Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: farro

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The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a huge meal, generally featuring a large roasted turkey. The majority of the dishes in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner are made from foods native to the New World. However, many of the classic traditions attributed to the first Thanksgiving are actually myths.

According to what is known about “The First Thanksgiving,” the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony contained waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash. William Bradford (Plymouth Colony Governor) noted that, “besides waterfowl, there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many.” There were definitely wild turkeys in the Plymouth area, however, the best existing account of the Pilgrims’ harvest feast comes from colonist, Edward Winslow, author of Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Winslow’s first-hand account included no explicit mention of turkey. He does, however, mention the Pilgrims gathering “wild fowl” for the meal, although that could just as likely have meant ducks or geese. Many of the foods that were included in the first feast (except for the seafood) have since gone on to become staples of the modern Thanksgiving dinner.

The White House Cookbook, 1887, by Mrs. F.L. Gillette, et al., had the following menu: oysters on the half shell, cream of chicken soup, fried smelts, sauce tartare, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked squash, boiled onions, parsnip fritters, olives, chicken salad, venison pastry, pumpkin pie, mince-pie, Charlotte russe, almond ice cream, lemon jelly, hickory nut cake, cheese, fruit and coffee.

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1943 Thanksgiving Dinner Aboard the Navy Ship U.S.S. Wake Island

 

Many other foods are typically served alongside the main dish—so many that, because of the amount of food, the Thanksgiving meal is sometimes served midday or early afternoon to make time for all the courses. Copious leftovers are also common. Many diners would say the meal is “incomplete” without cranberry sauce, stuffing or dressing and gravy. Other commonly served dishes include winter squash, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, dumplings, noodles, corn on the cob or hominy grits, deviled eggs, green beans or green bean casserole, sauerkraut (among those in the Mid-Atlantic; especially Baltimore), peas and carrots, bread or rolls, cornbread (in the south and parts of New England) or biscuits, rutabagas, turnips and salad.

There are also regional differences, as to the type of stuffing or dressing traditionally served with the turkey. Southerners generally make their dressing from cornbread, while those in other parts of the country make stuffing from white, wheat or rye bread as the base. One or several of the following may be added to the dressing/stuffing: oysters, apples, chestnuts, raisins, celery and/or other vegetables, sausages or the turkey’s giblets. The traditional Canadian version has bread cubes, sage, onion and celery. Rice is also sometimes used instead of bread in some parts of Canada.

Other dishes reflect the regional or cultural background of those who have come together for the meal. For example, many African-Americans and Southerners serve baked macaroni and cheese and collard greens, along with chitterlings and sweet potato pie; while Italian-Americans often have lasagna on the table alongside the turkey and Ashkenazi Jews may serve noodle kugel, a sweet dessert pudding. Other Jewish families may consume foods commonly associated with Hanukkah, such as latkes or a sufganiyot (a type of jelly doughnut). It is not unheard of for Mexican Americans to serve their turkey with mole and roasted corn.

In Puerto Rico, the Thanksgiving meal is completed with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) or arroz con maiz (rice with corn), pasteles (root tamales) stuffed with turkey, pumpkin-coconut crème caramel, corn bread with longaniza, potato salad, roasted white sweet potatoes and Spanish sparkling hard cider. Turkey in Puerto Rico is stuffed with mofongo (a fried plantain-based dish). Cuban-Americans traditionally serve the turkey alongside a small roasted pork and include white rice and black beans or kidney beans. Vegetarians or vegans have been known to serve alternative entrées, such as a large vegetable pie or a stuffed and baked pumpkin or tofu substitutes. Many Midwesterners (such as Minnesotans) of Norwegian or Scandinavian descent serve lefse (a soft, Norwegian flatbread) at their holiday meal.

So, if you are not a traditionalist, you may want to change things around a little and try some new sides for your holiday meal. Much of the preparation in the recipes below can be done ahead of time.

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Creamy Farro Pilaf with Wild Mushrooms

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Coarse salt
  • 12 ounces wild mushrooms, such as shiitake or oyster, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • Red-pepper chili flakes
  • 1 bunch spinach (10 ounces), stemmed
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Parmesan, plus more for serving

Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add farro, stirring until toasted, about 1 minute. Add wine and reduce by half. Add stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender and creamy, 35 to 40 minutes. Season with salt and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and red-pepper flakes. Roast, stirring once, until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.

Re-warm the farro over medium heat and add the spinach, stirring until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan.

sides6

Creamy White Bean and Vegetable Mash

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups cooked white beans, drained (equivalent to one 16-ounce can)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, celery and carrot until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add potatoes and white beans and cover with water by 2 inches. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.

Mash vegetables (or put through a ricer), adding reserved cooking water to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil before serving.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Pistachios

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 4 small acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • Pinch red-pepper chili flakes

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut side down on two baking sheets until tender and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let cool, then fluff with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, parsley, feta, pistachios, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar. Season with salt and red-pepper flakes. Fill the squash cavities and serve.

sides4

Sweet Potato-Ginger Spoon Bread

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • Butter forthe  baking dish
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 2 small sweet potatoes (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (1%)
  • 2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and dust with cornmeal.

Cook sweet potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash until very smooth; let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Whisk in cornmeal in a thin stream. Cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, 1 to 3 minutes; remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir together mashed sweet potatoes, cornmeal mixture, egg yolks, sugar, molasses, ginger and salt.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture. Very gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish, place on a baking sheet and bake until puffed and set, about 35 to 40 minutes.

SONY DSC

Lemon-Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash pepper
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cooked bacon slices, crumbled

Directions

Cut an “X” in the core of each brussels sprout. Place in a shallow baking pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over the brussels sprouts; sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and pepper.

Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Sprinkle with cheese and crumbled bacon.


grains cover

Grains are made up of three parts: the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran is the high-fiber outer coating. The germ is the protein and nutrient dense portion. The endosperm is a source of carbohydrate, along with some protein. A grain is “whole” if these three parts have been left intact. If it’s processed (e.g., cracked, rolled), it’s still considered a whole grain, if it retains its original balance of nutrients. When grains are refined, the bran and germ are removed (taking many nutrients with them), leaving just the endosperm. An example of a refined whole grain is white rice (though usually white rice is enriched to replace some of the nutrients stripped during processing).

grains wheatberries

Wheat berries

The terms “hard” and “soft” refer to the protein and gluten content of wheat. Hard wheat is made into pasta and bread flour, while soft wheat (lower in protein and gluten) is milled into pastry flour. Wheat berries can be cooked whole for a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Once cooked (simmered in boiling water for up to an hour), they are a great addition to soups, stews, salads and desserts.

grains polenta

Polenta

Polenta is made from ground corn, as is cornmeal. They differ in how they’re ground (in both the method and the fineness of the grind). Polenta makes a delicious base for sauces (ragu, mushroom, gorgonzola) and sausages; it’s also good grilled or layered in casserole dishes.

grains short brown

Short Grain Brown Rice

Short Grain Brown Rice has fat kernels that are plump and round. They have a high starch content, which helps keep it moist and sticky. Short grain rice can be used for risotto if soaked overnight or parboiled before making the risotto.

Warm Farro and Mushroom Salad

Farro

Farro is the Italian name for emmer wheat, an ancient strain of hard wheat from the Fertile Crescent in western Asia. Often confused with spelt due to their similar taste and texture, farro comes in perlato (pearled) and semi-perlato (semi-pearled); opt for semi-perlato as it has more of the fiber-and nutrient-rich bran intact (or buy whole farro if you can find it). It comes in three grades: long, medium or cracked. If you purchase long or medium farro, you will need to crack it yourself in a coffee grinder or blender for maximum freshness.

Farro is beloved in Italy – and more recently in North America and other European countries as well – for its roasted, nutty flavor and distinctive chewy texture. Because farro contains a starch similar to that found in Arborio rice, it behaves much like risotto, releasing a creamy, binding liquid when cooked. But unlike risotto, farro doesn’t become gummy; instead, it retains its tender, distinct bite, even if it sits awhile after cooking.

Farro’s tough husk makes it more difficult to process than other commercially produced grains, but that husk also helps protect the grain’s vital nutrients. With a higher fiber and protein content than common wheat, farro is also rich in magnesium and B vitamins. As a type of wheat, farro is unsuitable for those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat sensitivity or allergy.

Note: as with all grains, pearled farro will take less time to cook than semi-pearled, which will take less time to cook than whole.

Cooking time: 25-40 minutes. Liquid per cup of grain: 2 cups

How to cook farro: Combine with water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for up to 40 minutes, or until grains are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid.

grain stew

Farro and Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semi pearled farro
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 large)
  • 2 cups chopped zucchini (2 small)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (2 medium)
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 14 ½ ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • Parmesan cheese (4 ounces), grated

Directions

Rinse farro. In a medium saucepan bring 2 cups water to boiling. Stir in the farro. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until farro is tender. Drain.

In a large skillet bring the 3 cups of chicken broth to boiling. Add the chicken breasts, salt and pepper. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until no longer pink (165 degrees F). Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a cutting board. Cool slightly. Coarsely chop or shred chicken. Set aside. Reserve broth.

In a 4-quart Dutch oven heat the olive oil and add the onions, zucchini, celery and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir in reserved broth, tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in cooked farro and chopped or shredded chicken. Cook and stir until heated through. Top with grated cheese.

grains casserole

Breakfast Polenta Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup red onion (1 small), diced small
  • 1 1/4 cups unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (1 large), diced small
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse polenta
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

The night before serving:

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and sauté the onions over medium-low heat until golden brown. While the onions are cooking, steam the potatoes in a small amount of water in a covered pot until they are tender.

Add the steamed potatoes to the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook the potato/onion mixture until the potatoes are browned. Set aside in a covered bowl.

Cook the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks, until it is no longer pink. Drain and cool. Refrigerate the onion-potato mixture and the sausage separately overnight.

The next morning:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To prepare the polenta,

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in the polenta, Italian seasoning and a ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and smooth (approximately 7 minutes).

Pour the polenta into an ungreased 9×13-inch baking dish. It will firm up as you scramble the eggs.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pour in the eggs and scramble them until slightly firm but still wet. Remove from the heat. (The eggs will finish cooking in the oven.)

