Often overshadowed by its proximity to Naples and by the beauty of the Amalfi coast, Salerno is often overlooked. The province has a Mediterranean climate, with a hot and relatively dry summer (30 °C (86 °F) in August) and a rainy fall and winter (8 °C (46 °F) in January). The strong winds that come from the mountains toward the Gulf of Salerno make the area very windy but also one of the sunniest areas in Italy.
The province is one of the largest in Italy and the Port of Salerno is one of the most active on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It handles about 10 million tons of cargo per year.
Today, Salerno is an important cultural center and is divided into three zones: the medieval sector, the 19th century sector and the more densely populated post-war area, with its numerous apartment complexes.
Salerno is located at the geographical center of a triangle nicknamed the “Tourist Triangle of the 3 P” (namely a triangle touching the corners of the towns of Pompei, Paestum and Positano). The characteristics of this area make Salerno attractive to tourists.
Some of these sites include:
- Lungomare Trieste (Trieste Seafront Promenade). This promenade was created from the sea during the 1950s and it is one of the best in Italy, similar to those in the French Riviera.
- Castello di Arechi is a massive castle created by Arechis II during the Roman-Byzantine era.. Today, it houses rooms for exhibitions and meetings. The Castle offers a spectacular view of the city and the Gulf of Salerno.
- Centro storico di Salerno. The “Historical Downtown of Salerno” is believed to be one of the best maintained in the Italian peninsula. Its Merchant Street is one of the main shopping streets in the city.
- Giardino della Minerva, “Minerva’s Garden,” was the first European “orto botanico” (botanical garden).
Salerno’s cuisine is rich in vegetables, legumes, olive oil, cheese and fish which are the foundation of the Mediterranean diet. The star of Salerno’s cuisine is without any doubt the Campana DOP Buffalo Mozzarella and their San Marzano Tomatoes that are exported around the world. Some other culinary specialties include the White Fig, the Giffoni Hazelnut and the Amalfi Coast Lemon.
Fruity Tomato Sauce (Pummarola) Salerno Style
Makes approximately 2 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta
- 2½ cups (28 ounces) canned, peeled plum tomatoes in juice. (D.O.P San Marzanos are preferred.)
- 4 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil, or more, to taste
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 small red or yellow onion, minced
- 1 medium celery stalk, including leaves, minced
- 1 small carrot minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Small handful of chopped fresh basil
- Scant ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Freshly milled black or white pepper
Drain the tomatoes in a colander, reserving their juice; chop and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir in the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, parsley and sauté the vegetables until they are completely soft, about 12 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir until it’s coppery-colored, about 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and their juice, cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally and gently, until thickened about 45 minutes.
Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and blend in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, or more to taste.
If a smooth sauce is desired, take the pan off the stove and allow it to cool somewhat. Position a food mill over a clean saucepan and pass the sauce through it, being sure to press out as much of the pulp as possible. Place over medium heat just long enough to heat through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon olive oil.
The sauce can be made 4 to 5 days in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Whether storing it in the refrigerator or the freezer, leave out the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir it into the sauce after reheating.
Linguine or Spaghetti with Anchovies
- 400g linguine or spaghetti
- Salt and pepper
- 12 tablespoons olive oil
- 60g pitted black olives, chopped
- 2 small red chilies, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
- 6 anchovy fillets
- 60g fresh breadcrumbs
Add the linguine to a large pan of boiling salted water and boil until al dente.
Heat half of the olive oil in a pan, add the olives, chilies, capers and anchovies and heat, stirring to dissolve the anchovies.
Drain the pasta as soon as it is ready and toss with the sauce.
At the same time, heat the rest of the olive oil in a large non-stick pan and fry the breadcrumbs until slightly brown.
Mix the dressed pasta into the breadcrumbs.
Fry for a few minutes, until a crust forms underneath. Invert onto a warm plate, so the crushed side is on top.
Cut into portions with a knife and serve.
