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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: tomatoes

The idea for this tomato-based seafood stew comes from the fisherman from Genoa who immigrated to the US and settled in the Bay area of California. Cioppino was developed in San Francisco by these Italian immigrants who prepared a fish stew with what they had on their fishing boats from their daily catch.

Legend has it that requests were made as the boats came in for the day asking for any seafood to “CHIP IN ” to the pot; add Italian seasoning and hence the name: Cioppino (chip-EEN-o). Most food historians and cookbook authors don’t even try to fix the recipe in time, although all point to San Francisco as the place of origin. Cioppino wasn’t well-known beyond the Bay area (or at least outside of California) until after World War II. John Thorne…describes in the September/October 1996 issue of his newsletter, Simple Cooking, how he came upon a vintage (1921) cookbook that discusses cioppino in detail. That book, Fish Cookery, by Evelyn Spencer of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and John N. Cobb, director of the College of Fisheries at the University of Washington, offers a recipe for cioppino that had appeared three years earlier by H.B. Nidever in California Fish and Game. Thorne believes that it may be one of the first, if not the first, ever published.

In 1925 Nunzio Alioto, an Italian immigrant, set up a stall at #8 Fisherman’s Wharf to sell lunchtime provisions to the Italian laborers. His business grew and by 1932 he had constructed the first building at the corner of Taylor and Jefferson, by combining the fish stand with a seafood bar. After Nunzio passed away unexpectedly, his widow Nonna Rose and her three children took over the stall. In 1938 she installed a kitchen in the original structure and officially opened Alioto’s Restaurant. Their specialty was Cioppino.

Here is my version that I have developed over the years and one that suits my family’s taste.

Italian American Seafood Stew (Cioppino)

Serve with a green salad and some crusty Italian bread for dipping in the delicious sauce.

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups fish stock
2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes in juice, crushed
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 pounds firm, skinless fish fillets (such as red snapper, grouper, swordfish, tuna, mahi-mahi or halibut), cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb shrimp, deveined
1 lb sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup white wine
2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed and soaked to remove the sand

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, fish stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes.

Add the wine to a large deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the clams, turn the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Remove the clams as they open to a covered bowl. Discard any clams that do not open. Strain the juices in the skillet through a fine mesh colander. Set aside the clams and the strained cooking liquid.

Next add the fish pieces and shrimp to the tomato sauce, pushing them down into the liquid a little. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the scallops and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the opened clams and strained wine and heat for a minute or two.

Immediately scoop the stew into large bowls, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with Italian bread.

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Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks

2 servings

Ingredients

Sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 minced green onion
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Steaks
Two 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Rub both sides of the steaks with oil and garlic. Mix paprika, coarse salt, and black pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle on both sides of the steaks. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small glass dish. Set aside

Prepare an outdoor or stovetop grill (medium-high heat). Brush the grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to serving plates.

When the steaks are cooked and resting, heat the sauce in the microwave until hot, about 1 minute. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Green Bean Casserole

Servings 6

Ingredients

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock/broth or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Shallot topping, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 ovenproof casserole dish.

Cook green beans to your liking. Boil in salted water or steam them on for 3-4 minutes..drain and place in a mixing bowl.

Sauce: In a saucepan heat the butter and add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until soft. Turn the heat down to medium and add the wine. Saute for about a minute or until the alcohol has burned off. Add the softened cream cheese and break it up in the pan so that it melts more easily. Add the chicken broth little by little and whisk to combine until the cream cheese has melted.

Turn the heat to medium-low and let the sauce bubble a little to combine flavors and thicken slightly. Add the cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk and taste to adjust seasoning.

Pour the sauce into the bowl with the green beans and stir together. Pour the green bean mixture into the buttered baking dish. Put the green bean casserole in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly around the sides. Sprinkle with the fried shallots and serve.

Fried Shallots

Ingredients

Vegetable oil
4 large shallots, peeled and sliced lengthwise about 1/8-inch thick
Salt

Directions

Pour about one inch of oil into a deep skillet. Add shallots and place the pot over medium
heat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes (turn down heat if they seem to be coloring too quickly), until they gradually become brown.
Place a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl. Transfer shallots to the sieve and let drain well. (Save the oil for another purpose.) Blot shallots on paper towels. They will become crisp as they cool. Sprinkle lightly with salt.’

Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes

6 servings.

Ingredients

6 medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt

Directions

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/2-in. thick shell. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.(Save the use the pulp for tomato sauce.)
Combine the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning garlic powder and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside 1/4 cup for the topping. Add spinach and mozzarella cheese to the remaining crumb mixture. Sprinkle the tomato shells lightly with salt; stuff with the spinach mixture. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Toss the reserved crumbs with the melted butter. Sprinkle over tomatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned.


Italian Style Crab Cakes

I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset Blend which is a combination of basil, oregano, red bell pepper, garlic, thyme, fennel, black pepper, and anise. You can also use dried Italian seasoning.

Ingredients

1 lb fresh lump crabmeat, cleaned and shells removed
2 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
1 shallot, minced
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Tuscan blend seasoning or salt-free dried Italian seasoning
⅓ cup olive oil mayonnaise
2 tablespoons homemade or store-bought basil pesto
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 thin tomato slices

Lemon Butter Aioli

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove small garlic minced or grated
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Make the aioli
Whisk the melted butter with the ½ cup mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, pinch of cayenne, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and combined, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make the crab cakes
In a large bowl, mix together all crab the cake ingredients except the oil and the tomatoes. Using 1/3 cup mixture for each, shape into eight 3-inch patties.

In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat until hot. Add patties; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Drain on paper towels.

To serve place each crab cake on a tomato slice and top each cake with a tablespoon of Lemon Butter Aioli.


I have family visiting, so this week I will share with you some of our main dish entrees. Complete this meal with meatballs or Italian sausage, salad and bread.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Manicotti

Makes 8-10. Double the recipe for the crepes and filling to make two dishes.

Crespelle Batter
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
Butter for crepe pan

To make the crepes:

Add the flour gradually to the milk with a whisk in a medium bowl with a cover. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the salt.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the crepe pan and butter the pan.
Pour a scant ¼ cup of batter into the hot pan. Tilt the pan around with a circular motion so that the batter thins out and forms a round crêpe about the size of the pan. Cook until the edges of the crêpe become whitish and the inner portion yellow and partially solid.
Using a wide spatula, turn the crepe over and cook briefly (about 30 seconds).
Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter, buttering the pan for each crepe. Place a sheet of wax paper between the layers to keep them from sticking together.

Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (26-ounce) cartons Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed
4 fresh basil leaves, minced

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a cover. Add the garlic and onion. Sauce for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer the sauce with the cover ajar for 1 1/2 hours or until thickened.

Spinach and Ricotta Filling
2 cups cooked spinach, squeezed dry
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for baking
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine the filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the manicotti.

To assemble the manicotti:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly brush a 9×13 inch baking dishes with olive oil.
Spread a thin layer of sauce across the bottom of the baking dish.
Place 4 tablespoons of the filling down the center of a crepe. Roll it up and place it, seam-side-down the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Top with marinara sauce spreading it evenly over the manicotti and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake the manicotti for 30 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.


Classic Texas chili doesn’t include beans or tomatoes, only beef, homemade chili paste, and a few flavorings. It’s what Texans call a “Bowl o’ Red” and tastes intensely of its two main ingredients. I like to add tomatoes, so I call this dish Texas style.

Chili

Ingredients

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds boneless sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 lb lean ground beef cup finely chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups beef broth
26-28 oz crushed Italian tomatoes
1 tablespoon honey
Topping Options
chopped avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, onion or scallions

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef and lightly brown on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining beef. Reserve. Repeat with the ground beef and add to the bowl with the sirloin cubes.

