Summer is a wonderful time to entertain and enjoy the outdoors with your friends. Serving appetizers and drinks are a great way to entertain when it is hot. You want easy to prepare recipes so you are not in the kitchen for hours and you want to use simple, common ingredients that you usually have in your pantry or refrigerator. Below are a few of my easy to make suggestions.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the bread
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 large tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped oil cured Italian olives
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 baguette, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl; except the bread slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Lightly grill the bread slices and then brush them with olive oil. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the tomato mixture onto each bread slice and arrange on a serving plate.
Oven Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash Rounds
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Homemade Marinara Sauce, (see recipe here)
- 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
- 2 medium yellow squash, ends and neck trimmed
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups dried Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
Cut the squash into ¼ inch thick slices.
In a plastic bag, combine the flour, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs and milk together.
In another shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese.
Place the squash slices in the bag with the flour and shake until they are coated.
Next, place each slice in the egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture.
Place the squash rounds on the prepared baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy.
Serve with warm marinara sauce.
- 4-ounces of cream cheese, quartered
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 packed teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped pitted black and green Italian olives
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- Sea salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Toasted crostini, pita chips or crackers for serving
Place the cheese quarters in a medium container. Sprinkle the thyme, lemon zest, olives and sun-dried tomatoes over and around the cheese. Sprinkle the cheese with a little sea salt.
Pour the olive oil over the mixture. Squash the mixture with a fork and cover the container. Let the cheese marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Bring the cheese mixture to room temperature about 45 minutes before serving. Put the marinated cheese mixture into a serving dish.
Arrange crostini, pita or crackers around the dish with a couple of small knives for serving.
Serve with fresh celery, radishes, carrots and thin, crispy crackers.
Makes 8 servings.
- 8-ounces canned tuna
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, washed and drained
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Place the tuna in a food processor and pulse to break it up.
Turn the speed to low speed and add the olive oil mixture, a little at a time, until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth.
Pour into a small serving bowl and chill. Serve with fresh-cut vegetables and crackers on the side.
Don’t let your herbs go wild in the garden or get moldy in the refrigerator. There are lots of way to incorporate them into your recipes.
A general guideline for using fresh herbs in a recipe is to use 3 times as much as you would use dried herbs.
Wash herbs when you are ready to use them. Shake off moisture or spin dry in a salad spinner. Pat off any remaining moisture with clean paper towels.
For most recipes, unless otherwise directed, mince herbs into tiny pieces. Chop with a chef’s knife on a cutting board or snip with a kitchen scissors.
Unlike dried herbs, fresh herbs are usually added toward the end in cooked dishes to preserve their flavor.
Fresh herbs can be stored in an open or a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator for a few days.
After washing, you can mince the herbs and place them halfway up in the sections of an ice-cube tray. Cover herbs with cold water and freeze until solid.
Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag. Drop them into soups, stews and sauces as needed.
Some Other Ways To Use Herbs
If you love a big, green salad, add fresh herbs to the mix.
Add a big handful of fresh herbs to a basic mixture of equal parts sugar and water, bring to a boil, stir and then remove from the heat. Once completely cooled, strain out the herbs (discard) and use the simple syrup to sweeten iced coffee or tea and cocktails.
Fresh herbs are a perfect in salad dressings and vinaigrettes. They round out the fatty and sharp flavors from the oil and vinegar.
Combine finely chopped herbs and room-temperature butter to make a spread that compliments bread or cooked meat or vegetables.
Summer Squash Chowder
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 medium zucchini and 2 medium patty pan squash, diced
- 1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 8 cups Summer Vegetable Stock (corn cob stock) (recipe here)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- Sour cream for garnish
Heat the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot; add the garlic, celery and onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the squash and lightly salt the vegetables. Saute for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the stock and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and partially cover and cook for 25 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand immersion blender until smooth.
Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in lemon juice, corn and herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve in individual soup bowls topped with a tablespoon of sour cream.
Creamy Herb Dip
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
This makes a great party dip with lots of fresh summer vegetables and pita chips.
It is best to process all the ingredients in the food processor with the exception of the yogurt, for the best consistency.
Use either whole or low-fat Greek yogurt and mayonnaise (but don’t use nonfat).
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 medium shallot, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper to taste
Process mayonnaise, shallot, chives, basil and lemon juice in food processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and stir in yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover dip and refrigerate until thickened, at least 1 hour. (Dip can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 days.
Spaghetti with Clam and Herb Sauce
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 (6 1/2-ounce) cans chopped clams in broth
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino (hot red-pepper flakes)
- 1/2 cup of white wine
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente. (or use the quick skillet method – see recipe here). Drain pasta and set aside.
