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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Chicago

Little Italy in Chicago, 1909.

Italian immigrants to Chicago faced many drastic changes in their environments and way of life. The bustling new metropolis was very different from an Italian rural village. The mass of new Italian immigrants who entered the city in the late nineteenth century, primarily men from the small towns surrounding Palermo, Sicily were either single or had left their wives and children back in Italy. Frugality was essential. Most workers saved their wages to repay initial passage money, send funds to needy family members left behind or to purchase land in Italy.

In the summers many Italian laborers lived in railroad or mining work camps where food was provided by the padrone who recruited them. In the winter, workers returned to Chicago where they frequently lived cooperatively, sharing meals and kitchen chores.

Workers Sharing Living Spac

When possible, single men boarded with Italian families, a practice unknown in Italy. Boarding, freed men from the necessity of doing any of their own housework, while providing supplemental income for the families who housed them. Lodging and boarding continued in the Italian communities until immigration was curtailed by World War One. 

With time, many men had a new reason to economize. As months of saving stretched into years, most immigrants decided to settle permanently in the city, so passage money was put aside for wives, children and other relatives to come to the U.S. Eventually, family members joined the men.

While wages in Chicago exceeded those of Italy, the railway and street work at which many Italian men were employed, was intermittent and low paying. Garment work, done at home by Italian women, added only a meager amount to the family income. Italian laborers did much of the grueling ditch digging and manual labor which the growing city required. Women struggled to keep house in the cramped confines of tenement flats. Small flats of two to four rooms were common. Sinks and toilets were sometimes located in yards, halls or basements and water was unavailable when plumbing froze in winter. Basement and cellar flats were common due to the large number of homes below street level and “many a kitchen floor, the only playground for the children, was cold, damp and water-soaked.”

Confined to substandard tenement housing and severely restricted in employment opportunities, many Italian immigrant families took garment work into their homes and employed their children. The mother and her three eldest children in this picture earned a total of about two dollars a week—when work was available—around 1913, while the father sought day work on the street. (Library of Congress)

Settlement worker Edith Abbot reported that in tenement homes food was hung from the ceilings to keep it away from the rats. The kitchen sometimes doubled as sleeping space for family members or lodgers. As late as 1925, ice-boxes were uncommon on the Near West Side and window sills were often the best means available to keep perishable food cold. As city dwellers and renters, Italians lost the option of supplementing their diets with home-grown foods. Many made valiant efforts to garden in the minuscule backyards and on the fire escapes and porches of tenement homes, where tomatoes, peppers and parsley struggled for existence in the cramped spaces.

Cooking Classes at Hull House

Terese DeFalco, who grew up on the Near West Side, recalls that there was no room for gardening amidst the densely packed housing in her neighborhood. “Our garden was the alley,” she says. Most food was purchased and Italians spent a large proportion of their incomes on food. Under these conditions, lessons learned in Italy remained relevant. Diets consisting of bread, macaroni and vegetables remained the norm among Italian immigrant families. Homemade Italian bread, with its thick crust and heavy texture, provided bulk at the evening meal and stayed fresh long enough to be dunked in coffee the next morning. Working family members carried chunks of it to their jobs, along with peppers purchased from the numerous street vendors found in Italian neighborhoods or from neighborhood stores, which sold familiar Italian ingredients.

Phyllis Williams noted that one of the reasons Italians shunned the recipes taught in settlement cooking classes was that “Italians thought many of the dishes prepared were too expensive and would not satisfy hungry children.” In hot summer months, when putting on the stove would be unbearable in cramped tenement apartments, Rose Tellerino, born in 1899, remembered salads were the daily fare while macaroni was “all we ate” in the wintertime. Wine, usually made at home, continued to be drunk at meals and milk and water were not, much to the chagrin of the Hull House reformers.

The Italian communities of Chicago were enriched by a phenomenon all too rare in their towns of origin, voluntary associations. By the 1920’s the Italians in Chicago had church and school-oriented clubs and sodalities that worked at fundraising, as well as special-interest organizations, sponsored by the settlement houses. The Holy Guardian Angel and Our Lady of Pompeii served the Italian community. On the near Northwest Side, a varied community of Baresi, Sicilians and others grew up around the Santa Maria Addolorata Church. Perhaps the most colorful Italian sector was in the 22nd Ward on the city’s Near North Side. It was known as, “Little Sicily”, and this neighborhood was home to some 20,000 by 1920.

