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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pancetta

 

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Adding more vegetables to our meals has been a goal. Pasta is a great base for doing this. Vegetables add healthy ingredients while stretching the amount of pasta included in each serving. Also, if you have vegetables leftover from dinner, they make an excellent addition to pasta and save you work.

In the stuffed shells recipe below, I added sautéed chard to the cheese filling, thus stretching the amount of cheese in each serving. Likewise, in the second recipe I added green beans to the pasta to make each serving healthier.

Swiss Chard Stuffed Shells

3-4 stuffed shells make 1 serving.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (21 shells)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green portion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for salting the water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 pound (2 bunches) Swiss chard, stems removed
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 16 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups Marinara or Basic Tomato Sauce

Directions

Wash the chard well, drain and spin in a salad spinner to remove most of the water. Cut the chard leaves into thin strips.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the leek and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the leek is softened.  Add the chard, oregano, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing with tongs, until completely wilted. Cover the pan and simmer until the chard is very tender, about ten minutes. Turn the chard into a mixing bowl to cool to room temperature.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta shells, stir, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Place a colander in the sink and drain the shells. Transfer the shells to a kitchen towels on the counter and set aside to cool.

Add the ricotta, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the chard.in the mixing bowl.

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Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Evenly spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oiled 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

Fill the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and place in a single layer, open side up, in the baking dish.

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Pour the remaining tomato sauce  evenly over the shells and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

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Cover the dish with foil. Tip: I always spray the side of the foil that will touch the food with cooking spray to keep the food from sticking to the foil during baking.

Bake the shells until the sauce just starts to bubble around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is bubbling vigorously and the edges of the pan have started to brown, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Pasta with Green Beans and Ricotta

Casarecce is a short, wide pasta loosely rolled into a scroll shape. It is a traditional pasta from Sicily.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 12 oz Casarecce or short pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 oz pancetta, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb parboiled green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths (2 cups)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, plus extra for boiling the pasta
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, warmed
  • 1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.

Warm the ricotta cheese in the microwave.

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In a large, heavy skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the pancetta until crispy.

Add the shallot, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and saute for 1 minute. Add the green beans and pasta cooking liquid and continue cooking until hot, about 2 more minutes.

Add the cooked pasta and lemon zest toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix well.

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Drop tablespoons of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta. Serve immediately.

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Adding just a splash of white wine to a pan of littleneck clams being simmered in butter, garlic, shallots and cream. Shallow dof, focus on the wine and clams in the front.

Adding wine to your favorite recipe can add wonderful flavor—but too much or the wrong style wine can also ruin the taste of the dish. Wine contains sugars, acids and tannins and each of these tastes may be noticeable in your finished recipe.

A very dry wine has very few natural sugars remaining and is usually higher in alcohol. In contrast, the sweeter wines contain a larger amount of natural sugar from the grapes.

Acid is a term used to describe both red and white wines and it refers to the sharp bite in the wine (much like you would experience with lemon juice or vinegar). Acid can help bring out the natural flavors in a mild food, such as fish (this is why fish is often served with a wedge of lemon). To maintain a balance, check your recipe for acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar and cut back to make room for the acid in the wine.

Tannins are generally found in red wines and refers to the bitter element in the wine (similar to the bitterness you’ll find in a strong cup of tea). The tannins in red wine pair well with strongly flavored dishes and hearty foods, like steak.

Red or White?

Use the type of wine in the recipe that you would serve with the dish you are making. Unless you’re serving a rare or expensive wine, buy an extra bottle and use it in the recipe.

Generally, it’s thought that a light-flavored wine goes best with delicately flavored foods. It would follow that a bold-tasting wine might do well in a boldly flavored dish. For example, a dish heavily spiced usually needs a full-bodied red wine to stand up to it. One with a light or creamy sauce calls for a drier, light white wine.

When you’re making a red wine reduction sauce, watch out for the wine’s tannins, as they can become harsh in this type of recipe.

