Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: potatoes


Fall is here and comfort foods are perfect for dinner. This meal is high on the list of favorites in my family. Years ago, I got the idea of combining potatoes with greens for more nutrition and who would have thought the children loved mashed potatoes prepared this way.

Tip: set aside one cup of the diced cooked potatoes and one cup of the roasted carrots to use in a beef pot pie later in the week. There is plenty of braised steak for leftovers.


Braised Steak

Serves 6-8


  • 2 pounds sirloin or round steak
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms


Combine the flour, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a shallow bowl.

Cut the steak into serving-size portions about 1/4 inch thick. Press the flour into the steak pieces with your hand. Reserve any flour that is left.



In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Brown the steak pieces thoroughly on all sides and set aside the browned pieces on a plate.


Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms to the same skillet and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Stir in any remaining flour and mix until thoroughly absorbed.

Add the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Return the browned steak to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet.


Simmer on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl.


Mashed Potatoes With Spinach or Kale


  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (1 large bunch) spinach or kale
  • 1 cup milk
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan. Add the garlic clove and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan partially and cook the potatoes until very tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain off the water, return the potatoes and garlic to the pan, cover tightly and let steam over very low heat for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a food mill. Add the olive oil.

While the potatoes are cooking bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the spinach or kale.

Cook the spinach for 4 minutes, kale for 6 minutes (after the water returns to the boil), until the leaves are tender but still bright green. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Chop fine.

Set the pan with the potatoes over low heat. Stir the chopped spinach into the hot mashed potatoes, add the milk and gently stir. Add salt to taste and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot.


Roasted Carrots


  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated orange peel
  • Sea salt


Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange carrots in single layer in a baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and orange peel; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss.

Cover the dish tightly with foil. Roast until crisp-tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer carrots and any juices to a serving platter. Drizzle lightly with additional olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.


Easy Biscuits


  • 2 cups unbleached self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) cold milk or buttermilk


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the flour in a bowl. Work in the butter just until crumbs are the size of large peas.

Add the milk and stir until the mixture holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl.

Scoop the dough onto a well-floured surface and fold it over on itself several times, using more flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Roll or pat the dough into an 8 inch rectangle about ½ inch thick.

Cut biscuits with a sharp knife into 2 inch squares.

Place the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the biscuits for 10 to 14 minutes or until they’re a light golden brown.

Remove them from the oven and serve hot.


Looking for some new ideas for sides for dinner? Here are a few recipes that my family likes.

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce



  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup Italian fontina cheese, diced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • White pepper, to taste


Steam or stir fry the  broccoli until crisp tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in flour, mustard powder and salt to taste.

Gradually stir in milk, whisking over medium low heat until thickened. Add cheese, stirring until completely melted. Season to taste with white pepper.

Pour over steamed broccoli and serve at once.

Oven Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower



  • 1 whole cauliflower head
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a rimmed baking sheet.

Cut the cauliflower into large florets.

Beat the eggs with the milk in a shallow dish.

Place the grated cheese in a shallow dish.

Place the flour in a plastic bag and add the salt and pepper.

Add the florets to the flour filled bag and give them a shake, rotating the bag until the florets are dusted with flour.

Dip each floret in egg and then in cheese and place on the prepared pan.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 23-30 minutes.

Spaghetti with Cheese and Black Pepper



  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 8 oz.spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes; reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Ladle 3⁄4 cup pasta water into skillet; bring to a boil.

Using tongs, transfer pasta to skillet; spread it evenly.

Sprinkle the Pecorino Romano cheese over pasta; toss vigorously to combine until sauce is creamy and clings to the pasta without clumping, about 2 minutes, adding some pasta water if necessary.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Green Bean Salad



Green Beans

  • 1 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Salad Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt to taste

Optional Additions

  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1 cup tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup sliced radishes


Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt, pepper and green beans. Reduce the heat and simmer the beans until they are tender but very firm, 3-4 minutes. Drain.

Add the salad ingredients and any of the additional optional ingredients that you may wish to add. Toss well and chill before serving.

