At times, it is just the thing to slow down and have a nice leisurely dinner with your partner. No TV, no phone – just a nice glass of wine, conversation and a delicious dinner to relax after a busy work week.
Stuffed Chicken Rolls
- 2 thin chicken cutlets, pounded thin
- 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup cooked spinach, chopped
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine the Italian breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese in one bowl and the egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water in another.
Combine the remaining grated Parmesan cheese, the shredded mozzarella, spinach (make sure you squeeze it dry) and ricotta cheese in a small bowl.
Lay chicken cutlets down on a working surface and spread half of the spinach cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and place seam side down on the work surface.
Dip chicken rolls in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet. Brown chicken on all sides and place the skillet in the oven.
Bake the chicken rolls for about 15 minutes or until an instant read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Remove the pan from the oven and the chicken rolls from the pan to a serving plate.
Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs
- 2 cups fresh tomatoes, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- Salt, to taste
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 6 ounces spaghetti
Cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Drain.
Cook shallot in the olive oil in a small pot over medium high heat until soft, about 1 minute.
Reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes, pepper and salt to taste. Stir to mix.
Tomatoes should get warm, but not cooked, about 2-3 minutes.Add basil and oregano.
Mix the tomatoes with the cooked spaghetti and serve under the chicken rolls.
- 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
- 1/4 of a medium red onion, cut into rings
- 10 Italian olives
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Divide the lettuce between two salad plates and top each plate with rings of red onion and 5 olives.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over the greens and serve.
Toasted Coconut Custard Pie
- 1/3 cup honey, agave nectar, pure maple syrup or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup toasted finely shredded coconut, divided
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 prebaked Pie Crust, cooled
In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the honey, butter, vanilla and 2 cups of the almond milk.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of almond milk with the cornstarch. Slowly add this mixture to the saucepan, whisking constantly over medium high heat.
Continue whisking until the custard begins to thicken.
The custard will need to come to a full boil in order to thicken properly. You’ll know when the custard is ready because it will become the consistency of pudding.
Remove the pan from the stove and whisk in the salt, 3/4 cup of the shredded coconut and the coconut extract into the vanilla custard.
Allow the custard to cool to room temperature before spooning into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted coconut.
Refrigerate until chilled, about 2-3 hours.
Trapani is a province in the island region of Sicily in Italy. The northwestern part of the province is rugged in comparison to the south. The province also includes the archipelago of the Egadi Islands, the volcanic island of Pantelleria, which is the largest in Sicily, and the Stagnone Islands. The Egadi Islands consist of three main islands, Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo and two islets, Formica and Maraone. The coast is one of the most impressive in Italy and comprises valuable naturalistic spots with its seafront full of cliffs and stacks alternating with beautiful beaches.
Marsala, a town in the province of Trapani, is the home of Marsala wine. Marsala became known when the English began their explorations for commerce and trade. As the legend goes….
In 1770, a violent storm forced a British ship to take shelter in the harbor of Marsala. John Woodhouse, a merchant, disembarked and went into town to sample the wine in one of the humble taverns. Although more accustomed to the liqueur wines of Spain and Portugal, his palate detected their similarity to the local Marsala wine, prompting him to risk purchasing a considerable consignment of wine (blended with alcohol to withstand the journey) to take to his native land to sound out the market. The response was positive, the merchant set up his own company in Marsala. A second English merchant, Ben Ingham, a connoisseur of fortified wines, gradually improved the wine’s quality by using carefully selected blends of different grape varieties.
In 1833, the entrepreneur Vincenzo Florio, bought up large areas of land between the two largest established Marsala producers and set out to make his own vintage with a more specialised range of grapes. At the end of the 19 century, several more wine-growers joined the competition, including Pellegrino (1880). After the turn of the century, Florio bought out Ingham and Woodhouse and retained the two labels.
Marsala is registered as a DOC wine (a State-designated label of controlled quality); this means that production is restricted to an exclusive area around Trapani and a collection of additional vineyards in the provinces of Agrigento and Palermo. Only grape varieties with a high natural sugar content are used to make Marsala: these, once pressed, are left to ferment before being blended with ethyl alcohol to produce the different types and flavors of Marsala. Relative to the sugar content, Marsala may be categorised as dry, semi-dry or sweet. Its main denomination, however, is relative to the length of time it is left to mature: Marsala Fine (1 year), Superiore (2 years), Superiore Riserva (4 years), Vergine (5 years) and Vergine Riserva (10 years). Dry Marsala is usually served as an aperitif, while the sweeter forms are drunk as a dessert wine.
