Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: November 2014

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The Isole Tremiti are an archipelago in the Adriatic Sea, north of the Gargano Peninsula. They form part of the Gargano National Park. The name of the islands relates to their seismic danger with a history of earthquakes in the area: tremiti means “tremors”. Thousands of years of history can be found in this small archipelago and it is preserved in a large open-air museum.

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The Islands:

San Domino is the most developed island and has the only sand beach in the archipelago.
San Nicola is where most of the population resides. It is the site of a monastery where a monk named Nicolò was buried. Legend has it that every time someone tried to move his corpse off the island, a violent storm would break out, preventing navigation around the island.
Capraia is deserted.
Cretaccio is a large block of clay and uninhabited.
Pianosa is a small, uninhabited island. Sometimes, during storms, the waves cover it.

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The Archipelago Sea is characterized by crystal-clear waters that allow light to penetrate to great depths. Another interesting aspect is the presence of numerous underwater caves, which were created by the erosion of the limestone. The different configurations of the three islands and coasts are reflected in the type of seabed around them. The south-eastern slopes of San Domino and Caprara have a rocky bottom which extends to a depth of no more than 10-15 m. Near the island of St. Nicholas, the rocky bottom is made ​​up of collapsed stones. While Caprara’s coastline, has a rocky bottom that does not exceed 30 meters. The north-west coast is characterized by high, steep cliffs.

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The islands were used for the internment of political prisoners during Benito Mussolini’s Fascist regime. The islands have been a confinement place since ancient times. Emperor Augustus had his granddaughter, Julia the Younger, exiled to one of these islands, then named Trimerus, where she died after 20 years.

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In the Middle Ages the archipelago was ruled by the Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare (“Holy Mary on the Sea”) at San Nicola island, apparently founded in the 9th century by Benedictine monks from Montecassino. In 1334 the abbey was destroyed by Dalmatian pirates from Omiš. In 1412 the Lateran Canons took ownership of the islands and restored the abbey with cisterns and fortifications that were able to withstand the assault of Ottoman ships in 1567. The abbey was taken over in 1783 by King Ferdinand IV of Naples, who set up a penal colony. During the Napoleonic age, the islands were a stronghold of Joachim Murat’s supporters, who resisted a British fleet in 1809. In 1843, to repopulate the islands, King Ferdinand II of Two Sicilies moved a number of people from the Naples’ slums to the islands and most became fishermen. In 1911, about 1,300 Libyans, who had resisted Italian colonial rule, were confined to Tremiti. After a year, around one-third of them had died, mainly from typhus.

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The economy of the Tremiti Islands is mainly based on fishing, agriculture and tourism. The islands are now an important tourist attraction because of the clear waters surrounding them. Up to 100,000 visitors come to the islands in the summer season, as such, there is an increasing demand for hotels, apartments, resorts and campgrounds. Ferry services from the mainland operate from Termoli, Foggia, Vieste, Rodi Garganico and Capoiale.

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Original Recipes From The Region.

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Friselle with Tomatoes

The Friselle are typical of the region. They consist of bagel type bread made with durum wheat flour.  That are cut in half horizontally (when half-cooked) and baked again until crispy.

Ingredients

  • 4 friselle
  • Half pound of cherry tomatoes
  • Few leaves of basil
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lettuce, optional

Directions

Cut the tomatoes into small pieces and place them in a serving bowl.

Add chopped garlic, chopped basil, a bit of oregano and olive oil.

Wet the friselle with a small amount of water and place them on a large plate

Cover the friselle with the tomato mixture. Serve with lettuce, if desired.

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Seafood Spaghetti

The region has a long coastline and a very active fish business with various types of seafood that can be found easily in local fish markets.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz spaghetti
  • 1 ¼ lbs mixed seafood (mussels, clams, etc.)
  • 5-6 oz prawns (or large shrimp)
  • 1/4 lb of eels
  • 4 sea dates (unique to the region but similar to mussels)
  • Parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup tomato pulp
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Scrub the shellfish. Heat them in a frying pan over medium heat until they open.

Get rid of those that do not open.

Shell the prawns; debone and cut the eel into pieces.

Scrub the sea dates.

Cook one clove of garlic with some oil, add the clams, shrimp, dates and the pieces of eel and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped parsley. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and pour the spaghetti into the pan with the sauce. Sautè for a couple of minutes and serve hot.