Spread the potato mixture, sausage, Parmesan and cheddar over the polenta. Pour the eggs on top of the entire dish. Bake until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly and serve.

grains peppers

Farro-Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 ½) ounce can vegetable broth
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 ½ cups corn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 4 large red sweet peppers

Directions

In a medium saucepan combine broth, farro and water. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes or until farro is tender. Drain farro, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid; set both the farro and cooking liquid aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the Italian seasoning. Add corn and green onions. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in reserved farro, salt and black pepper; cool slightly. Stir in 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 of the basil.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes from the peppers. Fill pepper halves with the farro mixture. Place stuffed peppers in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Pour the reserved cooking liquid into the dish around the peppers. Cover dish with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes more or untilthe  peppers are crisp-tender and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with remaining basil.

grains risotto

Brown Rice Risotto

Add your favorite ingredients, if you wish.

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or large shallot, chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups any chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

Directions

Bring medium pot of water to a boil and add salt to taste. Stir in brown rice, adjust heat so that water bubbles steadily, and cook without stirring, until rice is swollen and half-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain. (Alternate, soak rice in water to cover overnight. Drain)

Put oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion or shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with oil, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; add the wine. Stir and let liquid come to a boil. Reduce heat slightly.

Begin to add the stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition and every minute or so. When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. Keep the heat medium to medium-high and stir frequently.

When rice is just about tender and mixture is creamy, add the Parmesan, then taste and add more salt or pepper (or both) if necessary. Garnish with basil or parsley and serve.

grain oie

Italian Pastiera (Wheat Berry Pie)

Pastry

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons icy water as needed

Directions

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to mix the dry ingredients.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and drop them in through the feed tube along with the lemon zest and pulse the machine in short bursts, about 10 times. The mixture should be crumbly.

Put in the eggs and pulse a few times to mix the eggs into the dry ingredients.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water on top of the dough. Pulse 6 times for just a second or two. The dough should resemble cottage cheese. Pick up some dough and press it together. If it doesn’t hold together, add another teaspoon of water until the dough holds together.

Scrape the dough onto a floured board and knead to form a smooth, tight dough.

Press into a flat disc and wrap the dough in plastic. Refrigerate for a few hours before using.

Filling

  • 32 oz. ricotta, drained
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water (or orange flower oil)
  • 1/2 cup minced candied citron, lemon peel and orange peel
  • 1/3 cup hulled wheat berries soaked overnight and boiled in lightly salted water for about 30 minutes or until tender. (Use pearl barley or cooked rice if you can’t get the wheat berries.)

Directions

Put the ricotta, eggs, sugar and orange flower water in a large bowl and mix the ingredients well.

Mix in the candied fruit and wheat berries.

To Assemble the Pastiera

Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan.

Cut off about 1/3 of dough and set aside.

With a rolling-pin, roll out the remaining pastry dough to about 15 inches in diameter. It should be about 1/8 inch thick. Flour the board and top of the dough to avoid the dough sticking to either the board or the rolling-pin.

Place the dough in the pan to fully cover the bottom and sides.

Cut off any excess dough from the pan rim. If the dough breaks just patch it.

Pour in the ricotta mixture.

Tap the pan on the board to ensure the filling is well settled.

Roll out the reserved dough into a 9×12 inch rectangle (the pastry should be about an 1/8 inch thick) and cut 1/2 inch lattice strips on a diagonal.

Loosely place the lattice on top of the ricotta mixture. (You can brush a beaten egg wash on the lattice and rim crust to get a more golden color.)

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the ricotta filling is well set and a skewer place in the center comes out dry. Rotate the pastiera once to ensure even baking.

Dust the top with confectioners sugar. Serve at room temperature.


fallsoup

Autumn officially arrived on Tuesday. What better way to welcome the season than making a delicious soup using ingredients that are hitting the farmers markets now? Soup is perfect in any season, but Autumn is especially a perfect time to make soup. When the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, nothing hits the spot like a bowl of warm soup. Store-bought varieties are convenient, but they can be salty and taste overcooked. Homemade is better.

The fall season aligns well with some interesting seasonal ingredients. For example you can add any of the fall ingredients to your standard soup recipes:

Squash, acorn, delicata, kabocha or butternut squash
Apples
Kale
Cabbage
Kohlrabi
Parsnips
Turnips
Parsnips
Swiss Chard
Sweet Potatoes

Orzo, Squash and Chicken Soup

fallsoup1

Make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken, substituting vegetable broth and serving with shaved Parmesan. You can also substitute a different type of squash or sweet potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 4 delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 sage leaves, torn into pieces
  • 4 cups chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line two baking pans with parchment paper.

Mix the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on one prepared baking pan.

Place the chicken on the other baking pan, brush with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the squash on the top rack in the oven and the chicken on the lower rack. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 160°F, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and continue to roast the squash until it is tender and caramelized, about 10 minutes longer.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut it into bite-sized pieces.

Put 6 cups water in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add salt and the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the remaining oil  Add the onion, garlic and sage and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chickenbroth and bring to a boil. Add the cooked orzo, chicken and squash and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Vegetable Farro Soup

fallsoup2

Omit the Parmesan cheese for a vegan dish.

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup farro or wheat berries
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 quarts water
  • One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the celery, onion and leek. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until softened, 5 minutes.

Add the farro and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated and shiny, 30 seconds.

Add 1 quart of the water, sweet potato and the beans and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Add the carrots and the remaining 1 quart of water. Cover and cook over low heat until the carrots are tender, 30 minutes.

Add the peas, cover and cook until tender, at the most 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, top with basil and Parmesan cheese, if using. Serve with bread sticks.

Pea Soup with Ham and Sherry

fallsoup3

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
  • 1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 – 14 ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup dried green split peas
  • 3 ounces reduced-sodium ham, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Whole wheat croutons* (optional)
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and thyme. Reduce heat to medium; cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.

Stir in the chicken broth, the water, split peas, ham, crushed red pepper, black pepper and nutmeg. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or the until split peas are soft.

Stir in frozen peas and parsley; cook about 5 minutes more or until the peas are heated through. Stir in sherry and remove from the heat.

Top the soup with croutons and/or yogurt.

*For homemade croutons, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Cut up whole wheat bread slices into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces; place on the prepared baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden, turning or stirring once halfway through the baking time.

Hearty Greens, Bowtie Pasta and Tomato Soup

fallsoup4

Use any hearty greens that are in season in this filling soup. I save the rinds from wedges of Parmesan cheese in the freezer for making this type of soup.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard including chard stalks or kale (about 3/4 pound)
  • One Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, plus grated Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach
  • 1/2 pound bowtie (farfalle) pasta, cooked al dente

Directions

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and tomatoes and cook until most of the tomato liquid is released and absorbed, about 5 minutes more.

Add carrots, celery, salt, pepper and broth. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

Stir in chard and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer one hour.

Stir in spinach, cooked pasta and season. Simmer 15 minutes.

Remove and discard bay leaf and cheese rind from the soup. Add salt and pepper, if needed, and ladle into bowls, Garnish with grated cheese.

Pork, Rosemary, Chianti Wine and Pasta Soup

fallsoup5

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Ditalini pasta
  • Two 16-oz cans Italian diced tomatoes
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 whole sprig of rosemary
  • 2 slivers lemon zest
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/3 cup Chianti wine
  • 1½ pounds pork shoulder fat trimmed, diced ½ inch pieces
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil, optional
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shredded, optional

Directions using a slow cooker:

In a slow cooker, combine all the ingredients except for the pasta and parsley. Set to low and cook for 8 hours.

Once the soup is cooked, remove the rosemary sprig, garlic and lemon zest.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta to the al dente stage, drain and add to the soup. Heat until all the ingredients are hot.

Garnish with fresh parsley, drizzle with olive oil and top with cheese, if desired, before serving.

Stove top directions:

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot and brown the pork cubes.

Mince the garlic and add to the pot with the rosemary leaves and lemon zest. Saute for one minute. Add the wine and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan.

Add the carrots, parsnips, tomatoes and beef broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 2 hours.

The meat should be very tender. If not, simmer for another 30 – 45 minutes.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the soup along with the parsley. Heat for a few minutes and serve with the optional ingredients.

A green salad goes nicely with this soup.


apple

Apples are the number one fall fruit. Fall also brings with it a renewed interest in baking. The most difficult part about encountering the appetizing display of apples in the store is deciding which apple is best for which project. All are great for munching out of hand, but texture, flavor and size, all contribute to whether a certain apple is best for apple crisp or applesauce.

Munching

If you’re simply in need of a good snack, apples fit the bill. Here are some favorite varieties for eating out of hand or using raw in salads.

Honeycrisp apples are extra crisp and tangy. They are excellent eaten raw, but will also hold their shape when baked.

With red skin and light green patches, Fuji apples are juicy and fragrant.

Crisp and mildly sweet, Gala apples are a satisfying snack.

Pink Lady apples are pinky red in color with crisp, juicy flesh and a complex flavor.

Baking

Whether stuffed or baked for a side dish or a dessert or chopped up and hidden under a layer of dough or crumble topping, these apples hold their shape during cooking.

Rome apples are very large with green-speckled red skin. This variety makes an impressive dessert when baked whole.

Extra tart with thick, “apple green” skin, Granny Smiths are the perfect opposite to the sweeter baking apples, like Golden Delicious, for balanced pies and crisps.

Braeburn apples are very crisp, sweet and tangy, making them great for baking or eating raw.

Golden Delicious are excellent all-purpose apples that are particularly good in pies and crisps.

Jonagold apples have a honeyed sweetness and crisp yellow flesh. This variety holds its shape during baking or sautéing.

Sauces

These apples break down beautifully with heat, making them perfect for purées and sauces.

Cortland apples are sweet and juicy and their flesh breaks down easily with cooking making them perfect for applesauce. These crisp apples are also great raw as their flesh resists browning.

With shiny, deep red skin and bright white flesh, Empire apples are crisp and a little spicy. Cored and stewed, this variety cooks down into a beautiful rosy pink sauce.

Stout Macoun apples are tender, juicy and sweet, making them also perfect for applesauce.

Tart-sweet McIntosh apples are juicy with a great fragrance, but they don’t stand up to long cooking times.