Saddle of Pork with Milk and Giffoni Hazelnut
- 1 kg saddle of pork
- ½ liter of warm milk
- 1 cup white wine
- 100 gr of chopped hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon of potato starch
- Sage and rosemary
- ½ cup chopped onion
- Olive oil and salt as needed
Brown the onion with some sage and rosemary in warm olive oil. Add the pork and brown on all sides; add the wine and let the pork steam in it for a few minutes.
Then add the warm milk and let it cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the potato starch, stirring until thickened; then mix in the hazelnuts. Let the meat cool.
Slice the pork and place it into a baking dish. Pour the sauce over the meat and warm it into preheated moderate oven for 5 minutes. Serve it warm with mashed potatoes as a side dish.
- 200 ml (7 fl oz/ 7/8 cup) lemon juice
- 350 ml (generous 12 1/4 fl oz/ 1 1/2 cups) milk
- 150 ml (5 1/4 fl oz/ 3/4 cup) single cream
- 170 g (6 oz/ 7/8 cup) sugar
Bring the milk almost to a boil, then add the sugar and, off the heat, stir it until it dissolves.
Pour in the cream and lemon juice. Place the pan in a bowl of ice and, when the mixture is cold, transfer it to the ice cream maker. Follow directions for your ice cream maker.
Pour into a freezer container and freeze overnight. Serve with a sprig of fresh mint.
According to the food historian, Clifford Wright, the origin of pasta carbonara is not really known. There are several competing theories, but all are anecdotal.
The first theory is said to come from a dish made in the Apennine mountains of Abruzzo by woodcutters who made charcoal for fuel. They would cook the dish over a hardwood charcoal fire and use penne rather than spaghetti because it was easier to toss with the eggs and cheese.
The second theory is the one that gives the meaning to the dish’s name – alla carbonara or coal worker’s style. This name implies that the dish was eaten by coal workers or that because of the abundant use of coarsely ground black pepper the dish resembled coal flakes.
Another story is that due to the food shortages after the liberation of Rome in 1944, the Allied troops distributed military rations consisting of powdered egg and bacon which the locals used with water to season the easily stored dried pasta.
There is also a theory that in the province of Ciociaria, in the region of Lazio near Rome, pasta was seasoned with eggs, lard and Pecorino cheese. During the World War II German occupation of Rome, many middle class families escaped the occupation and fled to Ciociaria, where they learned about this dish. After the war, Roman cuisine became very popular throughout Italy and this dish became a prime example.
Another story suggests that the famous restaurant in the Campo de Fiori in Rome, La Carbonara, was named after its speciality. Although the restaurant has been open since the early part of the twentieth century and does have carbonara on its menu, the restaurant denies any such connection.
The simplest story, and therefore the most likely, is that the dish had always existed at the family level and in local trattorias. Cheese, pork, olive oil, salt, pepper and pasta were all kept fresh without refrigeration and eggs were readily available at local farms. All that was needed was a pot and a fire. An eyewitness account supporting this theory can be found in a cookbook titled, Sophia Loren’s Recipes & Memories. The actress described how during the filming of Two Women in the late 1950s, in the mountains near Rome, the crew came upon a group of carbonai who offered to prepare food for them. They prepared carbonara. The director, Vittorio De Sica, and Loren had second helpings. Loren returned the next day to learn how to make the dish. (An accomplished home cook, Loren claimed the recipe was exactly as the carbonai made it but her rendition calls for cream—an addition most carbonara connoisseurs would not agree with. The dish was also popular among the American troops stationed in Italy; and when they returned home, they made “spaghetti alla carbonara” popular in Italian cuisine.
And, the debate goes on….
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced guanciale, pancetta or bacon (about 1/4 pound)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine or other long, thin pasta
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, or more to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
In a medium skillet, combine the olive oil and pork/bacon and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
Add salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of water before the draining pasta.
Beat eggs in a large warmed pasta serving bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan and the bacon and its juices. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with egg mixture.
