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
1 lb cooked Italian hot (rope) sausage
8 savoy cabbage leaves
2 cups Marinara Sauce
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
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
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
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
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
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.
Pork Marsala with Mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose or gluten-free or low carb flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound boneless pork loin chops, about 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 minced garlic clove
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Cut the pork chops in half lengthwise. Mix flour, salt, garlic powder, and oregano together in a medium bowl. Add pork and toss until well coated. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and set aside.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the pork cutlets in the skillet in a single layer, and cook, turning occasionally, until brown on both sides. Place the pork on a plate.
Cover and simmer over medium heat until the pork is tender and the sauce is thickened for about 15 minutes. Add the cream, stir and simmer for a few minutes. Serve.
Zoodles or Pasta with Herbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs
4 oz thin spaghetti, cooked or zoodles (2 zucchini)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic. Cook for one minute, add the cooked spaghetti or zucchini noodles and herbs.
Toss until hot. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Mini San Marzano Tomato Salad
2 cartons mini San Marzano tomatoes
3 tablespoons Italian vinaigrette
Salt & pepper to taste
Your favorite herbs to taste ( I use a dried herb blend called Sunny Paris from Penzey’s that includes: shallots, chives, green peppercorn, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and bay leaf.) Tastes so good on tomatoes.
Several hours before serving time.cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Leave the salad at room temperature to marinate until serving time.
Select beets that are heavy for their size and show no surface nicks or cuts. If they’re sold with their tops on, the greens are always a good indicator of freshness as they show wilting very quickly. So, buy beets that have very crisp leaves attached. Save the leaves and cook them for a side dish, as I did in the Stuffed Chicken Rolls for later in the week. I will post that recipe on Friday.
Marinated Roasted Beet Salad
Two bunches (6) medium-sized beets
Freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, sliced
¼ cup sliced red onions
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Wash and trim the beets so the stems and roots are about ½-inch long.
Place the beets onto a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the foil on a baking sheet, sprinkle the beets with salt and pepper, add the garlic slices and drizzle with a little olive oil. Close the package tightly and place in the oven for about an hour or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.
Cool the beets before peeling.
Cut the beets into thick slices and place in a serving bowl.
Season to taste with salt, pepper, and the balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
Marinate the beets for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, before adding a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Pan Seared Fish Fillets with Tomato Bacon Sauce
4 (12 ounces) thin fish fillets
1 large Florida tomato, diced
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine, plus extra for garnish
1 garlic clove, grated
1 small shallot, finely minced
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Lightly season the fillets with salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.
Preheat a skillet just large enough to fit the fillets over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and carefully place the seasoned fillets skin side up in the sauté pan. Cook each fillet for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and completely cooked throughout the thickest part of the fillet. Remove the cooked fillets from the pan and place on a plate.
Add the tomatoes, shallot, and garlic to the skillet. Cook the tomato mixture until the tomatoes start to wilt and release their juices. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and vegetable stock. Quickly bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Return the fish to the skillet just to warm the fillets. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Sautéed Baby Zucchini
Scallions (green onions) are also in season in the spring. Look for crisp, bright-green stalks and a firm white base. Avoid stalks with any slimy, wet tops.
Young zucchini are in season where I live. If they are not available in your area, substitute another vegetable, such as green beans.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 young zucchini
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut each in half crosswise to make 8 pieces.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and place the zucchini cut side down in the pan. Sprinkle the garlic and scallions over the zucchini. Let cook for 7- 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take the pan off the heat and sprinkle with oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat and serve.
After being away from home for the holidays, I went food shopping on Friday to stock up for meals for the coming week. I pretty much plan my menu based on what looks good in the produce section of the supermarket or the farmer’s market.
The greens this week were gorgeous as were several other vegetables. Each of the posts will show a few photos of some of the items I bought and I will share with you throughout the week what I made with these great looking veggies.
I have also discovered a new type of pasta and my blog readers who are carb conscious may be interested. It is called Fiber Pasta and it is made in Italy but distributed by an American company in CA. Fiber Pasta products are low glycemic, reduced in carbs, high in fiber, high in protein and non-GMO with a traditional taste and texture. For more information visit their website: https://fiberpasta.us/
Broccoli Rabe And Fiber Pasta
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, about 1 1/2 lb., ends trimmed
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3/4 lb ziti pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Cut off the broccoli rabe florets and coarsely chop the leaves and tender stems.
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and cook until al dente.
While the pasta water is heating, in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.
Stir in half of the broccoli rabe, including the florets, coating them with the oil.
Cook until the wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining broccoli rabe and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the broth and reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the broccoli rabe is tender, 8 to 10 minutes more.
