
  • 2 ounces Nutella

Directions:

Form 2 sandwiches with the bread and Nutella

Transfer to a hot panini press and cook until the bread is golden and the chocolate has melted, 2 to 3 minutes.

(Alternatively, cook the sandwiches in a hot grill pan, turning once and pressing down frequently.)



A view of the Tualatin Valley in Portland’s Southwest Hills in 1912.
Italian immigrants settled in Portland’s Southwest Hills, known as Hillsdale and Multnomah, where many of them established dairies and vegetable farms.

1863 – Sam Arrigoni built the Pioneer Hotel at the corner of Front & Washington. It was the largest hotel in the state at that time, accommodating up to 300 guests.

At the turn of the century, SW Portland had an Italian business district, culture and neighborhood. The district remained intact until 1961, when it was abolished due an urban renewal. The city lost not just a thriving business district but a vibrant community as well. There is a movement within the community to restore “Little Italy”. The dream is to recreate an Italian district, with a mixed-use area that will include retail shops, restaurants, residential housing and a cultural center that will renew a familiar way of life for resident and visiting Italians, while inviting the local Portland community to share in the vitality of the Italian culture. 

Much of the history of the Italians in Portland has been recorded by the Oregon Historical Society:

1920 – 5 th. & Baker

In the late 1800’s Italians emigrated to Portland to build a better life. Their desire was to create new opportunities for themselves and their families. As the Italian population increased, it was a natural course of events that a “Little Italy” in Portland developed. It was between 1900 and 1910, however, that Portland saw the largest growth in the city’s Italian American population.

In 1900, the Italian immigrant population stood at just over 1,000 residents and by 1910, that number had increased to more than 5,000 residents. Italians first settled on the southwest edge of Portland near Marquam Gulch and later in northeast Portland.

1890- Italian Boarding House SW Front St.

The first Italian Boarding House was located on Front Ave. and new immigrants coming into Portland were directed to Garibaldi’s Market to find work on the railroads and in other trades. Italian immigrants worked in a wide array of professions. Many hundreds of Italian immigrants worked in Portland’s extensive railroad yards or served as street graders or built and maintained roads throughout the city. Italian entrepreneurs, like Francesco Arata, established shops and restaurants in Italian neighborhoods on both the west and east sides of the Willamette River. Almost 1,300 Italians lived and worked on the east side of the Willamette River. They rented land and grew vegetables and berries, while other families operated truck farms that sold produce to individuals and businesses across the city.


1919 – St Michael’s Church School at 4 th & Mill – Students

Portland Italians increased and spread to the East side of the river. With approximately 30,000 Italians in the Portland area, activities were numerous. Social clubs, raising funds for local causes, festivals and many celebrations were all part of the culture. In 1921, money was raised through shares to build the Italian Federation Building. This was a culture center for socials, community events and a place for newcomers to become familiar with Portland. Family was important and church was where families stayed connected. St Michael’s Church, still located on Fourth and SW Mill, was known as the “Italian Church.” The church also included an elementary school. Several Italian newspapers were in print and they were popular, as this was the way many immigrants could stay abreast of current events.

1920 – Italian Gardener’s Association

Colasuanno and Son Grocery – SW 3rd Ave.

In the 1980’s another flow of Italian immigrants arrived in Portland, bringing new life. Along with long time Italian residents and their children, the new wave of immigrants created a resurgence of Italian vitality! Activities have come alive again, such as the annual “Festa Italiana” that draws over 100,000 people in Pioneer Square. Clubs, restaurants, bocce tournaments, Italian radio and conversations, now thrive. Italian business continues to develop, with the most recent success being the Bologna Sister City alliance. This alliance intends to build economic trade between both countries. 

The Portland-Bologna Sister City Association (PBSCA) was founded in 2003 by a group of interested citizens in Portland to establish a formal relationship with Bologna, Italy.

