People rarely associate Judaism with Italy, however, Jewish traders built one of the first synagogues outside of the Middle East in Ostia Antica (near Rome) during the second century BC. With time the Jewish population grew and historians have calculated that by the reign of Tiberius (14-37 AD) there were more than 50,000 Jews living in Rome and dozens of Jewish communities scattered throughout Italy.
There are differences in what is considered Kosher in various Jewish traditions. For example, the Ashkenazim consider rice to be chametz, or leavened, and therefore forbid it, while allowing chocolate, cheese and other dairy products. The Italkim and Sephardim instead allow rice, but consider chocolate and dairy products to be chametz, and thus forbidden.
Jewish cuisine through the centuries influenced modern-day Italian cuisine. Wild radicchio flavored with garlic, herb salads, omelettes, pies made with chard, spinach, leeks, marinated cabbage, turnips, eggplant, artichokes, fava beans, polenta chestnuts and raisins are just some of the ingredients contributed by the Jewish immigrants.
Here are some recipes suitable for Passover with Italian Jewish influences.
Tomato Soup with Rice
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 medium carrot, slice
1 tablespoon olive oil
26 oz container Italian chopped tomatoes (such as Pomi- no salt or sugar added)
8 cups chicken broth, divided
3 tablespoons uncooked long-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
In a Dutch oven or stock pot, sauté onion, celery and carrots in oil until softened but not browned.
Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of the chicken broth. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the remaining chicken broth and rice. Season with salt, thyme and pepper.
Simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley.
Honey Lemon Artichokes
1 large lemon, cut in quarters, plus the freshly squeezed juice from 2 or 3 lemons to equal 1/2 cup
4 large globe artichokes (12 to 14 ounces each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 medium roasted red bell pepper, cut into small dice
Fill a very large bowl with cold water; squeeze a few of the lemon quarters into the water, then place them in the bowl.
Rinse the artichokes. Snap off or use kitchen shears to trim all the pointed outer leaves and then slice off the center leaves at the top.
Leave 1 to 2 inches of stem attached to each artichoke; cut off the rest and discard.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove a thin layer from the remaining stems.
Working quickly so the artichokes don’t discolor, use a grapefruit spoon or a melon-ball scoop to remove the choke, or thistle part, in the center of each artichoke, making sure to remove all fibers.
Quickly transfer each trimmed artichoke to the bowl of lemon water.
Once all the artichokes are trimmed, work with them one at a time, cutting them in half and then again, so each artichoke is quartered.
Preheat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat.
Add the artichokes cut side down, fitting them snugly into the pan.
Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, re-positioning the artichokes in the pan as needed so each one picks up golden color.
Season lightly with salt.
Stir in the lemon juice, honey and water; cover partially, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
The liquid should thicken slightly and the artichokes will be tender.
Transfer to a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the artichokes.
Garnish with the parsley and red bell pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Braised Chicken and Eggplant
3 lbs chicken pieces; skinned/fat removed
Salt and pepper; to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large Vidalia or sweet onion; halved, sliced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1½ lbs eggplant; unpeeled, cubed
½ lb. fresh Roma tomatoes; cored, cubed
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
In a large deep skillet, heat the oil and brown the chicken on each side.
Remove the chicken from the skillet to a bowl or platter. Don’t clean the skillet.
Add the onion, garlic and eggplant. Cook the vegetables and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
Add bay leaf and hot pepper flakes. Return the chicken pieces to the skillet. Baste with the sauce.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until cooked. Discard the bay leaf before serving and sprinkle with basil.
Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
2 pounds fingerling or small potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash and pat dry the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.
Add the olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Toss the potatoes making sure to coat them well with the herbs and oil.
Put them onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, gently moving them around on the pan halfway through cooking.
Serve at once garnished with more fresh rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil.
Almond Cake with Lemon Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons matzo meal
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup ground almonds (4 ounces)
1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped (2 3/4 ounces)
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
8 large eggs, separated
In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest with 1/2 cup of water.
Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer over moderately low heat for 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat; let steep.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Oil the bottom and sides of a 9-by-3-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; oil the paper.
Evenly coat the bottom and sides with the matzo meal, tapping out any excess. Refrigerate the pan.
In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix together the granulated sugar, almonds, lemon zest and egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Stir one-quarter of the egg whites into the almond mixture to lighten it.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites in 3 additions.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for about 1 hour, or until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out dry.
Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake.
Remove the pan sides and invert the cake onto a wire rack.
Peel off the parchment and let the cake cool to room temperature.
Reheat and strain the syrup. Transfer the cake to a plate and prick all over with a fork.
Pour the syrup evenly over the cake and set aside at room temperature for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake and serve.
Cosenza is a province in the Calabria region of Italy. The province, one of the very few in Italy with coastlines along two different seas, includes the beautiful Sila mountains with their 3 lakes, Cecita-Mucone, Arvo and Ampollino and the Pollino National Park, founded in 1993.
Cosenza’s roots go back to early man. The province was conquered by the Normans, Saracens, Byzantines and the Spanish. The rich history is reflected in their architecture and their culture. Roman ruins, ancient castles, Norman towers and festivals, like the Montalto Uffugo’s Saracen Festival, mesh the past with the present.
An ancient legend exists in the province dating back to 410 AD about King Alaric, King of the conquering Visigoths. The legend states that once the King conquered Rome, he headed south, conquering and collecting treasures. Once he reached where the Crati river and the Bucenta river met, he died suddenly. These rivers meet in the heart of Cosenza. It is said that his soldiers, along with the help of slaves, buried the King under the river, along with his horse and the treasures, by redirecting the river long enough to build the tomb. His troops then killed all the slaves so no one would know where the treasure was buried.
In the centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, several towns in the Cosenza province refused to acknowledge the new government of the Visigoths. Instead, they built strong city walls and small garrisons to hold out for centuries as semi-independent enclaves until the invasion of the Germanic Lombards in the 560s. In 1500, in spite of resistance, Cosenza was occupied by the Spanish army. In 1707 the Austrians succeeded the Spanish in the Kingdom of Naples, followed by occupation by the Bourbons. From 1806 to 1815, Cosenza fought hard against French domination. In 1860, Calabria became part of the new Kingdom of Italy.
The province contains the Cosentian Academy, the second academy of philosophical and literary studies to be founded in the Kingdom of Naples (1511) and one of the oldest in Europe. To this day, the area remains a cultural hub with several museums, theaters, libraries and the University of Calabria.
The cuisine has been greatly influenced by past conquerors. The Arabs brought oranges, lemons, raisins, artichokes and eggplant and the Cistercian monks introduced new agricultural practices and dairy products.
Tomatoes are sun-dried, octopi are pickled, anchovies salted and peppers and eggplant are packed into jars of oil and vinegar.
The chili pepper is popular here and is crushed in oil and placed on the table with every meal to sprinkle over your food. The chili was once considered to be a cure for malaria which probably accounts for its extensive use in this region.
The cuisine is a balance between meat-based dishes (pork, lamb, goat), vegetables (especially eggplant) and fish. Pasta (as in Central Italy and the rest of Southern Italy) is also very important.
Some specialties include Caciocavallo Cheese, Cipolla rossa di Tropea (red onion), Frìttuli and Curcùci (fried pork), Liquorice, Lagane e Cicciari (a pasta dish with chickpeas), Pecorino Crotonese (Sheep’s milk cheese) and Pignolata (a soft pastry covered in chocolate and lemon flavored icing).
Recipes To Make From Cosenza
Serve with Calabrian Bread
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into slices
1/8 cup of salt
2 roasted oil-packed Calabrian chilies, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, minced or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons of white vinegar
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Salt the cut eggplant and let it set for 1 hour.
Rinse the eggplant thoroughly under cold water.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the eggplant for 4 to 5 minutes until tender.
Lay the slices out on a towel to dry.
In a medium size bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, chili peppers, garlic, oregano and pepper.
Place one layer of the eggplant on a plate and drizzle some of the oil mixture on top.
Place another layer on top and repeat until all the eggplant is used up.
Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hour and serve chilled.
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast with a quarter cup of the lukewarm water. Pour into a large bowl.
Mix in the flour, sugar, salt, and remaining lukewarm water and mix in until a dough starts to form. If too sticky, add a bit more flour.
Turn out onto a flat surface and knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a thick towel, and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide in half and shape into 2 oblong loaves about a foot long each. The bread can also be shaped into a ring.
Put the loaves on cookie sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise again for 40 minutes. Loaves will double in width.