Stir in the 1/4 teaspoon salt and season with pepper.
When the pasta is ready, drain and place the pasta in a serving bowl. Top with the broccoli rabe sauce and add the cheese. Mix well and serve.
Roasted Italian Sausage and Red Bell Peppers
1.5 lbs Italian sweet fennel rope sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 red bell peppers, cut into one-inch cubes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the peppers, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil in a baking dish.
Place the whole sausage rope on top and bake for 30 minutes.
Turn the sausages and peppers over and return the dish to the oven for an additional 30 minutes or until the sausages are golden brown.
To serve, cut the sausage into pieces and serve with the peppers.
The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel on the east; and the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on the south. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria. This series continues with the country of Lebanon.
Stretching along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon’s length is almost three times its width. As it stretches from north to south, the width of its terrain becomes narrower. Lebanon has a Mediterranean climate characterized by a long, semi-hot, and dry summer, and a cold, rainy and snowy winter.
The country’s role in the region was shaped by trade. Lebanon is named “the pearl of the middle east.” It serves as a link between the Mediterranean world and India and East Asia. The merchants of the region exported oil, grain, textiles, metalwork, and pottery through the port cities to Western markets.
Lebanon was heavily forested in ancient and medieval times, and its timber, especially cedar, was exported for building and shipbuilding. Although Lebanon’s diverse and abundant plant and animal life suffered a heavy toll during the country’s lengthy civil war, the post-civil war period was marked by the rise of fledgling environmental groups and movements that worked toward the creation of protected areas and parks in Lebanon’s ecological areas.
Lebanon has a heterogeneous society composed of numerous ethnic and religious groups. Ethnically, the Lebanese compose a mixture Phoenicians, Greeks, Armenians and Arabs.
The cuisine of Lebanon is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet. It includes an abundance of grains, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat, and when red meat is eaten, it is usually lamb.
Many dishes in the Lebanese cuisine can be traced back thousands of years to eras of Roman and Phoenician rule. More recently, Lebanese cuisine was influenced by the different foreign civilizations that held power. From 1516 to 1918, the Ottoman Turks controlled Lebanon and introduced a variety of foods that have become staples in the Lebanese diet, such as cooking with lamb. After the Ottomans were defeated in World War I (1914–1918), France took control of Lebanon until 1943, when the country achieved its independence. The French introduced foods such as flan, a caramel custard dessert dating back to the 16th century AD, and croissants.
Most often foods are grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil and vegetables are often eaten raw, pickled, or cooked. Herbs and spices are used in large quantities. Like most Mediterranean countries, much of what the Lebanese eat is dictated by the seasons and what is available. In Lebanon, very rarely are drinks served without being accompanied by food. Similar to the tapas of Spain and aperitivo of Italy, mezze is an array of small dishes placed before the guests. Mezze may be as simple as raw or pickled vegetables, hummus, baba ghanouj and bread, or it may become an entire meal consisting of grilled marinated seafood, skewered meats, a variety of cooked and raw salads and an arrangement of desserts.
Salads may include tabbouleh, fattoush and kebbeh. Patties such as the Sambusac and stuffed grape leaves are often included. Family cuisine offers also a range of dishes, such as stews, which can be cooked in many forms depending on the ingredients used and are usually served with meat and rice vermicelli. Lebanese flat bread, called pita, is a staple at every Lebanese meal and can be used in place of a fork. Although simple fresh fruits are often served towards the end of a Lebanese meal, there are also desserts, such as baklava. Although baklava is the most internationally known dessert, there is a great variety of Lebanese desserts.
Lebanese Dishes To Make At Home
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading/forming
2 teaspoons salt
1⁄4 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1⁄2 cup of warm water. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the salt in 1 cup of warm water. Add the flour and turn the mixer on.
Slowly add the yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix until the dough combines (it will be sticky), about 2 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place on a lightly greased sheet pan. Coat lightly with oil.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and knead for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 6 (5 oz.) pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Cover the balls with plastic wrap, being careful not to let the plastic wrap stick to the balls (you can do this by placing coffee mugs or short glasses on the sheet pan). Let the balls proof for 15 minutes.
Lightly dust one piece of dough at a time on both sides with flour.
Push the dough out with your fingers in a circular motion to create a disk that is approximately 5″ in diameter and 1⁄2″ thick.
Using a lightly floured rolling-pin, roll the dough in a clockwise motion to get it to 7″ in diameter and 1⁄8″ thick.
Transfer the dough to an inverted lightly floured sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 3 minutes.
Flip the bread over and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Place a second piece of parchment paper on top of the bread and cover with a damp towel. Let the bread sit for 10 minutes, or until cooled.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
When ready to serve, lightly brush the pitas with the remaining olive oil and grill for 1-1 1⁄2 minutes on each side.
