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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Dinner

Look for compact heads of cabbage that are heavy for their size. Whether red or green, the leaves should be crisp and deeply colored. Check the stem to make sure it has no cracks around its base. Avoid discolored heads with wilted outer leaves.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage

Ingredients

1 lb cooked Italian hot (rope) sausage
8 savoy cabbage leaves
2 cups Marinara Sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Oil an 8×12 baking dish.

Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water or, as I do, freeze the leaves and then defrost them overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the bottom part of the stem on each leaf. Place the leaves on a kitchen towel.

Cut the sausage into 8 equal pieces. Place one piece of sausage on each cabbage leaf. Roll up the leave into little packages. Spread some Marinara Sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and arrange the cabbage rolls in the dish. Cover the rolls with Marinara Sauce. Cover the dish with foil and bake the cabbage rolls for 1 ½ hours.

Garlic and Herb Rice

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, or tarragon, or a combination of many
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Bring broth to a simmer in medium saucepan.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add hot broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Add herbs to the rice; fluff with a fork and serve with the cabbage rolls.

Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 bunch thin asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper

Dressing
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Adjust oven rack to uppermost position and heat broiler.
Mix the asparagus with the 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste, then lay the spears in a single layer on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Broil about 4 inches from the heat, shaking pan halfway through to turn spears, until the asparagus are tender and lightly browned 8 to 10 minutes.

Cool the asparagus for 5 minutes and arrange them on a serving dish.
Whisk the shallot, lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, mustard, and 2 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in small bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the asparagus and serve.

 

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Cacciatore means “hunter’s style.” This dish developed in central Italy and is considered a country-style dish in which chicken pieces are simmered together with tomatoes. The dish originated in the Renaissance period (1450-1600) when the only people who could afford to enjoy poultry and the sport of hunting. Tomatoes were added after the explorers brought them to Europe from the Americas and the original dish was made with pheasant or rabbit. This dish became a staple in Italian-American homes and there are many ways to make this dish. My grandmother and my mother made it often and I continue the tradition a bit differently. Hope you like my version.

Chicken Cacciatore

Serve with a mixed green salad.

Ingredients

One 4 lb organic chicken
2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (divided)
1/3 cup all-purpose, low carb or gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (26-oz.) container Pomi brand finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb cooked thin spaghetti or zucchini noodles

Directions

Cut the chicken into 8 pieces (cut breasts in half). Save the wings and backbone for soup.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a large plate. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place the flour in a ziplock bag. Place a few pieces of chicken in the bag with the flour, seal and shake the bag until the chicken is coated. Remove the coated chicken pieces to the plate. Continue until all the chicken pieces are floured.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat for several minutes. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until shimmering. Add a layer of chicken and brown on both sides. Remove the browned chicken to the plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and brown the remainder of the chicken. Remove to the plate.
Add the vegetables to the pot; reduce the heat to low and sauté until the vegetables are softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, remaining salt and pepper and the browned chicken pieces to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is very tender. Serve with thin spaghetti.

Italian Country Bread

Ingredients

2 teaspoons SAF (instant) yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Place the warm water in an electric mixing bowl. Add honey. Mix until the honey is dissolved.
Add the 4 cups of flour and salt and mix. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour.

Using the paddle attachment on number 2 speed, mix the dough until a dough forms that holds together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and continue kneading for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is soft but supple.

Shape the dough into a ball. Spray the mixer bowl with olive oil cooking spray and place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 60 minutes.

Place a sheet of parchment paper in a 9 or 10-inch pan or shallow dish. Turn the dough out onto the parchment pan or dish. Gently shape the dough into a round and cover with greased plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes or more.

At the same time put a covered Cloche pan or Dutch Oven in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Do not grease or spray the Cloche pan or Dutch Oven. Baking in a cloche pan is similar to a mini hearth oven.

After the dough has risen for 30 minutes and the oven temperature is at 500 degrees F, open the oven and take the lid off the cloche pan.