Marsala was traditionally served between the first and second courses. It is now also served, chilled, with Parmesan (stravecchio), Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and other spicy cheeses.
Marsala is a fortified wine – this means alcohol is added to it. This also means that, just like you can keep an open bottle of vodka or rum on your shelf, you can also keep an opened bottle of Marsala around. Just keep it in a cool, dark area.
Cooking with Marsala
Should you use – sweet or dry Marsala – in a recipe? Do you like sweet or savory chicken dishes? Are you even going to notice the subtle difference? You might not even be able to taste any difference since both are going to taste “like Marsala”. So make your recipe one time with the sweet and one time with the dry, and see if you can even notice any difference.
Garlicky Marsala Mushroom Sauce
This sauce can be served over cooked pasta, folded into an omelet, served with pan-fried chicken breasts or over cheese grits (polenta).
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound white mushrooms, caps quartered
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps quartered
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves, 2 thinly sliced and 2 minced
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 6 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the white and shiitake mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, stirring once. Uncover and cook over high heat, stirring once, until the mushrooms are browned all over, about 3 minutes.
Add the sliced garlic, the shallot and rosemary and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the minced garlic, chives, olives and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
Maggiano’s Little Italy’s Rigatoni D (Marsala)
This dish was named after its creator, David DiGregorio, Executive Chef at Chicago’s Clark & Grand St. restaurant. David and his team spent about 3 months perfecting the Marsala Cream Sauce to compliment chicken.
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
- 3/8 cup Spanish, yellow or white onion, diced ½”
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups cold low sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups rigatoni pasta
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
- ¾ cup sweet Marsala wine
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 3/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
On a 12 X 18 cookie sheet or tray, mix the diced onions, mushrooms, finely chopped garlic and balsamic vinegar together until all the ingredients are evenly mixed and coated. Bake for 15 minutes until the mushrooms are a deep brown color and almost all the liquid and moisture has evaporated. Set mixture aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the cornstarch with the cold chicken broth with a whisk. Set aside the mixture.
Prepare pasta as directed on the box to the al dente stage approximately 10 minutes before you plan on cooking the entire pasta dish. Drain pasta in a colander, shake out excess water, then toss in an 8 quart bowl with half of the olive oil.
Cut the chicken into pieces approximately 1” long x ¾” wide. In a 12”-14”.
In a pan or Dutch oven. heat the remaining olive oil and butter until melted and the butter begins to lightly brown, add the sliced chicken and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until a light golden brown color is achieved.
Immediately add the white wine to the sautéed chicken, cook until the wine evaporates, add the Marsala wine and reduce by half, then add the cold chicken broth/cornstarch mixture, bring to a simmer. Then add the heavy cream, kosher salt, black pepper and the roasted mushrooms, onions. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken.
Add the cooked rigatoni and simmer for 2 minutes. Finish the pasta and sauce with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.
Sage Meatballs with Marsala Wine Sauce
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup soft unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves (about 20 leaves), very finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- All-purpose flour for dredging
- 1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
In a large bowl, combine the meat, Parmigiano, half the butter, the sage and salt until they are very well blended, using your hands. Form small meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter using cold wet hands to keep the meat from sticking. Roll the meatballs in the flour and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat, then cook the meatballs until brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Shake the skillet often so they don’t stick.
Remove the excess fat from the skillet with a spoon and discard. Once the meatballs are brown, pour in the Marsala wine and continue cooking until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Strawberry, Mascarpone, and Marsala Budini
Budini is Italian for puddings or parfaits.
Makes 6 servings
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
- 6 tablespoons sweet Marsala (preferably imported)
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 3 cups sliced hulled strawberries (about 15 ounces)
- 2 1/4 cups coarsely crumbled amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons; about 4 1/2 ounces)
Combine mascarpone, 3 tablespoons Marsala, cream and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in medium bowl. Stir gently until well blended.
Combine strawberries, remaining 3 tablespoons Marsala, and 1 tablespoon sugar in another medium bowl; toss to blend. Cover mascarpone and berry mixtures; refrigerate 30 minutes.
Place 2 tablespoons crumbled cookies in each of 6 champagne goblets. Divide strawberry mixture with juices among the goblets.
