Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

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WEATHER FORECAST: Severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening with heavy rain, damaging wind and even a few tornadoes. High near 55 degrees F. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall near a quarter of an inch.

When the weather outside is wet and nasty, stay in and make this dinner. One thing these recipes have in common is their ability to give you that warm, cozy feeling inside, no matter how badly it’s pouring outside.

Yellow Squash Soup

4 to 6 Servings

This recipe is designed primarily for yellow crooked-neck squash, a summer squash, but in the winter you can substitute acorn or butternut.

  • 1 lb. yellow crooked-neck squash ( approx. 6 small ones)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped sweet onion
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon Wondra flour or unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups milk
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • minced chives


Cut the end of the squash off, cut the squash into 1/4 inch slices and set aside.

In a large saucepan or a Dutch oven heat oil and saute onions and garlic over medium heat. After about 5 minutes, add squash, herbs, and salt. Stir, cover, and continue to cook about 10 more minutes. Gradually sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir over low heat about 5 minutes.

Pour in the white wine, stir briefly, cover, and let simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow the soup to cool until it’s cool enough to puree.

Puree the soup with the milk in a food processor, or blender or with an immersion blender, and return it to a kettle. Adjust the seasonings. Add black pepper to taste and reheat. Sprinkle with minced chives.

Basil Parmesan Biscuits

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in basil and cheese.

Combine milk and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface; pat to 1-inch-thick circle or square. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter into 12 biscuits, or simply cut into 12 equal squares.

Place biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.

Chicken alla Diavola                                                                            

  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Two 3 pound chickens
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a small jar or bowl, combine the white wine vinegar, the dried oregano and the olive oil and let sit while you prepare the chicken.

Using kitchen shears, remove the wing tips and the backbones from the chickens. Set the chickens on a large rimmed baking sheet, skin side up, and press down firmly on the breastbones to flatten them butterfly style. Score each breast, drumstick, thigh and wing halfway to the bone in two places per part. Drizzle all but 2 tablespoons of the vinegar-oil mixture over both sides of the chickens and rub the mixture into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a small bowl, combine the dried sage with the kosher salt, the pepper, dried rosemary and ground black pepper. Rub the seasoning all over the chickens. Let the seasoned chickens stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roast the chickens in the upper third of the oven, skin side up, basting both chickens with the remaining vinegar-oil mixture halfway through, until the chicken is just cooked, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan. Broil the chickens about 4 inches from the heat, rotating the pan, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Carve the chickens. Reheat the pan juices and serve with the chicken.

Baked Farro Risotto



If you only have regular farro, you will need to soak it overnight, as you would dried beans.

Serves 6

  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 medium onion
  • Fine grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked semi-pearled farro or barley
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped


Preheat oven to 400 F with a shelf in the top third of the oven.

Rub olive oil around an 8 x 8 baking dish and sprinkle with lemon zest.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat combine the olive oil, onion, and a couple pinches of salt. Cook until the onions soften up and begin to become translucent.

Add the farro, stir until well-coated, and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the tomato sauce and the broth. Bring just to a simmer, remove from heat, and stir in about 3/4 of cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish, cover with foil, poke a few slits in the foil, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the grains are cooked through. You can uncover the baking dish the last few minutes to brown the top of the farro. Alternatively, you can brown the top carefully under a broiler for a few minutes.

Serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese, the fresh oregano, and a drizzle of good olive oil.


Braised Fennel 

  • 3 medium fennel bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper


Slice the fennel into 1/2″ thick pieces (try to keep each piece with some of the root base so it stays together.)

On medium-high, heat a large saute pan, then add olive oil. After oil is hot, add fennel and caramelize on all sides (3-4 min side.)

Add stock, wine, thyme and bay to fennel and reduce heat to low – med-low.

Cover and gently simmer for 25 minutes, or until fennel bulbs are tender, you may need to add more stock as you simmer.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Pesche al Cioccolato

(Oven-baked Peaches Stuffed with Amaretti Cookies and Chocolate)

4 servings

  • 2 large firm, ripe peaches
  • 8 Italian amaretti cookies
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the dark chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  Set aside to cool.

Wash and dry the peaches.  Halve and pit the peaches. Using a small spoon or a melon baller, scoop the pulp out of the peach halves being careful not to break through the outside skin so as to form little containers to hold the filling. Mash the peach pulp in a medium bowl.

Using a food processor, pulse the amaretti cookies until crumbly. Alternatively, place the cookies in a plastic resealable bag and use a mallet to crush the cookies. Add the cookie crumbs to the peach pulp. Add the egg yolk, cocoa powder and sugar. Stir to combine. Add in the melted chocolate and rum. Stir to combine.

Spoon the peach pulp mixture into the peach halves and place in a small baking dish. Pour the wine into the baking dish around the peach halves.

Bake in the oven until the peaches are cooked through but still firm – about 30 minutes.

Plate peaches and sprinkle with extra crushed amaretti cookies and cocoa powder.



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