Apple3

Easy Homemade Apple Cider

The best cider has a balance between sweet and tart. Use half sweet and half tart apples in making the recipe below.

  • Red Delicious: Large, firm red apple with a sweet flavor.
  • Yellow Delicious: Large, firm yellow apple with a sweet flavor.
  • Jonathon: Medium, crisp semi-tart apple, with red near the top, descending to green lower down the fruit.
  • Granny Smith: Medium/small, crisp, tart apple with green color.
  • Gala: Medium, crisp semi-tart apple with yellow skin blushed with orange to red tinge.

Ingredients

  • 10 apples, half sweet and half tart from the list above, quartered
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice

Directions

Place apples in a large stockpot and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours.

Strain apple mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Drain cider again through a cheesecloth lined sieve. Refrigerate until cold.

apple1

Celery, Apple and Fennel Slaw

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced diagonally, plus 1/4 cup loosely packed celery leaves
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 firm, crisp apple (such as Pink Lady, Gala or Granny Smith), julienned
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add celery and celery leaves, thinly sliced fennel and chopped fennel fronds and the apple; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

apple6

Sweet Potato Apple Soup

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 1 crisp apple (Fuji, Pink Lady or Granny Smith)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

Put the sweet potatoes in a microwavable dish, loosely cover and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

In batches, puree the broth, cider, cooked onion and squash until smooth. Return all the ingredients to the stockpot, stir in the sage and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Right before serving, core and dice the apple. In a small skillet saute the apple, honey and lemon juice until warm. Serve the soup warm and garnish each serving with a spoonful of apple.

apple5

Italian Farro with Apples

Farro, a wheat like grain, makes a delicious alternative to rice or a side-dish for pork, chicken and fish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled whole-grain farro
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups reduced salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Fuji apple (8 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Sort farro, discarding bits of hulls and other debris. Pour farro into a bowl, cover completely with cool water, stir, and skim off and discard any additional hulls that float to the surface. Drain farro.

Heat oil in a 5-to 6-quart pan over high heat, add celery and onion and cook stirring often until tender, about 5 minutes.. Add farro to the pan and stir until the grains are coated, about 2 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover pan, and simmer (mixture foams, so check and stir occasionally to keep it from boiling over) until farro is tender to the bite and no longer tastes starchy, about 25 minutes. Stir in parsley, cover, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core the apple; cut into about 1/4-inch dice and mix with the lemon juice. Stir into the  farro mixture, season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour into a serving bowl.

apple 2

Classic Apple Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 4 bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Pat pork chops dry with paper towels. Remove thyme leaves from their stems and divide in half. Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and half the thyme leaves, pressing lightly so seasonings adhere.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until sizzling hot. Add the pork chops and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, turning only once, to brown. Transfer to a platter and cover loosely to keep warm.

Add butter to the pan and heat until foamy. Add shallot and remaining thyme leaves and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add apples, broth and remaining salt and pepper to the skillet scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until apple is tender and sauce reduces slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Return pork chops to the skillet, along with any juices that have collected at the bottom of the plate, to the skillet and cook just until the pork registers 145 degrees on a meat thermometer.. Transfer the pork chops to a platter and spoon the apple mixture over the chops.

apple4

Ricotta Cheesecake With Apple Topping

Crust

  • 1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs, (20 cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon (packed) brown sugar

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • 1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 container (8 ounces) light sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 slices
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup apple cider

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, mix cookie crumbs, butter and sugar. Press into the bottom of the springform pan. Bake 10 minutes. Place pan on wire rack.

In a food processor, process ricotta cheese, granulated sugar and vanilla bean until ricotta is smooth. Add cream cheese and sour cream; process just until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Whisk in 1/4 of the cheese mixture. Fold in the remaining cheese mixture in two additions. Pour over the baked  crust.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until the edges rise, and the center is just set, but still jiggly. Place on wire rack to cool completely (cheesecake may crack). Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

To make the topping:

In a large skillet, combine the sugar and water. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Remove the skillet from the heat and immediately add the apples and butter. Stir to coat the apples. Return the pan to the heat and cook, turning apples occasionally, until the apples are tender but still hold their shape, 5 to 10 minutes.

Once the apples are tender, add the cider and cook until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the topping into a bowl, cover and let cool.

To serve the cheesecake, remove the pan sides and, with a large spatula, transfer the cake to a serving plate. Spoon the topping over the cake and serve.


Bnless-Skless-Chkn-Brst-withUSDAlogo-large

When chickens are raised for meat, they are typically referred to as either “broilers” (also called “fryers”) or “roasters.” Fryers and broilers are usually bred for rapid growth and may reach a weight of four to five pounds in as few as five weeks. Roasters are typically fed for a longer period of time (12 to 20 weeks) and are not processed until they reach weights of six to 10 pounds. When not being raised for food, the natural lifespan of chickens is approximately five to 10 years, although some chickens can live much longer.

Popular breeds for broiler chickens include Cornish, White Rock, Hubbard, Barred, Cornish Cross and Cornish Rock. There are fewer breed choices for broilers than for layers. (Among the many breeds available for egg laying are White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Golden Comets, Red Sex Links, Isa Browns, Australorps, Black Star, Red Star, Light Sussex, and Plymouth Rock.)

Some New Research

Pasture raising of chickens (with plenty of time allowed for pecking, foraging and moving around outdoors) has been recently analyzed with fascinating results by a team of researchers at the University of Perugia in Perugia, Italy. In their study, conventional indoor raising of chickens was compared with organic raising (some outdoor access, but mostly higher quality feed) and also with “organic plus” raising—meaning organic feed with meaningful time spent outdoors.

While organic standards—all by themselves—were sufficient to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in breast meat obtained from the chickens, it took more than organic standards to improve the breast meat in two other important respects: increase in total antioxidant nutrients and a decrease in the risk from fats. These additional benefits were not observed in the comparison of conventional to organic breast meat, but only in the comparison of pastured organic meat. It’s worth noting that in this study, “pastured” not only meant time outdoors foraging, pecking and moving about but also the presence of outdoor space that averaged 10 square meters /107 square feet per bird. The authors concluded that pasture activities were directly linked to the health quality of the meat.

Buying Chicken

When purchasing whole chickens, look for ones that have a solid and plump shape with a rounded breast. Whether purchasing a whole chicken or chicken parts, the chicken should feel pliable when gently pressed and it should not have an “off” smell. Do not buy chicken if the sell-by date on the label has already expired. The color of the chicken’s skin, white or yellow, does not have any bearing on its nutritional value. Regardless of color, the skin should be opaque and not spotted.

If purchasing frozen chicken, make sure that it is frozen solid and does not have any ice deposits or freezer burn. Additionally, avoid frozen chicken that has frozen liquid in the package as this may indicate that it has been defrosted and refrozen. Buy certified organic chicken and, if possible, pasture-raised.

Form of Chicken Amount Calories Total Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg)
Breast with skin 100 grams 197 7.78 2.19 84
Breast without skin 100 grams 165 3.57 1.01 85
Leg with skin 100 grams 184 8.99 2.45 127
Leg without skin 100 grams 174 7.80 2.11 128

Tips for Preparing Chicken

Be careful when handling raw chicken, so that it does not come in contact with other foods, especially those that will be served uncooked. Wash the cutting board, utensils and your hands very well with hot soapy water after handling the chicken.
If your recipe requires marinating, you should always do so in the refrigerator as chicken is very sensitive to heat, which can increase the chances of spoilage. When defrosting a frozen chicken, do so in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. Put the chicken on a plate to collect any liquid drippings.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

Chicken salad can be prepared in numerous ways and can be served for lunch or dinner. A favorite recipe is to combine the chicken with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Then mix in garden peas, leeks, almonds and dried cranberries or cherries.
Add pieces of diced chicken breast to white bean chili to up its protein and nutritional content.
Wrap cooked chicken pieces in a whole wheat tortilla, sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and onions, top with grated cheese and broil, making yourself a healthy burrito.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

chicken-spinach-feta-l

This dish pairs well with couscous. You can access the basic recipe from my post on 4/28/14
http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2014/04/28/cooking-couscous/ Round out the meal with a tomato salad.

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet that has a cover over medium-high heat. Add spinach to the pan; cook 1 minute or until the spinach wilts, tossing constantly. Place spinach in a colander; press out all liquid. Wipe skillet clean. Combine spinach, cheese, nuts, thyme, juice and garlic in a bowl and set aside.

Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff 3 tablespoons of filling into each pocket. Seal with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until brown. Add broth and cover the pan. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano

roasted-chicken-thighs-with-lemon-and-oregano-940x600

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 4 large or 8 small boneless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine 
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Very thinly slice half of the lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges and reserve. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Coat a large ovenproof skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook until brown, about 10 minutes.

Place half of the lemon slices under the chicken and scatter the remaining slices over the top of the chicken.

Transfer skillet to the oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and lemon slices on the bottom of the skillet are caramelized, 6-8 minutes.

Transfer chicken pieces and caramelized lemon slices from the bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave softened top layer lemon slices in the skillet.)

Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove skillet from heat. Add wine; return to the heat and cook until reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth; cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Squeeze lemon wedges over the sauce and season with salt, pepper. Drizzle with the 2 remaining teaspoons oil. Return chicken to the skillet to rewarm.

Serve topped with lemon slices.

Oven-Baked Chicken With Parmigiano-Reggiano Crust

oven baked

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive spray oil
  • 1/3 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 8 pieces chicken (a cut-up small whole chicken or a combination of thighs and drumsticks)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a baking pan with foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray rack with oil.

Place milk and egg in a shallow bowl and whisk to combine. Combine panko, cheese, thyme and salt in another shallow bowl. Coat 1 piece of chicken with egg mixture and then roll in panko mixture, pressing gently to help coating adhere.

Place on the baking pan rack and repeat with remaining chicken. Discard any remaining egg and panko mixture. Spray chicken lightly with oil and bake until crispy and cooked through, about 35 minutes.

Grilled Chicken With Fresh Herbs

grilled chicken

This dish pairs well with a potato salad.

Ingredients

  • 3 whole chicken legs (thighs and legs attached)
  • 3 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat an outdoor  grill. Oil grill grates.