Read the bottle to find out what flavors are present in the wine, then you can be sure that it will work well with the same flavors in your recipe. The most important thing to remember is that if you like drinking it, you’ll like the flavor that it will add to your food. For deeper flavors, experiment with fortified wines like Port, Sherry, Madeira and Marsala.

Here are some recipes that use wine in a variety of ways.

Mussels in White Wine

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 pounds mussels, de-bearded, scrubbed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Italian country-style bread (for serving)

Directions

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 1 minute.

Add mussels and 1/2 cup water to the pot, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mussels open (discard any that do not open), 10–12 minutes.

Ladle mussels and broth into shallow bowls and top with thyme; serve with bread.

Pasta all’Amatriciana

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8 servings

Ingredients

  • Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), finely chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne or other tube-shaped pasta
  • Finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan

Directions

Purée tomatoes with juices in a blender; set aside. Cook onion, guanciale, pancetta, oil, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup water in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the water is evaporated and fat begins to render, 8–10 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring often, until reduced by half, 5–8 minutes.

Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover pan partially with a lid, reduce heat, and simmer until the meat is tender and flavors are melded, 40–45 minutes. Add sugar and season with salt and pepper.

When the sauce is almost done, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain pasta.

Add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve topped with Pecorino.

Red Wine-Braised Brisket

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10–12 Servings

Ingredients

  • One 5-lb. untrimmed flat-cut brisket
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks with leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • One 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • One 750ml bottle full-bodied red wine
  • 8 carrots, peeled and cut in half

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Season brisket with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof pot with a cover over medium-high. Cook brisket, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 8–10 minutes; transfer to a plate. Discard the fat in the pot.

Place onions, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, tomatoes, tomato paste and wine in the pot and stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Place brisket on top, fat side up. Cover the pot and braise in the oven, spooning the braising liquid over the brisket every 30 minutes, until meat is fork-tender, 3–3 1/2 hours.

Uncover the pot and place the carrots around the brisket Return the pot to the oven uncovered and cook until the carrots are tender, the top of the brisket is browned and crisp, and the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Skim fat from the surface of the sauce; discard. Remove brisket from the pot and slice against the grain, Serve with the braising sauce and carrots.

Chicken Thighs Cooked in White Wine

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4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-lidded pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.

Add shallots and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add thyme and white wine; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced, about 4 minutes.

Return chicken, skin side up, to the pot; add broth, bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven. Braise until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 20–25 minutes. Uncover; continue to cook in the oven until the skin begins to crisp, 8–10 minutes longer.

Braised Lamb Shanks

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8 servings

Ingredients

Lamb Shanks

  • 6 lbs. lamb shanks (6–8 shanks, depending on size), trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground fennel seeds
  • 7 garlic cloves, 1 clove grated, 6 cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra if needed

Directions

Place lamb on a large rimmed baking sheet; season all over with 2 tablespoons salt and generously with pepper. Mix rosemary, fennel seeds and grated garlic in a small bowl; massage into the lamb. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or, preferably, chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8–10 minutes.

Add minced garlic, flour, paprika and red pepper flakes. Stir vigorously to distribute flour. Cook, stirring often, until mixture becomes dry, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and wine. Simmer briskly, stirring often, until the juices thicken and the tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes.

Gradually stir in the broth. Simmer until the flavors meld, 3–4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lamb shanks to the pot in a single layer, pushing them down into sauce (add additional broth if needed so that shanks are about ¾ submerged).

Roast, uncovered, until the tops of the shanks have browned, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn shanks over and roast for 30 minutes longer.

Cover and cook, turning shanks occasionally, until meat is fork-tender and almost falling off the bone, 45 minutes to 1½ hours (time will depend on size of shanks). Remove the pot from the oven and let the shanks rest in the liquid for 30 minutes.

Discard any fat from the surface of the lamb shank mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, occasionally turning shanks and stirring sauce, until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve the shanks and sauce with polenta or couscous.

