Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Olives

vegan-diet

My blogger friend and artist, Wendie, asked me to consider creating some vegan dishes for my blog. I told her I would consider it, if I could come up with ideas that did not use processed vegan foods. To me a true vegan dish should be made from plants without the addition of meat substitutes or processed dairy substitutes and dressings.

Note: If you are making a vegan dessert then the sugar you use must not have been processed with animal products, as most regular sugar products are. Did you know that? Here is some information on how sugar is processed. Look for brands that say organic, fair trade or vegan on the label.

Of course, the recipes in my menu must be Italian and I did include some olive oil. I consider olive oil to be a healthy oil and part of the vegan diet, since it is a plant-based food.

If there are health issues, then leave it out and use vegetable broth for sautéing, but for most of us olive oil is needed to create a flavorful dish.

Here is my take on a great tasting vegan dinner using all natural, easy to find ingredients. Try it for your next Meatless Monday dinner.

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Pureed Celery Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, light green and white sections, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds celery (stalks & leaves), diced
  • 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (for homemade vegetable stock see my recipe here)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and cook the onion and celery until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add the broth and potato and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potato is fork tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the parsley leaves and cook another 4 to 5 minutes.

Use a regular blender to puree the soup until smooth (a hand immersion blender or a food processor does not get the soup really smooth).

Stir in the lemon juice and taste to adjust the seasoning, if needed.

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Crusty Italian Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. Overnight works great.

Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of a round cloche baker or dutch oven with a lid and sprinkle with flour. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. When the oven has reached 450 degrees F, place the baker pan in the oven and heat for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and shape into a ball. Place the dough on the prepared parchment and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise while the baker is heating.

Remove the hot baker from the oven and transfer the dough with the parchment to the baker. With a sharp knife, make a few slashes in the top of the dough. Cover and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool. Slice and serve with olive oil for dipping.

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Eggplant Olive Pasta

Serve a mixed green salad with the pasta.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 ounces dried rigatoni pasta (Check the ingredient list to be sure the pasta is vegan. Good Italian dried pasta should never contain eggs.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, olives, vinegar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to break down, 5 to 7 minutes more.

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Turn the heat down and simmer the sauce, while the pasta cooks.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Place the cooked pasta and pasta cooking water in the skillet with the eggplant sauce and heat for about 2 minutes.

Pour into a pasta serving bowl and garnish with basil.

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Vanilla Almond Biscotti

After experimenting with different ingredients to create a vegan biscotti, I decided this recipe had the right combination to form an authentic tasting biscotti.

They are more fragile than traditional biscotti, so handle gently. And, believe me when I say, this is a great tasting biscotti.

Makes about 15 biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the almond milk and sliced almonds. Once mixed, slowly add the milk and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in the 1 cup sliced almonds.

Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough in the center. Form the dough into a log with wet hands, about 10 x 4 inches.

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Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the center is firm (about 30 minutes); remove from the oven and place the log on a cutting board to cool for about 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, slice the log on the diagonal into 1-inch thick cookies and place them back on the baking sheet.

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Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the biscotti over and bake for 15 minutes more. Move to a wire rack to cool completely. These go very well with coffee for dessert.

Note: If you would like to decorate the biscotti with a drizzle of frosting for a better presentation, then mix together 1 cup of organic powdered sugar with 2-3 teaspoons of almond milk.


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Turkey Scallopini with Capers and Lemon

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Serve this dish with cooked, thin spaghetti and a green vegetable or salad for dinner. This dish also works for company or as a potluck dish, since a turkey breast is quite large. You can also freeze the leftovers.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound boneless turkey breast, sliced into thin cutlets and pounded to 1/8-inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices

Directions

Pat the turkey slices dry and season with salt and pepper.

Dredge the turkey slices in flour, shaking off excess and set aside on waxed paper.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown half of the turkey cutlets on both sides and just cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Transfer to a platter and keep warm, covered.

Cook the remaining turkey cutlets with another 2 tablespoons of oil in the same manner.

Do not clean out the skillet.

Heat the butter in the skillet and cook the garlic for one minute.

Add the broth to the skillet and deglaze over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits. Bring to a boil and stir in the lemon juice, lemon slices, capers, parsley and salt and pepper, to taste.

Return the turkey cutlets to the skillet with any juices on the platter and simmer until heated through, about 1 minute.

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

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This is one dish I only like homemade. Baked beans out of a can just are not to my liking. Here is my favorite recipe. These beans are delicious with BBQ pork chops.