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Broccoli with Black Olives

Broccoli is an essential part of the region’s cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs broccoli
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz pitted black olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Salt

Directions

Cut the broccoli into small pieces.

Steam them for 4 minutes and put them into a saucepan.

Add the olive oil, olives, wine and chilli. Add salt to taste and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Add the grated pecorino cheese and stir for another two minutes. Serve.

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Emilian roll

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless pork or veal loin
  • 4 oz Mortadella, sliced thin
  • 1 lb spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons grated Grana Padano cheese
  • A little dry white wine
  • A little broth
  • Oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Directions

Cook the spinach, squeeze dry and saute in a pan with 2 oz of butter and a little salt.

Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper, add the cheese, then add the spinach.

Pour the mixture into a greased skillet and make an omelet.

Pound the meat between pieces of plastic wrap. Place the slices of mortadella on the meat and then the omelet, cut to fit.

Roll the meat up jelly roll style and tie closed with kitchen twine.

Heat the remaining butter and a little oil in an ovenproof pan, brown the meat roll, sprinkle with wine and let it evaporate. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Pour a little broth every now and then over the meat to keep the bottom of the pan moist.

Serve sliced after removing the twine.


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“Root vegetable” is a relatively generic description of vegetables, including starchy ones, that grow underground. To make matters more confusing, root vegetables aren’t always roots. Some are actually bulbs instead, like onions, garlic and shallots. Many people may differentiate onions and garlic as more of a spice than a vegetable, but they really should be grouped in the “root vegetable” category.

Potatoes are usually labeled as tubers and, again, most people think of them as more of a starch than a vegetable. Despite that, they are part of this category. Plenty of other vegetables fall into this group, as well, and include these well known vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and leeks to name just a few.

However, here are a few that you may not know much about. These vegetables are in season in the fall.

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Celeriac, also known as celery root, has a delicate celery taste. You can grate it, saute it, use it in soups or eat it raw in a salad. It is filled with fiber, vitamin B, vitamin C and vitamin K.

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Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) are neither an artichoke, nor are they from Jerusalem. They are the tubers of sunflowers and probably derive their name from the Italian for sunflower, girasol. They have a crisp, nutty flavor, especially when sautéed. They can be roasted, pickled and they are excellent in soups. They also make a great substitution for potatoes.

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Parsnips resemble white carrots and are naturally sweet. They can be used in soups and stews and are particularly delicious roasted. Parsnips have more vitamins than their carrot cousin and they have lots of potassium.

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The rutabaga was originally a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. You can roast them, mash them or add them to soups.They contain a good portion of your daily vitamin C requirement.

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Turnips are part of the mustard family, as are horseradish, radishes and rutabagas. They can be roasted, mashed or used in stews and soups.

So what can you make with these vegetables?

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Roasted Root Vegetables with Rosemary

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes or baking potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Position 1 rack in the bottom third of the oven and 1 rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F.

Spray 2 heavy large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic and parsley in very large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Divide vegetable mixture between the prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reverse positions of baking sheets. Add 5 garlic cloves to each baking sheet.

Continue to roast until all the vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 45 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Rewarm in 450°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)

Transfer roasted vegetables to large serving bowl and garnish with chopped parsley.

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Sautéed Jerusalem Artichokes

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) scrubbed, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely torn fresh sage leaves, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with the olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add Jerusalem artichokes and half of the sage. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown and just beginning to soften, turning frequently, about 10 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer Jerusalem artichokes to a shallow serving bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sage to the skillet; cook until sage darkens and begins to crisp, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice; simmer 1 minute. Pour lemon-sage butter over Jerusalem artichokes in the serving bowl, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.

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Rutabagas and Ginger Roasted Pears

8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or pure maple syrup
  • 4 firm Anjou pears (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Coarse kosher salt, black pepper and nutmeg

Directions

Cook rutabagas in a pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Combine oil, lemon juice, ginger and sugar in large bowl. Add pears; toss to coat. Spread on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until tender, turning pears every 10 minutes, for about 30 minutes total.

Drain rutabagas; return to the same pot. Mash into a coarse puree. Stir over medium heat until excess moisture evaporates, 5 minutes. Add cream, butter and thyme. Mix in pears and any juices from the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and grate nutmeg over the top.

