Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Meatballs

The recipe yields enough sauce and meat for 2 pounds of pasta. Serve this meal, as the Italians do, with a green salad.

Penne with Ricotta Cheese
1 lb whole grain penne pasta
1 lb Italian pork sausage, hot or sweet, cut into links
1 cup ricotta cheese, warmed in the microwave
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Soft and Tender Meatballs
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/2 cup milk
1 pound meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork, and veal)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
3 (26-28-ounce) containers Italian crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the meatballs:
Combine the crushed saltines and milk in mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Mash with a fork until a smooth paste forms. Add the meat, Parmesan, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the saltine mixture and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Use a muffin/ice scoop to form 12 meatballs. Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the sauce.

For the sauce:
Combine oil and garlic in a large Dutch oven. Cook over low heat until the garlic is soft about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and red pepper flakes and cook until the onion softens about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer for 15 minutes. Carefully place the meatballs into the sauce. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pot and place the Dutch Oven in the preheated oven.

Place one tablespoon olive oil il a separate baking pan and place the sausage links in the pan, turning to coat the sausages in oil. Place in the oven with the sauce. Bake until the sausages are brown, turning them over halfway through the baking time about 45 minutes. Add the sausages to the meatball/sauce mixture. Continue to bake the sauce for 15 minutes more.

For the pasta
Remove the Dutch Oven from the oven and place it on the stove, covered, while you cook the pasta. When the pasta is cooked al dente, return it to the pasta pan and add 2 cups of the tomato sauce, stir gently and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir again. Place the pasta in a pasta serving bowl. Drop tablespoons of warm ricotta cheese on top. Place some of the meatballs and sausage around the pasta and serve.


Neapolitan Meatballs

Makes 12 large meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
New York Style Pizza Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using your hands. combine all of the meatball ingredients, except the sauce, in a large mixing bowl. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and coat the foil with olive oil cooking spray. Form the meatball mixture into large meatballs. Use a ½ cup measure. You should be able to make 12 large meatballs.

Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the meatballs over. Bake for 15 minutes more. Place the meatballs in the pot of pizza sauce and simmer for one hour.

For the Parmigiana:
For 2 servings
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Sub Rolls, warmed and sliced lengthwise

Directions

Preheat the broiler.
Place the split sub rolls on a baking sheet.
Place 2-3 cooked meatballs in each sub roll. Spoon a little of the sauce over each meatball.
Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded mozzarella over the meatballs
Place the pan under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Serve with a garden salad.

New York-Style Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 (6-inch) sprigs fresh basil with leaves attached
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute

Directions

Process tomatoes and their juice through a food mill, or pulse in food processor until pureed, or puree with a hand blender. Puree should not be completely smooth but should have no chunks. Set tomatoes aside.

Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and large pinch salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil sprigs, onion halves, and honey. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to the lowest setting (bubbles should barely be breaking the surface), and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 1/2, about 1 hour. Discard onions and basil stems. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


These are the dishes my children and grandchildren love. I try to make them when they visit. No one ever seems to tire eating these traditional family favorites.

Neapolitan “Low Carb” Meatballs

Makes 12 large meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Marinara Sauce for cooking the meatballs, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using your hands. combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and coat the foil with olive oil cooking spray. Form the meatball mixture into large meatballs. Use a ½ cup measure. You should be able to make 12 large meatballs. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the meatballs over. Bake for 15 minutes more. Place the meatballs in the pot of marinara sauce and simmer for one hour.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 oz can tomato paste
Two 26-28 oz containers of Italian finely chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer the sauce for about 1 ½ hours.

Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

2 lbs Italian pork sausage, one hot; one sweet
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
8-10 Italian frying peppers, stems and seeds removed; cut into 1-inch rings
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup marinara sauce, recipe above

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill with direct and indirect heat. Place the sausage links on the indirect heat side and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the sausage links over and grill for 15 minutes more. Remove the links to a plate and cool. Cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces.
You may also cook the sausage in the oven or in a frying pan.
Heat the oil in a large deep skillet. Add the garlic, onions, and peppers. Turn the heat to low and cook until the vegetables are soft and tender, about 30 minutes. Add the sliced sausage and marinara sauce. Heat over low until hot.