Add a little of the pasta cooking water to moisten. Season with plenty of black pepper, and serve.
Rome covers almost one-third of the Lazio region and is the capital of Italy. Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome around 753 BC, the area has been inhabited for much longer according to historians, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe.
Rome covers almost one-third of the Lazio region and is the capital of Italy. Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome around 753 BC, however, the area has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe.
After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome gradually came under the political control of the Papacy and continued under their rule until 1870.
Rome was a major world center of the Renaissance, second only to Florence, and was profoundly affected by the movement. A masterpiece of Renaissance architecture in Rome is the Piazza del Campidoglio by Michelangelo. During this period, the great aristocratic families of Rome used to build opulent dwellings like the Palazzo del Quirinale (now seat of the President of the Italian Republic), the Palazzo Venezia, the Palazzo Farnese, the Palazzo Barberini, the Palazzo Chigi (now seat of the Italian Prime Minister), the Palazzo Spada, the Palazzo della Cancelleria, and the Villa Farnesina.
Many of the famous city’s squares – some huge, majestic and often adorned with obelisks, got their present design during the Renaissance and Baroque. The principal ones are Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Venezia, Piazza Farnese, Piazza della Rotonda and Piazza della Minerva. One of the most best examples of Baroque art is the Fontana di Trevi by Nicola Salvi. Other notable 17th-century baroque palaces are the Palazzo Madama, now the seat of the Italian Senate and the Palazzo Montecitorio, now the seat of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy.
Public parks and nature reserves cover a large area in Rome, and the city has one of the largest areas of green space among European capitals. The most notable part of this green space is represented by the large number of villas and landscaped gardens created by the Italian aristocracy. While most of the parks surrounding the villas were destroyed during the building boom of the late 19th century, some of them remain. The most notable of these are the Villa Borghese, Villa Ada, and Villa Doria Pamphili. In the area of Trastevere the Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden) is a cool and shady green space. The old Roman hippodrome (Circus Maximus) is another large green space: it has few trees, but is overlooked by the Palatine and the Rose Garden (‘roseto comunale’). The Villa Borghese garden is the best known large green space in Rome, with famous art galleries among its shaded walks. Overlooking Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps are the gardens of Pincio and Villa Medici.
Rome is a city famous for its numerous fountains, built in all different styles, from Classical and Medieval, to Baroque and Neoclassical. The city has had fountains for more than two thousand years, and they have provided drinking water in the past.
Rome has an extensive amount of ancient catacombs, or underground burial places under or near the city, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades.
Experience Rome via this entertaining video from Travel & Leisure: ROMA
Much of Rome’s cuisine comes from traditions that were based on poverty: people ate what they could get their hands on, the stuff the wealthy considered inedible and tossed away. In fact, many of the foods Romans today consider “Roman” are in fact based on old Jewish Roman cuisine.
Artichokes – are thistles and were not considered a very edible plant long ago. Ox-tail stew – is the leftover from a larger, meatier animal. Zucchini flowers – are the part of the vegetable you threw away. Today, you find zucchini flowers everywhere in Roman cuisine, and it’s considered a delicacy: pizza topped with zucchini flowers, stuffed zucchini flowers and spaghetti and clams with zucchini flowers are some classic examples of typical Roman foods.
The quinto quarto refers to all the parts of an animal that are not considered “meat”: tripe, intestines, brains etc. This is also called “offal” and for those who love it, know where to get the best of it in Rome.
Fried appetizers are popular and include stuffed zucchini flowers (fiori di zucca), stuffed fried olives (olive ascolane), potato croquettes, other fried vegetables and battered and fried salted cod (baccalà.)
Bruschetta, topped with either tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil, with some garlic or basil, or topped with a spread, such as artichokes, olives or truffles.
Pasta in Rome is typically long, such as spaghetti, fettucine, tagliatelle or tagliolini; or short dried pasta such as farfalle (little bow ties), rigatoni or penne. Typical Roman pastas are amatriciana, cacio e pepe, gricia and carbonara.
Soups (minestre), often of legumes and grains. For example “zuppa di farro” is a vegetarian soup made with spelt, a thick chewy grain. Another classic is “minestra di ceci e vongole”, which is a soup of chickpeas and clams (other shellfish are used as well.)
Meat dishes in Rome are mostly beef, pork and lamb. But especially beef. One classic Rome dish is beef straccetti, which are thin strips of beef, slowly cooked in their own juices, and then served alone on a plate, served with parmesan cheese, arugula (rocket) or artichokes. You will also typically find beef served as a simple grilled steak, or as a “tagliata”, which means, a steak that gets sliced just as it comes off the grill.
A classic Roman meat dish is lamb “scottaditto”, which means, lamb chops served so hot and crispy, they burn your fingers.
There is a lot of pork in Roman cuisine and, very often, in pasta sauces such as amatriciana, gricia and carbonara. Two very common pork dishes in Rome are “porchetta”, a baby pig stuffed with herbs and slowly cooked; and “maialino”, which is very tender, slowly baked baby pig.
Stracciatella (Egg Drop Soup)
- 1.5 quarts chicken broth
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Heat the broth to boiling and set aside 3 tablespoons of the hot broth in a mixing bowl.
Beat 3 eggs in a separate bowl. Add the grated cheese and the bread crumbs.
Add the reserved 3 tablespoons of broth and beat until creamy.
Return the broth to boiling.
Pour the egg mixture into the boiling broth. Whisk vigorously with a fork to break up the egg into small strips.
Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring continuously.
Remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour into serving bowls. Sprinkle with more parmesan and freshly grated nutmeg.
Beef Tagliata Salad
- 1 tender steak, such as rib-eye or T-bone
- Sea Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 handfuls arugula
- Small block of Parmigiano Reggiano
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lemon cut in half
Lightly season the beef with salt and then place on the grill and cook for five minutes on each side, Remove the steak to a plate and allow it to rest for another five minutes.
Once rested slice the meat diagonally with a sharp knife into thin slices, drizzle a little olive oil over the meat and sprinkle with sea salt.
Arrange the beef between two plates. Place the arugula into a bowl and dress with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the leaves around and over the beef.
Shave the Parmesan into thin strips and sprinkle over the beef. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with a half lemon.
- 8 oz. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 100 g or 3.5 oz. guanciale or pancetta (about ¾ cup diced)
- 100 g grated pecorino romano (about ½ cup)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- One 14 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes
- ½ tsp. hot pepper flakes, or more to taste
Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Put in a small handful of large-grain salt.
Dice the guanciale into medium cubes, about 1/2 inch.
Saute the guanciale and hot pepper in the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. As soon as the fat becomes translucent, remove the meat and place on a paper towel to drain.
Add onions to the rendered fat and saute, stirring constantly, until translucent.
Add the tomatoes and the guanciale. Simmer on low heat about 5 minutes.
When the salted water comes to a boil, add the pasta. Cook the pasta 1 minute less than the package states.
Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss in the sauce and add the pecorino romano, stirring constantly so that the melted cheese coats the pasta.
Remove from heat and serve immediately with additional grated pecorino for sprinkling on top.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds oxtail, cut into 2-inch sections
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 carrot, diced
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 28 ounces Italian tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- About 3 cups beef stock
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves
In a heavy-bottom saucepot, heat the olive oil.
Season the oxtail pieces with salt, browning each side of the pieces. Remove; set aside.
Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan. Sweat the onions until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the carrots, cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and garlic. Cook 3 minutes more.
Add the oxtail pieces back to the pot. Deglaze with the wine over high heat, cooking about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes; bring to a boil. Continue boiling to cook off some of the tomato water.
Add the beef stock just to cover the meat, then the pepper and cloves.
Bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to a simmer, cover with a circle of parchment paper, and cook for 4 hours (stirring occasionally).
Once the oxtail is tender, remove the pieces to a serving dish. Cover with aluminum foil; set aside.
