Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cannellini

Tuna Coating
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour

Tuna
2 tuna fillets about 1 lb total
1 tablespoon olive oil

Peppers and Onions
1 cup sliced Italian Frying Peppers
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 garlic glove, smashed
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Beans
One 15 ounce can cannellini or navy beans, drained, rinsed or ½ cup dried beans soaked overnight and cooked. (See recipe below)
1/2 cup jarred baby artichoke hearts, cut in half
1/2 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

For the peppers and onions
Heat oil in a large deep skillet and add the garlic clove. Add the peppers and onions. Saute until tender about 5-6 minutes. Add the mint and season with coarse salt and pepper. Remove from the skillet and place on a serving platter.

For the tuna
Combine the coating mixture in a shallow dish.
Rinse the fillets in cold water, letting the water drip off but don’t dry the fish.
Coat the tuna fillets in the coating mixture.

Add the 1 tablespoon oil and heat. Carefully place the tuna fillets into the skillet. A spice crust should form within 1 minute. Using a wide spatula, turn the tuna fillets over, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 2-5 minutes to the desired doneness. Place the cooked tuna on the bed of onions and peppers.

For the beans
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Heat over low just until hot. Serve with the tuna fillets.

How To Cook Dried Beans

Ingredients

8 ounces (1 cup) dried beans
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled, lightly smashed
Half a serrano or jalapeño pepper seeded, or 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs or ½ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Place the beans in a large saucepan, add enough cool water to cover by 1½ inches, and soak overnight at room temperature. Drain.
Place the soaked beans in a large saucepan with water to cover by 1½ inches. Add the onion, garlic, chili, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a low boil over moderate heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cook the beans at a bare simmer until they are just tender but not mushy, about 30-45 minutes. If necessary, replenish the water, so that it stays 1 inch above the top of the beans. Halfway through the cooking time, stir in the salt.

Remove from the heat. If you are using them right away, drain the beans. Remove and discard the onion, garlic, chili, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf. If you are not using the beans immediately, allow the beans to cool in their cooking liquid before draining. (Keep the cooking liquid to reheat the beans or to use in many of the recipes that follow.) You can keep beans, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.


Tuna Steak

2 servings

Rub
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary sea salt

Tuna
16-ounce tuna steak (1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt

Directions

To prepare the spice blend, grind all spices in a mini-food processor or spice grinder until they are powdery. Spread the spice mixture evenly on a large plate. I used half the rub for one tuna steak. save the remainder for another time.

Rinse the tuna fillets and pat dry. Place one side of the tuna on the spice mixture.
In a 10 inch non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Carefully place the tuna steak, spiced side down, into the skillet. A spice crust should form within 1 minute. Cook 3 minutes more. Using kitchen tongs, turn the tuna over, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes or to your desired doneness.


To plate
Cu the tuna steak into two equal portions and place on individual serving plates. Place a handful of arugula on each plate and top with bean salad. Serve the Tzatziki sauce on the side.

Cannellini Bean Salad

Ingredients

1 (15.5 ounces) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed ( or 2 cups cooked dried beans; directions below)
1 cup frozen and cooked or jarred in water artichoke hearts
1 cup sliced fresh grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cups arugula

Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

In a serving bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients. Add the cooked or canned beans, sliced artichokes, sliced tomatoes, and red onion. Stir into the dressing. Refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving and let stand at room temperature until serving time.

How to cook dried beans

1 Pound Dried White Beans (Cannellini)
Pinch Baking Soda
Carrot, Cut In Half
1 Celery Stick, Cut In Half
1/2 Onion, Peeled And Quartered
1 Sprig Rosemary

Directions

The night before serving, rinse the beans picking out any bad ones and place in a large bowl. Cover with water, add a pinch of baking soda and let soak at least 12 hours.

The next day, drain well. Place the beans in a heavy stockpot with the vegetables and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender about 45 minutes. Drain, remove the vegetables and rosemary sprig.

