One of the fastest developing trends in cooking this year has been the use of spiralized veggies. Regardless of the season or the recipe, the spiralizer has given cooks a way to substitute pasta or carb-heavy noodles with fresh squash, beets, and other root vegetables. Green Giant has launched an entire line of frozen spiralized veggies with four different varieties—zucchini, butternut squash, beets, and carrots without any additives—only the vegetable itself. Supermarkets also sell spiralized vegetables in their produce sections.
I find the frozen variety very useful because they are readily available and unlike the fresh veggies, they don’t spoil quickly. I experimented with these frozen veggies and learned not to follow the package directions for microwaving or boiling. Instead, I defrost the veggies, dry them on a kitchen towel and saute them or add them to a sauce. They turn out great – not at all soggy and they retain a fresh taste. Try the recipe below and you will be surprised.
Butternut Squash Pasta
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1 vegetable bouillon cube or ¼ teaspoon vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Two 12 oz packages frozen butternut squash spirals
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, chopped and parmesan cheese, for serving
Defrost the frozen butternut squash in a colander early in the day you plan to cook. Transfer the squash to a kitchen towel to dry.
In a saucepan, saute the onion, mushrooms, fresh oregano and garlic in the olive oil. Add tomatoes, bouillon, and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the cream and butternut squash spirals and simmer for a few minutes until the squash and cream are hot.
Top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve with the grilled sausage.
Grilled Italian Sausage
1 ½ lbs. Italian Rope Sausage
Brush the sausage with olive oil.
Heat the outdoor grill on high and then turn the burners off on one side of the grill or place coals on one side of a charcoal grill.
Lower heat is better and will prevent the meat from drying out. Oil the grill grates.
Keep the entire link whole – don’t cut it up or poke holes in it.
Coil the link over the indirect heat side of the grill and close the grill lid. After 15 minutes turn the sausage link over.
Use tongs to turn the links. Don’t pierce the link’s skin or the juices will flow out and cause the sausage to be dry. Cook for 15 minutes more.
Check with a meat thermometer for 160 degrees F internal temperature to be sure the sausage is cooked all the way through. If not, continue to cook until the temperature is reached.
Note: to cook on a stovetop grill, heat the pan, lower the heat to low and oil the pan. Cook the sausage for about the same time as above or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
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
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
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.
Italian Chicken Bake
Serve with Italian bread to dip into the sauce and a green salad.
5-6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin and fat removed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into one-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin
5 jarred pickled peppers, seeded and sliced thin (1/2 cup), plus 2 tablespoons brine from the jar
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour or arrowroot powder
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pa the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down, and cook without moving until well browned about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and continue to cook until browned on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the sausage pieces to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer sausage to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until the vegetables are softened about 5 minutes. Add the pickled peppers, garlic, and oregano and cook, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Add broth and pepper brine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.
Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the sausage. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, in a single layer in the skillet and add any accumulated juice from the plate. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the thighs register 175 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven (handle will be very hot). Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve in individual bowls.
Scallops & Shrimp In Lemon Butter Sauce
Serve over rice and add a green vegetable.
1 pound large sea scallops
1 lb large (16-20) shrimp, shells and tails removed and deveined
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 large finely diced shallot
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash and pat the seafood dry with paper towels.
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large deep skillet. When the butter has melted, add the shallot, lemon juice, and chives. Simmer for a minute. Add the shellfish in a single layer. Cook about 1-2 minutes or as soon as the bottom of the shrimp turn pink, Turn the shellfish over with tongs and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Grind fresh black pepper over the fish and serve the shellfish and sauce over rice.
Italian Sausage & Pepper Frittata
Serve with a tomato a salad and your favorite rolls.
1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, cut into one-inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove
8 whole eggs whisked
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh basil for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet
Add the sausage slices and brown evenly. Add the crushed red pepper spice, onion, and garlic. Saute. Add the peppers and cook until softened. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the beaten eggs over the sausage mixture slowly to cover.
Top the egg/sausage mixture with shredded cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are set and edges begin to turn golden brown.
Garnish with fresh chopped basil once the frittata has baked.
Let it sit to cool a bit, and then cut into serving pieces.
Serve with rice or buttered noodles and sautéed carrots.
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head broccoli, stems removed and florets cut in half
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour or cornstarch or arrowroot
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; let cool slightly.
Place the broccoli into a large pot, cover with salted water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until barely tender, 2–3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the inside of a deep 2-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter; set aside.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually pour in stock and cream while whisking constantly. Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper and 1/2 cup of the cheese; stir until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Remove cheese sauce from the heat and let cool slightly.
Arrange the broccoli in the prepared dish in a single layer and place the chicken evenly over the top. Pour the white sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
These are the dishes my children and grandchildren love. I try to make them when they visit. No one ever seems to tire eating these traditional family favorites.
Neapolitan “Low Carb” Meatballs
Makes 12 large meatballs
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Marinara Sauce for cooking the meatballs, recipe below
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using your hands. combine all of the meatball ingredients 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 marinara sauce and simmer for one hour.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 oz can tomato paste
Two 26-28 oz containers of Italian finely chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Heat the oil in a large deep skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer the sauce for about 1 ½ hours.
Sausage and Peppers
2 lbs Italian pork sausage, one hot; one sweet
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
8-10 Italian frying peppers, stems and seeds removed; cut into 1-inch rings
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup marinara sauce, recipe above
Heat an outdoor grill with direct and indirect heat. Place the sausage links on the indirect heat side and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the sausage links over and grill for 15 minutes more. Remove the links to a plate and cool. Cut the sausage into 1-inch pieces.