Strain the sauce, pressing down on the vegetables to extract all the juices.
Skim all the fat off the top, and pour into a smaller saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, reducing by 1/4.
Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the oxtail and serve
This is the time of year for parties and getting together with friends and relatives to celebrate the New Year. It is also a time for festive foods. If you are asked to bring a dish to the party, you may be thinking about what you can bring. Below you will find the recipes for some of my favorite take along dishes.
2 (one pound) pizza dough balls, at room temperature
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced capicola
12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup marinara sauce
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls to a 15 x 10 inch rectangle.
Spread half the marinara sauce over the dough.
Sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.
Layer half the meat over the cheese on the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.
Roll the dough up into a log and brush the seam edges with beaten egg.
Leaving the seam at the bottom and pinching the ends closed, place the roll on one of the baking sheets. Cut five small slits in the top of the log.
Complete the other roll in the same manner.
Brush the rolls with the beaten egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool 10 minutes before slicing.
I usually prepare 4-1 pound eggplants at once and freeze them, individually, for future use.
For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
1 pound eggplant, peeled
1/2 to 3/4 cup refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.
Cut peeled eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.
Place the egg substitute in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg substitute mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.
If you are not going to assemble the eggplant dish at this time, wrap each batch of eggplant in aluminum foil with foil sheets between the layers and place it in a ziplock freezer bag.
Store in the freezer until you need it. Defrost a package overnight in the refrigerator, when you want to make the casserole.
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 sauce (see recipe below)
1-8 ounce package shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package of breaded and baked eggplant
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly.
Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the package of cheese.
Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Here is the recipe for Marinara Sauce.
3 garlic gloves, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute vegetables
Add 1-6 oz. can tomato paste
Fill the empty can with water and add it to the pot
Add 4-26 to 28 oz. containers of chopped Italian tomatoes
Simmer for 1 hour.
Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon each black pepper and dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper and dried thyme.
Simmer for another hour or until the sauce has thickened.
Taste the sauce to see if it is very acidic. If it is, add a teaspoon of honey or agave syrup.
Measure out 2 ½ cups of sauce for the recipe above and freeze the remaining sauce.
Oven Barbecued Brisket
Time: About 4 hours
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole beef brisket, about 5 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup dry red wine or beef broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven that can later be covered over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes.
When it is hot, add the oil, swirl it around, then add the beef.
Sear the meat for about 5 minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper; when nicely browned, remove from pot to a plate.
Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes (if the meat is very lean you might need to add a little oil).
Add all remaining ingredients, stir and cook for about a minute. Return the meat to pot, nestling it in sauce.
Cover the pan, put it in oven, and cook until the meat is tender, at least 3 hours and probably closer to 4. Turn the meat over several times during the baking process.
When the brisket is done, you can refrigerate it in its liquid for 1 to 2 days and reheat before serving.
Yield: 10 or more servings.
Christmas dinner includes lasagna in our family. It can be traditional or meat sauced or veggie filled. This year it is white lasagna with spinach. One of our favorites and it melts in your mouth. For a holiday effect, decorate the top just before serving with chopped fresh tomato and chopped parsley.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all my readers. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.
For the white sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
Salt & Pepper
In a medium saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat. Stir in flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add milk in a steady stream and bring mixture to a boil, whisking until thick and smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer sauce over low heat, whisking occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened. Transfer sauce to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap.
32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
1-10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb.mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
White sauce, recipe above
12 parboiled spinach or plain lasagna noodles, fresh noodles if possible are best
Mix the ricotta with the spinach and the remaining filling ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.
Completing the Lasagna
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 13 x 9 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 with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle the top with extra parsley for added color.
This is a busy time with all the holiday preparations and the refrigerator has lots of leftovers from last week. As you know, I am not a fan of just heating up the leftovers. I have to do something different with them. Nothing too involved though at this time – just a few different additions. The leftovers include Beef Cacciatore, Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf and Spaghetti Squash. Here are some recipes to change them a bit.