In a small dish, beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water. Make 3 slits in the top of the risen bread, a quarter of an inch deep. Brush with the egg wash and put the cookie sheets in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F Then lower the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until golden and baked through.
Lagane E Cicciari
Lagane is a flat, wide, fettuccine-like fresh pasta
2 cups all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1/2 cup of water
Add the salt to the flour and mix well.
Slowly add the water and knead the dough for about 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Roll the dough on a floured surface, using a rolling-pin to form a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
Continue to roll and thin the pasta. (Cutting the circle in half will make it easier to handle.)
Roll the dough to form a long log
With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/4 inch strips.
Unroll the strips and lay them on a clean, flat surface.
Cook as directed below.
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
One 15 ounce can chickpeas, undrained
One 14 oz can chopped Italian tomatoes, undrained
8 ounces lagane (recipe above) or broken lasagna noodles
In a small saucepan, combine the garlic, oil, red pepper flakes and rosemary.
Over low heat, cook the garlic until it begins to brown.
Add the chickpeas with all of their liquid and the tomatoes.
Simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Boil the pasta in at least 3 quarts of water with 1 heaping tablespoon of salt for 2-3 minutes if fresh pasta or longer for dried.
Just before the pasta is done, remove about half the chickpeas to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or with an immersion blender. Return the mashed chickpeas to the sauce
When the pasta is done. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta.
Combine the pasta with the chickpea sauce in a large serving bowl. Toss well. Add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water if the pasta is too dry. (It should not be soupy, however.)
Serve very hot with either olio santo (hot pepper oil) or extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle over the top.
Galletto alla Diavola (Devil’s Chicken)
1 whole chicken, cut up
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mustard
1 carrot, minced
1 red onion, minced
1 3/4 oz uncooked ham (capocollo), finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup dry Marsala wine
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix the eggs with the salt and pepper and mustard.
Dip each chicken piece into the egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs.
Grease a baking dish with a little olive oil and then add the chicken pieces.
Pour a little bit of olive oil over the chicken pieces and bake for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest piece reaches 165 degrees.
In a skillet cook the carrot in oil with the onion and ham.
Season with salt and pepper, then add the white wine and Marsala.
Reduce the heat and let simmer until thickened.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, then pour the sauce over and serve.
You don’t always have to serve meat as a main course in order to make a delicious dinner.
Plant-based recipes consist of fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, but no dairy, eggs or meat. While I would not be happy with a diet devoid of dairy, eggs or cheese, I am very happy to eat whole plant food meals a few times a month. I am not a purist, so I include olive oil in my cooking preparations. We really liked these recipes and did not think they needed the addition of meat.
Try some plant-based recipes every once in a while. They are good for you and the planet.
Serves 6 as an appetizer. This also makes a good spread for bruschetta.
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
8 chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup minced jarred roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Basil leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score once or twice with a knife (not hitting the skin on the bottom.)
Roast face down on foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with oil, about 20 minutes or until tender. Let drain on a paper towel for 10 minutes, cut side down.
Scoop the eggplant out of the skin and finely chop.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil (or substitute vegetable broth) over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the Italian tomatoes, vinegar and agave and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the remaining oil, eggplant, capers, red peppers, olives and parsley and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until thickened.
Cool to room temperature. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with your favorite Italian bread.
Serve over cooked pasta, polenta or rice.
2½ pounds fresh mixed mushrooms, small and firm
1/2 ounce dried porcini, soaked in 1 1/4 cups warm water
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary, a tender stem about 4-inches long
1 sprig fresh sage, with 4 big leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable broth
1 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups canned finely chopped Italian tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
Squeeze out the soaked porcini and slice them into pieces about 1/4-inch wide. Strain the soaking water and set aside
Clean, trim and slice the fresh mushrooms into thin slices, barely 1/4-inch wide.
Tie all the fresh herb sprigs together with piece of kitchen twine or enclose the leaves in cheesecloth.
Put the oil or vegetable broth into a large, deep skillet with a cover or Dutch Oven and place over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and stir well.
Cook for 6 minutes or more-stirring often-until they’re soft without any browning.
Add all the porcini and sliced mushrooms into the pan.. Sprinkle with another 1/4 teaspoon salt and add in the herb bouquet, toss briefly, raise the heat a bit and cover the pan.
