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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pasta

Pop all the dishes in the oven and dinner will be served. While dinner is baking in the oven, you can do something else during this busy season. I like this kind of meal where all the pots can go in the dishwasher. Besides fried chicken is one of my favorites. I always make extra so there are leftovers for lunch.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Oven Fried Chicken

Serves 4-8

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs
2 cups flour
1 large egg
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon paprika

Seasoning Mix

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Cajun spice

Directions

Use a baking sheet with a rack on top. Brush some butter on the rack so the chicken won’t stick.

In a small bowl, mix together all the seasoning ingredients except for the paprika and then divide in half. Dry the chicken thighs with paper towels.

Add the paprika to one half of the seasoning and mix this well into the chicken pieces. Set aside. Can be done early in the day and refrigerate until cooking time.

Take the other half of the seasoning and mix with the flour in a shallow bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.

Taking one chicken piece at a time, dip in the egg and milk mixture and coat in the flour mixture and set on a plate. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes.

Coat each chicken piece in the flour again (not the egg) and place on the baking rack.

Drizzle the melted butter over all the chicken pieces.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the chicken pieces are brown and cooked through.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 8

Ingredients

8 oz elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch/arrowroot
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon yellow mustard powder
8 oz 2% milk Velveeta cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Grease an 8×12 inch or 7×11 inch baking dish.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard until smooth and then gradually whisk in the milk. Cook until thickened.

Add salt, pepper and Velveeta. Lower the heat and stir until the cheese melts. Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked macaroni.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the cheddar. The casserole can be refrigerated if you are not ready to bake.

Bring to room temperature when ready to bake.

Place the casserole in the oven with the chicken, after the chicken has cooked for 25 minutes. The macaroni and cheese will be ready after 20 minutes of baking.

Oven Baked Asparagus

2 servings

Ingredients

½ pound of thin asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Grease an 8 inch baking dish or a dish that will fit the asparagus in a single layer.

Place the asparagus in the dish and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the asparagus in the oven after the chicken has cooked for 25 minutes. Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and drizzle with the lemon juice.

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Pasta With Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
16 ounces lean ground beef
16 ounces lean ground pork
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
Two 26 oz container chopped Italian tomatoes
6 ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup heavy cream
Parmesan Cheese (Grated)
Fettuccine, cooked

Directions

Sauté the onion, celery and minced garlic in the olive oil and melted butter over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan for 2-3 minutes until softened.

Add the beef and pork and cook an additional 8 – 10 minutes until meat is lightly browned and no pink remains. add the wine and cook until reduced slightly.

Add the broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and red pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer for 60 minutes then add the cream.

Stir to incorporate and heat through an additional 2 minutes. Serve over cooked fettuccine pasta and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Ricotta Tart

Gluten-free pie crusts and pat-in-the-pan pie crusts all work well with this tart recipe.

8 servings

Ingredients

Crust

Pastry for a single crust, homemade or store-bought

Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-large zucchini, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 a medium fennel bulb, diced
2 scallions, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
8 ounces ricotta cheese
3 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Crust

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9-inch pie pan.

Place the pastry in the prepared pan and pat firmly onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Flute the edges for a decorative crust.

Bake the pie shell for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove the baked pie shell from the oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.

Do not turn off the oven.

Filling

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the fennel, scallions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the diced zucchini.

Add the salt and pepper and cook the vegetables for another 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs and cream.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the bottom of the crust and top with the sautéed vegetables. Pour the ricotta mixture over the vegetables.

Place the quiche on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 60 minutes, or until the center is no longer wobbly and a tester comes out clean.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Makes 12 cabbage rolls.

1 head of cabbage
4 cups cooked rice or 4 cups cauliflower rice (12 oz package frozen and defrosted, works as well)
1 lb ground beef
1 teaspoon dried onion
1 teaspoon dried garlic
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Montreal spice
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Cut the core out of the cabbage head and remove 12 outer leaves.

Parboil the cabbage leaves in salted water for 2-3 minutes or until the leaves are slightly wilted.

