Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

What is in Season in September?

september

Apples

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Apple Pecan Pancakes

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Makes about 10 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted or vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Vegetable oil

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, butter or oil and buttermilk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and then add in the cider. Stir until just incorporated and a few lumps remain.

Jovina Cooks Italian

Stir in the apples and pecans. Let the mixture rest while the griddle heats.Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and brush with vegetable oil.

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Pour the batter onto the griddle by 1/4 cupfuls. Cook pancakes until large bubbles begin to appear on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes, then turn carefully and cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer.

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Brush the pan with oil as needed.

Note: If you want to keep the first batches of pancakes warm while you cook the others, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and place cooked pancakes on an ovenproof platter while working with subsequent batches.

Cauliflower

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Pasta with Oven Roasted Cauliflower Sauce

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Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • One head of cauliflower, cored and cut into tiny florets
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large fresh sage leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 oz thin slices prosciutto di parma (about 8-9 slices) chopped
  • 1 lb dried cavatappi pasta
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

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Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

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Pour the  olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet and add the garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and mix well.Add the cauliflower florets, grape tomato halves and the chopped prosciutto.

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Mix well with a large spatula and spread out in a single layer. Roast, stirring once, for 20 minutes. Add the chopped sage and continue to roast for 10 minutes more.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Boil the pasta until al dente, 9 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the roasted cauliflower mixture and enough pasta water to moisten. Heat the mixture and then add the cheese.

Pour onto a pasta serving platter and garnish with additional sage leaves for serving.

Cabbage

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Apple and Horseradish-Glazed Salmon with Braised Cabbage

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Add some baked sweet potatoes to the complete this dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick), skinned
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine apple jelly, chives, horseradish, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk.

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Sprinkle salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add salmon skin side up, and cook 3 minutes.

Turn salmon over; brush with half of the apple mixture. Bake for 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Brush with remaining apple mixture and serve.

Braised Cabbage

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ head green cabbage, cut into ½ inch thick slices
  • 2 leeks
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish with grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a skillet, over medium, heat the butter and when melted, add the leeks and cabbage.

Stir and let the leeks and cabbage wilt and soften. Add the salt and lemon juice; then stir in the cream. Reduce heat to low and let the cabbage braise for about five minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a serving dish. Grate some cheese over the cabbage before serving.

Tomatoes

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Homemade Pizza with Tomatoes and Ricotta Cheese

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 8 large vine ripe tomato slices, 1/4-inch thick, each cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil

Directions

Place the tomato slices on paper towels for about 30 minutes to reduce their moisture.

Adjust the oven rack to the bottom position; preheat to 450°F.

Coat a pizza pan with olive oil and press the dough with your fingers to the edges of the pan

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Brush the dough with olive oil and spread the ricotta over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place the tomato slices evenly on top of the ricotta and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper.

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Bake the pizza on the lower shelf of the oven until the tomatoes have softened and the cheese begins to brown around the edges, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle with basil leaves and mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with oil and return the pizza to the oven for 5 minutes more. Let set 5 minutes before slicing.

French Beans

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Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

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French beans are smaller and younger than common green beans and have a softer pod.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2/3 cup blanched almond slivers, toasted
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

Heat the oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add shallots to the green beans in the serving bowl, along with the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the toasted almonds and toss gently.

Garnish with lemon quarters and serve.

Snacks for Game Watching

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Snacks for game watching or parties are fun to have on hand. They do not have to be unhealthy to taste really good. My kind of snacks have always been a big hit with family and guests – so give them a try. I have never heard that they didn’t go over well. In fact, I get many requests for the recipes. The sports season begins this week, so get ready.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

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Pumpkin seeds can be seasoned, roasted in the oven and eaten as a healthy snack. They’re a very good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and antioxidants; and they’re also a good source of protein, zinc, copper and iron. Besides – they taste good.

Make a double batch – they go fast.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw, dry pumpkin seeds (be sure they are not salted)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the seeds with the olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne and honey in a mixing bowl.

Spread the seeds on a baking pan.

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Roast the coated seeds until golden, about 15 – 20 minutes. Scrape the pan and stir the seeds as they cool to prevent sticking. After about 10 minutes cooling on the pan, the seeds will stick together.

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They are easy to separate and will finish cooling without sticking after they are separated.

Remove to a serving bowl or store in an airtight container.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

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Pimentón is the Spanish version of paprika that adds a little smokiness to a recipe. It comes in three types with varying levels of heat. Dulce is slightly sweet with very little heat, agridulce has only a trace of sweetness but a lot of heat and picante is quite hot with just a trace of bitterness.

This is not the typical hummus made with tahini (sesame paste). This hummus uses sun-dried tomatoes and has delicious flavor from the Pimentón. The dip go very well with the homemade pita chips.

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Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained but reserve the bean liquid
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón agridulce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pita chips (recipe below) and  raw vegetables, for serving.

Directions

Drain the chickpeas, reserving the bean liquid separately.

Put the chickpeas and lemon juice into a blender or food processor and process until chunky.

Add salt, pepper, the garlic and pimentón and process; then add the sun-dried tomatoes and sun dried tomato oil. Process until very smooth.

Add some of the reserved bean liquid to thin the sauce to dipping consistency.

Serve with homemade pita chips and cut up vegetables.

Homemade Pita Chips

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Za’atar seasoning is a Middle Eastern spice mixture that contains ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sumac.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of pita pocket breads (6 pitas in a package)
  • Olive oil
  • Za’atar seasoning

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil two large rimmed baking pans.

Separate each pita into two rounds. Brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with the Za’atar seasoning mix. Cut each pita circle into 6 triangles.

Arrange the triangles on the baking sheets and bake until crispy and brown, about 20 minutes. Rotate the pans after ten minutes, Cool and store in a large ziplock bag until needed.

Small Wraps

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Small hand foods are popular and easy to eat while you are watching a game. These can be filled with anything you like and cut as small as you like. Here are some suggestions.

Ingredients

  • Whole-grain tortillas, lavash bread or lettuce leaves
  • Drizzle of oil and vinegar

Protein Filling Ingredients

  • Thinly sliced roast turkey, chicken, ham or roast beef
  • Tuna
  • Hummus
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Nut Butters
  • Edamame

Vegetable Filling Ingredients

  • Greens: lettuce, baby spinach, kale, Swiss chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Zucchini Slices
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Pickled Cucumbers, Peppers or other Pickled Vegetables

Spreads

  • Light Mayonnaise
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Mustard
  • Hummus
  • Mashed Avocado
  • Relish

Directions

Choose a type of wrap or use a variety. Choose a spread and cover the wrap on one side.

Layer the wrap with a protein and veggies of choice. Drizzle with a little oil and vinegar. Roll-up tightly and place on a serving dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until game time.

Pepper and Corn Salsa

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The fresh flavors of this seasonal salsa is what makes it taste so good. Homemade chips make it taste even better.

Ingredients

  • 3 bell peppers, seeded and diced (use a variety of colors)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels, cooked
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper Flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Homemade tortilla chips

Directions

Place the diced vegetables and corn to a medium serving bowl.

Add the lime juice, salt, pepper and cayenne to the bowl. Mix well. Let the flavors combine for at least twenty minutes before serving.

Serve either at room temperature or slightly chilled with tortilla chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • One package (8-10) large (12 inch) flour tortillas
  • Taco seasoning mix, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil two rimmed baking sheets.

Brush the tortillas with olive oil and sprinkle each with taco seasoning. Cut the tortillas into 8 triangles and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all together. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

Labor Day BBQ

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Labor Day was created as an annual celebration of workers and their achievements. In the past, Labor Day was seen as a kind of “workingmen’s holiday,” and the first Monday in September was designated for its celebration. Today, Labor Day is seen as the last long weekend of summer and friends and families gather at picnic grounds or in their backyards to bid farewell to the season.

Here are some recipes to help you celebrate.