Tzatziki with Feta

Ingredients

Half of an English cucumber, unpeeled
1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning

Directions

Seed and finely chop the cucumber. In a medium bowl, stir together the cucumber and yogurt. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.


Italian Sausage, Cannellini Beans and Greens with Grilled Garlic Bread

This dish is versatile. It can be vegetarian by leaving out the sausage (or use a veggie version) and vegetable broth instead of chicken. You can simplify the process if time is short and use canned beans and broth. Just be sure to add the same seasonings. The dish will be almost as good!

Homemade Chicken Broth

Ingredients

1 whole chicken carcass (leftover from roasting or use chicken bones)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion (about 6 oz.), cut into 1/2-inch wedges
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of parsley and a bay leaf

Directions

Add enough cold water to submerge the chicken carcass (about 5 quarts) in a large stockpot. Add the carrots, celery, onion, 1 1/2 tablespoons. salt, and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Cover the pot, with the lid slightly ajar. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours If at any time the water level drops below the solids, add water to cover and return to a simmer.
Remove the carcass from the broth and discard. Strain the broth through a fine sieve set over another pot or a bowl large enough to hold the broth. Gently press on the solids with a large spoon to squeeze out any remaining broth. Measure out 6 cups of broth and set aside.

Use the remaining broth for other recipes or freeze in small containers for future use.

Cannellini Beans

Ingredients

1 ½ cups dried cannellini beans
Pinch baking soda
1 large carrot or 2 medium, diced
1 large celery stick or 2 medium, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Water

Directions

The night before serving, rinse the beans picking out any bad ones and place them in a large bowl. Cover with water, add a pinch of baking soda and let soak at least 12 hours.

The next day, drain the beans, rinse and drain well. Place the beans in a heavy stock pot with the vegetables, garlic, and Italian seasoning, cover with water about 4 cups and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender about 60-90 minutes. Add salt to taste. Measure out 3 cups of cooked beans with their cooking liquid and vegetables and set aside. Save the remaining cooked beans for other recipes.

Italian Sausage

Ingredients

1 lb (6 links) (3 hot and 3 sweet) Italian pork sausage
Olive oil

Directions

Cut the sausage into ¼ inch thick slices. Cover the bottom of a Dutch Oven with olive oil and brown the slices of sausage.

Finishing the dish

Ingredients

3 cups cooked escarole or swiss chard
2 cloves garlic,  one chopped and one whole
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 Parmesan cheese rind
6 cups homemade chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked cannellini beans

Italian bread or use the recipe below

Directions

Chop the greens into small pieces and add the greens to the Dutch Oven with the browned sausage. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir. Add the reserved beans, salt, and chicken broth. Stir gently and add the cheese rind.
Bring the ingredients in the stockpot to a low boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, until all the ingredients are hot, about 20 minutes

Slice the bread (See recipe below) and grill or toast lightly. Rub the peeled garlic clove over the surface of the grilled bread and serve with the stew.

Homemade Italian Country Bread

Ingredients

2 teaspoons SAF (instant) yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Place the warm water in an electric mixing bowl. Add honey. Mix until the honey is dissolved.
Add the 4 cups of flour and salt and mix. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour.
Using the paddle attachment on number low speed, mix the dough until a dough forms that holds together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and continue kneading for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is soft but supple.
Shape the dough into a ball. Spray the mixer bowl with olive oil cooking spray and place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 60 minutes.

Place a sheet of parchment paper in a 9 or 10-inch pan or shallow dish. Turn the dough out onto the parchment pan or dish. Gently shape the dough into a round and cover with greased plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes or more.

At the same time put a covered Cloche pan or Dutch Oven in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Do not grease or spray the Cloche pan or Dutch Oven.
After the dough has risen for 30 minutes and the oven temperature is at 500 degrees F, open the oven and take the lid off the cloche pan.
USE A THICK POTHOLDER BECAUSE THE LID IS VERY HOT!

