Herbed Italian White Beans
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed, or to taste
1 teaspoon. dried sage
1 (14-oz.) can cannellini beans (Italian white beans), drained, or 2 cups homecooked
2 cups grape tomatoes cut in thirds crosswise
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded
2 teaspoons wine vinegar or to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sage. Sauté about 2 minutes.
Add drained beans and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until hot/.
Uncover the pan and remove from heat. Immediately add basil and vinegar and serve.
Greek Style Lamp Chops
2 loin lamb chops
2 tablespoons Greek seasoning
1 garlic clove, mined
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine the marinade ingredients in a plastic bag. Add the lamb and refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to cook, coat chops with a tablespoon of seasoning.
You can grill the chops in a grill poa or in the broiler for about 4 minutes per side. You can cook them in an air-fryer at 400degrees F for 12 minutes or cook them in a skillet for about 4 minutes on each side
Oven Roasted Asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Break off the woody bottoms of the asparagus and wash in cold water.
Arrange trimmed asparagus in a baking dish and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and lemon.
Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes.
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
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
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
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
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
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.
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary sea salt
16-ounce tuna steak (1 inch thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
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.
Cannellini Bean Salad
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of parsley and a bay leaf
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.
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
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.
1 lb (6 links) (3 hot and 3 sweet) Italian pork sausage
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Serve with a green salad.
- 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)
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.
Italian Bean Soup
Serve with crusty bread.
- 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
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.
Sea Scallops with Peppers and Corn
- 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
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.
Broiled Turkey Breast with Orange Spinach
- 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
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.
Pork with Squash Barley Risotto
- 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
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.
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.
Marinated Olives and Mushrooms
- 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
- 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
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.
Tuscan White Bean Salad
- 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
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.
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.
Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto)
- 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
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.
Quick Creamy Polenta
- 3 cups beef broth or water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, if using water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup quick cooking polenta
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.
Fresh Fall Fruit
- 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
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.
I find if I wash, chop and dry Romaine lettuce in the salad spinner it keeps wonderfully for 5 days or so in zip lock bags with a few paper towel. This can make the weeknight meal prep shorter. Just add tomatoes, cucumber, onion and dressing and you don’t have to lug out the salad spinner midweek!
Roasted vegetables keep well when make ahead and stored in sealed container in the refrigerator.
Most foods can be prepped ahead of time. Chop onions, garlic, ginger, green onions, asparagus, etc on the weekend to use during the week. You can even chop fresh tomatoes and keep them in a covered container. I’ve never heard that you can’t pre chop cucumbers and carrots and I do it all the time. I have a container that I fill up with carrot and celery sticks, sliced cucumbers and grape tomatoes. We can easily grab some veggies to munch on or to use for a fast salad.
I happen to like roast chicken, but you could easily roast a turkey breast or a beef roast or a pork shoulder to use during the week in place of my chicken.
Next weekend make a big pot of spaghetti sauce and use it for lasagna and chicken parmesan. These are just a few ideas to give you a head start.
Menu For The Week
Sunday – Mediterranean Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Olives and Spinach
Monday – Tuscan Beef Stew; Italian Bread
Tuesday – Spinach Chicken Salad; Italian Bread
Wednesday – Italian Pork Roast with Fennel and Onions; Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan
Thursday – Pasta with Beef Stew; Roasted Broccoli Salad
Friday – Italian Grilled Pork Panini; Coleslaw; Pickles
Recipes for the Week
On Sunday cook the chicken and pork in the oven and the beef stew on top of the stove. Prep ingredients for Tuesday’s salad and make the dressing. Cut up the broccoli for roasting on Wednesday.
I use this seasoning often in my recipes. You can buy it in the store or make your own. My recipe can be found in a post here
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix vinegar, Italian seasoning, sugar and sea salt in a small bowl with a wire whisk. Gradually add oil, whisking until well blended. Cover.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Whisk dressing before drizzling over salad greens.
Mediterranean Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Olives and Spinach
Serve this dinner on Sunday
- 4 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning , divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
- 2 lemons, cut in half
- 1 large red onion, cut into thin wedges
- 12 Yukon gold potatoes, each cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarse grind
- 12 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled and divided
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Mix 2 tablespoons of the dried seasoning with the butter. Rub 3/4 of butter mixture under the chicken skin (breasts and legs) and remaining mixture on the outside of the chicken. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the Italian seasoning over the outside of the chicken.
Stuff 3 lemon halves inside the chicken cavity. Place chicken in large roasting pan.