Pear Pie

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8 servings

Ingredients

  • Pie crust for a 9 inch double crust
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1¾ cups dry red wine, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds firm but ripe pears (such as Comice, Anjou, or Bartlett), peeled, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions

Bring the ¾ cups granulated sugar, rosemary and 1½ cups of the wine to a boil; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 2/3 cup, 5–8 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually add butter and whisk until smooth. Set syrup aside.

Whisk cornstarch, cinnamon, the 5 teaspoons of flour and the remaining 1/4 cup wine in a small saucepan set over medium heat; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Slowly add reserved syrup, whisking until smooth, then stir in vanilla and salt. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F.

Mix pears and red wine syrup together in a large bowl.

Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9 inch pie dish. Pour filling into the crust and chill while the second crust is rolled.

Roll out the remaining disk of dough to about 10 inches and cut into twelve strips. Arrange 6 strips crosswise across the top of the pie. Arrange the remaining 6 strips lengthwise across the top of the pie, lifting crosswise strips and weaving lengthwise strips over and under to form a lattice.

Brush the edge of the dough with the beaten egg and press ends of the strips and bottom crust together to seal. Trim strips to the same length as the bottom crust, then fold bottom crust over lattice strips; crimp edge. Brush crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F, rotate pie, and continue baking (tent with foil if the crust is browning too quickly) until juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown, 60 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before slicing.


 

falldinnerscoverCrisp autumn days have us looking forward to soups, pot pies, roasts and casseroles. Pick from any number of fall ingredients to add flavor and color to your main dishes, sides and desserts.

This is also the perfect time of year to roast vegetables. Fall root vegetables and squash take to roasting and taste so much better for it.

How to Roast Any Vegetable

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.

Roast vegetables either whole or chopped. The larger the piece, the longer it will take to cook. Whole beets can take an hour or more, while asparagus will be cooked in about 10 minutes.

Place the vegetables in an oven-safe pan.

Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, just enough to very lightly coat the vegetables when tossed.

To see if the vegetables are cooked, prick with the tip of a paring knife. The knife should pull out easily.

Serve with a light sprinkle of sea salt and chopped or whole toasted nuts, breadcrumbs or grated cheese on top.

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Squash Carbonara

Serve with a green salad.

6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds fall squash, such as butternut, delicata, acorn, etc
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces pancetta, unsliced; about a 1 inch thick piece
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Pecorino (for serving)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and slice crosswise into ¼”-thick half-moons. Toss with oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the squash slices on a large rimmed baking sheet; place pancetta next to the squash. Roast until the squash is tender but hasn’t changed color and the pancetta is brown, about 30–35 minutes. Transfer the squash to a plate and set aside.

Let pancetta cool slightly, then cut into ¼” pieces. Pour any rendered fat on the baking sheet into a large skillet. Add the pancetta and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a small bowl. Reserve skillet with the drippings in the pan.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Add pasta to the reserved skillet along with a ½ cup pasta cooking water and toss to coat, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.

Lightly beat egg yolks and lemon zest in a large bowl just to combine. Working quickly, add the egg mixture to the hot pasta in the skillet and toss vigorously with tongs until a thick, glossy sauce forms, about 4 minutes. (If sauce still looks watery, keep tossing.)

Add pancetta and reserved squash to the pasta, season with salt and pepper and toss everything together in a large serving bowl. Shave Pecorino over pasta and top with more pepper just before serving.

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Italian Bean Soup

Serve with crusty bread.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Two 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 32 ounce box reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • One 5 ounce package fresh baby spinach
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook and stir carrots and onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add beans, broth and seasoning. Bring to boiling and slightly mash some of the beans. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large skillet heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach; toss with tongs 1 to 2 minutes, just until wilted. Remove from the heat. Ladle soup into serving bowls; top with spinach, grated cheese and sprinkle with pepper.

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Sea Scallops with Peppers and Corn

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 ears corn (about 2 1/2 lb. total), husked, silks removed
  • 1 1/4 pounds sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 red bell peppers, rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

Holding each ear of corn upright in a deep bowl, cut kernels from the cobs.

