Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: struffoli

italianamericancover

Christmas was always a special time. As a child growing up in an Italian American family, it also meant that our family followed the same traditions year after year. What I remember of those years was that, after church on Christmas morning, my father would take us to visit the relatives where he would pick up all kinds of goodies from his sisters for us to eat later in the day. Those goodies included struffoli, panettone and homemade ricotta cookies.

On the way home, he would  pick up my maternal grandfather (who was a widower) so he could have Christmas dinner with us. My grandfather always had a huge box of all those delicious Italian pastries. While all this was going on, my mother was home preparing Christmas dinner. It was always the same dinner – that was how they liked it!

italianamerican1

A traditional Italian Antipasto – a large platter of Italian cold cuts alongside olives, anchovies, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, marinated mushrooms, Italian cheeses and lots of crusty bread on the side.

The next course was Meatball Lasagna – my mother’s specialty. A lasagna with little meatballs between the layers of noodles. I used to have to help her make those little meatballs and after making 20 or so, I was looking to quit.

The main course was always roasted boneless pork loin with potatoes. I liked the potatoes because they got brown and crusty from roasting alongside the meat, but, at the time, I wasn’t crazy about the pork. Thinking back, it may have been because my mother is a simple cook, who doesn’t use many spices in her cooking.

Sautéed spinach and a big mixed green salad were always the side dishes.

My mother was not one for baking lots of desserts and she never made Christmas cookies, as I have done all the years of my married life. She does bake great apple pies, chocolate chip cookies and  Capri cakes for special occasions – just not for Christmas. We had plenty for dessert with what my father’s sisters gave him and all those lovely pastries my grandfather had bought with him.

Italianamerican2

Italian-American Meatball Lasagna

This is another favorite from my childhood days that my children and husband are also crazy about.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground meat (pork, beef, veal, chicken, turkey or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 finely minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil

Lasagna

  • 12 traditional lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups homemade or store-bought tomato sauce for pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Two 15 ounce containers ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lb  mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a rimmed cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the meatball mixture. With wet hands, shape into mini meatballs, using 2 teaspoons of mixture for each. Place the meatballs on the prepared cookie sheet and bake until brown all over, about 15 minutes.

To make the lasagna:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add noodles to the boiling water one at a time and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and place the noodles on kitchen towels.

Stir the chopped basil into the sauce. Reserve 1 cup of the sauce for the top layer.

In a medium bowl, blend ricotta, egg, parsley and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese.

To assemble the lasagna:

Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Top with 4 noodles, overlapping. Layer half of the mozzarella slices on top of the noodles, followed by half the ricotta cheese. Spread the ricotta with a spatula. Scatter half the meatballs over the noodles. Pour 1 cup of the  sauce over the meatballs.

Top with 4 more noodles and layer with the remaining mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Scatter remaining meatballs over the cheese. Pour 1 cup sauce over meatballs.

Top with the final 4 lasagna noodles. Spread with the reserved 1 cup of sauce. Top with the remaining Parmesan. Cover the dish with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

italianamerican3

Italian Roast Pork

Ingredients

  • One 3 pound center-cut pork loin roast
  • 4 large russet potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions

Rub the pork roast with garlic, thyme, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon of the ground rosemary.

Drizzle half of the olive oil on the roast and rub to coat.

Place pork into a roasting pan with a rack at the bottom.

Place potatoes around the roast and sprinkle them with the remaining rosemary, salt and pepper.

Pour the remaining olive oil over the potatoes. Add the white wine to the pan.

Place in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about 45 minutes.

Uncover and roast for another 30 minutes, until the meat registers 140 degrees F.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 20 minutes before slicing.

italianamerican4

Struffoli

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • The zest of half a lemon, grated
  • The zest of half an orange, grated
  • 1 pinch salt

For the struffoli:

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3/4 pound (300 g) honey
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Colored sprinkles

Directions

Combine the ingredients for the dough, knead it well and let rest for at least an hour, covered. It does take a while for the dough to absorb the eggs.

Pluck off a piece, roll it out under your fingers to form a snake about as thin as your pinkie and cut the dough into quarter-inch long pieces.

Fry the pieces a few at a time in hot oil until brown and drain them on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining dough.

In another pot, preferably round-bottomed, put the honey, sugar and water in it. Boil the mixture until the foam dies down and it begins to turn yellow.