Transfer the dough while on the parchment to the bottom of the hot cloche pan. Cover with the cloche lid.
Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and remove the cloche lid.
Bake 15 minutes more, or until the bread is crusty and brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place the bread on a wire cooling rack.


Mediterranean ingredients and flavors are abundant in this dinner. Fish, beans and bread all healthy foods prepared with olive oil and healthy cooking methods. Seasoning is important in making recipes that taste good. Fennel, rosemary, parsley, sage, garlic, preserved lemon and olives all contribute to making these foods taste so good. Don’t leave any of them out and definitely try the bean recipe – it is delicious.

Mediterranean Grilled Salmon

Prepare the bean recipe first and keep warm while you grill the salmon.

Ingredients

1/4 of a preserved lemon, pulp discarded and peel minced
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 center-cut salmon fillets with skin
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
8 large green olives, such as Cerignola

Directions

In a bowl, mix the preserved lemon with the scallion, parsley and 1 tablespoon each of the oil and lemon juice.

Using a sharp knife, make several 1-inch-deep slits in the salmon skin. Rub the preserved lemon mixture on all sides of the salmon. Place in a covered dish and allow to marinate several hours.

Remove the fish from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before grilling. Rub the remaining oil all over the salmon, then drizzle the fish with the remaining lemon juice; season with salt and white pepper.

Light an outdoor grill and oil the grates very well so the fish does not stick.

Grill the salmon, skin side down, over moderate heat until the skin is lightly charred and crisp, 5 minutes.

Turn the salmon and grill until just cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.

Place the fish over the prepared cannellini beans and garnish with chopped parsley. Scatter the olives over the fish.

Cannellini Beans

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
8 fresh sage leaves
1 small bulb fennel, halved, cored and thinly sliced, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted cut in half if large
2 cups cooked cannellini beans, canned or homemade and drained
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes

Directions

Combine the onion, garlic, sage, fennel, celery and oil in a deep, wide skillet.

Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the onion and fennel start to soften.

Add the artichoke hearts, the beans, broth and salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper chili flakes. Keep warm.

Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia

Ingredients

Dough

1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey

Topping

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 large garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons large crystal cut sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all of the dough ingredients in an electric mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes, until the dough comes together in a ball around the paddle.

Knead with the dough the hook attachment for 5 minutes. 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 for an hour or until it doubles in size.

Use a non-stick vegetable oil spray to lightly grease a large baking dish 10″ x 15″. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on top of the spray. The olive oil is used for flavor in focaccia.

Gently pull and shape the dough to fit into the bottom of the pan. Don’t pat all the way to the edges of the pan; leave a little room around the perimeter for the dough to expand.

Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.

Using your fingers poke dimples into the dough, pressing down firmly; your fingers should reach the bottom of the pan without actually breaking through the dough.

Re-cover the dough, and let it rise until it’s noticeably puffy, about 1 hour. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Drizzle the top of the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, garlic, black pepper and coarse sea salt.

Place the pan of focaccia onto a middle oven rack and spritz lightly with water. Turn the oven temperature down to 400 degrees F.

Bake the focaccia until it’s light golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove the focaccia from the oven and immediately turn it out of the pan onto a rack.

Focaccia is delicious hot from the oven or warm and it is best the same day it’s made. But leftovers can be successfully reheated, either as slices in the toaster or in a 350°F oven, just until warmed through.

 


 

falldinnerscoverCrisp autumn days have us looking forward to soups, pot pies, roasts and casseroles. Pick from any number of fall ingredients to add flavor and color to your main dishes, sides and desserts.

This is also the perfect time of year to roast vegetables. Fall root vegetables and squash take to roasting and taste so much better for it.

How to Roast Any Vegetable

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.

Roast vegetables either whole or chopped. The larger the piece, the longer it will take to cook. Whole beets can take an hour or more, while asparagus will be cooked in about 10 minutes.