Drain the clams over a large measuring cup. Set the clams aside. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of clam broth.
Heat oil in the same pan that the pasta was cooked in over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallots, herbs, hot pepper and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring as needed, until the shallots have softened.
Add wine and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the clam broth and bring to a boil. Add the cooked spaghetti, turn the heat down and let the spaghetti simmer for two minutes.
Add the drained clams and let the mixture heat for a minute or two. Serve in pasta bowls with plenty of crusty Italian bread.
Pan-Fried Herbed Pork Cutlets
- 1/4 cup finely minced herbs (any combination of thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, sage, chives, parsley)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 pork cutlets (about 1/4 inch thick and each weighing about 4 oz)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Lemon wedges
Combine the herbs, fennel and salt in a shallow dish. Place the flour in a second shallow dish. Pat chops dry with paper towels.
Trim the cutlets of fat and pound them lightly with a meat mallet to make them uniform in thickness. Press the herbs on both sides of the cutlets and then dredge the cutlets in the flour (do not discard flour).
Transfer to a plate and let rest 10 minutes. Dredge cutlets in the flour a second time just before cooking.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the pork cutlets until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 heads tender lettuce (such as Boston or Bibb), torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup torn or chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, sage and chives
- 2 teaspoons finely minced shallots
- Sliced red and white radishes
- 1 cup sliced toasted almonds
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and mustard; season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, shallots, radishes and herbs. Add dressing and toss to combine. Add almonds and serve.
Variation: The dressed salad can also be placed—open-face sandwich fashion—on top of grilled bread that has brushed with olive oil.
Rooting for your team is fun, but thinking about what you eat while watching the game and the commercials is just as important. According to USA Today, the Super Bowl is “only second behind Thanksgiving for the average amount of calories consumed in a day.”
Super Bowl day is prime time for forgetting about eating healthy. From high-fat dips to buffalo wings, it is an endless array of food, food, food and more food. Part of the fun, though, is to be able to snack during the game.
Revamp your old favorites by making them healthier and introducing a few new ideas into your menu. You’ll be able to root for your team without going overboard on fat, calories and salt.
Here are some ideas for doing just that:
The standard bowls of potato chips, tortilla chips and high-fat dips don’t deserve a place in your healthy lineup of snacks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy chips and dip.
- Skip creamy artichoke and spinach dips in favor of hummus, which pairs well with baked pita chips.
- Mash fresh avocados with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and lime juice for a potassium-rich guacamole that pairs well with baked tortilla chips.
- Puree low-sodium canned beans with olive oil and garlic powder for a dip rich in fiber and protein.
- Make a healthy ranch dip using low-fat sour cream and a reduced-sodium packet of ranch dip powder.
- Create a visually appealing layered dip with low-sodium mashed beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, low-fat sour cream and reduced-fat cheddar cheese.
Set out fruit and vegetable platters on your snack table. Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories but also supply potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and fiber. You will be surprised at how guests reach for these snacks.
- Arrange grapes, berries, melon, apples and oranges on a plate and serve them with flavored low-fat yogurt for dipping.
- Make colorful vegetable kebabs by threading pieces of bell pepper, mushrooms, red onion and zucchini onto skewers.
Hot dogs, sausages and fried hot wings are common additions to a Super Bowl snack buffet, but they contain too much saturated fat and salt to be nutritious.
- Replace the fried wings with baked versions instead. Brush fresh chicken wings with a low-sodium sauce and bake them until they’re cooked through. Serve them with a low-fat ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
- Replace the wings with chicken tenders as an even healthier alternative.
- Roast a turkey breast ahead of time, cut it into thick slices and serve it with whole-wheat bread and sandwich fixings.
- If you can’t pass up the hot dogs and sausages, look for reduced-fat and low-sodium varieties to keep the snack as healthy as possible.
Cut a small slit in several large jalapenos and stuff the cavities with low-fat cream cheese. Close the slit in the jalapenos using toothpicks. Dip the peppers in beaten egg and then roll them in finely crushed bread crumbs. Bake the peppers until they are golden brown for a healthier take on traditional jalapeno poppers.
Air-popped popcorn seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder, cinnamon or Parmesan cheese is a snack high in fiber.
Make sweet potato fries. Cut raw sweet potatoes into wedges or strips, drizzle them with olive oil and roast them until they are golden brown and soft. Season the fries with garlic powder and black pepper or sprinkle them with cinnamon for a sweet version.
Make a batch of chili and serve it in baked tortilla cups and low-fat cheddar cheese for a snack high in fiber and protein.