Rinse scallops, remove side muscle and pat dry; sprinkle lightly all over with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the corn, bell peppers, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove to a wide, shallow serving bowl.

Add remaining oil, butter and scallops to the skillet. Cook until the scallops are browned on the outside and barely opaque in the center (cut to test), about 5 minutes.

Top the vegetables with scallops and any pan juices. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

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Broiled Turkey Breast with Orange Spinach

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Two 8 ounce boneless turkey breast tenderloins, halved horizontally
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 oz. pancetta, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Two 9 ounce packages fresh spinach
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges

Directions

Lightly sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Place on an unheated broiler pan. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 5 minutes. Turn turkey pieces over; broil for 4 minutes more.

In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, the Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs. Spread over turkey. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes more or until topping is golden and turkey is no longer pink (170 degrees F).

Heat butter in a large skillet and cook pancetta until crisp. Add spinach, half at a time and cook 1 minute or just until wilted. Add orange wedges and orange juice with the second batch of spinach and cook until wilted. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using tongs, remove the spinach to a serving platter. Top with turkey and orange wedges. Drizzle with remaining juices from the skillet and serve.

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Pork with Squash Barley Risotto

4 servings

Ingredients

  • ½ cup regular barley
  • One 32 ounce container vegetable stock or broth
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces pork tenderloin
  • Snipped fresh basil, oregano and thyme for garnish

Directions

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add barley; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted. Stir in broth and squash; bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover; boil 15 minutes more or until the squash and barley are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (mixture should still appear creamy). Remove from heat. Stir in basil and oregano.

Place garlic, salt and pepper on a cutting board. Using the flat side of a large knife, smash the garlic. Drag the flat side of the knife across the garlic in one direction then the opposite direction until a smooth paste forms. Place paste in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil; set aside.

Slice pork into 1/2-inch thick slices and flatten the slices with the palm of your hand. Rub garlic mixture over the pork slices.

In a 12-inch skillet heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook 2-3 minutes per side or until browned and cooked through. Serve pork with barley mixture and sprinkle with additional fresh herbs.


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Making  one dish meals can be a very economical way of preparing delicious and healthy meals. This type of dinner is especially desirable for busy people. It is really very easy and doesn’t take a great deal of time. The term one-pot meal is almost synonymous with crock-pot dinners, hearty stews and pot roasts coming to mind; however there are plenty of lighter and faster variations to this concept. A one dish meal need not require hours and hours of cooking, but may be as simple as a stir-fry or a summer pasta with vegetables and seafood.

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Tortellini with Broccoli, Olives and Beans

2-3 servings

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces refrigerated or frozen cheese-filled tortellini
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • One 15 ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup slivered pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
  • 1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil

Directions

In a deep large skillet bring 2 inches of water to boiling. Add tortellini; cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli; cook for 2 minutes or until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Drain in colander. Return tortellini and broccoli to the skillet.

Stir in beans, olives, oil, vinegar and red pepper. Heat through. Sprinkle with tomatoes, feta and basil. Serve in pasta bowls.

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Salmon and Swiss Chard in Mustard Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh skinless salmon fillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (1 small)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, stems removed and the leaves cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

Brush the oil over the bottom of a large deep skillet with a cover.

Rinse and pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Place salmon in the skillet, tucking under any thin edges. Sprinkle the salmon with the garlic.

In a small bowl stir together mustard, honey, vinegar and dill and transfer 2 tablespoons of the mixture to another small bowl to serve later.

Stir the onion, broth and mustard mixture together and pour over the salmon.

Cover and bring to a slow boil, reduce heat to medium and poach until the salmon flesh is firm, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Carefully transfer salmon with a slotted spoon to a serving platter.Add the chard to the skillet and cook until tender, about

Stir the reserved 2 tablespoons of mustard mixture into the chard mixture. Spoon the chard onto the platter with the salmon.

onedish3

Turkey Cutlets with Barley Saute

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 6 –  1/2-inch-thick turkey breast slices (cutlets) (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 cups sliced fresh cremini mushrooms (8 ounces)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Snipped fresh oregano
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

In a large skillet with a cover, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle turkey cutlets lightly with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until browned and no longer pink, turning once. Remove turkey from the skillet; set aside on a platter and cover with foil..

