Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cheese

I used pappardelle pasta for this recipe because I wanted a lighter dish. Pappardelle noodles are very wide but lighter than lasagna. If you want a lower carb dish, I would recommend a low carb pasta I found made by Al Dente. It is a delicious egg/semolina pasta, that tastes like pasta but has half the carbs of regular pappardelle pasta. I like to serve a mixed green salad with Italian dressing with the casserole.

Ingredients

1 lb Pappardelle pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound Italian pork sausage
3-14 to 15 oz cans diced Italian tomatoes, undrained
One 6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
Salt and pepper

Ricotta Filling
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well and set aside
32 oz container ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley or ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions.

Cut the sausage into ¼ inch slices.

In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Add sausage; cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, one tomato paste can of water, and the dried seasoning. Cook and stir for one minute. Add tomatoes salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Cook pasta two minutes less than the package directions. Drain.

Arrange a double layer of pappardelle (about a third of the pasta) in a 3-quart casserole dish sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Cover the pasta with 1/3 of the sauce and add half of the ricotta cheese. Spread the cheese to cover the layer underneath. Repeat the process for a second layer. Spread the remaining pasta for a third layer and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella.

Spray a sheet of foil with olive oil cooking spray. Place the coated side down on the baking dish. Bake at 375*F for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.


‘Scarpariello” literally means shoemaker-style.”Shoemaker-style chicken” may refer to Neapolitan shoemakers making delicious food in the little time they had at the end of the day. Chicken scarpariello is sometimes attributed to Sicily and Calabria and is made by sauteeing chicken pieces in oil and adding white wine, lemon, garlic, and parsley. However, it is not a traditional dish from Italy. It is probably more of a “Little Italy” dish, born of southern Italian roots somewhere in our Italian American neighborhoods here in the United States. In any case, it is delicious and very easy to make. Some recipes are made with a whole chicken or chicken thighs. I prefer the chicken strips for this dish. I also add potatoes but you can leave them out and serve the dish with pasta.

Chicken Scarpariello

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 lb chicken tenders
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil- divided
1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage
12 oz new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch thick slices
4 pickled sweet cherry peppers, quartered
1 sweet bell pepper sliced (red, yellow, or orange)
1/4 red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon cherry pepper pickle liquid
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon black ground pepper
¼ cup each chopped fresh basil and fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

Sprinkle the chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour.
In a 10- to 12-inch heavy-bottomed saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Add the chicken pieces, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, and brown on both sides, turning once.

Transfer to a plate and set aside. In the same pan, cook the sausage slices and potatoes until brown; remove them and set aside with the chicken.

Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers and cherry peppers to the pan. Saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the wine, broth, vinegar, oregano, sea salt, and black pepper and bring to a boil, then return the chicken, sausage, and potatoes to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a bubbling simmer until cooked through 20 minutes; add more wine or water if necessary to keep the pan from getting dry.

Transfer the chicken to serving plates. Stir the basil and parsley into the sauce remaining in the pan and spoon over the chicken.

Caprese Salad

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large vine-ripened tomato, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced1/4 inch thick
Fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

On a serving platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Season salad with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil.


Shrimp Wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma (Saltimbocca)

2 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 fresh sage leaves
12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
6 pieces Prosciutto di Parma, sliced very thin
Coarsely ground fresh black pepper

Directions

Cut each piece of prosciutto in half, lengthwise. Place a sage leaf on each shrimp. Wrap one Proscuitto half around each shrimp. Refrigerate for a few hours if you have time.

Heat a stovetop grill. Coat the pan with olive oil. Place the wrapped shrimp on the grill and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. The prosciutto will get crispy. Sprinkle with the black pepper and remove to a serving plate.

Spinach and Pear Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 medium red pears, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 celery stalk, diced
1 (6-8ounce) package pre-washed baby spinach
1/4 of red onion, sliced
Dressing
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/8 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Directions

Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl; toss to combine.
Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

Homemade Biscuits

6 servings

Use your favorite store-bought mix or my quick biscuit recipe.
I use a cast iron biscuit pan.

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
10 tablespoons cold butter
5 tablespoons heavy cream
2 eggs

Directions

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender. Combine the cream and eggs. Mix into the flour mixture just until combined.

Coat a 6 cup biscuit baking pan with butter-flavored cooking spray. Divide the biscuit mixture evenly among the six wells. Refrigerate the pan until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the biscuits in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.


Italian Meatloaf

12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium sweet onions, diced
2 jarred roasted red peppers cut in small dice
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
2 pounds ground beef
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
Fresh mozzarella cheese slices, about 6
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into wedges
Olive oil
Dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute 1 minute and then add the onions and saute until just soft. Let cool.