Beef Pasta Bake
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 6 cups leftover Beef Cacciatore and noodles: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/12/05/what-to-cook-this-week-beef-cacciatore/
- 2 cups marinara sauce: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/12/09/what-to-cook-in-december-cabbage/
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together the ricotta cheese, mozzarella and salt.
Oil an 11×8 baking dish. Spread ½ cup marinara sauce in the baking dish
Layer half of the beef cacciatore and noodles in the dish.
Spread the ricotta mixture over the pasta and cover with the remaining beef and noodle mixture.
Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the top of the pasta and beef.
Cover the dish with foil and bake the casserole for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Make extra sauce because it is delicious on pizza.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups Marinara Sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Slices of Cheese Filled Meatloaf: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/12/07/what-to-cook-in-december-meatloaf-dinner/
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until tender.
Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the marinara sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the sauce cook for about 15 minutes. Add parsley and remove the pan from the heat.
Warm slices of meatloaf in the microwave and pour some hot pizzaiola sauce over each slice to serve.
Spaghetti Squash Cakes
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/3 cup self rising flour (if you use regular flour the cakes won’t be as puffy)
- 3 cups leftover cooked spaghetti squash: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/12/12/what-to-cook-in-december-spaghetti-squash-dinner/
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Half an onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bowl, combine the flour and beaten eggs with a whisk. Add the spaghetti squash, cheese, onions and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix very well, until all the mixture has a uniform consistency.
Heat a large skillet on high-medium heat until very hot. Then add the olive oil. Add ¼ cup of the batter to the hot skillet. Repeat with as many ¼ cups as will fit in your skillet.
Cook until the bottom side of each cake is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Using a spatula, turn the cakes over and cook 1-2 more minutes.
Repeat with any remaining batter and add more oil if needed.
Serve as is or with sour cream or Greek yogurt.
This time of year it takes some creativity to cook with seasonal ingredients. There is plenty of cabbage in the market in December and it can easily be used for a delicious main dish. Finding ways to use cabbage is not difficult. Add cabbage to casseroles and soup or sauté it for a side dish. Don’t pass up this healthy, versatile and frugal vegetable when you see in the market.
Italian Style Stuffed Cabbage
Stuffed cabbage rolls are usually made with rice but I like to use orzo because it has a soft texture and gives the rolls an Italian flair. You can use any type of meat but I like the flavor sausage gives the stuffing for these rolls.
Makes 18-21 rolls
1 large head of cabbage placed in the freezer two days before using and then thawed. (It’s easier to roll wilted leaves and eliminates the boiling step)
8 oz pork sausage, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 cup shredded carrot.
¼ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon Italian pork sausage seasoning or use a combination of fennel and Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked orzo
Marinara Sauce, see recipe below
Remove as many whole leaves from the cabbage head as you can. I was able to remove 21 leaves from my cabbage. Cut out the core and discard. Chop the remaining cabbage.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the diced sausage. Cook until lightly brown. Place in a large mixing bowl
Add the vegetables to the skillet and saute just until tender. Add the seasonings and place in the bowl with the sausage.
Add the orzo and ½ cup marinara sauce. Mix the filling until all the ingredients are combined.
To assemble the cabbage rolls:
In a greased 9×13 inch baking pan, spread one cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with the chopped cabbage.
Use about 1/2 cup of filling for large leaves and about 1/4 cup for smaller leaves. Place the filling on the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll the leaf up to make a tight packet.
As you complete them, place each roll, seam side down, into the prepared baking dish.. Continue until all the filling is used up.
Pour 2 cups of marinara sauce on top of the rolls and spread the sauce to cover all the cabbage rolls.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 2 hours or until the cabbage rolls are very tender.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Half a medium onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
2-26 oz containers of Italian chopped tomatoes (without salt or sugar added, if possible)
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the next four ingredients. Saute them for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Partially cover the pan and let the sauce cook for about an hour until smooth and slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.