Top berries with mascarpone mixture, then remaining cookies. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
One of the best ways to cut back on wasted food is to use it in a new recipe before it goes bad. You will notice in the recipes below that I cooked several dinners in the past few weeks and, of course, we had leftovers. I don’t mind meatloaf reheated once or twice, but not more than that. Certainly, I can freeze meatloaf but there are more interesting things I can do with it, as well as leftover pork and chicken. Do you have a leftover recipe makeover?
Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Wine Sauce
Becomes Pork Stroganoff
- 3 cups chopped leftover Pork Tenderloin in Mushroom Wine Sauce (see recipe link here)
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 8 oz wide noodles
Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and place the noodles on a medium serving platter.
Heat the leftover pork in a small skillet over medium low heat. Slowly stir in the sour cream.
Pour the meat mixture over the noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Italian Style Meatloaf
Becomes Meatloaf Panini
Serve these sandwiches with oven baked onion rings, pickles and a salad for dinner.
- 4 slices sandwich bread
- 2 slices leftover Italian Style Meatloaf (see recipe link here)
- 2 tablespoons spicy Italian peppers, chopped
- 4 slices Provolone cheese
- Olive oil
Layer 2 of the bread slices in the following way: a slice of cheese, a slice of meatloaf, 1 tablespoon of chopped peppers and a slice of cheese. on top of the each meatloaf slice.
Top with the remaining bread. Brush the bread with olive oil.
Warm up a large skillet over medium heat or heat a Panini maker. Place both sandwiches, oiled side down, in skillet or on the Panini press. Oil the bread on the top.
Close the Panini press and follow the directions for your machine.
If using a skillet, cook the sandwich for a few minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.
Turn the sandwiches over and press down firmly with a spatula on the top of the bread to compress the sandwiches. Cook until golden brown.
Grilled Chicken Breasts
Becomes Leftover Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad and Small Batch Chicken Broth
Being a frugal Italian cook, nothing gets wasted in my kitchen. The chicken breasts I grilled last week were large, so we did not eat all the chicken. I removed the chicken that was left from the bones and reserved it for the Caesar Salad recipe. I also find that some recipes call for a small amount of chicken broth. The breast bones that were left can solve that need.
Small Batch Chicken Broth
- 2 leftover chicken breast bones
- 1/4 of a medium onion
- Celery top
- Small carrot
- Small garlic clove
- 1 bay leaf
- Few peppercorns
Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cover the ingredients with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for one hour.
Strain the broth and pour into half cup containers. Freeze for future use.
Leftover Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
- Leftover chicken cut into cubes
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and finely chopped
- 1 cup croutons
- Shaved Parmesan cheese
- Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Combine the anchovy paste, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, garlic and Worcestershire sauce to a small bowl and stir together.
Gradually whisk in the olive oil, whisking until the dressing is emulsified.
Place the chopped lettuce in a bowl and toss it with the dressing, cubed chicken and croutons. Add shaved Parmesan and fresh black pepper. Toss and serve.
It’s harvest time and the last of summer’s fresh fruit and vegetables are coming to market. Salad ingredients, beets, cucumbers and peppers are all still available. And there should still be plenty of zucchini, green beans, spinach and corn to play a supporting role on your dinner plate.
The first autumn/winter vegetables are putting in an appearance now in the shape of Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, pumpkins and mushrooms,
Apples and pears are plentiful, too. It’s also time to enjoy the last of the berries, plums and tomatoes. Comfort food is back.
Spinach Bacon Quiche
- One 9 inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
- 4 slices bacon
- Half a sweet onion, diced
- 2 cups leftover cooked spinach or frozen and defrosted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup half & half
- 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided
Fit the pastry into a 9 inch pie plate and crimp the edges. Place in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the bacon until crisp in a medium skillet. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain. Crumble when cool.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and saute the chopped onion in the remaining bacon fat. Add the spinach, thyme, salt and pepper. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool.
In a measuring cup, combine the eggs and half & half.
Take the pie shell out of the refrigerator and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese evenly on the bottom of the pie crust. Then sprinkle with the crumbled bacon. Spread the spinach onion mixture over the bacon.