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 pound navy beans
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3 pieces thick bacon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon country mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Rinse beans in a colander under water to remove any stones or impurities. Place the rinsed beans in a large pot or bowl and fill with water to completely cover the beans.

Set aside, loosely covered, on the kitchen counter, overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Cook the bacon in an ovenproof Dutch Oven. When crisp, remove to a paper towel to cool and, then, cut into small pieces.

Drain the beans and place in the Dutch Oven with the onions and the garlic. Mix well.

Add all the remaining ingredients, including the chopped bacon and stir until all contents are well mixed.

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Add enough water to cover the beans, about 3 cups, depending on the size of your pot.

Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 4-5 hours – stirring several times during the baking period.

Remove the lid after 3 hours and continue baking for the next hour – to allow the liquid to evaporate into a thick sauce.

Add the kosher salt. Taste the beans and add more, if needed.

Carrot, Olive and Feta Salad

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This salad goes very well with grilled chicken.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups shredded  carrots
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 10 oil-cured black olives, pitted and cut into thin slices
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Directions

In a small bowl whisk together the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and parsley.

Mix together the carrots, olives, feta, mint and the olive oil mixture.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Pasta with Italian Sausage Sauce and Ricotta

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Serve with a green salad to complete this meal.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 /2 pound Italian sausage
  • 3 cups homemade or prepared marinara (tomato) sauce
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper(chili)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

In a large skillet, brown the sausage and drain on a paper towel. When cool cut into thin slices.

Add the sausage back to the skillet with the marinara sauce and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer while the pasta cooks.

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

Mix the ricotta, parsley, salt and pepper together in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Warm the ricotta in the microwave on high for about 60 seconds – just until warm to the touch.

Stir the cooked pasta into the sausage sauce in the skillet and pour into a serving bowl.

Drop tablespoons of the ricotta mixture over the pasta.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and serve.


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It is 90 degrees outside and you are thinking, “ I am not turning on the oven and heating up the house”. No need. There are plenty of light, delicious meals that you can serve cold or at room temperature for those hot summer days and nights. The Summer is filled with great seasonal foods like peaches, berries, melon, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers and cucumbers ­– all of which help keep us hydrated and cool during the heat. Turn these summer gems into light, easy meals.

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Italian Cantaloupe Salad

This makes a great lunch. Just add a few bread sticks.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 10 basil leaves, sliced thin
  • 12 Italian green olives
  • 6 small sweet pickled Italian cherry peppers, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup diced provolone cheese (or any cheese you like)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Toss with the oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. This salad is better chilled for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

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Carrot, Cucumber and Sweet Onion Salad

Good side for grilled meats or fish.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly shaved carrot
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly shaved cucumber
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions

Combine the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add the carrot and onion; toss to coat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add the cucumber and parsley to the bowl; toss to coat. Let sit for an hour to allow the salad to marinate.

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Spaghetti Salad

Ingredients

  • 6 oz spaghetti, cooked al dente and drained
  • 2 cups small heirloom or plum tomatoes of different colors, if possible, sliced thin
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup pitted and sliced Italian oil cured black olives, halved
  •  2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
  • Basil leaves, sliced thin

Directions

In a serving bowl large enough to hold the pasta, add the the lemon juice, olive oil, onion, olives, red pepper flakes and a little salt and black pepper. Mix,

Add the sliced tomatoes and cooked spaghetti. Mix well and cover the dish until serving time. You can also serve this dish chilled.

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Tuna Patty with Peach and Corn Salad

Using leftover grilled tuna gives the fish cakes much more flavor than canned tuna.

For 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 oz leftover grilled tuna
  • 1/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco (hot sauce)
  • 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • Ranch Dressing, recipe below
  • Peach and Corn Salad, recipe below

Directions

Combine the tuna, celery, onion, bell pepper, mustard, lemon juice and zest, parsley, chives, hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste in a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add enough mayonnaise to hold the mixture together. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours to chill.

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Divide the mixture evenly into 2 rounds and coat in the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the parry.

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Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium skillet. Add the tuna patties and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Mixed Green Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Combine a mixture of your favorite salad greens and spread them on two individual dinner plates.

Make the salad dressing according to the recipe link: Homemade Ranch Dressing.

Place a cooked tuna patty on each plate and drizzle the greens and tuna with ranch dressing.

Place the Peach and Corn Salad on the other side of the plate. The Peach and Corn Salad compliments the tuna very well.