World War II changed everything for Italian Americans. It Americanized the second generation. The G.I. Bill opened up the first possibilities for a college education and the first opportunities to buy a new suburban house. Other government policies, such as urban renewal, public housing and the building of the interstate highway system combined to destroy their inner-city neighborhoods. First, was the building of the Cabrini-Green Housing Project, which destroyed the Sicilian neighborhoods in the Near North Side in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Then, came the construction of the expressway system on the near south, west and northwest sides which dislodged additional Italian families and institutions including many churches and schools.

Today, some 500,000 Italian-Americans, about the population of a medium-sized Italian city, live in Chicago. Though the group has been in the city for about a century, it maintains a lively array of civic, religious and cultural institutions and organizations that provide a sense of ethnic identification and recognition in a manageable area inside the larger metropolis. Because these institutions perform the functions of allocating recognition and ethnic identity, they will not die or fade quickly from the scene.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago and Jane Addams Memorial Collection

Taylor Street, in the Near West Side, became the hub of the Italian community, most notably, because of Jane Addams’ Hull House that was established to educate and help assimilate European immigrants and because of Mother Frances Cabrini, who started a school and founded two hospitals in the Italian community. Although parts of the Italian neighborhood were torn down when road construction and the University of Illinois at Chicago were completed in the 1960’s, numerous Italian and Italian American clubs and organizations helped maintain a strong sense of community.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, established in 1910 and the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame added more culture and heritage to the area. Major events include an Italian Street Festival in June and Taylor Street Festa Italiana in August. Italian food and regional specialties from the area’s restaurants, entertainment, merchandise from Italy and children’s activities are part of both celebrations. Festa di Tutti I Santi, a fundraiser for The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, is held in August.

Taylor Street is the main dining area in Chicago’s Little Italy, anchored with favorites like Pompei (1531 W. Taylor St.), opened by Sicilian, Luigi Davino, in 1909, Pompei has remained a family run business ever since, but don’t expect to find deep dish here: the pizza is still Sicilian style.

For a neighborhood specialty, stop at Al’s Beef (1070 W Taylor St.); Chicago’s well-known Italian beef sandwich was created here in 1938 and has grown from a humble depression era street food to a legendary Italian staple. Order yours with Italian sauce and eat it standing wide-legged and leaning over the counter.

There are many neighborhood grocers, but Conte Di Savoia (2227 W. Taylor St.) has been the neighborhood specialty market since 1948 and continues to serve the area.

Ferrara Bakery

Opened in 1908, Salvatore Ferrara’s Italian pastry legacy lives on today at Ferrara Bakery (2210 W Taylor St.), where the baked goods have been pretty well perfected over its century-plus existence. When Ferrara Bakery opened its doors over a hundred years, it was a staple in the Italian community of Chicago. Backed by a strong immigrant work ethic and an American public infatuated with pastries and confectionaries, Salvatore Ferrara opened a pastry shop on Taylor and Halsted Streets, with a candy shop located roughly a mile away on Taylor Street and Ogden Avenue. While the candy aspect of Ferrara’s business has boomed, distributing worldwide, the pastry shop maintains a more modest reputation. Forced to relocate due to the construction of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Original Ferrara Pastries resides in the old candy distributing facility at Taylor and Ogden.

The Food of Chicago’s Little Italy

If you’re craving deep dish, head about 15 minutes north of Sicilian Little Italy and pay a visit to Uno Pizzeria (29 E Ohio St.), home of the famous Chicago style pie.

Chicago pizza is a not your typical pizza. When Pizzeria Uno founders, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, invented it in 1943, they weren’t trying for true Italian. They believed Chicagoans needed something more substantial: deep dish pizza, which is more a casserole than a flatbread. It grew so popular that they opened a second location, Pizzeria Due, across the street in 1955.