Drain the leaves in a colander and them place them on a kitchen towel.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, cauliflower rice, onion and garlic. Add in the seasonings and the eggs and mix together.

Use a paring knife and remove about 2 inches of the large vein on the leaves to make it easier to roll up the leaves.

Take a cabbage leaf and place it with the core side towards you. Place a heaping spoonful of the filling in the center of the cabbage.

Rolling away from you, bring the cabbage over the filling, tuck in the sides and finish the roll. Repeat with the remaining leaves.

Heat a large, deep skillet and add 3 tablespoons of butter. When the butter has melted, add the cabbage rolls and lightly brown them on all sides.

Pour broth over. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Serve with mashed potatoes of your favorite side dishes.


I have special menus for the dinners that I like to cook during the holiday season. This post is one of them and in the weeks to come, I will share some of my other holiday menus.

Beef Tenderloin

What size tenderloin should you cook? I always figure a half-pound of boneless meat per person. If any of it is leftover, that is just fine but like a good Italian, we have to make sure we have enough food for everyone. For the recipe below, I used a 3 lb. beef tenderloin. I usually buy them when they are on sale and save them for special occasions. It is my favorite cut of beef. Recently, I bought 2 and cut each in half and froze each half separately. The cooking directions are the same no matter what size tenderloin you cook because the width of the meat determines the cooking time. Since a tenderloin is very lean, it benefits from having a sauce served with it.

Ingredients

6 servings

Beef

3 lb beef tenderloin (size will depend on how many people you are serving)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
Olive oil

Wine Sauce

6 tablespoons butter
½ cup shallots (3 medium)
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth

Mushroom Caps

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spray a metal roasting pan with olive oil cooking spray.

I use a metal pan for this dish so that it can go on the top of the stove to make a sauce after the beef is finished roasting.

Tie the beef with kitchen string and place the roasting pan.

Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle coarse salt and cracked pepper evenly all over the meat. Add the mushroom caps to the pan.

Roast the beef for 30 minutes for medium-rare (25 minutes for rare and 35 minutes for medium).

Remove the pan from the oven, place the meat and mushrooms on a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Allow the beef to rest for 10 minutes.

To make the wine sauce:

Place the empty pan on the stove top over low heat.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan and add the shallots; cook about 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Add wine; cook about 4 minutes until reduced slightly. Stir in the  broth. Heat to boiling.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cook about 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup.

Whisk in remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, with wire. Pour into a serving bowl.

Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

Potato Gnocchi

6 servings

Ingredients

2 medium baking potatoes, cooked and peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 cups 00 (Italian) flour or all-purpose flour

Butter Sage Sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large fresh sage leaves, cut into slivers
Salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

Dice the cooked potatoes and place them in an electric mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment mash the potatoes. Add the salt and pepper.

Mix the egg and ricotta together in a small mixing bowl. Add to the potatoes in the mixer along with the flour.

Mix until thoroughly combined and the dough comes together.

Place the dough on a floured board and knead a few minutes until smooth. Divide in half. This recipe usually comes out to weigh about 2 lbs.

Wrap one half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is time to cut the gnocchi.

Wrap the other half in plastic and place in a freezer zip-lock bag. Freeze the dough for another time. This dough freezes well.

Defrost overnight in the refrigerator when you want to use it.

To shape the gnocchi:

Divide the dough into golf ball sized pieces, and roll each piece into a log about the thickness of your thumb on a lightly floured surface.

Cut into 1 inch pieces.

Take a fork and place it against one side of each gnocchi to make a fork design on each and continue with the remaining pieces.

Place the prepared gnocchi on a lightly floured baking sheet and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Place the butter in a large microwave glass mixing bowl and heat in the microwave until melted.

To cook:

Carefully drop the gnocchi into salted boiling water and remove them with a wide spider or a slotted spoon immediately as they float to the surface.

Allow the water to drain back into the pot. Place the gnocchi in the bowl with the melted butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Add the cheese and sage. Mix carefully and serve.

