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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cheese

Grilled Chicken Tenders

Ingredients

1 lb chicken tenders
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (or use 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme,
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.)
1 tablespoon water

Directions

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, Greek seasoning and water in a plastic ziplock bag.
Place the chicken tenders in the bag. Seal the bag and shake to coat the meat really well, Place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
Preheat a stovetop grill pan to medium-high heat. You may also use a broiler.
Grill the tenders, turning them every 2-3 minutes until the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Spoon some of the Greek salad onto serving dishes and top each serving with some of the grilled chicken tenders.

Greek Salad

Serve with warmed pita bread.

Dressing

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Salad

4 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 small bell pepper, diced
1/4 of a red onion, sliced
Half English cucumber, sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
12 kalamata olives,
4 pepperoncini peppers
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

Pour all the dressing ingredients into a large jar and shake well.
Place the jar in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors.
Combine the Greek salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss. Add more dressing if desired.

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“Alla Puttanesca” literally means “in the style of a whore” in Italian. The name famously refers to prostitutes, with stories (most of them debunked by historians) attributing the connection to the fact that the dish was quick to make between clients, or so aromatic it helped prostitutes attract them.

However, it is an Italian sauce usually served over pasta that was invented in Naples. Its ingredients typically include tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers, and garlic. Various accounts exist as to when and how the dish originated, but it likely dates to the mid-twentieth century. The earliest known mention of it is in Raffaele La Capria’s, Ferito a Morte (Mortal Wound), a 1961 Italian novel which mentions “spaghetti alla puttanesca come li fanno a Siracusa” (spaghetti alla puttanesca as they make it in Syracuse). The sauce became popular in the 1960s, according to the Professional Union of Italian Pasta Makers.

The 1971 edition of the Cucchiaio d’argento (The Silver Spoon), one of Italy’s most prominent cookbooks, has no recipe with this name, but two which are similar: The Neapolitan spaghetti alla partenopea, is made with anchovies and generous quantities of oregano; while spaghetti alla siciliana adds green peppers. Still again there is a Sicilian style dish popular around Palermo that includes olives, anchovies, and raisins.

In a 2005 article from Il Golfo—a daily newspaper serving the Italian islands of Ischia and Procida—Annarita Cuomo wrote that sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a famous restaurant and nightspot. According to Cuomo, Petti’s moment of inspiration came when—near closing one evening—he found a group of customers sitting at one of his tables. He was low on ingredients and so told them he didn’t have enough to make them a meal. They complained that it was late and they were hungry. “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi,” or “throw together whatever,” they insisted. Petti had nothing more than four tomatoes, two olives and some capers—the basic ingredients for the sugo, “So I used them to make the sauce for the spaghetti,” Petti told Cuomo. Later, Petti included this dish on his menu as spaghetti alla puttanesca.

Basic recipe
The sauce alone is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian. Recipes may differ according to preferences; for instance, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies, unlike the version popular in Lazio, where spices are added with the anchovies. In most cases, however, the sugo is a little salty (from the capers, olives, and anchovies) and quite fragrant (from the garlic). Traditionally, the sauce is served with spaghetti, although it is also paired with penne, bucatini, linguine and vermicelli.

Chopped garlic and anchovies are sautéed in olive oil. Chopped chili peppers, olives, capers, diced tomatoes and oregano are added along with salt and black pepper to taste. The sauce is reduced by simmering and is poured it over spaghetti and topped with chopped parsley.

Whatever its Italian origins, Americans have made it a popular sauce. Besides pasta, the sauce can be served over fish, beans or meat. I like it served over pork chops. Here is my version.

Puttanesca Pork Chops

2 servings

Ingredients

2 boneless pork loin chops, each about ¾ inch thick
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 anchovy fillets, minced, or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more to taste
2 cups cherry or plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup pitted black olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1/4 cup dry white wine
! tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the pork. Cook, turning once until browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 140°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the wine and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and anchovies (or anchovy paste) to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes break down and the sauce is thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Return the pork and any juices to the pan, turning to coat with the sauce. Top the pork with the chopped oregano and parsley. Serve with cooked pasta.

Pappardelle Pasta with Butter and Parmesan Cheese

2 servings

Ingredients

4 oz pappardelle pasta
Salt
Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente and drain. In the same pot add the butter and garlic and cook on low heat just until the butter melts. Add the pasta, cheese, and black pepper, toss and serve with the pork.

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

12 oz bag of fresh broccoli florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a baking dish.
Place the broccoli in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss well and roast for 15 -20 minutes in the preheated oven until crisp-tender and the edges are starting to brown, tossing occasionally.


