Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: citrus

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It may seem like “slim pickens”, when you look at what fruit is available in the winter in your market. With a second look, however, there are plenty of choices and they great choices for cooking or baking. Look for citrus fruit, apples, bananas, pears and dates. These are all good choices for salads, pancakes and muffins or to garnish main dish meats and fish.

Meyer Lemon Bread

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1 loaf

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely shredded Meyer lemon peel
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice

Lemon Glaze

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon lemon zest

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 4 x 2-inch loaf pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, the baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In another medium bowl or measuring cup combine the egg, milk, oil, lemon peel and the 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture.

Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make a glaze: Combine the glaze ingredients until smooth and spread over the cooled cake. Let harden before wrapping the ;oaf.

Citrus Salad

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Turn this salad into a main course by adding cooked shrimp or chicken. I especially like shrimp in this salad.

Orange Vinaigrette

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 shallots, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Grated zest of 1 orange,

Salad

1 bulb fennel, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced
! grapefruit
1 orange
1 tablespoon olive oil

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

To make the vinaigrette:

Whisk the shallots, raspberry vinegar, honey and salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil in while whisking. Add the orange zest. Set aside

Peel the fruit and cut into segments.

In a large bowl, cover the fennel and onion with ice water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to paper towels to dry thoroughly.

Transfer the fennel and onion to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Lift the fennel and onion from the dressing and transfer to a serving platter.

Arrange the citrus segments evenly over the fennel and onion. (If adding shrimp, arrange it on top of the salad.) Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the top, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Baked Apple Sauce

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Applesauce can be flavored with maple syrup or cinnamon. You can also add cranberries to the cooking apples to make a cran-applesauce. It makes wonderful tasting pancakes and muffins and is a great side to roasted pork.

Makes 12 servings.

Ingredients

4 lbs. (about 10 medium) assorted apples, such as Macoun, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Jonagold and Honey Crisp, peeled, cored, and quartered
1/3 cup fresh apple cider or apple juice
4 lemon slices, cut paper-thin
2 tablespoons honey, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place apples, cider or juice and lemon slices in a large heavy, ovenproof casserole with a cover and mix well.. If using honey add it in and toss again.

Bake apples, covered, for 60 to 75 minutes, until very soft and moist. Stir to combine. If it is too wet, bake applesauce, uncovered, for 15 minutes longer.

Cool to room temperature before serving; applesauce thickens as it cools. The applesauce keeps, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days or 6 months in the freezer.

Coconut Banana Pudding

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Ingredients

1 ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 dash salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Honey Bananas

1 tablespoon butter
1 banana, sliced into ¼ inch slices
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot water

Directions

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and stir in the mashed banana.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the salt, eggs and coconut milk. Stir well and add to the banana in the saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; cook until thickened.

Remove from the heat; add vanilla and mix well. Pour into a storage bowl or 4 individual dessert dishes.

To make the honey bananas:

Melt the butter in a small skillet.

Arrange the banana slices in the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until lightly brown.

Whisk together the honey and 1 tablespoon of water.

Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the honey mixture over the bananas. Shake the pan to distribute.

Divide the bananas and syrup over the top of the pudding. Chill for several hours before serving.

 

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january-blog-background-004Think there isn’t much? Not so – there is plenty.

Root Vegetables, Citrus Fruit, Leeks and Onions, Greens, such as kale, Potatoes and Beets are all available in January and make great tasting meals.

Purchasing seasonal foods is a healthy and cost-effective way to approach food shopping. Grocery stores tend to stock up on these items in bulk because they are plentiful, making them less expensive for you—especially when they go on sale or offer buy one; get one free.

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Celery Bisque

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head of celery, diced including leaves
1 large onion, diced
1 bunch scallions (green onions) or use a leek, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable stock
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ cup half & half (cream and milk)
Garnish with chopped chives and sour cream

Directions

Heat the oil in a soup pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the vegetables, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 30 minutes.

Add the broth, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender.

Return the pot to the heat. Stir in the cream and heat on low. Garnish individual servings with chopped fresh chives and sour cream, if desired.

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Lemon Basil Roasted Chicken Breasts

Use any herb you like. When cold nights come in, I bring my herb pots indoors, so I always have fresh herbs on hand.

2 servings

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 whole fresh basil stalk, leaves removed and sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the baking dish
2 bone-in, medium chicken breast halves, skinned
Salt and ground black pepper
6 very small potatoes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
¼ of a fennel bulb, sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a shallow baking pan with olive oil.