Put chicken into a large bowl, add oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Arrange chicken on grill grates, turn down heat to medium  and cook, turning occasionally, until deep golden brown and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.

While still hot, toss chicken in a large bowl with lemon juice, mustard, chives, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Chicken and Artichokes with Farro

farro and chicken

Farro is a classic Italian whole grain that goes well with this dish, but you could prepare brown rice, pasta or couscous instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 3/4 cups white wine
  • 1 -9 oz box frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted 
  • 1 1/4 cup cups farro
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Sprinkle chicken on all sides with 1 teaspoon salt.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides, turning pieces occasionally. Transfer pieces to a roasting pan. Discard excess fat from the skillet, then add garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add wine to the pan and reduce slightly, scraping bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Pour wine over the chicken.

Cut artichokes in half and nestle them around the chicken in the roasting pan. Cover securely with foil and roast until chicken is cooked through and artichokes are tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Add farro, lower heat, cover the pan and simmer until farro is very tender and water is absorbed, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Place chicken and artichokes on top, ladle the sauce in the pan over the top and sprinkle with basil.

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basketAlmost every Italian city and town has its specialties and there are regional specialties also; the end result is a huge number of local cuisines rather than a single national cuisine. However, there are some dishes that you will find almost everywhere and that are now standards among the many Italian communities scattered across the globe.

Vegetables play a large part in Italian cuisine because the fertile soil, especially in the south, provides bountiful amounts of vegetables and herbs. A typical cold salad might include raw or cooked vegetables tossed with herbs and cheese. Other popular dishes are cianfotta, a stewed dish of eggplants, peppers, zucchini and onions with basil and olive oil that is served cold. Pepperoni imbottiti stuffs red and yellow bell peppers with breadcrumbs seasoned with black olives, capers, garlic and anchovies and, of course, the famous parmigiana di melanzane or eggplant parmigiana.

There’s an old saying that “good cooking begins in the market” and never is this more true than with Italian cuisine which relies heavily on fresh produce. The most commonly used vegetables include tomatoes, garlic, onions, bell peppers (capsicum), eggplants (aubergine), cabbage, zucchini (courgettes), artichokes, fennel, mushrooms, celery, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and lettuce. These vegetables are traditionally chopped and added to baked pasta dishes, risottos and pizza or turned into salads, soups, appetizers and side dishes.

Vegetables can easily be the highlight of a meal. For example, a grilled mushroom cap filled with arugula bean salad, roasted vegetables paired with creamy polenta or a vegetable laced risotto offer substance as a main meal. With a little crusty bread and some aged cheese on the table, you also have a healthful meal. Here are some vegetable main dishes you might find on the Italian table.

1111_1fd5wy_FarroPilaf

Warm Farro Pilaf with Dried Cranberries

Serves 6

An Italian wheat grain, farro is chewy and tender, like barley but with a milder flavor. Pearled or cracked farro cooks much faster than whole regular farro and it doesn’t require soaking before it’s made. The farro in this recipe can be made a few days ahead or even frozen.

Ingredients

For the Farro

  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in half
  • 1 celery rib, cut in half
  • 1/2 small onion in one piece
  • 1 ¼ cups pearled farro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

For the Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 lb kale, center stem removed, chopped (4 packed cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

To make Farro:

Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrot, celery and onion. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables start to brown. Add farro and stir well. Pour in broth, and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook 20 minutes or until just tender; drain. Discard carrot, celery and onion. Cool Farro.

To make Pilaf:

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté diced onion 5 to 7 minutes. Add kale and cook 5 to 7 minutes or just until wilted. Reduce heat to medium and stir in garlic and Aleppo pepper. Cook 1 minute, then add farro, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in dried cranberries and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm.

butternut squash

Parmesan-Butternut Squash Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (2 1/2 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Peel, halve lengthwise and seed squash; cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange with slices overlapping slightly in the bottom of baking dish.

In a 2-quart saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Add garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft and butter is infused with garlic flavor. Do not let butter brown.

In a small bowl mix bread crumbs, cheese and 1 tablespoon of the butter-garlic mixture.

Brush squash slices with remaining butter-garlic mixture. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and bread crumb mixture.

Bake uncovered 30 to 40 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with fork. Increase oven temperature to 425°F; bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until the squash is lightly browned. Before serving, sprinkle parsley over top.

vegetable casserole

Roasted Vegetable and Bean Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds cipolline onions, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, trimmed and peeled
  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and cut lengthwise into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked dried cannellini beans or equivalent canned, rinsed and drained
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the potatoes, onions and fennel in a roasting pan. Add the olive oil and toss well to coat.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beans and roast another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes and cipolline are fork-tender and golden brown. Garnish with thyme.

spinach pizza

Deep Dish Spinach Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, thoroughly washed and stemmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Cornmeal
  • 1/2 recipe quick whole-wheat pizza dough (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Provolone cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup thick tomato sauce (recipe below)

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet and add garlic; saute for 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat. Chop spinach.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch round baking pan 1 1/2 inches deep and sprinkle the bottom of the pan lightly with cornmeal. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle and fit into pan. Dough should just cover the bottom and sides of the pan with no overhang.

Mix cheeses together and spread 1 cup of the cheese mixture over the bottom of the dough in the pan. Spread the spinach over the cheese, covering the cheese completely. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese over the spinach layer. Spread the tomato sauce over the spinach.

Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Take the pizza out of the oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the pizza. Return the pizza to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Yield: one 9-inch deep-dish pizza, serving 6 to 8.

Quick Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

Directions

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of water, stir in olive oil and set aside until bubbly.

Combine the all-purpose flour with the whole-wheat flour and salt in a food processor bowl. Process for a few seconds to blend. With processor running, slowly pour yeast mixture through the feed tube and continue to process until a firm, smooth and elastic ball of dough forms. If the mixture is too dry, you may have to add another tablespoon or so of warm water. If it is too soft, add a little more all-purpose flour, one tablespoon at a time.

Remove dough from the processor bowl, divide in half and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate half the dough for this recipe for at least 10 minutes or up to one day. Freeze the other half of the dough for another use.

Yield: dough for two 9-inch deep-dish pizzas or two 12-inch flat pizzas

Thick Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 16-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add onion and garlic and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until the onion is soft but not brown. Add remaining ingredients including liquid from the tomatoes. Crush tomatoes with the back of a spoon.

Adjust heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is very thick and no longer liquid, about 30 minutes. Stir sauce from time to time to prevent sticking.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

stuffed peppers

Slow Cooked Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 6 large sweet bell peppers
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup cubed Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 can (4-1/4 ounces) chopped ripe olives
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions

Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the rice, tomatoes, corn, onion and beans. Stir in the Monterey Jack cheese, olives, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spoon into peppers.

Combine spaghetti sauce and water; pour half into an oval 5-qt. slow cooker. Add the stuffed peppers. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until peppers are tender and filling is heated through. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

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The toughest part of shopping for apples in stores is deciding which apple is best for which recipe. Most are great for eating out of hand, but texture, flavor and size all contribute to whether the chosen variety is best for apple crisp or applesauce. Here is a guide for you.

Baking

Whether stuffed and baked whole for a dessert or chopped up and hidden under a layer of dough or crumble topping, these apples hold their shape during cooking:

Rome apples are very large with green-speckled red skin. This variety makes an impressive dessert when baked whole.

Extra tart with thick, “apple green” skin, Granny Smiths are a better choice than a sweeter baking apple, like Golden Delicious, for balanced pies and crisps.

Braeburn apples are very crisp, sweet and tangy making them great for baking or eating raw.

Golden Delicious are excellent all-purpose apples that are particularly good for baking in cakes and other desserts.

Jonagold apples have a honeyed sweetness and crisp yellow flesh. This variety holds its shape during baking or sautéing.

Saucing

These apples break down with heat, making them perfect for purées and sauces:

Cortland apples are sweet and juicy and their flesh breaks down easily with cooking, making them perfect for a sauce. These crisp apples are also great raw in salads as their flesh resists browning.

With shiny, deep red skin and bright white flesh, Empire apples are crisp and a little spicy. Cored and stewed, this variety cooks down into a beautiful rosy pink applesauce.

Stout Macoun apples are tender, juicy and sweet making them perfect for cooking.

Tart-sweet McIntosh apples are juicy with a great fragrance, but they don’t stand up to long cooking times.

Munching

If you’re simply looking for a good snack, apples fit the bill. These are some favorite varieties for eating out of hand or using in salads:

Honeycrisp apples are extra crisp and tangy. They are excellent eaten raw, but will also hold their shape when baked.

With red skin and light green patches, Fuji apples are juicy and fragrant.

Crisp and mildly sweet, Gala apples are a another good eating apple.

Pink Lady apples are pink/red in color with crisp, juicy flesh and a complex flavor.

Dried Apple Slices

Serves 6

Dried apples are great for snacks and lunch boxes. You can also add them to salads along

with nuts and grapes, or serve with roasted pork or alongside a sandwich, as you would chips.

Ingredients

  • 2 apples (Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Slice apples as thinly as possible, about 1/8-inch or thinner (use a mandolin, if you have one). Arrange slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 1 1/2 hours; turn slices over and continue baking 1 1/2 hours longer or until completely dry and crisp (they will not crisp more after cooling).

Timing will vary depending on the moisture content of the apples and the thickness of the slices. Let cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Celery-Root Soup with Bacon and Green Apple

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 medium leeks (3/4 lb), white and pale green parts only
  • 3 bacon slices (2 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 celery rib, very thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup inner celery leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Directions

Halve leeks lengthwise, then coarsely chop. Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out onto paper towels and pat dry.

Cook bacon in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel.

Pour off all but 2 teaspoons of fat from the pot, then add oil and cook leeks over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.

Add celery root and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add water and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until celery root is very tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

While soup simmers, thinly slice apple lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices, removing the core, then cut slices into 1/8-inch matchstick pieces. Gently toss with celery and celery leaves.

Purée soup in batches in a blender or immersion hand blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to cleaned pot, if you removed it to a blender.

If soup is too thick, thin with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water. Stir in salt, pepper and half-and-half and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm.

Season with salt according to taste, then divide among 4 bowls and top with apple-celery mixture and coarsely crumbled bacon.