Cheese Ravioli

My favorite frozen ravioli are made by Celentano. They are most like homemade ravioli and for busy times they are perfect.

Ingredients

One family size package cheese ravioli
2 cups Marinara sauce, heated, recipe above
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water according to the package instructions.

Tip
I like to place the package of ravioli in the refrigerator overnight. That way the ravioli do not stick together and you can drop individual ravioli into the boiling water.

Remove the ravioli with a spider utensil and place the ravioli in a serving bowl. With each layer, add sauce and Parmesan cheese. Continue until all the ravioli are in the serving bowl. Serve immediately.

Eggplant Parmesan

For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:

1 pound eggplant, peeled
2-3 large eggs
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.

Cut peeled eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.

Place the eggs in one shallow dish and the breadcrumbs mixed with the cheese in another.

Dip the eggplant slices into the egg, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.

To assemble the casserole, you will need:

Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

2 ½ cups Marinara sauce (see recipe above)
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
1 recipe breaded and baked eggplant

Directions

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of sauce over the eggplant and add half of the cheese slices. Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Italian Romaine Salad

Ingredients

1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced, washed and dried
1 small red onion, cut into rings

Italian Dressing

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Place the greens and onion in a medium salad bowl. In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well and pour over the greens. Toss and serve.

Leftover Meatballs, Sausage & Peppers and Eggplant make great sandwiches.

 


Italian Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Take advantage of the lower prices for red bell peppers this month. There are so many different ways to fill them and they make a delicious entrée for dinner.

For each 2 servings

Ingredients

1 large red bell pepper
1/2 cup Tomato Sausage Sauce, recipe below
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F Coat a small baking dish or ramekin with olive oil cooking spray.

Slice the bell pepper in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds.

Place pepper halves in the prepared baking dish and bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.

Remove the peppers from oven.

Mix the ricotta cheese with the salt and Parmesan cheese.

Fill each pepper half with ¼ cup of the tomato sausage sauce.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the meat sauce in each pepper cup.

Pour an additional 2 tablespoons of sausage sauce on top of the ricotta cheese in each pepper half.

Top each pepper with 2 tablespoons mozzarella cheese.

Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes.

Tomato Sausage Sauce

You will only need a small portion of this sauce for the stuffed pepper recipe, depending on how many peppers you make. Leftover sauce can be used in a number of other dishes.

Ingredients

1 lb Italian sausage, casing removed (You could also use ground meat of your choice.)
¼ of a large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
26-28 oz container chopped Italian tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Place the oil in a large non-stick sauce pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage, onion, garlic and sea salt.

Cook until the sausage is brown. Drain off any grease in the pan.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.

Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Asian Meatball Soup

I prefer to use chicken for the meatballs in this recipe, so they are not heavy. I also like to use almond flour in Asian meatballs instead of all- purpose flour or breadcrumbs because I think the almond flour compliments Asian flavors much better. Asian cabbages are also in season during this month and they make a delicious option in your recipes.\

For the meatballs

1 lb organic ground chicken or ground meat of your choice
1 egg
2/3 cup almond flour/bread crumbs/all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
Pinch salt

For the broth

1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the vegetables

3 cups fresh bean sprouts
3 cups thinly sliced Napa or Bok Choy cabbage
1/2 cup radish sticks
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

To make the meatballs:

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a small cookie scoop, form into 24 bite-sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet covered with foil and coated with vegetable cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

\To make the soup:

In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil, garlic and ginger for about 1 minute or until sizzling. Add the chicken broth, water, soy sauce, fish sauce, red pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the vegetables and meatballs. Stir well. Bring back to a simmer and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes

Roasted Pumpkin

Have you ever thought of pumpkin as a savory side dish. I hadn’t either until I saw an article that suggested pumpkin was a fall squash that deserved more than being a pie. And they were right. It is delicious. Do not use a large decorative pumpkin. Instead use a sugar/cooking pumpkin between 2 and 3 lbs and your favorite spices.

Ingredients

2-3 lb fresh (cooking, sugar, pie) pumpkin, peeled & seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic powder or regular garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds.