Creamed Spinach

6  servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and pepper

Directions

In a saucepan, melt the butter and saute the garlic and onion for a few minutes, until the onion softens.

Add the cream cheese, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Cook over medium heat until the cream cheese is melted.

Whisk until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Squeeze all the water from the defrosted spinach and add to the cheese sauce.

Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Serve immediately.


World Pasta Day was brought into existence as part of the World Pasta Congress on the 25th of October in 1995. Experts from all over the world came together to promote the importance of spreading knowledge of the world’s numerous types of pasta. This organization uses World Pasta Day to promote the eating of pasta, along with its cultural and culinary importance.

Everything from encouraging consumers to try new pastas to providing important health information is part of their mission. Every country is encouraged to celebrate the day in their own way, while sharing the logo of the official organization and participating in the global strategy of World Pasta Day. One of the best ways to celebrate World Pasta Day is by preparing your favorite pasta at home. Here are a few of mine.

Stuffed Shells

3-4 stuffed shells per serving.

Ingredients

6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (21-22 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) fresh spinach or 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 spinach or chard well, drain and spin in a salad spinner to remove most of the water. Cut the 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 greens, oregano, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing with tongs, until completely wilted.

Cover the pan and simmer until the leaves are very tender, about ten minutes. Pour 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.

Mix the ricotta, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cooled, cooked greens.

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.

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

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.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage

8 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 pound lean Italian sausage, a combination of hot and sweet according to your taste, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 bunch broccoli rabe
½ cups pasta water
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

Wash broccoli rabe in several changes of cold water. Cut off the bottom tips on the stalks and cut each stalk into one inch lengths.

Heat oil and stir in garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute until meat is brown.

Boil a large pot of water, add salt and pasta. Add the broccoli rabe during the last two minutes of the pasta cooking time.

Reserve 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.

Add the pasta water to the cooked sausage and raise the heat and cook until the sauce is hot.

Drain orecchiette and broccoli rabe and add to the sausage sauce in the skillet.

Using a wooden spoon, toss together for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour into a large serving bowl.

Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese.

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

Serves 2-3

Salt to taste
8 ounces penne or other short pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1 large zucchini, about one pound
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.

Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.

Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.

Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.

Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.

Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.

Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Eggplant Sauce Over Pasta

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 3⁄4″ cubes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Fresh Burrata or Ricotta cheese

Directions

Heat the oven to 500º F.

Place the eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a rack; set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes.

Drain the pasta and transfer to the pan with the tomato sauce. Stir in the roasted eggplant and basil. Toss to combine.

To serve, transfer pasta to a serving platter and garnish with the Burrata cheese.

Pasta Roll-Ups

8 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground turkey, beef or pork
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Two 28-oz containers whole tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
16 dried lasagna noodles
Two 10-oz boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Two 15-oz containers ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook another minute.

Turn heat to medium-high and add the ground meat, breaking it up with a spatula until the meat shows no sign of pink.

Stir in the Italian seasoning, then add tomatoes and salt.

Reduce heat to medium-low, stir, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, drain and place the noodles on kitchen towels to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Squeeze all remaining moisture from the thawed spinach and place in large bowl.

Add ricotta cheese, eggs and a 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese to the bowl. Stir until combined

Spread 2 cups of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.

Lay a cooked lasagna noodle flat in front of you. Spread a tablespoon of ricotta mixture across the noodle and roll it up.

Place the rolled pasta seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Spread remaining tomato sauce over roll-ups, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes.


 

To make really good tasting chicken soup, you need a rich tasting broth. I usually start with the remains of a whole 4 lb chicken that I have either cooked on the grill or in the oven. Remove as much meat as you can, reserve 2-3 cups for the soup and use the remainder of the chicken meat for other dishes. To make the broth even richer, roast the chicken bones in the oven.

Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 450°F. Spread the bones in a large roasting pan and place the pan in the oven on the lower rack and roast the bones until deeply brown, 45-60 minutes. Transfer the bones to a Dutch Oven or soup pot. Spoon the fat from the juices in the roasting pan and discard. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. When browned bits begin to sizzle, pour in 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into the pot with the roasted bones.