Place the chicken breasts in the prepared pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice.

Scatter the potatoes, fennel, carrots and garlic around the chicken.

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Bake, uncovered, spooning the pan juices over the chicken once or twice, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with the basil and return the pan to the oven.

Bake 10-15 minutes more or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken registers 170°F and the juices are clear.

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Beets, Red Onion & Orange Salad

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
4 small, cooked beets, sliced
1 navel orange
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, minced
Pinch of sugar
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cup washed, dried, whole Bibb lettuce leaves

Directions

Soak onion slices in cold water for 10 minutes; drain.

With a sharp knife, peel the orange, removing white pith. Slice the orange between the membranes over a mixing bowl to catch the oranges and any juice.

Pour any juice in the bowl into a measuring cup. Add more orange juice to equal ¼ cup.

Whisk together the orange juice, oil, mustard, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in the measuring cup.

Place lettuce leaves on individual salad plates. Arrange beets, onions and orange slices on top. Drizzle with some of the dressing and serve.


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Easy Homemade Jam

This is a basic jam recipe and it works with any fruit (other than citrus). You can make jam with whatever fruit grows well where you live. In each season, use the best fruit you can find.

Work in small batches. Three pounds of fruit will yield close to 2 ½ pints of jam. If you want more jars, make two small batches rather than one double batch. The quality of the jam will be much better.

You don’t need to process the jars in a boiling water bath for this recipe. Just store the jam in the refrigerator, where it will last for weeks.

You can also store the jam in the freezer. The Ball Company now makes great containers to store jam in for the freezer.

Unprocessed homemade jam will not make you ill, because most jams are made from high acid fruits which are not susceptible to botulism.

I made Blackberry Jam using this recipe. It is definitely worth making because the jam has such a fresh and distinct blackberry taste. Not at all like processed jam.

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For 2 1/2 pints

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ripe fruit, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, etc.
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon

Directions

Clean and cut the fruit as you would for making fruit salad or fruit pie. For example: remove the caps from strawberries and cut into quarters; or peel, pit and slice peaches into pieces; or trim rhubarb and chop it into chunks.

Using a potato masher, crush the fruit until soupy. Measure this puree and note the quantity. Put the puree in a wide, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot.

The puree should be no more than 1 inch deep in the bottom of the pot. I placed half of the blackberry puree in a strainer to remove the seeds before proceeding with the recipe.

For every two cups of fruit puree, add to the pot one scant cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Stir to combine and taste. Very tart fruit (such as sour cherries, some plums or blackberries) might need a little more sugar. Very sweet fruit (such as white peaches) might need a little more lemon juice. Adjust to taste.

Bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. After it boils, continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until thickened.

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Check the consistency by turning off the heat and putting a spoonful of hot jam on a chilled saucer in the freezer for one minute.

When ready, the cold jam will form a light skin that wrinkles when you push your finger through it and it will cling to the saucer when you tilt the saucer upright.

If the cold jam is too runny, bring the pot back to a boil for another minute or two, stirring constantly, then check the set again.

When the jam is set, ladle it into clean half-pint jars or other air-tight containers. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Fresh Strawberry  Syrup

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Delicious over pancakes, cheesecake, ice cream or crepes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pint strawberries, stems and leaves removed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat; stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Place half the berries in the jar of a blender; add the syrup. Puree until smooth and pass through a fine sieve or colander.

Chop remaining berries; stir into the strawberry puree. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or freeze in small containers.

Blueberry Muffins

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Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries

Topping

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and either lightly grease 12 -15 muffin cups or use paper liners and spray the insides of the papers.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.

Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.

To make the topping:

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Summer Fruit Salad

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Use summer fruits that are in season. I used about 6 cups of cut fruit in this recipe.

Ingredients

Fruit, sliced or cut into cubes

  • Melon
  • Pineapple
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Cherries

Mint-Lime Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Directions

For the syrup:

Stir together the sugar and mint and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the lime juice, and cool 30 minutes.Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into an airtight container. Cover and chill syrup 4 hours.

For the salad:

Gently toss together the fruit in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup Mint-Lime Simple Syrup, and gently stir to coat. Taste to see if the fruit needs more syrup.

Serve immediately, or cover and chill until serving time.

Peach Barbecue Sauce

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This recipe makes one of the best tasting BBQ sauces I have made. It is especially good for grilled chicken.

Yields 4 cups.

