Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: artichokes

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I make pizza just about every week at our house because I think my husband loves pizza more than any other food. It is also an economical dish and usually healthy. Between the two of us, we get 3 meals out of one pizza: two dinners and one lunch. I usually try to make our pizzas with seasonal vegetables because they make the most tasty pizzas, in my opinion. Once in awhile, we will splurge and go for the deep-dish Chicago style sausage pizza. Over the past two months, I have made the following pizzas with veggies I had on hand and I am sharing those recipes with you. The sausage pizza was a treat for my husband’s birthday.

Use your favorite pizza dough or use my easy to make no knead dough. The recipe makes enough for three pizzas and the dough stores beautifully in the freezer. I like this recipe more than any other I have tried. The overnight refrigeration adds to the dough’s great flavor and makes a crunchy but tender crust.

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Easy No Knead Pizza Dough

Ingredients for the dough

  • 3 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 8 cups 00 Italian Style flour or 7 ½ cups bread flour

Directions for making the pizza dough:

Pour the water into a 5 quart bowl or lidded food container. Add yeast and salt to the water.

Measure the flour with the “scoop and sweep” method. (Dip cup into flour and scoop it up. Level the cup with the back of a knife.)

Add all the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. You only need to mix it until all ingredients are combined. No kneading is necessary. (The dough will be very moist and will actually conform to the shape of the container you put it in.)

Cover, but don’t seal the lid tightly, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it begins to flatten on the top (about 2 hours).

DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! This method is designed to retain as much gas in the dough as possible. After rising, refrigerate the dough in the container and use the dough over the next 14 days. Once it’s refrigerated the dough will collapse slightly and it will not rise again in the container — that’s normal.

Directions for making pizza:

Pull up and cut off a 1 1/3 pound piece of dough from the container of refrigerated pizza dough. My pizza pans are large, so I usually get 3 pizzas from a batch of dough.

Extra dough may also be frozen. I freeze two portions of dough, individually, in freezer ziplock bags. To use, defrost the dough overnight in the refrigerator.

Hold the dough in your hands and dust your hands with flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.

Form a ball, by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides and rotating the dough a quarter-turn as you go.

Place the ball in an oiled pizza pan and press and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Place an oven rack on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

After the dough has rested, add the toppings as indicated below.

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Roasted Broccoli Rabe and Tomato Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the broccoli rabe, tomatoes and shallots with the olive oil to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle lightly with some salt and pepper.

Spread the vegetables onto 2 large baking sheets.

Roast until the tomatoes have deflated and the broccoli rabe is brown around the edges and cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Divide the mixture in half. Use one half of the roasted vegetables for the pizza and the other half as a side dish for another dinner.

For the Pizza:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • Half of the roasted vegetables
  • 8 oz mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup pitted black olives, cut in half

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the dough. Arrange the roasted vegetables evenly over the cheese. Do the same with the sliced olives.

Drop tablespoons of ricotta cheese over the vegetables.

Place the pizza pan on the bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

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Pizza with Artichoke Hearts, Fontina Cheese and Tomato

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted (or use canned if frozen are not available)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 thinly sliced plum tomatoes
  • 8 oz sliced Italian Fontina cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Cook the defrosted artichokes in the olive oil with the garlic, onion and the juice of one lemon until softened and the onions are caramelized. Add the oregano and black pepper.

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Place the sliced Fontina on top of the dough. cover the Fontina layer with the shredded mozzarella cheese and then the Parmesan cheese.

Arrange the artichoke mixture evenly over the cheese. Do the same with the sliced tomatoes.

Place the pizza pan on the bottom rack in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

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Deep-Dish Sausage Onion Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of pizza dough at room temperature
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • 8 ounces Italian fennel sausage, casing removed
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese

Directions

Generously grease a 10-inch springform pan with oil. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with cornmeal.

Place the pizza dough in the prepared pan. Using oiled hands, press and spread the dough evenly over the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (30 to 35 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the filling:

In a medium skillet cook sausage and onions over medium-high heat until brown, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks.

Drain in a mesh (or one with small holes) colander. Using paper towels, pat sausage and, then, wipe out the skillet to remove additional fat.

Return the sausage and onions to the skillet and stir in tomatoes and basil. Cook and stir until heated through.

To assemble the pizza:

Arrange the mozzarella cheese slices over the bottom of the dough lined pan.

Spoon the filling over the cheese and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the edge of the crust is crisp and golden and the filling is bubbly.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the side of the springform pan and cut the pizza into wedges.


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One of the best things about cooking seafood is its versatility — it can be grilled, broiled, poached, baked or cooked in a skillet. Seafood is actually one of the easiest ingredients to cook with and can be one of the fastest to prepare. Fish is also healthy.

Health studies show that eating fish at least once a week, especially cold-water species high in omega-3 fatty acids, reduces the risk of heart problems. Other research suggests that regularly eating omega-3–rich fish may prevent or relieve depression, joint problems, Alzheimer’s disease and several cancers. Even seafood low in omega-3s, like scallops and crab, are rich in other key nutrients.

Fish is delicate so it needs gentle techniques to make sure that it is tasty, cooked and yet retains all the benefits. Any way you choose to cook fish, remember that its flesh cooks quickly. The best way to cook fish and not lose its health benefits is to steam, bake, poach or grill the fish. Frying fish can cause fatty fish rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, to lose its beneficial oils; those oils get replaced with unhealthier oil in which the fish is fried. Evidence from Harvard researchers on a study of more than 4,700 older people indicates that eating fried fish or fried fish sandwiches was associated with a higher risk of stroke. Conversely, the study also found a direct relationship between consumption of broiled or baked fish and a reduced incidence of stroke.  When you bake fish, you can use herbs to accentuate the flavors. On the grill, the fire lends a smoky flavor to the flesh of the fish.

Following are some of my favorite fish recipes.

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Garlicky Baked Shrimp

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Coat 4 individual gratin dishes with cooking spray or a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Divide shrimp among dishes; set aside.

Combine breadcrumbs and the next 4 ingredients; stir in juice and oil.

Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over shrimp.

Place dishes on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until shrimp are done and breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

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Baked Salmon with Red Wine and Honey

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces (skin left on)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 1/2 cup light red wine, such as Beaujolais or Pinot Noir
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish, drizzle olive oil and scatter thyme sprigs. Lay salmon on top of the thyme, skin side up. Arrange garlic cloves around salmon.

In a small bowl, whisk together red wine and honey and pour over salmon.

Bake 15-20 minutes and remove the dish from the oven. Peel off the salmon skin, if desired, and arrange fillets on a warm serving dish.

Pour dish juices into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Season sauce with salt and black pepper, spoon over the salmon and serve.

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Panko-Crusted Catfish

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 6 drops hot sauce
  • 4 catfish fillets (about 6 ounces each) or any other thin white fish fillets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon blackened spice mix, see recipe below
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges (for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a shallow dish, mix milk and hot sauce. Add catfish, turn to coat well and marinate for 10 minutes.

In a pie plate, mix nuts, breadcrumbs and spices. Dip fillets into crumb mixture, pressing crumbs onto each fillet. Place fish on the prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle a 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over each fillet. Bake fish for 12-15 minutes until crispy, depending on thickness. Remove fish to a serving platter and serve with lemon wedges.

