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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Pasta

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.

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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.


Homemade Lasagna

6 servings

Ingredients

Fresh Pasta Noodles
Marinara Sauce
Lasagna Cheese Filling

Fresh Pasta Noodles

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose or Italian (00) flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Mix the pasta in a food processor.

Place the eggs and oil in the bowl of the processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add flour and pulse until the dough just comes together.
The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. If the dough seems dry add a tablespoon or two of water. Pulse a few times and then scrape the dough onto a lightly floured board.

Use a pasta machine.

Cut the dough into quarters. Roll out one-quarter at a time, keeping the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic. Shape the dough into a flat rectangle.

Set the rollers of a hand-cranked or electric pasta machine at their widest opening. Run the dough once through the machine. Remove and lightly dust with flour. Fold the dough in thirds, like a book, pressing down with your fingers, and run through the machine again. Repeat this step at least two more times, dusting lightly with flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Now change the rollers of the pasta machine to the next decreasing setting and roll out the dough once without folding. Keep rolling the sheet through the machine on decreasing settings until you have rolled it through the last (thinnest) setting. Repeat with the remaining dough. Keep the rolled out pasta sheets covered with kitchen towels.

For lasagna noodles, cut the pasta strips into 8 pieces that are 4 x 10-inches. This is enough for 4 layers.

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a large onion finely diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
One 6 oz can tomato paste
6 cups chopped Italian tomatoes

Directions

Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven or large saucepan. Add the onion and seasonings. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir and cook one minute. Fill the tomato paste can with water and pour into the sauce ingredients. Add the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a soft boil, lower the heat, partially cover the pan and let the sauce simmer until thickened, about an hour.

Lasagna Cheese Filling

Ingredients

24 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

Directions

Mix all the ingredients, except the mozzarella cheese, together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Completing the Lasagna:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil an 11 x 8-inch glass baking dish.

Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of noodles on top.

Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce. Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Grilled Italian Sausage

One of my favorite grilling sausages is made by Fortuna”s Sausage & Italian Market called TUSCANO made with provolone, hot peppers, sun-dried tomatoes. See link.

Ingredients

1 ½ lb Italian Rope Sausage
Olive oil

Directions

Brush the sausage with olive oil.

Heat the outdoor grill on high and then turn the burners off on one side of the grill or place coals on one side of a charcoal grill.
Lower heat is better and will prevent the meat from drying out. Oil the grill grates.
Keep the entire link whole – don’t cut it up or poke holes in it.

Coil the link over the indirect heat side of the grill and close the grill lid. After 15 minutes turn the sausage link over.
Use tongs to turn the links. Don’t pierce the link’s skin or the juices will flow out and cause the sausage to be dry. Cook for 15 minutes more. Check with a meat thermometer for 160 degrees F internal temperature to be sure the sausage is cooked all the way through. If not, continue to cook until the temperature is reached.

Note: to cook on a stovetop grill, heat the pan, lower the heat to low and oil the pan. Cook the sausage for about the same time as above or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.

Italian Romaine Lettuce Salad

Ingredients

1 small head of Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
1 small red onion, cut into ring
Italian black olives to taste

Italian Dressing

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

Directions

Tear the lettuce leaves into small pieces.
Place the greens, olives, and onion in a medium salad bowl.
In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well and pour over the greens. Toss and serve.

Homemade Italian Country Bread

Ingredients

2 teaspoons SAF (instant) yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Place the warm water in an electric mixing bowl. Add honey. Mix until the honey is dissolved.
Add the 4 cups of flour and salt and mix. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour.

Using the paddle attachment on number 2 speed, mix the dough until a dough forms that holds together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and continue kneading for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is soft but supple.

Shape the dough into a ball. Spray the mixer bowl with olive oil cooking spray and place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 60 minutes.

Place a sheet of parchment paper in a 9 or 10-inch pan or shallow dish. Turn the dough out onto the parchment pan or dish. Gently shape the dough into a round and cover with greased plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes or more.

At the same time put a covered Cloche pan or Dutch Oven in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Do not grease or spray the Cloche pan or Dutch Oven.

After the dough has risen for 30 minutes and the oven temperature is at 500 degrees F, open the oven and take the lid off the cloche pan.

USE A THICK POTHOLDER BECAUSE THE LID IS VERY HOT!

Transfer the dough while on the parchment to the bottom of the hot cloche pan. Cover with the cloche lid.

Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and remove the cloche lid.

Bake 15 minutes more, or until the bread is crusty and brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place the bread on a wire cooling rack.


“Alla Puttanesca” literally means “in the style of a whore” in Italian. The name famously refers to prostitutes, with stories (most of them debunked by historians) attributing the connection to the fact that the dish was quick to make between clients, or so aromatic it helped prostitutes attract them.

However, it is an Italian sauce usually served over pasta that was invented in Naples. Its ingredients typically include tomatoes, olive oil, anchovies, olives, capers, and garlic. Various accounts exist as to when and how the dish originated, but it likely dates to the mid-twentieth century. The earliest known mention of it is in Raffaele La Capria’s, Ferito a Morte (Mortal Wound), a 1961 Italian novel which mentions “spaghetti alla puttanesca come li fanno a Siracusa” (spaghetti alla puttanesca as they make it in Syracuse). The sauce became popular in the 1960s, according to the Professional Union of Italian Pasta Makers.