Cut each half into 1″ thick slices

Place the oil on a baking sheet with sides.

Add the pumpkin slices and sprinkle the seasonings over the pumpkin.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and tinged brown at the edges.

Turning the slices over halfway through the cooking time.

Pan-cooked Broccoli Rabe with Italian Sausage

Ingredients

1 pound/bunch broccoli rabe
1 pound thin Italian sausage made with parsley and Pecorino cheese (or luganega), cut into 3-inch lengths
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and flattened with a large knife
Salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup (or as needed) water

Directions

Cut off the tough ends and stalks of the broccoli stems.

Wash the trimmed broccoli rabe in a sink filled with cold water, swishing the stems gently to remove all dirt from between the leaves.

Let the leaves sit a minute or two undisturbed to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom of the sink, then lift the broccoli rabe from the water with your hands and drain in a colander.

Place the broccoli in a deep skillet and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and cook the broccoli until tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain and place on a kitchen towel to dry. Wipe out the skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.

Add the sausage and cook, turning as necessary, until caramelized on all sides and no trace of pink remains in the center, about 8 minutes for thin sausage or longer for thicker sausages.

Remove the sausages to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm.

Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the garlic to the oil. Cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 1 minute.

Carefully lay the broccoli rabe into the oil, season lightly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Stir and toss to distribute the seasonings.

Pour 1/4 cup water into the skillet and bring to a boil.

Cover the skillet tightly and cook, lifting the lid to turn the stalks occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is tender and the water evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Return the sausages to the skillet and heat until warmed through. Serve the sausages and broccoli rabe on a serving platter with crusty Italian bread.


It is that time of year! Sports and more sports. We love to invite friends over to watch some of our favorite teams and small bite appetizers are the best foods to have on hand. Folks love them. Here are a few of our big hits.

Asian Meatballs

To make this ahead: cook the meatballs and prepare the sauce separately. Refrigerate separately until serving time. Then reheat the sauce, add the meatballs and cook until the meatballs are hot. Pour into a serving bowl.

For the Meatballs

1 lb organic ground chicken or pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup almond flour
1 egg
Peanut oil

For the Sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon Gochujang (red chili paste)
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

To make the meatballs:

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.

Using a cookie scoop form into 21-22 one inch balls and saute in peanut oil over medium heat until cooked through and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

To make the sauce:

Combine the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauces, chili paste, water, sugar and arrowroot in a small saucepan. Reserve the scallions.

Whisk until combined and bring to a boil.

Simmer for five minutes until thickened.

To serve:

Add the cooked meatballs and scallions to the thickened sauce and stir to coat. Heat for a few minutes. Pour into a shallow serving dish.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

This recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and bake before serving.

Ingredients

15 large mushrooms cleaned and stems removed

Spinach filling

1 scallion, minced
1 small garlic, grated
1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3 ounces feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning or dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil

Directions

Hollow out the mushrooms and reserve the mushroom stems for another use.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a glass baking dish and put the dish in the oven while the oven preheats.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stuff the caps with the filling and place in the hot prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.Place on a serving platter.

If the Mushrooms have been in the refrigerator, bring them to room temperature for an hour before cooking.

They may need to be baked a little longer.

Mini Crab Puffs with Remoulade Sauce

The crab puffs can be baked ahead, refrigerated and reheated just before game time.

Ingredients

1/2 pound fresh crab meat
2 tablespoons minced bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 scallion, minced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crab seasoning (recommended Old Bay)
2 tablespoons almond flour or all purpose flour

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the crab in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then fold in the crab meat.

Cover the bowl and chill the mixture until ready to bake.

Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and, using a cookie scoop, fill 15 openings to the top of the muffin cup with the crab mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -20 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden brown.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and remove to a serving platter.

Serve with

Remoulade Sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving dish. Whisk until completely mixed. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

 


img_0017

I have been making spaghetti sauce this way for many, many years. It is my standard, perfected for my family, from the way my grandmother and mother make spaghetti sauce.

I have made variations of the recipe numerous times but always come back to this for an authentic Italian American sauce, especially when my children visit. This is what they expect.