Add the following:

2 scrubbed carrots, cut in half
1 onion quartered or 1 bunch of scallions
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 peppercorns
1 large bay leaf

Directions

Add these ingredients to the stockpot with the roasted bones and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 4 hours.

Remove and discard the large bones and vegetable pieces. Strain the stock in a fine mesh colander lined with a piece of cheesecloth.

Discard the vegetables and bones. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the souppot.

You can add more seasoning later depending on how you will use the stock. You now have a clear, flavorful stock to make some great soups.

Below are recipes for some of my favorite chicken soups:

Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

3 medium poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup celery, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
1 cup sweet onion, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
14 oz container chopped tomatoes, no sugar or salt added
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
2 cups okra, trimmed and sliced into ½ inch rounds
3 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
Toasted tortilla strips (see recipe below) and cheddar cheese for garnish

Directions

Roast the poblano peppers over a grill or under the broiler. Cool and remove the skin. Chop and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven and add the garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper.

Cook over low heat until tender.

Add the chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir well. Add the chicken broth and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil.

Add the green beans,okra, plum tomatoes and diced poblano peppers.

Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked chicken and heat.

Serve with toasted tortilla strips and cheddar cheese as a topping for the soup.

Baked Tortilla Strips

8 corn tortillas (6 inch)

Heat the oven to 450°F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Cut each tortilla into thin strips; place in a single layer on cookie sheets. Bake about 6 minutes or until crisp but not brown; cool and use to add to the soup.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
6 cup homemade chicken broth, recipe above
2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup cooked noodles, optional
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)

Directions

Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the mushrooms, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.

Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot.

Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add cooked noodles, if using and extra cooked chicken, if desired.

Italian Escarole Bean Soup

Ingredients

½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups dried white beans (cannellini), soaked overnight in water to cover and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cups chicken broth, recipe above
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 heads of escarole, washed and cut into small pieces
1 cup diced, cooked spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions

Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven and add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook until tender.

Add the Italian seasoning, the drained cannellini beans and the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cooked the beans for 30 minutes. Add the sausage, salt and escarole.

Let simmer until the escarole wilts. Ladle into soup bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.

Tortellini Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cups water
4 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
6 oz fresh spinach or any seasonal greens
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Remove stems and wilted leaves on the greens. Wash well in several changes of cold water and chop.

In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the water, broth, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese rind and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the tortellini until al dente, about 4 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen. Drain.

Add the spinach to the soup and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the cooked tortellini.

Serve the soup sprinkled with grated Parmesan.


Looking for a few ideas on what to cook for dinner on busy weeknights? Here are a few recipes for you to try. The codfish, pork kabobs and Parmesan chicken come together fast. For the pasta dish, roast the broccoli in the oven while the pasta is cooking. Just a few minutes more are needed to pull it all together with some delicious results. Use seasonal vegetables for the sides.

Lemon Breadcrumb Topped Codfish

Pacific cod is a sustainable fish. Serve with a pasta or rice side dish and a vegetable.

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil mayonnaise
Two 6 oz center cut Pacific cod fillets

Directions

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Make the lemon-zest breadcrumbs: In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, oil, salt and pepper to taste and the lemon zest.

Mix well. Set aside.

Place the cod fillets in a small baking dish coated with olive oil.

Spread the non skin side of each fillet with some of the mayonnaise and then press on a layer of breadcrumbs.

Put the pan in the oven and roast until the fish is cooked through, 18-20 minutes.

Grilled Pork Kabobs

Serve with potato salad or baked beans.

4 servings

Ingredients

3 (1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick) boneless pork loin chops (1 lb), trimmed of fat
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ of a red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
Half a medium bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup Peach BBQ sauce

Directions

Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.

Sprinkle both sides of each pork chop with salt and pepper; cut each chop into 1 inch pieces.

Alternately thread pork pieces, zucchini, onion and bell pepper evenly onto metal skewers. .