The 1971 edition of the Cucchiaio d’argento (The Silver Spoon), one of Italy’s most prominent cookbooks, has no recipe with this name, but two which are similar: The Neapolitan spaghetti alla partenopea, is made with anchovies and generous quantities of oregano; while spaghetti alla siciliana adds green peppers. Still again there is a Sicilian style dish popular around Palermo that includes olives, anchovies, and raisins.

In a 2005 article from Il Golfo—a daily newspaper serving the Italian islands of Ischia and Procida—Annarita Cuomo wrote that sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a famous restaurant and nightspot. According to Cuomo, Petti’s moment of inspiration came when—near closing one evening—he found a group of customers sitting at one of his tables. He was low on ingredients and so told them he didn’t have enough to make them a meal. They complained that it was late and they were hungry. “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi,” or “throw together whatever,” they insisted. Petti had nothing more than four tomatoes, two olives and some capers—the basic ingredients for the sugo, “So I used them to make the sauce for the spaghetti,” Petti told Cuomo. Later, Petti included this dish on his menu as spaghetti alla puttanesca.

Basic recipe
The sauce alone is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian. Recipes may differ according to preferences; for instance, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies, unlike the version popular in Lazio, where spices are added with the anchovies. In most cases, however, the sugo is a little salty (from the capers, olives, and anchovies) and quite fragrant (from the garlic). Traditionally, the sauce is served with spaghetti, although it is also paired with penne, bucatini, linguine and vermicelli.

Chopped garlic and anchovies are sautéed in olive oil. Chopped chili peppers, olives, capers, diced tomatoes and oregano are added along with salt and black pepper to taste. The sauce is reduced by simmering and is poured it over spaghetti and topped with chopped parsley.

Whatever its Italian origins, Americans have made it a popular sauce. Besides pasta, the sauce can be served over fish, beans or meat. I like it served over pork chops. Here is my version.

Puttanesca Pork Chops

2 servings

Ingredients

2 boneless pork loin chops, each about ¾ inch thick
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 anchovy fillets, minced, or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more to taste
2 cups cherry or plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup pitted black olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1/4 cup dry white wine
! tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the pork. Cook, turning once until browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 140°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the wine and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and anchovies (or anchovy paste) to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes break down and the sauce is thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Return the pork and any juices to the pan, turning to coat with the sauce. Top the pork with the chopped oregano and parsley. Serve with cooked pasta.

Pappardelle Pasta with Butter and Parmesan Cheese

2 servings

Ingredients

4 oz pappardelle pasta
Salt
Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente and drain. In the same pot add the butter and garlic and cook on low heat just until the butter melts. Add the pasta, cheese, and black pepper, toss and serve with the pork.

Oven Roasted Broccoli Florets

Ingredients

12 oz bag of fresh broccoli florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a baking dish.
Place the broccoli in the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss well and roast for 15 -20 minutes in the preheated oven until crisp-tender and the edges are starting to brown, tossing occasionally.


This is a classic Italian American dish, but it’s also a dish that is eaten in Italy, especially in the summer. Spaghetti alle vongole (pronounced [spaˈɡetti alle ˈvoŋɡole]), Italian for spaghetti with clams, is a dish that is very popular throughout Italy, especially in Campania (where it is part of the traditional Neapolitan cuisine).

Italians usually prepare this dish two ways: in Bianco, i.e., with oil, garlic, parsley, and sometimes a splash of white wine; and in Rosso, like the Bianco but with tomatoes and fresh basil, the addition of tomatoes being more frequent in the south. Traditionally, the clams in their shells are cooked quickly in hot olive oil to which plenty of garlic has been added. The live clams open during cooking, releasing a liquid that adds flavor to the dish. The clams are then added to the al dente cooked pasta (spaghetti, linguine, or vermicelli), along with salt, black pepper (or red pepper), and a handful of finely chopped parsley.

In the Liguria region of Italy, east of Genoa, Spaghetti alle vongole (veraci) means spaghetti with tiny baby clams in the shell, no more than the size of a thumbnail, with a white wine/garlic sauce. Linguine also may be used for the pasta in preference to spaghetti.

Italian-American recipes sometimes use cream in this dish, but in its area of origin, this would be considered a big “no no”. In America cheese is sometimes added to this dish, although Italians believe it overpowers the simple flavors of the clams and of good quality olive oil.

My version is simple and allows the flavor of the clams to be the star. My fish market sells the fresh clams shucked and I usually buy these on the day I am going to make this dish. Much easier to eat if you don’t have to deal with the shells. Just a matter of preference, though.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pint of shucked clams with their liquid or 3 dozen littleneck clams
8 cups hot cooked linguine or spaghetti (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente. Drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in clams with their juice and all the remaining ingredients except for the pasta. Cook just until the mixture is hot, about 2-3 minutes
If using clams in the shell – Cover and cook 10 minutes or until the clams open.
Place pasta in a large serving bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil; toss well to coat. Add clam mixture to the pasta; toss well. Serve with a green salad and Italian bread.



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