Slowly pour the egg mixture over the spinach. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake the quiche for about 40-45 minutes until the top is golden and puffy and the quiche does not “wobble” in the center when gently moved
Let the quiche rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Fall Beet Salad
- Olive oil for coating the beets
- 3 golden beets
- 1 Valencia orange, peel removed and sliced into thin rounds
- 1/4 fennel bulb, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons shallots, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of half an orange
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Make the dressing: Whisk the orange zest, raspberry vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
For the beets:
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Place the beets on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool. Peel and cut into thin rounds.
Arrange the beets, orange slices and sliced fennel on a serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped shallots. Drizzle with half of the dressing of the dressing and reserve the remaining dressing to serve with the salad,
Cover the salad with plastic wrap and chill until serving time.
Chicken with Corn Salsa
Corn Salsa (see recipe link here)
For the rub:
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (see recipe link here)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine to make a paste
- Rub the paste over both sides of 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
For grilling on a gas grill:
Prepare a gas grill for indirect heat: Turn all burners to high and close the lid. When the temperature inside the grill reaches 400°F, lift lid and turn off one of the burners.
The area over the turned-off burner is the indirect heat area.
Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Place chicken skin side down over the indirect-heat area; close the lid and cook 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, close the lid and cook another 10 minutes.
Move chicken over direct heat and cook, turning once, until skin is well browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
Watch carefully; dripping fat or any added oils catch fire easily (a small spray bottle filled with water is handy for taming flames).
Place the cooked chicken on individual plates and place corn salsa on the side.
Zucchini Vegetable Kebabs
The kebabs go well with any grilled meat or fish.
For the Marinade
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoons pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a small measuring cup.
For the Kebabs
- 2 skewers
- Vegetables cut into one inch pieces:
- 1 cup zucchini
- 1 cup red bell peppers
- 1 cup red onion
Combine the marinade and vegetables in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Remove vegetables from the marinade and thread on skewers, alternating the vegetables. Place the skewers on the grill and cook 7 to 10 minutes on each side or until tender.
Mac & Cheese
This makes a wonderful side dish for grilled meat or fish.
- 1 lb dried short pasta (mezze penne, elbows)
- 4 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup butter, diced
- ½ cup instant flour (Wondra)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 8 oz 2% milk Velveeta processed cheese, cut into cubes
- 8 oz mild cheddar, shredded
- ½ cup dried plain breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot mix the cold milk with the instant flour; add the butter and place the pan on medium heat.
Stirring often, bring the sauce to boiling, reduce heat and cook until thickened, whisking often. Add the salt, mustard and cayenne. Add the velveeta cheese and heat until melted.
Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Pour into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs and shredded cheddar together and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
(The casserole can be made ahead to this stage and refrigerated until baking time. Add 15 minutes to the baking time if the casserole is refrigerated.)
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until heated through.
Padua is a province in the Veneto region of Italy. It is home to some of the masterpieces from the Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture period and the towns of Cittadella and Montagnana are famous for their well-preserved Medieval city walls. There are also many ancient and historic villas in the countryside. The hills offer a relaxing naturalistic site often covered with woods, while the eastern slopes offer ancient spa sites, such as Terme Euganee, Abano Terme, Montegrotto Terme, Galzignano Terme and Battaglia Terme. There is a small part of the Venetian Lagoon lying inside the province, the Valle Millecampi (“one-thousand-fields valley”) that includes naturalistic routes for cycling or horse-riding.
The University of Padua was founded in 1222 and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second oldest in Italy. In 2010 the university had approximately 65,000 students and in 2013 was ranked “best university” among Italian institutions of higher education with more than 40,000 students.
From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, the university was renowned for its research, particularly in the areas of medicine, astronomy, philosophy and law. During this time, the university adopted the Latin motto: Universa universis patavina libertas (Paduan Freedom is Universal for Everyone). Nevertheless, the university had a turbulent history, and there was no teaching in 1237–61, 1509–17 and 1848–50.
The Botanical Garden of Padova, established by the university in 1545, was one of the oldest gardens of its kind in the world (after the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). In addition to the garden, the university also manages nine museums, including a History of Physics Museum.
The University began teaching medicine from the day it was founded and played a leading role in the identification and treatment of diseases and ailments, specializing in autopsies and the inner workings of the body. The university houses the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theatre in Europe, dating from 1595.
Since 1595, Padua’s famous anatomical theater drew artists and scientists studying the human body during public dissections. Anatomist Andreas Vesalius held the chair of Surgery and Anatomy and in 1543 published his anatomical discoveries in De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The book triggered great public interest in dissections and caused many other European cities to establish anatomical theatres.
