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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Dinner

Appetizer

Arugula Salad

2 servings

Dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salad
1/2 cup toasted pecans halves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
3 cups baby arugula

Directions

Toast the pecans in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.

Whisk in a medium mixing bowl: balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard. Add olive oil slowly, while whisking briskly, then season dressing with salt and pepper.

Place the arugula in a salad bowl; add some dressing and toss to coat. Add the pecans and cranberries. Divide the salad between 2 serving plates; top each with the crumbled blue cheese.

Main Course

Seafood in Creole Sauce

Serve with Crusty Bread on the side.

2 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 small bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small fresh chile pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken or fish stock or water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (Store-bought or see recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional (depending on how hot the chile pepper is)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or low carb flour
4 U.S. sustainably caught raw shrimp, 16-20 per pound
4 large sea scallops
8 oz red snapper, redfish, cod or haddock fillet, skinned and cut into 2 portions

Directions

For the sauce

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper and chile; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, wine, creole seasoning, hot sauce if using and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until very thick. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and return to a gentle simmer.

Peel shrimp and set aside. Wash scallops and remove side muscle and set aside.

For the redfish

Whisk flour with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge fish, shaking off excess flour. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the simmering sauce. Cook shrimp and scallops in the same pan, turning once or twice, until pink and curled, 1 to 2 minutes adding the remaining oil if needed.

Transfer the shellfish to the sauce; simmer for 1-2 minutes. Serve in individual bowls.

Creole Seasoning

Ingredients

2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, or Jar and stir so that all the ingredients have been fully combined. Store in an airtight container or zip lock bag.

Dessert Course

Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and with cream.

For Valentine’s Day, I use a heart-shaped layer cake pan.

Ingredients

4 eggs
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
6 tablespoons (2 oz./60 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb. (750 g) fresh cherries, pitted, or 1 1/4 lb. (625 g) frozen cherries, thawed and drained
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Whipped Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream for serving (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F
Grease a round 9-10″ baking dish and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit on the bottom. Arrange the cherries on the bottom of the pan in a single layer and then set aside.


Combine the rest of the ingredients – except for sliced almonds – in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process on high speed until thoroughly blended; the mixture will be similar to a thin crepe batter.
Pour the mixture over the cherries and then sprinkle the sliced almonds across the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 50-60 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. If you find that the clafoutis browns too quickly, cover it loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Remove the pan from oven and let cool for a few hours then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

To make this dessert gluten-free and low carb:

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar substitute
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup arrowroot powder flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh raspberries or blueberries
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Follow the directions in the recipe above.

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Steak Pizzaiola

I like to use the mini bell peppers for sauces because they are tender and sweet tasting.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 rib-eye steak (about 12 oz. and 1 inch thick), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
12 oz. mini bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup Marinara Sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Cut the steak in half crosswise and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper.
In a large heavy frying pan over medium heat, add the oil, onions, garlic, and peppers. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon.


Add the butter to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Put the steaks in the pan and sear until deeply browned on both sides and medium rare about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to individual serving plates.
Pour the marinara sauce into the skillet and add 1/2 cup of the sautéed peppers and onions and stir them into the sauce. Reserve the remaining peppers and onions for another recipe.
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer just until the vegetables are hot, 1 minute. Divide the mixture in half and pour over each steak. Garnish each serving with chopped parsley.

Sautéed Swiss Chard With Garlic and Lemon

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large bunches Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2”
pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

Wash the chard well in several changes of cold water. Drain in a colander. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and half of the Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper.

Cook, tossing often until wilted. Add the lemon juice and remaining chard and cook, tossing, just until all chard is wilted about 1 minute. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Rosemary Flavored Roasted Rutabaga Wedges

Ingredients

1 medium rutabaga, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the ends off the rutabaga and then cut the rutabaga in half. Cut each half in two. Cut the slices into wedges.


Place the rutabaga wedges in a large ziplock bag with the oil and seasonings and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a sheet pan and cook for 45-50 minutes until tender and brown. Turn the wedges over half way through the cooking time.


Makes 18 rolls

Ingredients

18 large outer savoy cabbage leaves, frozen and thawed
(Freezing makes it easier to roll wilted leaves and eliminates the boiling step.)
Stuffing Ingredients
1 lb lean organic ground pork
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon Italian pork sausage seasoning or use a combination of fennel and Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups cooked orzo, rice or cauliflower rice

Marinara Sauce, recipe below
Spaghetti Squash, recipe below

Directions

Combine the filling ingredients (pork through orzo) in a large mixing bowl.
To assemble the cabbage rolls:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Oil a 9×13 inch baking pan.
Place the cabbage leaves on a kitchen towel. Cut about 1-inch of the hard core on the stem off.