Italian Stuffed Baked Potato


4 servings


  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon plus one tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sliced basil plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the potatoes with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, place on a baking sheet and bake until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about one hour. Do not turn off the oven.

Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a grinding of black pepper.

Cut the baked potatoes in half and remove most of the potato flesh from the shells. Mash the potato pulp and add the tomatoes, basil and ricotta. Mix well.

Add the mixture to the potato shells and return the stuffed potatoes to the oven and heat until the potato mixture is hot. Garnish with additional basil.



Italian Style Meatloaf

This dinner can serve 8. Less and you have plenty of leftovers or the makings for a few sandwiches. I add lots of vegetables to my meatloaf and, of course, lots of Italian flavors. Meatloaf freezes well and I usually cut extra slices off the loaf to freeze individually to use at a later date. Just defrost overnight in the refrigerator.


  • Half a sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups tomato (marinara) sauce, divided
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef (I use grass-fed beef)
  • 1 cup Italian flavored dried bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, eggs, vegetables, bread crumbs, 1 cup of the tomato sauce, seasonings and parsley with your hands until thoroughly mixed.


Form into a loaf and put into a rectangular baking pan with 2-inch high sides.


Bake the meatloaf in the oven for 1 hour. Pour the remaining 1 cup of tomato sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.

Return the dish to the oven just until the cheese melts.


Oven Roasted Potatoes


  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Spread the olive oil out on a baking sheet. Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary. Toss well and spread the potatoes out into an even layer.


Bake in the oven at the same temperature and for the same amount of time as the meatloaf.


Sautéed Zucchini and Fennel


  • 2 zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cubed
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic and fennel and saute until lightly brown.

Add the zucchini, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the zucchini is tender.


A quick dinner isn’t so quick, if you’re stuck washing a dozen pots and pans when you’re through. To me, nothing is worse than facing a mountain of dishes in the sink when dinner is over.

However, here is one solution – cook everything on a foiled-covered baking pan. This method ensures you won’t get stuck in the kitchen and it produces a great tasting dinner.

Orange Flavored Baked Chicken, Onions and Potatoes

The recipe is easily doubled or tripled depending on how many diners are at your table.

Serves 2


  • 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon. dried chili flakes
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • One large sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves minced
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs (about 6 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat and skin removed
  • 3/4 to 1 cup panko bread crumbs


Heat the oven to 425°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.

Finely grate 1 teaspoon orange zest and squeeze 1 tablespoon of orange juice from the orange. Stir together the juice, zest, oil, salt and the chili flakes in a small bowl.

Place the potatoes and onions on the baking sheet and brush them, on all sides, with some of the orange mixture.

Place the chicken in a medium bowl and pour the remaining oil mixture over the chicken thighs. Turn to coat well. Dredge the chicken in the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken.  

Place the chicken on the foiled-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the thighs and vegetables lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the vegetables and chicken with the minced rosemary.

Note: The recipe can be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated until time to cook dinner.


Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes and onions over. Continue to roast about for 20 minutes more, until the chicken is crisp and golden and the potatoes are lightly browned in spots.

When the chicken is done, remove the potatoes and onions to serving plates and top with the chicken.

Remove the foil from the pan, carefully, and guess what……no pan to wash tonight.

Cucumbers in Sour Cream Dressing


Note: Salting the cucumbers draws out excess moisture and helps keep the salad from getting watery.

Makes 2 servings


  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill


Scoop out the seeds from the halved cucumbers with a spoon and slice into ¼ inch thick half-moons.

Place cucumber and scallion slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.


Combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the cucumber and scallion slices and toss to coat.

Let salad stand for at least 5 minutes before serving, or chill in the refrigerator until serving time.

Sprinkler dish washing.

When you have too many dishes.



Ancona is a province in the Marche region of central Italy. The province is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the north and the Apennine Mountains on the west. Ancona’s sandy beaches are popular with Italians but not well-known to tourists.


The hills of the region are littered with Medieval buildings and walls, and unlike many other often-invaded areas, historical architecture has been preserved and adapted  for modern uses.

The Ancona port, one of the main ports on the Adriatic Sea, is located in the city of Ancona and is a busy passenger port with ferries running to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro.