You may also cook the sausage in the oven or in a frying pan.
Heat the oil in a large deep skillet. Add the garlic, onions, and peppers. Turn the heat to low and cook until the vegetables are soft and tender, about 30 minutes. Add the sliced sausage and marinara sauce. Heat over low until hot.
My favorite frozen ravioli are made by Celentano. They are most like homemade ravioli and for busy times they are perfect.
One family size package cheese ravioli
2 cups Marinara sauce, heated, recipe above
Grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water according to the package instructions.
I like to place the package of ravioli in the refrigerator overnight. That way the ravioli do not stick together and you can drop individual ravioli into the boiling water.
Remove the ravioli with a spider utensil and place the ravioli in a serving bowl. With each layer, add sauce and Parmesan cheese. Continue until all the ravioli are in the serving bowl. Serve immediately.
For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
1 pound eggplant, peeled
2-3 large eggs
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
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 eggs in one shallow dish and the breadcrumbs mixed with the cheese in another.
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg, 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.
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 above)
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
1 recipe 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 sauce over the eggplant and add half of the cheese slices. Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Italian Romaine Salad
1 head of romaine lettuce, sliced, washed and dried
1 small red onion, cut into rings
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
Place the greens and onion in a medium salad bowl. In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well and pour over the greens. Toss and serve.
Leftover Meatballs, Sausage & Peppers and Eggplant make great sandwiches.
Look for compact heads of cabbage that are heavy for their size. Whether red or green, the leaves should be crisp and deeply colored. Check the stem to make sure it has no cracks around its base. Avoid discolored heads with wilted outer leaves.
Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage
1 lb cooked Italian hot (rope) sausage
8 savoy cabbage leaves
2 cups Marinara Sauce
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Oil an 8×12 baking dish.
Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water or, as I do, freeze the leaves and then defrost them overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the bottom part of the stem on each leaf. Place the leaves on a kitchen towel.
Cut the sausage into 8 equal pieces. Place one piece of sausage on each cabbage leaf. Roll up the leave into little packages. Spread some Marinara Sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and arrange the cabbage rolls in the dish. Cover the rolls with Marinara Sauce. Cover the dish with foil and bake the cabbage rolls for 1 ½ hours.
Garlic and Herb Rice
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, or tarragon, or a combination of many
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Bring broth to a simmer in medium saucepan.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add hot broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Add herbs to the rice; fluff with a fork and serve with the cabbage rolls.
Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Adjust oven rack to uppermost position and heat broiler.
Mix the asparagus with the 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste, then lay the spears in a single layer on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Broil about 4 inches from the heat, shaking pan halfway through to turn spears, until the asparagus are tender and lightly browned 8 to 10 minutes.
Cool the asparagus for 5 minutes and arrange them on a serving dish.
Whisk the shallot, lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, mustard, and 2 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in small bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the asparagus and serve.
I am a home cook that hates to waste food. I also don’t like heated up leftovers. So…I try to think of ways to reinvent my leftovers. In the past week, I had cooked asparagus, green beans, Swiss chard, Italian sausage and mini bell peppers to use up. The new recipes turned out just fine.
Ham and Asparagus Quiche
This is a good dish to use up some of your leftover cooked vegetable sides. We like this dish for a lighter dinner and I serve it with a salad.
Press in the Pan Crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or Bob’s Red Mill Low Carb or Gluten-Free Baking Mix
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz (1 stick ) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3-4 tablespoons cold water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup baked ham cubes
1 cup chopped cooked asparagus
½ cup chopped cooked green beans
¼ cup cooked sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
To make the pastry
Place the flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the butter is cut into little pieces. Slowly drizzle in the cold water by tablespoons until the dough comes together.
Remove the dough from the processor and press onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until the edges begin to brown.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
To make the filling
In a medium mixing bowl combine all the filling ingredients. Pour the mixture into the partially baked pie crust. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 35-40 minutes until set. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
Sautéed Swiss Chard
This was the original recipe, I made for a side dish.
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2 large bunches of Swiss chard, washed in several changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Drain the washed chard very well. With a knife, remove the chard stems that run up the middle of each leaf.Save them for soup.
Cut the leaves into smaller pieces.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and black pepper.
Heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.
Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes until the leaves are wilted and brightly colored. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.
Add salt to taste and serve as a side dish. Reserve leftovers to make the patties for another meal.
Swiss Chard Patties
2 cups leftover cooked Swiss chard
2 tablespoons flour
1 scallions, minced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat a stovetop griddle or a large frying pan. Oil the griddle. With a muffin-scoop drop batter onto the hot griddle.
Cook until lightly brown on the underside, Turn the patties over and cook until lightly brown. These patties make a delicious side dish.
If you have patties leftover, they make a great breakfast. Heat the patties in a skillet. Top each with a fried egg.
Sausage and Peppers with Spaghetti Squash
4 cooked Italian sausage links
6 mini bell peppers, assorted colors
1 small yellow onion
1 ½ cups homemade or store-bought Marinara Sauce
One 2 lb spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F and halve squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of each half.
Arrange the squash halves in a baking dish, cut sides down. Pour 1/2 cup water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and drain the water from the baking dish. Set the squash aside to cool.
Cut the onion and peppers into thin slices. Cut the sausage into ¼ inch circles.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the Marinara sauce and sliced sausage. Heat the mixture until hot.
With a fork rack back and forth across the cooled squash to remove its flesh in strands…like spaghetti!
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add salt and black pepper to the skillet and then add the squash strands. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the squash is hot. Don’t overcook. Add the parsley, mix and serve with the sausage and peppers.