At this point reduce the heat as much as possible and add the struffoli. Stir to distribute everything evenly through the honey and turn the mixture out onto a plate.

Using your fingers shape the mixture into a wreath with a hole in the middle or in a dome shape, dipping your hands frequently into cold water so you don’t burn yourself.

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles.

italianamerican5


christmasdinner2

Christmas is by far the most important holiday of the year in Italy—the festivities lasting from December 24th through January 6th. Family gatherings are the most important part of Natale. This is the time of year when families reunite from whatever corners of the world they may have scattered and, it is around the table or a tavola, that Italian families come together. As we all know, these holidays can sometimes be anything but serene; nonetheless, Natale allows parents and children, siblings and in-laws, friends and sweethearts—and sometimes a grandfather (nonno) or grandmother (nonna), or an old beloved aunt (zia)—the opportunity to see one another after long separations, spending significant time together over festive food and drink.

Natale is one of the few occasions of the year in which family traditions are revered above all else; skills, memories and team work all come together to create very elaborate banquets and fabulous dishes. What will be eaten during the festa is a kind of ritual; very often each single course is prepared in the same way it has been for generations. Days are spent in the kitchen—everyone pitching in—with lots of long, languorous hours between meals, spent relaxing and digesting and chatting—the long-awaited family conversations punctuated by the sound of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts being cracked open and the shells tossed into the fireplace.

Antipasto

christmasdinner4

The first course is often preceded by a classic antipasto with slices of cured meat, garnished with olives, cheese and, of course, hearty bread.

First Course

christmas dinner3

Classic Lasagna

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 cans (28 oz. each) Italian tomatoes
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Lasagna

  • 1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage, cooked and drained
  • 4 cups Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan Cheese, divided
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 3 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

For Classic Tomato Sauce:

Drain tomatoes, reserve juice. Finely chop the tomatoes and set aside. In a large saucepan, cook carrot and onion in olive oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add reserved juice, tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, combine tomato sauce and cooked beef or sausage.

In a separate medium bowl, combine Ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Pour 3/4 cup tomato mixture in the bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Layer one-third of the noodles, half the Ricotta mixture, one-third of the remaining tomato sauce and 1 cup Mozzarella cheese in the baking pan. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles, tomato sauce and 1 cup Mozzarella and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 50 minutes; uncover and bake 15 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Second Course

christmasdinner5

Italian Roast Chicken with Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs chicken pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 5 potatoes (1 ½ lb), peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Directions

Season chicken with 1/2 each of the salt and pepper; set aside. Finely chop 4 of the sage leaves; set aside.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; saute garlic cloves and remaining whole sage leaves until garlic is lightly browned, 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, set sage aside for garnish. Remove garlic and set aside. Brown chicken, in batches, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add potatoes to the pan; sauté until browned, about 7 minutes. Pour off fat. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Add wine, remaining salt and pepper, garlic cloves and chopped sage; bring to boil.

Place pan in the oven preheated to in 425°F (220°C) and roast, basting 2 or 3 times, until the sauce is thickened and juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 30 minutes. Serve garnished with reserved fried sage leaves.

Italian Tossed Green Salad with Olive Oil Vinaigrette

christmasdinner3

Dessert

christmas dinner1

Struffoli

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • The zest of half a lemon, grated
  • The zest of half an orange, grated
  • 1 pinch salt

For the struffoli:

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3/4 pound (300 g) honey
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Colored sprinkles
  • 4 candied cherries, halved

Directions

Combine the ingredients for the dough, knead it well and let rest for at least an hour, covered. It does take a while for the dough to absorb the eggs.

Pluck off a piece, roll it out under your fingers to form a snake about as thin as your pinkie and cut the dough into quarter-inch long pieces. Fry the pieces a few at a time in hot oil until brown and drain them on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining dough.

In another pot, preferably round-bottomed, put the honey, sugar and water in it. Boil the mixture until the foam dies down and it begins to turn yellow. At this point reduce the heat as much as possible and add the struffoli. Stir to distribute everything evenly through the honey and turn the mixture out onto a plate. Using your fingers shape the mixture into a wreath with a hole in the middle or in a dome shape, dipping your hands frequently into cold water so you don’t burn yourself.