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Honey Glazed Turnips

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs small to medium (no more than 2-inches) turnips
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons water or chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Peel turnips, then halve horizontally and quarter halves. Arrange turnips in one layer in a 12-inch heavy skillet and add water or broth. Add butter, honey and salt and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, covered, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook stirring, until tender and liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes more.

Reduce heat and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Add 3 tablespoons water or broth and stir to coat turnips with the glaze. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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Celery Root Salad With Shrimp

6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 celery root (or celeriac), about 1 lb
  • 1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 3 oz baby arugula leaves (3 cups packed)
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lbs large peeled/deveined shrimp

Directions

Trim the rough skin from the celery root and peel.  Cut the celery root into very thin slices; stack slices and cut into thin lengthwise strips 1/8-inch-wide (about 2 cups).

Combine the sliced celery root, beans, arugula, balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium serving bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat and add garlic and shrimp; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook and stir 2-4 minutes or just until the shrimp begin to turn pink.

Add shrimp (and pan juices) to the salad; toss to blend and serve.


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These cooler days are a great time to cook with winter squash. Sweeter, denser and more firm in texture than summer squash or zucchini, winter squashes take well to a wide variety of recipes and can be delicious in soups, casseroles, risotto, lasagna and even desserts.

Winter squash are harvested in the fall and these hardy vegetables will keep well through the cold winter months for which they’re named. Sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti and butternut squash are probably the most common types to find at your local supermarket. The other varieties are worth seeking out at farmers’ markets and specialty markets. Regardless of the type, select winter squash that are blemish and bruise free with an intact stem and a heavy feeling for their size.

Naturally low in fat and calories, winter squash provide significant nutritional benefits. For example, one cup of baked butternut squash contains vitamins A (from beta carotene), B6, C and E, as well as magnesium, potassium and manganese. Flavors are generally mild-to-sweet, so squash won’t overwhelm other ingredients and can easily be incorporated into seasonal recipes. The orange and yellow flesh helps brighten dishes, especially in the colder months, when variety and color can be hard to come by in seasonal produce. Don’t be discouraged by winter squash’s size and tough exterior and you can sometimes find popular varieties, like butternut, in stores already peeled and cubed. See my earlier post on tips for cutting up winter squash.

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See chart above for photos of each of the following winter squashes.

1. Kabocha Squash
Characteristics: The squat, green kabocha—the Japanese word for squash—has a nutty, earthy flavor with just a touch of sweetness. It’s similar in shape and size to a buttercup squash, but the base points out and not in.

2. Butternut Squash
Characteristics: A slim neck and bulbous bottom give the butternut squash its distinctive bell shape. The muted yellow-tan rind hides bright orange-yellow flesh with a slightly sweet taste. To make butternut squash easier to handle, cut the neck from the body and work with each section separately.

3. Red Kabocha Squash
Characteristics: The red kabocha is squat, like its green counterpart, and has faint white stripes running from top to bottom. While the green kabocha is savory, the red kabocha is sweeter.

4. Carnival Squash
Characteristics: Combine an acorn squash with a sweet dumpling squash and you get a carnival squash. While the carnival squash’s exterior resembles both of its relatives, its yellow flesh is mellow and sweet. Use it wherever acorn squash or butternut squash is called for in a recipe.

5. Sugar Pumpkin
Characteristics: Sugar pumpkins are prized for their classic pumpkin flavor, as well as for their thick and fleshy walls. If you’d like to opt out of canned pumpkin for your baking and make your own purée instead, use a sugar pumpkin.

6. Sweet Dumpling Squash
Characteristics: This whitish-yellow and green squash is small and compact, making the whole squash the perfect-size for an individual serving. The flesh tastes very much like a sweet potato and the skin is edible is as well. Use sweet dumpling squash in recipes calling for sweet potato or pumpkin.

7. Spaghetti Squash
Characteristics: Take a fork to the inside of a cooked spaghetti squash and you’ll understand how this squash got its name. If you’re in search of a healthy pasta alternative, try this very mild-tasting squash.

8. Blue Hubbard Squash
Characteristics: Most blue Hubbard squash are huge and bumpy and are often sold as pre-cut wedges. Some varieties, like the Blue Ballet, are smaller, making it easier to store and prepare at home. Underneath the gray-blue skin is sweet-tasting orange flesh.