  • 2 cups peeled and chopped very ripe peaches, about 4 medium peaches
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons onion salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled

Directions

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Process peaches in a blender 1 minute or until smooth and pour into a medium saucepan. Add all the additional ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.

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Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a few cubes at a time, until incorporated. Refrigerate covered until needed.

Ball Canning Company Freezer Jars

Ball Canning Company Freezer Jars


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Last week my fish market received its first seasonal shipment of Copper River salmon. It was gorgeous. Copper River salmon is bright orange or red with a firm texture and an excellent taste. It is also excellent cooked on a grill.

I purchased an 8 oz fillet and for dinner that night. I had also shopped for some seasonal vegetables to use for the week and thought a creamy spinach would make a perfect bed for the salmon. I wanted to flavor the salmon but not overwhelm it, and since I would be cooking it on the grill, I wanted to keep it moist. I like citrus flavors with fish, so I added citrus zest, chives (which are thriving in my garden right now), some truffle oil and wrapped the fillets in prosciutto. This turned out really well. I had leftover Pea Salad from last week, so that was a good side dish.

For dinner two, I made pork chops since I wanted to try a tip I had just picked up about soaking pork chops in buttermilk before cooking them to keep them tender. This works very well. The pork chops were delicious. I had leftover warm potato salad from earlier in the week to go with it and cooked fresh broccoli florets, also in season and on sale in my market, for a second side.

Hopefully you will like these recipes for two and, if you have a larger family, the recipes are easily doubled.

Dinner One

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 8 oz skinless salmon fillet, cut in half
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • Zest from 1/2 lime
  • Zest from 1/2 orange
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil or olive oil

Directions

Cut a piece of heavy-duty foil large enough to fit the salmon. Coat lightly with cooking spray and pierce a few holes in the foil with a fork. Place the foil on a tray.

(I like to place fish fillets on the grill with foil underneath, so that the fish doesn’t fall apart.)

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, chives and citrus zest and mix thoroughly.

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Lay the salmon fillets flat on the foil and drizzle with the truffle oil. Season with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the citrus mixture. Wrap each filet in prosciutto. Place the salmon in the refrigerator until ready to grill.

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Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high.

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Slide the foil with the fish on it, onto the grill; close the lid and grill until the fish is cooked through, about 10  minutes.

Serve the salmon over creamy spinach.

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Easy Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

  • 10 oz package fresh baby spinach
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons 1/3 less fat cream cheese, plain or with chives
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat milk
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat oil in a deep skillet and add the garlic; cook 1 minute.

Add spinach in batches, pushing it down with a wooden spoon or spatula to help it wilt.

Keep adding more spinach until all the spinach is wilted. Cook the spinach until it is dry, then lower the heat.

Make a well in center of the spinach and add the milk and then the cream cheese.

Heat and stir until the mixture is dissolved. Mix throughout the spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Spring Pea Salad

You can find the recipe here.

Dinner Two

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Oven Fried Pork Chops

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in pork chops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the pork chops between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to an even 1/2-inch thickness.

Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce; add the pork chops and marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

Mix the flour with the slat and pepper. Dredge the pork chops in the flour, dip in the buttermilk again and then coat in the panko crumbs.

Heat the butter and oil in an ovenproof skillet add the pork chops to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

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Transfer the skillet with the pork to the oven. Bake until the pork chops are crisp on the outside and a meat thermometer inserted into the pork registers 150°F, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the pork chops to serving plates. Garnish with lemon wedges

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Warm Potato Salad

You can find the recipe here.

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Broccoli Sauté with Orange Zest and Almonds

Serves:  2

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted, slivered almonds

Directions

Heat a medium skillet and add the almonds. Toast to a light brown. Remove and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the broccoli, salt, pepper, orange zest and sauté with the olive oil and garlic mixture until the broccoli turns bright green and becomes tender.

Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with toasted almonds and mix well.


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Longing for a salad even though it is cold outside? By using seasonal produce, you can make salads even with snow on the ground. This time of year switch to dark leafy greens, cold-weather vegetables like broccoli, beets and squash and seasonal fruits like pears and citrus. Add flavorful dressings to balance the heartier tastes and textures. For a full-meal salad, finish the salad with cooked beans, meat or seafood and a bit of your favorite cheese or toasted nuts. Winter vegetables also make delicious salads, especially after they have been roasted.