The deep-dish pie spread throughout Chicago due to several pizza makers who left Uno. The first was Uno’s primary pizza chef, Alice Mae Redmond. It is said that Alice Mae was the one who developed Uno’s dough recipe. She left in the sixties, formed a partnership with three local businessmen, including cab drivers Fred Bartoli and Sam Levine, and opened Gino’s East. Gino’s has been through several changes in ownership, but still uses the same recipe at its thirteen locations.

Chicago’s Italian beef is a sandwich of thin slices of seasoned roast beef, dripping with meat juices, on a dense, long Italian-style roll, believed to have originated in Chicago, where its history dates back at least to the 1930’s. The bread itself is often dipped (or double-dipped) into the juices the meat is cooked in and the sandwich is typically topped off with Chicago-style hot giardiniera or sautéed green Italian sweet peppers. I posted a recipe for the Chicago Italian beef sandwich last July. You can see the recipe at https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/07/10/in-the-mood-for-a-really-great-italian-sandwich/

The Chicago style dog is a steamed poppy-seed bun with a Vienna beef hot dog hidden under relish, yellow mustard, onions, tomato, celery salt, hot peppers and a pickle spear.

 

UNO’S FAMOUS DEEP-DISH PIZZA

Recipe shared by Uno in celebration of the 65th anniversary of Uno’s Chicago-Style Pizza.

MASTER DOUGH RECIPE

Yield: one 20-ounce ball of dough to make one 12-inch Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees F)
  • 1 teaspoon. sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn oil
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12″ Deep-Dish Pizza Pan or Cake Pan

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast with water and sugar. Add the corn oil and blend. Add the flour and salt and mix thoroughly. If using a stand mixer, mix for 4 minutes at medium speed, until the dough is smooth and pliable. If kneading by hand, knead for 7 to 8 minutes. Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead by hand for two additional minutes. Add olive oil to a deep bowl. Place the dough ball into the bowl and turn it twice to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.* Let the dough rise for two hours. Do not punch it down. Spread and push the dough ball across the bottom of the deep dish pan and up the sides.

*At this stage, the dough can be put in the refrigerator and allowed to rise slowly overnight. Take the dough out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you are ready to assemble the pizza.

PEPPERONI DEEP-DISH PIZZA

  • 1½ cups tomatoes, ground
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 1 teaspoon basil, dried
  • 2 tablespoons Romano cheese, grated
  • 5 oz. part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella, sliced
  • 5 oz. provolone, sliced
  • 24 ea. pepperoni slices (about 2 oz.)

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, oregano, basil and Romano cheese. Set aside.

Lay the slices of mozzarella and provolone on top of the dough, overlapping the slices to cover all of the dough.

Spread the tomato mixture evenly over the cheese.

Dot the top of the tomatoes with the pepperoni.

Bake on the middle rack of a preheated 475° F. oven for 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Allow the pizza to rest for 3-4 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Eggplant Ravioli

Eggplant Ravioli is a specialty of Francesca’s On Taylor. Here is a similar recipe you can make at home. Francesca’s on Taylor features the earthy cuisine of Rome and the surrounding areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. Chicago Magazine notes, “It brings a new kind of abbondanza to an old Italian neighborhood.”

Pasta Dough

(Makes about 1 pound)

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 to 3 tablespoon lukewarm water

Directions:

Put the flour, eggs, salt and olive oil in a food processor.

Pulse several times to blend the ingredients.

Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, just until dough starts to come together.

Avoid adding too much water or the dough will be too sticky to roll.

It may still look dry but can be gathered into a ball.

Gather the dough into a ball and place on a floured surface.

Knead lightly, just until the dough is smooth.

Divide in half and keep one-half covered while you work with the other.

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil or oregano
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper

Marinara Sauce

Directions:

Saute garlic in olive oil over low heat about 2 minutes.

Add eggplant and dried herbs, cover and cook 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, cool, and pulse in food processor to finely chop.

Add remaining ingredients and fill ravioli.

Forming the Ravioli

Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness into strips about 4 inches wide.

Using a tablespoon, place mounds of filling 1-1/2 to 2-inches apart down the center of the dough.

Brush a little water across the top and bottom of the strip and between the mounds of filling.

Place another 4-inch wide strip of dough over the top.

Press the dough down around the mounds of filling to seal.

Cut the ravioli into rounds or squares using a ravioli cutter, pastry cutter or a knife.

