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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Sauces

Italians started coming to Chicago from Italy during the 1850s and by the 1940’s there was a significant Italian population of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the city. There are some stories about U.S. soldiers of Italian descent returning from Europe after World War II and experimenting with different pizza recipes, and eventually creating a deep dish pizza. The only problem with these stories is that deep dish pizza was being sold in Chicago in the early 1940’s, before the end of the war. The one story that is probably true is about a man named Sewell who created the deep dish pizza in 1943 at his bar and grill, Pizzeria Uno. It was so popular that he soon opened another place called Pizzeria Due. Soon other restaurants were serving deep dish pizza and the dish became popular. Soon Chicago became known for creating it and everyone, not just Italians, adopted it as a ‘Chicago’ food. (source FoodReference.com)

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

Ingredients

1 lb of your favorite pizza dough, at room temperature
16 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz cooked Italian sausage, sliced thin
12 oz jar Mancini Fried Peppers with sweet onions or equivalent amount of cooked onions and peppers
2 cups marinara sauce
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a deep dish pizza pan. (My pan is 10 ½ inches in diameter)
Turn the pizza dough out into the prepared pan and use the heel of your hand and your fingertips to press it into an even layer across the bottom of the pan, then about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

When the crust is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and keep the oven temperature on 350 degrees F.
Add the toppings in the following order:
On the bottom of the crust place an even layer of cheese slices. Then add the sausage slices in an even layer. Top it with another layer of cheese slices. Then add the cooked peppers and onions. Top with a final layer of cheese slices. Pour the sauce over the top and spread it into an even layer, making sure it is covering all of the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges are golden and the filling is firm. Allow the pizza to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Serve with a green vegetable or a mixed green salad.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 (6-oz) salmon fillets, skin removed and patted dry with paper towels
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes (seeds removed)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon prepared basil pesto
Thin Spaghetti, cooked

Directions

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Season salmon all over with salt and pepper.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the salmon skin-side up and cook until deeply golden, about 6 minutes.

Turn over and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to low and add the butter. When the butter melts, stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the shallot and cook until tender.

Add the chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes soften.

Stir in the heavy cream, parmesan, and pesto and bring mixture to a simmer.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Return the salmon back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the fish. Simmer until the salmon is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes more.

Place some cooked spaghetti on each serving plate and place the salmon on top. Pour the sauce in the skillet over the fish and spaghetti.


Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks

2 servings

Ingredients

Sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 minced green onion
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Steaks
Two 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Rub both sides of the steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, coarse salt, and black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of the steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small glass dish. Set aside

Prepare an outdoor or stovetop grill (medium-high heat). Brush the grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to serving plates.

When the steaks are cooked and resting, heat the sauce in the microwave until hot, about 1 minute. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Green Bean Casserole

Servings 6

Ingredients

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock/broth or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Shallot topping, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 ovenproof casserole dish.

Cook green beans to your liking. Boil in salted water or steam them on for 3-4 minutes..drain and place in a mixing bowl.

Sauce: In a saucepan heat the butter and add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until soft. Turn the heat down to medium and add the wine. Saute for about a minute or until the alcohol has burned off. Add the softened cream cheese and break it up in the pan so that it melts more easily. Add the chicken broth little by little and whisk to combine until the cream cheese has melted.

Turn the heat to medium-low and let the sauce bubble a little to combine flavors and thicken slightly. Add the cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk and taste to adjust seasoning.

Pour the sauce into the bowl with the green beans and stir together. Pour the green bean mixture into the buttered baking dish. Put the green bean casserole in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly around the sides. Sprinkle with the fried shallots and serve.

Fried Shallots

Ingredients

Vegetable oil
4 large shallots, peeled and sliced lengthwise about 1/8-inch thick
Salt

Directions

Pour about one inch of oil into a deep skillet. Add shallots and place the pot over medium
heat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes (turn down heat if they seem to be coloring too quickly), until they gradually become brown.
Place a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl. Transfer shallots to the sieve and let drain well. (Save the oil for another purpose.) Blot shallots on paper towels. They will become crisp as they cool. Sprinkle lightly with salt.’

Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes

6 servings.

Ingredients

6 medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt

Directions

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/2-in. thick shell. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.(Save the use the pulp for tomato sauce.)
Combine the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning garlic powder and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup for the topping. Add spinach and mozzarella cheese to the remaining crumb mixture. Sprinkle the tomato shells lightly with salt; stuff with the spinach mixture. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Toss the reserved crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over tomatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.


My blogging friend Pam at For The Love Of Cooking recently posted a rub recipe for ribs. My family really likes ribs and after I saw Pam’s recipe, I decided to try a new rub and use her recipe the next time I cooked ribs.  I did tell her I was going to make her recipe soon and now I share that with you. The only change I made to the rub recipe was to use a brown sugar substitute because we do not use regular sugar.

Baby Back Ribs

Rub
4 tbsp sweet paprika
3 tbsp brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Ribs
2 racks of baby back pork ribs
Your favorite barbecue sauce

Directions

Dry the ribs on paper towels.
Combine the spice ingredients and rub 1 tablespoon (4 tablespoons) of the rub mixture on each side of the ribs. Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Place the ribs in a large baking dish and cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake for 3 hours,; until the ribs are tender but not falling apart.

Remove the baking dish from oven and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Pour off all liquid in the baking dish. Brush the ribs with barbecue sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce begins to get a little sticky. Remove the ribs to a cutting board and cut into two-rib sections to serve.

Potato Patties

Mashed potato recipe

Ingredients

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes at room temperature
1 egg (beaten)
2 scallions, green and white parts finely chopped
1/4 cup flour or arrowroot for low carb
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Mix together the mashed potatoes, beaten egg, scallions, flour, cheese and pepper and stir well. Using a muffin scoop, measure out 8 scoops of the mixture and place on a waxed paper-lined plate. Refrigerate until time to cook.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and butter together until the butter melts and the mixture starts to sizzle.
Using a metal spatula place the potato mixture into the frying pan and pat into 3-inch circles that are about 1/2-inch thick. Cook the potato patties until the bottom is browned and crisp, which will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
Carefully turn each patty over and cook the second side until it is brown and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove the patties from the pan and drain briefly on paper towels Serve the patties immediately.

Broccoli With Easy Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

1 head of broccoli cut into florets and the stems reserved for another recipe.

Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground

Directions

Broccoli

Steam the florets until tender and drain in a colander. Set aside in a serving dish

Sauce

In a 1 1/2 quart saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the cream begins to simmer (little bubbles form around the edges, whisk in the cheese, mustard, garlic and onion powder, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper. Turn heat to low.

When the cheese has melted, remove the sauce from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Whisk again and pour over the steamed broccoli florets and serve.


Mushroom Pork Chops

Servings: 2

Ingredients

2 (1 lb) boneless pork chops (each 1 inch thick) fat removed
3 tablespoons butter, divided
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small-medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup unsalted chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sliced sage leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut the pork into 4 cutlets and pound to a 1/4 inch thickness. Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.

Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.
Heat a medium skillet and when hot, add 1 tablespoon butter. After the butter melts add the pork and cook for 2 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil.


Add the remaining butter, onion, garlic, and mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook until the onions are tender and the mushrooms have released their liquid. Add the wine and cook until mostly evaporated. Add the chicken broth, sage, and thyme and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until the sauce thickens. Place the pork chops in the sauce to heat. Serve over sautéed cabbage.

Sautéed Cabbage

2 servings

Ingredients

Half of a medium head of Savoy cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Directions

Melt butter in a deep frying pan. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the shredded cabbage and stir.
Lower the heat and continue cooking until the cabbage is silky soft.., about 20 minutes. Stir often. Season with salt and pepper.

Green Beans with Shallots

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
Salt
1 large shallot or 2 small, sliced into thin rings
Black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Cover beans with water and add a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander.
To the empty pan add the olive oil and the shallots. Cook until tender and soft. Return drained beans to the pan and add a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook for a minute or two to reheat the beans.


Italian Style Crab Cakes

I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset Blend which is a combination of basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, and anise. You can also use dried Italian seasoning.

Ingredients

1 lb fresh lump crabmeat, cleaned and shells removed
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
1 shallot, minced
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Tuscan blend seasoning or salt-free dried Italian seasoning
⅓ cup olive oil mayonnaise
2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought basil pesto
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 thin tomato slices

Lemon Butter Aioli

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove small garlic minced or grated
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Make the aioli
Whisk the melted butter with the ½ cup mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, pinch of cayenne, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and combined, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the crab cakes
In a large bowl, mix together all crab the cake ingredients except the oil and the tomatoes. Using 1/3 cup mixture for each, shape into eight 3-inch patties.

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat until hot. Add patties; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Drain on paper towels.

To serve place each crab cake on a tomato slice and top each cake with a tablespoon of Lemon Butter Aioli.


I have family visiting, so this week I will share with you some of our main dish entrees. Complete this meal with meatballs or Italian sausage, salad and bread.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Manicotti

Makes 8-10. Double the recipe for the crepes and filling to make two dishes.

Crespelle Batter
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
Butter for crepe pan

To make the crepes:

Add the flour gradually to the milk with a whisk in a medium bowl with a cover. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the salt.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the crepe pan and butter the pan.
Pour a scant ¼ cup of batter into the hot pan. Tilt the pan around with a circular motion so that the batter thins out and forms a round crêpe about the size of the pan. Cook until the edges of the crêpe become whitish and the inner portion yellow and partially solid.
Using a wide spatula, turn the crepe over and cook briefly (about 30 seconds).
Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter, buttering the pan for each crepe. Place a sheet of wax paper between the layers to keep them from sticking together.

Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (26-ounce) cartons Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed
4 fresh basil leaves, minced

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a cover. Add the garlic and onion. Sauce for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer the sauce with the cover ajar for 1 1/2 hours or until thickened.

Spinach and Ricotta Filling
2 cups cooked spinach, squeezed dry
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for baking
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine the filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the manicotti.

To assemble the manicotti:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly brush a 9×13 inch baking dishes with olive oil.
Spread a thin layer of sauce across the bottom of the baking dish.
Place 4 tablespoons of the filling down the center of a crepe. Roll it up and place it, seam-side-down the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Top with marinara sauce spreading it evenly over the manicotti and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake the manicotti for 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.



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