The goal of this group is to bring citizens together out of their love, interest and ties to Italy and to create a formal relationship with Bologna. At first glance there are many things that these two cities have in common, from central urban universities to a genuine concern for sustainability and to a citizenry that holds a vivid love for life, family and food. Bologna is best known for its food – undeniably the richest in the country – and for its politics.

Italian Food of Portland

Portland seems to have an affinity for linking Italian culture, food and history together.

Basta Trattoria (on 21st Street in Portland) holds a quarterly Historical Dinner Series with exploration into “The Advent of Italian-American Cuisine,” specifically focusing on the impact that Italian immigrants have had on American food and vice versa. Portland Monthly food writer and food history enthusiast, Allison Jones, co-hosted a recent historical dinner alongside Basta Chef/Owner Marco Frattaroli.

“I’ve always been fascinated by how food and cooking customs create a window into history and it has been exciting to see that so many others share my curiosity,” says Frattaroli, referring to the popularity of past historical dinners at the restaurant that quickly sold out.

Frattaroli launched the Historical Dinner Series with three dinners in the Fall 2011 as a way to explore Italian cuisine through the lens of history. This year, the restaurant is planning a quarterly series that offers one dinner per season. At each dinner, a guest speaker will share his/her expertise on a relevant subject. Meanwhile, Chef Frattaroli prepares a family-style feast that features dishes from the historic era for guests in Basta’s private dining room.

1809 edition of Il Cuoco Maceratese (The Cook from Macerata— a city in the central Italian region of Le Marche) by Antonio Nebbia. It’s one of the earliest cookbooks written on Italian soil.

A Great Find!

This book, buried deep in a box, was shabby and coverless, tucked inside a worn zip-top plastic bag. A closer look revealed black Italian script on thick, fragile paper. It was an 1809 edition of “The Chef From Macerata” (“Il Cuoco Maceratese”) by Antonio Nebbia, among the first cookbooks ever written in Italy. Pellegrino Artusi’s distinguished book on Italian cooking, “The Art of Eating Well,” wouldn’t come along until 1881.

In Stefania Toscano’s rush to leave Italy for Portland two years ago, she hadn’t seen it among her late aunt’s possessions, which she had hastily packed and shipped to Oregon. In many ways, it made sense, because her aunt kept an enormous library with thousands of culinary books in her home in Florence. She was an accomplished, passionate cook who would take an entire day to make her special pizza.

Reed College confirmed the rarity of the find and after searching a database of more than 42,000 libraries in the world, found only three identical copies with only one in the United States. Toscano said. “You have a piece of history in your hands.” The next step, of course, was to digest the content. As much is it is a collection of recipes from two centuries ago, this cookbook could be a history lesson, reflecting culinary influences in central Italy during the late 18th century, when this revised edition was first printed. The University of Oregon’s Nicola Camerlenghi, an Italian-born assistant professor of art history, was called in for an analysis. She commented that the mere fact that recipes were even written down and published reflected the region’s growing economic prosperity and the emergence of an upper-middle class, who were employing cooks who needed information.

The recipes don’t have ingredient lists, but they call for specific measurements. “There is an order, steps 1, 2, 3 and 4,” Camerlenghi says. “It’s something Nebbia accepts from the French and brings (to Italy) as an innovation.” The author, also,  introduces French-style sauces and he recommends using butter, even in pasta. As important as what is in the book is what’s not. You see no mention of tomatoes or potatoes. It took years after the tomato’s arrival in Europe from the New World for it to be considered edible.

You see recipes for first courses of pasta, gnocchi (made without potatoes) and rice, and in particular, the technique of soaking rice in cold water before sautéing it — a groundbreaking contribution to the refinement of risotto Milanese, Toscano says. There is celery and spinach soup and squash parmigiana.