Mix potatoes, oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon dried seasoning. Arrange potatoes around the chicken in the roasting pan.
Roast 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from oven to a platter. Let stand 10 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to large skillet. Add olives, salt and pepper; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes on low heat. Add spinach; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until leaves just begin to wilt. Remove from the heat.
Set aside half of the mixture in a covered bowl for Wednesday’s dinner and refrigerate the dish.
Gently stir in 2 oz feta and juice of 1/2 lemon into the remaining vegetable mixture in the skillet. Reserve the remaining 2 oz feta for Wednesday’s dinner.
Remove the vegetables to large platter. Carve enough chicken needed for dinner and serve with the vegetables.
Dice the remaining chicken and reserve half for Wednesday’s dinner and the other half for chicken salad for lunch.
Tuscan Beef Stew
Serve half the stew with some great bread and a salad using the vinaigrette and prepped salad ingredients for Monday’s dinner.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds cubed chuck roast
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup carrot, sliced into ½ inch chunks
- 1 onion, cut into wedges
- 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock
- 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained
Heat oil in a 5 quart Dutch oven on medium high heat. Add beef in batches; cook until browned on all sides. Return all of the beef to Dutch oven. Sprinkle with flour; mix well. Stir in carrots, onion, tomatoes, stock and Italian Seasoning. Mix until well blended.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer 1 hour or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in beans. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
Serve half the recipe for dinner and reserve the remaining stew for Thursday’s dinner.
Spinach Chicken Salad
Serve this on Tuesday.
Place the reserved spinach, olive, potato mixture in a shallow salad bowl. Add reserved feta cheese and drizzle with a little of the Italian vinaigrette. Add diced chicken and mix. Heat up the leftover bread from Monday’s dinner and serve additional vinaigrette on the side.
Italian Pork Roast with Fennel and Onions
Serve this pork dinner on Wednesday.
- 2 boneless pork tenderloins or 1 pork loin roast, trimmed (about 2 to 2 1/4 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning , divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, tops and cores removed, and bulbs cut into 1/4inch thick slices
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Place pork roast in 6 quart shallow Dutch oven.
Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of the dried Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon of the oil, lemon peel, fennel seed and sea salt in small bowl. Rub evenly over the pork. Toss fennel, onion, remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining 1/2 tablespoon dried seasoning in large bowl. Place vegetable mixture around the pork.
Roast 40-45 minutes or until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork reaches 145°F, stirring vegetables occasionally. Transfer pork to a cutting board. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Then, layer in a shallow casserole dish (9×13).
Place Dutch oven with vegetables on medium low heat. Stir in stock and lemon juice. Simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Pour over the pork slices in the casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate until Wednesday.
Use some of the leftovers to make Italian Pork Panini sandwiches for Friday.
Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan
Place the pork dish in the oven to heat while the broccoli roasts on Wednesday.
- 1 large head of broccoli (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch florets, stems peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
On a large baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets and stems with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the broccoli in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until browned and tender. Serve half for dinner with the 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
Add some of the Italian vinaigrette to the remaining broccoli and refrigerate to serve with Thursday’s dinner.
Pappardelle with Beef Stew
Serve this dinner on Thursday.
Cook 8 oz pappardelle pasta (wide noodles) in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking heat remaining beef stew.
Serve over noodles and garnish with grated Parmesan. Serve with reserved broccoli salad.
Grilled Pork Panini
Serve with pickles and coleslaw on Friday.
- Leftover pork slices and vegetables
- 8 slices Italian bread
- 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade basil pesto
- 4 one ounce slices provolone cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for brushing
Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on each slice of bread. Top four slices of bread with pork slices, fennel, onion and cheese; top each sandwich with remaining bread.
Lightly brush the outer surface of the sandwiches with olive oil; grill in a medium-hot skillet or in a sandwich press until toasted on each side.
You can make this the night before.
- 1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients except coleslaw mix in a large bowl and combine well.
Add the coleslaw, mix and toss to coat.
Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Roasted Root Vegetables with Rosemary
- 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
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.
Sautéed Jerusalem Artichokes
4 to 6 servings
- 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
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.
Rutabagas and Ginger Roasted Pears
8 to 10 servings
- 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
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.
Honey Glazed Turnips
- 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
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.
Celery Root Salad With Shrimp
- 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
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.
- Celeriac, Kohlrabi, Carrot Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing (planithealthier.wordpress.com)
- How to Cook With Delicious Root Veggies – 10 Different Ways! (onegreenplanet.org)