The city was founded in 387 BC by Greek settlers and the name Ancona comes from the Greek for elbow, due to its elbow-shaped harbor.

Artistic work of my own in retro style - Postcard from Italy. - Beautiful staircase Corinaldo, Italy

Many of the small craft workshops of the past scattered throughout the rural settlements have modernised and become small businesses, some of which have become major brands known all over the world (Indesit, Tod’s, Guzzini, Teuco). This evolution led to the emergence of ‘specialised’ industries: footwear, leather goods, furniture, household appliances and textiles, all made in the region.


The demand for Italian textiles and clothing is strong in the United States and Japan, as well as China, Hong Kong, Turkey and Russia. Italy is also a pioneer in the export of yarn, woolen fabrics, silk fabrics, clothing and hosiery.

Ancona Port

A large area of the province’s land is farmland and much of it is used for wine production; as the production of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Verdicchio grapes. Traditional feasts are held in the province during the harvesting period.

The mountainous regions and the Conero Regional Park, which contain dense forests, are where black truffles are found and they are sold throughout the province and neighboring provinces.

The main products grown are cereals, vegetables, animal products and grapes. Olives are also produced and managed by various harvesters. The sea has always furnished a plentiful supply of fish,


The influence of the neighboring regions, particularly Emilia-Romagna, can be seen in the popularity of fresh egg pasta and oven-baked pasta dishes in the province. Vincisgrassi is a regional favorite and is a type of baked-lasagna stuffed with chicken livers.

In and around Ancona, you will find a variety of soups. Minestra di lumachelle is a local favorite containing lumachelle, a type of pasta made with egg, cheese and bread crumbs, similar to passatelli. Tripe soup, or minestrone di trippa, is also a regional specialty that is served with a battuto, lard pounded together with herbs.

Along the coast, fish soups are typical. Brodetto is prepared with a variety of fish. There are also a number of special, regional preparations for local seafood: cooked with white wine, tomato, lemon juice and spices, alla marinara, stewed in tomato sauce; al forno or oven-broiled.

Meat is also popular. Pilotto is a way to prepare meat by wrapping it in paper with a piece of lard, which melts into the meat during cooking. Another local favorite is Porchetta, a spit-roasted whole, boneless pig that has been stuffed with herbs.

Some of the best cheeses made in the area are Casciotta d’Urbino DOP, Raviggiolo del Montefeltro, Slaatto and herb-flavored sheep’s milk cheeses. For a special treat, olive ascolane are stuffed with meat, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and then fried.

Cicerchiata is a dessert made from yeast dough, shaped into balls, baked in the oven and covered with honey. Becciate are made with raisins and pine nuts. Migliaccio is a dessert made with pig’s blood, sugar and citrus peel.

Broad Beans with Anchovies


Serve with crusty Italian bread as an appetizer.

4 servings


  • 2 lb broad beans, fresh and shells removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pinch marjoram
  • 4 anchovies
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • White wine vinegar to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the broad beans in a small quantity of salted water until they are fairly “al dente”.

Prepare the topping with a chopped mixture of anchovies, garlic, marjoram, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the topping over the broad beans as soon as they have been drained. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Brodetto (Fish Stew) Ancona-Style


You can use any type of fish–swordfish, squid, red snapper, shrimp, clams, mussels and lobster for this recipe with a total weight of 3 lbs.. Clean the clams and mussels well and put them into the stew whole. Some versions of brodetto use saffron instead of red pepper flakes and white wine instead of vinegar. You can substitute rice for the bread, as well.

6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Red pepper flakes (chili) to taste
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
  • 1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar or wine
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 pound clams in the shell, scrubbed
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, with shells
  • 6 (3/4 inch thick) slices Italian bread, toasted


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or a clay pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, parsley and red pepper.

Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the mashed tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Pour in the vinegar or wine and cook 10 minutes. Pour in the fish stock and add the snapper.

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Gently mix in the clams and cook until the clams open (discard any that don’t) about 2 minutes, and then stir in the shrimp.

Cook until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes.

Place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the brodetto over the bread and serve immediately.