Completed ravioli can be refrigerated for a few hours before cooking.

They can also be frozen by placing them on a cookie sheet and freezing until firm and then storing in a plastic bag for 2-3 months.

Cook ravioli in salted water until they rise to the top, 3-4 minutes for fresh ravioli or 9-10 minutes for frozen.

Serve with Marinara Sauce.

 

Maggiano’s Baked Ziti and Sausage Casserole

Maggiano’s Little Italy is an American casual dining restaurant specializing in Italian-American cuisine that is aimed at “re-creating the classic pre-World War II dinner house featuring family size portions”.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked ziti pasta
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausages (casings removed)

WHITE SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese

CHEESE LAYER

  • 1 (1 lb) carton cream-style cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Paprika

Directions:

Set oven to 350 degrees. F. and grease a 3-quart baking dish.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until JUST tender (do not overcook the pasta as it will cook more in the oven). Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet; add in the sausage meat and cook until browned, remove to a plate.

For the white sauce; melt butter in a medium saucepan; add the onion, garlic and cayenne pepper if using) saute for about 3-4 minutes. Add in flour and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly add in half and half cream; bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until thickened.

Remove from heat; add in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta in the bowl; mix with a wooden spoon.

In a medium bowl mix together the cottage cheese with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, egg and chopped parsley, then season with salt and lots of pepper.

Spoon HALF of the creamed ziti mixture into the prepared baking dish, then spread the cottage cheese mixture on top, then spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top of the cottage cheese mixture.

Sprinkle the cooked sausage meat on the top.

Top with mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle paprika on top.

Bake uncovered for about 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and hot.

Let stand about 5 or more minutes before serving.

 

Cannoli Cake

Similar to the Ferrara Bakery’s Famous Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

9 inch ungreased springform pan

For the Pan di Spagna (sponge cake): Have the following ingredients at room temperature at least 1 hour before baking:  6 eggs, lemon juice, orange zest and sherry.

Ingredients:

FOR  THE SPONGE

  • 6 whole eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup rum, for sprinkling the cake layers

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ricotta cheese
  • 6 tablespoons rum
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate, grated
  • 1/4 cup candied cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

TO MAKE FROSTING:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted finely chopped almonds

Directions:

TO MAKE SPONGE LAYER

Separate the 6 eggs and set the egg whites aside.

Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in sugar, lemon juice, orange zest and sherry.

Beat until foamy.

Sift flour 3 times and fold into the egg yolk mixture gently but thoroughly.

Beat egg whites until foamy, add salt and beat until stiff but not dry.

Fold into yolk mixture.

Pour batter into a 9 inch ungreased springform pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.

TEST by pressing lightly with your fingertips, if the cake springs back at once, it is done.

Leave the cake in the pan to cool and invert on a wire rack.

Once the cake is completely cool, slice it into 3 layers.

Sprinkle layers with the 1/4 cup rum.

TO MAKE THE FILLING:

Crush ricotta very finely with a potato masher.

Add 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the 6 tablespoons rum, grated chocolate, chopped cherries and cinnamon.

Spread the ricotta filling over the sponge cake layers, using a 1/2 inch of filling on each layer.

Leave the top and sides of the cake plain.

TO MAKE FROSTING:

Cream butter with 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar.

Beat the 2 egg whites until stiff and gradually beat the remaining 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar into the egg whites.

Fold egg whites into the butter mixture and fold in 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Cover the sides and top of the cake with this frosting. Sprinkle nuts on the top and sides of the cake.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve it.

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Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches

Created on the South Side of Chicago in the Italian neighborhoods around the now defunct Stockyards, the classic Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich is a unique, drippy, messy variation on the French Dip Sandwich. It is available in hundreds of places around the city but rarely found outside of Chicago. The exact origin is unknown, but the sandwich was probably created by Italian immigrants in the early 1900s as they rose from poverty and were able to afford beef for roasting.

No one knows for sure who invented the sandwich, but the recipe was popularized by Pasquale Scala, a South Side butcher and sausage maker. During the Depression food was scarce and Scala’s thinly sliced roast beef on a bun with gravy and fried peppers took off. Today, beef sandwiches are a staple at Italian weddings, funerals, parties, political fundraisers and luncheons and Scala’s Original still supplies hundreds of restaurants and Italian Beef Stands with the raw ingredients.