BBQ Ribs

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4 servings

Rub Mixture Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Ribs

  • 2 St. Louis-cut or spare rib racks, about 2 lbs
  • Peach BBQ sauce, heated, see recipe link

Directions

Mix all the rub ingredients together and coat the ribs all over with the mixture. Place the ribs in a baking dish, cover the dish with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the foil covered baking dish with the ribs in the oven and roast for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender but not falling off the bone.

Finish the ribs on a charcoal or gas grill.

Ten minutes before the ribs are done baking, heat the grill to medium-high. Grill the ribs, basting with the BBQ sauce and turning occasionally, until they begin to char, 5 to 6 minutes.

Cut into pieces and serve with additional sauce for dipping.

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

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See the link here for the recipe that was on my blog a few weeks ago.

Creamy Coleslaw

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I prefer to shred cabbage for this recipe rather than use a package of coleslaw mix. Those packages never taste very fresh to me. Pick out a deep green cabbage without blemishes at your market and use it for this recipe. Shredding half a cabbage doesn’t take more than 5 minutes with a good sharp knife.

Coleslaw is one of those recipes that I am never really satisfied with and I keep tinkering with the recipe to try to get it to taste the way I think it should taste. Needs more salt? Needs more sweetness? I may have found the right balance for us with the ingredients in my recipe below. See what you think.

For best flavor this coleslaw should be made one day ahead.

Serves 6

Salad Ingredients

  • Half of a head of green cabbage that weighs about 2 – 2 1/2 pounds
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely minced sweet onions
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet bread and butter pickles
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Shred the cabbage and the carrots and place them in a mixing bowl. You should yield about 8 cups of shredded cabbage and one cup of shredded carrots from the amounts listed above.

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Add the salt, sugar and vinegar; toss them together and set aside for an hour.

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In a serving bowl, mix together the dressing ingredients.

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After an hour squeeze the cabbage to get as much liquid as possible out of the mix and place in the bowl with the dressing. Mix them well to blend and refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Almond Flour Shortcake

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This is a wonderful dessert to have on hand. Simple enough for a snack or dress it up for company with fruit, whipped cream or a frosting. I usually make an extra one to keep in the freezer.

8 to 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for the pan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan with oil. Swirl the oil in the pan and make sure it goes up the sides.

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Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of the sugar listed in the ingredients onto the bottom of the pan.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Scrape the beaten egg whites into another bowl and set aside.

In the mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the almond extract until smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients — flour, baking powder and salt — and add to the egg yolk mixture. Stir together to form a thick dough.

Fold in the egg whites, 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating them fully between each addition. The final addition should result in a smooth, fluffy batter.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake on the center rack for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides, then turn the cake out onto a serving plate.

Allow the cake to cool fully before topping with sliced fresh fruit and whipped cream or powdered sugar.

JEDEzhN

Meatloaf Tonight

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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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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

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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.

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Oven Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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

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Sautéed Zucchini and Fennel

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

Cooking the Italian Provinces – Padua

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Padua University

Padua is a province in the Veneto region of Italy. It is home to some of the masterpieces from the Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture period and the towns of Cittadella and Montagnana are famous for their well-preserved Medieval city walls. There are also many ancient and historic villas in the countryside. The hills offer a relaxing naturalistic site often covered with woods, while the eastern slopes offer ancient spa sites, such as Terme Euganee, Abano Terme, Montegrotto Terme, Galzignano Terme and Battaglia Terme. There is a small part of the Venetian Lagoon lying inside the province, the Valle Millecampi (“one-thousand-fields valley”) that includes naturalistic routes for cycling or horse-riding.

Padua Basilica

Padua Basilica

The University of Padua was founded in 1222 and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second oldest in Italy. In 2010 the university had approximately 65,000 students and in 2013 was ranked “best university” among Italian institutions of higher education with more than 40,000 students.

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, the university was renowned for its research, particularly in the areas of medicine, astronomy, philosophy and law. During this time, the university adopted the Latin motto: Universa universis patavina libertas (Paduan Freedom is Universal for Everyone). Nevertheless, the university had a turbulent history, and there was no teaching in 1237–61, 1509–17 and 1848–50.