Here are some of my favorites:
Roasted Eggplant Spread
Makes 1½ Cups
- 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into quarters
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic finely grated
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Toasted sesame seed
Preheat the oven to 475°F.
Place eggplant on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly charred and very tender, 20–25 minutes; let cool slightly. Chop eggplant (skin and all) until almost a paste.
Mix eggplant in a medium bowl with garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, tahini, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Top with sesame seeds and serve with pita bread or baked pita chips.
Easy Red Pepper Hummus
Serve with pita chips.
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
- One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
- 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained
With the processor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and mince. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, salt and lemon juice; process until mixture is smooth.
Add roasted peppers and process until peppers are finely chopped. Transfer hummus to serving bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead.) Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.
For homemade pita chips:
Cut 8 whole-wheat pita breads into triangles. Place pita triangles on large baking sheets and spray the surface with olive oil cooking spray. Season each with garlic salt. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in a 400 degree F oven, until golden brown and crisp.
Serve with baked tortilla chips
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 cup frozen corn, defrosted
- 1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Put all ingredients into a serving bowl, toss well. Chill in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving..
Baked Tortilla Chips
- 12 corn tortillas
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges.
Arrange the wedges in a single layer on non-stick baking sheets. Lightly spray the chips with oil and sprinkle with chili powder, salt and pepper.
Bake the chips until lightly browned and crisp, 15 minutes. Make sure not to let them burn. Cool and store in an airtight container.
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless New York Strip Steak (or steak of choice)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 large plum tomatoes (1/2 cup), seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
- 2 teaspoons crumbled blue cheese
- 18 baguette slices (3/4 of a large French baguette)
Season steaks with salt and pepper.
Grill steaks, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350°F to 400°F) about 8 to 10 minutes on each side.
Place steak on the rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 5 inches from heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side.
Let cool and thinly slice.
Combine basil, rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor. Scrap into a medium bowl. Stir in fresh tomatoes, onion and blue cheese.
Arrange baguette slices on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with steak; spoon tomato mixture evenly over the bread slices.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the bread is lightly toasted.
Fennel and Prosciutto Flatbread
- 1 pound pizza dough
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Italian fontina cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove pizza dough from the refrigerator and let stand covered, at room temperature, 30 minutes or until ready to use.
Trim and discard the root ends of the fennel bulbs. Trim the stalks from the bulbs and chop fronds to equal 2 teaspoons.
Thinly slice fennel bulbs lengthwise and place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme and oregano.
Bake at for 35 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Cook prosciutto in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until browned and crisp. Break prosciutto into large pieces.
Turn the pizza dough out on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 17 x 13 inch rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick).
Place the dough rectangle on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) baking sheet. Brush the dough with the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven. Turn on the broiler.
Top the baked crust with fontina cheese, fennel slices and prosciutto. Broil 1 minute. Sprinkle with dried crushed red pepper, reserved chopped fennel fronds and the coarse sea salt.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Cut into small squares and serve.
Mediterranean Chicken Kabobs
- Small (6 inch) flat metal or bamboo skewers
- 1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 x 1 x 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Place the chicken in a large nonreactive mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons each of the mint, cilantro and parsley, salt, cumin, turmeric and pepper. Stir to mix. Stir in the oil.
Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 hour.
Thread the chicken onto skewers so that the flat side of the chicken will be exposed to the fire.
Set up a grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high. Or preheat the broiler.
When ready to cook, oil the grill grate or oil the broiler pan.
Arrange the chicken kabobs on the grill or under the broiler. Cook until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes per side.
Place the kabobs on a serving platter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon each of mint, cilantro and parsley.
Quick and easy appetizers are a must for the holiday season. You don’t need to spend a lot of time preparing appetizers for your guests in order to get some great tasting snacks to serve at a holiday get-together. Keep simple ingredients on hand that you can quickly pull together for an appetizer. Below you will find some suggestions for quick but delicious appetizers.
Tomato Pesto Flatbread
8 to 10 servings
- 1 pound fresh pizza dough
- 1/3 cup tomato pasta sauce or pizza sauce
- 1/3 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives
- 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough to a large square about 12 inches long and 12 inches wide; place on a cookie sheet. Spread pizza sauce evenly over the dough; top with olives and cheese. Use a teaspoon to drop dots of basil pesto over the pizza. Sprinkle with pepper flakes.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut into 3 inch squares and serve immediately.
Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms
- 16 large button or cremini mushrooms, each about 2-inches in diameter
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs or gluten free panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove mushroom stems from the caps and finely chop the stems. Melt butter in a medium skillet. Brush some of the butter over the mushroom caps; place cap side down on a rimmed baking sheet.