USE A THICK POTHOLDER BECAUSE THE LID IS VERY HOT!

Transfer the dough while on the parchment to the bottom of the hot cloche pan. Cover with the cloche lid.

Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and remove the cloche lid.

Bake 15 minutes more, or until bread is crusty and brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place the bread on a wire cooling rack.


 

T-bone steaks have two distinct pieces of meat on it, which cook at different rates: the leaner tenderloin and the fattier strip. The key to perfectly grilling a T-bone is to start cooking it with lower heat and then finish it over high heat. Grass-fed beef cooks more quickly than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef requires 30% less cooking time so watch your thermometer and don’t leave your steaks unattended.

Wedge Salad

This retro salad is making a comeback.

4 servings

Ingredients

Blue Cheese Dressing

Whisk together in a small bowl:

1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Fold in 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese. Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Salad

Cut 4 oz. thick bacon into 1″ thick pieces.
Cook in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, until crisp, 5–7 minutes.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Cut 1 small head of iceberg lettuce into 4 wedges; place on individual salad plates and spoon some of the dressing over the wedges.
Top each with some diced bacon, diced red onion, diced tomato and more crumbled blue cheese. Then sprinkle each with chopped chives.

Grilled T-Bone Steak With Onion Rings

For great tasting beef, start with a steak rub.

Rub Ingredients

2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoons ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

Steak

4 tablespoons butter
4 (16 ounces) t-bone steaks, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grates.
Stir the salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, coriander, and turmeric together in a small bowl.
Rub the steaks on all sides with the seasoning mixture.

Directions

Set up an outdoor grill for direct and indirect heat. Oil the grill grates.
Arrange steaks on the cooler side of the grill with tenderloins (the smaller medallions of meat) positioned farthest from the coals. Cook steaks, turning once (but always keeping tenderloin farthest from the coals), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the coolest part of the strip (the larger section of meat) registers 115°F/46°C and the tenderloin registers 110°F/43°C for medium-rare, about 10 minutes total for grass-fed beef.
Transfer steaks to the hot side of the grill and cook, turning, until seared on both sides, about 2 minutes on each side for grass-fed beef.
An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 125-130 degrees F. Place the steaks on a serving platter and top each with a tablespoon of butter.

Let rest 10 minutes, then serve.

Oven-Baked Onion Rings

4 servings

Ingredients

1 large yellow onion – ends trimmed off, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cups panko breadcrumbs, or more if needed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Place the onion rings in a bowl of ice-cold water before coating.
Whisk eggs with cream in a bowl until thoroughly combined; season egg mixture with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Place flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Place panko crumbs in a separate bowl.
Work with one or two at a time, shaking off excess water then toss into a bag of flour mix.

Place onion rings into a large resealable plastic bag. Add flour, salt, and black pepper; seal bag and shake until the onion rings are well coated with flour.
Place flour-coated onion rings into the egg mixture, a few at a time, and toss lightly with tongs until coated. Place rings into panko crumbs and gently shake the bowl to toss the crumbs with the onion rings until rings are coated with crumbs.
Transfer coated onion rings to a large baking sheet; spray rings lightly with cooking spray.
Bake in the preheated oven until the onion rings are tender and crumbs are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.


My market had chicken cutlets on sale this week, so I took advantage of this sale. Several went into the freezer and dinner that night would be chicken cutlets. I wanted to make something a little different this time and decided on making some type of stuffing. Being economical, I looked to see what was hanging out in the refrigerator and found several slices of prosciutto and a package of Italian Fontina cheese. So that is how my Italian Codon Bleu happened. My husband liked it so much better than the ham and cheese version. Give it a try. You can substitute cooked pasta for the zucchini noodles if you like, but we are trying to each a few less carbs these days and zucchini is a great substitute. Give these recipes a try.