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Winter Salad with Spinach, Pears and Walnuts

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 Anjou, Bosc or Comice pears
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon German Dusseldorf mustard or yellow prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 pound spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

Chop 1 pear and slice the remaining two.

Put the chopped pear, oil, vinegar, mustard and honey into a blender and purée. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons water, more if needed, to make a thin, pourable dressing.

Put spinach, onion, walnuts, feta cheese, sliced pears and dressing into a large bowl and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

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Chickpea Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

Serves 2

VINAIGRETTE

  • ¼ cup finely minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp stone-ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

SALAD:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • ¾ cup cooked black lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 3 handfuls Italian kale
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions

Place all dressing ingredients in a jar. Seal and shake vigorously until well combined. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preferences.

Cut the avocado in half and discard the pit. Chop the flesh into a small bowl and toss with a squeeze or two of lemon juice to help prevent browning.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all salad ingredients together.

Pour about half the dressing over the top and toss with salad tongs or a large fork and spoon to thoroughly blend the ingredients and coat lightly with the dressing.

Top with a big squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Add more dressing, if needed. Serve immediately.

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Winter Citrus Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons pistachio, almond or any nut flavored oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon white or golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 oranges (segmented)
  • 2 pink grapefruits (segmented)
  • 2 tangerines or satsumas (peeled)
  • 3 oz mixed baby salad greens (about 3-1/2 cups, lightly packed)
  • 4 cups frisée or curly endive, oak leaf or red leaf lettuce, lightly packed
  • 1/3 cup shelled, roasted pistachios
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Remove the peel and white pith from the fruit with a small, sharp knife. Working over a shallow bowl, slice down either side of each membrane, releasing the citrus segments into the bowl.

Remove any seeds from the fruit. Drain and reserve the accumulated juices for the dressing.

Place the oil, orange juice, vinegar, agave and salt in a small glass jar and seal the lid. Shake vigorously to combine. (The dressing can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days. For best flavor, bring to room temperature before using.)

Place the segmented citrus in a large salad bowl. Drizzle some of the dressing over the fruit and toss to coat. Add the greens and toss to combine, adding more dressing to lightly coat the greens as well.

Transfer the salad to a platter and sprinkle with the pistachios. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

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Italian Barley Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked, quick-cooking barley
  • 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (chilled) or one package of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • 12 pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the barley. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until the barley is just tender but firm. Transfer the barley to a colander. Drain well. Place in a medium bowl to cool.

Dry artichokes on paper towels. Coarsely chop the artichokes and olives, dice the bell pepper, quarter the tomatoes and cut the cheese into one-quarter inch cubes.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, dried basil, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil.

Combine the cooked and cooled barley with the vegetables and cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to blend. serve immediately of refrigerate until serving time.

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Red Grapefruit and Beet Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 medium beets, greens removed
  • 2 red grapefruits
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Wrap beets individually in aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beets are tender when pressed through the foil and a knife slides easily into them when unwrapped, 50 to 60 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, unwrap beets and rub each with a paper towel to remove skins. Halve and slice beets.

Cut thin slices off the top and bottom of a grapefruit and set on a cutting board. Slice down along the curve of the fruit, removing all skin and white pith and cutting all the way to the flesh.

Working over a bowl, cut along each side of the membranes to release the sections, allowing them to fall into the bowl along with any juice. Repeat with remaining grapefruit.

Gently stir in honey and salt. Add beets and toss. Garnish with mint. Serve or chill until serving time.

"And that's the real difference between summer and winter. Saucepans. Lots of saucepans."


Italian village with mountains in the background

The province of Catanzaro is one of the four provinces in the region of Calabria in southern Italy.  Catanzaro occupies both sides of the Calabrian Apennines and in the central part of the province is the isthmus of Catanzaro, a long narrow valley connecting the north and south parts of the coastline that feature beautiful white sandy beaches. Other parts of the province are mostly mountainous with steep-sided valleys formed along short rivers. There are large numbers of lakes surrounded by dense coniferous forests. The province includes much of the Sila National Park, a wild area with rough grassland and forests of pine, oak, beech and fir. The area is a main route to Naples and is a major terminal for goods traffic.

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Typical cuisine is similar to the Mediterranean diet, simple, local and healthy but also characterized by strong flavors. Extra virgin olive oil is the main condiment and is rarely replaced by lard. Hot pepper, introduced by the Saracens, is a basic ingredient in most dishes and in regional salamis.

