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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Italian Cuisine

Shrimp Parmigiana

For 2 servings you will need the following:

Ingredients

12 large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled, deveined, tails removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup Italian Style Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Olive oil cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup homemade marinara sauce, warmed
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking dish that fits the portion of shrimp you are making with cooking spray. I like to use individual baking dishes for this recipe.
Place the egg in a shallow bowl and the Panko bread crumbs mixed with the Parmigiano cheese in another.
Wash and dry the shrimp. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Put the shrimp in the bowl with the egg to coat and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Place the breaded shrimp in the baking dish or six in each individual baking dish. Sprinkle any remaining breadcrumbs over the shrimp.


The shrimp can be prepared ahead up to this point. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
When ready to bake, drizzle the top of the shrimp with the olive oil and bake on the middle oven rack for 10 minutes. Turn shrimp over then cook another 5 minutes. Pour sauce evenly over the shrimp and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and heat just until the cheese melts.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (26-28-ounce) cans Italian chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 large basil leaves

Directions

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil, until soft and translucent, on medium to low heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, careful not to overcook.
Add tomatoes, oregano, and crushed red pepper to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat. Stir in parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the fresh basil.
Reserve 1 cup sauce for the shrimp and use the remaining sauce for other uses.

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped parsley
1 pound thin asparagus, ends trimmed
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a large jelly roll pan with foil. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat the oil, garlic, onion powder, and parsley on medium-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes until the garlic mixture is fragrant but not browned.
Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle on the garlic-oil mixture.
Roast for 10-15 minutes, until the asparagus are bright green; do not overcook.
Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

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Looking to make more healthy meals that incorporate more vegetables, then here is a great recipe for you to try.
Most firm vegetables can be turned into rice and the technique is ideal for keeping meals lower in calories and carbs and high in nutrition. So for this new take on Scallop Risotto, I adapted the classic recipe by using riced butternut squash instead of rice.

To make it even easier, Green Giant and Alexia sell frozen riced butternut squash. I defrost it first and drain it well. I think that if cooked in the frozen stage too much water is retained, so I don’t follow the directions on the package.

Butternut Squash “Risotto”

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large shallot, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chicken or fish broth
10 oz riced frozen butternut squash, defrosted and drained
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and salt. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally.


Add the squash to the pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Then add the broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is completely tender and the liquid has evaporated. Add the sage and cheese. Stir well.

Creamy Scallops

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 large sea scallops
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dry white wine or broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot and sizzling. Add the scallops in a single layer in the pan.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and fry for 2 minutes on one side, then turn them over and fry again for 2 minutes. Remove the scallops from the skillet and transfer them to a plate.

Melt the butter in the same pan and add in the garlic; cook 1 minute.

Pour in the wine (or broth) and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 2 minutes. Add cream and allow to simmer until slightly thickened.

Remove the skillet from the heat; stir in lemon juice and add the scallops back into the pan to warm through.

Place a serving of the butternut squash risotto on each dinner plate. Top with the scallops and cream sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a medium baking dish.
Add the green beans, mushrooms and olive oil. Mix well and then season with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Place into the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables. Continue to roast for 10-15 minutes, until the green beans are just tender. Don’t overcook. Remove the dish from the oven and serve.

 


Makes 18 rolls

Ingredients

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

Marinara Sauce, recipe below
Spaghetti Squash, recipe below

Directions

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

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

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

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

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

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

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

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


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

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

Serve the cabbage rolls with the spaghetti squash.


This dinner is a good example of how I like to use leftovers to create a few new dinners. The creamed spinach was leftover from my Steakhouse dinner and extra broccoli rabe will be used to make a pasta dish later in the week.

Creamy Stuffed Chicken Breasts

For 2 servings

Ingredients

1 large boneless chicken breast (10-12 oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Paprika

Filling
1 cup leftover creamed spinach from the Steakhouse post. See recipe.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the chicken breast on a cutting board and with a sharp knife cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise. Pound the two halves covered in plastic wrap until evenly thin. Sprinkle each with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Spoon the creamed spinach mixture evenly over each chicken breast half. Roll up the breasts carefully so the filling doesn’t ooze out. Secure with toothpicks.

Place them in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top of each chicken roll with paprika and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and registers 160 degrees F on a digital meat thermometer.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed, tough stalks peeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into 4 to 6 wedges
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Directions

Wash and cut the broccoli rabe into two-inch lengths.


Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large Dutch oven and season it generously with kosher salt.
Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for about 5 minutes, until tender. Drain, and pat dry. Heat the olive oil in the same Dutch Oven over moderately high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and sauté, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté, tossing or turning it with tongs, until tender, about 2 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with shavings of Parmesan cheese. Serve with the lemon wedges alongside.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puttanesca Pork Chops

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

Pappardelle Pasta with Butter and Parmesan Cheese

2 servings

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

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

Directions

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


What is Saltimbocca (pronounced [saltimˈbokka]?
Saltimbocca (Italian for jumps in the mouth) is an Italian dish (also popular in Europe) made of veal scallops lined or wrapped with prosciutto and sage; marinated in wine, oil or saltwater depending on the region or one’s own taste.
The original version of this dish is Saltimbocca Alla Romana (saltimbocca, Roman-style), which consists of veal, prosciutto, and sage, rolled-up and cooked in dry white wine and butter. Marsala is sometimes used in place of white wine. Also, in some recipes, the veal and prosciutto are not rolled-up but left flat. An American twist replaces the veal with chicken or pork
The ancient recipe for “saltimbocca” is said to have originated in Brescia. While it is much older than a century, the first written recipe can be found in an influential book published towards the end of the 19th century, by Pellegrino Artusi, a celebrated Italian chef: “Saltimbocca Alla Romana” is recipe No. 222, and Artusi claims to have enjoyed the dish in Rome, at the Trattoria “Le Venete”.
While there are many variations of this Italian classic dish, I have given my version a slightly southern Italian flavor.

Chicken Saltimbocca Over Tomato Sauce

Ingredients for 2

1 cup marinara sauce heated
Salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts, pounded thin
6 fresh sage leaves
2 slices Prosciutto
2 slices Provolone Cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Lightly sprinkle the chicken breasts slices with salt and pepper. Wrap each breast in a slice of prosciutto. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet with a cover. Completely brown the chicken on both sides.


Top each chicken breast with 3 sage leaves. Place a slice of provolone cheese on top of each breast. Cover the pan and heat over low until the cheese begins to melt.


Place ½ cup of tomato sauce on a serving plate and place a chicken breast on top of the sauce. Repeat with the second breast. Serve immediately.

Green Beans With Sauteed Mushrooms

4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb fresh green beans trimmed and cut into thirds
1 lb mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt
Pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in the green beans and stir. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove from the heat, drain thoroughly then pat dry with a clean linen tea towel and keep warm while the mushrooms cook. Place a skillet over medium-high to high heat with the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter melts, spread the mushrooms out evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. Mushrooms should be lightly brown. Add the green beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat on low until the beans are hot.


Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a type of stew prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, bell peppers, and sometimes wine. It is named in honor of the hunter’s wife—who, all over northern Italy, might traditionally cook the dish on the eve of the hunt. In Italy hunter’s stew was made with rabbit or other wild game, not chicken, sometime during the Renaissance period. This stew dish was simple but delicious and was likely developed to satisfy the appetites of hunters who may have been on the track of a larger animal or herd of animals for several days, and who needed a tasty, filling stew that could easily be cooked outdoors to keep them going. The spices used, such as parsley and oregano, would have also been readily available. Contrary to popular belief, Cacciatore did not originally contain tomatoes or tomato sauce, as tomatoes were brought to Italy from the New World later than it would have been made for the first time. When the Italian immigrants came to America, they brought with them their traditional recipes but needed to adapt them to the ingredients available in America.

In true Italian fashion, there are probably more than a thousand recipes for this dish and here is mine.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

4 lbs chicken cut up or use all thighs, skin removed
8 oz Italian pork sausage, casings removed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 large onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cups)
1 large bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 (26-oz.) container finely chopped Italian tomatoes

Directions

Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or plate. Season with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Place a large Dutch oven over high heat for several minutes. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until shimmering. Add a layer of chicken and brown on both sides. Remove to a large plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil and brown the remainder of the chicken. Remove and place with the first batch of chicken.

Add the sausage to the pan and brown completely, crumbling the meat as you stir.


Add the remaining oil and vegetables; reduce the heat to medium and sauté until the vegetables are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for about 1 ½ hours or until the chicken is very tender.

To prepare ahead.
Remove the pot from the heat and cool. Remove chicken to a large baking dish and pour the sauce from the Dutch Oven over the chicken. cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 350 degrees F and reheat the chicken covered for one hour.



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