Add the mushrooms, onion, carrot and bell pepper to the skillet and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth, barley and oregano. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is nearly absorbed.

Stir in lemon peel and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Return turkey cutlets with any accumulated juices to the skillet. Cover and cook for 1 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Garnish with additional fresh oregano and serve with lemon wedges.

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Pork Tenderloin with Carrots, Parsnips and Chickpeas

6 servings

Ingredients

  • Two 1 pound pork tenderloins (455 g), trimmed of fat and silverskin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup drained canned chickpeas (85 g), rinsed and blotted dry
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice (120 ml)
  • ½ cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken broth (120 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon pimenton ( smoked paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano

Directions

Place rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season pork generously on all sides with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork. Sear on all sides until browned, about 6 minutes total. Transfer the pork to a large plate; set aside

Add carrots to the pan. Cook and stir until browned at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 1 minute more. Using a spatula, make two wide spaces through the vegetables. Place pork tenderloins in the spaces so they rest directly on the pan surrounded by the carrots and chickpeas.

Transfer the pan to the oven. Roast 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of a tenderloin registers 145 degrees F. The center should be rosy when cut into with a knife. Transfer the pork to a carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Carefully place the pan with the vegetables over medium heat on top of the stove. Add orange juice, wine or broth, brown sugar, fennel and paprika; mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in butter, parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt.

To serve, cut the pork on a slight diagonal into slices 1-inch-thick. Serve with roasted vegetables.

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Chicken and Vegetable Saute

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts or a combination
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into two-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, halved crosswise and cut in 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Directions

 

In a 12-inch skillet brown chicken and pancetta in olive oil over medium-high heat, turning chicken to brown evenly. Add garlic, asparagus and squash. Sprinkle chicken and vegetables with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes.

Carefully add broth; cover and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink (165 degrees F) and vegetables are tender. Transfer mixture to a serving platter and top with sliced green onions.


chowdercover

Summer is here along with just about every vegetable you could possibly want to cook. It is also the best time to make a delicious chowder. Chowder usually indicates a soup that is rich and creamy with chunks of seafood and vegetables. The term may also describe a hearty soup made with corn or chicken.

The most famous, of course, is New England Clam Chowder. It is believed that the word “chowder” evolved from the French word “chaudiere,” the name of the pot in which French fisherman would boil their catch of the day with potatoes and other vegetables. French settlers in the New England colonies introduced the culinary tradition to America. “Chowder” first appeared in a written recipe in 1751 and, by the 1800s, American cooks were using mostly clams instead of fish because of the abundance of shellfish in the northeast.

Italian chowders and stews are usually made with seafood. The true story of cioppino begins with ancient Mediterranean fishermen who created the first fish soups and stews. These recipes were adopted by seamen and the recipes used local ingredients. Cioppino belongs to the same tradition as a chowder and a bouillabaisse. American cioppino is a story of immigration patterns, ethnic heritage and local adaptation. Food historians, generally agree, cioppino originated in California (in the San Francisco Bay area) and the group of Italian fisherman credited for the recipe immigrated from Northern Italy, specifically Genoa.

East Coast Italian Americans were fond of Manhattan Clam Chowder and put their special touches to it.

chowder1

Italian American Clam Chowder

Serves 8

Ingredients

Medium-sized hard-shell clams provide the flavor for the broth and the tender clam meat for this hearty soup. Instead, the broth is briny and clean tasting with flavors from the sea standing out.

If you do not want to fuss with fresh clams substitute 4 cups of clam broth and 16 oz of canned clams.

Ingredients

  • 8 pounds clams, medium-sized hard-shell clams, such as cherrystones, washed and scrubbed clean
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 1 ¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 28-32 oz. can Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves , chopped

Directions

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add the clams and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 5 minutes, uncover, and stir with a wooden spoon. Quickly cover the pot and steam until the clams open, 4-5 minutes. Transfer the clams as they open to a large bowl; cool slightly. Reserve the cooking water.