Blackening Spice:
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

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Spicy Rainbow Trout Fillets

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 ounce) rainbow trout fillets (1/2-inch thick)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 green onion, sliced thin
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Pat fillets dry and lightly brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle both sides evenly with Cajun seasoning.

Place skin side down on an oiled broiler pan. Broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 4-5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Arrange on a warmed serving platter and sprinkle with parsley and sliced green onion. Serve with lemon wedges.

Cajun Seasoning

Combine 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, chili powder and dry mustard.

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Halibut Packets with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • One 6-ounce boneless, skinless halibut fillet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemon slices
  • 6 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Parchment paper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange halibut in the middle of a 12 x 12-inch piece of parchment paper. Drizzle both sides of the fish with the oil.

Top with lemon and arrange tomatoes, artichoke hearts and parsley over the top and around the sides. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Fold up parchment like a package, making sure the seam is at the top to seal the ingredients inside; tuck under the ends.

Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Place package on a plate and carefully open the parchment paper to release the steam before serving.

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A healthy diet should include fish twice a week, including one oily fish, such as salmon, sardines or tuna. That’s because fish and shellfish are good sources of many vitamins and minerals and oily fish  is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to keep your heart healthy.

Fish that is steamed, baked or grilled is a healthier choice than fried fish. Frying makes fish and shellfish much higher in fat, especially if they’re cooked in batter.

To ensure there are enough fish to eat now and in the future, we should try to eat a wide variety of fish and to buy fish from sustainable sources. Check the chart on the Marine Stewardship Council’s site.

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Salmon Pinwheels

Ingredients

  • 12 oz center-cut salmon fillet
  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise

Stuffing

  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 large basil leaves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 scallion (green onion) chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil or regular extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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Make the stuffing:

Combine the panko crumbs with the remaining stuffing ingredients.

Butterfly the salmon filet and spread with the mayonnaise.

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Sprinkle the stuffing over the mayonnaise; roll up from long side and cut into 2” wide pieces. Secure each roll with a toothpick

Place in an oiled baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked to your likeness.

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Fish Poached in Tomato Sauce

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 26 -28 oz container Italian crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or more to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Four 6-ounce red snapper fillets or your favorite fish fillets
  • 4 slices of grilled sourdough bread

Directions

In a deep skillet that’s large enough for the fish fillets to lie flat without overlapping, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, chili flakes and a large pinch of salt.

Cover the skillet and bring the water to a steady simmer over moderate heat; simmer for 30 minutes.

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Uncover the skillet and add the fish, skin side up, and cook for 2 minutes. Using two spatulas, gently turn the fillets. Season the fish with salt and simmer until just cooked through.

Put the grilled bread in shallow bowls and arrange the snapper fillets on top. Spoon the broth all around and serve. You may also serve the bread on the side.

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Almond and Mustard Crusted Fish

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 pounds white fish fillets, cut into 4 portions
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • Lemon wedges for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

Combine lemon zest, almonds, oregano, bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Place fish on the prepared baking sheet and spread each portion with 1 teaspoon mustard.

Divide the almond mixture evenly on top of each piece of fish, pressing  the mixture onto the mustard.

Bake the fish until opaque in the center, about 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness.

Serve the fish with green beans and lemon wedges.

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Fish with Sautéed Vegetables and Parmesan

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Four 6 ounce fish fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup canned or frozen and defrosted artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons jarred roasted red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, finely minced
  • 1 medium fresh tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season fish with salt and pepper.Heat oil in large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add fish and sauté on one side until lightly browned. Turn fish over and cook 2 – 3 minutes more.

Combine remaining ingredients except cheese in a bowl and spoon equally over the fish. Scatter cheese over the top and place the skillet in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

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Fish with Citrus and Herbs

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
  • Two 6 ounce fish fillets such as tilapia, grouper or arctic char
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions

Combine juice, shallot and tarragon in a small saucepan and simmer until thickened, 15-20 minutes; cover and set aside.

Heat the broiler.

Sprinkle both sides of the fish with oil, salt and pepper. Place the fish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the fish.

Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat, just until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes per half-inch of thickness.

Use a wide spatula to transfer fillets to serving plates, spoon sauce on top and serve.


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Fall brings us lots of hearty, nourishing toppings for pizza. If the chill in the air has you wanting to turn out some cool weather pizzas, think apples, butternut squash, sage, kale, mushrooms, cauliflower and figs for something different. Roasting vegetables first, makes them even tastier.

Roasted Fall Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (about 1 medium) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds small red new potatoes (12 to 14), well scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 pound medium red onions (about 2 to 3), peeled and quartered
  • 1 pound carrots (6 to 8 medium), halved lengthwise, if thick, and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the vegetables and garlic in a bowl with the oil, salt and pepper.

Divide the vegetables and garlic evenly between two rimmed baking sheets. Roast until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, tossing them and rotating the sheets from top to bottom, halfway through cooking.

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Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza

Ingredients

  • Olive oil, for the baking sheet and drizzling
  • Flour, for dusting surface
  • 1 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cups (about 1/2 of the recipe above) Roasted Fall Vegetables, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Brush a large baking sheet (preferably rimless) with oil.

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough into a 12-by-16-inch oval (or as large as will fit on your baking sheet); transfer the dough to the pan.

Sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella. Scatter vegetables on top and drop tablespoons of the ricotta on top; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and rosemary.

Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rest five minutes and cut into serving portions.

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Pizza with Zucchini and Fresh Herbs

Sometimes I add a sliced red onion to the roasting pan with the zucchini and add it to the pizza.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb homemade or store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • Juice of 2 large lemons, divided
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

For the zucchini:

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the zucchini rounds in a bowl. Reserve a tablespoon of the lemon juice for the finished pizza and squeeze the remainder over the zucchini, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. With your hands rub the mixture into the zucchini rounds in the bowl.

Then place them on the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until soft.

For the pizza:

Turn the oven up to 500 °F. If using a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat in the oven for 30 minutes before baking on it.

Stretch out the pizza dough round onto a pizza peel dusted with flour or onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan (if not using a pizza stone).

Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the pizza dough and place the roasted zucchini evenly on top of the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle the fresh Parmesan cheese directly over the top and slide the prepared pizza into the oven.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling if using a pizza stone. A pizza pan will take longer, 15-20 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, garnish with freshly chopped parsley, thyme, a grind of black pepper and the reserved tablespoon of lemon juice.

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Deep Dish Mushroom Pizza

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb homemade or store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces Fontina Valle d’Aosta, fontina, provolone or mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 large sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups assorted sliced mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster, cremini, chanterelle, morel and/or button)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
  • Snipped fresh parsley

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Stretch the pizza dough across the bottom and up the sides of an oiled 13 x 9 x 1 inch baking pan. Arrange cheese slices on top of the dough in the pan.

In a large skillet, cook onions, covered, in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat for 13 to 15 minutes or until the onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 5 to 8 minutes more or until onions are golden. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, combine mushrooms, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the garlic and rosemary. Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are tender; drain well. Spoon mushroom mixture over the cheese on the pizza dough. Top with the onions.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the crust bottom is slightly crisp and brown.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Cut the pizza into 3-inch squares and serve immediately.