Pollo in Potacchio



  • 1 small chicken cut into 5 pieces (wing, drumstick, thigh and breast cut in half)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped imported Italian tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Hot water
  • 10 small Yukon gold potatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste


Line a dish with paper towels and lay out the chicken, skin side up. Let air dry uncovered in the refrigerator for 2 days. 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the potatoes into wedges. Place in a pot, cover with cold water, and add a pinch of salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

The potatoes will not be completely cooked. Drain in colander.

Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the leaves from two of the rosemary sprigs. Add a good pinch of salt and toss.

Pour the potatoes out onto a sheet pan and shake to separate. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning the potatoes once with a stainless steel spatula.

In a large skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about ten minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.  

Discard the rendered chicken fat and oil.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the large skillet, still over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic cloves; sauté until soft but not brown.

Add the white wine and rosemary sprigs; cook until the wine evaporates.

Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes. Season with salt and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and a splash of hot water. Turn the chicken over to coat. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve the chicken topped with a little sauce and the potatoes.

Orange Cake – Ancona-Style



  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the pan
  • 3 eggs
  • Grated peel of 3 oranges
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened to room temperature, plus butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, with 3 tablespoons sugar dissolved in it.


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Thickly smear a Bundt pan with butter and dust with flour.

Put the flour, eggs, orange peel, 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar and liqueur in a food processor and run until all the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Add the milk and baking powder and process again to incorporate into the mixture. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan (it won’t fill it up all the way) and place the pan in the preheated oven.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester placed in the center of the cake comes out clean..

Invert the cake while still warm and place it on a rimmed plate. Poke many holes into the cake with a thin handle from a wooden spoon.

Pour the orange juice over the cake slowly. At first, the holes fill to the brim with juice, but this will be absorbed by the cake. Repeat until all the juice is used.

Whatever juice ends up at the bottom of the cake, leave it there; it will eventually be absorbed.

Serve at room temperature. The cake keeps in the refrigerator, covered, for a week.




Yellow Watermelon



Crenshaw Melon



July has an abundance of vegetables and fruits available, so I try to incorporate as many as I can into my weekly menu. I made a few dinners last week that utilize these seasonal fruits and vegetables and I hope you like them as much as we did.

Veggie Packed Frittata


Serve with a mixed green salad and some hot biscuits.

Serves 8


  • 1 lb parboiled potatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 links pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, sliced thin
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Half of a small onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil
  • 6 asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese


Heat an oven broiler.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sliced sausage, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms and onion until the vegetables are soft, 3–4 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until wilted, about 1 minute.


Stir in the sliced potatoes and salt and pepper. Stir in half the basil and the eggs and reduce heat to medium; cook until golden on the bottom, 8–10 minutes.

Sprinkle the cheese on top and place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until set and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Garnish with remaining basil before serving.

Summer Melon Salad with Grilled BBQ Shrimp


Last week my CSA had melons aplenty. I received two Crenshaw and one yellow watermelon. So I came up with a few recipes to make. The melon salad is in this post and next week, I will share the melon soup recipe I made. When you make the salad try to use two different types of melon for contrast. I also like the balance of the tangy grilled shrimp with the sweetness of the fruit salad. I also served this salad dinner with some homemade cornbread. See the recipe for Cheddar Cornbread here.

For the salad

  • 4 cups Crenshaw melon, peeled and seeds removed
  • 4 cups yellow watermelon, peeled and seeds removed.
  • 2 cups red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, toasted

For the shrimp

  • 12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup Peach BBQ sauce, see recipe here
  • Lemon quarters for garnish

Basil Honey Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a blender. Set aside in a serving bowl.


For the melon salad

In a mixing bowl combine the two types of melon with the grapes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, mix the melon and grape mixture with the toasted pecans and a little of the basil dressing. Serve additional dressing with the salad.

For the grilled shrimp

Prepare an outdoor grill for medium hot heat or heat an indoor stove-top grill.

Thread the shrimp onto skewers and brush them lightly with BBQ sauce. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill directly over the heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn the skewers and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Take care not to overcook. Remove them to a plate and serve with lemon quarters, the melon salad and cornbread.