Holding the clams over a bowl to catch any juices, sever the muscle that attaches the clam to the shell and transfer the meat to a cutting board. Discard the shells. Cut the clams into 1/2-inch dice; set aside.

Pour the broth that collected in the bowl into a 2-quart glass measuring cup, holding back the last few tablespoons of broth in case of sediment; set the clam broth aside. (you should have 5 cups; if not, add some of the cooking water to make this amount. Rinse and dry the pot, then return it to the burner.

Fry the pancetta in the empty pot over medium-low heat until the fat renders and the pancetta is crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion, pepper, carrot and celery, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, fennel seeds and pepper flakes and saute about 1 minute.

Add the reserved clam broth, bottled clam juice, potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the reserved clams and season with salt and pepper to taste; discard the bay leaf. (Chowder can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot.) Stir in parsley and ladle the chowder into individual bowls. Serve immediately.

chowder2

Corn and Potato Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups red potatoes,unpeeled and diced
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 8 ounces cream-style corn
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp and remove to a plate. Crumble when cool enough to handle. Add the onion and cook in the bacon drippings over medium heat until the onion is lightly browned and tender.

Stir in flour until blended into the mixture.

Add chicken broth and stir to blend.

Add diced potatoes, corn and cream-style corn, pepper and hot sauce.

Bring to a simmer and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Cover, reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender.

Add milk and cook, covered, for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top.

Serve warm with crusty bread.

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Summer Vegetable Chowder

Servings 8-10

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrot
  • 1 1⁄2 cups diced potatoes
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1⁄2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces light cream cheese

Directions

In a large soup pot on medium heat, sauté the onions in the butter and oil for 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the celery, cover, and cook until just soft, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots, potatoes, water or stock, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes.

With a strainer or slotted spoon, remove about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked vegetables and set aside in a blender or food processor.

Add the green beans, bell peppers, and zucchini to the soup pot and cook until the green beans are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, simmer for 2 more minutes, and then remove from the heat.

Discard the bay leaf.

Puree the reserved vegetables with the milk and cheeses to make a smooth sauce.

Stir the sauce into the soup and gently reheat.

chowder3

Summertime Fish Chowder

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup clam juice or fish stock
  • 1 cup no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp. dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus additional for optional garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 cups water, as needed
  • 1 lb. firm-fleshed white fish, skin removed, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

Add potatoes and carrots, stir, then add fish stock and tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add just enough water to cover potatoes. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add fish and stir. Cook until fish is opaque and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While fish cooks, heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot. Do not let it boil. Add milk to soup mixture and stir. Keep at low temperature.

To serve, ladle into shallow bowls. Top with chopped parsley and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

chowder5

Chicken and Summer Squash Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 pounds summer squash, diced
  • 1 piece Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil

Directions

Saute onion, celery and garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot. Add chicken and sauté until lightly brown. Add broth and Parmesan cheese rind.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Add squash and simmer until the squash is tender. Remove the cheese rind.

Place flour in a bowl. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended; add to soup. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese, basil, salt and pepper.


The Bacon's grow a variety of produce for their own consumption, including these bell peppers, at the Bacon Century Farm in Jonesborough, Tennessee. The farm is designated a Tennessee Century Farm, which was founded in 1891. In 2004, Bruce H. Bacon Jr., the grandson of founder Robert B. Bacon, obtained the land. JCI Photo- Jeff Adkins

Peppers are plentiful this time of year and can be found at a reasonable cost. So this is the perfect time of year to think about preserving some of the peppers you buy for the winter months when they cost a fortune.

Some of the pepper varieties that are common are: California Wonder, Big Bertha Green, Red, Yellow and Orange Bell, Marconi, Italian Roaster, Mariachi, Pimento, Super Cayenne, Chinese Lantern, Jalapeno, Hot Banana, Cajun Belle, Cubanelle, Poinsettia and Sangria.

