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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pasta

I can buy freshly shucked clams at my fish market, which I prefer for this type of pasta dish. Clams in the shell are fine for seafood stews but I don’t like trying to remove the shell from the clam and eat it with spaghetti. I know not everyone would agree, but this is the answer if you don’t like dealing with the shells in your pasta.

Spaghetti With White Clam Sauce

Ingredients

1 pint wild caught shucked clams with liquid (16 oz fresh, canned or frozen)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup white wine
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
8 oz thin spaghetti

Directions

If the clams are large, I like to chop them into smaller pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the thin spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain.

Heat oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add shallot; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook one minute. Add wine and cook for a minute. Stir in chopped clams with their juice. Add salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat just until hot.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the clam sauce and toss in the skillet letting the pasta cook in the sauce for a few minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve in pasta bowls.

Add a green salad and some crusty Italian bread to round out the meal.

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While many readers are experiencing spring at this time of year, here in the deep south it is summer – hot -90’s already! Here are some ideas for supper when it gets hot in your region.

Sliced Smoked Salmon

Ingredients

2 large slices of smoked salmon per person. Place the slices of salmon on a serving plate.
Sprinkle the salmon slices lightly with fresh lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and chopped fresh dill.

Cantaloupe

Slice or cube a ripe cantaloupe and place in a serving bowl.

Pasta Salad

Ingredients

Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus additional leaves for garnish
½ teaspoon black pepper

Salad

Salt
8 oz whole wheat penne pasta
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cup shredded carrot
3 scallions, finely diced
½ cup finely chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded

Directions

Cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
In a large casserole dish with a cover, mix together the dressing ingredients. Add the hot pasta and mix well. Stir in the vegetables. Cover the dish and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Just before serving, mix the salad again and garnish with parsley.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients

4 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 scallion, finely diced
1 tablespoon of finely diced celery
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Paprika, for garnish

Directions

Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with 1 1/2 inches of water above the eggs. Heat on high until the water begins to boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Let the eggs rest in the covered pan for 14 minutes, then place in a pan of ice water. under cold water
When cool carefully peel the eggs and gently dry them with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks to a medium bowl, and place the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise (only enough to bind the mixture), mustard, scallion, celery, and pepper, and mix well.
Evenly spoon heaping teaspoons of the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.


After Russia sold Alaska to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, waves of Russian immigrants fleeing religious persecution moved to the United States. These groups generally settled in coastal cities, including Brooklyn (New York City) on the East coast, and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon, on the West coast.

Many of the city dwellers took jobs in factories, often as garment workers. Those who preferred rural living benefited from the Homestead Act and set up farms across the West, while still others worked in mills and mines in the Midwest. Russians contributed their diverse cultural traditions and devout faith (for some Judaism and for others Russian Orthodox) to the places they settled. Unlike immigrants from other countries, few returned to Russia—America had become their homeland.

Emigration was restricted during the Soviet era, however, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, immigration to the U.S. increased considerably. Some Ukrainian Americans, Belarusian Americans, Rusyn Americans along with Jewish Americans, German Americans from the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, identify themselves as Russian Americans. According to the Institute of Modern Russia’s 2011 report, the Russian American population was estimated to be 3.13 million.

In 2007 Russian was the primary spoken language in 851,174 homes, according to the U.S. Census. The New York City metropolitan area has historically been the primary place of settlement for Russian immigrants legally admitted into the United States. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn continues to be the most important demographic and cultural center for Russian Americans. However, as Russian Americans have climbed in socioeconomic status, they have moved toward more affluent parts of the New York metropolitan area, notably Bergen County, New Jersey.

Russian cuisine tends toward the starchy side, with plenty of pickling. Grains are a major crop, with rye, buckwheat, wheat and barley commonly used in cooking, especially for bread. Root vegetables like beetroot, potatoes, and onions are also popular ingredients along with mushrooms, sour cream, cabbage, and the ricotta-like “farmers’ cheese”. Classic Russian dishes include Beef Stroganoff, chicken Kiev, beetroot broth, blini, and cheese dumplings.

They prepare a variety of soups, which are almost always served with sour cream. Most famous is borscht, made from beets, cabbage, and meat. In the summer, borscht is served cold. Shchi, also made with cabbage, includes turnips, carrots, onions, and beef. Fish soups are popular, such as solianka, and include onion, tomato, cucumber, lemon, butter, and sometimes beef. Many soups also include potatoes or dumplings. Traditional dark Russian bread is made from rye and Russian meals are accompanied by vodka.