Some of the flavors are surprisingly familiar, Toscano says. Others dishes have just disappeared, such as a pan sauté of tuna, boiled celery, a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a slurry of flour and water. The combination sounds humble today, but celery was considered an aphrodisiac, says Toscano, who liked the dish so much she made it for a private dinner. Ultimately, this “grandfather of all Italian cookbooks,” as Toscano refers to it, has given her much to savor. (source: Oregon Live)

Pizza Margherita

Recipe From Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana in Portland

It’s not the awards or the notoriety that fuels the fire for Chef/Restaurateur Cathy Whims. It’s the quest to offer historically-based, authentic dishes that celebrate a sense of place and a local producer’s passion that keep this beloved Portland culinary treasure at the stove. She and her partner, David West, opened Nostrana in 2005 and quickly earned The Oregonian’s coveted designation as Best Restaurant of the Year. Nostrana is an Italian road-house in Southeast Portland serving classical and inventive seasonal dishes reflective of Cathy’s close, personal relationships with Northwest farmers

4 Servings

Ingredients

Pizza Dough:

  • 0.2 ounces malt
  • 13.6 ounces water, 65ºF
  • 2 ounces fresh yeast starter
  • 20 ounces Shepherd’s Grain enriched unbleached high gluten strength flour
  • 0.4 ounces salt

Toppings:

  • 2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • Salt
  • 2 fresh mozzarella, cow milk or buffalo, sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small bunch basil, cleaned and dried

METHOD:

For the Pizza Dough:

Dissolve the malt in water with a whisk. In standing mixer with dough hook attachment, add the starter, flour and salt. Mix on low speed for approximately 4 minutes, or until everything is combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on high speed for approximately 2 to 4 minutes. Dough should be smooth on the surface, but not shiny. Refrigerate overnight. The following day, divide the dough into 4 pieces and round into 8-ounce balls. Let them rest at room temperature for 2 hours. Then use or refrigerate for later use.

For the Topping:

Preheat oven with a pizza stone to 550ºF. Crush the tomatoes by hand to release the inside juices. Purée in a food processor and season with salt. Drain the mozzarella balls, pat dry with a towel and slice into 1/2-inch slices. Spread the tomato purée over the pizza up to 2 inches from the edges. Put the mozzarella slices on the pizza. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake on pizza stone until crust is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with basil leaves.

Porchetta Sandwiches

The food cart Lardo in Portland, Oregon serves this roasted pork with hazelnut gremolata and lemon-caper aïoli on ciabatta buns.

Serves 8

FOR THE PORK:

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed sage leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 2 ½ tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 14 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6–7-lb.) skin-on pork shoulder, butterflied
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 8 ciabatta buns, split

FOR THE GREMOLATA AND AÏOLI:

  • 1 1/3 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
  • 5 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 egg yolks

Make the pork:

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine rosemary, sage, 1/4 cup oil, fennel seeds, pepper, chile flakes and garlic in a food processor. Process until a smooth paste forms. Unfold pork shoulder, skin-side down, on a cutting board, season with salt and spread evenly with herb paste; roll up shoulder, tie with kitchen twine at 1″ intervals along length of shoulder and rub with remaining oil. Transfer to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, season with salt and cover with foil; bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pork reads 150°F, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Uncover and heat broiler to high; broil pork until skin is browned and crisp and internal temperature reads 165°F, about 15 minutes more. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

Make the gremolata:

Combine 1/3 cup olive oil, parsley, hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon capers, hazelnut oil, shallot and zest and juice of 1 lemon in a food processor. Process until a combined, transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

For the aïoli:

Whisk remaining capers, 2 tablespoons lemon juice (reserve remaining juice and zest for another use), egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl until smooth. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 1 cup oil until sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve:

Spread aïoli on tops of ciabatta buns and gremolata on bottoms of buns. Thinly slice pork shoulder and divide among buns.

Spaghetti with Red Onion and Bacon

Traditional pasta gets an upgrade from Jenn Louis, chef-owner of Lincoln Restaurant in Portland with the addition of smoky, salty bacon and zesty red onion.

6 servings

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 1/4 pounds bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 can (28-ounce) whole peeled tomatoes, puréed and strained
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until tender, about 5 minutes. Add red onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sauce is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes.