Summer Peach and Corn Salad

Serve this on the side with the tuna patty or as a salad on its own.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
  • 2 peaches, diced
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Salad

  • 1/2 pound fresh salad greens
  • 1/2 cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

Whisk together the vinegar, honey and oil. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Toss the vinaigrette with the, shallots, parsley, corn and peaches.

Chill for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve as a side with the tuna patties over greens and top with the shaved cheese. 

You can also serve the salad over greens and top with the shaved cheese as a separate salad with an entree.

 


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Summer is a wonderful time to entertain and enjoy the outdoors with your friends. Serving appetizers and drinks are a great way to entertain when it is hot. You want easy to prepare recipes so you are not in the kitchen for hours and you want to use simple, common ingredients that you usually have in your pantry or refrigerator. Below are a few of my easy to make suggestions.

Mediterranean Bruschetta

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the bread
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped oil cured Italian olives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 baguette, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl; except the bread slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lightly grill the bread slices and then brush them with olive oil. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the tomato mixture onto each bread slice and arrange on a serving plate.

Oven Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash Rounds

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Homemade Marinara Sauce, (see recipe here)
  • 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
  • 2 medium yellow squash, ends and neck trimmed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups dried Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut the squash into ¼ inch thick slices.

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In a plastic bag, combine the flour, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

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In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs and milk together.

In another shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese.

Place the squash slices in the bag with the flour and shake until they are coated.

Next, place each slice in the egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture.

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Place the squash rounds on the prepared baking pan and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy.

Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Marinated Cheese

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4-ounces of cream cheese, quartered
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 packed teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped pitted black and green Italian olives
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Toasted crostini, pita chips or crackers for serving

Directions

Place the cheese quarters in a medium container. Sprinkle the thyme, lemon zest, olives and sun-dried tomatoes over and around the cheese. Sprinkle the cheese with a little sea salt.

Pour the olive oil over the mixture. Squash the mixture with a fork and cover the container. Let the cheese marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.

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Bring the cheese mixture to room temperature about 45 minutes before serving. Put the marinated cheese mixture into a serving dish.

Arrange crostini, pita or crackers around the dish with a couple of small knives for serving.

Tuna Dip

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Serve with fresh celery, radishes, carrots and thin, crispy crackers.

Makes 8 servings.

  • 8-ounces canned tuna
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, washed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, parsley, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Place the tuna in a food processor and pulse to break it up.

Turn the speed to low speed and add the olive oil mixture, a little at a time, until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth.

Pour into a small serving bowl and chill. Serve with fresh-cut vegetables and crackers on the side.


BrindisiSailorsMonument

Brindisi, a province in the Apulia (Puglia) region of Italy, is dominated by vineyards, artichoke groves and olive trees. The province is also a major sailing port for the southern part of Italy and seafood plays a big role in its cuisine. In dining tn the area’s restaurants, you will notice an abundance of dishes from the sea. Mussels, white fish, prawns and octopus are just some of the items you can expect to find on the menu.

 artichoke groves

artichoke groves

olive trees.

olive trees

vineyards

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The region is well-known for orecchiette. A type of pasta whose name comes from its shape which resembles that of a small ear and is usually served with a simple (often spicy) red sauce. Fresh vegetables, tomatoes and peppery olive oil are easily the most common local ingredients. Fava beans, eggplants and bell peppers all find their way into pastas, gratins and stews. Stuffed aubergines, lamb and pea stew and  turnip greens are a few popular dishes.

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Great produce markets are plentiful and you will find, daily, fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood just waiting to be cooked. Olives are another essential food in the Brindisi area. You see them everywhere. Running wild along the dry countryside roads, the olive trees grow to massive sizes.

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Some of the best values in Italian wine come from this sunny, dry region. Most of the wine is red, full-bodied and pairs well with a wide variety of foods. Producers have focused on making great red wines from local grapes like Negroamaro, Primitivo and Bombino Nero. The two most popular and widely available wines from the province are Salice Salentino and Primitivo.

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Half of Italy’s olive oil is produced in the dry heat of the area. The warm climate and fertile soil make it easy to grow almost anything.  It is surrounded by water on three sides allowing cool breezes off the Mediterranean to moderate vineyard temperatures.

Brindisi Spa

Brindisi Spa

Located in the province is Torre Canne, a famous health spa. Several streams feed into a small lake that, over the ages, has deposited mud that is now used for therapeutic purposes. Its water springs are touted to be good for kidney and liver illnesses  While you enjoy the spa treatment, you can stay in a luxury hotel and visit the stunning local beaches.