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Pasta is mostly homemade and usually served with a simple fresh basil tomato sauce or with a ragu sauce. A traditional dish prepared for religious holidays is “pasta chijna”, layers of homemade pasta (lasagne) topped with small fried meatballs, slices of hard-boiled eggs, slices of spicy salami, caciocavallo cheese and grated pecorino cheese. You will also find pasta or bread combined in minestrone along with vegetables and herbs. Legumes are also common and replace meat in many recipes. The most used are fava beans served as a puree with tripe or with peas, lentils or chickpeas and pasta.

Among the meats, the pig is undoubtedly the most used meat, especially in winter as a second course dish.  However, most pork is used to make salami. The inland villages and towns utilize goat and sheep, of which every part of the animal is used, including the animal’s entrails, which are usually cooked with tomato, hot pepper and served inside pita bread, called “morzeddu” (the small bite).

catanzaro2

Along the coast fresh fish is cooked in different ways. Swordfish is usually grilled and served with a sauce called “salmoriglio” made with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar or lemon, garlic and spices. Tuna is topped with “ la cipolla” (onions), the famous red sweet onions of Tropea. Dried codfish is soaked before cooking and baby fish called “neonata ” are used to make small fritters.

Calabria is a region that produces a great variety of cheeses made with cow, sheep and goat milk. Caciocavallo cheese produced  in the Sila mountains and awarded  the DOP quality brand (protected origin designation); scamorza cheese; provola cheese and the “butirro” which is a caciocavallo with butter inside are among the most well-known cheeses. Cheeses most often made with sheep milk are fresh ricotta cheese and pecorino cheese,

The vegetables that  are commonly served are eggplant, parmigiana style or as balls; fried pumpkin and zucchini; pumpkin stem fritters; potatoes and green peppers; boiled wild vegetables (chicory, asparagus), mushrooms and dried tomatoes that can be stored in oil.

Clementines of Calabria IGP, chestnuts, figs covered with chocolate or spices are common fruits.

Typical regional sweets that are usually linked to specific days and holidays, are mostly made with ricotta sweetened with honey and flavored either by a figs or dried fruit or candied fruit. The best known are the multi-shaped “mostaccioli”, covered with honey.

catanzaroanchovies

 

Anchovies al Cetrarese

Cetraro, an important port in the Tirreno sea, where anchovies are caught in abundance.

Ingredients for 6

  • 1 ¾ lbs. (720 gr) anchovies, bones removed
  • 8 ½ oz (240 g.) stale bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • Chopped fresh wild fennel fronds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make a stuffing with the stale bread soaked in water and hand squeezed, wild fennel, eggs, salt, black pepper and grated Pecorino cheese.

Put anchovies in an oiled baking dish and stuff each with some of the bread mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.

Add wine and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve drizzled with the cooking juices and garnish with a handful of fennel fronds.

catanzaropasta

Bucatini Pasta with Anchovy and Bread Sauce

Ingredients for 4

  • 12 ½ oz (350 gr) Bucatini pasta
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 8 salt cured anchovies
  • 1 fresh chili pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Oven toasted bread crumbs
  • 2 oz (60 gr) grated Pecorino cheese
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the garlic; add finely chopped chili pepper. Add the anchovies and breadcrumbs.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of lightly salted water. Drain when the pasta is al dente. Add the pasta to the pan with the anchovies, season with pecorino cheese and serve.

catanzaropork

Arrotolata Pork with Citrus Fruit

Ingredients for 6

  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) boneless pork
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fennel seeds, rosemary, pistachio nuts, parsley and 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil

Salsa:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cedro (citron/ugly looking Italian citrus fruit – use an orange in its place)
  • 1 grapefruit
  • Salt and pepper to taste, extra virgin olive oil and green onions

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butterfly the meat and season the inside with salt and pepper. Finely chop some parsley and the garlic. Spread on the meat and add fennel seeds and pistachios to cover. Moisten with olive oil.

Roll up the meat and close with cooking string. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish.

Cook for about an hour and a half. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of hours.

For the salsa:

Squeeze the lemon and grapefruit and finely chop the cedro peel. Season with salt and mix with enough oil to make a sauce. Add finely chopped onions.

Slice the pork when cool and serve on a plate dressed with the salsa.

catanzarofish

Sea Bream Stuffed with Ricotta

Sea Bream is a popular European fish that is a mild ocean fish similar to sea bass

Ingredients for 4

  • 4 small sea beam
  • 5 ½ oz (16og) ricotta cheese
  • ¾ tablespoon (16g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 oz arugula
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Ground red chilli pepper to taste
  • Mashed potatoes for serving
  • Almonds and parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the center bone from the fish. Lightly salt the fish.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the pine nuts, almonds, chopped mint, parsley, garlic, arugula, honey and a pinch of salt. Add enough lemon juice and oil to make a smooth filling.