Place the vegetables in an oven-safe pan.

Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, just enough to very lightly coat the vegetables when tossed.

To see if the vegetables are cooked, prick with the tip of a paring knife. The knife should pull out easily.

Serve with a light sprinkle of sea salt and chopped or whole toasted nuts, breadcrumbs or grated cheese on top.

falldinners1

Squash Carbonara

Serve with a green salad.

6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds fall squash, such as butternut, delicata, acorn, etc
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces pancetta, unsliced; about a 1 inch thick piece
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Pecorino (for serving)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and slice crosswise into ¼”-thick half-moons. Toss with oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the squash slices on a large rimmed baking sheet; place pancetta next to the squash. Roast until the squash is tender but hasn’t changed color and the pancetta is brown, about 30–35 minutes. Transfer the squash to a plate and set aside.

Let pancetta cool slightly, then cut into ¼” pieces. Pour any rendered fat on the baking sheet into a large skillet. Add the pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a small bowl. Reserve skillet with the drippings in the pan.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add pasta to the reserved skillet along with a ½ cup pasta cooking water and toss to coat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.

Lightly beat egg yolks and lemon zest in a large bowl just to combine. Working quickly, add the egg mixture to the hot pasta in the skillet and toss vigorously with tongs until a thick, glossy sauce forms, about 4 minutes. (If sauce still looks watery, keep tossing.)

Add pancetta and reserved squash to the pasta, season with salt and pepper and toss everything together in a large serving bowl. Shave Pecorino over pasta and top with more pepper just before serving.

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Italian Bean Soup

Serve with crusty bread.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Two 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 32 ounce box reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • One 5 ounce package fresh baby spinach
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook and stir carrots and onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add beans, broth and seasoning. Bring to boiling and slightly mash some of the beans. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach; toss with tongs 1 to 2 minutes, just until wilted. Remove from the heat. Ladle soup into serving bowls; top with spinach, grated cheese and sprinkle with pepper.

falldiners4

Sea Scallops with Peppers and Corn

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 ears corn (about 2 1/2 lb. total), husked, silks removed
  • 1 1/4 pounds sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 red bell peppers, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

Holding each ear of corn upright in a deep bowl, cut kernels from the cobs.

Rinse scallops, remove side muscle and pat dry; sprinkle lightly all over with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the corn, bell peppers, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove to a wide, shallow serving bowl.

Add remaining oil, butter and scallops to the skillet. Cook until the scallops are browned on the outside and barely opaque in the center (cut to test), about 5 minutes.

Top the vegetables with scallops and any pan juices. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

falldiners3

Broiled Turkey Breast with Orange Spinach

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Two 8 ounce boneless turkey breast tenderloins, halved horizontally
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 oz. pancetta, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Two 9 ounce packages fresh spinach
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges

Directions

Lightly sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Place on an unheated broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 5 minutes. Turn turkey pieces over; broil for 4 minutes more.

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, the Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs. Spread over turkey. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes more or until topping is golden and turkey is no longer pink (170 degrees F).

Heat butter in a large skillet and cook pancetta until crisp. Add spinach, half at a time and cook 1 minute or just until wilted. Add orange wedges and orange juice with the second batch of spinach and cook until wilted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using tongs, remove the spinach to a serving platter. Top with turkey and orange wedges. Drizzle with remaining juices from the skillet and serve.

falldinners5

Pork with Squash Barley Risotto

4 servings

Ingredients

  • ½ cup regular barley
  • One 32 ounce container vegetable stock or broth
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces pork tenderloin
  • Snipped fresh basil, oregano and thyme for garnish

Directions

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add barley; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted. Stir in broth and squash; bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover; boil 15 minutes more or until the squash and barley are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (mixture should still appear creamy). Remove from heat. Stir in basil and oregano.