Use about 1/3 cup of filling for large leaves and about 1/4 cup for smaller leaves.
Place the filling on the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll the leaf up to make a tight packet.

As you complete them, place each roll, seam side down, into the prepared baking dish. Continue until all the filling is used up.

Pour 2 cups of marinara sauce on top of the rolls and spread the sauce to cover all the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake the cabbage rolls for 1 ½ hours or until the rolls are tender.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a large onion finely diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
One 6 oz can tomato paste
6 cups chopped Italian tomatoes

Directions
Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven or large saucepan. Add the onion and seasonings. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir and cook one minute. Fill the tomato paste can with water and pour into the sauce ingredients. Add the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a soft boil, lower the heat, partially cover the pan and let the sauce simmer until thickened, about an hour.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

The squash can bake in the oven along with the cabbage rolls.

Ingredients

1 medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeds removed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


Place the squash cut-side-down into an oiled 9×13 inch baking and bake 45 minutes until it is easily pierced with a knife. Don’t overcook the squash. It should be tender but the strands should still have some chew to them so they have the same texture as spaghetti.
When the squash is done, turn the halves so that the cut-side is facing up and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Run a fork through the flesh to separate the “spaghetti-like” strands. Turn into a serving bowl and toss the strands with olive oil, salt, pepper, sage, and Parmesan cheese.

Serve the cabbage rolls with the spaghetti squash.


Serve with Focaccia Bread and a Winter Salad. Recipes below.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cups seafood stock or clam juice
1 teaspoon seafood (Old Bay) seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 lb firm boneless fish fillets (such as halibut, cod, red snapper, sea bass, grouper), cut into small cubes
8 oz medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails removed and cut in half
8 oz sea scallops, halved
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, celery, carrot and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir into the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until tender. Remove the cover and the salt, pepper, chili flakes, seafood seasoning, thyme, and tomatoes. Sir well.

Add the fish cubes, Cook stirring the mixture gently for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and scallops and cook for 2 minutes more or until the seafood is cooked. Add the cream, parsley, and remaining tablespoon butter, heating gently until the butter is incorporated. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve in large individual pasta bowls.

Winter Salad

Radishes are in season where I live and this week they came in jumbo sizes.

Ingredients

Dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salad
4 cups arugula, washed well and dried
4 jumbo radishes or 8 small radishes (8 ounces), sliced thin

Directions

In a medium salad bowl, whisk together mustard and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in oil. (To store, refrigerate, up to 1 day.) Add arugula and radishes to bowl, and toss to coat. Serve salad immediately.

Easy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 pound pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and black pepper, for sprinkling
1 garlic clove minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puttanesca Pork Chops

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

Pappardelle Pasta with Butter and Parmesan Cheese

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

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

Directions

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


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

 

Oven Roasted Salmon

Ingredients

2 salmon fillets, about 12 oz total

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

Directions

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

Oven Roasted Rutabaga Wedges

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

French Seasoning

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

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

Directions

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

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

Really Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

ingredients

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

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


Have lots of leftovers from Thanksgiving? Here is a delicious recipe to use some of the leftovers in a new way. For the topping, I use a mixture of potatoes and cauliflower to reduce the number of carbs in the dish. If you are not a fan of cauliflower use all potatoes. Don’t forget the leftover cranberry sauce to add as a side.

Filling Ingredients

4 cups cubed leftover turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, finely diced
Half a green bell pepper, diced
1 cup leftover green beans, diced
2 cups leftover turkey gravy

Topping

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
2 cups leftover mashed cauliflower
1 tablespoon melted butter.
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Choose either an 8×8-inch or a 9×14-inch oven-proof pan, depending on how much food you have. Oval gratin dishes or a casserole dish also work well, as do individual baking dishes. Butter the dish well.

To reheat the filling before putting the casserole in the oven.

Combine the filling ingredients in the baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave until warm (not hot), about 4 minutes on high.
If you don’t wish to use the microwave, reheat the mixture in a saucepan and pour into the baking dish.

To make the topping:

Thoroughly combine the mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Mix in the melted butter and cheddar cheese. Spread the topping over the filling in the baking dish, spreading it to the edges of the dish. Place the baking dish on a foil covered cookie sheet. The filling may bubble over.

Bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. You will know it is done when the pie filling is bubbling hot and the topping turns golden brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.



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