Stuff each fish with some of the filling, cover the filling with foil and put the fish in an oiled baking dish.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Serve each fish on a bed of mashed potatoes. Garnish with almonds, parsley and ground chili pepper.

catanzarodessert

Aubergine and Chocolate Mousse

This is a sweet but unusual dessert.

Ingredients for 6

  • 10 ½ oz (300g) aubergine (eggplant)
  • 10 ½ oz (300g) chocolate, plus extra for serving
  • 1/1/2 oz (50g) citron
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) brandy
  • 1 tablespoon sultanas (raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon (10g) candied fruit
  • ¼ cup (30g) sugar
  • 2 egg whites

Directions

Peel and boil the aubergine in water along with the brandy and citron. Drain.

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler saucepan.

Mix the aubergine and melted chocolate together adding mint, pine nuts, candied fruit, sugar. Fold in the beaten egg whites.

Fill small pots or bowls with the mixture and cool. Serve drizzled with additional melted chocolate.

catanzaromap


lunchcover
With the holidays approaching and those sumptuous meals and desserts awaiting us, we may want to consider eating lighter in the weeks before the holidays. Earlier this week I gave you some ideas for dinner and, in today’s post, I am sharing some lighter and easy to make lunch recipes. This is a busy time of year, so you do not want recipes that are very involved or time consuming to make in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

lunch1

Mediterranean Pita

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 heated pita halves

Directions

Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl, add the oregano and season with salt and pepper.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook eggs, stirring frequently, until just set, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in spinach and tomatoes.

Cook until the spinach wilts and the tomatoes are heated.

Place 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta in each warm pita half and divide the egg mixture between each pita half.

lunch2

Minestrone

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Two 14 ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • One 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup elbow macaroni or other short pasta
  • 6 cups coarsely torn, trimmed Swiss chard or 8 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • Fresh basil for garnish

Directions

In 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven cook onion in hot oil over medium heat until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add broth, water, beans, zucchini, carrots and garlic. Bring to boiling.

Add pasta and dried oregano. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 5 minutes.

Stir in Swiss chard. (If using spinach wait until you add the tomatoes.)

Simmer, uncovered, 5 to 7 minutes more or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomatoes (and spinach if using in place of chard). Remove from the heat. Season with salt and black pepper. Garnish with fresh basil.

lunch3

Warm Turkey, Pear and Cheese Salad

It you still have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, this salad it a good way to use some of it up.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound leftover sliced turkey or thin turkey cutlets
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 pears, cored and sliced thin
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, cut in half
  • 5 ounces arugula (8 cups) or your favorite salad greens
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions

Cut the turkey into eight pieces and brush each lightly with a ½ tablespoon of the honey mustard.

In a 12-inch skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Cook turkey cutlets or heat leftover turkey in an even layer in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Layer pears on top of the turkey; top each with a half-slice of cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and heat for 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and pears are warm.

Divide arugula among serving dishes; top with turkey slices.

For the dressing:

Whisk remaining mustard and oil along with the vinegar. Drizzle dressing on each serving.

lunch4

Salmon Open-Faced Sandwiches

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives, thyme)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices of your favorite bread, lightly toasted (I like pumpernickel or rye)
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons large capers

Directions

Mix together the cream cheese and the herbs and season with pepper.

Spread mixture on each piece of toast and evenly top each with salmon, onion, capers and arugula.

lunch5

Clementine Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Some markets sell loose pomegranate seeds in a cup as a time saver.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups arugula or your favorite salad greens
  • 8 seedless clementines, peeled and broken into segments
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions

To remove pomegranate seeds:

Score an “X” in the top of a pomegranate. Break pomegranate apart into quarters. Working in a bowl of cool water, immerse each quarter; use your fingers to loosen the seeds from the white membrane. Discard peel and membrane. Drain seeds in a fine wire mesh colander. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours before using.

To prepare the dressing:

In a screw-top jar combine lime juice, oil, honey, poppy seeds, kosher salt and pepper. Cover and shake well.

In a large salad bowl toss dressing with arugula. Add clementine segments; gently toss. Sprinkle with walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve.



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