Stuffed Zucchini with Fresh Basil Pesto Spaghetti


Basil is so plentiful this time of year, so I try to think of different ways to use it in my summertime cooking. Of course, freezing basil pesto for the winter months is also another option. It is also a great addition to salad dressing and omelets, as in the recipes above.

2 servings

For the eggplant

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 link pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon dried Italian bread crumbs
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

For the spaghetti

  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto, see recipe here
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Cut a thin slice off the top of each zucchini. With a small spoon (I like to use a grapefruit spoon) remove most of the flesh from the zucchini without cutting into the outside. Chop the cut slice and the flesh.


Heat the 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet and add the chopped zucchini, chopped sausage and the garlic. Saute until the zucchini is completely cooked and has lost its moisture.

Add the onion, bell pepper and tomatoes, cook until soft. Add enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together, about 2 tablespoons.


Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the cheese and fill the hollowed out zucchini shells with the mixture.

Place the stuffed zucchini in a small baking dish. (The zucchini can be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated until baking time.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil.  Pour about 1 inch of water into the bottom of the baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and the zucchini shells are tender.

For the spaghetti

While the zucchini are baking, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.

Return the drained pasta to the cooking pot and add the pesto with a little of the cooking water to thin the sauce a bit.

Add the Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Mix well and serve alongside the stuffed zucchini.



Asti is a province in the Piedmont region of northern Italy and is an important area for the production of fine wines. Perhaps the wine most famously associated with Asti worldwide is the sparkling Asti (DOCG). The name is usually shortened to “Asti” in order to avoid associations with the many wines of dubious quality, which are labelled “Spumante”.


Asti is typically sweet and low in alcohol (often below 8%) and is made solely from the moscato bianco, a white muscat grape. A premium version known as Moscato d’Asti (DOCG) is sold outside Italy. Moscato d’Asti is a “Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita”, a sparkling white wine produced mainly in the province of Asti, is considered a dessert wine. Grown on Asti hilltops, Moscato d’Asti is made by small producers in small batches. Moscato is so named because of its earthy musk aroma. The petite berry grape ripens early and produces a wide range of wine styles: light and dry, slightly sweet and honey-like.



While technically a white grape, there are strains of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains vines that produce berries that are pink or reddish-brown. When the differing grape color is stable, the wines are typically classified as separate grape varieties: Muscat Rouge à Petit Grains for red skin color and Muscat Rose à Petit Grains for pink skin color.

While Asti province became famous around the world thanks to Martini and Rossi and Gancia and Riccadonnafor for their commercial Spumante wines, it is now becoming famous internationally for its classic red wines, such as Barbera d’Asti, Freisa d’Asti, Grignolino d’Asti, Bonarda and Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato. These wines and many other local wines can be sampled during the week-long Douja d’Or wine exhibition which is held at the same time as the Palio and Sagre races.

Asti is also famous for its Asti’s Festival of Festivals, held in September, a week before the Palio race. During the festival, most of the towns in Asti’s province meet in a great square called “Campo del Palio”. Here, they offer local cuisine for which they are known and on the Sunday of the Sagre race all the towns involved stage a parade with floats with everyone in costume all along the Asti roads.


Asti province becomes a gourmet delight from October to December when the white truffle or “tartufo bianco” is in season. Some of the best truffles are found around Asti’s hills and every weekend there is a local truffle festival.

Among local vegetables, the cardo gobbo (artichoke)and the “square pepper” (bell pepper) of Asti stand out, and both are regarded as essential ingredients for bagna cauda (a garlic and anchovy dip).


The area around Asti is also renowned for its cheeses, such as robiola of Roccaverano and robiola di Cocconato.


Typical provincial dishes include agnolotti, potato gnocchi, ciotola di trifulau (cheese fondue with polenta and a sprinkling of truffles) and boiled meats.

Local desserts include amaretti (almond cookies), canestrelli (semolina biscuits), finocchini of Refrancore (fennel cookies) and hazelnut cakes.


Pearl Barley Soup with Moscato d’Asti

Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy

Serves 4-6


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 oz. smoked cooked ham, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1 medium leek, halved crosswise and thinly sliced
1 medium parsnip, finely chopped
1⁄2 small celery root, finely chopped
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups chicken stock
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Moscato d’Asti, for serving
Finely chopped chives, to garnish


In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the ham and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the carrots, onions, leek, parsnip and celery root and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the stock and 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the barley is half-cooked, about 35 minutes.

Add the potatoes to the soup and cook until tender, about 25 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the cream and ladle the soup into serving bowls. Add a splash of moscato to each bowl and sprinkle with chives before serving.


Braised Leg of Lamb with Polenta

Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy

Lamb Stock

12 oz. lamb bones
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1⁄2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves

For the Braise and Polenta

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-lb.) bone-in leg of lamb
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1⁄2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
10 sprigs rosemary
1 bunch thyme
3 cups coarse-ground polenta
1 cup (4 oz.) grated robiola cheese
2 tablespoon unsalted butter


Make the lamb stock:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the lamb bones on a baking sheet and roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the bones to a large saucepan along with half each of the celery, carrots, and onion; the juniper berries; bay leaves and 12 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until the bones have released their flavor, about 3 hours. Pour the lamb stock through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard the solids.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. In a roasting pan over two burners, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a platter and add the remaining celery, carrots and onion to the pan along with the rosemary and thyme. Cook the vegetables, stirring, until browned and soft, about 6 minutes. Return the lamb to the pan along with the lamb stock and bring to a boil. Cover the roasting pan with foil and place the lamb in the oven. Braise the lamb until very tender, about 3 hours.

In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. While whisking, slowly pour the polenta and the 2 tablespoons salt into the water and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring steadily, until the polenta is tender and smooth, about 1 hour. Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter. Season with pepper and keep warm until ready to serve.

Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and pour the pan juices through a fine sieve into a bowl. Skim and discard the fat and pour the juices into a small saucepan. Bring the juices to a boil and cook until the sauce reduces to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Heat the broiler. Transfer the lamb to a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning, until browned and crisp on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a large dish and serve with the polenta and sauce.


Potato and Scallion Fritters

Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy


2 1⁄2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (9 oz.) rye flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large russet potato, peeled and boiled until tender
3/4 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the rye and all-purpose flours with the butter, 1 teaspoon salt, the egg, and 3/4 cup lukewarm water. Knead on medium speed until the dough comes together and is smooth, about 6 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Halve the dough and shape each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Grate the cooked potato on the large holes of a box grater and reserve 1 cup; use any remaining potato for another recipe. Place the potato in a medium bowl, mix with the ricotta and scallions, and season with salt and pepper.

On a floured work surface, roll each dough disk into a 1⁄8-inch-thick circle. Drop 1-tablespoon-sized dollops of the ricotta-potato filling evenly spaced over 1 dough circle. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the dough with water around each dollop of filling. Drape the second dough circle over the first and gently press the dough between the mounds of filling to adhere. Position a 3-inch-round fluted cutter over 1 mound of filling and stamp out the round. Repeat, stamping out all the rounds.

Pour enough oil into a 6-quart saucepan to come 2 inches up the side, attach a deep-fry thermometer, and heat to 350°F. Working in batches, add the rounds to the oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the fritters from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season the fritters with salt and serve while hot.


Skillet Cake with Berry Compote

Chef Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, Italy


1 1⁄2 cups fresh or frozen lingonberries or cranberries
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons. fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
1 cup (4 oz.) “00” pasta flour
4 large eggs, separated
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
2 tablespoons. unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Toasted, flaked almonds, to garnish
1 sprig mint, to garnish


In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup lingonberries, 3 tablespoons sugar, the white wine, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt over medium and cook, stirring, until the berries burst and the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Purée the sauce in a blender, scrape into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Stir in the remaining 1⁄2 cup lingonberries and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the milk, flour, egg yolks and vanilla seeds until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, pour in the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and whisk until soft peaks form. Scrape the egg whites into the batter and fold until combined.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter over medium and cook until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the skillet and cook, undisturbed, until set on the bottom, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until set, about 5 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a cutting board and tear into large pieces. Transfer the pieces to a serving plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Sprinkle with almonds, garnish with the mint and serve warm with the lingonberry compote spooned over the top.



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