Italian Farro with Sausage and Apples

Farro, a wheat like grain, makes a delicious alternative to rice and similar side-dishes that go with with meat, poultry and fish.

4 to 6 side-dish servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled whole-grain farro
  • 3/4 cup bulk pork sausage (about 3 oz.) or pork sausages, casings removed
  • Olive oil (if needed)
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Fuji apple (8 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Sort farro, discarding strawlike bits of hulls and other debris. Pour farro into a bowl, cover completely with cool water, stir, and skim off and discard any additional hulls that float to the surface. Drain farro.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, crumble sausage with a spoon and stir often until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage to a paper towel lined bowl and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat or, if necessary, add oil to equal 1 tablespoon fat in pan. Add farro and return sausage to the pan and stir until grains are dried, about 2 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer (mixture foams, so check and stir occasionally to keep it from boiling over) until farro is tender to the bite and no longer tastes starchy, about 25 minutes. Stir in parsley, cover, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core apple; cut into about 1/4-inch dice and mix with lemon juice. Stir into farro, season to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a serving bowl.

Ham, Sweet Onion and Apple Pizza

4 servings

Ingredients

  1. Olive oil cooking spray
  2. 1 pound package refrigerated pizza dough, whole wheat if available
  3. 1 cup apple butter
  4. 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  5. 1/4 cup diced sweet onion (Vidalia)
  6. 1/2 cup cored, seeded and diced Golden Delicious apple
  7. 1/2 cup thinly sliced deli ham

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Place dough on pan.

With floured hands press dough into a large rectangle.

Top with apple butter, cheese, onion, apple and ham.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Roast Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small tart apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 cup apple cider

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the oil in a medium broiler pan, gratin dish or shallow ovenproof skillet.

Layer the apples (such as Granny Smith) on the bottom and season with half the sage, salt and pepper.

Place the pork chops on top and sprinkle with the remaining sage, salt and pepper. Pour the cider over the pork chops.

Roast for 15 minutes. Gently turn the pork chops over, basting them with the cider from the bottom of the pan. Stir the apples to allow them to cook evenly. Roast another 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the pork and apples for 4 to 6 minutes, or until just golden brown.

Apple and Walnut Torte

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur (ex. Grand Marnier)
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 orange, zested
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted (or Smart Balance butter alternative)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced peeled apples (2-3 depending on size)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, heat the orange liqueur. Turn off the heat and add the cranberries and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and the orange zest. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the apples, walnuts and cranberries. Mix well.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 by 2-inch glass baking dish or 8-inch cake pan.

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

A Note of Sadness:

A great Italian chef and food writer passed away on Sunday – Marcella Hazan. You can read about her life and how she changed the face of Italian cooking in America in the New York Times aticle: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/dining/Marcella-Hazan-dies-changed-the-way-americans-cook-italian-food.html?pagewanted=all

Following are some of the posts I have written in the past about Marcella Hazan’s influences.

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/06/three-cookbooks-i-cherish/

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/15/does-shape-matter/

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/08/09/why-should-you-make-homemade-pasta/


Original Lake Washington floating bridge: Opened on July 3, 1940, this was the concrete bridge that started them all in Washington state. The state's highway chief, Lacey V. Murrow, endorsed a concrete floating bridge despite intense skepticism. As former WSDOT chief bridge engineer Charles Gloyd wrote about the bridge's debut in a 1988 article, "certain wags wore life jackets to show their lack of faith."

Original Lake Washington Floating Bridge

Most Italian immigrants crowded into cities on the eastern seaboard. Only a small fraction made it to Washington, which in 1910 had less than one per cent of the Italians living in America. Most of them were men who had first lived in the east or who had worked their way west building the railroads. Few came directly from Italy to Seattle.

There was plenty of work, especially in construction. Seattle, in the decade following the Klondike rush, enjoyed the greatest growth in its history, tripling its population from 80,000 to 240,000 between 1900-1910. Italians, along with other immigrants and native-born Americans, shaped much of the Seattle we know today. They constructed water mains, sewer lines, buildings and shaped the Elliott Bay seawall with dirt from Dearborn, Denny and Jackson Hills which made Seattle into a world-class waterfront city.

File:Elliott bay - rotated.jpg

Elliott Bay Waterfront

It was not a way to get rich. Laborers made as little as $1.25 for a ten-hour day and the work was difficult. Orly Alia, now retired from his construction business, recalls an uncle who stacked 95-pound bags of cement from a rapidly moving line, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. “They were machines,” Alia recalls, “They wore themselves out and they were gone by the time they were sixty.”

Truck and trailer just off Lake Washington Floating Bridge in Seattle around 1947

The majority of the Italian immigrants found jobs in the city, even though they had been country farmers in Italy. The reason was simple. Industrial and mining jobs paid more than farm work and most of the good agricultural land on the frontier had been claimed prior to the Italians arrival. Moreover, Italians didn’t like the harsh climate or the isolation of the Western plains. The ones who got to Seattle, however, found, to their delight, that it was quite possible to enjoy the benefits of city and country life at the same time. They could make good wages in construction and in the mills and have kitchen gardens, rabbits and chickens in the yards of affordable single-family homes.

Most of Seattle’s Italians were unskilled laborers and some were illiterate. Yet nearly all of them were able, by working hard, to become successful. Alia’s father, Rocco, for example, was a construction laborer who started his own construction company. Orly went to work for his father as a waterboy and recalls that the laborers’ clothes were always soaked with sweat. Orly, as soon as he could, also started his own company and so did his son, Richard, now head of R. L. Alia Co. This pattern of sons following in their fathers’ footsteps, even to the fourth generation, would become a tradition among Seattle’s Italian families.

By 1915, 20 per cent of Seattle’s Italian community belonged to the business and professional class. They included Doctors Xavier DeDonato and A. J. Ghiglione; Joe Desimone, owner of the Pike Place Market; Frank Buty, a real estate agent whose generosity to new immigrants is still talked about by their descendants; Attilio Sbedico, professor of literature at the University of Washington; Nicola Paolella, publisher of the Gazetta Italiani. Paolella produced an Italian language radio show for 26 years.

Pike Place Market 1912

Henry Suzzallo, whose family came from Ragusa, Italy was appointed to the presidency of the University of Washington in 1915. He held the position until 1926 when he quarreled with the state governor and resigned. He achieved even more prominence by becoming chairman of the board of trustees and president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning. He stayed there until he died in 1933.

Angelo Pellegrini

Angelo Pellegrini (1904 – 1991) was an author of books about the pleasures of growing and making your own food and wine and about the Italian immigrant experience. He was also a professor of English Literature at the University of Washington. Pellegrini’s family came from Tuscany in 1913 and his father worked for the railroad. His first book, The Unprejudiced Palate (1948) is an important work in the history of food literature and is still in print. In 1946, Sunset Magazine published Pellegrini’s recipe for pesto, likely the first major publication of a pesto recipe in the United States.

Albert Rosellini

In 1956 Albert Rosellini (January 21, 1910 – October 10, 2011) was elected governor of Washington – the first Italian American governor west of the Mississippi. Rosellini was an activist leader who worked to reform the state’s prisons and mental health facilities, to expand the state highway system, to create the University of Washington Medical School and Dental School and to build the second floating bridge across Lake Washington. Rosellini is the longest-lived U.S. state governor ever, having reached the age of 101 years, 262 days before his death.

Mario Batali

Mario Batali, one of the country’s most celebrated chefs, grew up in Seattle, Washington. He is one of three children born to Marilyn and Armandino Batali. He spent his childhood watching his grandmother make oxtail ravioli and other Italian specialties passed down in the family. Mario’s father, an engineer for Boeing for 30 years, opened a meat-curing shop in Seattle as a retirement project, attempting to recreate the Italian food store Mario’s maternal great-great grandparents opened in 1903. The Batali family’s roots are almost entirely in the West. Mario’s great-great-grandfather left Italy for Butte, Montana in 1899 to work in the coal mines and eventually moved further west to settle in Seattle.

The community also included the first American saint, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. Mother Cabrini, who died in 1917, was canonized during World War II by Pope Paul in the Sistine Chapel. More than 40,000 people, including American soldiers witnessed the ceremonies in the basilica.

Rainier Avenue at Genesee Street, 1925

Our lady of Mount Virgin Church, on the slope of Mount Baker, overlooked the Italian neighborhood in Rainier Valley. It was the spiritual center for Seattle Italians and often the first place new immigrants went to get information and meet new friends. The first pastor was Father Lodovico Caramello. He was on his way to a foreign mission in 1913, when his superiors asked him to stop by Seattle and help the immigrants there to get the church they were building started. Father Caramello agreed to a brief assignment but stayed on the job until he died in 1949. “He had nothing,” recalled Nellie Ivie, who was 88 when she was interviewed by the Beacon Hill News. “He lived in a little corner of the building above the old church. He had a wooden cot, no bed, no furniture, not enough to eat hardly. He used to go out and shoot birds – pick their feathers off and eat them. He was really a saint; everybody loved him.” 

“You either loved him or feared him,” said Marie (Fiorito) Hagen in the same interview. She recalled attending a luncheon in Father Caramello’s honor, in which he insisted on covered knees and elbows, “in the house of God” even on sweltering hot days. “If your knees showed, he’d glare down from the pulpit and say, frogs’ legs,” Marie Hagen recalled.

The Rainier Valley neighborhood, which centered around the intersection of Rainier and Atlantic Avenues, was transformed into an Italian village, not unlike the ones the residents had left behind in Italy. It was a small village to be sure. Only 215 families lived there in 1915, but everybody knew everybody else. Rainier Valley was the biggest, but not the only Italian neighborhood. There were about 70 families each in Georgetown and smaller communities in South Park, South Lake Union, Youngstown and First Hill.

Italian School

Christmas at the Italian School.

Families were large and close-knit, as was the community. Children attended Mt. Virgin School, where they were taught by nuns who spoke Italian and could assist students – and parents – who didn’t speak English. A 1976 Seattle Times article, quotes Sister Manette, who taught at Mt. Virgin in the 1920s and ’30s: “The immigrant parents were poor and had to take what jobs they could get because of the language barrier, so they saw education as a doorway for their children and would sacrifice anything to get it for them.” But even though many parents were eager to see their children succeed as “Americans,” they also valued the connection to their heritage. Elizabeth Yorio, a student in the 1920s, told the Times reporter that Father Caramello, “taught Italian-language classes because he dreaded to see the children getting Americanized so quickly.”