The university became one of the universities of the Kingdom of Italy in 1873 and, ever since, has been one of the most prestigious in the country for its contributions to scientific and scholarly research. In the field of mathematics alone, its professors have included such figures, as Gregorio Ricci Curbastro, Giuseppe Veronese, Francesco Severi and Tullio Levi Civita. On 25 June 1678, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, a Venetian noblewoman and mathematician, became the first woman to be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Padua’s cuisine has its simple roots in the vegetable garden, the farmyard and the vineyard, Farmyard products include: the well-known Paduan hen, Polverara hen, goose, guinea-hen and capon.
All varieties of chicory are cultivated in the countryside of Padua and include the Variegated Castelfranco, Early and Late Red Treviso, Red Chioggia or Red Verona varieties, are always present in the cooking proposals of the restaurants of Padua. Their soft and slightly bitter taste is particularly appetising in risotto dishes.
Padua is a producer of both the white and of the green species of asparagus. Boiled eggs and asparagus or risotto with asparagus are part of the springtime cuisine.
Like the rest of the Veneto region, Padua is a land of well-known vineyards. DOC wines are produced in five areas of the province.Wines events and exhibitions are usually organized for spring and autumn.
Since Pre-Roman times olive trees have been cultivated in the Euganean Hills. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced in the area is under the protection of the Association of the Regional Park of the Euganean Hills. The color of the oil is typically golden green, obtained by using cold-pressing techniques and bottling after careful decanting without filtering.
Montagnana is renowned for its ham, a tradition rooted in the rural population, called, prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana, by the locals. The sweet taste, the tenderness, the pink color and the unmistakable smell guarantee the identity of this product, so much so, that these properties were granted by the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) seal and are now safeguarded by the Consortium of the Prosciutto Veneto Berico Euganeo, based in Montagnana. On the third Sunday of May, Montagnana organizes Piacere Montagnana, the festival of sweet ham.
In summer Padua produces its excellent cheeses in the northern grazing areas and among them are Grana Padano, Montasio and Asiago.
The cooking traditions of Padua are passed on to the generations that follow with only slight changes to adjust to more modern tastes and likes, while preserving the old recipes.
Tramezzini are very common in Padua. They are stuffed triangular sandwiches made of chewy white bread and usually served with a glass of Prosecco.
- 1 can mushrooms
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Slices of Prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 slices bread
Remove the crust from the bread.
Chop the mushrooms.
In a bowl, stir together the mushrooms, cream cheese, parsley, lemon juice and pepper until creamy. Spread a layer of mushrooms on each slice of bread.
Top four pieces of bread with some ham. Turn the other four slices upside down on top of the other one. Press and cut diagonally.
Risotto con gli Asparagi
- 5-6 cups homemade or purchased low sodium broth
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 lb asparagus
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups rice: Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup Grana Padano grated cheese, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
Pour the broth into a pot and heat. Keep at a simmer.
Trim and discard the tough woody stems of the asparagus (usually about an inch). Slice the spears crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces. Leave the tips intact.
Place 1 tablespoon of butter and the extra-virgin olive oil into a heavy-bottomed 5-quart pot.
Add the onions and cook over med-high heat for a couple of minutes, until transparent.
Add the sliced asparagus (reserve the tips for later use) and salt.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus are soft and slightly golden in color.
Add the rice and “toast”, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes, until the rice acquires a light golden color.
Add the white wine and stir for one minute, letting it evaporate. Add a couple of ladles of hot broth to the rice and lower the heat to medium. Add the asparagus tips.
Stir every 30 seconds or so. Keep adding broth, ladle by ladle, as soon as the liquid is absorbed, slightly covering the rice each time, until the rice is cooked.
You will need approximately 5 cups of broth, but it depends on the rice variety, so be prepared to add more or less.
Cooking time for the rice will be 14 to 18 minutes, depending on the rice variety used. The final consistency of the risotto should be creamy.
Turn off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 cup cheese and heavy cream.
Rest for one minute and serve with freshly ground black pepper and the reserved cheese.
Paduan Chicken Cacciatore
Authentic Chicken Cacciatore doesn’t use tomatoes. It was a traditional Italian dish that hunters could easily make in the field if they needed to cook a meal.