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles and arrange the cherry halves evenly. Struffoli will keep a week or more, if covered, and the dessert improves with age.


It is tradition that the Sicilians (and many Italians) have a seven fish dinner on Christmas Eve. Some think that each fish represents a day of the week, but most traditions come from the observance of the Cena della Vigilia (the dinner of the vigil), the wait for the birth of Christ in which early Christians fasted on Christmas Eve. Other theories include: the number represents the three Wise Men or the Holy Trinity, or in some areas, there may be as many as thirteen fishes, one for each of the apostles plus one for Jesus. Each family and each region in Italy are different and it also depends on what kind of fish is available. In most of the southern coastal regions in Italy and Sicily, seafood is abundant and so it makes sense to include fish in the menu for this festive day. The dishes and the types of fish served for La Vigilia are ultimately dictated by geography. In Naples, for instance, the devout leave certain treats on the table overnight for the angel who heralds Christ’s birth; for this reason, many dishes are vinegar-based to preserve them. Around Lake Como in the north, large trout, which are only fished during the holiday season, are common.

In America, one can find a variety of fish to celebrate the feast according to his or her tradition. Just before Christmas, markets in New York’s Italian neighborhoods, for instance, stock up on a variety of Mediterranean and Adriatic products, such as triglia or red mullet; seppie called cuttlefish or inkfish in English (similar to squid but with a rounder body and thicker flesh); cicale a relative of shrimp; langostino a small, spiny lobster; tiny vongole or clams; baby eels for frying; fresh sardines and fresh anchovies. In my fish market located in Florida, Italian fish varieties are abundant this time of year.

While this Italian American Christmas Eve dinner menu does not include seven fishes, it is a menu in the spirit of the Sicilian Christmas Eve tradition.

Appetizers

Serve with Garlic Bread

Roasted Peppers and Anchovies

Ingredients

  • 12 oil-packed anchovy filets
  • 6 jarred roasted red bell peppers, skins, stems and seeds removed, cut into large strips
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Alternately, lay anchovy filets and strips of roasted pepper on a serving platter in one layer. Combine parsley and garlic on a cutting board and finely chop together; sprinkle parsley-garlic mixture evenly over anchovies and peppers. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper; let sit 10 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped (or 1 large can crushed tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large enameled or stainless steel pot and mix well. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. You can cook this over low heat uncovered for about an hour, or cover it and cook over very low heat for several hours. The slow stewing method blends the flavors and the caponata is great reheated. This is an easy dish to make ahead of time.

First Course

Linguine with Clams and Chilies

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pasta, preferably linguine
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 hot chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Littleneck clams (about 30-36), scrubbed clean
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water and set aside.

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet with a cover over medium heat and add garlic and half the chiles; cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add clams and wine, increase heat to high and cook, covered, swirling pan occasionally, until clams open and release their juices, 5–10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer clams to a bowl; set aside.

Bring sauce to a boil over high heat and add reserved cooked pasta and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing pasta occasionally, until sauce clings to the pasta, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in some more of the pasta cooking water, if the pasta seems dry. Add 2 tablespoons parsley, season with salt and toss to combine.

Transfer pasta to a serving bowl, arrange clams over pasta and pour any clam juices from the plate over pasta. Drizzle pasta with more olive oil and garnish with remaining chiles and parsley.

Second Course

Serve with Broccoli Rabe or other green vegetable.

Swordfish with Tomatoes and Fennel

Ingredients

  • 2 ( 3/4 – to 1-pound) swordfish steaks
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 pound whole cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons slivered basil leaves

Directions

Pat the swordfish steaks dry with a paper towel on both sides. Season each side with a pinch each of salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat the olive oil, garlic and fennel seeds in a skillet with a cover over medium heat until the garlic softens and becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Lay the swordfish steaks on top of the garlic and fennel seeds and cook until they turn white on the cooked side, 5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and cook another 5 minutes.

Add the white wine and tomatoes, cover the pan tightly and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until the swordfish is easily penetrated with a skewer or paring knife. Timing will vary depending on the thickness of the steaks — thin steaks may take less than 5 minutes while very thick steaks may take as long as 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and transfer the swordfish to a heated platter. Increase the heat under the skillet to high and cook until the liquid in the pan reduces to a syrupy sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the basil leaves and pour the sauce over the swordfish steaks.