Strain spaghetti, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Add spaghetti and pasta water to sauce and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano.

Ricotta Gnudi with Lamb Bolognese

Recipe from Chef Rick Gencarelli of Grassa in Portland.

Makes 8 servings

Gnudi are essentially cheese ravioli filling, with just enough flour added to hold the mixture together and allow it to be boiled. They’re easier to make than gnocchi, freeze just as well and manage to be both rich and cloud-like at the same time. Be sure to use high-quality whole-milk ricotta and don’t skimp on the freshly ground pepper, which adds complexity.

Ricotta Gnudi:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pounds (32 ounces) fresh whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • Semolina flour, for dusting

Lamb Bolognese:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fennel, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrot, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Directions:

To make the gnudi:

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper. Mix until the ingredients are mostly combined. Add the all-purpose flour gradually, while folding the mixture, until a soft dough forms. Add more flour as needed, if it feels too sticky to roll into a rope.

Dust a rimmed baking sheet with semolina flour. Portion the dough into four separate pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll one of the pieces into a rope 1/2-inch thick. With a bench scraper or knife, cut the rope into 1-inch pieces.

Place the gnudi on the prepared baking sheet so that they are not touching. If not serving right away, freeze the gnudi until firm, then pack into airtight bags or containers.

To make the lamb bolognese:

Heat olive oil in a 6- to 8-quart saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the onions, fennel and carrot and saute until the vegetables are translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the lamb, pork and pancetta and increase heat to high. Brown the meat, breaking it up with a spoon. Add the tomatoes, white wine and milk. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add chopped mint.

To serve:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnudi and cook until they float to the surface, plus 1 to 2 minutes more (taste one; it should be cooked through, not gummy). Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the bolognese sauce. Serve garnished with a generous shower of grated cheese.

Butterscotch Breadcrumb Cake

This cake recipe comes from Matthew Busetto at Portland’s Firehouse Restaurant. Breadcrumb cakes are traditional in European cuisine (as well as a great way to use the restaurant’s leftover Pugliese loaves). The dessert has a rich-yet-not-too-sweet flavor from the butterscotch, as well as a slightly nubby texture — both of which are perfectly matched by some whipped cream, crunchy topping and another puddle of butterscotch sauce.

6 servings

Butterscotch Sauce

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt 
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake

  • Granulated sugar for dusting the pan
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup butterscotch sauce (reserve the rest for serving)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs, fairly fine (panko will work in a pinch)
  • Unsweetened whipped cream, reserved butterscotch sauce and chopped nuts or toffee bits (for topping)

To make the butterscotch sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and add the smaller amount of vanilla, taste and add more as needed. Set aside.

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter an 8-inch square pan or six 6- to 8-ounce ramekins and dust lightly with sugar. Set aside.

Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside.

Whip the egg yolks with the 1 cup of butterscotch sauce, salt and orange zest, until pale and almost doubled in size. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture in thirds, until just combined, then gently fold in the breadcrumbs.

Bake until the cake seems set and a tester comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes for ramekins and 25 to 30 minutes for a full cake. Cool slightly in the pan, then turn out.

Serve topped with whipped cream, reserved butterscotch sauce and any other crunchy toppings you desire.

Sources:


Parsley: one of the most commonly used herbs, everywhere, including Italy. There’s an expression in Italy, most often said to children:

“Sei come il prezzemolo, sei dappertutto,” which means “You’re like parsley, you’re everywhere.”

bouquet garni

Parsley, a familiar garnish on a variety of plates, is perfect for taming strong flavors which makes it an ideal complement for spicy dishes. It is an important component of a bouquet garni, which is a selection of fresh herbs – including parsley, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and sage – tied together into a bundle and cooked in soups, sauces or stews.