Italian Chicken “Cordon Bleu”

2 servings

Ingredients

Two 5 oz boneless chicken cutlets
4 slices prosciutto
2 slices Italian Fontina cheese, cut to fit the width of the chicken
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper, divided
2 thin pats of butter

Directions

Place the cutlets between pieces of plastic wrap and pound lightly to even out their thickness.

Fit one slice of prosciutto over each cutlet. follow with a slice of cheese and then another slice of prosciutto on each cutlet.

Sprinkle each with 1/4 teaspoon marjoram and black pepper.

Roll the shirt sides in over the edges of the prosciutto and roll up the cutlets from the long side. Secure the rolls with several pieces of kitchen string.

Place the rolls in a small baking dish and place a thin pat of butter on top of each roll.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until the chicken registers 160 degree F on an instant read thermometer.

Serve the chicken rolls on top of the creamy zoodles or cooked pasta.

“Zoodles” In Garlic Butter Cream Sauce

2 servings

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or basil
2 small thin zucchini or use cooked pasta

Directions

Spiralize the zucchini and place the zoodles on a paper towels to dry a bit.

In a medium skillet, heat the butter and garlic. Add the red pepper and salt. Cook until the garlic softens.

Add the heavy cream, whisk to combine. Once the cream is hot, add the zucchini and stir for several minutes to coat the zoodles in sauce and get them hot.

Add the parsley and remove from the heat.

Lemon Roasted Asparagus

This recipe makes 3-4 servings. I like to make extra because the leftover cooked asparagus are delicious in an omelet the next day.

Ingredients

1 lb asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon flavored sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus spears and place them in a baking dish. Pour the olive oil over the asparagus and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Bake the asparagus with the chicken rolls. they will both be ready about the same time.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and sprinkle the asparagus with lemon zest. Serve with chicken rolls.


Scallops In A Leek And Lemon Butter Sauce

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large leek (white and pale green part only), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon water
1 cup dry white wine
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 fresh thyme sprig
6 large sea fresh scallops
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter for the sauce, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

For the spinach

10 oz package of frozen spinach, defrosted
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

For the leeks:

Wash the leeks well to rid them of sand. Drain.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet with a cover over medium low heat. Add the sliced leeks and water.

Cover and simmer until the leeks are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the leeks to a bowl and cover while the other ingredients are being prepared.

For the sauce:

In a small saucepan boil the white wine, shallots, lemon juice and fresh thyme sprig until the mixture is reduced to half.

Strain the sauce into a measuring cup. Reserve the pot.

For the scallops:

Remove the side muscle from the scallops and dry the scallops well on a paper towel. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the skillet that the leeks were cooked in over medium-high heat.

Add the scallops and saute until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Place the scallops on a plate and cover with foil.

Pour the wine sauce into the skillet and bring to simmer. Gradually add the cold butter cubes to the sauce, whisking just until melted.

Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the leeks and warm the mixture.

For the spinach:

Heat the olive oil and garlic in the small saucepan that the sauce was made in and add the spinach. Cook just until the spinach is hot.

Remove the pan from the heat.

To assemble the dish:

Divide the leek sauce in half and pour into the center of two round individual pasta bowls.

Place 3 scallops over the leek sauce in each dish.

Arrange the cooked spinach around the scallops in each dish and serve.


I have been fascinated by the spiralizer vegetable craze. So I bought an inexpensive spiralizer to try my hand at making zucchini noodles to see what all the fuss is about. I read the tips that came with the gadget and watched a video, so I would get it right. This little spiralizer did an excellent job and I had no difficulty operating it.

Some tips I picked up:

Spiralizers work best with straight vegetables, so you may have to trim them or cut them in half.

In order to get long spirals, the vegetable should be at least an inch and a half in diameter.

After washing the produce cut one end off and keep one end uncut to use to grip the vegetable.

Zucchini is a watery vegetable. After you spiralize the zucchini, dry them off with a paper towel. I made the spirals in the morning and let them sit on a double thickness of paper towels until it was time to cook. They were nice and dry and could be cooked al dente.