It should be warm but still pliable. Cut the bread into wedges and serve.
Thick, tart, and creamy yogurt-like cheese, is eaten with olive oil, pita bread and za’atar.
8 cups whole milk
1 cup plain yogurt
Kosher salt, to taste
Olive oil, for serving
Bring milk to a boil in a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan fitted with a deep-fry thermometer.
Remove the pan from the heat and let cool until the thermometer reads 118°F.
Transfer 1 cup of the milk to a bowl; whisk in yogurt until combined.
Add yogurt mixture to the saucepan and whisk until smooth; cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (ideally 70°F-75°F) until thickened, 6-8 hours.
Line a fine-mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth; set over a bowl. Transfer yogurt to the strainer; let drain at least 8 hours or overnight.
Transfer to a serving dish. Season with salt and drizzle with oil. Add olives and za’atar, if desired.
Spiced Chicken And Tomato Kebabs
1 cup plain yogurt
1⁄2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons crushed saffron
1 teaspoon ground coriander
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 plum tomatoes, cored
Ground sumac, to garnish
2 limes, halved
Pita, for serving
Stir together the yogurt, juice, oil, zest, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron, coriander, garlic and onions in a large bowl; add chicken and toss to coat.
Chill for 4 hours.
Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, heat a gas grill to medium-high or a heat broiler to high.
Skewer chicken on 4 metal skewers and skewer tomatoes lengthwise on another skewer.
Grill chicken and tomatoes, turning often, until the tomatoes are soft and charred, about 7 minutes, and the chicken is cooked through and slightly charred, about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle skewers with sumac; serve with limes and pita.
Garlicky Lentil Salad
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring lentils and 3 cups of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.
Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in an 8” skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft, 7–8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the remaining oil, lemon juice, cumin and allspice. Pour the garlic mixture over the lentils.
Add parsley. mint and season the lentils with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve lentils at room temperature.
Scallops In A Leek And Lemon Butter Sauce
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
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.
We have salmon for dinner on a regular basis because we like and appreciate that it is a healthy food option. I am not a fan of cooking something the same way all the time, so I am always trying new ways to prepare this fish. I experimented with some different spices and seasoning, added nuts and came up with the recipe below. We really liked this version. We are also trying to incorporate more seasonal vegetables in our meals and trying to prepare them in healthier ways. Oven baked zucchini fries were delicious and turned out crispy with the Parmesan coating. Spaghetti Squash is in season and makes a delicious side dish with Italian flavors.
2 salmon fillets, about 6 oz. each
Seafood seasoning ( such as Old Bay)
4 tablespoons finely chopped raw pecans
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
Thaw salmon overnight in the refrigerator, if it is frozen.
At least 30 minutes before you plan to cook, take the salmon out of the refrigerator.
Coat a small baking dish with olive oil cooking spray, place the fish in this dish and let the fish come to room temperature.
Sprinkle the fish lightly with the seafood seasoning.
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to reach a 425F/220C temperature a half hour before you plan to cook.
Mix together the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise in a small bowl and use a rubber scraper to spread it over the surface of the salmon.
Press the pecans onto the top of the fish with a little pressure so they stick to the topping.
Roast the salmon for about 15 minutes. (Don’t overcook; the fish will continue to cook for a few minutes when you take it out of the oven.)
Zucchini Parmesan Oven Fries
2 medium zucchini
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cut each zucchini in half and each half into quarters.
Place the zucchini in a plastic zip-lock bag and add a little salt. Seal and shake the bag to coat the zucchini pieces.
Place them on paper towels to drain for several hours. Reserve the plastic bag.
Oil a large baking sheet with sides. Use the same oven temperature as the salmon.
Place the egg in a shallow dish and the Parmesan cheese in the bag that held the zucchini quarters.
Dip the zucchini in the egg and place in the bag with the cheese. Shake the bag and place the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with all the zucchini.
Place the pan in the oven 10 minutes before the salmon will need to go in the oven.
Bake 10 minutes and turn the squash over when you place the salmon in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes more or until they are crispy.
Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio
Spaghetti squash makes an excellent substitute for thin noodles. It is best to cook the squash earlier in the day or the day before.
1 spaghetti squash, about 3 lbs.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and halve the squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of each half.
Arrange the squash in a baking dish, cut sides down. Pour 1 cup of water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Run a fork through the flesh to separate the spaghetti like strands. Turn them into a storage container.
When ready to cook:
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and add 2 crushed garlic cloves.
When the garlic turns golden, remove it from the pan and discard.
Add the spaghetti squash and toss in the oil. Add crushed red chili flakes, black pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately.