Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Italian Cuisine

For 2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup quick-cooking Italian farro (available at Whole Foods)
1 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, divided
1/4 lb lean ground beef
1/4 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large minced garlic clove
Salt & pepper to taste
1 large green bell peppers halved lengthwise and seeded
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese plus more for topping

Directions

Combine the farro, water, and salt in a microwave bowl. Microwave on high for 9 minutes. Set aside the bowl without draining the farro while you prepare the stuffing.
Mix the Italian tomatoes with the red pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning. Pour into a baking dish large enough to fit the peppers.
In a large skillet, cook the onion and olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add the beef and sausage. Cook until light brown. Let cool.
Drain the farro.
In a mixing bowl, combine the meat mixture with the farro, mozzarella cheese, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together..Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.


Place stuffed green bell pepper halves in the baking dish over the tomato sauce; cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, top each pepper with additional shredded mozzarella cheese and return the dish to the oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale

Ingredients

2 bunches Tuscan Kale
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Wash the kale thoroughly. Remove the stems and cut the leaves into smaller pieces. Heat olive oil and red pepper flakes in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers, and the red pepper flakes start to sizzle. Add the garlic. Working quickly, so the garlic does not burn, add the kale. (Some splattering and crackling of oil may occur from the water on the kale.) Using tongs, toss the kale in the pan for 2-4 minutes until the kale has wilted and cooked to desired tenderness. Keep the kale moving to avoid scorching any pieces. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese just before serving.


America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan and as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland.
True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation. Each culture brought their cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America. This new series will be about what they cooked.

Brooklyn’s Lard Bread or Prosciutto Bread or Prosciutto Cheese Bread

There’s a bread that can be found at most Italian deli’s in New York City – it used to be called Lard Bread but now is referred to as Prosciutto Bread The lard bread story is not clear if you try to trace it back to Italy. Like Nicolo Mazzola, who founded their Brooklyn bakery in 1928 and whose family originated in Sicily, but on trips back to the homeland, he’s never seen anything like Mazzola’s lard bread on the streets of Palermo. Recipes for lard bread don’t appear much in Italian cookbooks either, and while stuffing fatty odds and ends into bread dough is a common theme throughout Italy, no particular region seems to have much connection to the peppery cured-meat-and-aged-cheese bread that’s popular on this side of the Atlantic.

For most Italian Americans who eat it, lard bread is mainly a Christmas and Easter tradition.
If you’ve never heard of lard bread—also called prosciutto bread—you’re not alone. The loaf is virtually unknown outside New York City and parts of New Jersey and Philadelphia, where a critical mass of Italian Americans has kept the tradition alive since their ancestors immigrated to the country in the 1800s. But even in the Northeast ItalianAmerican communities, you won’t find it in most Italian bakeries. “Lard bread” isn’t the most appealing name in times like these, especially after decades of healthy eating conditioning, it never captured the public imagination as you might expect for a bread stuffed with meat and cheese.

I thought it would be a fun thing to try at home and take to my Sons & Daughters Of Italy In America meeting. I doubled the recipe to make 2 loaves to take to the potluck supper we have before the meeting. I used my go-to pizza recipe for the bread dough and then added the traditional ingredients as described below.

Brooklyn Street Bread

Ingredients

Dough
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Filling
4 ounces provolone cheese, diced
2 oz pancetta, diced
2 ounces prosciutto, diced
2 ounces pepperoni, diced
2 ounces Genoa salami, diced
2 ounces capicola, diced
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all the ingredients for the dough in the large bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment mix until the ingredients come together around the paddle. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.

Spray a large ziplock plastic bag with olive oil cooking spray. Place the dough in the bag and close the top. Place the bag in the refrigerator overnight. Alternately, place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubles, 60-90 minutes and make the bread the same day.

Place the dough in the center of a floured pastry board and flatten the dough with your hands into a large circle. Spread the black pepper, meat, and cheese over the top. Fold the dough over to cover the meat and cheese, and then flatten and fold the dough over a few times with your hands to distribute the ingredients throughout the bread.

Shape the dough into a large oval shape or into a baguette and place on a rimmed baking pan.

Cover with greased plastic and let rise at room temperature until puffy and dough springs back slowly when pressed lightly with your finger, about 45-60 minutes.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using a sharp paring knife make a ½-inch-deep lengthwise slash along the top of the loaf, starting and stopping about 1½ inches from ends. Bake until the loaf register 205 to 210 degrees, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer the loaf to wire rack and let cool completely about 3 hours. Serve.


4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely diced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
12 ounces skinless sole or flounder fillets
4 ¼ inch slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in half
4 oz fettuccine or wide needles, cooked

Directions
Coarsely grind fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, place in a resealable freezer bag. Crush with a rolling pin or large skillet. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, cook stirring often, until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer and cook uncovered to meld flavors, about 5 minutes.

Season fish with salt and pepper and gently place fillets in the sauce. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook 4 minutes. Turn fish over with a wide spatula and evenly top with mozzarella slices. Cover the pan again cook for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Place the cooked noodles on a serving dish. Place the fish and sauce on top of the noodles and serve.

Italian Style Fried Cauliflower

Ingredients

1 head of fresh cauliflower washed and cut into large florets
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg
2/3 cup cold seltzer or ice water
Vegetable oil for frying
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Whisk all dry ingredients together, set aside. Beat in another bowl the egg and seltzer or ice water. Stir into the dry ingredients, stirring until a smooth mixture forms.
Heat the oil, about 1-inch deep, in a deep skillet (chicken fryer) on low to medium heat.


Add the cauliflower to the batter, using thongs or a slotted spoon, letting the excess drop back into the bowl.
Add the cauliflower to the preheated oil. Do not crowd them or touch them together.
Fry each floret until golden brown on each side around 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter. Keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan while still hot and serve.


Shrimp Wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma (Saltimbocca)

2 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
12 fresh sage leaves
12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
6 pieces Prosciutto di Parma, sliced very thin
Coarsely ground fresh black pepper

Directions

Cut each piece of prosciutto in half, lengthwise. Place a sage leaf on each shrimp. Wrap one Proscuitto half around each shrimp. Refrigerate for a few hours if you have time.

Heat a stovetop grill. Coat the pan with olive oil. Place the wrapped shrimp on the grill and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. The prosciutto will get crispy. Sprinkle with the black pepper and remove to a serving plate.

Spinach and Pear Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 medium red pears, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 celery stalk, diced
1 (6-8ounce) package pre-washed baby spinach
1/4 of red onion, sliced
Dressing
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/8 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Directions

Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl; toss to combine.
Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

Homemade Biscuits

6 servings

Use your favorite store-bought mix or my quick biscuit recipe.
I use a cast iron biscuit pan.

Ingredients

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
10 tablespoons cold butter
5 tablespoons heavy cream
2 eggs

Directions

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender. Combine the cream and eggs. Mix into the flour mixture just until combined.

Coat a 6 cup biscuit baking pan with butter-flavored cooking spray. Divide the biscuit mixture evenly among the six wells. Refrigerate the pan until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the biscuits in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.


Italian Meatloaf

12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium sweet onions, diced
2 jarred roasted red peppers cut in small dice
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
2 pounds ground beef
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
Fresh mozzarella cheese slices, about 6
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into wedges
Olive oil
Dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute 1 minute and then add the onions and saute until just soft. Let cool.

Place the rutabaga wedges in cold water. This helps them stay crisp during roasting.

Whisk together the basil, parsley, and eggs in a small bowl, and then add the salt and black pepper. Combine the Parmesan and breadcrumbs in another small bowl. Thoroughly combine the beef and sausage, egg mixture, breadcrumb mixture, the Worcestershire, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil together in a large bowl using your hands, making sure not to overmix.

Shape the mixture into a loaf on an oiled oven tray or baking dish. Place the rutabaga wedges around the meatloaf. Sprinkle them with oregano, salt, pepper. and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for approximately 60-70 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Top the meatloaf with the marinara sauce making sure to spread it evenly over the top and place the mozzarella slices on top of the sauce. Return to the oven until the cheese melts. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the rutabaga wedges and kale in the side.

Sauteed Tuscan Kale

Lacinato kale or, in Italian and often in English, cavolo nero is a variety of kale with a long tradition in Italian cuisine, especially that of Tuscany. This kale has longer spear-like leaves with a pebbled appearance and a dark, mottled green color. Its flavor is earthy and less bitter than regular kale.

Ingredients

2 large bunches Tuscan kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 small lemon

Directions

Use your hands to pull the kale leaves from their stems. Coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse them, but do not dry.
Heat the oil in large, wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute (do not let the garlic brown).

Add the kale a few handfuls at a time, stirring after each addition until all of the kale is added. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and serve.


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.


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.



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