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum) has been cultivated and developed over so many centuries that its precise origins are difficult to pinpoint. This is compounded by the fact that the parsleys we know, today, probably bear little resemblance to their ancestors. The botanical name Petroselinum comes from the Greek word for stone (petro) which was given to parsley, because it was found growing on rocky hillsides in Greece.

Although the Ancient Greeks did not use parsley in cooking, they associated parsley with death and used it to make burial wreaths. According to legend, parsley first germinated in the blood of Archemorus, an ancient character in Greek mythology, where it was spilled when he was eaten by serpents. Conversely, parsley is used in the Hebrew celebration of Passover, as a symbol of spring and rebirth.

It is mentioned as one of the plants in the gardens of Charlemagne and Catherine de Medici. Legend says that de Medici is responsible for popularizing parsley, when she brought it back to France from Italy. In medieval times parsley was surrounded by much superstition, one belief being that the long germination period for the seeds was due to them having to travel to hell and back seven times before sprouting.

Parsley has long been popular in European and Mediterranean cuisine. A favorite of King Henry VIII, he relished a parsley sauce on top of his roasted rabbit.

Parsley Tea

Parsley Root has been used medicinally since ancient times for digestive disorders, bronchitis and urinary tract problems. As far back as Hippocrates, parsley was used in medicinal recipes for cure-alls, general tonics, poison antidotes and formulas to relieve kidney and bladder stones. In Russia, a preparation containing mostly parsley juice is given during labor to stimulate uterine contractions. The juice has been used to treat toothaches, as a hair rinse or as a facial steam for dry skin.

Modern science has confirmed many of these claims. Parsley is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C, and compounds that clear toxins from the body. It also reduces inflammations, contains histamine inhibitors and antioxidants that prevent cell damage. Commercially, oil from the seeds is used to scent perfumes and colognes. Because of its high chlorophyll content, parsley is a great breath freshener. Scientists have even isolated a compound, apiol, which is now used in medications to treat kidney ailments and kidney stones.

Most grocery stores and markets stock both Italian (flat leafed) parsley and curly leafed parsley. Many people consider curly varieties to be more standard with Italian versions playing a gourmet role. This distinction is mainly due to the differences in taste and sometimes in price.

Curly parsley, which is frequently the less expensive of the two, has only a very subtle flavor. It is typically used as a garnish. Italian parsley, on the other hand, has a robust peppery flavor. It has a much higher concentration of essential oils, which gives it a distinctive taste. Cooks also use flat leaf parsley as a garnish because of its vibrant green color, but also use it to flavor a number of dishes.

The flat leaf variety (P. neapolitanum), referred to as “Italian parsley,” is the only variety used in Italy and in most Mediterranean countries.

Whenever garlic is used, parsley is usually there. Besides the taste benefit to a dish, parsley and garlic are a particularly potent combination for better health. They both contain substances that may help prevent cancer, improve cardiovascular health and strengthen our immune systems against viral infections like the common cold.

It’s always preferable to use fresh parsley, though this herb preserves well when chopped and frozen.

Buying and Storing Parsley

Usually sold in bunches, Italian parsley should be bright green with no wilting. At the market, it is easy to confuse Italian parsley with cilantro. Italian parsley has leaves that are larger with a fresh, grassy smell.

Wash and dry Italian parsley. Wrap it first in a paper towel, then place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.

When using fresh parsley, first trim the leaves, then wash and chop them – keeping them all bunched together with one hand, while you chop with the other. In most cases, it’s best to add parsley to a sauce after the pot has been removed from the flame or as the final touch to the serving dish.

Dried Italian parsley typically lasts a lot longer than fresh, but has a diminished flavor. Most of the dried parsley purchased in commercial markets comes from curly leaves, unless otherwise noted. Cooks can dry out the leaves of Italian varieties themselves, often on racks or in a warm oven. I prefer the freezing method, since it preserves more of the fresh taste of parsley.

