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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Sauces

Tri-tip steak is cut from a tri-tip roast, which is a small, triangular cut from the sirloin. It is also known as a triangle steak, bottom sirloin steak, or Santa Maria steak. Each steak is boneless, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and should be nicely marbled. Tri-tip is a good cut of meat because of its rich beef flavor, tender texture, as well as a cheaper price tag than similar steak cuts. It’s also a lean cut of meat, making it a healthier red meat option. The tri-tip was popularized in California and while it is now more widely marketed, you may need to request it from your butcher. Because tri-tip steaks are leaner than most cuts, consider marinating them.

So How did America discover this cut of beef? According to Steven Raichlen’s BBQ Bible, the story goes like this:

The year was 1952. The scene? An old Safeway store, long since razed, in this agricultural town of Santa Maria on California’s Central Coast. A one-armed butcher (really!) named Bob Schutz had the idea to spit-roast a crescent-shaped cut from the bottom of the sirloin that was normally ground into hamburger or cubed and sold as stew meat. “Are you nuts?’ a co-worker scoffed. “It’ll be tough as hell.”

But Schutz persevered, seasoning the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then threading it onto the spit. What later slid off the rotisserie blew the Santa Marians away. Carved across the grain, it was moist, tender, and satisfying—with the rich sanguine flavor of costlier beef.

I wish I could say tri-tip was an overnight success. But this cut might be the most popular cut of beef you’ve never heard of.

Here is my recipe:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2-pound beef tri-tip steak

Directions

In a large, plastic ziplock bag, blend the soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, water, garlic, and pepper. Place the beef tri-tip in the marinade. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a heavy ovenproof pan with olive oil and heat.on high until pan is very hot, then add the tri-tip, fat side down. Turn heat to medium and sear the beef on all sides, about 4 minutes.

Put the pan with the beef in the oven and cook it for about 10 minutes a pound, checking with an instant-read thermometer until it reaches 125 degrees F for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve the steak with your favorite sides. Mine are onion rings and a salad with blue cheese dressing.

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The word “spiedino” is a diminutive of “spiedo” the Italian food term for skewered meat. Spiedini, or “skewers,” are a popular way of grilling throughout Italy, from north to south. Small pieces of meat, fish, vegetables, and even cheese are skewered on a spiedo, or “stick,” and then cooked over a flame. This recipe is one I have adapted from the Italian restaurant, Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Spiedino Di Mare (Skewered Seafood)

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

6 oz sea scallops
6 oz large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, for breading
Lemon Butter Sauce, recipe below
Fresh parsley, chopped
Bamboo or metal skewers
Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice, recipe below

Directions

If using bamboo skewers, soak them in warm water for a 1/2 hour.
Season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the grated garlic to the breadcrumbs.
Lightly coat the seafood with olive oil, then dip in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
Preheat a stovetop grill and oil the grill.
Skewer the shellfish and grill on both sides just until the shrimp turn a light pink.
Place the grilled seafood on the prepared rice and pour the lemon butter sauce over the shellfish. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Lemon Butter Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Black Pepper to taste

Directions

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Add the lemon juice to the butter and warm briefly.
Add Worcestershire sauce and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

Simmered Italian Seasoned Rice

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat the broth and Italian seasoning in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil.
Stir the rice into the broth. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the cheese.

Italian Peppers and Onions

Ingredients

4 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 whole garlic cloves skin removed
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Few leaves of fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cover the bottom with olive oil. Place the whole garlic cloves in the oil and let the garlic infuse the oil and begin to caramelize. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove the garlic.


Add the peppers, onions, oregano, red pepper, salt, and pepper and allow the vegetables to cook down and soften turning them over a few times. This should take about 15 minutes.
Place the vegetables in a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped basil.


Italian Macaroni & Cheese

Serve with meatballs and a green mixed lettuce salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

10 oz small pasta, penne or macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 plump garlic cloves, grated
1 (28-ounce) can plus 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in juice
1/4 teaspoon honey
Salt to taste
A couple of fresh basil sprigs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

To make the tomato sauce.