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Sausage, Fennel and Ricotta Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 8 oz Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Stretch the dough to fit an oiled 14-15 inch pizza pan.

Heat in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and sausage, cook until the sausage is lightly browned. Break the sausage into large pieces. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Add the sliced fennel and cook until the fennel is tender.

Mix together the ricotta and garlic.

Separate the red onion slices and spread over the pizza dough along with the fennel seeds and the crushed red pepper. Top with spoonfuls of the ricotta and the sausage pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20  minutes, until golden.

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Antipasto Pizza

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced in strips
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in strips
  • 16 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced in strips
  • 2 small to medium tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta

Directions

Place a pizza stone or invert a heavy baking sheet on the rack of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onions in hot oil about 10 minutes, until translucent. Stir in sugar and balsamic vinegar; cook until the juices bubble. Transfer the onions to a strainer set over a bowl. Drain for 3 minutes. Return the drained juices to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture turns into the consistency of honey. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cooked onions to skillet and stir to coat, then set aside.

For the pizza:

Stretch the dough into a circle that fits on a pizza peel (pizza-size spatula) or a rimless cookie sheet dusted with flour.

Top the dough with the onion mixture then arrange the artichokes, peppers, sliced tomatoes and olives on top. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the toppings bubble and the pizza edges are golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

You can also bake the pizza in a regular 14-15 inch pizza pan and cook the pizza for 10 minutes longer.


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Enna is a province in Sicily, Italy. It is located in the center of the island and is the only province in Sicily without a seacoast,yet it possesses the greatest number of ponds and lakes.. The capital city sits on a high elevation giving a gorgeous view of the region.There are many castles, cathedrals, churches and interesting archeological areas, 8 lakes, many nature reserves and forests within the province.

Some of the interesting sites in Enna are:

  • Villa Romana del Casale, a huge ancient Roman “villa”, where there are many well-preserved Roman mosaics.
  • Morgantina, an ancient town in the province, whose  important archeological discoveries are housed in many large museums around the world.
  • Torre Pisana, a very large tower that provides an extensive panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
  • Lake Pergusa has a forest inside a wildlife reserve, where thousands of rare birds can be found.
  • The Autodromo di Pergusa is the most important racing circuit of Southern Italy. It hosts international competitions, such as Formula One, Formula 3000, and the Ferrari Party with Michael.
  • Schumacher and other champions.
  • Built in 2009, Regalbuto is a popular theme park in the area.

Enna’s cuisine is characterized by simple dishes that reflect an agricultural and sheep farming community. Vegetables, oranges, lemons, eggs and cheese are used in many local recipes.

Pastas with mashed beans, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplants or tomatoes are common. Wild asparagus are a great local favorite and so are bitter chicory and wild fennel. Black Lentils from Leonforte, near Enna are well-known and used quite often in Sicilian cooking.

Baked or grilled pork, lamb or goat meat and strong cheeses complete the typical menu.

Cookies stuffed with dried figs, honey, fruit candy and roasted almonds along with a glass of limoncello, fare typical holiday celebrations.

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enna4Quite famous is Piacentinu, a cooked, semi-hard cheese. It is round in shape and available in various ages. Traditionally, it is made in the province of Enna, Sicily, using whole sheep’s milk, pepper and saffron. Since the 1100s, piacentino has been known for its saffron color. Ruggero the Norman (1095-1154), the king of Sicily, asked local cheese-makers to make this cheese with saffron because he believed that spice caused an uplifting, anti-depressing effect. Pepper, a rare and precious spice at the time, was also added to the cheese because it was a popular ingredient in the Sicilian Court. Today, this cheese is still made using whole, raw milk from sheep that graze primarily on veccia, a leguminous weed found in and around Enna. The plant gives the cheese its distinct flavor.

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The milk, together with sheep or goat rennet, is heated to 140 degrees F and then whole black peppercorns and saffron are added. Once a mass has formed, the cheese is left to cool in its whey. The cheese is ready after a week. A wheel of piacentino is usually 14 to 16 inches in diameter and weighs between 13 to 26 lbs. The cheese has a soft rind, a yellow color and a delicate, savory flavor.

Source: (D. PAOLINI, Guida agli itinerari dei formaggi d’Italia, Bologna, Edagricole, 2003)

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Specialties of the Enna Cuisine

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Black Lentils Enna Style

This lentil dish is often served with fish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup black lentils, washed and drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Place lentils in a saucepan with 2 cups of cold water, cover, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook gently for 15 minutes. Mix in the vegetables, cover the pan and continue cooking gently until lentils are tender, about 35-40 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

enna9

Stuffed Artichokes

Ingredients

  • 4 large artichokes, cleaned
  • 2 lemons, one cut in half and the other cut into thin slices
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Place cleaned artichokes in bowl with lemon halves and water.

While the artichokes are soaking, prepare the stuffing by heating the butter with 3 tablespoons of oil in 8-inch skillet. Add minced garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add bread crumbs and dried Italian seasoning. Stir for 1 minute while the bread crumbs brown slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.

Spread the leaves of the artichokes open by hitting the chokes upside down on a work surface to spread the leaves open. Fill each with about 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture.

Place each artichoke in a deep pot with water 1/4 of the way up the side of the pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt to water and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over artichokes and place lemon slices on top.  Cover: bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook on low for 45 minutes or until tender. (the size of the artichoke will vary the cooking time). Remove from the heat and serve room temperature.

enna 7

Enna’s Ground Pork Ragu

Adapted from “The Southern Italian Table” by Arthur Schwartz

Makes 7 cups

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • One 12-oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Grated cheese for serving

Directions

In a 4 quart saucepan saute the onion in olive oil until wilted.

Add the pork and break up over medium heat until its raw color disappears.

Add the wine and simmer for a few minutes over slightly higher heat.

Add tomato paste and water; stir and bring to a simmer.

Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, chocolate and sugar. Stir until chocolate melts, reduce heat and simmer for around 30 minutes.

Serve over pasta with grated cheese.

enna10

Salmoriglio Sauce

Salmoriglio is a Sicilian marinade and sauce that is easy to make and add a great deal of flavor to poultry and fish. Use the recipe below to marinate chicken for up to two days in the refrigerator, shrimp for up to 30 minutes or to pour over grilled fish.

Salmoriglio:

  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 to 5 smashed and chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine lemon juice, garlic and seasonings and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in olive oil for a creamy semi-emulsified sauce for already cooked fish.

For a marinade, combine all the ingredients in a gallon sized plastic zippered bag and shake with chicken or shrimp to combine. Double the recipe to marinate a whole chicken. For a change of flavor, use three tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley instead of or in addition to the oregano.

For Swordfish:

  • 3 to 4 swordfish steaks
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground Pepper to taste

Try to get swordfish with the skin on if grilling outdoors; this will help keep the fish from drying out. Rub or brush olive oil on the fish. Oil the grill (use a grill pan or fish basket) or non-stick pan.

Over medium heat, cook the steaks for 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Salt and pepper after each side is cooked, not before. When the fish is done, it will be opaque and a knife will slide into it easily.