Italian Beef is made by slowly roasting lean beef in a pan filled with seasoned beef-based stock. Some folks call it gravy, but in most Chicago Italian households gravy is a term reserved for tomato sauces. Others call it au jus or “juice” for short. Then it is sliced paper-thin, soaked in the juice for a few minutes and layered generously, dripping wet, onto sections of Italian bread loaves, sliced lengthwise. According to Allen Kelson, former restaurant critic for Chicago Magazine and now a restaurant consultant, it is important that the bread has “wet strength”. The meat is topped with sautéed green bell pepper slices, Pepperoncini and Giardiniera, which is usually a spicy hot blend of chopped Serrano peppers, carrots, cauliflower florets, celery, olives, herbs, salt & pepper, packed in oil and vinegar. Finally juice is spooned over the toppings, making the bread wet and chewy.

12 servings

Ingredients:

Pot Roast:

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • Sprigs fresh thyme

Pepper Topping:

  • 1  medium sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1  medium green pepper, julienned
  • 1  clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 16  ounces sliced or whole pepperoncinis                                                                                                                                                                                          
  • 2  (1-pound) loaves hearty Italian bread, cut into halves lengthwise

Directions:

For the Pot Roast:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position a rack in the middle position of the oven. Liberally sprinkle the entire roast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides until golden and caramelized; reduce the heat if the fat begins to smoke.

Transfer the roast to a plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add in onions and saute, stirring occasionally until just beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Deglaze with the red wine and cook until the alcohol smell is diminished. Add in the stock and thyme and bring to a simmer. Place the roast back into the pot with any accumulated juices, cover and place in the oven.

Cook the roast, turning every 30 minutes, until very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain the juices in the pan through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Once cooled a bit, pull the meat into smaller chunks, add to bowl with pan juices and reserve for the sandwiches.

For the Peppers:
Increase the oven heat to 350 degrees F. Toss the pepper strips with the oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring halfway through, until lighter in color and soft, about 20 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich:  Spoon some juice directly onto the bread. Get it very wet. Then layer the beef generously and spoon on more juice. Top it with bell pepper,  Giardiniera and Pepperoncini.

Italian Subs – New York Restaurant Style

“This is a classic Italian sub sandwich with three kinds of meat and provolone cheese. The kind you get in a mom and pop pizza restaurant.

8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 head leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
2 medium fresh tomatoes, sliced very thin
1 medium red onion, sliced very thin
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch dried oregano
1/2 pound sliced hot Capacola
1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa Salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced Prosciutto
1/2 pound sliced Provolone Cheese
4 submarine rolls, split
1 cup Pepperoncini, sliced to fit sandwich


Directions:

1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes and onion. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes and oregano. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
2. Spread the submarine rolls open, and layer the Capacola, Salami, Prosciutto, and Provolone Cheese evenly on each roll. Top with some of the salad, and as many Pepperoncini pepper slices as desired. Close the rolls and serve.

Pepper and Egg Sandwich

Since the 1950′s, and possibly earlier, the “pepper ‘n egg” sandwich has been a popular lunch for Italian American families. When I was a child, my mother would pack a pepper and egg sandwich for my school lunch box. I can remember some of my school mates, saying, “EWW – what is that….” I just shrugged because it tasted yummy. As an adult, I make pepper and egg sandwiches regularly. I introduced them to my Irish husband long ago and it is still one of his favorite sandwiches.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 loaf Italian bread or rolls

Directions:

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat then add olive oil. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and sauté for a minute or two. Add the onion and peppers, regulating the heat so the onions don’t burn. Sauté until the peppers have softened.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the beaten eggs. Stir to combine with the onions and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are set.
Slice the bread lengthwise without cutting all the way through. When the eggs are done, gently slide them onto the bread to make a sandwich and cut the loaf into four portions.