When ready to grill, place the skewers on a gas grill over medium heat or on a charcoal grill 4 to 6 inches from medium coals.

Brush with the BBQ sauce. Cook 5 minutes. Turn kabobs; brush with more sauce.

Cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.

Creamy Broccoli Pasta

Serve with an Italian mixed green salad or a tomato salad.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb dry rigatoni pasta
1 large bunch broccoli florets
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup grated Parmigian0-Reggiano cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt, pepper and olive oil
6 slices of Prosciutto di Parma

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix the broccoli with enough of the olive oil to coat generously, add salt to taste, and a few grinds of pepper.

Turn the broccoli out onto the baking sheet and arrange the pieces so that they are evenly spaced.

Roast until the florets begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir the broccoli pieces and add the slices of prosciutto to the pan,

Continue to roast until the broccoli is tender and the prosciutto is crisp, about 10 more minutes.

Boil a large pot of water to cook the pasta. When it reaches a full boil, add salt and the pasta and cook according to package instructions for al dente.

When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and then drain the pasta in a colander.

Mince the garlic and cook it over medium heat in the empty pasta pot with the butter until the garlic has softened slightly (3-5 minutes).

Add the flour, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Whisk in the milk.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the milk mixture comes to simmer.

As soon as it reaches a simmer, it will thicken and should be able to coat a wooden spoon.

Turn the heat off and whisk in the cheese. Add freshly cracked black pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste.

Return the drained pasta to the sauce in the pasta pot and add the reserved pasta water, tossing the pasta to loosen it up.Stir in the roasted broccoli.

Top the pasta with broken pieces of the crispy prosciutto and serve.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets

Serve with a light pasta and a green vegetable.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 ounces each)
Table salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
Half a lemon , cut into wedges

Directions

Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound to even 1/4-inch thickness.

Pat dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Set up three shallow bowls: one with the flour, one with the egg and one with the cheese.

Using tongs and working with 1 cutlet at a time, coat chicken in flour, shaking off excess.

Transfer chicken to the egg; coat evenly and let excess run off.

Coat chicken with shredded Parmesan mixture, pressing gently so that cheese adheres.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the cutlets in the skillet and reduce heat to medium.

Cook until cheese is pale golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Carefully turn the cutlets over and continue to cook until the cheese is pale golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.


I remember my years living up north and the wonderful Asian restaurants we had in our area. Missing those dishes, I have been tinkering with recipes and sauces to create some of the tastes I remember. This recipe turned out with the taste I was looking for, especially with the combo of grilled meat and deliciously seasoned vegetables and noodles. Give it a try. It has great flavor.

Asian Grilled Pork Kebabs

4 servings. This recipe may be doubled.

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
Marinade
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Sambal owlet chili paste

Directions

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a glass dish.

Add the pork and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to grill, thread the pork onto two 12-inch metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Reserve the marinade in the dish.

Spray both sides of the meat generously with vegetable oil spray.

Turn all grill burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner on high and turn off the other burners.

Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place the skewers on the hot side of the grill and cook the pork until well charred, 3 minutes.

Turn the skewers, brush with the reserved marinade mixture, and continue to grill until the second side is well charred and the meat registers 140 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer, 3 minutes longer.

Transfer the pork to a platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while the stir fry vegetables are prepared

Stir Fry Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Directions

Combine ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a jar and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Asian Stir Fried Vegetables and Noodles

Ingredients

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups Chinese fresh noodles
Stir Fry Sauce, recipe above
2 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
12 oz broccoli florets, cut into smaller florets
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
3 scallions, sliced

Directions

Place the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let sit in the hot water until ready to add to the stir fry.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger followed by the broccoli.

Stir fry until the broccoli florets are tender. Add the shredded carrots and stir for a minute or two.

Remove the skillet from the heat.

Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet. Stir in the stir fry sauce and water.

Return to the heat, gently toss for 1 minute to heat through the noodles and for the sauce to thicken. Add the scallions. Stir.

Pour onto a serving platter and top with the grilled pork to serve.



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