If the fish had skin, remove it after cooking. Drizzle Salmoriglio over the fish; garnish with lemon wedges and flat-leaf parsley if desired.

enna7

enna8

Fruit and Animal Shaped Marzipan

This authentic Italian recipe is at least 5 centuries old and originates in Enna, Sicily.

During the Easter season every year, shops sell marzipan figures and fruit decorated in festive colors. They are garnished with colored sweets, foil covered chocolates and red and gold processional flags.

The origins of these elaborate sweets are in the Sicilian convents. Impoverished families enrolled daughters, whom they could not afford to feed or marry, into convents where they knew their daughters would be fed and safe. The nuns produced traditional Easter and Christmas cakes along with brightly decorated fruits. Small wheels were built into the entrance gates to the convents and money was exchanged for the ornately decorated little cakes. The money earned from the bakery supported the nuns and the upkeep of the convents.

2 1/4 pounds shelled almonds, blanched in boiling water
2 1/4 pounds sugar
Water
Cornstarch
Assorted food coloring (paste recommended)

Dry the blanched almonds well in a hot oven if you blanch them yourself. Grind using a mortar and pestle; if you use a food processor, pulse rather than blend so that the almonds are ground but not so fine that they give off their oils.

Dissolve the sugar in a little hot water. Add the ground almonds and simmer over very low heat, stirring constantly until a paste-like mixture comes away easily from the sides of the pan. If you want to color the marzipan, divide it into bowls and color as desired. Paste colors are recommended rather than liquids for strong, true colors. Allow the marzipan to cool enough to handle easily.

Either roll or pat the marzipan onto a cornstarch-dusted surface and cut into shapes or pat into molds that have been dusted with cornstarch. Allow to dry at room temperature until firm.

Source:  2009 All Things Sicilian.


paninicover

Milan Panini Shop

Although the first U.S. reference to panini dates to 1956 and a precursor appeared in a 16th-century Italian cookbook, panini sandwiches became trendy in Milanese bars, called paninoteche, in the 1970s, when office workers were looking for quick lunch choices. Trendy U.S. restaurants, particularly in New York, began selling the sandwiches, whose popularity then spread to other U.S. cities, each producing distinctive variations of of the sandwich.

Food historians generally agree, panini, as we know them today, originated in the sandwich shops of Italy, perhaps as early as the 1960s. A survey of newspaper articles confirms that the panini sandwich caught the American consumers attention in the mid-1970s. As time progressed, panini evolved from upscale fare to trendy sandwiches for everyone.

Panini for Lunch

Panini for Lunch

In many English-speaking countries, a panino (Italian pronunciation: [paˈniːno] from the Italian, meaning “small bread, bread roll”) is a grilled sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread. The plural form of “panino” in Italian is panini. Examples of the bread types used for panini are ciabatta, foccacia and Italian baguettes. The bread is cut horizontally and filled with deli ingredients or other foods and then pressed in a grill. There is widespread availability and use of sandwich presses, often known as “panini presses” or “toasted sandwich makers.”

paninirome

In Italy classic filling combinations are:

mozzarella, tomato (plus arugula and/or prosciutto);
prosciutto and fontina cheese
prosciutto, chese and olive tapenade;
bresaola, goat cheese or stracchino (plus lettuce and/or tomato);
speck (smoked cured prosciutto from Tyrol), arugula and cheese
grilled vegetables and cheese.

When Italian panini are offered outside of Italy, they tend to differ quite substantially. The biggest no-no’s are the use of:

More than one kind of meat (this is very unlikely in Italy);
Large amounts of meat (in Italy, more than a few slices would be considered overpowering);
Too many ingredients (in Italy, it’s never more than 3 or 4 in total);
Any kind of dressing (oil and vinegar are for salads, not for sandwiches);
Honey-mustard, barbecue sauce, spicy mayo (since they don’t exist in Italy).

paninimaker1976

Breville 1976

 

 

 

paninipress

 

 

 

 

Do you know who invented the sandwich press?

Thomas Edison. Before sandwich grills, people had to toast each slice of bread individually using an electric toaster or a griddle. The sandwich grill made it possible to brown two slices of bread at the same time. Unfortunately, Edison’s novel approach to sandwich-making didn’t get much attention from home cooks. It was discontinued in the early 1930s, according to the museum at Thomas Edison’s winter estate in Fort Myers, FL, where the celebrated scientist’s sandwich grill is on display. Edison’s contribution to the world of grilled sandwiches was entirely forgotten by the time Breville came out with its panini press in 1974.

A panini press, which is essentially a two-sided grill, used to grill a sandwich. This method may also be accomplished by placing the sandwich on a grill, pressing down firmly with a spatula, then turning the sandwich over and repeating the process. Depending on your preference, the outsides of the bread may or may not be buttered or brushed with extra virgin olive oil to give it a crisp texture.

Thinly sliced grilled chicken, turkey and roast beef can also make delicious panini. The meat needs to be cooked before being placed in the sandwich — grilling a panini only heats it through and does not actually cook the meat. After you’ve selected the bread, meat and cheese, decide on the extras.

Some popular additions to panini include spinach, roasted red peppers, basil, olive oil, olives, tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and oregano. For a vegetable panini, use eggplant or zucchini, or any other vegetable that can be grilled. Panini make for a delicious and filling meal that is simple and quick to make and one that can be customized to your tastes.

panini2

Classic Italian Panino

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • One 6″ rectangular piece focaccia or ciabatta bread
  • 2 thin slices prosciutto or speck
  • 2 thin slices taleggio or fontina cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup arugula
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Split the bread in half and place prosciutto, fontina, and arugula on the bottom half. Drizzle with vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cover with the top half. Place in a panini press and grill just until the cheese begins to melt.

paniniporkItalian Pork Panini

2 servings

In central Italy, herb-and-garlic-seasoned pork roast is called porchetta. If you cannot find delicatessen porchetta (sold in some specialty food stores), use roasted pre-marinated Italian pork tenderloin. Cool the pork before cutting into thin slices. If you can’t find the olive mix, chop some garlic-stuffed green olives and mix in a bit of olive oil.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread
  • Olive oil
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced porchetta or cooked Italian-seasoned pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons minced green olive mix or tapenade
  • 2 ounces sliced Asiago cheese

Directions

Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.

Divide pork, olive mix and cheese between 2 slices of bread. Top with remaining bread.

Brush the outsides of the bread lightly with oil.

Place sandwiches on a panini grill or stove top griddle. Cover with grill top or a grill press.

Grill 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and cheese starts to melt.

panini1

Tomato, Artichoke and Fontina Panini

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 slices sourdough or multi-grain bread
  • 4 slices Italian Fontina cheese (3/4 ounce each)
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, well-drained and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 4 slices tomato

Directions

On two slices of bread, layer half the cheese, artichokes, spinach, two slices of tomato and the remaining half of the cheese.

Top with the uncovered bread slices.