Vegetable gardens were large and prolific and fathers played bocce on weekends and made wine in their basements. Everyone who lived there remembers the aromatic smells of Italian cooking that wafted through the neighborhood, especially on Sunday. The abundance of good food also helped make up for the hungry times some of the immigrants endured in Italy and helped them convince themselves that they had done the right thing by leaving their homeland and coming to this new world. The immigrants’ love of and respect for food would lead many of them into new careers and make some of them wealthy.

In time many immigrants decided they wanted to go back to the land after all. Seattle was surrounded by some of the best gardening land in the west and the weather was perfect for growing vegetables. Moreover the land was cheap. An immigrant needed only $75 to get into farming and if he had several hundred dollars he could buy land outright.

By 1915, Fred Marino was the leading truck farmer and, in that same year, it was estimated that there were 200 to 300 Italian farming households around Seattle. The most influential farmer was Joe Desimone who arrived in America in 1897 with half a dollar in his pocket. He worked as a swineherd in Rhode Island before he moved to Seattle where he went to work for the Vacca family and married one of their daughters. The Desimone family bought up land bit by bit, drained the Duwamish swamplands and ended up owning large tracts of some of the best farmlands in the area. Desimone also became an owner of the Pike Place Market. The Desimone family proprietorship continued until it came under public acquisition by a 1971 voters’ initiative.

Whether it was truck farming or mining, Italians not only survived life in America but prevailed. When the mining industry began dying off, Italians living in Black Diamond found other ways to make a living. Angelo Merlino, while still working in the mines, began to import cheese, pasta and olive oil in bulk. He quit mining and opened a store in 1900 that was so successful, he was soon importing Italian food by the shipload. Today, Merlino and Sons is one of Seattle’s biggest distributors of Italian foods. Gradually, Seattleites developed a taste for Italian food and Italian food businesses became household words: Oberto’s and Gavosto’s Torino sausages, DeLaurenti’s, Magnano’s and Borracchini’s food stores. Italians pioneered the transformation of Seattle into one of the best restaurant cities in America. One of the earliest restaurants was Buon Gusto established in 1910 on Third Avenue by Orlando Benedetti and Giovanni Panattoni. Later restaurateurs, such as Rosellini and Gasparetti, became citywide personalities whose names and faces were known to everybody.

Italian POWs

World War II spurred industrial growth and created thousands of jobs for Italian Americans and others. Italian parents sent their sons off to fight overseas just as other American families did but the war affected the Italian community in unique ways, as well. As “enemy aliens,” the Italian-born residents were subjected to curfews, travel and employment restrictions. The Italian social hall shut down during the war because anyone born in Italy had to be home by 8:00 p.m. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Nick Paolella, publisher and radio host, was detained by federal agents, along with dozens of other Italian newspaper and radio men in other cities on the West Coast. The newspaper, radio show and the community’s Italian language school all ceased operation during the war years.

Toward the end of the war, Italian POWs captured by U.S. troops in North Africa were shipped to Seattle. The presence of their countrymen in these circumstances was a complicated situation for Italian immigrants. Many of the Italian prisoners had been reluctant soldiers with no love for Mussolini. Ralph Vacca’s uncle, who served overseas, told him that “a lot of them, they’d see the Americans coming and they’d run up to them and say, ‘Hey, take me with you!’” These prisoners were allowed to join the Army’s Italian Service Unit (ISU) and were given special privileges and freedoms. Andy Bevilacqua remembers his father taking him to visit one of the POW camps when he was a child: “There were guys there from Tuscany, like he was.”

Ralph Vacca recalls:

“They weren’t hard line fascists and, so on weekends, the Italian prisoners would get passes to go out to visit Italian families. They couldn’t speak English—but I remember they would go over to my mother’s and my mother had nine brothers and sisters in her family. So every Sunday everyone went over there. They would play bocce ball and my God, at dinnertime, the table was from here to there – twenty or thirty people. And they would talk Italian and have spaghetti and whatever else was on the table.”.

Ralph’s aunt, Mary Vacca, wound up falling in love with one of these gentlemen, Miguel Prontera – and this certainly wasn’t the only friendship or romance that developed between young people on opposite sides of the POW camp fence. At the end of the war, Miguel Prontera and the rest of the POWs were sent back to Italy but Mary Vacca went to Italy, tracked him down, married him and brought him back to Seattle. Prontera opened a barber shop on McClelland Street, where he cut hair for more than 60 years. He retired in 2008 at the age of 90.

“Mike” Prontera, barber

Prontera was part of a new wave of Italian immigrants who arrived in Seattle in the 1950s. Many of these new arrivals merged seamlessly into the established community. The Pizzutos were from a rural village in southern Italy where opportunities were extremely limited and had been so even before the war. “Back in Italy”, Lauro Pizzuto later told his grandson Cory, “I played soccer and shot pool in pubs – that was it!” Lauro and his father came to Seattle to work on building the original Lake Washington Floating Bridge. The Mottola family arrived about the same time but were city people from Naples. Vince Mottola worked for an established Italian business – the Gai family bakery– before opening his own restaurant in 1957.

So many Italians arrived in Seattle in the 1950s that the Italian-born population of SE Seattle (as measured by the U.S. Census) nearly tripled: from 929 in 1950 to 2555 in 1960. Southeast Seattle’s population as a whole rose sharply during this period, but not as fast as the Italian population. The Italian percentage doubled, from 2% in 1950 to 4% in 1960. By the late 1950s, Seattle’s Italian community had reached a fairly comfortable place. The first generation of immigrants who had arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were now growing old and many of them could look back on their lives and accomplishments with some satisfaction. Several of these gentlemen were profiled in a 1956 Seattle Times article by Erle Howell. They were businessmen, musicians, professors, patriarchs and their children had, as Sister Manette put it, “turned out very well, a credit to themselves and the city.”

Annie and Grace

Annie and Grace Briglio on 26th Avenue. Courtesy of Patricelli Family

Leonardo Patricelli, “The Ditch Digger” profiled in Angelo Pellegrini’s, Americans by Choice, had arrived In Seattle in 1911, willing to work hard in order to give his children a chance at a better life. Forty years later he and his wife, Giovannina, had worked hard indeed – but they now had land of their own and a fine house built by Leonardo and his four sons. Leonardo had come to the U.S. hoping his children would have opportunities he had lacked in Italy and they did. His eldest son became a doctor. More recent arrivals like the Pizzutos and Mottolas could see a similar path unfolding for their own children in their newly adopted country. 

Seattle’s Italian Food

seattle1

Italian Meatloaf

Armandino Batali of Salumi in Seattle, writes: “My son, Mario Batali, may be the most recognizable foodie in the family, but the Batalis’ interest in Italian cooking and culture goes back generations. My grandfather opened Seattle’s first Italian-food import store in 1903. It was located just a few steps from where my restaurant, Salumi, is now, and it’s one of the things that inspired me to get into the business.

“The idea behind Salumi was to create a restaurant, deli and meat factory in one place, just like the salumerias in Italy. We’re known for homemade sausages and salami, but we also attract a large lunchtime crowd. Some of the specials, like meatloaf and frittata, have been in our family for years. They’re also easy to make at home.”

 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef 
  • 1 pound coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed, meat crumbled
  • 2 cups chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, divided
  • 3 large eggs, beaten 
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine the first 11 ingredients in large bowl. Gently mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce, eggs and wine.

Place meat mixture on large rimmed baking sheet and shape into 16 x 4-inch loaf. Brush with remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce.

Bake meat loaf until cooked through and thermometer inserted into center registers between 160°F and 170°F, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Italian Bean & Chard Soup With Cheese Toast

6 servings

Soup

  • 1 cup small dry white beans 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes, or 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed 
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth 
  • 4 cups chopped Swiss chard or escarole
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil 
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese .

Cheese toast: 

  • 12 thin baguette slices 
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or shredded Parmesan cheese 

To prepare the soup:

Put the white beans in a bowl, cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and put the beans into a soup pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes. Drain.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the same pot. Add the onion and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil and oregano. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Put the beans into the pot with the broth. Simmer 30 minutes. Add the kale, basil and pepper to taste. Cook 10 minutes.

To prepare the toast:

Spread the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Toast under a hot broiler. Remove from the oven and turn the bread slices over. Sprinkle with Gorgonzola or Parmesan and put back under the broiler until the cheese bubb.

Garnish each serving of soup with a spoonful of Parmesan and toast on the side.

seattle 2

Farro Salad with Fried Cauliflower and Prosciutto

Recipe from Ethan Stowell chef at Tavolàta, Seattle

8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound farro, rinsed and drained
  • 2 carrots, halved crosswise
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 1 celery rib, halved crosswise
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 large heads of cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds each), cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped marjoram
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine the farro, carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Add enough cold water to cover the farro by 1 inch and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the farro is tender but chewy, 15 minutes; drain. Spread the farro on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Discard the carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil over moderately high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350° F. Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden, 5 minutes per batch; drain.

In a bowl, mix the farro, cauliflower, prosciutto, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

--Agrodolce

Seared Broccoli with Anchovy Vinaigrette

Recipe adapted from Maria Hines, Agrodolce, Seattle, WA

4 servings

Ingredients:

Anchovy Vinaigrette

  • 4 oil-packed anchovies
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli, trimmed into small florets
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Make the anchovy vinaigrette:

In a blender, purée the anchovies, vinegar and garlic together on high speed until smooth. Reduce the blender speed to medium and slowly pour in the oil, blending until the vinaigrette is emulsified and thick. Season with the pepper.

Make the broccoli:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and broccoli florets and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the florets are caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon juice and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the pepper.

Transfer the broccoli to a serving platter and drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette. Serve warm.

Strawberries marinated in Prosecco, with semolina cookies A100830_FW_Seattle_4thofJuly2011

Strawberries in Prosecco with Vanilla Ice Cream

8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • One 750-milliliter bottle chilled Prosecco
  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream

Directions:

In a bowl, mix the strawberries with the sugar and let stand until the sugar is dissolved, about 30 minutes.