Cook, covered, for about 3 minutes-shaking the pan now and then to sweat the mushrooms.
Uncover and continue to cook over fairly high heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms shrink and the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes or more.
When the mushrooms begin to brown, clear a spot and add the wine and stir constantly until the wine thickens and evaporates. Pour in the porcini water, vegetable broth and Italian tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, stirring and then lower the heat to keep the sauce bubbling gently and cover the pan. Cook for one hour, stirring occasionally.
If after one hour the mushrooms are thoroughly tender and the saucy liquid has thickened, remove the herb bouquet. If you want the sauce thicker, cook for another 30 minutes.
Taste and add salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper.
Use the sauce immediately or let it cool. Store it in the refrigerator for a week or freeze, for use within several months.
Italian Vegetable Stew
Vegetables that will hold up to long cooking times are the best choices for stews. If you use more delicate vegetables, they should be added toward the end of cooking. Good veggie choices for stews are sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, root vegetables such as carrots, turnips and parsnips, green beans, pumpkin, winter squash and cauliflower. Cutting the vegetables into uniform pieces helps them cook evenly.
I used purple and red potatoes in this recipe to give the stew some added color.
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable broth or water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 medium carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/4 lbs mixed small purple and red potatoes, cut in half
½ cup red wine
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
One 26 oz container strained Italian tomatoes (Pomi) or tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups frozen Italian or regular green beans, partially defrosted
Heat the oil (or water) in a Dutch Oven and add the garlic and onions. Saute over low heat for a few minutes until the onion softens.
Add all the remaining vegetables, except the Italian green beans, and stir until coated with the onions. Add the red wine and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.
Add the seasonings, strained tomatoes and tomato paste. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the sauce starts to bubble.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the stew for 30 minutes. Add the green beans, cover and cook for 10 or 15 minutes more.
Don’t forget the crusty Italian bread to dunk in the sauce.
My blogger friend and artist, Wendie, asked me to consider creating some vegan dishes for my blog. I told her I would consider it, if I could come up with ideas that did not use processed vegan foods. To me a true vegan dish should be made from plants without the addition of meat substitutes or processed dairy substitutes and dressings.
Note: If you are making a vegan dessert then the sugar you use must not have been processed with animal products, as most regular sugar products are. Did you know that? Here is some information on how sugar is processed. Look for brands that say organic, fair trade or vegan on the label.
Of course, the recipes in my menu must be Italian and I did include some olive oil. I consider olive oil to be a healthy oil and part of the vegan diet, since it is a plant-based food.
If there are health issues, then leave it out and use vegetable broth for sautéing, but for most of us olive oil is needed to create a flavorful dish.
Here is my take on a great tasting vegan dinner using all natural, easy to find ingredients. Try it for your next Meatless Monday dinner.
Pureed Celery Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, light green and white sections, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds celery (stalks & leaves), diced
- 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled & diced
- 8 cups vegetable broth (for homemade vegetable stock see my recipe here)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and cook the onion and celery until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Add the broth and potato and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potato is fork tender, about 20 minutes.
Add the parsley leaves and cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
Use a regular blender to puree the soup until smooth (a hand immersion blender or a food processor does not get the soup really smooth).
Stir in the lemon juice and taste to adjust the seasoning, if needed.
Crusty Italian Bread
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. Overnight works great.
Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of a round cloche baker or dutch oven with a lid and sprinkle with flour. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. When the oven has reached 450 degrees F, place the baker pan in the oven and heat for 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and shape into a ball. Place the dough on the prepared parchment and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise while the baker is heating.
Remove the hot baker from the oven and transfer the dough with the parchment to the baker. With a sharp knife, make a few slashes in the top of the dough. Cover and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Remove the bread from the oven and place on a rack to cool. Slice and serve with olive oil for dipping.
Eggplant Olive Pasta
Serve a mixed green salad with the pasta.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant, (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 8 ounces dried rigatoni pasta (Check the ingredient list to be sure the pasta is vegan. Good Italian dried pasta should never contain eggs.)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add tomatoes, olives, vinegar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to break down, 5 to 7 minutes more.
Turn the heat down and simmer the sauce, while the pasta cooks.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Place the cooked pasta and pasta cooking water in the skillet with the eggplant sauce and heat for about 2 minutes.
Pour into a pasta serving bowl and garnish with basil.