- 1 Padua chicken
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 20 mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup Prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana, diced
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 sage branch
- 1 thyme sprig
- Dash red wine vinegar
- Chianti red wine
- Chopped parsley for garnish
Cut the chicken up into smaller pieces.
Season well with salt and pepper.
Brown in a hot skillet with some olive oil. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and brown gently. Add the diced prosciutto and place the chicken back in the pan.
Add the herbs and vinegar and allow it to evaporate.
Add enough red wine to cover the chicken. Simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender and falls off the bone.
Serve with either polenta or slices of bread and with steamed or roasted vegetables on the side. Garnish with chopped parsley.
A quick dinner isn’t so quick, if you’re stuck washing a dozen pots and pans when you’re through. To me, nothing is worse than facing a mountain of dishes in the sink when dinner is over.
However, here is one solution – cook everything on a foiled-covered baking pan. This method ensures you won’t get stuck in the kitchen and it produces a great tasting dinner.
Orange Flavored Baked Chicken, Onions and Potatoes
The recipe is easily doubled or tripled depending on how many diners are at your table.
- 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon. dried chili flakes
- 4 small potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- One large sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves minced
- 4 boneless chicken thighs (about 6 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat and skin removed
- 3/4 to 1 cup panko bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 425°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Finely grate 1 teaspoon orange zest and squeeze 1 tablespoon of orange juice from the orange. Stir together the juice, zest, oil, salt and the chili flakes in a small bowl.
Place the potatoes and onions on the baking sheet and brush them, on all sides, with some of the orange mixture.
Place the chicken in a medium bowl and pour the remaining oil mixture over the chicken thighs. Turn to coat well. Dredge the chicken in the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken.
Place the chicken on the foiled-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the thighs and vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables and chicken with the minced rosemary.
Note: The recipe can be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated until time to cook dinner.
Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes and onions over. Continue to roast about for 20 minutes more, until the chicken is crisp and golden and the potatoes are lightly browned in spots.
When the chicken is done, remove the potatoes and onions to serving plates and top with the chicken.
Remove the foil from the pan, carefully, and guess what……no pan to wash tonight.
Cucumbers in Sour Cream Dressing
Note: Salting the cucumbers draws out excess moisture and helps keep the salad from getting watery.
Makes 2 servings
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Scoop out the seeds from the halved cucumbers with a spoon and slice into ¼ inch thick half-moons.
Place cucumber and scallion slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the cucumber and scallion slices and toss to coat.
Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill in the refrigerator until serving time.
Ancona is a province in the Marche region of central Italy. The province is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the north and the Apennine Mountains on the west. Ancona’s sandy beaches are popular with Italians but not well-known to tourists.
The hills of the region are littered with Medieval buildings and walls, and unlike many other often-invaded areas, historical architecture has been preserved and adapted for modern uses.
The Ancona port, one of the main ports on the Adriatic Sea, is located in the city of Ancona and is a busy passenger port with ferries running to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro.
The city was founded in 387 BC by Greek settlers and the name Ancona comes from the Greek for elbow, due to its elbow-shaped harbor.
Many of the small craft workshops of the past scattered throughout the rural settlements have modernised and become small businesses, some of which have become major brands known all over the world (Indesit, Tod’s, Guzzini, Teuco). This evolution led to the emergence of ‘specialised’ industries: footwear, leather goods, furniture, household appliances and textiles, all made in the region.
The demand for Italian textiles and clothing is strong in the United States and Japan, as well as China, Hong Kong, Turkey and Russia. Italy is also a pioneer in the export of yarn, woolen fabrics, silk fabrics, clothing and hosiery.
A large area of the province’s land is farmland and much of it is used for wine production; as the production of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Verdicchio grapes. Traditional feasts are held in the province during the harvesting period.
The mountainous regions and the Conero Regional Park, which contain dense forests, are where black truffles are found and they are sold throughout the province and neighboring provinces.
The main products grown are cereals, vegetables, animal products and grapes. Olives are also produced and managed by various harvesters. The sea has always furnished a plentiful supply of fish,
The influence of the neighboring regions, particularly Emilia-Romagna, can be seen in the popularity of fresh egg pasta and oven-baked pasta dishes in the province. Vincisgrassi is a regional favorite and is a type of baked-lasagna stuffed with chicken livers.
In and around Ancona, you will find a variety of soups. Minestra di lumachelle is a local favorite containing lumachelle, a type of pasta made with egg, cheese and bread crumbs, similar to passatelli. Tripe soup, or minestrone di trippa, is also a regional specialty that is served with a battuto, lard pounded together with herbs.