Peppers are extremely easy to freeze. Wash them, pat them dry, chop or slice them, place them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer! Diced into small chunks, peppers are ready for casseroles, egg dishes, stir fry, fajitas, etc. Whole peppers are perfect for stuffing and baking. Defrosted frozen peppers will be a little mushy but they are perfect for cooking.

Of course, you know you can add peppers to omelets, soups, pizza or pasta. One of my favorite recipes is to make roasted red peppers. They are delicious in salad, on pizza and in sandwiches. They are also perfect for an antipasto platter.

peppers1

Roasted Red Peppers

Wash and dry red peppers – leaving them whole with the stem intact. Char the peppers using an outdoor grill set for  medium heat. Place the peppers directly on the grate until one side is charred. Work carefully so that as soon as one section of a pepper is blackened, turn the peppers to a side without charring. (Charring can also be done on a grill pan or in the broiler.)

Once all the sides of the peppers are blackened, place them in a large bowl.  Cover the bowl with a clean towel. (Or place in a plastic bag and seal or place in a brown paper bag and close it.) The steam will help to loosen the skin, making them easy to peel once they cool.

When the peppers are cool to the touch, remove and discard the skins. Remove the stem, seeds and ribs. Cut in quarters. Place in a covered container and drizzle with a little olive oil and vinegar. They will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

peppers6

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

You can make a delicious sauce from the roasted red peppers that you can use over grilled meat or over pasta.

Ingredients

  • 2 large roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Basil leaves

To make the pepper sauce:  Place all of the ingredients in a processor and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with basil leaves.

peppers2

Italian Vegetable Soup

4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz. boneless chicken, cut into small cubes
  • 2 Italian frying peppers, finely diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 hot pepper, diced or 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • 6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried short pasta
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Brown chicken in a Dutch oven or a stock pot with the olive oil.  Add the peppers, onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pan and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add seasonings and broth. Cover the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Increase heat to high and bring soup to boil. Add pasta and boil until tender, about 5-6 minutes.

Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese.

peppers3

Italian Pepper & Egg Sandwich

My favorite sandwich growing up.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 green or red bell peppers (or Cubanelle or Italian sweet frying peppers) seeded and sliced.
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 5 large eggs, whisked in bowl with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread, sliced or 4 ciabatta rolls
  • Crushed red pepper

Directions:

In large skillet add olive oil and garlic and saute on low until garlic is golden, (do not burn). Add peppers and onion, season with salt and pepper, stir to coat the vegetables with oil.

Continue cooking on low heat, stirring frequently, until the peppers are soft. Raise heat to med-high and add eggs, stirring well to mix the eggs into the peppers.

Cook eggs thoroughly, but be careful not to burn them. Sprinkle with cheese and red pepper. Serve on an Italian roll or on Italian bread.

peppers4

Rigatoni with Peppers & Pancetta

Sometimes I add sliced and browned Italian sausage instead of the pancetta.

5 servings

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dried rigatoni
  • 4 slices pancetta, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2/3 cup sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup small pitted ripe olives
  • 1/4 pound Provolone Cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Cook rigatoni just to the al dente stage. Drain.

Cook the pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the pancetta from the pan; set aside.

Add the olive oil, bell peppers, onion and garlic to the reserved pan drippings in the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender.

Add cooked rigatoni, pancetta and all the remaining ingredients except the parsley. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

peppers5

Baked Chicken, Sausage, Potatoes and Peppers

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • One 3 lb. organic chicken, cut into 10 pieces or 1 whole bone-in chicken breast, cut into 4 pieces and 6 bone-in thighs,skin removed
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey), cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, cut in fourths
  • 2 green and 2 red bell peppers, cut into one inch strips
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into eighths

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan and spread over the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down.

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken pieces and scatter the sausage around the chicken.

Bake 15 minutes. Turn the chicken and sausage pieces and bake 15 minutes more.

Squeeze the lemons over the chicken and place the lemon skins in the roasting dish. Sprinkle chicken with minced garlic and the oregano.