Vanilla Almond Biscotti
After experimenting with different ingredients to create a vegan biscotti, I decided this recipe had the right combination to form an authentic tasting biscotti.
They are more fragile than traditional biscotti, so handle gently. And, believe me when I say, this is a great tasting biscotti.
Makes about 15 biscotti
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 3/4 cup slivered almonds
- 3/4 cup almond flour/meal
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the almond milk and sliced almonds. Once mixed, slowly add the milk and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in the 1 cup sliced almonds.
Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough in the center. Form the dough into a log with wet hands, about 10 x 4 inches.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife, slice the log on the diagonal into 1-inch thick cookies and place them back on the baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the biscotti over and bake for 15 minutes more. Move to a wire rack to cool completely. These go very well with coffee for dessert.
Note: If you would like to decorate the biscotti with a drizzle of frosting for a better presentation, then mix together 1 cup of organic powdered sugar with 2-3 teaspoons of almond milk.
The ingredients listed above are all at their best, so make the most of August’s seasonal foods by turning them into delicious summer recipes. Pair some of summer’s ripe tomatoes with some delicious crab. Create a salad with ripe peaches and Parma Ham. Cook up some pasta and add chopped August veggies and chill. Perfect for a weeknight dinner. Below are some ideas to inspire you to create some recipes from August’s bounty.
New York Deli Style Pickled Green Tomatoes
For each quart jar:
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups distilled water or purified tap water
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 pound firm full-sized green tomatoes
- 1 stalk celery, cut in pieces
- 1/2 Serrano chili, stem removed or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons dill seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Notes on the ingredients:
The tomatoes must be all green and cut into quarters.
You can usually find distilled water in the grocery or drug store. Distilled water is best because it has impurities removed and impurities can impart off flavors. Purified tap water is perfectly fine to use also.
Use Kosher salt not table salt. Kosher salt has larger flake shaped grains and also has small amounts of anti-caking additives but no iodine.
The recipe needs a little heat. Half a serrano works perfectly. If fresh peppers are not available, you can use 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
You must use distilled vinegar. Any other vinegar imparts too many odd flavors.
Use really clean bottles and lids. Sterilize them by submerging them in a boiling water bath or on a setting for sanitizing in your dishwasher.
Add the garlic, dill seeds, celery, hot pepper or red pepper flakes and peppercorns to the jar.
Thoroughly wash the tomatoes, remove the stem and cut them into quarters. Cram them in the jar leaving about ½ inch of space at the top.
Make the brine by combining the vinegar, water and salt in a non-reactive sauce pan or pot. Bring to a boil and stir until all the salt is dissolved.
Pour the hot brine over the tomatoes to within 1/4″ of the top. Wipe the jar top, put the lids on and tighten. Turn the jars over and let sit for a couple of hours.
Return the jars to the upright position and leave on the kitchen counter overnight. Refrigerate the pickled tomatoes for two weeks before serving.
The pickled tomatoes will keep for months in the refrigerator.
Easy Chilled Summer Melon Soup
This soup makes a great summer appetizer or serve it for lunch.
Serves 4 – 6
- 4 cups Crenshaw or cantaloupe melon, skin and seeds removed
- 4 cups yellow watermelon, skin and seeds removed
- One 15 ounce can coconut milk
- Grated zest of one large lime
- 1 large scallion (green onion) light green section finely diced and the top chopped and reserved for garnish
- 1 jalapeno chili, seeded and diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Basil or mint leaves for garnish
Dice the melon and set aside 4 cups of each kind of melon. Puree the melon in a food processor. You will probably need to do this in batches. Pour the processed melon into a storage bowl.
To the last batch of puree add the lime zest, jalapeno, ginger,1 teaspoon of basil, the 1 teaspoon mint, diced light green scallion and the salt to the melon puree in the processor.
Pulse a few times and pour in the storage bowl with the first batch of pureed melon. Pour in the coconut milk and stir well.
Chill the soup overnight. Garnish with scallion tops, fresh mint leaves or basil when serving.
Breaded Eggplant Salad
For the eggplant
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 cup dried Italian flavored bread crumbs
- Olive oil
For the salad
- Half a large yellow or red tomato, sliced thin
- 1/3 cup diced pickled peppers (spicy peppers are great here if you like them)
- 4 cups salad greens, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon each of sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil.
Combine the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
Cut the eggplant into 1 x 2 inch pieces.