Botanical Garden of Padova

Botanical Garden of Padova

The Botanical Garden of Padova, established by the university in 1545, was one of the oldest gardens of its kind in the world (after the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). In addition to the garden, the university also manages nine museums, including a History of Physics Museum.

The University began teaching medicine from the day it was founded and played a leading role in the identification and treatment of diseases and ailments, specializing in autopsies and the inner workings of the body. The university houses the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theatre in Europe, dating from 1595.

Padua's anatomical theater

Padua’s anatomical theater

Since 1595, Padua’s famous anatomical theater drew artists and scientists studying the human body during public dissections. Anatomist Andreas Vesalius held the chair of Surgery and Anatomy and in 1543 published his anatomical discoveries in De Humani Corporis Fabrica. The book triggered great public interest in dissections and caused many other European cities to establish anatomical theatres.

The university became one of the universities of the Kingdom of Italy in 1873 and, ever since, has been one of the most prestigious in the country for its contributions to scientific and scholarly research. In the field of mathematics alone, its professors have included such figures, as Gregorio Ricci Curbastro, Giuseppe Veronese, Francesco Severi and Tullio Levi Civita. On 25 June 1678, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, a Venetian noblewoman and mathematician, became the first woman to be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

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Paduan Hens

Padua’s cuisine has its simple roots in the vegetable garden, the farmyard and the vineyard, Farmyard products include: the well-known Paduan hen, Polverara hen, goose, guinea-hen and capon.

All varieties of chicory are cultivated in the countryside of Padua and include the Variegated Castelfranco, Early and Late Red Treviso, Red Chioggia or Red Verona varieties, are always present in the cooking proposals of the restaurants of Padua. Their soft and slightly bitter taste is particularly appetising in risotto dishes.

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Padua is a producer of both the white and of the green species of asparagus. Boiled eggs and asparagus or risotto with asparagus are part of the springtime cuisine.

Like the rest of the Veneto region, Padua is a land of well-known vineyards. DOC wines are produced in five areas of the province.Wines events and exhibitions are usually organized for spring and autumn.

Since Pre-Roman times olive trees have been cultivated in the Euganean Hills. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced in the area is under the protection of the Association of the Regional Park of the Euganean Hills. The color of the oil is typically golden green, obtained by using cold-pressing techniques and bottling after careful decanting without filtering.

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Montagnana is renowned for its ham, a tradition rooted in the rural population, called, prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana, by the locals. The sweet taste, the tenderness, the pink color and the unmistakable smell guarantee the identity of this product, so much so, that these properties were granted by the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) seal and are now safeguarded by the Consortium of the Prosciutto Veneto Berico Euganeo, based in Montagnana. On the third Sunday of May, Montagnana organizes Piacere Montagnana, the festival of sweet ham.

In summer Padua produces its excellent cheeses in the northern grazing areas and among them are Grana Padano, Montasio and Asiago.

The cooking traditions of Padua are passed on to the generations that follow with only slight changes to adjust to more modern tastes and likes, while preserving the old recipes.

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Tramezzini

Tramezzini are very common in Padua. They are stuffed triangular sandwiches made of chewy white bread and usually served with a glass of Prosecco.

Ingredients

  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Slices of Prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 slices bread

Directions

Remove the crust from the bread.

Chop the mushrooms.

In a bowl, stir together the mushrooms, cream cheese, parsley, lemon juice and pepper until creamy. Spread a layer of mushrooms on each slice of bread.

Top four pieces of bread with some ham. Turn the other four slices upside down on top of the other one. Press and cut diagonally.

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Risotto con gli Asparagi

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups homemade or purchased low sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups rice: Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup Grana Padano grated cheese, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Pour the broth into a pot and heat. Keep at a simmer.

Trim and discard the tough woody stems of the asparagus (usually about an inch). Slice the spears crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces. Leave the tips intact.

Place 1 tablespoon of butter and the extra-virgin olive oil into a heavy-bottomed 5-quart pot.