This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce with lots of meat. You will have enough leftovers to freeze for at least two more meals.

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Meatball Ingredients

(I use a combination of fresh bread and dried breadcrumbs to keep the mixture moist.)

  • 2 slices sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 1 pound ground lean pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
  • ½ cup dried plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Sauce Ingredients

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 large basil sprig
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Four 28-ounce containers Italian chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs spicy Italian sausage

Pasta

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Directions

img_0012

To make the meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat the foil with olive oil spray.

In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk until the milk is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, gently mix the ground meats with the soaked bread, onion, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning.

Add enough dried bread crumbs to just hold the mixture together, about ½ cup. Add the fresh parsley.

Form the meat mixture into golf ball–size meatballs and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes or until brown all over, turning them over halfway through the baking time.

To make the sauce:

In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sausage and brown on all sides; then remove to a plate.

img_0013

Add the remaining oil and saute the onion until tender. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two.

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Add the tomato paste. Fill the empty paste can with water and add to the sauce pot. Stir and let cook for a few minutes until dissolved.

Add the crushed red pepper, tomatoes and the herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderately low heat until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

img_0015

Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer the browned meatballs and sausage to the tomato sauce and simmer until the sauce is very thick, about 3-4 hours.

To make the pasta:

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

Pour in 2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup of cheese. Toss until the pasta is well coated, about 1 minute. Transfer the pasta to large shallow bowls.

Spoon the meatballs, sausage and some of the remaining tomato sauce over the spaghetti. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and serve.

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marsalawine

Trapani is a province in the island region of Sicily in Italy. The northwestern part of the province is rugged in comparison to the south. The province also includes the archipelago of the Egadi Islands, the volcanic island of Pantelleria, which is the largest in Sicily, and the Stagnone Islands. The Egadi Islands consist of three main islands, Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo and two islets, Formica and Maraone. The coast is one of the most impressive in Italy and comprises valuable naturalistic spots with its seafront full of cliffs and stacks alternating with beautiful beaches.

marsalaharbor

marsalabeach

Marsala, a town in the province of Trapani, is the home of Marsala wine. Marsala became known when the English began their explorations for commerce and trade. As the legend goes….

In 1770, a violent storm forced a British ship to take shelter in the harbor of Marsala. John Woodhouse, a merchant, disembarked and went into town to sample the wine in one of the humble taverns. Although more accustomed to the liqueur wines of Spain and Portugal, his palate detected their similarity to the local Marsala wine, prompting him to risk purchasing a considerable consignment of wine (blended with alcohol to withstand the journey) to take to his native land to sound out the market. The response was positive, the merchant set up his own company in Marsala. A second English merchant, Ben Ingham, a connoisseur of fortified wines, gradually improved the wine’s quality by using carefully selected blends of different grape varieties.

In 1833, the entrepreneur Vincenzo Florio, bought up large areas of land between the two largest established Marsala producers and set out to make his own vintage with a more specialised range of grapes. At the end of the 19 century, several more wine-growers joined the competition, including Pellegrino (1880). After the turn of the century, Florio bought out Ingham and Woodhouse and retained the two labels.

Marsala is registered as a DOC wine (a State-designated label of controlled quality); this means that production is restricted to an exclusive area around Trapani and a collection of additional vineyards in the provinces of Agrigento and Palermo. Only grape varieties with a high natural sugar content are used to make Marsala: these, once pressed, are left to ferment before being blended with ethyl alcohol to produce the different types and flavors of Marsala. Relative to the sugar content, Marsala may be categorised as dry, semi-dry or sweet. Its main denomination, however, is relative to the length of time it is left to mature: Marsala Fine (1 year), Superiore (2 years), Superiore Riserva (4 years), Vergine (5 years) and Vergine Riserva (10 years). Dry Marsala is usually served as an aperitif, while the sweeter forms are drunk as a dessert wine.

Marsala was traditionally served between the first and second courses. It is now also served, chilled, with Parmesan (stravecchio), Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and other spicy cheeses.
Marsala is a fortified wine – this means alcohol is added to it. This also means that, just like you can keep an open bottle of vodka or rum on your shelf, you can also keep an opened bottle of Marsala around. Just keep it in a cool, dark area.