Cook on a panini maker or indoor grill until bread is toasted and the cheese melts.

paninigrilled

 

Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Panini

2 servings

Ingredients

  • One small onion (sliced)
  • 2 bell peppers, red or yellow (seeded and each cut in 4 wedges)
  • 2 zucchini (sliced)
  • 4 oz. (100 g) provolone, scamorza or fontina cheese (sliced)
  • One handful of fresh arugula
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and cayenne pepper
  • 4 slices (½-inch thick) Italian country bread

Directions

In a small skillet, saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Grill the bell peppers and zucchini on a stove-top or outdoor grill (lightly sprinkled with salt) for about 15 minutes over medium heat.

When the peppers are ready, put them aside and peel off the skin (it should come off easily – if it doesn’t, let the peppers rest for 10 minutes in a sealed zip-lock while they are still warm).

Assemble the sandwich by layering the cheese, the grilled vegetables, the onions and the arugula on one half of the bread slices. Cook the sandwiches in the press until the cheese melts.

panini5

Pesto Chicken Panini

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 (2- to 3-ounce) Ciabatta rolls or foccacia bread
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 2 ounces mozzarella or fontina cheese, sliced
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced grilled or roasted chicken
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin

Directions

Preheat a panini grill or stove-top griddle pan.

Slice the bread in half. Spread the cut sides if the bread with pesto.

Top one side with chicken, cheese and tomatoes. Place the top on and brush lightly with olive oil, if desired.

Place in the grill or on a griddle. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until golden and the cheese starts to melt.


gardenfreshcover

Take a trip to your local farmers’ market and check out all the fresh fruits and vegetables it has to offer. You will quickly see all the possibilities that you can make for dinner. In fact, I have to stop myself from buying more than I can cook in a week – it all looks so good. Here are some easy dinner suggestions to use up what you bring home from the market.

Dinner 1

gardenfresh7

Grilled Chicken With Fresh Basil Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 25-30 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 4 boneless chicken cutlets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 5 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the grill to high and oil the grates

Chop basil (will yield about 6 tablespoons) and tomatoes coarsely.

Place tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of the basil in food processor (or blender); process and set aside.

Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.

Combine in a shallow bowl: 1 tablespoon of the oil, 2 teaspoons of the garlic and remaining 4 tablespoons of basil. Add chicken and turn to coat evenly. Marinate 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Place chicken on the grill and discard any remaining marinade. Close the lid and grill for about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to accurately ensure doneness.

To the processed tomato-basil mixture add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar and remaining garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; pulse 2-3 times or until just blended.

Serve sauce with the chicken.

Couscous with Peas, Lemon and Herbs

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup plain couscous
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup cooked fresh peas 
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Stir in the broth and lemon zest. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the couscous and peas and remove the pot from the heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fold the parsley and lemon juice into the couscous. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve alongside the chicken.

Dinner 2

gardenfresh3

Garden Soup

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 cup small onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup carrots, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups homemade vegetable broth or two 14.5-ounce cans vegetable or chicken broth
  • One 14 1/2 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup shelled peas 
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Directions

In a Dutch Oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add fennel and onions; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant and translucent.

Add green beans and carrots; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, undrained tomatoes, wine and Italian seasoning.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Add peas and simmer about 5 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve in individual soup bowls.

gardenfresh1

Corn and Ricotta Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears fresh corn-on-the-cob, kernels removed from the cob
  • 1/2 bunch fresh basil, chopped fine
  • 4 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup self-rising unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt

Directions

In a medium-sized bowl, combine corn, basil, ricotta, eggs, flour and a pinch of black pepper.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.

Carefully add spoonfuls of the corn mixture to the hot pan.

Cook on both sides until golden brown. Remove cakes to a serving platter when they finish cooking.

Season with Kosher salt.

Serve with low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt on the side, if desired.

Dinner 3

gardenfresh5

Grilled Lamb Chops with Vegetable Bulgur

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup Bulgar wheat
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 lamb loin chops, cut 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning, divided
  • Olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups small spinach leaves 
  • One 7 ounce jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and coarsely chopped

Directions

In a medium saucepan combine broth, bulgur and onion. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Stir 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning, the spinach and roasted peppers into the bulgur mixture. Cover and keep warm.

Preheat an outdoor grill to high and oil the grill grates. Turn off one side of the grill for indirect cooking.

Trim fat from the meat. Brush the chops with olive oil and sprinkle the meat with 1 teaspoon of the lemon-pepper seasoning.

Start the lamb on the indirect side of the grill. When the meat reaches 110°F for medium-rare on an instant read meat thermometer, moved the chops to the hot side of the grill.

They’ll quickly sear and come up to the desired temperature of 120°—130°F. Let them rest for 10 minutes off the grill on a platter before serving.

To serve: Divide bulgur mixture among 4 dinner plates. Top each with a grilled lamb chop.

gardenfresh4

Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large or 3 medium cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt  
  • 1/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper

Directions

Halve cucumbers lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces.

Place the cucumber slices in a colander set over a bowl and toss with the salt; let stand 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, dill, vinegar and pepper.

Remove cucumbers from the colander and pat dry with paper towels.

Add to the bowl with the yogurt dressing; toss to combine and serve with the grilled lamb chops.

Dinner 4

gardenfresh2

Pasta with Shrimp and Seasonal Vegetables

Bread sticks would be great with this dinner.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen medium wild caught shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil,  divided
  • 8 ounces fresh, small, thin green beans, trimmed
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 4 oz linguine pasta

Directions

Cook the pasta according to directions for al dente. Drain.

For the sauce:

In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon peel, lemon juice and capers. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and Italian seasoning to the skillet; cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute more. Add the cooked pasta and the sauce. Toss gently and serve.

Dinner 5

gardenfresh6

Grilled Sweet Potato Packets

Ingredients

  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 (24 x 12-inch) sheet nonstick aluminum foil
  • Half of a 10 oz bag of frozen sweet potato fries (such as Alexia brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions

Preheat the grill to high and oil the grates. Turn off one of the burners for indirect cooking.

Place peppers and onions in the center of the foil sheet. Top with the sweet potatoes, seasoned salt, pepper and cheese.

Bring up foil sides; double-fold the top and the ends to seal the package.

Place on the grill (seam side up) over indirect heat; grill 30 minutes or until the fries are hot and the cheese is melted.

Grilled Steak with Artichoke Topping

Ingredients

  • 1 (7.5-oz) jar marinated artichokes, undrained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lbs sirloin steak, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Combine artichokes, onions and garlic in a small skillet. Heat on low and, then, keep warm until the steaks are cooked.

About 10 minutes before the potatoes are cooked, plan on cooking the steaks on the direct side of the grill.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper.

Place the steaks on the direct side of the grill and cook 5 minutes; turn and cook 3-4 minutes more minutes or until the temperature of the meat reaches 125°F on an instant read meat thermometer for medium rare.

Remove steaks from the grill and place them on a serving platter. Let stand 5 minutes; slice and top with the warm artichoke mixture.


cheesecover

Whether it be a simple wedge of aged cheddar paired with apples or something more elaborate, cheese is the perfect appetizer. It is my go to ingredient for making appetizers for simple get-togethers or important celebrations. You can create a cheese board with fruit and meats for a group or you can use cheese to make an appetizer for a few guests. They all work and guests are always pleased.

Cheese falls into three main types:

Soft Ripened

The term “soft-ripened” describes those that are ripened from the outside in and they are very soft and even runny at room temperature. The most common soft-ripened cheeses have a white rind that is sometimes flecked with red or brown. The rind is usually edible and these cheeses are easy to spread on crackers or fruit. Examples include Brie, Camembert and Triple Crèmes.

Semi-Soft

“Semi-soft” describes selections that have a smooth, creamy interior with little or no rind. These are generally high in moisture content and range from very mild in flavor to very pungent. Examples include Blue, Colby, Fontina, Havarti and Monterey Jack.

Blue cheese has a distinctive blue/green veining created when the penicillium roqueforti mold, added during the cheese-making process, is exposed to air. This mold provides a distinct flavor, ranging from fairly mild to strong and pungent. Common examples are French Roquefort, Italian Gorgonzola and Danish Blue.

Hard Cheese

This is a very broad category. Profiles range from very mild to sharp and pungent. They generally have a texture that ranges from elastic at room temperature to hard enough to be grated. This category includes Gouda, Cheddar, Dry Jack, Swiss (Emmenthaler), Gruyere and Parmesan.

Try some of these easy to make appetizers for your next party.

cheese5

Tomato-Basil Skewers

16 skewers

Ingredients

  • 16 small fresh mozzarella balls
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, a variety of colors if you can find them, cut in half
  • White balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, to drizzle
  • Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Thread mozzarella, basil and tomatoes on small bamboo or wooden skewers.

Arrange on a serving platter.

Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil, the white balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper just before serving.

cheese2

Parmesan Artichoke Spread

Lower calorie versions of cream cheese and sour cream work well in this recipe.

20 servings

Ingredients

  • One 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pepperoncini (pickled Italian peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 20 toasted baguette slices (1/4 inch thick)

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Stir in chopped artichoke hearts, olives, peppers, parsley and lemon peel. Chill until serving time.

Serve on the toasted baguette slices.

cheese1

Gorgonzola and Pear Tart

Cut this tart up into small pieces for an elegant appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (8.6 oz.), defrosted over night in the refrigerator and at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack set on the bottom shelf of the oven.

Lay dough flat on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Poke holes all over the dough with a fork, leaving the outer inch untouched.

Bake until the dough starts to puff, about 10 minutes.

Whisk together the egg and Gorgonzola cheese until smooth and spread over the baked dough, using a spoon to move mixture toward the edges of the pastry.

Sauté onion in oil in a small frying pan until softened. Scatter onion and pear over the cheese layer.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the egg is cooked, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and cut into small serving squares. Arrange on an attractive serving platter.

cheese4

Steak and Cheese Rolls

16 appetizers

Ingredients

  • 16 thin slices of grilled, very tender steak, such as filet mignon (about 8 ounces) or deli roasted beef slices, not cut too thin
  • 16 tablespoons light Boursin cheese 
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced red and yellow bell peppers

Directions

Spread each slice of steak with 1 tablespoon of the cheese and top each with an even amount of bell pepper slices.

Roll the steak around the bell pepper slices. Secure with a toothpick and arrange on a serving platter.

cheese3

Warm Spinach and Artichoke Bites

24 appetizers

Ingredients

  • 24 small wonton wrappers
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise made with olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers (from a jar is fine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Place 1 wonton wrapper in each of 24 mini muffin pan cups sprayed with olive oil cooking spray, with the edges of the wontons extending over the top of the muffin cup.

Bake for 5 minutes.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Spoon the spinach artichoke mixture evenly in each wonton cup.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until the filling is heated through and the edges of the wontons are golden brown. Remove to a serving platter.

cheese6

Mascarpone Apricots with Pistachios

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • Crushed seeds from 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 8 ounces dried whole apricots (the soft, ready-to-eat kind)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese)
  • 1 cup unsalted pistachios

Directions

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the crushed cardamom seeds, lemon juice and apricots. Let the apricots simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until they puff up. Remove the pan from the heat.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apricots to a baking sheet or large plate; let the apricots cool.

Finely chop the pistachios and place in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Using a small, sharp knife cut a pocket in each apricot (they will already have a small hole from where the stone was removed, so just make it larger).

Using a small spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, stuff each apricot with some mascarpone cheese. Dip the stuffed apricots, cheese side down, in the chopped pistachios.

Arrange on a platter and refrigerate until serving time. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Central States

As immigrants from the different regions of Italy settled throughout the various regions of the United States, many brought with them a distinct regional Italian culinary tradition. Many of these foods and recipes developed into new favorites for the townspeople and later for Americans nationwide.

Minnesota

The Italian Cultural Center

The Italian Cultural Center

The ICC (The Italian Cultural Center) was established as a center in Minneapolis for all things Italian and to serve as a beacon for classic and contemporary Italian culture through language, art, music, design, cinema, architecture and technology. The ICC draws Italian-Americans who want to learn more about the culture and connect with their roots.

Discovering modern Italy is a goal for ICC’s students. Some of the students who come to study language here also enjoy learning about what Italy is like now. The Center’s seven university-trained teachers are from Italy and bring their own diverse heritages into the classroom, giving students a glimpse of life in some of the small towns and villages.

Films are a big part of the Italian cultural experience. Since the development of the Italian film industry in the early 1900s, Italian filmmakers and performers have enjoyed great international acclaim and have influenced film movements throughout the world. As of 2015, Italian films have won 14 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, the most of any country.

Every year, the ICC presents a series of outstanding contemporary films in their annual Italian Film Festival. They also offer screenings throughout the year in the CineForum series.

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Through the lens of drama, comedies, documentaries and movies, the view of Italy is broadened and offers a fresh perspective on the country and its people. It is a way to take a journey to Italy without leaving Minnesota.

The desire to show Twin Cities’ residents the real Italy has led them to select films by modern Italian directors for the ICC’s annual free film festival, held in collaboration with the Italian Film Festival USA and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). The Italian film series offers a glimpse into award-winning, post-war Italian films and the high fashion industry they launched.

Antipasti Skewers

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Serves 8

Inspired by her travels and studies in Tuscany, Carmela Tursi Hobbins created Carmela’s Cucina to teach the art of Italian cooking and entertaining. Her experience blends years as co-owner of a successful catering business and her background as a classroom teacher. She has written two cookbooks, Carmela’s Cucina and Celebrations with Carmela’s Cucina.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound package of fresh tri-colored tortellini
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 pint fresh bocconcini mozzarella balls
  • 1 pint pitted olives
  • 1/2 pound salami sliced thin
  • 2 envelopes Good Seasons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing mix
  • Bamboo skewers

Directions

Boil the tortellini for about 6 minutes in salted water.  Drain and put the tortellini into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Wash the tomatoes and basil and pat dry.

Thread the tortellini, tomatoes, basil leaves, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, olives and salami (folded into quarters) onto the skewers.

Using one package of the Italian salad dressing mix, make up the dressing following the directions on the package and drizzle the dressing over the prepared skewers.

Sprinkle the contents of the second envelope of dried Italian Salad mix over the skewers and let marinate for several hours.

When ready to serve, assembled skewers can be stuck into a melon or pineapple half or laid on a lettuce lined tray.