What is Saltimbocca (pronounced [saltimˈbokka]?
Saltimbocca (Italian for jumps in the mouth) is an Italian dish (also popular in Europe) made of veal scallops lined or wrapped with prosciutto and sage; marinated in wine, oil or saltwater depending on the region or one’s own taste.
The original version of this dish is Saltimbocca Alla Romana (saltimbocca, Roman-style), which consists of veal, prosciutto, and sage, rolled-up and cooked in dry white wine and butter. Marsala is sometimes used in place of white wine. Also, in some recipes, the veal and prosciutto are not rolled-up but left flat. An American twist replaces the veal with chicken or pork
The ancient recipe for “saltimbocca” is said to have originated in Brescia. While it is much older than a century, the first written recipe can be found in an influential book published towards the end of the 19th century, by Pellegrino Artusi, a celebrated Italian chef: “Saltimbocca Alla Romana” is recipe No. 222, and Artusi claims to have enjoyed the dish in Rome, at the Trattoria “Le Venete”.
While there are many variations of this Italian classic dish, I have given my version a slightly southern Italian flavor.

Chicken Saltimbocca Over Tomato Sauce

Ingredients for 2

1 cup marinara sauce heated
Salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
6 fresh sage leaves
2 slices Prosciutto
2 slices Provolone Cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Lightly sprinkle the chicken breasts slices with salt and pepper. Wrap each breast in a slice of prosciutto. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet with a cover. Completely brown the chicken on both sides.


Top each chicken breast with 3 sage leaves. Place a slice of provolone cheese on top of each breast. Cover the pan and heat over low until the cheese begins to melt.


Place ½ cup of tomato sauce on a serving plate and place a chicken breast on top of the sauce. Repeat with the second breast. Serve immediately.

Green Beans With Sauteed Mushrooms

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb fresh green beans trimmed and cut into thirds
1 lb mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt
Pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in the green beans and stir. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove from the heat, drain thoroughly then pat dry with a clean linen tea towel and keep warm while the mushrooms cook. Place a skillet over medium-high to high heat with the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter melts, spread the mushrooms out evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. Mushrooms should be lightly brown. Add the green beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat on low until the beans are hot.


Shrimp

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
10 oz fettuccine

Directions

Boil a large pot of salted water, add the pasta and cook just until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot melt the butter and add the shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and saute just until the shrimp turn pink on both sides. Over low heat add the cream and heat for a minute. Add the cheese and stir. Add the drained fettuccine and mix well. Add the parsley, stir and serve immediately.

Sautéed Winter Greens

4 servings

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 cups (packed) stemmed and roughly chopped swiss chard or other greens
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Heat the garlic and oil in large, deep skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

Add the Swiss chard, red pepper flakes, and salt to the empty skillet. Using tongs, turn greens until wilted enough to fit in the pan.

Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking process. Transfer the greens to a colander to drain.

Return the drained greens to the pan, turn the heat to low and toss with the reserved garlic and oil mixture. When hot, transfer to a serving bowl to serve.

Very Easy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or other herbs you like, minced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle or oval on a sheet of parchment paper. Place the parchment with the dough on it on a baking sheet.
Using a pastry brush, cover the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt, garlic, cheese, and rosemary. Bake the focaccia until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.

 


Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Oil 3 baking dishes, each just large enough to accommodate the fish, the broccoli and the rutabaga cubes.

 

Oven Roasted Salmon

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets, about 12 oz total

Topping
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Combine the breadcrumbs with the oil and the seasoning ingredients.
Press the breadcrumb mixture evenly on the salmon.
Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Oven Roasted Rutabaga Wedges

Rutabagas are in season now, so they make a good choice for a vegetable side. If you are not a fan of rutabaga, use Yukon Gold potatoes in this recipe.

French Seasoning

I use a blend that comes prepared and contains the following herbs:  shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf.

1 rutabaga, about 1 ½ lb
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon French seasoning or seasoning of choice

Directions

Peel the rutabagas and cut them into 2″ chunks and place them in the prepared baking dish.
Add the rest of the ingredients and toss with a spoon until all the pieces are evenly coated.
Spread the rutabaga in a single layer in the baking pan, making sure there is plenty of room between the pieces of rutabaga to allow them to brown.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil, lower the heat and continue baking, stirring 2 or 3 times during the process, until the rutabaga is fork tender and starts to caramelize around the edges, about 15-20 minutes.

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

12 oz bag of fresh broccoli florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Place the broccoli in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss well and roast for 15 -20 minutes in the preheated oven until crisp-tender and the edges are starting to brown, tossing occasionally.