Place garlic, salt and pepper on a cutting board. Using the flat side of a large knife, smash the garlic. Drag the flat side of the knife across the garlic in one direction then the opposite direction until a smooth paste forms. Place paste in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil; set aside.

Slice pork into 1/2-inch thick slices and flatten the slices with the palm of your hand. Rub garlic mixture over the pork slices.

In a 12-inch skillet heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until browned and cooked through. Serve pork with barley mixture and sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.


tuscancover

Tuscany is known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and its influence on culture, yet, simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine. Legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are used. Olive oil is made from Moraiolo, Leccino and Frantoio olives. White truffles from San Miniato appear in October and November. Beef of the highest quality comes from the Chiana Valley, specifically a breed known as Chianina used for Florentine steak. Pork is also produced for the region’s many excellent cured meats. Tuscany’s climate provides the ideal soil for the grapes grown to create the region’s world-renowned Chianti wine.

A soffritto can be considered the Italian version of a mirepoix and is a combination of olive oil and minced browned vegetables (usually onion, carrot and celery) that are used to create a base for a variety of slow-cooked dishes. Herbs (sage and rosemary) are used in many Tuscan dishes and seasonings can be added to the soffritto, as needed, to bring out the unique flavors of each different recipe.

Stracotto (braised beef) is a well-known favorite of the area, as are finocchiona (a rustic salami with fennel seeds), cacciucco (a delicate fish stew), pollo al mattone (chicken roasted under heated bricks) and biscotti di prato (hard almond cookies made for dipping in the local dessert wine, vin santo). Borlotti beans provide a savory flavor to meatless dishes and cannellini beans form the basis for many a pot of slowly simmered soup. Breads are many and varied in the Tuscan cuisine, with varieties including, donzelle (a bread fried in olive oil), filone (an unsalted traditional Tuscan bread) and the sweet schiacciata con l’uva  with grapes and sugar on top. Pastas are not heavily relied upon in Tuscan cooking but pappardelle (a wide egg noodle) is one of the region’s few traditional cuts.

Antipasto

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Italian Bread

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tuscan1

Marinated Olives and Mushrooms

Olives

  • 1 cup mixed Italian olives
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, (flat-leaf parsley basil, and oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. whole cremini mushrooms, stemmed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel stalk (with some chopped fronds)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

To prepare olives:

Combine ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 1 hour. Serve at room temperature or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

To prepare mushrooms:

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are just soft, 6–8 minutes.

Transfer mushrooms to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Mushrooms will keep in refrigerator for 1 week. Serve at room temperature.

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Tuscan White Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cannellini beans
  • 4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

Soak the beans in water to cover overnight.

Drain the beans and simmer in water to cover until tender (about 45-60 minutes).

Combine the remaining ingredients and toss with the warm beans.

Correct seasoning to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Main Course

Stracotto translates literally from the Italian as “overcooked,” but the term has come to refer to beef stews and braises – especially in northern Italy. There are as many versions of this dish as there are cooks. The important part of the recipe is the slow cooking of the meat at a very low temperature to tenderize even the toughest cut of beef. The recipe starts with a soffritto and continues with the addition of red wine, beef broth, tomatoes and tomato paste.

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Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 lb chuck roast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • One 26-28 oz. container Italian crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Polenta, recipe below

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Salt and pepper the roast, then brown it on both sides. Put the roast on a plate and set aside.

Sauté the vegetables in the oil that remains until they’re soft and a little browned.

Add the wine to stir up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes.

Add the herbs, tomato paste, tomatoes and beef stock. Put the roast back in the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer and keep at just a simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours. If the liquid begins to boil, you may need to place the lid ajar. You don’t want a rapid boil, just a few lazy bubbles or the meat will get tough.

When the meat is tender, remove it from the sauce and cut into thin slices. To thicken the sauce, boil for a few minutes to reduce it. Remove the bay leaf.