Nebraska

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Little Italy is a neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska that, historically, has been the home to the city’s Italian population. Omaha’s first Italian community developed during the 1890s near the intersection of South 24th Street and Poppleton Street. It was formed by immigrants from southern Italy and Italian immigrants who moved there after living in the eastern states. In 1905, Sicilian immigrants settled along South 6th Street in the hills south of downtown. Additional immigrants from Sicily arrived between 1912 and 1913 and following World War I.

Two brothers, Joseph and Sebastiano Salerno, are credited with creating Omaha’s Little Italy, located near the Union Pacific yards in downtown. When Sebastiano took a job as an agent for a steamship company in 1904, he encouraged friends from Sicily to emigrate. Joseph then secured housing and jobs for the immigrants, particularly in the downtown Omaha’s Union Pacific shops that included grocery stores, clothing and shoe stores and the Bank of Sicily, established by the Salerno brothers in 1908.

Today, the Festival of Santa Lucia is still celebrated throughout Little Italy, as it has been since the arrival of the first immigrants. An annual festival called “La Festa” is held to unite the city’s Italian community and celebrate its heritage. Many other remnants of Little Italy endure, making this area distinct within the city.

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Little Italy has several landmarks, including St. Francis Cabrini Church, built in 1908 at 1335 South 10th Street. Other landmarks include the Santa Lucia Festival Committee Hall at 725 Pierce Street; Marino’s Italian Grocery at 1716 South 13th Street; Sons Of Italy Hall located at 1238 South 10th Street and Orsi’s Bakery at 621 Pacific Street.

Orsi’s Bakery and Pizzeria is a gold mine for Italian fare. Their Sicilian style pizza, in particular, has been popular since they first opened in 1919. Passed through the Orsi family for over 90 years, the interior and the owners may have changed, but the recipes have stayed the same. Along with pizza, their Italian deli offers a variety of meats, cheeses, olives, peppers and desserts.

Steakhouse Spaghetti

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Chefs at Omaha’s Piccolo Pete’s flavor the sauce for their spaghetti with beef steak trimmings and pork and beef bones. In the true sense of Italian American cuisine this recipe combines Italian heritage cooking with Omaha’s love of beef.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. beef shank bones, trimmed
  • 1/4 lb. raw steak trimmings (ask your butcher for this)
  • 1 pork neck bone
  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons. celery seeds
  • 4 sprigs basil
  • 3 (28-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Heat the oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook bones and steak trimmings until browned, 7–9 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add garlic and onion; cook until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add sugar, celery seeds, basil, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add bones and trimmings. Cook, until the sauce is reduced by a third, about 1 hour. Discard bones, trimmings, basil and bay leaves; shred the meat and add it to the sauce.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and divide among serving bowls; ladle with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Kansas

Heart of America Bridge

Heart of America Bridge

The Columbus Park area is Kansas City’s Italian neighborhood. Although ethnic lines are less distinctly drawn than in years past, the unique character of the neighborhood remains. Unlike other Little Italys that blur into other neighborhoods, Columbus Park has established boundaries: the Missouri River on one side and the Heart of America Bridge on the other. As one of Kansas City’s oldest immigrant neighborhoods, it has also had a long history of social infrastructure and culture. By 1920 there were about 10,000 Italians living in the area.

The heart of the community is the Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Built in 1895, the Church was the result of petitioning by the local Italian community for a church. Bells still toll on Sunday mornings and services have continued in the building for more than 100 years.

The main business area is found along 5th street, where there are many Italian restaurants and grocery shops. You will find traditional foods and products at Garazzo’s Ristorante, LaSala’s Deli and LaRocca’s Grocery.

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Wish-Bone Salad Dressing originated in Kansas City. In 1945, returning World War II veteran, Phillip Sollomi, opened a family-style chicken restaurant in Kansas City called, The Wish-Bone®. In 1948, Sollomi began serving his mother’s salad dressing made from a recipe she brought with her from her native Sicily. As demand grew, Sollomi began mixing the dressing in a 50-gallon drum and bottling it. The dressing became known as“The Kansas City Wish-Bone® Famous Italian-Style Dressing. Word of this unique salad dressing spread throughout the heartland. In 1957, Sollomi sold the business to Lipton.

Chef Jasper Mirabile grew up in an Italian family. Each year he travels back to Italy and his family’s hometown of Gibellina, Sicily to see family and friends. He also goes to do research on the authenticity of Sicilian cuisine and to learn as much as he can about its rich history.

He writes in The Kansas City Star, “ I like to say my mother is “old school” in her style of cooking. No short cuts, no microwaves, no cheating at all, just respecting traditional recipes and cooking methods. Unlike me, a short order line cook, mama measured everything exactly, never doubling a recipe, never experimenting with different ingredients, just preparing the same tried and true recipes over and over again since she learned to cook as a teenager. Mama learned to prepare her Sunday sauce, meatballs and braciole from her mother, Rosa Cropisi. Grandmother Cropisi brought the recipe over from Corleone, Sicily, never-changing a single ingredient. My mother claims my father only married her for her mother’s meatball recipe.”

Jasper Mirabile’s Recipe for Meatballs

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Makes about  20

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Ground Pork
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Freshly Grated Romano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Parsley, (Chopped)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, (Minced)
  • 1/2 cup Onion, (Minced)
  • Salt and Pepper, (To taste)
  • 2 cups Plain Bread Crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 cup Olive Oil

Directions

Place pork & beef in a large bowl. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley, minced garlic, onions and salt and pepper to taste. Mix.

Add the bread crumbs and blend into the meat mixture. Slowly add the water until the mixture is moist. Shape the meat mixture into 2 1/2- to 3-inch balls.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the meatballs and fry in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan.

When the bottom half of the meatballs are well browned and slightly crisp, (usually takes about 5 to 6 minutes), turn them over and cook the other side for 5 minutes more.

Remove the meatballs from the heat and drain them on paper towels. Simmer in your favorite sauce.

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. runs his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, Jasper’s, with his brother. He is the author of The Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook. Chef Mirabile is a culinary instructor, a founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He hosts a weekly radio show, “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM.

Oklahoma

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Krebs began as a small coal-mining camp inhabited by the English, Irish and Italian miners. The commercial exploitation of coal in the Native American Territories began in 1872, with the completion of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway. A few years later, the Osage Coal and Mining Company leased the property on which the town of Krebs emerged. The first mine opened in 1875 and twenty years later, 15 mines were operating in the area.

Krebs, Oklahoma is considered the center of Italian culture in the state of Oklahoma. Most of the immigrants who found their way to Oklahoma settled in the coal-producing communities in Pittsburg County and in the Choctaw Nation. Italian immigrants to Oklahoma were predominantly from northern Italy. They came as families and often established strong ethnic communities. In 1910, there were 2,162 Italians living in Pittsburg, Latimer and Coal counties. Later on the region attracted immigrants from southern Italy.

First-generation Oklahomans learned Italian from their parents. There aren’t many first-generation Italian Americans left in Krebs. The language hasn’t made it down through the generations, but it can still be heard during festivals and community events, especially over a game of bocce ball. The Italian Festival has been running for 40 years and is the community’s biggest single event.