9. Delicata Squash
Characteristics: This particular winter squash, with its pale yellow shading, most closely resembles its summer squash relatives. The thin skin is edible, but also more susceptible to bruises and rot. When cooked, the delicata has a consistency similar to that of a sweet potato—creamy and soft—although the flavoring is more earthy.

10. Red Kuri Squash
Characteristics: Like all Hubbards, the red kuri has an asymmetrical, lopsided look to it. However, the red kuri is smaller and easier to handle. Its yellow flesh is smooth and has a chestnut like flavor.

11. Buttercup Squash
Characteristics: Compact and green with paler green stripes, the buttercup can closely resemble a kabocha squash but it has a distinctive circular ridge on the bottom. On some, the ridge may surround a more pronounced bump, or “turban.” A freshly cut buttercup may smell like a cucumber, but once cooked, its orange flesh becomes dense.

12. Acorn Squash
Characteristics: This mild flavored squash is named for its acorn like shape. Choose one with a dull green rind; an acorn squash that’s turned orange will have tough and fibrous flesh.

(Adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

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Squash and Fish Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cod or white fish available in your area, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 leeks, white and pale green parts only, chopped in 1/2-inch sections
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
  • 4 potatoes, chopped in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound winter squash, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4-5 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Place a large pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and sauté leeks until they brown slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until they begin to take on a slight tan color, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add potatoes, carrot, squash and cod pieces. Immediately, pour in enough broth to cover and add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Bring soup to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes or until potatoes and squash are tender. Stir once or twice. Add salt and pepper, if needed.

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Mediterranean Squash with Lemon Sauce

This dish goes very well with baked chicken.

ingredients

  • 1 small kabocha squash or large acorn squash (1 pound), scrubbed,
  • 1 1-pound delicata squash, scrubbed, cut into 1″-thick wedges or rings, seeded
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Arrange two racks in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425°F.

Place kabocha on one rimmed baking sheet and delicata on a second sheet. Drizzle 3 tablespoons oil over the squash on both baking sheets and sprinkle each pan with a 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano. Season squash with salt and pepper; toss. Roast for 15 minutes.

Combine 1 tablespoon oil and the scallions in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Scatter scallion mixture over the squash, dividing evenly between the two baking sheets, and continue to roast until squash is tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes longer (time may vary depending on squash).

Whisk lemon juice, tahini and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer squash to a serving platter. Drizzle sauce over the squash and sprinkle with Aleppo pepper.

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Sweet Squash Turnovers

Makes 24

Ingredients

Squash Filling

  • 4 lb squash, sugar pumpkin or any winter squash of choice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

Pastry Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze

  • Egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • Cinnamon-sugar mixture (1 teaspoon ground cinnamon mixed with 1/4 cup sugar)

Directions

To make the filling:

Rinse off the exterior of the squash. Using a serrated knife cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Scrape out the stringy layer (pulp) with a spoon. Discard seeds and pulp and cut into 4 inch slices leaving the skin on.

In a steamer or large pot, steam the squash over the 2 cups of water, making sure to keep the lid on tight, for 20 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Cool. Once cooled, scrape the flesh off the skins and into a mixing bowl. Discard the skins. Mash with a potato masher and strain the liquid in a colander into a bowl. Reserve the liquid and set squash puree aside.

In the same large pot, put the reserved liquid from the squash (you will have about about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) and the add cinnamon sticks and cloves. Bring liquid to a boil and then remove the pan from the heat. Replace the lid and let steep for 30 minutes.

Remove cinnamon and cloves and add the squash puree to the liquid. Add the brown sugar and over medium-low heat let it melt into the squash puree, stirring occasionally, so it will not burn or stick to the pot. Once the sugar has melted, lower the heat to low and let simmer uncovered until all the water evaporates. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down before refrigerating, about 15 minutes. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

To make the pastry dough:

Mix the first 3 dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening and add the eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon. Combine until you have a soft dough. Cut the dough in half, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the turnovers:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place oven racks in the middle and upper third of the oven.

Take out half the dough and divide it into 12 equal balls of dough. Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator until you are finished with the first half.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough balls into small round circles, about 4-5 inches. Place a tablespoon of filling on one half of each of the dough circles. Wet the bottom edges of the circles with water to help seal the two halves. Fold over the dough to cover the filling and seal the edges with a fork by pressing down along the edges. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Brush each turnover with egg white mixture, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Puncture the top of each turnover with a fork.

Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray, place turnovers on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes on the middle rack in the oven. After 15 minutes move the cookie sheet to the top rack and continue to bake for the last 5 minutes, until golden brown. Follow the same procedure for the remaining turnovers.

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Squash and Hazelnut Lasagna

For the squash filling

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 lb butternut squash or squash of choice, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (4 oz), toasted , loose skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel and chopped

For the sauce

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

For assembling the lasagna

  • 1/2 lb mozzarella, coarsely grated (2 cups)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 oz)
  • 12 lasagna noodles, partially cooked

Directions

To make the filling:

Cook onion in butter in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add squash, garlic, salt and white pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in parsley, sage and nuts. Cool filling.

To make the sauce:

Cook garlic in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook mixture, whisking, for 3 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream, whisking. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Whisk in salt and white pepper and remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. (Cover surface of the sauce with wax paper, if not using immediately.)

To assemble the lasagna:

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water, about 6 minutes. Drain and place on kitchen towels, so they do not stick together.

Mix cheeses together. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in a buttered 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish (or other shallow 3-quart baking dish) and cover the sauce with 3 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between the sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and one-third of the filling, then sprinkle with a 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times, beginning with pasta sheets and ending with cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce and remaining cheese.

Tightly cover baking dish with buttered heavy-duty foil and bake the lasagna in the middle of the for oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagna stand 20 minutes before serving.

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Kabocha Squash Mini-Cakes

Cakes:

  • 2 cups 3/4-inch cubes peeled seeded kabocha squash (from one 3-pound squash)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored beer
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 2 cups vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

Directions:

Combine squash and milk in a heavy small saucepan. Scrape in seeds from the vanilla bean; add the bean pod. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove vanilla bean pod. Drain squash. Place in a processor and blend until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray six 3/4 cup ramekins with nonstick spray. Place 1/2 cup squash puree in large bowl (reserve remaining puree for another baking use). Add sugar, oil, beer and egg to puree and beat to blend. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt over; beat to blend. Divide batter among prepared ramekins.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Cool cakes in ramekins. Turn out onto serving plates.

Topping: Combine yogurt and brown sugar. Serve with the mini-cakes.

 


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Romano beans are a form of flat snap bean which originated in Italy. Specialty grocers and farmers’ markets sometimes carry them and they can also be grown at home, assuming you live in an area with a Mediterranean climate. They are usually available in late summer and fall. They are also readily available frozen in most markets.

Like other snap beans, Romano beans are supposed to be eaten whole. They are considered ripe when they make a crisp “snap” if they are broken in half, and they have a very mild flavor and a tender texture. These beans are often braised with other vegetables and eaten as a side dish. They can also be added to soups, stews, stir fries and an assortment of other dishes. These beans can also be pickled.

You may also hear these legumes referred to as Italian flat beans or Italian snap beans, but don’t confuse them with fava beans, which are sometimes labeled as “Italian broad beans.” These snap beans are flattened, rather than rounded, as one might expect. To use Romano beans, snap or trim off the ends and rinse the pods to remove any dirt from the field. These beans can be lightly cooked to retain their crunchy texture or cooked until they are extremely tender. However, overcooking will cause the beans to turn into a tasteless mush, so  take care when preparing them in braised and other long-cooked dishes.

In addition to being available in classic green, Romanos also come in yellow and purple, for cooks who like to play around with different colors in their cooking. When selecting Romano beans in the market, look for crisp specimens with even coloration and no soft spots or signs of mold. Limp, listless beans should be avoided and the beans should be stored in paper bags and used within a few days for best results.

How to Steam

Step 1
Rinse Romano beans under running water to wash away any debris. Drain the beans in a colander.

Step 2
Set a steamer basket in a large cooking pot with 1 inch of water in the bottom. Turn the heat to high, and bring the water to a boil.

Step 3
Chop the stem and tips of the beans off with a sharp paring knife while the water is heating. Cut the beans into 1- to 1 1/2-inch sections. For an attractive visual effect, hold the knife at a 45-degree angle to the beans, to cut sections on the diagonal.

Step 4
Place the bean pieces in the steamer basket. Set the lid on the pot, and cook for three to four minutes.

Step 5
Remove the lid, and test the beans tenderness with the tip of a sharp knife. If the beans are not yet soft, use a spoon to rotate the pieces at the top of the steamer basket to the bottom, nearer the water. Cover with the lid, and cook for another two to three minutes.