Place the rutabaga wedges in cold water. This helps them stay crisp during roasting.

Whisk together the basil, parsley, and eggs in a small bowl, and then add the salt and black pepper. Combine the Parmesan and breadcrumbs in another small bowl. Thoroughly combine the beef and sausage, egg mixture, breadcrumb mixture, the Worcestershire, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil together in a large bowl using your hands, making sure not to overmix.

Shape the mixture into a loaf on an oiled oven tray or baking dish. Place the rutabaga wedges around the meatloaf. Sprinkle them with oregano, salt, pepper. and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for approximately 60-70 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Top the meatloaf with the marinara sauce making sure to spread it evenly over the top and place the mozzarella slices on top of the sauce. Return to the oven until the cheese melts. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the rutabaga wedges and kale in the side.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale

Lacinato kale or, in Italian and often in English, cavolo nero is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. This kale has longer spear-like leaves with a pebbled appearance and a dark, mottled green color. Its flavor is earthy and less bitter than regular kale.

Ingredients

2 large bunches Tuscan kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 small lemon

Directions

Use your hands to pull the kale leaves from their stems. Coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse them, but do not dry.
Heat the oil in large, wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute (do not let the garlic brown).

Add the kale a few handfuls at a time, stirring after each addition until all of the kale is added. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and serve.


Skillet Chicken Parm

Ingredients

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (about 12 oz total)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour
¾ cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
1 large egg
Olive oil
Warm Marinara sauce, recipe below
6 ounces fresh Italian Fontina cheese, sliced thin

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
26-28 oz container Italian chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Prepare the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Prepare the chicken
Cut off any fat remaining on the chicken. Place a breast between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound lightly with a meat mallet to an even thickness. Repeat with the second breast. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Spread out the flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates. Beat the egg in a wide shallow bowl until thoroughly blended. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat lightly and tap off excess flour. Dip in the beaten egg, hold them over the bowl, letting the excess egg drip back into the bowl. Transfer the chicken, one piece at a time to the plate of breadcrumbs, turn it to coat with breadcrumbs, patting gently and making sure that each breast is well coated with breadcrumbs. If you have time refrigerate the breaded chicken for several hours.

Heat a layer of olive oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a corner of one of the coated breasts gives off a sizzle when dipped in the oil. Add the chicken pieces without touching each other. Fry, turning once, until golden on both sides and cooked through about 6 minutes. Top each chicken breast with several spoonfuls of marinara sauce. Place the sliced cheese over the sauce to cover the chicken completely. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook a minute or two until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Butter, Black Pepper, and Pecorino Romano Cheese

Ingredients

8 oz fettuccine pasta
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
` tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
4 tablespoons butter

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and return the pot to the stove. Melt the butter in the pot and add the black pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and slowly swirl in the pecorino cheese. Mix well and serve with the chicken parm and a green salad.


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.


Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon

ingredients

Serves 2

2 filet mignon steaks, (5 to 6 ounces each, about 1 1/2 inches thick)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black peppercorns
2 teaspoons olive oil

Red Wine Sauce
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
Coarse salt to taste

Directions

For the beef:

Season the beef filets very generously on both sides with the salt and pepper, patting it firmly. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Move the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.

Place the steaks in the skillet and cook, without moving the steaks, until a dark brown crust has formed, about 3 minutes.

Using tongs, turn the steaks over and cook until well browned on the second side, about 3 minutes.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast the steaks 5 minutes for rare or 7 minutes for medium-rare to medium.

Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the sauce.

For the red wine sauce:

Place 1 cup red wine in a small saucepan; boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the pan from the heat and add the butter. Stir the sauce until the butter is melted and the sauce is thickened about 1 minute.

Season with salt according to taste, if needed.

Salad With Roasted Beets, Blue Cheese and Pistachios

Vinaigrette

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

Salad

1 bunch small golden beets, trimmed of leaves and washed well
4 cups romaine lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
¼ red onion, sliced very thin
4 ounces blue cheese, cut into cubes
1/3 cup shelled, toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Homemade croutons, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the beets on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and seal the ends to create a package.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until tender. Cool; peel and slice or cut into ½ inch pieces. Transfer to a small bowl.

Make the vinaigrette:

Combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined

Toss the beets with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette. Set aside until ready to prepare the salad.

Place the romaine and onion in a salad bowl and toss with some of the remaining vinaigrette.

Add the beets, pistachios and blue cheese and toss gently. Top with croutons, if using.



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