Add chopped stems, onion and garlic to the remaining butter in the skillet; sauté until golden brown and tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in salt and pepper
Mix the cheese with bread crumbs and parsley in a medium bowl. Add stem mixture; mix well. Mound into mushroom caps, pressing down to use all the crumb mixture.
Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm.
Saucy Cream Cheese Appetizer
- 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons mango chutney
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
- 3 tablespoons hot or medium salsa
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Whole grain or multi-grain crackers
Cut the block of cream cheese in half crosswise. Place on two small glass or microwave safe serving plates. Place plates in a microwave oven and cook at high power 15 seconds (or let stand at room temperature until slightly softened).
Spoon chutney over one brick; top with almonds.
Spoon salsa over the other brick; top with cilantro.
Serve as a spread with the crackers on an attractive cheese board.
Blue Cheese Puffs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 1⁄4 cup butter
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 large eggs
- 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chives or 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine milk, water, butter and salt in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Add flour all at once; reduce heat to medium and stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until it pulls away from the sides of the pan. Continue stirring for several minutes over low heat, and then remove the pan from heat.
The dough will be thick, smooth and shiny and should not be brown. Beat in 1 egg at a time, beating very well after each addition. Fold in the blue cheese and black pepper with a spatula.
Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip (or use a heavy plastic bag with a 1/2 –inch cut from one corner.) Pipe dough into 1-1/2-inch mounds, approximately the volume of a heaping tablespoon, onto parchment-lined baking sheets or cookie sheets 1 inch apart.
Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees F. Rotate the pans on the oven racks; reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Continue baking until deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature on the same day they are made.
Turkey Meatballs with Mustard Dip
- 1 slice bread, torn into 2-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cooking spray
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
Place torn bread in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer bread crumbs to a large bowl and add milk; set aside until bread is completely soaked.
Place onion, red bell pepper and garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped; stir into bread mixture.
Add turkey, egg, parsley, 1 tablespoon mustard, salt and pepper to the bread crumb mixture and mix well.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Shape turkey mixture into 1-inch balls; arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until firm and cooked through, about 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Let meatballs stand for 5 minutes.
Mix yogurt, mayonnaise and the 4 teaspoons mustard together in a bowl; serve alongside meatballs.
Turin is in the northwest section of the Piedmont region between the Po River and the foothills of the Alps. The city is famous for the Shroud of Turin, Fiat auto plants, Baroque cafes and architecture and its shopping arcades, promenades and museums. Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics because the nearby mountains and valleys are ideal for winter sports.
The Piedmont region has some of the best food in Italy. Over 160 types of cheese and famous wines like Barolo and Barbaresco come from here as do truffles. The hilly region bordering France and Switzerland is perfect for growing grapes. Turin has some outstanding pastries, especially chocolate ones. Chocolate bars originated in Turin. The chocolate-hazelnut sauce, gianduja, is a specialty of Turin. In addition, an enormous array of artisanal cheeses, the white truffle of Alba, cured meats and a vast assortment of herb products are all part of the Piedmont table.
The cuisine of Turin is unlike the food you expect to find in Italy. Local dishes incorporate a much larger variety of savory sauces which are more traditional in French cuisine than in Italian. Chefs tend to cook with butter and lard rather than olive oil, which is also more French than Italian. Another difference is that appetizers play a much larger role on the menu in Turin than in other parts of Italy. The city’s signature dish is bollito misto, a mix of boiled meats served with three sauces: bagnet verd, a green sauce made from parsley, anchovies, garlic and olive oil; bagnet ross, a red sauce of crushed tomatoes, garlic and hot peppers and sausa d’avije, a yellow mustard sauce sweetened with honey and crushed nuts. Other classic dishes include brasato al Barolo, locally raised beef slowly braised in Barolo wine and finanziera, a stew of cock’s crests, chicken livers, veal, peas and porcini mushrooms. In the fall and winter you’ll find slices of reindeer meat, on some menus along with beef and veal, free range poultry and freshly caught fish.
The dinner menu below serves 4-6 and is inspired by the cuisine and regional foods of Turin, Italy.
Bagna Cauda is the Italian version of fondue. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially cardoons, carrots, peppers, fennel, celery, cauliflower, artichokes and onions in the hot sauce. It is traditionally eaten during the autumn and winter months and must be served hot, as the name suggests. Originally, the Bagna Càuda was placed in a big pan (peila) in the center of the table for communal sharing. Now, it is usually served in individual pots, called a fojòt, a type of fondue pot traditionally made of terra-cotta.