Open-Face Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Four large 1/2-inch-thick slices of Italian peasant bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • One 1 1/4-pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 8 slices 1 inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 large basil leaves, torn
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Light a grill. Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and grill over high heat until crisp on the outside but still soft inside, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a platter.
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Top the eggplant with the tomato, mozzarella and basil. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese just begins to melt, 1-2 minutes. Transfer 2 eggplant slices onto each slice of bread, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich

The muffufletta sandwich’s nickname is simply “muff.” These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores. It is considered as much a signature sandwich of New Orleans as the Po’ Boy Sandwich. It is an Italian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese and Italian ham. They key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. A true Muffuletta Sandwich must always be served at room temperature. Imagine a sandwich that is almost as round as a Frisbee and so wide that it is hard to bite into.
Ingredients:
  • 1 round loaf Italian bread, 10-inches in diameter
  • Olive Salad (see recipe below)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces salami, thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Italian ham (Proscuitto), thinly sliced 
  • 2 ounces Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Directions:
Make Olive Salad.
Cut bread in half crosswise and scoop out about half of the soft dough from top and bottom pieces (this is to provide more room for the sandwich ingredients). Brush the inside bottom of loaf with olive oil or juice from the Olive Salad marinade.
Layer salami, Italian ham and Provolone cheese on the bottom piece.
Top with as much Olive Salad as will fit without spilling out. Add top of loaf and press down slightly. Slice in quarters or sixths and serve at room temperature.
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the appetite.

Olive Salad

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives 
  • 2/3 cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimiento 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 anchovy fillet, mashed 
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon finely-chopped fresh oregano leaves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper 
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and then allow the flavors to mingle for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Italian Meatball Sub

Dominic Conti (1874-1954) claims he was the first to use the name, submarine sandwich. Angela Zuccaro, granddaughter of Dominic, related the following information:
“My grandfather came to this country in 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started his grocery store, called Dominic Conti’s Grocery Store, on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him from Italy which consisted of a long crusty roll, filled with cold cuts, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a  layer of cheese and ended with a layer was cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).”
Angela continued,”My mother often told me about how my grandfather came to name his sandwich the Submarine.” She remembered the incident very well, as she was 16 years old at the time. She related that “when grandfather went to see the Holland I in 1927, the raised submarine hull that was put on display in Westside Park, he said, ‘It looks like the sandwich I sell at my store.’ From that day on, he called his sandwich the ‘submarine.’ People came from miles around to buy one of my Grandfather’s subs.”

Ooey-Gooey Meatball Submarine Sandwich. Photo by Sarah_Jayne

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly toast rolls.
  2. Sprinkle both cheeses in the bottom of the rolls, holding back about 2 tablespoons for the top of the rolls.
  3. Place the meatballs down the centre of the roll and ladle hot Marinara sauce on top.
  4. Sprinkle a tablespoonful of reserved shredded cheese and the Parmesan cheese over top. Sprinkle some dried oregano and basil the over top.
  5. Put meatball sub in an oven-safe dish and return to oven for a couple of minutes to heat through and melt the cheeses. Cool for a minute before digging in and you may need a large napkin. 

If you would like a healthier alternative for Italian Cold Cuts, then you may want to check out Applegate Farm products.
According to Applegate Farm’s policies:

When you pick up an Applegate Farms product, you can be assured that…

  • Our animals are never given antibiotics. Healthy animals don’t need medicine. Instead, we give them space, fresh air, and a healthy diet, which we’re certain beats the alternative.
  • Our livestock eat a completely vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. Cattle in our organic program are grass-fed. Hogs and poultry in our organic program are fed a grain diet that includes corn, soy, barley, and flax that are free from GMOs.
  • Our animals are never given hormones or artificial growth promotants. They grow at their natural rate.
  • All of our products are made with natural and organic ingredients. If you aren’t familiar with a particular ingredient, email us and we’ll tell you what it is.
  • Our products are all minimally processed, allowing for a wholesome texture and taste.
  • Our products never contain artificial nitrates or nitrites. Instead, we use celery juice and sea salt to preserve our products the natural and old fashioned way.
  • Our deli meat, hot dogs, burgers, and bacon are gluten and casein free.
  • Our products are made from natural and organic whole muscle meat. Yes, even our hot dogs! No mystery here.

Genoa Salami

Soppressata

Capacola

Pancetta

Proscuitto

Pepperoni



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