Combine the beaten egg and milk in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.
Dip the eggplant into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Place the coated eggplant on the baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Bake the eggplant until crispy and brown, turning them over when one side is golden, about 20 minutes.
Place the chopped pickled peppers on a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.
While the eggplant bakes, arrange the salad ingredients on individual salad serving plates. Top with the cooked eggplant and drizzle with some of the dressing.
Mix well; serve immediately with additional dressing on the side.
Need a quick side dish, full of flavor and certainly seasonal, try these quick broiled tomatoes.
For each 2 person serving
- 1 large beefsteak tomato
- 2 teaspoons prepared basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
Heat the broiler to high.
Cut the tomato in half and place in a baking dish, cut sides up.
Spread 1 teaspoon of pesto over each tomato.
Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs and then the grated cheese.
Drizzle each with a little olive oil.
Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the topping is nicely browned.
At this time of year the farmers’ markets, roadside stands and supermarkets are bursting at the seams with fresh grown produce. Take advantage of all these good things and create some seasonal recipes around fresh July produce. Here are a few ideas.
These little bites are delicious for lunch or for a summer appetizer.
- 2 medium cucumbers, peeled
- 1/2 cup chive and onion cream cheese
- 1/2 cup carrots, finely shredded
- 1/4 of a green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 small banana pepper or other spicy pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons relish
- Sweet paprika for garnish
Cut cucumbers lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds to form a hollow center.
Combine the carrots, green pepper, spicy banana peppers, relish and cream cheese.
Spread the mixture into the center of the cucumbers. Sprinkle the top with paprika.
Cut each cucumber half into 4 pieces. Chill in the refrigerator until serving time.
- 1 medium to large eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into ¼ inch slices
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
- Olive oil
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (parsley, basil)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups Marinara (tomato) sauce
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Combine the flour, salt, pepper and dried herbs in a shallow dish. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet.
Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour mixture and place in the skillet.
Cook until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and let cool until room temperature.
Mix together the filling ingredients and distribute evenly over the sautéed eggplant slices.
Roll up the slices from the short end and place in a greased casserole dish. Pour the Marinara sauce over the rolls and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes.
Big Batch Summer Vegetable Chowder
Makes plenty to freeze for future dinners and lunches.
- 12 ears fresh corn
- 2 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 3 cups southern field peas
- 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 9 oz pkg fresh spinach tortellini
- Chopped fresh herbs for garnish
Slice the kernels from each corn cob into a large bowl. Set aside.
Break each corn cob in half and place in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Cover the cobs with 2 quarts of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and turn the heat to low.
Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
When the corn cobs have finished simmering, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat.
Add the onions and cook until soft, approximately 2 minutes, then add the garlic, salt, pepper, dried Italian seasoning, reserved corn and remaining vegetables.
Cook for several minutes until the corn is soft, stirring frequently.
Once the corn cobs have finished simmering, remove the cobs from the broth. Add the corn broth to the soup pot. If the corn broth has reduced to less than 4 cups, add more water to equal 4 cups.
Add the chicken broth and tortellini. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the ingredients together over medium heat for an additional 15-20 minutes, covered.
- One 9 inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
- 3 small to medium vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced 1⁄4″ thick
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Spread tomatoes in a single layer on a double thickness of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let drain for 1 hour. Blot dry with more paper towels.
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Place the dough in a greased 10 inch pie dish or tart pan. You can also place the dough on a baking sheet on parchment and form the tart like a galette.
Spread the cream cheese over the crust, leaving a 1 inch border. Sprinkle the cheddar over the cream cheese.
Top with tomato and shallot slices, overlapping each slightly. Sprinkle with black pepper and chives. Fold overhanging crust up and over the edge of the filling.
Bake until golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Let the tart rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Regular or Gluten-Free Strawberry Peach Sponge Cake
The recipe for this cake can be made as a gluten-free cake or as a regular sponge cake. Any fruit filling works in this recipe – just use what is in season.