Beef Stroganov or Stroganoff (Russian spelling: бефстроганов befstróganov) is a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana (sour cream). Following its origin in mid-19th-century Russia, the dish has become popular around the world, with considerable variation from the original recipe.

Elena Molokhovets’s classic Russian cookbook, A Gift to Young Housewives, gives the first known recipe for Govjadina po-strogonovski, s gorchitseju, “Beef à la Stroganov, with mustard”, in its 1871 edition. The recipe involves lightly floured beef cubes (not strips) sautéed, sauced with prepared mustard and broth, and finished with a small amount of sour cream: no onions, no mushrooms, and no alcohol. Another recipe, this one from 1909, adds onions and tomato sauce and serves it with crisp potatoes, which are considered the traditional side dish for beef Stroganoff in Russia. The version given in the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique includes beef strips, and onions, with either mustard or tomato paste as an option.

After the fall of Tsarist Russia, the recipe was popularly served in the hotels and restaurants of China before the start of World War II. Russian and Chinese immigrants, as well as US servicemen stationed in pre-Communist China, brought several variants of the dish to the United States, which may account for its popularity during the 1950s.

The version often prepared in the United States consists of strips of beef filet with a mushroom, onion, and sour cream sauce served over noodles. In the UK and Australia, a recipe very similar to that commonly found in the United States is popular, but it is served over rice.

Make a Russian inspired dinner at home.

Beef Stroganoff

Serves 4 (or servings for 2 in parenthesis)

Ingredients

1 (1/2) pound filet mignon or mignon tips (cut into 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide)
3 ( 1 1/2) tablespoons butter
1 ( 1/2) sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 ( 1/4) cup beef broth
1 (1/2) tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 ( 2 T) cup heavy cream
1/2 ( 1/4) cup sour cream
2 ( 1 ) teaspoons flour
2 (1) tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 (1) tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and freshly grounded black pepper
8 ( 4) ounces medium egg noodles, cooked

Directions

Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat and sear meat on all sides, for about a minute. Work in small batches so the meat does not give off any liquid. Remove to a plate.
Add the butter and onions and saute until tender.
Blend broth, flour, mustard, heavy cream, and sour cream together. Lower heat, add the liquid mixture, and simmer, without boiling until sauce thickens about 5 minutes.
Return meat to the sauce and heat, without boiling until meat is warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in dill and parsley and spoon over noodles.

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Ingredients

2 pounds parsnips
1 pound carrots
2 large shallots
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the carrots, and parsnips into 2-inch sticks. Cut the shallots into 1/2 inch pieces

Place the cut vegetables on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, tossing occasionally until the parsnips and carrots are just tender. Sprinkle with dill and serve hot.


Pork
2 boneless loin pork chops, about 1 inch thick, all fat removed
2-3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter

Vegetables
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large white mushrooms, quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and sliced

Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Noodles, 3-4 oz uncooked

Directions
Pat the chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Mix the flour with the Italian seasoning. Coat the pork chops in the flour mixture.
Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to serving platter and tent with foil.


Cook the noodles according to package instructions.


Add mushrooms and zucchini to the skillet and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, cream, roasted peppers, and Parmesan cheese and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened about 5 minutes. Add the pork chops back to the skillet and heat.


Serve over cooked noodles.


Paprika is critical to Hungarian cuisine and it adds a very special and unique flavor. Hungary’s climate and soil conditions produce nearly ideal conditions for growing the peppers that end up as paprika, and their paprika is preferred by chefs across the globe.

All paprika is made from hot chilies, and the piquancy level of the finished spice is dependent on how much of the interior pith (which contains almost all the capsaicin, the chemical compound responsible for spicy flavor) is left attached to the fruit of the pepper before drying and grinding. Hungarians love the entire paprika spectrum, from fully hot (all the pith left intact) to “sweet,” or mild (with all pith removed). Hot paprika is difficult to find in the United States, but the sweet variety is a part of nearly everyone’s spice rack.

Paprikash showcases paprika perhaps more than any other Hungarian dish. Pieces of meat (usually chicken but other types of meat can also be used) are braised in a brick-red sauce made simply from onions, tomatoes, and of course paprika, then finished with a bit of sour cream. Here is my version.

Pork Paprikash

Ingredients

1 (1 pound) pasture raised pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt
Half a large sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
1 garlic clove, minced
1½ tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup bottled mild banana peppers, finely chopped
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons arrowroot or all-purpose flour

Directions

Trim fat and silverskin from the meat. Cut meat into thin medallions ( crosswise) and sprinkle lightly with salt; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown the slices on both sides, about 3 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate.