Spoon the berries and any syrup into 8 glasses and top with the Prosecco and a scoop of ice cream. Serve right away.

 

Sources:

  • The Seattle Times
  • Neighborhoods: Southeast Seattle Community History Project: Mikala Woodward
  • Seattle Government City archives
  • History Link.org
  • Rainier Valley Historical Society
  • Italia Seattle Blogspot
  • Festa Seattle
  • Italian Club of Seattle

Radishes are members of the Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage) family. The root is related to kale, broccoli, cauliflower and horseradish, among others. In the horseradish family, radishes are related to wasabi, a type of horseradish, which in paste form is a staple condiment of Japanese cuisine. The name “radish” is said to come from the Latin word “radix”, which means root. Other sources say the radish got its name from the Greek word for “quickly appearing”.

Radishes are thought to date back thousands of years to China and Egyptians grew them even before they began building the pyramids. Later, Romans spread the radish to other cultures. They also believed radishes had medicinal purposes, including helping indigestion and constipation. The ancient Greeks made gold radishes and offered them to Apollo, their god who oversaw medicine, among other things. Other eras and cultures also considered the radish to be medicinal. In the Middle Ages they were thought to help cure insanity.

Europeans introduced radishes into Central America and North America in the 1500’s. The British brought them to North America, when they settled there and radishes were grown by the first English colonists in America. European Radishes, it seems, used to be much larger in general, more like the Asian ones. There is no written record of the small ones until the 1500’s. In France, Radishes were served at the beginning of a meal, to clean the palate and get it ready for the “delights” that were to follow.

Types of Radishes

Radishes come in many varieties but here are some general types:

The standard or salad type radish can be found in early spring and fall. This variety dislikes heat so some growers do not grow them in the summer.

The first, by far the most common, are Red Globe Radishes, the ones that everyone thinks of when they think of a radish. A small red ball about 1 inch wide, red on the outside and white on the inside.

There are also White Icicle Radishes. These are available earlier in the year and have a milder flavor. They are long like a carrot, with white skin.

Watermelon Radish

The heirloom varieties:

French Breakfast or Early Scarlet Globe, are delicious for an early spring radish . 

An exciting one to try is Chinese Red Meat or Beauty Heart, also known as the “Watermelon Radish.” Watermelon radishes are so-named for an obvious reason. Anyone who has ever cut into their green skin and and seen their brilliant red-pink interior will know. Scrub clean, cut into wedges and serve as a sharp and beautiful crudite or cut into thin sticks to add to salads.

Black Radish

Black radishes (Spanish radishes) have a black exterior that covers a snowy white flesh. Black radishes are sharp when raw and add a nice bite to salads and raw vegetable plates. When sliced paper-thin, they make beautiful garnishes. Scrub these radishes clean in order to keep the brilliant contrast between the black peel and the white interior. Black radishes also good in gratins and are delicious when cut into wedges and added to pans of roasted vegetables.

If you are looking for a milder type of radish, you might want to try a golden yellow one from Czechoslovakia, called Helios.

The Sicily Giant radish is a large heirloom variety originating from Sicily. It has a smooth, bright red skin and tastes hotter than some other radishes. It can grow up to 2 inches across the widest part.

Sicily Giant

Another type are known as a winter radishes or Daikon radishes. Some varieties include China Rose, Black Spanish Round or Philadelphia White Box. These are a Japanese variety of radish quite different from the red globe radish we are familiar with. It is long like a carrot and quite big (growing from 5 to 18 inches is hotter than red globe radishes, and its skin is tan colored rather than red, though inside it is still white. They are often pickled or dried, but are delicious grated into soups or added to roasted or braised vegetables. They aren’t usually eaten raw, but can be bright, crispy delights when peeled and cut into very thin slices.

Daikon Radish

Breakfast Radishes are often called “French Breakfast Radishes”, particularly in North America and got their name because the Victorians ate them for breakfast. These radishes are a red, oblong radish tapering to a whitened tip.

Radishes have many uses, but primarily fall into two different use categories – food and biofuel.

The taproot of the radish is the most commonly eaten portion, despite the entire plant being edible. The tops can be used as a leaf vegetable. There is no particular advantage, though, to saving the leaves. Radish tops aren’t usually eaten like other leaves of the cabbage family are, because they aren’t particularly tasty. Radishes are most often eaten raw, delivering a crisp texture with a spicy, peppery flavor. Radishes are a great low-cal snack; one cup of sliced radishes has only 19 calories. They are also often used in soup and salad recipes.

The radish seeds can also be used to extract seed oil. The seeds contain up to 48% oil that is not suitable for human consumption. However, that oil from the seeds can be refined into biofuels. There are several programs underway to develop this alternative fuel.

Most states grow radishes, but California and Florida boast the biggest crops in the United States. Radishes sold in bunches with their tops on, rather than in bunches with the tops removed, are the freshest (provided the leaves look healthy). Packaged radishes will last longer, though.   Radishes get stronger tasting as their growing season progresses; early ones will be relatively mild.

Cooking Tips for Radishes

Wash under cold water, cut off the tops and tails.

Most of the heat in radishes is in the skin. You can peel the skin off radishes if you want to, but they won’t taste or look as great. The radishes are most attractive served whole or in large slices.

If you wish to peel any of the radishes, you can use a vegetable peeler or paring knife, then slice or grate depending on how you are using them.

Radishes make a great addition to a relish tray. In France, they are often the way to start a meal: they are served with butter, sea salt and crusty bread. You split the radish with your knife, spread it apart a bit, put a bit of butter in, dip it in the sea salt on your plate and eat along with the bread.

Any type of Radish can also be cooked.

Equivalents for Radishes

1 bunch = 12 Radishes = 1 cup sliced

1 pound = 1 2/3 cup sliced

Storing Radishes

If you have bought them with the tops on, twist off and discard the tops, and store the radishes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

If any seem to be going a bit soft before you use them, you can crisp them up again by soaking them in ice water for an hour or two.

 

As An Appetizer:

Radishes in Red Wine and Thyme

First trim and clean a bunch ( 15 to 25) radishes and set aside.

Use a large deep, skillet and add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add half an onion cut into small pieces and cook till soft and brown.

Remove the onion to a bowl and add 1 clove of minced garlic and cook till aromatic.

Return onions and add 2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves (chopped) to the pan.

Add one cup water and one 1/4 cup good red wine and heat to a simmer.

Add radishes and cook until tender.

Remove radishes with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

Reduce liquid to make a sauce.

A glass of red wine and some crusty bread are great pairings with this dish.

 

Prosciutto-Wrapped Radishes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 6 long, red radishes
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh black pepper

Directions:

Wash and peel radishes, leaving stems intact.

Carefully wrap each radish in a slice of prosciutto.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.

 

Sliced Baguette with Radishes and Anchovy Butter

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 8 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices baguette
  • 5-6 radishes (such as French Breakfast), trimmed, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • Additional chopped fresh chives (for garnish)

Directions:

Mix butter, chopped anchovy fillets and chives in a small bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread a thin layer of anchovy butter over 1 side of each baguette slice. Top each baguette slice with radish slices, overlapping slightly to cover bread. Garnish with additional chopped chives and serve.

 

As A Salad:

Red Radish and Greens Salad

4 servings

Ingredients:

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • dash of salt

Salad:

  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red radishes
  • 1 large apple, quartered, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 orange, peeled, membranes removed and separated into sections
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup fennel cut into julienne strips
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese

Directions:

Place dressing ingredients in a large bowl, whisk together and set aside.

Combine greens, sliced radishes, apple strips, orange sections, shredded carrots and fennel strips in a large salad bowl.

Toss salad with dressing and place on four plates.

Garnish each salad with 1 tablespoon walnuts and 1 tablespoon feta cheese.

 

Roasted Radish & Farro Salad

Farro is an ancient type of soft wheat that is often used in soups and salads in Italy. Farro’s delicious nutty taste makes a wonderful base to bulk up cooked vegetable salads.

This recipe also gives you a chance to try radish leaves.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can leave them out or substitute another green, such as arugula.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups farro, rinsed
  • 1 bunch radishes, with green tops, rinsed well
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Combine the farro with 6 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until the grain is plump and chewy. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the greens off the radishes, chop and set aside. Quarter the radish roots and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until browned and tender.

In a skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and clove of garlic. Once the garlic begins to turn golden, add the radish greens and cook stirring until wilted, about 3 minutes. Discard the garlic and pour greens into the cooked farro.

Once the radishes have roasted, toss them with the farro and radish greens. Stir in the lemon juice with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

As In A Main Dish:

 

Pineapple Salsa with Radishes and Peppers

Try this sweet, spicy salsa on grilled, spice-rubbed chicken breasts, pork chops or turkey cutlets.

Yields about 3-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 medium-size fresh pineapple, peeled, quartered, cored and cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 4 large radishes, trimmed and cut into small dice (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 medium orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into small dice (about 2/3 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix the pineapple, radishes, bell pepper, basil, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper. Let stand while you grill the meat.

  

Chickpea, Carrot & Parsley Salad

Serves four to six as a vegetarian main dish; eight as a side dish.

 Ingredients:

  • 19-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, very coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed shredded carrot (about 1 large carrot)
  • 1/2 cup sliced radishes (about 6 medium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (about 4)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Directions:

Put 1/2 cup of the chickpeas in a mixing bowl and mash them into a coarse paste with a potato masher or large wooden spoon. Add in the remaining chickpeas along with the parsley, carrot, radishes, and scallions. Stir to combine.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Continue whisking, while adding the olive oil in a slow stream. Pour over the salad and toss gently. Season the salad with additional salt and pepper to taste. Top with the feta and pine nuts and serve with warmed pita bread, sliced into wedges.

 

Risotto with Radishes

This recipe goes well with grilled fish.