Add the remaining olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the bell peppers and jalapenos and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the browned meat and the spices and salt. Stir well. The add in the broth, tomatoes, and honey. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Cook for 3 hours until the liquid is reduced and the chili becomes thick and the meat is very tender.

Corn Muffins

12 muffins

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Butter the insides and the top of a regular muffin pan.
In a large bowl thoroughly combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg with the milk and melted butter.
Combine with the dry ingredients until just evenly moistened.
Do not overmix.
Immediately spoon the batter into the muffin pan.
Bake 18 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.


For a low carb/gluten-free version:  “No-Corn” Bread Muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

2 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons honey substitute (such as Sukrin Gold)
1 teaspoon Amoretti sweet corn extract
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
Combine the almond meal, salt, and baking powder.
Add the cream, water, sweetener, and eggs, stir to combine.
Add the melted butter, stir to combine.
Divide the batter equally into the muffins cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes until the edges are slightly browned and the tops are firm to the touch.

 


Greek Omelet

Ingredients

8 eggs
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
10 oz pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced red onion or scallions
1/4 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
A few Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
Dried or fresh dill for garnish

Directions

Chop spinach and mix well with minced dill and crumbled feta. Set aside.
Place diced tomatoes on paper towels to dry. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into a bowl with the black pepper and oregano. Whisk with a fork. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper and saute until tender. Add the spinach mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Move the outer edges of the eggs inward and cook until set and none of the mixture looks uncooked. Slide the omelet onto a serving plate. Sprinkle the top of the omelet with remaining feta, chopped tomatoes, sliced olives, and dill. Cut into serving pieces.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

12 muffins

ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon. ground cinnamon or apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 teaspoon. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper baking cups; set aside.
In a large bowl combine all-purpose, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl combine egg, milk, sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture; stir just until combined. Fold in the cranberries and toasted walnuts. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool muffins in pans for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pans. Serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

Low Carb/Gluten-free Recipe

Makes 9 muffins

2 cups Low-Carb Baking Mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill) or Gluten-free Baking Mix
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup Low Carb Sweetener ( I use Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 9 muffin cups with baking spray.
In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (Low Carb Baking Mix, baking powder, cinnamon, and sweetener). Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and add the eggs, water, oil and orange extract. Whisk until just blended. Stir in cranberries and pecans. Take care not to overmix.
Using a scoop divide the batter into the 9 muffin cups filling them to the top. Bake 25 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Remove the muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Filet Mignon

Two 4-ounce filet mignon, (1-inch thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper

Asparagus

½ lb asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Creamy Garlic Shrimp

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large shrimp deveined, tails removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine or low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 tablespoon freshly shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the asparagus:

Oil a baking dish that will fit the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the dish in the oven about 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the steak.

For the steaks:

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator at least 20-30 minutes before cooking. Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Place a small heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the oil and swirl the pan to coat the surface. When the oil shimmers, add the steaks and don’t move them for 3 minutes. Gently work a spatula under the steaks and turn them over. Cook for another 3 minutes and place the skillet in the oven with the asparagus. Cook for 5 minutes and remove the steaks to a serving dish to rest. Let the asparagus cook for another 5 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil and move the oven rack closer to the broiler.

For the shrimp:

In a second small skillet, heat the butter; add the garlic, sauté one minute.
Pour in the white wine (or broth), and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the cream and continue simmering, while stirring. Add in the parmesan cheese; allow to melt in the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
Add the shrimp and cook until just pink on one side, about 1 minute; turn the shrimp over and cook until pink; about 1 minute. Place the shrimp and sauce on top of the steaks and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve the asparagus on the side.

Broiled Tomatoes

2 servings

Ingredients

1 large beefsteak tomato, halved
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat broiler. Arrange tomato halves, cut side up, in an oiled baking dish.
Mix garlic, parsley, and olive oil; pour over tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese.
Broil 5 inches from the heat for 3 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Serve.



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