Add the onions and cook over med-high heat for a couple of minutes, until transparent.

Add the sliced asparagus (reserve the tips for later use) and salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus are soft and slightly golden in color.

Add the rice and “toast”, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes, until the rice acquires a light golden color.

Add the white wine and stir for one minute, letting it evaporate. Add a couple of ladles of hot broth to the rice and lower the heat to medium. Add the asparagus tips.

Stir every 30 seconds or so. Keep adding broth, ladle by ladle, as soon as the liquid is absorbed, slightly covering the rice each time, until the rice is cooked.

You will need approximately 5 cups of broth, but it depends on the rice variety, so be prepared to add more or less.

Cooking time for the rice will be 14 to 18 minutes, depending on the rice variety used. The final consistency of the risotto should be creamy.

Turn off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 cup cheese and heavy cream.

Rest for one minute and serve with freshly ground black pepper and the reserved cheese.

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Paduan Chicken Cacciatore

Authentic Chicken Cacciatore doesn’t use tomatoes. It was a traditional Italian dish that hunters could easily make in the field if they needed to cook a meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 Padua chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 20 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Prosciutto crudo dolce di Montagnana, diced
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 sage branch
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • Dash red wine vinegar
  • Chianti red wine
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Cut the chicken up into smaller pieces.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Brown in a hot skillet with some olive oil. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and brown gently. Add the diced prosciutto and place the chicken back in the pan.

Add the herbs and vinegar and allow it to evaporate.

Add enough red wine to cover the chicken. Simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender and falls off the bone.

Serve with either polenta or slices of bread and with steamed or roasted vegetables on the side. Garnish with chopped parsley.

paduamap

Family Favorite Dinner

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This has always been my family’s favorite meal. This is the most asked for menu for birthdays and special occasions, after homemade pizza.

Antipasto Platter and Italian Bread

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bread

Ingredients

  • Stuffed Peppers
  • Roasted Tomatoes
  • Prosciutto
  • Salami
  • Olives
  • Cheese

Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • 1 lb to 2 lbs spaghetti (depending on how many you are serving)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

For the Sauce

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 53 oz (1500 g) imported chopped Italian tomatoes (Preferably without salt or sugar added)
  • 6 oz can (170 g) tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (chili)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt  
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 or 4 basil leaves

For the Meatballs

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

To make the sauce:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is soft. Add the tomato paste and fill the empty can with water and add it to the pot.

Stir well and cook the paste a minute or two. Add the chopped tomatoes and the remaining ingredients. Bring the sauce to a boil, lower the heat to low.

Place the lid on the pot but leave it ajar and cook the sauce until thick, about 2 hours. When the meatballs are browned, add them to the sauce after it has been cooking for 1 ½ hours.

Stir the meatballs carefully so they do not break.

To make the meatballs:

meatballs

Combine the bread cubes with the milk in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the onion and garlic.Cook until the onion is soft. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the onion to room temperature.

In a large  mixing bowl combine the beef with the cooled onion, the bread and the soaking liquid with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and form the mixture into 12 meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet and bake the meatballs until brown all over, about 20 minutes

Italian Mixed Green Salad

  • Mixed baby lettuces
  • Cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Italian vinaigrette

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

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This quick-and-easy dessert is lighter than traditional cheesecake, since it calls for ricotta instead of cream cheese and my children love it. They always ask for it.Serves 8-10.

Ingredients

  • Soft butter for the pan
  • ½ cup crushed Amaretti Cookies
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon  amaretto liqueur
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Butter a 9 inch springform pan. Sprinkle the pan with amaretti cookie crumbles to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.

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Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the ricotta, orange zest and sugar. Mix to combine. Beat in the flour.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the amaretto liqueur and salt.

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Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for about 75 minutes, until a light golden color. Make sure the center is firm and the point of a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator until chilled, overnight or at least for 2 hours. Remove the sides of the pan and serve with fresh fruit on the side.

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Easy Clean Up Dinner

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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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

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

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

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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.

 


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