Growing Tips:

Many nurseries sell potted Italian parsley and it can also be grown quite successfully from seed. Like most herbs, it is somewhat delicate, particularly when it is first getting started. Success typically requires a regular temperature and plenty of water. Once stalks have reached a height of about 5 inches (approximately 13 cm), they can be transplanted outdoors, preferably to a flat surface with consistent sunlight.

Italian Parsley and Beet Salad

Makes 6 (first course) servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 2 1/4 pounds assorted young beets with greens (such as Chioggia, white, golden and red; 1 1/2 pounds if already trimmed)
  • 1/4 small red onion
  • 1 1/4 cups Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves (from 1 bunch)
  • Fresh ricotta cheese

Equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer

Directions:

Whisk together juices, oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Trim beets, leaving 1 inch of stems attached, then peel.

Using stems as a handle, slice beets paper-thin (less than 1/8 inch thick) with slicer (wear protective gloves to avoid staining hands), then cut slices into very thin matchsticks.

Thinly slice onion with slicer.

Toss beets, onion and parsley with dressing. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 30 minutes to soften beets and allow flavors to develop.

Before serving, toss again and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired. Serve with ricotta cheese.

Italian Potato Salad 

This is an easy recipe which is perfect for a summer picnic or get together.

Ingredients:

  • 5 large red skinned potatoes unpeeled and sliced in ½ inch slices
  • 1/3 cup of chopped fresh parsley (do not use dried herbs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large pan over medium-high heat add potatoes and cover with cold water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until just tender (do not let them get too soft). Remove from heat and drain. Place the potatoes into a large mixing bowl.

Add the parsley, garlic, olive oil and vinegar and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Use within 3 to 4 days.

Swordfish Steaks with Lemon-Parsley Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • (4) 8-ounce swordfish steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick)
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

Combine parsley, lemon zest and garlic in small bowl. Mix in oil, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Season with pepper to taste.

Place fish in single layer in shallow dish. Spoon half of the parsley sauce over fish. Set aside remaining sauce. Turn fish over to coat in the sauce. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours, turning fish occasionally.

Preheat broiler. Place fish, with sauce still clinging to it, on a broiler pan. Broil until fish is just cooked in the center, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to platter. Spoon remaining parsley sauce over. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Spaghetti with Bay Scallops and Parsley

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 cup bay scallops or sea scallops quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta water.

Put a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and pancetta and cook until the pancetta is rendered and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season scallops with a little salt and add the scallops to the pan. Cook until slightly golden, about 1 minute, turning constantly. Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and give the pan a shake.

Transfer the cooked pasta directly into the saute pan with the scallops, Add the 1/2 cup pasta water to the pan to create a sauce consistency and reduce the heat. Stir in the parsley, remaining olive oil and butter. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and serve immediately

Roasted Brisket with Parsley

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4 pound) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put parsley, thyme, vinegar, pepper flakes, garlic, onion, salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse to make a thick paste; set aside.

Season brisket all over with salt and pepper and arrange on a rack in a roasting pan; roast for 2 hours.

Remove brisket from the oven; reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Carefully add broth to the pan, spread the parsley paste over the brisket, cover the pan with foil and continue roasting and basting every 45 minutes or so, until very tender, about 3 hours more.

Transfer brisket to a platter; set aside to let rest for 10 minutes. Skim off and discard any fat from liquid in the pan. Thinly slice brisket against the grain and spoon pan sauce over the top.


When the weather is warm, the last thing you feel like doing is heating up the oven or spending an hour at the stove to cook dinner. Believe it or not, pasta can actually be the perfect entree for hot-weather nights—just skip the creamy sauces and heavy toppings. Instead, toss your favorite noodles together with seasonal veggies, olive oil and a bit of grilled or sauteed meat.

If you think all carbs are created equal, think again. The truth is, pasta is and has long been a healthy carbohydrate and a central component of the Mediterranean diet, considered one of the best lifestyle diets for maintaining a healthy weight.