Along the coast, fish soups are typical. Brodetto is prepared with a variety of fish. There are also a number of special, regional preparations for local seafood: cooked with white wine, tomato, lemon juice and spices, alla marinara, stewed in tomato sauce; al forno or oven-broiled.
Meat is also popular. Pilotto is a way to prepare meat by wrapping it in paper with a piece of lard, which melts into the meat during cooking. Another local favorite is Porchetta, a spit-roasted whole, boneless pig that has been stuffed with herbs.
Some of the best cheeses made in the area are Casciotta d’Urbino DOP, Raviggiolo del Montefeltro, Slaatto and herb-flavored sheep’s milk cheeses. For a special treat, olive ascolane are stuffed with meat, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and then fried.
Cicerchiata is a dessert made from yeast dough, shaped into balls, baked in the oven and covered with honey. Becciate are made with raisins and pine nuts. Migliaccio is a dessert made with pig’s blood, sugar and citrus peel.
Broad Beans with Anchovies
Serve with crusty Italian bread as an appetizer.
- 2 lb broad beans, fresh and shells removed
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 pinch marjoram
- 4 anchovies
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- White wine vinegar to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the broad beans in a small quantity of salted water until they are fairly “al dente”.
Prepare the topping with a chopped mixture of anchovies, garlic, marjoram, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour the topping over the broad beans as soon as they have been drained. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Brodetto (Fish Stew) Ancona-Style
You can use any type of fish–swordfish, squid, red snapper, shrimp, clams, mussels and lobster for this recipe with a total weight of 3 lbs.. Clean the clams and mussels well and put them into the stew whole. Some versions of brodetto use saffron instead of red pepper flakes and white wine instead of vinegar. You can substitute rice for the bread, as well.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Red pepper flakes (chili) to taste
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
- 1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup white vinegar or wine
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 3 cups fish stock
- 1 pound clams in the shell, scrubbed
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp, with shells
- 6 (3/4 inch thick) slices Italian bread, toasted
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or a clay pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, parsley and red pepper.
Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the mashed tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Pour in the vinegar or wine and cook 10 minutes. Pour in the fish stock and add the snapper.
Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Gently mix in the clams and cook until the clams open (discard any that don’t) about 2 minutes, and then stir in the shrimp.
Cook until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes.
Place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the brodetto over the bread and serve immediately.
Pollo in Potacchio
- 1 small chicken cut into 5 pieces (wing, drumstick, thigh and breast cut in half)
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup chopped imported Italian tomatoes
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Hot water
- 10 small Yukon gold potatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
Line a dish with paper towels and lay out the chicken, skin side up. Let air dry uncovered in the refrigerator for 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the potatoes into wedges. Place in a pot, cover with cold water, and add a pinch of salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
The potatoes will not be completely cooked. Drain in colander.
Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the leaves from two of the rosemary sprigs. Add a good pinch of salt and toss.
Pour the potatoes out onto a sheet pan and shake to separate. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning the potatoes once with a stainless steel spatula.
In a large skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about ten minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.
Discard the rendered chicken fat and oil.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the large skillet, still over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic cloves; sauté until soft but not brown.
Add the white wine and rosemary sprigs; cook until the wine evaporates.
Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken and a splash of hot water. Turn the chicken over to coat. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve the chicken topped with a little sauce and the potatoes.
Orange Cake – Ancona-Style
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the pan
- 3 eggs
- Grated peel of 3 oranges
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened to room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, with 3 tablespoons sugar dissolved in it.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thickly smear a Bundt pan with butter and dust with flour.
Put the flour, eggs, orange peel, 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar and liqueur in a food processor and run until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.
Add the milk and baking powder and process again to incorporate into the mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan (it won’t fill it up all the way) and place the pan in the preheated oven.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester placed in the center of the cake comes out clean..
Invert the cake while still warm and place it on a rimmed plate. Poke many holes into the cake with a thin handle from a wooden spoon.
Pour the orange juice over the cake slowly. At first, the holes fill to the brim with juice, but this will be absorbed by the cake. Repeat until all the juice is used.
Whatever juice ends up at the bottom of the cake, leave it there; it will eventually be absorbed.
Serve at room temperature. The cake keeps in the refrigerator, covered, for a week.