Dessert

Struffoli

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup honey
  • Rainbow (multi-colored) sprinkles
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Heat 2″ of cooking oil in a deep pan until its very hot.

Place flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well (indentation) in the center of the flour and add the eggs one at a time, mixing slightly after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well to make a soft dough. Turn dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and elastic.

Divide dough into halves and lightly roll each half 1/4 inch thick to form a rectangle. Cut dough with a pastry cutter into strips 1/4″ wide. Use the palm of your hand to roll strips to pencil thickness. Cut into pieces about 1/4″ to 1/2″ long.

In the heated oil, fry only as many pieces of dough as will float one layer deep for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Scoop out with a slotted spoon or spider and let the oil drain before removing and then place fried dough pieces on several paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

In a different pan heat the honey until it is hot. Add in the drained fried dough pieces. Stir constantly and carefully until all the pieces are coated. Remove, place in a bowl and keep it in the refrigerator to cool slightly. Remove and decorate with the sprinkles.



Skinny Spatula

Healthy food that feels like a treat

Summer Yule Nutrition

Recipes for Weight Loss by a Registered Dietitian. No Added Sugar, No Refined Grains!

ACCREDITED SENIOR PSYCHOTHERAPIST / COUNSELLOR -Dr.Fawzy Masaoud-LONDON, ENGLAND

NO DESPAIR WITH LIFE AND NO LIFE WITH DESPAIR . Email: dr.fawzyclinic2019@yahoo.com

DESIGN

Design

Mustard Seed Budget

God's blessings in your life and ministry

She’s inspired

Inspired to inspire

Yardy Homemade Cooking Blog

#Homemade Jamaica Cooking Blog,

Dairy Free Indulgence

Take back your indulgences dairy-free & guilt free with surprisingly healthy recipes!

Generation of Travelers

Recollections, musings and random thoughts of unsound mind.

Блог красоты и здоровья от LiDea

О себе, о женщинах, об особенностях женского организма, об изменениях, связанных с возрастом. О красоте и здоровье, о том, чтобы сохранить их в условиях дефицита времени. О том, как сделать так, чтобы чувствовать себя королевой, чтобы окружающие видели её в вас.

Life and Life Lessons

discover what's in my heart, let our minds travel and discover, see the world in my head

natinkadrawstheline

Gezeichnetes, Gemaltes, Geschriebenes

All Things Nice

A website about ‘all things nice!’

Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

STAY AT HOME MOM

Be an observer, and rock your life....

Reign 'n Spain

An American expat living, cooking, and eating in Valencia, Spain.

MODEL ELENA MOLLY MURGU

model elena Molly murgu NYC

Wee Scottish Mum

Easy recipes & meal planning for hungry bellies!

New foody in Switzerland

trying to cook new things

Amazing Tangled Grace

A blog about my spiritual journey in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chirpy Home

Bringing Happiness to Your Home

Islesof/

Treasure

Fishing Maverick

Gone Fishing

FOOD RECIPES

A variety of recipes that you should try

INFJ PHD

Valuing quiet and solitude in academe.

Food A La Scott

I like to eat a tremendous amount of food and share it with people.

Joy's Food Trips

Food Recipe Ingredients

BRAINCHILD

gehadsjourney.wordpress.com

mrsloveis

The Cooking, The Wedding Planning, The Life, The All.

Taiba's Recipe

Make Food By Heart

Practically Country

Country living in a practical way!

Easy Healthy Recipes

WE ARE FULL OF FOOD WONDERS

Pleasant Tasting

Tradition with fusion

redcrosse10999

General Blog Site of General Things

Diabetes Diet

The best diet for optimal blood sugar control & health

Pretty Pursuit

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Level Up Stud

Physique, Mindset, Money & More

EnigmaDebunked

Thoughts that provoke yours. (Season II coming in Jan 2020)

COOKING WITH LUCE

DISCOVERING MY INNER CHEF

EVERYDAY EATS WITH TARA

Just a busy mom who makes fresh and healthy-ish food for her toddler

GOLD RECIPES.

GOLD RECIPES.

b2d Plate

Breakfast to dinner meal ideas

Lifestyle Blog | Dominicka Teague

Sharing my take on the simplicity of fashion, lifestyle, travel and more.

%d bloggers like this: