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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Sauces

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.

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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.


Pork Schnitzel

2 servings

Ingredients

2 boneless pork chops about 1 lb total
1 egg
1 teaspoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon honey or sugar substitute
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Cut the pork chops in half horizontally to make 4 cutlets. Place the pork between sheets of plastic and pound until thin.


In a shallow dish, beat the egg and cream together.
Combine the flour, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder and poultry seasoning in another shallow dish.


Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick pan.
Dip the meat cutlets first into the egg, then into the breading. Fry the cutlets until golden brown on both sides and cooked through – about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel-lined serving plate and keep warm.

For the sauce:

Heat the butter, sweetener, and applesauce in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sour cream and mustard until combined and creamy. Stir in the parsley. Drizzle some of the sauce over the cutlets and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash Spirals

Ingredients

1-12 oz package frozen butternut squash veggie spirals, defrosted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste

Directions

Early in the day, place the frozen squash noodles in a colander.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray and place the baking sheet in the oven while it preheats.


Place the squash spirals on a kitchen towel and squeeze dry. Transfer the squash to the hot prepared baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat with tongs. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and toss again. Spread out on the baking sheet.


Roast until crispy about 20 minutes. Toss the spirals after 10 minutes.

Slow Cooked Green Beans

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
2 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

Directions

In a large, deep skillet with a cover, melt the butter and add the garlic and Italian herbs. Stir in the green beans. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender, about 15 minutes.


Italian American cuisine is a popular and delicious cuisine. It is a style of cooking adopted throughout the United States that was shaped by Italian immigrants and their descendants. However, what is known in America as Italian food is often not found on the table in Italy.
No one in Italy knows what marinara sauce is. There may be different variants of such a sauce that depend on regional or family traditions (with or without garlic, with or without onions, with or without carrots, with or without a pinch of sugar to counter acidity, etc.) but tomato sauce is simply called “salsa” or “sugo” depending on whether you’re from northern or southern Italy. What’s commonly called marinara sauce in America is tomato sauce in Italy that is the base for pizza, pasta, etc., but without garlic or onion or herbs that are not fresh basil.

Parmigiana in Italy is made with eggplant, tomato, caciocavallo cheese, and basil. No chicken or veal. At best, in some parts of Italy, they alternate the layers of eggplant with prosciutto or beaten eggs for added flavor.

Below is a classic recipe for chicken that I grew up on and it is still a big favorite in my family.

Chicken Parmigiana

2 servings

Ingredients

1 cup plain breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Homemade Marinara, see recipe
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 slices of mozzarella cheese
4 oz thin Spaghetti, cooked al dente

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Place bread crumb mixture, flour, and egg in three separate dishes.

First, dredge the chicken breast halves in flour, making sure to shake off any excess. Dip in beaten eggs and, like the flour, make sure to let any excess drip off. Finally, dredge in the breadcrumb mixture to coat well. Allow breaded cutlets to rest for a few minutes on a plate before frying.

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Fry chicken until golden. Be sure to turn for even cooking, about 4-5 minutes per side.
Top each breast with Marinara, covering each piece, place the skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbling.

Place two slices of mozzarella on each piece of chicken and bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Serve with the cooked spaghetti mixed with the remaining marinara sauce.

Marinara Sauce

Pasta alla marinara (“mariner style” pasta) does exist in Italy, but it’s usually prepared with shellfish and olives. In the United States, the term “marinara” refers to the simple tomato-based “red” sauce that’s a standard in Italian-American cooking.

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
One 6 oz can tomato paste
Four 28 oz containers Italian chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon each dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper, and dried thyme.
Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute the vegetables and garlic. Add the tomato paste. Fill the empty can with water and add it to the pot.

Add tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon each black pepper and the dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper, and dried thyme.

Simmer, uncovered, for another hour or until the sauce thickens.

Italian Leaf Salad

Ingredients

1 small head of 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.

 


Pizza Burgers

Add a salad or green vegetable if you have a hearty appetite.

2 servings

Ingredients

2 mozzarella string cheese sticks
12 oz lean ground beef
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Marinara or Pizza sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Form the burgers earlier in the day if possible. Mix the beef with the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Form into 4 thin patties. Cut each cheese stick into 4 equal pieces. Place 4 cheese pieces on 2 of the burgers. Place a plain burger on top of the cheese and form into a large burger patty. You should have 2 cheese stuffed burgers. Refrigerate until serving time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a medium ovenproof skillet and brown the burgers on one side. Turn the burgers over and top with 1/4 cup of marinara sauce Move the skillet to the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Take the pan carefully out of the oven and top each burger with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return the pan to the oven and bake the burgers for 5 more minutes. Serve the burgers with cooked spaghetti squash and extra marinara sauce on the side.

Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

1 small spaghetti squash about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced parsley or basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pierce the squash a few times with a sharp paring knife (to let steam escape). Bake the spaghetti squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through the skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.
Cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to remove and discard the seeds. Continue using the fork to scrape the squash to get long, spaghetti-like strands.
To serve: use about 1 cup of the spaghetti squash strands per person. Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. Then add the parsley, salt, pepper and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and serve.



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