How did pasta get such a bad rap? The primary reason is a simple misconception — that pasta is akin to bread made from white flour. In fact, Italian pasta is made from durum, a wholly different species from bread wheat, in that, it contains a third fewer chromosomes. Durum is an older species and a hybrid of wild grasses while modern bread wheat is processed grain.

The second reason why pasta gets criticized is what we tend to do to it: over-process it and top it with too much salt and fat. This is what has turned inherently healthy pasta into something far less desirable.

Why is pasta healthy ? It has a low glycemic index (GI) — a modern concept of how fast glucose, a sugar from carbohydrates, is absorbed into the bloodstream. The GI runs from zero to 100 and foods with a higher index number tend to spike the blood with sugar. This taxes the organs — in particular the pancreas, and can lead to diabetes and obesity.

Pasta is remarkably low on the glycemic index. Pasta is anywhere from 25 to 45, depending on the type. That’s in the range of many fruits and (non-starchy) vegetables. Compare this with two staples of the American diet: white bread, with a GI of about 75; and potatoes (not sweet), with a GI of about 80. (Mashed potatoes come in at 90.) Did you have corn flakes for breakfast? They have a GI of 80, as do many breakfast cereals.

What gives Italian pasta its low GI ranking is semolina flour. Semolina is comprised of large, crystal-like yellow particles and its naturally strong gluten content prevents starch from leaching out quickly. This in turn leads to slower digestion, slower release of sugar into the blood and a greater feeling of satiation.

Researchers in the United States found that eating salad with pasta combined to produce a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Those results were published in February, 2012 in the journal, Appetite and in the journal, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, from January, 2013, where researchers in India suggested that bringing more pasta into their country, supplemented with iron and other nutrients, could combat nutritional diseases and undernourishment.

The following recipes will fill you up without weighing you down or making you sluggish. Don’t forget the salad!

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Canned clams make this recipe a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1-pound) package Italian brand Linguine
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 (6.5-ounce) cans chopped clams, drained and reserve the liquid
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook linguine al dente. Drain.

In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic and saute‚ until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add clam juice, wine, salt and pepper.

Bring to a low boil and simmer until liquids are slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the clams and fresh chopped parsley. Stir.

Add the hot cooked pasta to the clam sauce in the saucepan and saute together on medium-heat for two minutes. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomato Sauce

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  • 1 whole star anise pod
  • 1 whole clove
  • 4 cups yellow cherry tomatoes (if they are available, otherwise regular cherry tomatoes are fine)
  • 2 teaspoons Sherry
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces Italian brand spaghetti

Directions:

Cut tomatoes in half. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft but not brown, 6–8 minutes. Add garlic, basil, thyme and tarragon sprigs, star anise, and clove, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and Sherry. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes release their juices and a sauce forms, 10–15 minutes. Discard thyme, tarragon and basil sprigs, star anise, and clove. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to the sauce in skillet. Cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Pasta, Red Beans and Broccoli Toss

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces dried Italian brand medium shell pasta
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1-15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained, reserving 1/4 cup of liquid
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup snipped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package instructions, adding broccoli the last 3 minutes; drain.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium; cook about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

Increase heat to high; add pasta, broccoli, beans, chicken broth, reserved bean liquid and crushed red pepper to the pan. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cheese and parsley. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Serve in individual pasta bowls.

Spaghetti With Quick Meat Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces Italian brand spaghetti (3/4 of a box)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 26-ounce container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add the beef, salt and pepper and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce slightly thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, stir well and heat for a few minutes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Italian Pasta with Tuna

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces dried Italian brand orecchiette or other short pasta
  • 15 ounces cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 7 ounces canned tuna, in olive oil, large chunks broken up
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orecchiette according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

In a medium skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir in the garlic and beans. Saute for a minute. Add the scallions, sage, capers, lemon juice and tuna. Stir gently and add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Taste for seasoning and adding salt and pepper, if necessary. Pour into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Mix and garnish with sage leaves before serving. This dish is also tasty at room temperature.



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