I gave some thought to what would work well for a topping over zucchini noodles and decided on an Alfredo sauce with shrimp. You could also use chicken. This is a whole new food world to explore.

Shrimp Alfredo Over Zucchini Noodles

For 2-3 servings

Alfredo Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Chopped parsley for a garnish

Shrimp
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
1 pound large shrimp (16-20) peeled, deveined, no tails
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Zucchini Noodles
3 medium zucchini, about 7 inches long and about 2 inches wide
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Cut the base end off the zucchini and use the other end to hold while the zucchini turns in the gadget. Place the zoodles on a double thick layer of paper towels to dry.

Alfredo Sauce
In a medium saucepan melt the butter then add the grated garlic and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.

Add all of the other ingredients except for the Parmesan cheese and  parsley.

Whisk vigorously until the cream cheese melts and the sauce is smooth.

Add the Parmesan cheese and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until it is melted and just starts to thicken.

Stir often until smooth, then remove from the heat, covered, until the shrimp are cooked.

Zucchini Noodles
In a large skillet, heat the butter and then add the zucchini noodles, Toss for 2-3 minutes.

Taste the noodles to determine consistency – should be “al dente”.

Place the zoodles on a platter and pour one small scoop of Alfredo sauce over them and set aside.

Shrimp
In same skillet that the zucchini was cooked in, melt the butter and add the garlic and red pepper flakes.

Sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant.

Salt and pepper the shrimp and then add them to the garlic butter and cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Add a small scoop of sauce to the pan and swirl the shrimp in the sauce. Pour over the zoodles on the platter.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and extra Parmesan. Pour the extra sauce into a small serving dish and serve alongside the platter.

A tomato salad was a nice side for this dish.

 


Eggplant is probably my family’s favorite vegetable and it is certainly a major food in Italian cuisine. It is versatile and can be prepared healthy or anyway you like it. I prefer to bake the eggplant slices instead of frying them and then I can use them in any number of ways: parmesan, lasagna, “meatballs” or as below – rollatini. This dish is delicious as a main entrée or as an appetizer. Grilled Italian sausage is an excellent side dish as are the green beans.

Eggplant Rollatini

If you choose, you can also coat the eggplant slices in egg and breadcrumbs and bake as described below. If you want less carbs, leave out the crumbs.

Ingredients

2 large eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into very thin slices, to get about 14-15 slices
Olive oil
2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups prepared marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought

Directions

Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and place them on a large baking sheet.

Roast (or broil) in a 400-degree F oven for 20 minutes, turning the eggplant slices halfway through cooking.

Place on paper towels to cool.

For the filling:

Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella, egg, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.

When the eggplant has cooled about 10 minutes, place about 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture on each slice.

Spread it over the eggplant slice and then roll up into a cylinder. Repeat with all the eggplant slices.

Coat the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish with 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Place the eggplant rolls in the baking dish.

Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the eggplant rolls. Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 400-degree F oven for 30 minutes.

Let rest a few minutes before serving.

Grilled Italian Sausage

Ingredients

1 ½ lbs Italian pork sausage
Olive oil

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill for both direct and indirect cooking. Oil the grill grates.

Brush the sausage lightly with olive oil.

Place the sausage on the indirect side of the grill and close the cover.

Cook for 15 minutes and turn the sausage over. Cook for 15 more minutes. Slice and serve.

Skillet Green Beans

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 pound green beans, washed, trimmed and cut in half
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, smashed flat with the side of a knife
A little coarse salt
1/4 cup water
Black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the skillet on medium and add the oil.

Add garlic and cook 30 seconds or until lightly golden, stirring.

Add the beans, turn a few times to coat well with the oil. Sprinkle with salt.

Stir in the water. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Cover and cook 2 – 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are slightly wilted but still crunchy.

Uncover and increase the heat to high.

Cook 2 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the beans are cooked but still bright green.

Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Add black pepper and transfer to a serving dish.

 



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