Serves 6 as main course

For risotto:

  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (48 fl ounces)
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound Arborio rice (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

For radishes:

  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound trimmed radishes, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Directions:

Bring broth and water to a simmer in a 3-to 4-quart saucepan. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onion, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in rice and cook, stirring, 1 more minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Stir 1 cup simmering broth into rice and cook, stirring constantly, keeping at a strong simmer until absorbed. Continue cooking and adding broth, about 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next cup, until rice is just tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, 18 to 22 minutes. Thin with some of remaining broth if necessary (you will have some left over). Remove from the heat. Stir in cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

Prepare radishes:

Whisk together vinegar, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Toss radishes with dressing and chives. Serve risotto topped with radishes.

If you like to carve, radishes will work.


Varieties of nuts: peanuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachio and pecans. Food and cuisine. Stock Photo - 8333516

Nuts and seeds — raw, toasted, or ground — add flavor, nutrition and texture to just about anything we put them in. Even better, consistent evidence shows that all manner of nuts, including walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and cashews, promote healthy arteries and cholesterol levels when we consume them in moderation. Eating a small handful of nuts about five times a week is recommended.

Botanically speaking, a nut is a dry fruit with a seed that’s encased in a hard, woody shell. While all nuts are seeds (the fruit is the seed — think pecans), not all seeds are nuts (the seed can be separated from the fruit and is not one in the same —think pumpkin seeds).

Here are a number of  healthy nuts that should have a place in your pantry:

ALMONDS: calcium-rich — sold whole, shelled, raw, blanched, sliced, slivered or dry-roasted are available year round. Almond flour is a great gluten free choice in baking.

BRAZIL NUTS: come from magnificent, large trees that grow wild in the Amazon rain forest. Similar to coconut in texture, Brazil nuts are eaten raw or roasted.

CASHEWS: The cashew tree is related to poison ivy and poison sumac, but don’t be afraid ! This rich, curved nut — which is actually lower in total fat than most nuts — is always a crowd favorite.

CHESTNUTS: The lowest in fat of all nuts, chestnuts are appreciated for their flavorful contribution to soups, stuffing and stews, as well as the holiday tradition of eating them roasted. Chestnuts are available fresh only in the autumn, but dried, canned and pureed versions are available year round.

FLAX SEEDS: are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and are high in fiber. While they’re identical nutritionally, brown flax seeds have deep, nutty flavor while golden flax seeds are mild. Add to breads, cookies and smoothies or sprinkle on cereal and salads.

HAZELNUTS (also known as. Filberts): Bakers and confectioners are partial to these nutrient dense nuts — which can be made into butter, flour, oil and paste — because their rich flavor and texture lend themselves well to desserts and snack foods.

HEMP SEEDS: are a healthful food with omega 3 fatty acids, similar to flax seeds. They’re also similar in flavor to sunflower seeds and can be used in or on baked goods, salads, yogurt and cereal.

MACADAMIA NUTS: are rich and creamy nuts with the highest fat levels of all nuts and are among the most expensive ones available.

PEANUTS: which are actually legumes, not nuts at all — originated in South America but have become an important crop throughout the tropics and in the southern half of the U.S. They have a good deal of both protein and fiber. They grow on low vines, forcing the shells into the ground.

PECANS: are native to the southern Mississippi River Valley with a buttery and slightly bittersweet taste. They’re excellent in pies, quick breads, cakes, cookies, candies and ice cream.

PINE NUTS ( also called Pignoli nuts): — are exactly what you think; they’re the edible seeds of pine trees. These delicious little nuts are the essential ingredient in fresh pesto or a great addition to salads.

PISTACHIOS: have beige shells with nuts that range from dull yellow to deep green. Primarily sold as a snack food, they’re easily adaptable to recipes where pecans or other nuts are used.

PUMPKIN SEEDS (also known as Pepitas): Roasted pumpkin seeds are commonly eaten in casseroles, salads, soups and breads. Their rich, peanut-like flavor makes them a terrific snack food.

SESAME SEEDS: are frequently sprinkled on breads and cakes as a form of decoration, but they’re delicious and good-looking on just about anything. Look for black or white sesame seeds in the grocery aisles.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS: Sunflowers belongs to the daisy family and are native to North America. Their shelled seeds are delicious eaten raw or toasted or added to cakes and breads or sprinkled on salads or cereals.

WALNUTS: have come into greater favor recently because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, a heart-healthy compound. In addition to their health benefits, walnuts add texture and flavor to pastas, salads, stir fries and desserts.

Tips for Toasting:

While nuts and seeds are certainly delicious eaten raw, toasting them brings out a richer flavor. To enhance their flavor or crisp them up, toast nuts on the stove top or in the oven.

On the stove: Place a single layer of nuts in a heavy, ungreased skillet and toast for 5 to 10 minutes over medium heat, shaking the pan and stirring until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant, then remove them from the pan immediately and let cool.

In the oven: Arrange the nuts in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and bake in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring them occasionally.

Nut roast recipe

How To Add More Nuts To Your Recipes:

LEAFY GREENS: Chop the toasted nuts and sprinkle over braised hearty leafy greens like kale or Swiss chard. Finish off with a splash of balsamic vinegar, orange juice, or lemon juice.

SALAD: Try a classic salad combination: bitter leafy greens (arugula), dried fruits ( cherries), fresh seasonal fruits ( pomegranate), fresh herbs, and chopped nuts. Drizzle with a tangy vinaigrette.

FISH OR MEAT COATING: Mince the toasted nuts finely and whisk together with butter, mustard, and seasonings to make a breading, then bake or pan-sear. Try with wild salmon, barramundi, or shrimp for seafood, or lamb, duck, or pork.

FRUIT CRISP OR COBBLER: Substitute any chopped nuts for the usual almonds or walnuts in your crisp or cobbler topping. Also toss some add-ins into the topping mixture, like grated ginger, chopped chocolate chips, or ground cinnamon.

ROASTED VEGETABLES: Combine seasonal vegetables ( Brussels, sweet potatoes, red onions, rutabagas, turnips, and/or pumpkin) with olive oil and seasonings, then bake until golden and soft. Toss cooked veggies with toasted nuts and finish with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and/or balsamic vinegar to taste.

PIES OR TARTS: Use any combination of toasted nuts as a substitution for pecans in any traditional pecan pie recipe—experiment with different nuts and spices. Use ground nuts as a base for pie crust instead of flour.

HOLIDAY STUFFING: Add a few handfuls of chopped toasted nuts to your seasonal stuffing, especially any stuffing that includes dried/fresh fruits and herbs.

COOKIE BATTER: It’s easy enough to add nuts to any cookie batter before you bake them. Simply fold anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts into your cookie batter just before baking.

PASTA: Cook pasta noodles al dente and toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to taste. Finish with chopped toasted nuts, cheese of choice, and minced herbs like parsley or rosemary.

POPCORN: Add seasoned nuts of choice to freshly popped popcorn for a wholesome snack.

Cooking With Nuts And Seeds:

There are many regional variations of cooking throughout Italy, but in general, grain foods such as pasta, bread, rice, and polenta are mixed in a variety of interesting ways with vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, nuts, cheeses and meat. Nuts such as pine nuts, walnuts and almonds are used in cooking or eaten as snacks. One of Italy’s most famous sauces, pesto—which originates from the seaport of Genoa —is a mixture of pine nuts, garlic, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.

A deliciously different pesto made with walnuts and richly-flavored sun-dried tomatoes, is featured in this post. You can use this pesto as a dip or spread, you can stir it into soups to add richness and flavor and, of course, you can serve it with pasta.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Walnut Pesto

Makes 1 cup                                                                                                                                                                                      

Ingredients:

  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Place all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor.

While you process, slowly pour the olive oil into the mix until all the ingredients turn into a smooth paste (you may have to scrape the sides occasionally).

Variations: Pine nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamias, almonds or cashews can be substituted for the walnuts.

Salmon and Asparagus                                                                                             

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 7 oz Farfalle pasta ( bow tie) or Rigatoni whole wheat or regular (Wheat makes it healthier)
  • 2 uncooked salmon fillets (6 oz each) cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 8 fresh Asparagus spears – trim ends and cut in half 
  • 1 red pepper – julienned
  • 1 cup of the sun dried tomato walnut pesto, recipe above

Directions

First prepare the pesto and set aside.

Boil the pasta and add the asparagus and red pepper to the pot for the final 8 minutes of cooking. Add the salmon to the pot for the final 3 minutes. Drain the cooked pasta, salmon and vegetables in a mesh colander.

Put the pesto in the bottom of the pot and top with hot pasta, salmon and vegetables. Toss or stir together gently to combine well and heat through.

If you prefer, you can use shrimp in place of salmon.

Risotto with Squash, Spinach, Beans and Walnuts

2 servings                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion—finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic—finely chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin or winter squash (cut into half inch cubes)
  • 2 packed cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup canned cannellini beans—rinsed well and drained
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and rice, stirring to coat the grains in oil and cook for 1 minute.

Add the wine, stock, salt, black pepper, pumpkin or squash and spinach, stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes without lifting the lid.

Stir in the white beans, walnuts, Parmesan, basil and remaining tablespoon of oil to combine.

Variations: Use toasted pine nuts instead of the walnuts. Use chickpeas or fresh fava beans instead of the cannellini beans.

Farro Salad                                                                                                        

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, or you can use pecans (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups Thyme-Scented Farro, recipe below

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the pine nuts in a pie plate and toast until golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

In a bowl, whisk the oil with the vinegar and shallot and season with salt and pepper. Add the Thyme-Scented Farro, pine nuts, apple, pomegranate seeds and parsley; toss before serving.

MAKE AHEAD:  The salad without the pine nuts can be refrigerated overnight. Bring the salad to room temperature before serving and add the pine nuts.

Thyme-Scented Farro

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups farro (10 ounces)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the farro and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly toasted; the grains will turn slightly opaque just before browning. Add the onion and thyme and cook over low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the water and kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over very low heat until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender. Fluff the grains and discard the thyme sprigs. 

MAKE AHEAD:  The cooked grains can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

Makes 3 – 4 dozen cookies                                                                                                                                                  

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup scant sesame seeds

Directions

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Grease 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray.

Place milk in a small bowl. Place sesame seeds in a small bowl.

Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in an electric mixer bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, blend well.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add gradually to the creamed mixture, blending well.

Break off a small piece of dough and mold into a smooth ball in your hand.

Dip the top of the ball in milk and dip in sesame seeds.

Place on prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks to cool.



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