The City of Marsala

The City of Marsala

Cooking with Marsala

Should you use – sweet or dry Marsala – in a recipe? Do you like sweet or savory chicken dishes? Are you even going to notice the subtle difference? You might not even be able to taste any difference since both are going to taste “like Marsala”. So make your recipe one time with the sweet and one time with the dry, and see if you can even notice any difference.

marsalapasta

Garlicky Marsala Mushroom Sauce

This sauce can be served over cooked pasta, folded into an omelet, served with pan-fried chicken breasts or over cheese grits (polenta).

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, caps quartered
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, 2 thinly sliced and 2 minced
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives

Directions

In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the white and shiitake mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, stirring once. Uncover and cook over high heat, stirring once, until the mushrooms are browned all over, about 3 minutes.

Add the sliced garlic, the shallot and rosemary and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the minced garlic, chives, olives and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

marsalachicken

Maggiano’s Little Italy’s Rigatoni D (Marsala)

This dish was named after its creator, David DiGregorio, Executive Chef at Chicago’s Clark & Grand St. restaurant. David and his team spent about 3 months perfecting the Marsala Cream Sauce to compliment chicken.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3/8 cup Spanish, yellow or white onion, diced ½”
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cold low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups rigatoni pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
  • ¾ cup sweet Marsala wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 3/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

On a 12 X 18 cookie sheet or tray, mix the diced onions, mushrooms, finely chopped garlic and balsamic vinegar together until all the ingredients are evenly mixed and coated. Bake for 15 minutes until the mushrooms are a deep brown color and almost all the liquid and moisture has evaporated. Set mixture aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the cornstarch with the cold chicken broth with a whisk. Set aside the mixture.

Prepare pasta as directed on the box to the al dente stage approximately 10 minutes before you plan on cooking the entire pasta dish. Drain pasta in a colander, shake out excess water, then toss in an 8 quart bowl with half of the olive oil.

Cut the chicken into pieces approximately 1” long x ¾” wide. In a 12”-14”.

In a pan or Dutch oven. heat the remaining olive oil and butter until melted and the butter begins to lightly brown, add the sliced chicken and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until a light golden brown color is achieved.

Immediately add the white wine to the sautéed chicken, cook until the wine evaporates, add the Marsala wine and reduce by half, then add the cold chicken broth/cornstarch mixture, bring to a simmer. Then add the heavy cream, kosher salt, black pepper and the roasted mushrooms, onions. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken.

Add the cooked rigatoni and simmer for 2 minutes. Finish the pasta and sauce with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

marsalameatballs

Sage Meatballs with Marsala Wine Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup soft unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves (about 20 leaves), very finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • All-purpose flour for dredging
  • 1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the meat, Parmigiano, half the butter, the sage and salt until they are very well blended, using your hands. Form small meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter using cold wet hands to keep the meat from sticking. Roll the meatballs in the flour and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat, then cook the meatballs until brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Shake the skillet often so they don’t stick.

Remove the excess fat from the skillet with a spoon and discard. Once the meatballs are brown, pour in the Marsala wine and continue cooking until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

marsaladessert

Strawberry, Mascarpone, and Marsala Budini

Budini is Italian for puddings or parfaits.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese

  • 6 tablespoons sweet Marsala (preferably imported)
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3 cups sliced hulled strawberries (about 15 ounces)
  • 2 1/4 cups coarsely crumbled amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons; about 4 1/2 ounces)

Directions

Combine mascarpone, 3 tablespoons Marsala, cream and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in medium bowl. Stir gently until well blended.

Combine strawberries, remaining 3 tablespoons Marsala, and 1 tablespoon sugar in another medium bowl; toss to blend. Cover mascarpone and berry mixtures; refrigerate 30 minutes.

Place 2 tablespoons crumbled cookies in each of 6 champagne goblets. Divide strawberry mixture with juices among the goblets.

Top berries with mascarpone mixture, then remaining cookies. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

marsalamap



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