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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Soup

Have lots of leftovers from the holiday? I do. So I thought I would share with you how I used some them in some new dishes.

Ham Salad

4 servings

Ingredients

2 cups finely diced baked ham
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Half medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
Half a bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard and pickle relish in a large bowl. Add the ham, vegetables, salt and black pepper to taste. Stir well and refrigerate until serving time.

This salad is also tasty mixed into cooked elbow macaroni for a ham and macaroni salad or as a sandwich filling.

Deviled Eggs

Good for leftover Easter eggs.

Ingredients

6 large eggs
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Paprika for garnish

Directions

Place the eggs in a saucepan just large enough to hold the six eggs. Cover with cold water and place the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.

Let the eggs rest in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and add some ice cubes and cold water to cover the cooked eggs.

Let them cool until you can handle the eggs without burning your fingers.

Gently tap the eggs in several places and remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs on paper towels to dry.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork. Add the onion, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and salt and pepper. Mix well.

With a spoon fill each egg where the yolk had been with some of the mixture.

Place the eggs on a serving platter and sprinkle the tops with paprika. Chill until serving time.

Coleslaw

I never use an entire cabbage at once, so I am able to get several meals from a head of cabbage.

Servings 4

Ingredients

Half a medium cabbage, sliced thin
2 scallions sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping)
1⁄2 tablespoon white vinegar
1⁄2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the honey, salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, cream, vinegar and lemon juice, using a whisk. Add the cabbage and scallions, stir gently to mix.

Refrigerate until serving time.

Mock “Split Pea” Soup

12 cups

I had green beans and cauliflower leftover from the holidays and decided to use them in a soup along with the ham bone. I was so surprised that soup tasted just like split pea soup but without all the carbs. Amazing taste.

Ingredients

1 baked ham bone with some meat attached
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 onion or 1 leeks, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
2 cups cooked cauliflower
2 cups cooked green beans
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Put the ham bone in a large soup pot. Add the broth and water; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the meat is starting to fall off the bones, about an hour.

Remove the ham bone from the broth and set aside to cool.

Add the vegetables to the broth in the pot. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender about 30 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Remove the meat from the bones, cut into bite-size pieces and add to the soup.

Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.Heat on low for about 20 minutes.

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Tripoli

The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt. This series continues with the country of Libya.


Food in Libya is a very important part of family life. A well-known Libyan saying is “one must eat well”. Libyan cuisine is based on the traditions of the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Berber cuisines. Tripoli is Libya’s capital, and the cuisine in this city is especially influenced by the Italian cuisine. Pasta is common, as are many seafood dishes. Fruits, most often served, include figs, dates, oranges, apricots, and olives.

The sand in Libya gets so hot in the summer that walking on it with bare feet becomes unbearable. As a result, the Tuareg way of baking bread is to bury it in the hot sand, which is as effective as baking in an oven. The technique can also be used to bake potatoes and eggs by burying them whole in the sand and leaving them there for several hours.

Olive oil is the main ingredient of nearly all Libyan dishes. Its use in North Africa goes back thousands of years, and its life-prolonging properties were well-known to the ancient Libyans and Egyptians.


There are four main ingredients in the traditional Libyan cuisine: olives (and olive oil), palm dates, grains, and milk. These are very ancient foods and they have been in the Libyan cuisine since Neolithic times when humans first began to make use of their natural surroundings. Grains are roasted, ground, sieved and used for making bread, cakes, soups, Bazin, and other dough-based dishes. Dates are harvested, dried and stored for the rest of the year. They can be eaten as they are, made into syrup, fried or eaten with milk for breakfast.

Garlic is also one of the most important Libyan foods, as it is usually added to most dishes that involve sauces or stews, especially those served with couscous and pasta.

One of the most important social occasions in Libya is getting together for tea drinking. This activity brings families together, to chat, laugh, discuss and gossip about the highlights of the day and about life in general. Talking in Libya is a very important social activity and it firmly bonds the family. Libyan tea is a very strong, thick, syrup-like black tea. After boiling water in a traditional teapot, a handful of red tea leaves are added, and the leaves are boiled for a long time (about twenty minutes).

Bazin

Bazin is the most well-known Libyan dish. It is made by boiling barley flour in salted water to make a hard dough and then forming it into a rounded, smooth dome that is placed in the middle of a serving dish. The sauce around the dough is made by frying chopped onions with ground lamb, turmeric, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, fenugreek, sweet paprika and tomato paste. Potatoes may also be added. Hard-boiled eggs are arranged around the dome. The dish is then served with lemon and fresh or pickled chili peppers, known as amsyar. Batata mubattana (filled potato) is another popular dish that consists of fried potato pieces filled with spiced ground meat and covered with egg and breadcrumbs.

Make A Libyan-style Dinner In Your Kitchen

Recipes adapted from http://libyanfood.blogspot.com/

Lentil Soup With Fried Onions

Ingredients

2 cups lentils
5 cups water
2 garlic cloves
1 medium carrot
1 onion
1 large tomato
1/2 -1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon salt

Fried Onions
2 medium onions
Oil for frying

For the Topping
Extra cumin
Toasted bread, cut into cubes or triangles

Directions

Wash and drain the lentils; wash and cut the carrot; chop the tomatoes and onion. Put the onion, tomatoes, carrot, lentils, garlic cloves, salt and cumin in a soup pot.
Add 5 cups of boiling water. Cook, until the lentils, become mushy. Let cool, puree, and add more boiling water if a thinner soup is desired, stir well.

For the topping: Cut the 2 onions into thin slices and fry in a little olive oil stirring constantly until dark brown.

To serve: Place a handful of toasted bread in the soup bowl before ladling on the soup. Then add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of cumin to each bowl. Top with a tablespoon of fried onions.

Libyan Couscous with Fish

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Steamed Couscous
500g couscous (ready-cooked variety can also be steamed)
1 cup of hot water + 3 tablespoons olive oil

Stock
1-2 fish heads (washed, gills removed)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground cumin
Salt, to taste
1 1/2-2 liter boiling water

Vegetable Sauce
1 medium onion
1 medium size potato
1 medium size aubergine (eggplant)
1 medium size squash
1 medium-size red bell pepper
1 cup cooked/canned chickpeas (or fresh/frozen peas)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 chili peppers
3-4 garlic cloves

For the Fish and Marinade
4-6 portions of firm-fleshed fish, grouper is the Libyan favorite
4 large cloves garlic
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 chili pepper chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
Olive oil to brush the fish before grilling

Directions

In Libya, steamed dishes are cooked in a kaskas, but any pot with a steamer insert is fine. When steaming couscous you can place a square of cheese-cloth between the pot and steamer if its holes are larger than the couscous.

Put all the ingredients for the stock in the steamer pot. Bring to boil then reduce the heat and cook over medium heat.

Pour 1 cup of hot water and the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the couscous, mix well. Put the couscous in the steamer, then place it above the stock pot. Lightly rake over the top layer only with a spatula a few times during the first steaming, so it gets steamed properly.

After 45 minutes, remove the steamer and put the couscous in a deep plat; pour about 5 ladles of hot stock onto the couscous.

Mix well, then return the couscous to the steamer for another 45 minutes. Stir lightly but thoroughly 2-3 times during the second steaming to break up lumps.

Put all the ingredients for the fish marinade in the food processor, then use this paste to coat the fish on both sides. Cover the fish with cling film (plastic wrap) and set aside.

Cut the onion, eggplant, potato and bell pepper into thick slices.

Prepare the vegetable sauce by putting olive oil, chopped onion, chopped chili and whole garlic cloves in a pot, then stir until they have softened. Add tomato paste and chopped tomatoes, cover and cook on low heat. Add the peas or cooked chickpeas and about 3 ladles of strained fish stock, so the liquid is just about covering the vegetables and cook for 15 minutes more.

Brush the cut vegetables generously with olive oil and grill until almost cooked. Remove the vegetables from the grill and cut them into cubes. Add the grilled vegetables to the sauce pot.

Grill the fish and keep warm to serve with the couscous.

Remove the couscous from the steamer and place in a serving dish, arrange the vegetables from the sauce on the couscous, spoon some of the remaining sauce around the vegetables. Serve with the grilled fish and lemon wedges.

Date Filled Semolina Cookies

Ingredients

Dough
3 cups semolina
1 cup flour
1 cup oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon orange blossom water added to a ½ liter of warm water

Filling
750g date paste
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Syrup
4 cups boiling water
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon slice
2 tablespoons orange blossom water

Topping
1/2 cup sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Directions

Prepare the syrup by simmering all the ingredients except the orange blossom water over moderate heat for 30 minutes or until a syrupy consistency is reached. Add the 2 tablespoons of orange blossom water and set aside to cool. For a richer taste, add 1 tablespoon of honey while the syrup is still warm. Set aside.

For the dough: Mix the semolina, flour, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix. Cover and let rest for at least one hour.

For the filling: Cut the date paste into small pieces and knead. Add some olive oil if the paste is not soft enough to be kneaded. Add cinnamon, grated nutmeg, sesame seeds and knead them in. Roll out the sesame date paste with your palm into 4 long ropes or sticks.

Divide the dough into 4 portions, take one portion of the dough and add the orange blossom flavored warm water a little at a time. Knead well until the dough becomes smooth and easy to shape. The dough will also become lighter in color. Form the dough into a furrow or trench shape and place one of the date rolls in the dough. Pinch closed and smooth the dough over the date roll.

Cut the roll into small pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Place in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F/220°C until golden, for about 12 minutes. Place the cookies in a single layer in a deep dish. Pour the sugar syrup over the warm cookies.

Turn the cookies every 15 minutes, so they soak in the syrup on all sides. Remove the cookies from the syrup and place in a sieve to remove the excess syrup. Place the drained cookies on a platter and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Let rest overnight before serving.


There are many styles of cooking in China. Each style has a distinct taste and flavor. As a general rule, rice is a main staple food in southern China, as the warmer and wetter south makes it more ideal for its growth. On the other hand, dumplings and noodles are more commonly consumed in the drier, colder north.

Sichuan and Hunan cuisines are hot and spicy.
Anhui and Fujian cuisines include wild plants and animals from the mountains.
Guangdong (Cantonese), Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu feature sweet and light flavors with ingredients such as sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, vinegar, scallions and sesame oil.
Shandong Cuisine is salty with a lot of seafood.

The recipe I created below is based on several Cantonese Chinese recipes that I like. I wanted to keep it on the healthy side and feature lots of vegetables in the stir-fry. I did not make it spicy so that the vegetables would be the star. Feel free to add more spice if you prefer hot and spicy Asian foods.

Coconut aminos is a sauce made from coconut sap. It is a dark, rich, slightly sweet, slightly salty sauce. It resembles a light soy sauce or tamari, but it is soy free and gluten-free – making it a perfect replacement ingredient. Arrowroot powder has less carbs than cornstarch and is a good substitute for thickening a sauce.

Egg Drop Soup

In Chinese cuisine, egg drop soups have a thinner consistency than most common Western versions. Depending on the region, they may be garnished with ingredients such as tofu, scallions, bean sprouts and corn.

Serves: 4 (1 cup servings)

Ingredients

4 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic, finely grated
½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos
3 eggs, beaten
2 green onions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt, to taste

Directions

In a medium pot, whisk together the chicken broth, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. When the soup reaches a boil, turn off the heat.
Slowly whisk the beaten eggs into the soup. Let the soup sit 2 minutes for the eggs to finish cooking. Return the soup to the stove and heat over very low heat. Do not boil. Taste the broth and add salt, if desired. Stir in the sesame oil and green onions and serve.

Chinese Noodle Stir-Fry

I used a combination of spiralized vegetables to decrease the amount of carbs in this recipe. You may use 8 oz of fresh Chinese noodles if you do not want to add the spiralized zucchini and carrot noodles. I used leftover pork roast in this recipe.
.
2 servings. This recipe is easily doubled.

Ingredients

Stir-Fry Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch powder

Stir-Fry

2 tablespoons peanut oil or cooking oil, divided
1 medium zucchini
1 large carrot
4 oz fresh Chinese noodles
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 red bell pepper, thin sliced
1 cup sliced cabbage
4 whole scallions cut diagonally into ½-inch segments
½ lb cooked pork, chicken or beef, sliced into matchstick pieces
Kosher salt

Directions

Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil and pour over the fresh Chinese noodles. Set aside while you cook the other ingredients.
Combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce and set aside.
Cut the zucchini and carrot into noodles with a spiralizer. Set aside.


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the zucchini and carrot noodles. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt. Stir fry 2-3 minutes and remove them to a bowl.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and add the ginger and garlic, cook until for 30 seconds.
Add the bell pepper, scallions and cabbage. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes.


Add the pork and the stir-fry sauce. Cook until thickened. Drain the fresh noodles and add them to the skillet along with the zucchini and carrot noodles. Stir-fry for a minute or until all the ingredients are hot. Serve in bowls.


Inviting friends for lunch is a relaxing and easy way to entertain. The menu can be a few simple combinations that can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before your guests arrive. This will give you plenty of time to spend with your guests. No fancy desserts needed. I usually just serve fruit.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

As made below, the soup will be a great menu choice for your friends who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Walnuts and dried mushrooms are used to thicken this soup without flour. However, if you would like it to be even creamier and non-vegan, add 1 cup of heavy cream.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz dried morel mushrooms
4 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
4 oz sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
½ cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dry sherry
8 cups vegetable broth
1½ cups chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives

Directions

In a medium Dutch Oven or large saucepan, place the dried mushrooms and cover with 5 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushroom rest in the water for 30 minutes. Drain. Rinse out the pan.

Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallots, celery, garlic, thyme and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the soaked dried mushroom and sherry; increase heat to high and simmer, stirring often, until the sherry has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the broth, pepper and walnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.Remove the pot from the stove. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in batches, if necessary) until very smooth. Return the pot to the heat. Add the fresh cremini mushroom and simmer the soup for 20 minutes more. Serve the soup topped with chives.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

If you would like a thinner dressing, add up to a 1/2 cup of water.

Ingredients

3 ripe medium avocados, peel and pit removed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice

Directions

Place all the dressing ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor.
Process until completely smooth.
Use as a dressing over salad or serve as a dip. Great on tomatoes.

Salad Plate

Any of the following ingredients can be arranged in an attractive way on individual salad plates.
All these ingredients are delicious with the Avocado Dressing.

Soft greens/lettuces to line the plates
Sliced Pears, dipped in lemon juice
Sliced cooked beets
Sliced cooked hard-boiled eggs
Celery sliced on the diagonal
Red onion, sliced thin
Thin strips of baked ham or turkey
Thinly sliced plum tomatoes
Radishes, sliced thin
Toasted pistachio nuts or any toasted nuts


My veggie purchases also yielded extra for a few soups.  We like soup for lunch, so I usually make then weekly. The cabbage and broccoli were large enough for a few meals. Don’t forget some healthy bread to go with these meals.

Italian Beef and Cabbage Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup shredded carrot
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 head of green cabbage
2 cups green beans, cut into one-inch lengths
2 cups diced Italian tomatoes (with liquid)
6 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Italian dried seasoning
2 medium bay leaves
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)

Directions

Remove 8 outer layers of cabbage leaves and reserve for stuffed cabbage.

Cut the remaining head in half. Reserve half of the cabbage for coleslaw or for a side dish of sautéed cabbage. Shred the remaining half for the soup.

Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften.

Add ground beef to the pan. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, breaking apart with a spatula, until the beef is browned.

Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Season with more salt and/or pepper to taste.

Cover the pan and simmer the soup on low for 45-60 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Creamy Cauliflower Broccoli Cheese Soup

Serves 6

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 head of cauliflower, core removed and chopped into small florets
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
4 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
4 cups broccoli fresh florets, chopped, divided
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, half of the chopped broccoli, dry mustard, cayenne and salt and pepper and saute for a minute or two.

Add the chicken broth, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender.

Use an immersion blender, or transfer the mixture to a blender, and puree until smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the pot over medium heat and add the remaining broccoli. Bring to simmer and cook 25-30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cheese a little at a time until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the cream if you want it creamy and warm through. Do not boil.

Sourdough Oat Round

Delicious with soup.

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

3/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats or steel-cut oats
2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup firm sourdough starter

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl or an electric mixer bowl. Mix either by hand or with the electric mixer’s paddle attachment until well combined.

Move the dough to one side of the bowl and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Repeat with the other side of the dough. Cover the bowl and let rise for 18 hours.

After 18 hours turn dough onto well floured surface and gently flatten enough to fold dough back onto itself a couple of times to form a roundish blob.

Take a sheet of parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place the dough in the middle of the sheet of parchment.

Let the dough rest while the oven is preheating.

Turn the oven to 500 degrees F and place a stone baking vessel on a low rack.

When the oven reaches 500 degrees F remove the baking vessel and turn down the oven to 450 degrees F.

Using the parchment as a sling, gently lower the sling containing the dough into the preheated baker, leaving the parchment in place.

Be careful not to touch the baker as it is very hot!

Place the lid on the baker and put the baker into the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove the baker from oven. The bread will still bake if left in the hot baker. So very carefully lift out the bread with the parchment.

Discard the parchment and cool the bread on a rack for about 2 hours.


It is cold this week in the South- really cold. Here are a few of my warming recipes for the week.

Spicy Olive Tapenade

This recipe is a delicious side to a bowl of soup.

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups kalamata olives, pitted
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Crostini or crackers for serving

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor combine the tapenade ingredients and pulse until well combined. Place in a serving bowl.

Serve at room temperature over crostini or crackers.

Pasta Fagioli

Ingredients

6 oz small pasta
2 tablespoons olive Oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 28-oz container chopped or diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth or water
Two 15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil herbs, cut into ribbons
Crushed red pepper and grated Parmesan for garnish

Directions

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, and set aside.

In a large Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onions, celery and carrots over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender.

Add the garlic, bay leaf and oregano. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth and cannellini beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Cover the pot with a lid but leave on a slant. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and heat until warmed through. Stir in the fresh basil and remove from the heat.

Transfer to serving bowls and top with crushed red pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp

Ingredients

Shrimp

6 thin slices prosciutto
18 large shrimp (16-20 size), peeled and deveined (tail on or off)
Salt and pepper

Garlic Butter Sauce

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

On a cutting board, cut each slice of prosciutto into three long strips. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the body of a piece of shrimp, and lay it seam-side-down on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and prosciutto.

Brush with garlic butter sauce over onto all the sides of each shrimp. Season with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and opaque and the prosciutto is slightly crispy. Brush with more garlic butter and serve.

Tuscan Kale and Rutabaga Mash

Tuscan kale goes by many names: lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, black-leaf kale and Tuscan kale. It is common in Tuscany, and in Italian it’s called cavolo nero (literally: “black cabbage”). It’s leaves are more tender and flavorful than other types, sweeter and less bitter.and easier to cook than curly leaf kale.
In Italy, rutabagas are often roasted with other vegetables and served with a balsamic dressing.

Tuscan Kale

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, washed and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt

Rutabaga

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

To prepare the kale:

Place the chopped kale leaves in a deep skillet and heat, using just the water that remains on the leaves to provide moisture.

Cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the leaves in a colander and add the garlic, salt and olive oil to the skillet. Toss the kale in the oil for 1-2 minutes and remove from the heat.

To prepare the rutabaga:

Put the rutabaga chunks in a large saucepan and cover with water.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes or until very tender.

Drain and let them dry in a colander. Place them back in the pot and mash the rutabagas with the butter, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper.

Stir in the cooked kale.

Tender Meatloaf

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground pork
2 cups prepared pasta sauce
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
1 small onion, minced
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup very finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 slices partially cooked bacon, minced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Put the mixture into a greased loaf pan. Smooth the top. (I use a meatloaf pan and the fat drips into the lower pan.)

Bake uncovered for 1 hour 30 minutes. Check the center with a meat thermometer. Cooked meatloaf temperature should be 160+.

Take the pan out of the oven and let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.


 

Are any of you old enough to remember Chicken a la King, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Tunnel of Fudge Cake or Beef Wellington? All popular recipes from the past. I thought I would have a little fun this week and cook up some of these old timers.

Holiday Cheese Balls

The cheese ball is an American party food classic that takes you back to the 1960’s.  A cheese ball is the kind of thing you can easily adapt by using your favorite cheeses, herbs and seasonings. Here is the classic recipe.

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 finely chopped green onion
1 teaspoon (Tabasco) hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 roasted and chopped pecans
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
A few dashes paprika

Directions

With a hand beater, combine the cream cheese with the next 5 ingredients ( lemon juice) in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate the mixture overnight. The next day, stir together nuts, parsley and paprika in a large bowl.

Shape the cheese mixture into two balls and roll each in the nut blend to coat completely.

Serve at room temperature with crackers.

Old Fashioned Creamy Tomato Soup

Yes, before the canned version. Don’t forget to have it with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Ingredients

1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
Two 26-28 oz. containers finely chopped tomatoes (undrained)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and cook the onion, celery and carrot in the butter for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except the cream.

Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the mixture with a hand immersion blender.

Add cream and black pepper. Return the pot to very low heat and warm gently. Do not let the soup boil.

Chicken Divan

A chicken casserole dish with broccoli and cheese sauce from the 1950’s that was usually reserved for company dinners. Chicken Divan was the signature dish of  aNew York restaurant, the Divan Parisienne. In English, the word “divan” came to mean sofa, from the council chamber’s benches. The owners of the New York restaurant thought it a fitting name for this dish.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb.)
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, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup half & half
3 tablespoon sherry
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 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.

Cut the chicken into four equal sizes and set aside.

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 half & half while whisking constantly. Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper, sherry, nutmeg, and 1⁄4 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 sprinkle with the remaining 1⁄4 cup cheese. Arrange chicken evenly over the top.

Pour the white sauce over the chicken. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.



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