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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Sauces

Crab Cakes

Makes 10 medium cakes. You can make them larger if you wish but I find medium works best. Since I don’t add bread crumbs to the filling (just a little on the outside) the medium cakes are easier to turn. Plus I think two medium cakes are enough for a portion.

Ingredients

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat picked over for shells
1/4 cup red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup onion finely chopped
1/4 cup celery finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seafood seasoning
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
4 tablespoons butter

Directions

In a medium bowl, carefully pick over the crab and remove any shells. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and seafood seasoning. Toss gently.
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, pepper, and parsley.
Add the mayonnaise mixture to the crab mixture and carefully fold in the mayonnaise being careful not to break up the crab meat too much.
Use a muffin scoop form the crab mixture into 10 patties. Lightly press the crab cakes into the panko crumbs and transfer to a platter. Chill for 30 minutes or more.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the crab cakes and cook over medium heat until golden, approximately 3-4 minutes. Turn the crab cakes over gently with a wide spatula. Cook until golden brown, crispy and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter.

Fettuccine With Lemon Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
8-10 oz fettuccine
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
Heat the butter in a skillet and add the lemon zest.
Drop the fettuccine into the boiling water. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain.
Add cream to the butter and lemon zest mixture. Add the pasta and lemon juice and stir until just heated through. Add the Parmesan and toss. Serve with the crab cakes.

Sauteed Spinach

Ingredients

2-10 oz packages frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium and let the spinach cook slowly until tender and silky., about 15 minutes.

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In the mood for deep-dish pizza? No need to to get take out because this deep dish pizza is easy to make at home.

Chicago-Style Pan Pizza

Makes two 10-inch deep-dish pizzas.

Ingredients

1 recipe Deep Dish Pizza Dough, recipe below
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound Italian sweet sausage, crumbled
1/2 pound button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
26-28 oz container chopped Italian tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon of sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
16 oz mozzarella, shredded
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil in two 10-inch round deep dishpans. Place one dough ball in each pan and press into the pan until the edge of the dough reaches the corners of the pan. Press the dough so that the edges rise up slightly. Cover the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rest as you prepare the filling.


Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook until lightly caramelized, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, Italian herbs, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, and tomatoes to the pan and cook until thickened, about 1 hour. Allow to cool to room temperature and divide the mixture in half.


Sprinkle the bottom of each dough with 1/4 of the shredded cheese, about 1/2 cup. Spread an equal amount of the sausage mixture over the dough in each pan. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then top each pizza with the remaining mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Transfer the pizzas to the oven and bake until the dough has risen, the cheese has melted, and the surface of the pizza and dough are a golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest 10 minutes, cut into wedges, and serve hot.

Deep Dish pizza dough ingredients:
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
Pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

In a large mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, add all the dough ingredients. Mix until the dough forms a ball around the paddle. Remove the paddle and switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 7 minutes to form a smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually 1 hour. Divide dough into 2 portions and form each into a ball.


My CSA share has been very generous this summer with peppers, eggplant, and corn. Here are a few ways to use these wonderful summer vegetables.

Italian Fried Peppers

These peppers make an excellent antipasto and also go well as a side dish.

Ingredients

6 Italian frying (sweet banana) peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove smashed and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning.
Pinch of salt and crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Heat oil and garlic in a saute pan. Lower the heat and add the whole peppers. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, salt, and crushed red pepper. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides. Serve at room temperature but store in the refrigerator.

Eggplant Parmigiana

For each 1 lb eggplant, you will need:

4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, black pepper and dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup panko style breadcrumbs
Large plastic ziplock bag
Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover two large baking pans with parchment paper. Spray each with cooking spray.

Peel eggplant and slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin. Put the oil in the ziplock bag and then the eggplant slices. Close the bag and shake to evenly distribute the oil.

Place the eggplant slices on the prepared baking pans. Sprinkle eggplant evenly with salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the panko crumbs over the eggplant slices and spray with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reverse the pans on the oven shelves and bake for 15-20 minutes more or until golden brown. Do not let the eggplant burn or get too dark.

To assemble the casserole, you will need:

Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
2 ½ cups Marinara (pasta) sauce
8-ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
Baked eggplant slices

Directions

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange a layer of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon some of the sauce over the eggplant and layer with slices of mozzarella cheese. Continue layering eggplant slices, sauce and cheese until all is used. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest ten minutes before cutting.

Fresh Corn Griddle Cakes

Ingredients

1 ½ cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing the griddle
3 cups freshly shucked corn kernels, from about 4 ears
1 small jalapeño chile, finely chopped, or to taste
3 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
Salsa or Sour Cream, for serving

Directions

Stir together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and mix briefly with a wooden spoon or whisk to obtain a thick batter. Add corn kernels, jalapeño, and scallions and stir to combine.

Set griddle or large cast-iron pan over medium heat. When the griddle is hot, grease lightly with butter, using a folded paper towel or pastry brush. Spoon 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle. Adjust heat as necessary to keep griddle cakes from browning too quickly. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, then carefully flip with a spatula and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes.
Serve immediately as soon as griddle cakes are ready or keep warm in a low oven until all the batter is used. To serve, put 3 griddle cakes on a plate. Top with a generous spoonful of salsa or sour cream.