Pulse the chopped tomatoes in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or pass through the medium blade of a food mill. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, wide nonstick skillet or saucepan and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute and add the tomatoes and their juice, the honey, salt, oregano and basil sprigs. Stir and turn up the heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the basil sprigs and add freshly ground pepper. Measure out 4 cups of sauce and save the remaining for another recipe.

Combine the ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and then stir into the 4 cups of sauce to thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.

To make the pasta:

Heat a large pot of water to boiling.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and oil a 2-quart baking or gratin dish with olive oil.
When the water for the pasta comes to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and cook the pasta for a minute or two less than the instructions on the package indicate. It should still be a little underdone as it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the tomato-cheese sauce and stir together until the pasta is thoroughly coated.

Transfer the pasta to the baking dish. Toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned about 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Neapolitan Meatballs

Makes 12 large meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
New York Style Pizza Sauce, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using your hands. combine all of the meatball ingredients, except the sauce, in a large mixing bowl. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and coat the foil with olive oil cooking spray. Form the meatball mixture into large meatballs. Use a ½ cup measure. You should be able to make 12 large meatballs.

Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the meatballs over. Bake for 15 minutes more. Place the meatballs in the pot of pizza sauce and simmer for one hour.

For the Parmigiana:
For 2 servings
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 Sub Rolls, warmed and sliced lengthwise

Directions

Preheat the broiler.
Place the split sub rolls on a baking sheet.
Place 2-3 cooked meatballs in each sub roll. Spoon a little of the sauce over each meatball.
Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded mozzarella over the meatballs
Place the pan under the broiler until the cheese begins to melt, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Serve with a garden salad.

New York-Style Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 (6-inch) sprigs fresh basil with leaves attached
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute

Directions

Process tomatoes and their juice through a food mill, or pulse in food processor until pureed, or puree with a hand blender. Puree should not be completely smooth but should have no chunks. Set tomatoes aside.

Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and large pinch salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil sprigs, onion halves, and honey. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to the lowest setting (bubbles should barely be breaking the surface), and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 1/2, about 1 hour. Discard onions and basil stems. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Sicilian Style Codfish Cakes

Makes 8-10 cakes

Ingredients

1 pound fresh cod fish fillets, poached (see directions below)
1 pound potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Flour
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Cook the potatoes in salted water and mash with the olive oil. Add the Parmesan cheese, chopped onion, garlic, 1 egg, the flaked codfish, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the fish mixture into eight equal portions, then, with floured hands form each into a flat cake, about 3-inch rounds; 1/2 inch thick.

Beat the egg with the water. Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden
Drain on paper towels and serve with a remoulade or tzatziki sauce.

Poached Cod Fish

3 cups cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 medium bay leaf
A large branch of fresh thyme
3 chive stalks
Salt and pepper
1 lb cod fillets
1/2 medium lemon, sliced paper-thin
3 fresh parsley sprigs, stems trimmed and coarsely chopped

Directions

Combine all the ingredients except the fish in a large, shallow-sided pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low until liquid is at a simmer. Add fish in a single layer, making sure it is completely covered with liquid. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
Poach until the cod flesh is opaque and flakes easily (the internal temperature should be 175ºF).

Low Carb Codfish Cakes

Makes 4 cakes

For this version, I made mashed cauliflower and mixed it with butter and sour cream for a previous dinner side. I reserved a ½ cup of the mixture for the codfish cakes.

Ingredients

Cakes

1 lb poached cod fillets
1/2 cup leftover mashed cauliflower mixed with sour cream
1/2 medium shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Coating

Arrowroot powder
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for coating the patties
1 cup store-bought Low Carb panko bread crumbs or homemade, recipe below
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Directions for making low carb fish cakes:

Drain the poached fish and flake the fish with a fork. Be sure to remove all bones. Let cool.
Add the leftover cauliflower, chopped shallots, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, flaked codfish, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours.