Brindisi Fish Soup

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs whole fish, large bones removed
  • 3/4 lb squid
  • 1/2 lb cuttlefish or octopus
  • 1/2 lb mussels
  • 8 oz clams
  • 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Chili pepper, diced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices rustic bread, stale
  • Salt
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

Directions

Thoroughly wash all the fish and seafood. Cut the fish into large pieces and the squid and cuttlefish into small pieces.

In a large soup pot, saute the onion and celery in a few tablespoons of oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cuttlefish and squid and, after 10 minutes, the remaining fish and shellfish.

Add the chili pepper, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle a handful of parsley and finely chopped garlic onto each serving.

Grilled Eggplant

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4-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely minced, plus extra leaves for garnish
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 small eggplant
  • 3/4 cup burrata cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the oil, basil, shallots and vinegar.

In another small bowl, mix the chopped tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the basil mixture. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Trim the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place them on a tray or a plate. Brush both sides of the eggplants with the remaining basil mixture and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over high heat. Place the eggplant on the grill.  Cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes per side. Don’t let them burn.

Using a metal spatula, carefully transfer the eggplant to warmed plates. Divide the cheese among the eggplant halves and spoon the tomato mixture over each. Garnish with extra basil leaves

Cardoons Brindisi

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4 servings

Cardoons are members of the thistle family, as are artichokes, and bear a strikingly similar taste to them. Cardoons are quite fibrous and the fibers run lengthwise, like those in celery stalks, and must be stripped off. Once they have been cut, they darken quickly (like artichokes) unless put in water with added lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds cardoons
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped oil cured black olives
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers in salt, well rinsed
  • 3 anchovies packed in oil, minced
  • Grated Pecorino cheese
  • Bread crumbs
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Wash and peel the outer layer of the cardoons, then cut them into 5 inch lengths. Cook them in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the olives, parsley, capers and anchovies.

Place the cardoons in an oiled casserole baking dish and top with the olive and parsley mixture. Sprinkle enough grated cheese and bread crumbs over the top to cover.

Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

Spicy Orecchiette

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Ingredients

  • 12 oz (350 gr) orecchiette pasta
  • 1 lb (500 gr) plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 hot chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently sauté the garlic and chili peppers for one minute.

Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan with two tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until a sauce consistency is reached.

Add the chopped oregano with salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for a few minutes more.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until it is al dente. Drain and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.

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Now that summer is here in my part of the world, the swimming pool is in full swing. I know that it is probably not summer hot in May where you live, but here is it about 85-86 degrees every day. The 90s will be here next month. This time of year, I like to invite friends over for swimming and either lunch or a BBQ supper. Lunch is a good idea because it can be served easily poolside and most of the food preparation can be done in advance. Seasonal soups are always a big hit with my friends. I usually like to prepare a sandwich or a salad that complements the soup. Here are some of my ideas for lunch that you can make for your family or for guests.

Corn Chowder

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish

Directions

Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.

Add 3 cups of the corn, the vegetable broth, chili powder and the thyme. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender. Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.

Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.

Serve in individual soup bowls with any or all of the garnishes.

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

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For each sandwich

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Place the eggplant on the bottom half of a ciabatta roll. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and the roll top.

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Wrap the sandwich in foil and place on a baking tray. Bake the sandwich for 15 minutes or until hot and the cheese has melted.

Cut the sandwich in two and serve with Tuscan peppers and olives.

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 6 oz can  tomato paste
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
  • Thinly sliced fresh basil for garnish

Directions

Combine the  first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in salt and pepper and the cream. Return the pot to low heat and warm the soup. Do not boil.

Serve in individual soup bowls with basil for a garnish.

Shrimp Pie

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Ingredients

  • 1 refrigerated or frozen deep dish pie crust, at room temperature
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ cups fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay (seafood) seasoning
  • ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or white wine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1⁄2 cups grated cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese
  • Hot sauce, a few dashes

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Fit the pastry into a 9 inch pie pan coated with cooking spray and flute the edges. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Cook the shallots in the butter for 1-2 minutes over moderate heat until tender, but not browned.

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Add the shrimp and stir gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle on the seafood seasoning.

Add the wine, raise the heat and boil for a minute. Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the roasted red peppers.

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Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the cream, tomato paste and hot sauce. Gradually fold in the cooled shrimp mixture.

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Spread 1 cup of the cheese on the bottom of the pie crust.

Pour the shrimp mixture into the pastry shell and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

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Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pie has puffed and browned on the top.

Cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

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toppingsteakgrill

Delmonico steak refers to one of several cuts of beef (typically the rib cut) and the method of preparation, that was made by Delmonico’s Restaurant, a steakhouse in New York City, during the mid-19th century. According to some sources, the original Delmonico steak was a boneless top sirloin, almost two inches thick with delicate marbling and cooked to the preference of the diner

Delmonico’s steak may, now, refer to other cuts and various preparations in different parts of the USA. These wider variety of beef cuts may be broiled, fried or grilled. Some of the steak cuts commonly referred to as Delmonico steak include:

Boneless rib-eye steak: A Delmonico cut rib-eye consists of two heart cuts of rib-eye tied together with butcher’s twine. It resembles a filet mignon in appearance, but is quite large. The Delmonico Steak served by the current Delmonico’s in New York is a boneless rib-eye.

Bone-in top loin steak: (a triangular-shaped, short loin cut, the first cut of the top loin next to the rib end) also known as a club steak, country club steak, shell steak or strip loin steak).

Boneless top loin strip steak: (also known as a New York strip steak, Kansas City steak, strip loin, ambassador, boneless club or hotel steak)

Ingredients

  • 2 (8-10 ounce) Delmonico (rib-eye) steaks

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon steak sauce (e.g. A-1)

Directions

Combine the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, onion, rosemary, steak seasoning and steak sauce in a glass dish. Add the steaks and marinate several hours in the refrigerator.

steak1

Let the steak sit at room temperature for an hour before grilling.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat or light charcoal and wait until coals are completely white.

Remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Lightly oil the grilling surface and place the steaks on the grill. Cover and grill the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side, or to your desired degree of doneness.

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It is best to use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. A rare steak will be at about 125 to 130 F. Medium rare is 130 to 140 degrees. For medium, you want a temperature of 140 to 150 degrees. Medium well is 150 to 160 degrees and well done is 160 to 170 degrees. Cover the meat with an aluminum foil tent for 5 minutes before slicing.

Blue Cheese Sauce

steak2

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons white wine  vinegar
  • 6 ounces crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Minced fresh parsley

Directions

Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; after the butter melts, add the shallots and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add vinegar, stir and cook until it is just about evaporated, 1 or 2 minutes. Turn heat to low and stir in the cheese, cayenne and a few grindings of black pepper. Stir occasionally until the cheese melts.

Keep warm while the  steaks grill.

Porcini and Truffle Butter

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A small pat of this butter is outstanding on top of your grilled steak.

Use the flavored butter on grilled meats and fish, under the skin of poultry before you roast it or on steamed or grilled vegetables. It can easily be substituted for butter in most savory recipes.

Because the flavor difference between white and black truffles is subtle, white and black truffle oil may be used interchangeably in recipes. Use truffle oil in small amounts. Drizzle it, do not pour it. Cooking with truffle oil is not a good idea. High heat will compromise the truffle flavor, therefore, truffle oil should be added to cooked dishes or sauces at the end of the cooking process just before serving.

Since truffles are very difficult to find and very expensive, I use dried porcini mushrooms in the butter to enhance its flavor. Truffle butter freezes very well and can be stored for a year or more frozen.  Once thawed it should remain refrigerated and should be used within about 3 weeks.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white or black truffle oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Be sure to use boiling water since the mushrooms will not receive any additional cooking.

Allow the mushrooms to stand for 15 minutes, then drain and chop coarsely.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter and truffle oil. Add the salt.

Cut a piece of plastic wrap, about 12 x 12, and lay it flat. Using a spatula, place the butter onto the plastic wrap and form into a log, about 1 inch thick.

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Roll the butter up in the plastic wrap so it forms an even log or sausage shape. Twist the ends tightly.

Place the rolled up butter into the refrigerator to chill until firm. Store the log in a plastic zip top bag in the refrigerator until ready to use. The log may also be frozen.

Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic Sauce

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (oregano, basil or parsley)
  • ¼ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar

Directions

Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the onions. Cook until softened. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes are cooked and become saucy.

Stir in the herbs, salt and pepper and heat for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Set aside until the steak is cooked. Serve the sauce over the sliced grilled steak.

Peppers and Onion Topping

toppingsteakpeppers

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive  oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 large green bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 large red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic. After a minute add the onions, peppers, oregano and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Slice the steaks thinly and serve with the peppers and onions.

Olive and Herb Topping

toppingsteakolives

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves; pressed or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 7-8 oz jar Kalamata olives, drained and halved
  • 7-8 oz jar Sicilian green olives, drained and halved
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions

 

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cover and let marinate for several hours before serving. The olive salad can be made a day before and refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve over sliced grilled steak.



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