Add the potatoes, onions and peppers to the pan and sprinkle with salt.

Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Cover the pan with foil and bake 1 hour, turning the ingredients after 30 minutes. Serve with warm crusty bread, if desired.

 


Castello Danish Blue

Castello Danish Blue

I was chosen to participate in Castello’s Summer of Blue #BluesdayTuesday campaign. Beginning with this month, May, Castello Blue Cheese will be featuring creative blue cheese recipes on Tuesdays, also known as #BluesdayTuesday, until September. Castello has a wide range of wonderful cheeses. Check out Castello’s website for more information and don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes. You can win a season’s worth of blue cheese for your summer entertaining. See the link at the bottom of this post to enter the sweepstakes.

I was sent samples of Castello’s crumbled Danish Blue to use in my recipes for this campaign. That was very exciting in itself, since I am a big fan of blue cheese and love to put it on my salad. However, I wanted this delicious tasting cheese to be a star in a menu I would use for entertaining my guests.

If you are not that familiar with blue cheese, start simply and pair it with different foods to see how they complement each other. Try it alongside sweeter ingredients like figs or pears for a great appetizer. Add blue cheese to spicy recipes to tone down the heat and, then, add it to some of your main dish recipes. Once you start experimenting with blue cheese, you’ll become a fan also.

Now that May is here and the weather has warmed, I look forward to entertaining outdoors. It is also the time I think about grilling. I find it very creative to plan a menu for entertaining and, in thinking about what to serve, I always think it is best to go with seasonal foods because they are going to be flavorful and fresh. This entrée is excellent to serve when you have company because the chicken rolls can be prepared early in the day and refrigerated. I always try to plan a menu where most of the preparation can be done early in the day, leaving me free to spend time with my guests.

Below is my suggested menu for an outdoor dinner party for 4. This menu is easily doubled for additional guests.

Appetizer:

Eggplant Compote, (recipe link)

Main course:

Grilled Chicken Rolls with Danish Blue Cheese Stuffing, recipe below

Lettuce and Green Bean Salad, (recipe link)

Grilled Vegetables, (recipe link)

Dessert:

Almond Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce, (recipe link)

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Grilled Chicken Rolls with Danish Blue Stuffing

Serves 4

A technique I like to use for cooking fish and chicken on the grill is to coat them in Panko crumbs and grill them on heavy-duty foil over indirect heat. This technique keeps food moist and delicious. The chicken only uses one side of the grill, which leaves the direct side to use for grilling vegetables.

Lemon Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Danish Blue Stuffing

  • 4 oz Castello Crumbled Danish Blue Cheese
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 slices Pancetta, about 4 oz
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 medium boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 oz each)
  • 3/4 cup Panko crumbs

Directions

For the sauce:

In a small bowl combine lemon zest, lemon juice and melted butter. Divide the sauce in half and set one bowl aside. Refrigerate the other bowl until serving time.

For the chicken rolls:

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a small skillet and saute the pancetta and garlic until the pancetta is crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

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Butterfly each chicken breast and place each piece between 2 layers of plastic wrap.

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Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the chicken into rectangles of an even thickness.

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Divide the cooked pancetta evenly on each chicken breast.

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Add 1 oz of Castello blue cheese to each breast and top with a basil leaf.

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Fold in the sides of each chicken breast and roll up.

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Dip chicken into one of the dishes with the reserved lemon sauce and then roll in the Panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken.

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Secure the rolls with skewers and place on a tray lined with heavy duty foil. Refrigerate the chicken rolls until it is time to grill. Discard the lemon sauce used for the coating.

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Preheat the grill on high.

Turn off one side of the grill and place chicken with the foil on that side of the grill.

Grill for 10 minutes, turn the chicken rolls over with grill tongs and cook for 10 more minutes or until the chicken registers 160 degrees F on an instant read meat thermometer.

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Move the chicken rolls to a serving platter. Let grilled chicken rest 5 minutes.

Reheat the reserved lemon sauce in the microwave while the chicken rests. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken rolls and garnish with basil leaves. Serve.

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