It helps to have a Bagna Cauda “pot”, but a fondue dish with the Sterno flame underneath works — as does an electric wok on low.
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 olive oil packed anchovy fillets, minced
- 6 large garlic cloves – peeled and minced
- Cubed raw vegetables for dipping: sweet peppers, fennel, cauliflower, endive and zucchini
- Italian bread – sliced
Place the olive oil, garlic and anchovies in a skillet over low heat. Stir until the anchovies have “melted” and the mixture looks thickened. Whisk in the butter until melted, then remove the skillet from the heat and whisk again until creamy looking. Pour into a dish that can stay heated at the table — like a fondue pot, Bagna Cauda pot, an electric skillet or a wok.
To serve: Dip vegetable pieces into the hot oil for a few minutes and use a bread slice to absorb the dripping oil on the way to your mouth.
Brasato Al Barolo
“Braised in Barolo”, a classic Italian beef dish from this region uses a simple slow cooking technique to tenderize the meat. In Italy, Piedmontese is a dual-purpose breed of cattle that are raised for their milk, which is used in the production of several traditional cheeses of the region, including Castelmagno, Bra, Raschera and Toma Piemontese; and are also raised for meat. Beef from Piedmontese cattle is seen as a premium product. The unique genetics of the breed combine to create cattle that is more muscled than conventional cattle, so the yield of lean meat is greater than with other breeds. All cuts of beef are lean because as they grow, the cattle add more muscle but less fat. In addition, Piedmontese cattle produce shorter muscle fibers and less connective tissue, so the meat remains tender in spite of its minimal fat.
Serve this dish the traditional way, with polenta, or if you prefer, mashed potatoes.
- 3 lb Piedmontese brisket flat
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 to 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 to 5 juniper berries
- 1 bottle Barolo red wine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
- ½ cup dry Marsala wine
- 2 tablespoons flour
Put all the vegetables and spices in a bowl, add the beef and cover with the wine. Refrigerate overnight, or a minimum of 10 hours.
Heat a heavy-bottom pot, large enough to hold the beef and wine, over medium-high heat. Melt half of the butter with all of the oil. Take the beef out of the marinade, season it with salt and pepper, and brown it in the hot-pot on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, take out all the vegetables from the wine and add them to the beef, stirring until they color a bit.
Add the wine to the pan, turn the heat down and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally and turning the beef.
Pour the Marsala into the stew and let cook a few more minutes. Take the beef out of the pan and set it on a carving board.
Remove and discard the bay leaves and juniper berries.
To make the sauce:
Put the wine and vegetables in a food mill or pour through a fine mesh sieve, applying pressure to the vegetables to extract all the juice. Reserve the juice and the vegetable puree.
In a saucepan, melt the remaining butter. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to brown the mixture. Add the wine and vegetable puree and cook for a bit longer, until the sauce thickens slightly.
Slice the meat against the grain, arrange it on a serving plate and pour the very hot wine sauce on top.
Cardoons are closely related to the artichoke. They look like very large hearts of celery and have thorns in the stalks. The stalks are not solid like celery, but are semi-hollow and stringy.
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 lb. cardoons
- 1 cup grated Italian fontina cheese
Place cream, stock and bay leaf in a large saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Wash cardoons, then remove and discard tough outer stalks. Cut away thorns and pull off stringy fibers. Cut cardoons into 1½”–2″ pieces, placing them immediately into the cream mixture as you go, to prevent them from discoloring.
Bring cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cardoons are tender, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cardoon pieces to a 1-quart baking dish.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Reduce cream mixture to about ¾ cup over medium heat, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf and pour the sauce over the cardoons in the baking dish, sprinkle cheese on top and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
- 12 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a saucepan, melt butter. Remove from the heat and add sugar and vanilla, stirring until most of the sugar has dissolved. Add flour and mix together using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Press the dough into an ungreased, 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Freeze crust for 15 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes. Set crust aside to cool.
- ½ cup hazelnuts (also called filberts)
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
Boil 2 cups water; add baking soda. The water will foam up a bit. Add the nuts to the boiling soda water and boil for 3 minutes. Strain the nuts and rinse with cold water. Peel the skins away from the nuts and place on a kitchen towel to dry.
When the nuts are dry, toast them on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for about 7 to 10 minutes.
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 7 1/2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella
Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate pieces, whisking until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add the chocolate-hazelnut spread and whisk until smooth.
Pour filling into the cooled crust and sprinkle toasted hazelnuts on top. Refrigerate for 2 hours to set. When ready to serve, cut into small wedges and garnish with fresh fruit.