Pour the cheese sauce over the broccoli or serve it on the side.

Really Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine all the ingredients in a glass dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir well. If all the cheese is not melted, repeat the process.



While the dish originated from fishermen of the Neapolitan area, who sautéed the catch of the day in seawater together with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, The term itself most likely originated from Tuscany; where the local peasants would make wine, but had to give most to the landlord, leaving little left for them to drink. The peasants were resourceful, however, and mixed the stems, seeds, and pomace leftover from the wine production with large quantities of water brought it to a boil, then sealed the mixture in a terracotta vase and let it ferment for several days. Called l’acquarello or l’acqua pazza, the result was a water barely colored with wine, which the fisherman may have been reminded of when seeing the broth of the dish, colored slightly red by the tomatoes and oil.
Acqua pazza became a very popular dish with tourists on Capri Island in the 1960s.
The pezzogna fish (also known as “occhione” or “big eye” because of the size of its eyes) is caught in the Bay of Naples and is highly prized for its delicious taste.
Marcella Hazan was introduced to the dish by her friend from Amalfi, Pierino Jovine, and her first reaction was, “Who wants to eat fish in water?” Here is the link to her recipe:

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/fish-in-crazy-water

And here is my version

Pesce All’Acqua Pazza

Ingredients for 2 people

1 lb fish fillets (red snapper, flounder) cut into serving portions
Salt and pepper
4 mini plum tomatoes (Marzano) or cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (peperoncino)
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sliced red onion
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

Dry the fish fillets on paper towels and season them with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil and lightly fry the garlic, onion, and peperoncino in a skillet with a cover that is large enough to fit the fish, until the onion softens. Add the tomatoes, white wine, and water. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the fish. Cook, covered, 10 minutes for thin fillets or 15 minutes for thicker ones. Serve immediately, dressed with the cooking liquid and topped with the parsley.

Here is another example of my cooking philosophy – never waste food. I had extra zucchini squash and leftover cooked cauliflower, so I decided to use them for side dishes with this fish recipe.

Cauliflower Cakes

Makes 6

Ingredients

2 cups mashed cauliflower
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Butter

Directions

Combine the mashed cauliflower, cheeses, and seasoning.
Heat a stovetop griddle to medium/high heat. Coat with butter.
Form the cauliflower mixture into 6 patties about 3 inches across. Coat the patties in the panko crumbs.
Cook until golden brown & set, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Zucchini Pancakes

These are so good that I usually double the recipe.

Makes 8-4 inch patties

Ingredients

2 cups grated zucchini
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, grated
2 green onions, finely minced
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch or flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Butter

Directions

Place the grated zucchini on a kitchen towel and sprinkle the zucchini lightly with kosher salt. Let rest 30 minutes.
Squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini with the towel.
In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini with the egg, garlic, green onions, and arrowroot powder. Stir in the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Season with black pepper to taste.
Brush a large stovetop griddle pan or large skillet with butter. Scoop 1/4 cup of the zucchini mixture onto the griddle and pat it flat with a metal spatula. Add as many patties as you can to the pan without letting them touch each other.
Cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and keep the cooked pancakes warm in a low oven until all the pancakes are made.
Extras can be wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator for a week. Believe me when I say the leftovers are delicious reheated for breakfast and served with a fried egg on top.

 

 


Folklore tells us that what has come to be known as Italian Wedding Soup began as a dish traditionally served to the bride and groom at their wedding reception. However, that story is not exactly true. Italian Wedding Soup gained its name, not from the occasion that might bring it to the table but rather from the harmony of its ingredients. The name of the dish in English, “wedding soup”, actually means “married soup” (minestra maritata) in Italian. The modern Americanized version of wedding soup is a far lighter dish than the original, which was a rib-sticking dish intended as the main (and sometimes only) meal of the day. The Italian Wedding Soup history also has ties with America, where it was brought here by the Neapolitan immigrants. In Italy, the soup went out of fashion around the time the immigrants took their recipe with them to America. There are many, many versions of this soup. Below is my version of the dish and the one my family loves. This soup tastes better if made a day ahead.

Italian Wedding Soup

For the meatballs:

1 pound lean ground chicken
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium stalks celery with leaves, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
12 cups chicken broth
1 cup small pasta, such as ditalini
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray.

For the meatballs:

Place the ground chicken, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, Parmesan, cream, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork.
Form 1 inch balls (I use a small cookie scoop) and drop the meatballs onto the prepared pan They don’t have to be perfectly round. Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

For the soup:

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the pasta and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the Italian seasoning and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook for 1 minute. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan.



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