When Kreps’ resident, Joe Prichard, took his family back to the Italian town his grandfather emigrated from, he was surprised by how familiar it felt. “The little village my grandfather left was almost a clone of the village he came to in Oklahoma,” he said. Joe discovered that San Gregorio Magno, in the Campania region, was not only the same size as Krebs, but community life there also centered around the Catholic Church. Even the town’s differences created parallels for him.

Krebs is famous throughout Oklahoma for its many Italian restaurants. Isle of Capri, “Pete’s Place” and Roseanna’s, to name a few, have been there for generations. A specialty of the region is Lamb fries, the name generally given to lamb animelles (testicles) that have been peeled, rolled in cracker meal and fried. Lamb fries are served in many Italian restaurants, particularly in Oklahoma’s “little Italy” and the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse located in the Oklahoma City Stockyards.

Original Pete's Place

Original Pete’s Place

Three years after his arrival, at the age of 11, Pietro began working in the coal mines, changing his name officially to “Pete Prichard.” Through hard work and determination, he managed to make a meager living. However, in 1916, when Pete was 21 years old, a massive cave-in nearly cost him his life. He survived, but the accident crushed his leg in such a way that he couldn’t return to work in the mines.

To help pass the time, Pete took an interest in brewing beer. He found a unique recipe brewed by the local Native American tribe, the Choctaw, which made use of the plentiful supply of golden wheat that grew on the Oklahoma plains. Pete experimented and tested until he perfected his own version, which he named choc® beer.

Before long, other immigrant miners began gathering at his house regularly to relax and enjoy a beer during breaks. Then, it only seemed natural to start fixing the men a hearty lunch to go along with the beer. That’s the Italian way! He served “family-style” helpings of homemade Italian specialties like spaghetti, meatballs, ravioli and sausage. In 1925, Pete officially opened a restaurant in his home and, since everyone had always just called it “Pete’s Place®”, the name stuck.

Caciocavallo Cheese

Caciocavallo Cheese

When Mike Lovera’s Grocery first opened in 1946 in Krebs, it was a regular mom-and-pop general store and meat market. But it was the homemade Italian sausage that made Lovera’s store stand out from the competition. A specialty Italian grocery store would find it hard to survive in most towns of 2,000 people. But Krebs has been largely Italian since immigrant coal miners arrived in the 1870s and the town has no problem supporting a grocery store, three Italian restaurants and a Catholic church.

Along with about 40 imported Italian products, Lovera’s is famous for its caciocavallo, a milky cheese covered in wax. Initially, Lovera bought caciocavallo from local Italians who made it at home, but when the supply started to dry up, Lovera learned how to make it.

Sausage and Peppers

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Source: News OK, Dave Cathey, Food Editor

Ingredients

  • One 16-ounce coil of fresh Lovera’s sausage
  • 1 whole garden-fresh green pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion sliced in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeno cut in thick slices, optional
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush sausage with 1 tablespoon oil and place in a cast-iron skillet or small roasting pan.

Roast sausages 20 minutes.

While the sausages are roasting, toss onions and peppers with remaining oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.

After 20 minutes in the oven, turn the sausages over and top with the onion-pepper-oil mixture. Roast another 20 minutes and remove the pan from the oven.

Remove the sausages from the pan, let sit five minutes, then cut in slices and toss with the onions and peppers in the pan.

Serve with pasta and Italian tomato sauce or with crusty bread.

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Keeping your ingredient list simple is often the most effective way to prepare pasta sauces. A simple sauce highlights only one or two different flavors, enabling you to enjoy the texture of the pasta. While basic tomato sauce is a classic choice, sauces featuring olive oil as the primary ingredient also lend themselves to a simple but flavorful preparation. Use an extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor. Grated Parmesan cheese adds a distinct flavor and creamy texture when mixed through the hot pasta. Sprinkling some chili flakes on the dish adds some spice. You can also add sautéed shrimp or diced chicken to make the dish more substantial.

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Pasta Cooking Tips:

Use a tall, deep cooking pot rather than a wide, shallow one. Remembering that the pasta will swell, generously fill up the pot with about 4 quarts of water.

Season the water with salt before you add the pasta. It’s the best way to bring out the pasta flavor.

Do not add olive oil to the cooking water. If you’re trying to keep the pasta from clumping as it cooks, make sure you have plenty of water in the pot and stir frequently, especially early in the cooking process. Don’t add it to drained pasta, either… it will only make your carefully prepared sauce slide right off the pasta.

There’s no need to rinse your cooked pasta with water. The starch helps the sauce bind to the pasta. Pasta for a salad can be quickly cooled by spreading out the pasta on a baking pan.

Before draining, save some of the pasta water to add to the sauce. Add enough to help loosen the sauce.

To reheat cooked pasta, place pasta in a colander and pour hot or boiling water over it or immerse it in a pot of boiling water for 15 seconds. Cooked pasta will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

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Shrimp Scampi over Whole-Grain Spaghetti

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.

While the pasta is cooking, warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add garlic, crushed red pepper, wine and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet and simmer 1 minute. Stir in shrimp and heat.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Toss pasta with the shrimp mixture, lemon juice and parsley. Add reserved cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time to moisten.

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Linguine with Pancetta and Peas

6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz linguine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas, thawed
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 3 slices pancetta or bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat; add garlic, stir occasionally until they begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add peas; season with salt and pepper and cook 2 minutes.

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with peas. Toss well and add some reserved pasta water, a little at a time to coat the pasta. Add the Pecorino Romano. Toss with the pancetta or bacon and garnish with black pepper.

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Thin Spaghetti with Sausage and Spring Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 8 oz thin spaghetti
  • 8 oz link of Italian pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup asparagus, sliced into 2″ lengths
  • 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest

Directions

Cook pasta al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.

Mix together the parmesan cheese, mint, basil, parsley and lemon zest. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until brown. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Cut into thin slices.

Add the olive oil to the pan and heat over medium. Add the mushrooms, peas and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring.

Return the sausage to the pan and add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until everything is warmed through.

Add the cooked pasta and sprinkle with the reserved pasta cooking water.

Serve in individual pasta bowls. Drizzle each lightly with olive oil and top with a tablespoon of the herb-cheese mixture.

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Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Artichokes

6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extras for the grill
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed or a package of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted.
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving.

Directions

Light an outdoor grill or heat a grill pan. Oil the grill or grill pan.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill the chicken until just about cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Let the chicken rest and, then, slice into 1/4-inch thin slices.

Cook pasta al dente in a large pot of salted boiling water. Reserve about 2/3 cup of the cooking water before draining.

Cut the artichoke hearts into smaller wedges.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute.

Add the artichoke hearts and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Add the pasta, chicken and some of the reserved pasta water to the pan. Toss and cook an additional minute.

Add the fresh parsley and Romano cheese and serve immediately with more grated cheese on the side.

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Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Pasta

  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta, cooked al dente
  • 4 ounces asparagus, blanched and thinly sliced on the bias
  • One 10 oz package frozen peas, defrosted
  • One 12 oz jar roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Parmigiano- Reggiano, for garnish

Directions

For the dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the pasta:

Mix the pasta with the asparagus, peas, roasted peppers, tomatoes, fennel, shallots and basil.

Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat.

Let the salad rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors before serving.

When ready to serve, toss and shave cheese over the top.



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