Step 6
Drain the beans in a colander and serve immediately, seasoned with salt or salt substitute and fresh-ground black pepper to taste.

How to Boil

Step 1
Fill a large pot half full of water, add 1 to 2 tsp. salt, and cover the pot with a lid. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil over high heat.

Step 2
Add washed Romano beans that have been cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces to the pot of boiling water.

Step 3
Boil bean pieces until tender. Remove the bean pieces from the pot with a slotted spoon, and serve promptly.

How to Braise

Step 1
Cook onions, celery, carrots or any other garnish or vegetable you prefer, in olive oil over medium heat until golden.

Step 2
Add additional flavorings such as tomatoes or minced garlic, then add cut Romano beans. Add seasonings of your choice to taste.

Step 3
Simmer over medium-low heat for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft and most of the moisture has evaporated. Cool your braised Romano beans for five to 10 minutes before serving.

Tips

  • If you are using the steamed beans in a cold salad recipe, place the drained beans in a large bowl filled with cold water and ice. Allow the beans to cool completely before draining in a colander.
  • If you have both small and large beans to cook, separate them into two batches for cooking because the thicker ones take longer to become tender.
  • Add cooked garbanzo beans or potatoes to braised Romano beans to make a hearty entrée.

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Sautéed Romano Beans

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Romano beans
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

Rinse the beans under cold running water. Drain, leaving any water clinging to the beans. Trim the ends and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté over medium heat about 1 minute. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for 30 to 45 seconds, until tender and fragrant but not browned. Remove the sautéed shallots and garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon, pressing any excess oil back into the skillet. Set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the beans, oregano leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently until the beans are browned in spots and tender but retain some crispness, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the sautéed shallots and garlic. Cook just until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Remove the pan from heat and let the beans cool slightly. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and allow contents to cool to room temperature. Remove the salad from the pan to a serving platter.

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Braised Romano Beans

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup canned crushed Italian tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds romano beans (flat green beans), ends trimmed

Directions

Heat oil in a deep skillet or a shallow three-quart saucepan. Add celery, carrot and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables barely begin to brown, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, a few minutes. Stir in tomato paste and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until mixture is well combined, about 5 minutes.

Add beans, setting them in pan all in one direction. Add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer. Baste beans, season with salt, reduce heat to low. Cook gently, partly covered, turning beans in sauce from time to time, until beans are very tender, about 40 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 servings.

Three-bean-pasta-e-fagioli

Romano Bean Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup  water
  • 1 can (28 oz)  diced plum tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 cup small pasta, cooked
  • 16 oz frozen romano beans, partially defrosted
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, garlic, celery and carrots, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in stock, water, oregano and tomatoes bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.  Add pasta, chickpeas, romano beans, salt and pepper to the soup and cook until the beans are heated.

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

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Braised Chicken With Romano Beans

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 lb romano beans (You can also use frozen)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olive, sliced in quarters
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat olive oil in a pan that has a cover. Trim the chicken thighs of extra fat, cut in half if possible, and season with salt and pepper.

Lightly dust the chicken with flour and fry over medium high heat until well browned, but not too much. Any burning is very apparent in the dish, so keep it brown, not black. Turn and finish browning.

Deglaze pan with the wine until most of the liquid is gone.

Trim Romano beans and cut on the diagonal into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Toss into pan and stir to get the cooking going. After a couple of minutes, toss in the peeled and crushed garlic. Stir another 2 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the tomatoes and juices to the pan along with the rosemary, garlic, and additional salt and pepper as desired.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Cover the pan, but leave the lid slightly ajar. Allow to cook on low heat (keep a simmer going) for 20 minutes.

Add the olives and cook an additional five minutes.

539w

Italian Green Bean and Meatball Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
  • 1 bunch parsley, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cans (28 ounces each) Italian peeled tomatoes, crushed 
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 pounds small red potatoes, skin on, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 pounds Italian green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the meat with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and eggs. With clean hands, work the mixture well. Shape it into 1 inch meatballs and place on  greased baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes or until brown and cooked through.

In a soup pot, heat the oil and cook the onion, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir well. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add salt and red pepper. Add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.

Add the green beans and the meatballs. With the back of a ladle, gently press the meatballs into the liquid so they’re just submerged. Try not to break the potatoes or meatballs. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Serve with shaved parmesan cheese over the top.



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