 


This classic Italian sauce is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian. Recipes may differ according to preferences; for instance, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies, unlike the Lazio version. Spices are sometimes added. In most cases, however, the sugo is a little salty (from the capers, olives, and anchovies) and quite fragrant (from the garlic). It is usually served with spaghetti but we like it with seafood.

Seafood in an Italian Spicy Tomato Sauce

2 servings

Ingredients

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 fish fillets,(I used sea bass) (about 1 1/2 inches thick 4 ounces each)
4 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
26 oz container finely diced Italian tomatoes (I used the Pomi brand)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 tablespoon capers
2 1-inch-thick slices Italian bread brushed with olive oil and grilled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

For the sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet.
Add the anchovy paste and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and continue to stir.
Pour in the tomatoes, oregano and basil and heat to a simmer. Add the olives and capers and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened.

For the fish
Season the fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Lightly flour the fish shaking off extra flour.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet with a cover over medium-high heat. Brown the fish fillets and shrimp on both sides.

Pour a cup to 1 ½ cups of sauce over the fish in the small skillet and cover the skillet. Heat for 2-3 minutes. Save the remaining sauce for pasta.

Place a piece of grilled bread in each serving bowl. Divide the fish evenly and place it on top of the bread. Spoon the sauce over each portion and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.


Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

2 servings

Tomatillo Salsa
1/2 lb. (about 8) tomatillos, husks removed and washed well
1 large or 2 small serrano chiles, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Avocado Cream
Half an avocado mashed
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon honey

Shrimp
12 large raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
4 low carb/gluten-free/regular tortillas, heated
1 cup shredded red cabbage

Directions

For the tomatillo salsa
Dice the tomatillos. Put them in a blender, along with the chiles, onion, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Pulse until the ingredients are very finely chopped and combined (the salsa should be somewhat smooth, but still have some texture), 30 to 60 seconds. Place the salsa in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.
Yields about 1 cup.

For the avocado cream
Combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator.

For the shrimp
Pat shrimp dry. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and a little salt in a medium bowl.

Preheat a stovetop grill over medium heat. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through about 4 minutes total. Place the cooked shrimp in a serving bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the tomatillo salsa over the shrimp. Toss.and serve the shrimp in tortillas, topped with red cabbage and avocado cream.

Serve a tomato salad on the side.


I recently roasted root vegetables for dinner and had extra cooked spinach on hand, so rather than reheat the vegetables, I came up with a new way to serve them. The two new dishes complimented pan seared beef tenderloin steaks very well.

Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients

2 large beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup leftover garlic sautéed spinach
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil

Directions

Cut off a thin slice from the tops of the tomatoes. Scoop out the seeds and center flesh with a small serrated spoon. Sprinkle the insides of the tomatoes with a little salt and turn them over on a paper towel to drain for 30 minutes.
Divide the spinach in half and fill the center of the tomatoes. Top the spinach with 1 tablespoon of grated cheese and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a small baking dish and place the filled tomatoes in the dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Roasted Root Vegetable Puree

Ingredients

2 cups leftover roasted root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips)
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Place the roasted vegetables in the processor. Pulse until completely pureed. Add the cream to make a smooth mixture. Place the pureed vegetables in a microwave safe bowl, top with the butter and heat on high for several minutes until the vegetables are hot. Sprinkle on the chives and serve.

Filet Mignon with Cabernet Sauce

Ingredients

2- 6 oz. filet mignon steaks, about 1-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon each salt & pepper
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme
1 cup Cabernet wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Heat a skillet and add 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle the steaks with salt & pepper. Cook filets until desired doneness,4- 5 minutes per side (depending on thickness) for medium-rare.
Remove the steaks to serving plates
Add shallots, cook 1 min, add wine and herbs. Boil for several minutes until reduced. Stir in butter. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.


Shrimp Parmigiana

For 2 servings you will need the following:

Ingredients

12 large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled, deveined, tails removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup Italian Style Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Olive oil cooking spray
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup homemade marinara sauce, warmed
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking dish that fits the portion of shrimp you are making with cooking spray. I like to use individual baking dishes for this recipe.
Place the egg in a shallow bowl and the Panko bread crumbs mixed with the Parmigiano cheese in another.
Wash and dry the shrimp. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Put the shrimp in the bowl with the egg to coat and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Place the breaded shrimp in the baking dish or six in each individual baking dish. Sprinkle any remaining breadcrumbs over the shrimp.


The shrimp can be prepared ahead up to this point. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
When ready to bake, drizzle the top of the shrimp with the olive oil and bake on the middle oven rack for 10 minutes. Turn shrimp over then cook another 5 minutes. Pour sauce evenly over the shrimp and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and heat just until the cheese melts.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (26-28-ounce) cans Italian chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 large basil leaves

Directions

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil, until soft and translucent, on medium to low heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, careful not to overcook.
Add tomatoes, oregano, and crushed red pepper to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat. Stir in parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the fresh basil.
Reserve 1 cup sauce for the shrimp and use the remaining sauce for other uses.

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped parsley
1 pound thin asparagus, ends trimmed
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a large jelly roll pan with foil. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat the oil, garlic, onion powder, and parsley on medium-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes until the garlic mixture is fragrant but not browned.
Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle on the garlic-oil mixture.
Roast for 10-15 minutes, until the asparagus are bright green; do not overcook.
Transfer to a platter and serve hot.



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