Simple Sponge Cake Mixture
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
Gluten-Free Cake Mixture
- 8 oz butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon light rum
- 1 ½ cups King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour (not gluten-free flour)
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons milk
Regular or Gluten Free Cake Filling
2 tablespoons light rum for sprinkling on the cake layers
1/2 cup strawberry syrup or jam (recipe for strawberry syrup)
6 strawberries, cut into thin slices
1 medium peach, peeled and sliced thin
12 whole small strawberries, stems removed
Whipped Cream Topping
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon light rum
Cut parchment or wax paper to fit two 9 inch round cake pans. Spray the pans with cooking spray and place the parchment circles in the pans. Spray the paper. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Directions for making the simple sponge cake:
Separate the eggs, putting whites in the large mixer bowl and the yolks in a small mixer bowl.
Add 1/2 cup sugar to the whites and beat until very stiff.
Add 1/2 cup sugar to the yolks and beat until very thick and light yellow in color.
Fold egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.
Fold flour in using 1//3 cup each time until well mixed. Do not over mix.
Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
Cool for a few minutes, remove from pan and remove paper. Sprinkle each layer with 1 tablespoon of rum. Cool completely.
Directions for making the gluten-free sponge cake:
Cream the butter and sugar together in the large electric mixer bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the rum.
Fold in the baking flour and baking soda, a little at a time. When completely mixed, add the milk slowly until the batter is fluid.
Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. Sprinkle each layer with 1 tablespoon of rum. Cool completely.
Directions for making the whipped cream topping:
Combine the ingredients in an electric mixer bowl and with the whisk attachment beat the mixture until stiff.
Directions for assembling the cakes:
Place one cake layer on a cake plate and top with the strawberry syrup. Arrange the sliced fruit on top of the strawberry syrup layer. Spread half of the whipped cream over the fruit.
Place the second cake layer on top of the whipped cream. Spread the cake layer with the remaining whipped cream. Place the whole strawberries evenly in a circle around the cake.
Chill in the refrigerator until serving time.
Now that summer is here in my part of the world, the swimming pool is in full swing. I know that it is probably not summer hot in May where you live, but here is it about 85-86 degrees every day. The 90s will be here next month. This time of year, I like to invite friends over for swimming and either lunch or a BBQ supper. Lunch is a good idea because it can be served easily poolside and most of the food preparation can be done in advance. Seasonal soups are always a big hit with my friends. I usually like to prepare a sandwich or a salad that complements the soup. Here are some of my ideas for lunch that you can make for your family or for guests.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 leeks, white and light green sections, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 6 cups fresh corn kernels, divided
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Grated cheddar cheese, chopped chives or crumbled bacon, for garnish
Heat the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper and potatoes to the pot and saute for ten minutes until soft.
Add 3 cups of the corn, the vegetable broth, chili powder and the thyme. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour. Remove the thyme branches.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree the contents with an immersion blender. Add the half and half, salt and pepper to taste and the remaining 3 cups of corn.
Return the pot to the heat and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes.
Serve in individual soup bowls with any or all of the garnishes.
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches
For each sandwich
- One 3-4 inch square of Eggplant Parmesan
- Recipe for Eggplant Parmesan: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2016/05/18/what-to-cook-this-week/
- One slice mozzarella cheese, cut to fit the sandwich
- 1 ciabatta roll, sliced in half
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Place the eggplant on the bottom half of a ciabatta roll. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and the roll top.
Wrap the sandwich in foil and place on a baking tray. Bake the sandwich for 15 minutes or until hot and the cheese has melted.
Cut the sandwich in two and serve with Tuscan peppers and olives.
Fresh Tomato Basil Soup
- 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
- Thinly sliced fresh basil for garnish
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in salt and pepper and the cream. Return the pot to low heat and warm the soup. Do not boil.
Serve in individual soup bowls with basil for a garnish.
- 1 refrigerated or frozen deep dish pie crust, at room temperature
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay (seafood) seasoning
- ½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, diced
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or white wine
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1⁄2 cups grated cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese
- Hot sauce, a few dashes
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Fit the pastry into a 9 inch pie pan coated with cooking spray and flute the edges. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
Cook the shallots in the butter for 1-2 minutes over moderate heat until tender, but not browned.
Add the shrimp and stir gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle on the seafood seasoning.
Add the wine, raise the heat and boil for a minute. Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the roasted red peppers.
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with the cream, tomato paste and hot sauce. Gradually fold in the cooled shrimp mixture.
Spread 1 cup of the cheese on the bottom of the pie crust.
Pour the shrimp mixture into the pastry shell and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pie has puffed and browned on the top.
Cool for 15 minutes before cutting.