Heat the remaining oil and add the onions. Cook until tender. Stir in the garlic.
Sprinkle with the paprika, black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook and stir 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes, broth, and banana peppers. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Return the meat slices to the pan and cook, uncovered, about 10-15 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir together the sour cream and arrowroot in a small bowl; stir into the meat mixture. Cook and stir until very thick.

Serve the Paprikash over rice, cauliflower “rice” or wide noodles.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Ingredients

One 2 lb. acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Seasoning mix: Combine ¼ teaspoon of each: chili pepper, brown sugar, lemon peel, orange peel, cilantro, and salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Cut acorn squash into quarters and remove the seeds from the center of each quarter.
Slice each quarter in half and place in a baking dish. Pour the melted butter over the squash and turn the pieces over in the butter.

Sprinkle with the seasoning mix.
Roast the squash until tender, about 25 minutes.


Here is another example of how I made use of leftovers. Nothing should be wasted. Last week I roasted a chicken and used the chicken carcass to make the broth. If you have leftover chicken and vegetables, they can also become part of the soup. See the link for the roasted chicken.  Good soup needs a well seasoned and rich stock to make a delicious soup base. Store-bought broth may do in a pinch but you will have a much better tasting soup if you make your own broth. If you are following a low carb diet, the egg noddles can easily be substituted with zucchini noodles.

Chicken Stock

Ingredients

15 black peppercorns
12 fresh parsley sprigs
10 fresh thyme sprigs
1 chicken carcass leftover from roasted chicken
5 carrots, chopped
5 celery stalks and leaves, chopped
4 bay leaves
3 large onions, chopped
5 quarts cold water

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a 12-quart stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 4 hours, skimming and discarding foam as needed. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander into a large bowl; discard solids. Cool stock to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Skim fat from surface; discard fat.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

8 cups homemade Chicken Stock
2 cups diced leftover cooked chicken or 1 lb chicken tenders
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onion
4 ounces uncooked medium egg noodles
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley or thyme for garnish

Directions

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat bring the broth to a boil. If you don’t have any leftover cooked chicken then add the chicken tenders to the broth. Reduce heat and simmer for 15- 20 minutes. Remove the chicken tenders from the pan with a slotted spoon or large spider and set aside.


Add carrot, celery, garlic, and onion to the broth; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add noodles and simmer 6 minutes.
Dice the cooled chicken tenders into small pieces. Add the diced tenders or leftover chicken, salt, and black pepper to the broth; cook for 2 minutes or until the noodles are tender. Serve in individual soup bowls garnished with fresh herbs.


Eggplant Rollatini

This is my favorite way to prepare eggplant. The dish is light yet full of flavor.

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into 8 thin slices
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
11/4 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
11/2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
4 oz sliced mozzarella

Directions

Peel the eggplant and cut it in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 4 lengthwise slices.

Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle each lightly with salt and pepper. Place them on a large baking sheet.

Roast in a 400-degree F oven for 20 minutes, turning the eggplant slices over halfway through cooking.

Place on paper towels to cool.

For the filling:

Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt, and pepper; mix well.

When the eggplant has cooled about 10 minutes, place 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture on each slice.

Spread it over the eggplant slice and then roll up into a cylinder. Repeat with all the eggplant slices.

Oil an 8-inch baking dish and coat the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce. Place the eggplant rolls in the baking dish.

Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the eggplant rolls. Top each roll with a piece of mozzarella cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 400-degree F oven for 30 minutes.

Let the dish rest a few minutes before serving.

Broccoli Rabe Pasta

Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch broccoli rabe
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 lb ziti pasta
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

Trim off about 1-inch of the stems from the bottom and discard. Cut off the broccoli rabe florets and coarsely chop the leaves and remaining stems. Keep the stems and florets separate.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and cook until al dente.

In a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.

Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté 1 minute.

Stir in the broccoli rabe stems, coating them with the oil. Cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining broccoli rabe florets and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and season with pepper.

When the pasta is ready, drain and place the pasta in a serving bowl. Top with the broccoli rabe and add the cheese. Mix well and serve.

Italian Garden Salad

Ingredients

Half a head of Romaine lettuce washed and torn into small pieces
1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup Italian Olives

Italian Salad Dressing

Seasoning mix:

1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 1/2 tablespoons table salt

Dressing

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oi
2 tablespoons seasoning mix

Directions

For the salad dressing:

Combine the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a small jar.

In a mixing bowl whisk the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix together. Whisk in the olive oil.

Combine the salad ingredients together in a salad bowl Add some of the dressing and mix well.

Taste the salad to see if it needs more dressing or salt and pepper. Reserve any leftover seasoning mix and dressing for another salad.



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