Serve the sliced beef with the creamy polenta. An Italian red wine, like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or Chianti, will be great to use in the recipe and to drink with dinner.

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Quick Creamy Polenta

Ingredients

  • 3 cups beef broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, if using water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup quick cooking polenta

Directions

Bring the broth to a boil. Add salt and butter, then while stirring, slowly pour in the polenta. Stir until there are no lumps, then turn the heat down to a bare simmer. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and cover the pan until ready to serve.

Dessert Course

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Fresh Fall Fruit

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Amaretto Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks and reserve one egg white
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon anise seed
  • 6 cups whole almonds, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease two heavy cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, egg yolks and sugar until light, about 2 minutes; the mixture will look somewhat curdled.

Beat in the vanilla, amaretto and anise seed. Beat in the dry ingredients, then the chopped nuts.

Divide the dough into four portions. On a lightly floured board, shape each portion into a flat log, just about the length the cookie sheet. Place two rolls on each cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork until frothy. With a pastry brush, glaze each log with some egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the logs are lightly golden brown, firm to the touch and just beginning to crack slightly.

Allow the logs to cool on the cookie sheet about 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 200°F.  With a serrated knife slice the biscotti on the bias into ½-inch slices. Lay the slices on the cookie sheets in a single layer; Return the biscotti to the oven and cook for 20 more minutes, turning over halfway through the baking time or until the biscotti are toasted and crisp

Store the biscotti in an airtight container. They will keep for 2-3 weeks.


 

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Use in-season spring ingredients to create some healthier dinners this week. After a few weeks of holiday eating and chocolate candy, you may want to eat a bit lighter.

Dinner Menu 1

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Shrimp with Easy Risotto

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen large shrimp in shells or shelled
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (1 small)
  • 2/3 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 14 1/2 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp if needed. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels.

Place shrimp in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish.

For the marinade:

In a small bowl combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Pour marinade over shrimp. Seal bag; turn to coat shrimp. Marinate in the refrigerator while you prepare the risotto (15 to 25 minutes).

For the risotto:

In a medium saucepan heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add onion; cook about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Carefully stir in broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in peas. Let stand about 1 minute or until heated through. (Rice should be tender but slightly firm and creamy.) Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Cook shrimp in a skillet or on the grill as described below. Serve shrimp with risotto and lemon wedges.

SKILLET: Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and marinade to the skillet. Cook about 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque, stirring frequently.

GRILL: Drain shrimp, reserving marinade. Thread shrimp onto metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between shrimp. Brush shrimp with the reserved marinade.

For a charcoal or gas grill, place kabobs on the grill rack directly over medium-high heat. Cover and grill for 4 to 6 minutes or until shrimp are opaque, turning once halfway through grilling.

Dinner Menu 2

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Roasted Pork and Spring Vegetables

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds tiny new potatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 pound boneless pork top loin roast
  • 6 fresh baby artichokes or use thawed  frozen artichoke hearts, if you cannot find fresh
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups whole baby carrots

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place potatoes in a large bowl.

In a small bowl combine rosemary, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour half of the mixture over the potatoes; toss to coat.

Trim fat from meat. Place meat on a rack in a shallow roasting pan; spread the remaining oil mixture over the meat. Arrange potatoes around the meat. Roast for 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash artichokes if using fresh; trim stems and remove loose outer leaves. Cut 1/2 inch off the top of each artichoke. Cut each artichoke lengthwise into quarters. Place quartered artichokes in a medium bowl; toss with lemon juice.

In a covered large saucepan cook artichokes and carrots in boiling, lightly salted water for 10 minutes; drain.

Add artichokes and carrots to the roasting pan, stirring to combine with potatoes. Roast for 15 to 35 minutes more or until a meat thermometer registers 150 degrees F and vegetables are tender, stirring vegetables occasionally.

Remove from the oven. Cover meat and vegetables with foil; let stand for 10 minutes before slicing meat.