Divide the fish mixture into four equal portions, then, with arrowroot powder floured hands form each into a flat cake.

Dip each fish cake into the beaten egg mixture and then into the low carb breadcrumbs

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes for about 3-5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden.
Drain on paper towel and serve with the tzatziki sauce.

Low Carb Panko Crumbs

I buy low carb bread, such as Smart Buns, and turn them into homemade croutons or panko crumbs.
Slice the bread into cubes.
Place cubes on a sheet pan and toast, in a single layer in a 350 F degree oven. Store the croutons in a zip-top bag in the freezer.

To make breadcrumbs: Place the toasted cubes in a food processor and pulse to create course breadcrumbs.
Store the remainder in an air-tight, zip-seal bag in the freezer.

Tzatziki Topping (cucumber yogurt sauce)

Mix 1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek-style yogurt with ¼ of a cucumber (seeds removed, grated and squeezed to remove extra liquid), 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped dill.

Spiralized Carrot & Beet Salad

Servings 4-6 servings

Ingredients

2 carrots spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant carrot spirals, defrosted
2 beets spiralized or one 12 oz package of frozen Green Giant beet spirals, defrosted
1/2 of a shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
A generous handful of chopped parsley

Dressing
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
A couple of dashes of hot sauce

Directions

Peel and spiralize the carrots and beets or defrost the frozen spirals in a colander and dry on paper towels.


Cut the spirals into shorter strands for the salad and place in large salad bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the shallots, chives, parsley, and almonds.
In a separate small bowl whisk together lemon and olive oil with a couple dashes of hot sauce.
Pour dressing over veggies and mix well. Serve with the codfish cakes.


Simple Pot Roast

I served the pot roast with mashed potatoes and leftover spinach.

Ingredients

One (2-3-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour
Olive oil
4 carrots, each cut in 3 or 4 pieces
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with salt & pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear on all sides of the meat until browned. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook over medium heat until tender but not browned. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the stock and seasonings. Put the roast back into the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and. place it in the oven for 60 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 250 degrees F, add the carrots to the pot and cook for an additional 2 hours.

Remove the roast to a cutting board and carrots to a serving plate. Use an immersion blender to puree the broth until smooth. Slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.


When you cook steak and chicken, make extra. The leftovers easily make quick weeknight meals.

Steak & Bean Tacos

I like to serve this dish with a green mixed salad and ranch dressing.

2 servings

Ingredients

Half of a leftover grilled flank steak, sliced thin
Original recipe for the grilled steak
2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup medium spicy salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 flour tortillas

Directions

Any leftover steak will work in this recipe, just slice it very thin. Reheat the steak in the microwave or in foil in a moderate oven temperature until warm. Heat the beans and warm the tortillas. Assemble the tacos with beef, beans, salsa, and cheddar cheese.

Greek Salad With Leftover Grilled Chicken

2 servings

Ingredients

8 oz leftover grilled chicken that had been marinated in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 sliced garlic clove, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
Grilled chicken directions
2 Pita breads, warmed
Greek Salad Ingredients
Romaine lettuce, torn into small pieces
Bell peppers, seeded and cut into one-inch squares
Red onions, sliced thin
Cucumbers, peeled and sliced into half moons
Tomatoes, cut into one-inch pieces
Kalamata olives
Pepperoncini
Crumbled Feta cheese
Greek Salad Dressing, recipe below

Directions

I always grill more chicken than I need for dinner because there are so many dishes you can make with the leftovers. Like this one – a family favorite.
Assemble the salad ingredients in individual bowls. (I use pasta bowls.) Mix with some of the dressing. Slice the leftover chicken and place on top of the salad. Serve additional dressing on the side along with the warm pita bread.

Greek Salad Dressing
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Pour all the dressing ingredients into a large jar and shake well.
Place the jar in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors.
Pour the Greek dressing over the salad ingredients as directed above.



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