Dinner Menu 3

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Creamy Carrot Soup

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 2 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable stock or broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dillweed
  • Paprika and coarse salt

Directions

In a 3 to 4 quart pot melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook for 10 minutes until tender. Add the carrots, rice, stock and salt. Bring to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, for 35 minutes until rice and carrots are very tender. Cool slightly.

Using a handheld immersion blender, process the mixture in the pan until completely smooth. Whisk in milk and creme fraiche.

Heat and stir over low heat. For a thinner texture, stir in additional milk. To serve, sprinkle with green onion, dillweed, paprika and coarse salt, if desired.

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White Bean Tuna Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1-15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2-5 ounce cans tuna packed in water, drained
  • 2 cups lightly packed arugula or spinach
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Crusty Italian bread, sliced and toasted

Directions

In a large bowl combine beans, tuna, arugula, red onion and parsley.

For the dressing:

In a screw-top jar combine vinegar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Shake well to combine.

Pour dressing over tuna mixture; toss gently to combine. Squeeze juice from half of a lemon over the salad. Serve with toasted bread.

Dinner Menu 4

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Oregano Chicken and Peppers

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds bone-in meaty chicken pieces (breasts and thighs), skinned
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 medium green sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 8 oz thin spaghetti

Directions

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a deep skillet with a cover. Cook chicken over medium heat about 15 minutes or until light brown, turning once. Reduce heat.

Scatter the garlic, half of the lemon slices, half of the tomato, the olives, onion, parsley and oregano over chicken pieces in the skillet. Sprinkle with ground red pepper. Add the wine and the chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Add the remaining tomato and the bell peppers. Cook, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes more or until sweet peppers are crisp-tender and chicken is tender and no longer pink.

Cook the pasta to the al dente stage. Drain and place on a serving platter.Place the the chicken on top of the spaghetti and pour the peppers and sauce over the chicken. Garnish with remaining lemon slices.

Dinner Menu 5

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Avocado and Asparagus Egg Sandwiches

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
  • Boiling water
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 large slices country-style white or whole grain bread
  • 8 slices bacon, crisp cooked

Directions

Place asparagus spears in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Pour enough boiling water over the asparagus to cover. Let stand for 10 to 12 minutes or until bright colored and crisp-tender. Drain. Finely chop three of the asparagus spears; set aside.

In a small bowl use a fork to mash the avocado; stir in lime juice. Stir in the chopped asparagus; set aside.

For the omelet:

In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, the water, salt and pepper until combined but not frothy.

Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet with flared sides over medium-high heat until the skillet is hot. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the skillet. Add half of the egg mixture; reduce heat to medium. Immediately begin stirring eggs gently but continuously with a wooden or plastic spatula until the mixture begins to come together. Stop stirring. Cook for 30 to 60 seconds or until the egg is set.

Remove from heat. Using a spatula, lift and fold an edge of omelet to opposite edge. Transfer to a warm plate. Cover with foil and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining egg mixture to make a second omelet.

Toast bread. Spread avocado-asparagus mixture on 2 of the bread slices. Top with each with half the bacon, half the asparagus spears, omelets and the remaining 2 slices of bread. Cut sandwiches in half to make 4 servings.

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Roasted Beet Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh beets with tops
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces sliced ricotta salata cheese or feta cheese
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the tops from beets; set tops aside. Place beets and rosemary on a piece of heavy foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Bring up two opposite edges of the foil; seal with a double fold. Fold in remaining edges to completely enclose. Roast beets about 60 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Carefully open the packet to release the steam. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel skins from the beets and cut into wedges. Discard rosemary.

Meanwhile, thoroughly wash and dry the beet greens. Thinly slice just the beet greens and discard the stalks.

In a large bowl gently toss warm beets, shredded beet greens and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until the greens are slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

On a large platter or four salad plates arrange the beet mixture. Sprinkle with raisins and nuts. Top with cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

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