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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Dutch oven

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Dutch ovens are cylindrical, heavy gauge cooking pots with tight-fitting lids that can be used either on a range top or in the oven. The heavy metal or ceramic construction provides constant, even and multi-directional radiant heat to the food being cooked inside.

The term “Dutch oven” is something of a misnomer in that the pots are neither Dutch nor actual ovens. Rather, it refers to the casting process developed in Holland by which brass vessels were cast in dry-sand molds. In 1704, an Englishman by the name of Abraham Darby traveled to the Netherlands to observe how the thick-walled cast-iron pots were made and, eventually, patented a similar process for use in England and its American colonies.

A Dutch oven has the advantage of using one pot from start to finish — you can sear protein in the same pan you use to braise. When using a Dutch oven, you can braise on the stove top or in the oven. Almost any cooking task can be performed in a Dutch oven.

All of my recipes below are cooked on top of the stove but you could easily finish the braising process in the oven. Cover and place the Dutch Oven on the middle of a rack in an oven that has been pre-heated to 300° Fahrenheit and follow the cooking times below.

How to Make Dutch Oven Recipes in a Slow Cooker.

Converting from a Dutch Oven to a slow cooker is easy. If a recipe has any searing, sauteing or deglazing steps, complete those steps in a pan on the stove top. After adding the liquid, transfer everything to the slow cooker. For recipes that call for either stove top simmering or an oven temperature of 300 degrees F or more, set your slow cooker to HIGH. For recipes under 300 degrees F, use the LOW setting. Slow cookers prevent liquid from evaporating, so sauces come out thinner than in a Dutch Oven.

SLOW COOKER DUTCH OVEN
12 hours/Low 3 hours/325° F
10 hours/Low 2 1/2 hours/325° F
8 hours/Low 2 hours/325° F
6 hours/Low 1 1/2 hours/325° F
5 hours/Low 1 hour, 15 min./325° F
4 hours/Low 1 hour/325° F
4 hours/High 2 hours/325° F
3 hours/Low 45 min./325° F
3 hours/High 1 1/2 hours/325° F
2 hours/Low 30 min./325° F
2 hours/High 1 hour/325° F
1 hour/Low 15 min./325° F
1 hour/High 30 min./325° F

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Quick Cooking Pork and Vegetable Stew Italiano

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless pork loin cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, medium, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 cup canned diced Italian tomatoes
  • 14 1/2 oz canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil , torn
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped

Directions

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Add pork pieces and shake to coat. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper and mushrooms. Sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté pork on all sides, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Return sautéed vegetables to the pot. Add zucchini, tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until pork is tender. Stir in basil and oregano, season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Italian Vegetable Stew

6 servings

Ingredients

  • Half of a 1-lb. loaf sourdough bread, torn into 2” pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 1 bunch collard greens, center ribs and stems removed
  • 1 bunch Tuscan or other kale, center ribs and stems removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz can diced Italian tomatoes
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 15-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig marjoram or oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Shaved Parmesan (for serving

Directions

Scatter bread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Let stand at room temperature to slightly dry out, about 2 hours.

Cook greens separately in a large pot (Dutch Oven) of boiling salted water until slightly softened, about 3 minutes per batch. Cool. Squeeze out excess water; roughly chop. Set aside.

In the empty pot heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery and leek; stir often until softened, 8–10 minutes.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, beans, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf and reserved greens; season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld and soup thickens slightly, 40–50 minutes. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf.

Just before serving, gently stir bread into the soup. Divide among bowls, top with Parmesan and drizzle with oil.

DO AHEAD: Stew can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Reheat before continuing. Store bread airtight at room temperature.

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Spicy Cioppino

For 2

Ingredients

  • 6 fingerling potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and basil
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika (or half cayenne and half smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 fresh plum tomatoes seeded and finely diced
  • 1 white fish fillet (cod, halibut, grouper) diced (about 8 ounces)
  • 6 sea scallops and 6 peeled shrimp, patted dry 
  • 6 mussels and 6 small clams
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley and/or basil
  • Sourdough bread

Directions

Place potatoes in a Dutch Oven, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon oil onion, garlic and jalapeno to the pan and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 4- 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high, add seasonings, salt and pepper, wine, clam juice and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the clams and mussels and cook until the shellfish open.

Season fish, shrimp and scallops with salt and pepper. Add the fish, shrimp and scallops, cooked potatoes, cream and capers to the pot, return to a simmer and cook until heated through and white fish is cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve with sourdough bread.

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Italian Beef Stew

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8-ounce package whole cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 3/4 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch Oven.

Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge in the flour.

Add half the beef to the pan; sauté 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from the pan to a bowl. Repeat procedure with oil and beef.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add onion and chopped carrot; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté for 45 seconds, stirring constantly.

Add wine to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping bottom of the pan (about 5 minutes). Return meat to the pan. Add tomatoes and the next 6 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and stir in sliced carrot. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil and parsley.

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Chickpea and Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, sliced into ½ inch thick lengths
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup diced, drained roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups 1′ cubes country-style bread
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt; add to the pot and cook, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to low and add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Add oregano, tomato paste and red pepper flakes; stir until a smooth paste forms, about 1 minute. Add reserved, browned chicken with any accumulated juices, along with bay leaves and 4 cups water. Scrape up any browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until chicken is tender, about 10-12 minutes.

Add chickpeas to the pot; bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add diced red peppers. Stir in lemon juice; simmer for 1 minute. Season with salt and more lemon juice, if desired. Divide bread cubes among bowls. Ladle stew over. Garnish with parsley.

 

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Generally, authentic Italian stews have similar ingredients to vegetable soup, but they tend to have larger chunks of meat and vegetables and sometimes have a thicker sauce. Some Italian stews are simply meat simmered in broth or wine. In Italy stew is usually a main dish and is often served in a bowl or on a plate alongside bread, polenta or rice. Some stews are served over polenta.

Stews are generally easy to prepare, store well in the refrigerator and taste better reheated. A perfect make ahead dish. In countries other than Italy, particularly in the United States, some dishes labeled as Italian stew are simply pasta dishes with Italian seaoning that have been converted into stews by reducing the broth or thickening the sauce in the mixture. Usually, this type of stew contains small, hollow noodles like macaroni or shell pasta.

Many Italian stew recipes that are the most popular in Italy did not actually come from there. Since the cuisine of Italy has been influenced by other nearby cultures, some common Italian stews may have originated in border areas, like Hungary and Croatia. The Italian stew called jota, which contains beans and bacon and is often cooked with garlic, potatoes and meat, originally came from Croatia.

In general, Italian stews are cooked using similar, low-heat methods, but they can contain a variety of meats and vegetables. They can be made on the stove, in the oven or in a slow cooker. Vegetables cooked in this type of stew can vary, but usually include carrots, celery and fennel. Potatoes, onion and garlic are also common. The typical Italian stew contains beef, but it can also contain other meats like chicken, pork or veal. Rabbit is a highly popular stew meat in Northern Italy. Sausage is also a common meat, especially in the south.

pork stew

Italian Pork Stew

My adaption of Marcella Hazan’s recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound Cipollini onions, peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 1 1/2 cups (1-inch) slices carrot
  • 1 cup potatoes diced

Directions

Bring broth and mushrooms to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 20 minutes or until tender. Drain mushrooms in a colander over a bowl, reserving broth.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Spoon onion mixture into a large bowl.

Place flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Heat remaining oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of pork mixture; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon oregano, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add pork to onion mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining pork mixture, 1/4 teaspoon oregano, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Add wine to the pan, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in reserved broth, pork-onion mixture and sage; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until pork is almost tender.

Stir in carrot and potato. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer 10 minutes.

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Roman Oxtail Stew

In Italy and elsewhere in Europe, the custom of raising beef for meat, as opposed to raising oxen for plowing and transportation, is relatively recent. That’s why, in English, we still refer to the tail of a steer as “oxtails” and not to “beef tails”. There are few true oxen left anywhere in the Western world and modern farming techniques have replaced their work. Most butcher shops and supermarkets in America actually sell the tail cut as “beef oxtails.” Oxtail stew tastes best, if made a day ahead and then reheated. This is a popular stewing cut in Italy and is often served over pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 beef oxtail (2 1/2-3 pounds)
  • 6 celery stalks, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 medium-sized white onion
  • 4 ounces pancetta
  • 2 heaping tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt or coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Italian dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 6 to 8 cups boiling water
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions

Rinse the oxtail under warm running water and eliminate any fat or gristle with a paring knife. Chop it into sections along the vertebrae. Pat them dry with paper towels.

Mince 1 celery stalk and reserve the rest. Mince the garlic with the carrot and onion. Mince the pancetta; you should have 3/4 cup. Combine the minced vegetables and pancetta with 1 heaping tablespoon of the parsley.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the minced vegetable-and-pancetta mixture and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the onion becomes translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the oxtail pieces, a generous pinch of salt and several turns of the peppermill. Brown thoroughly, stirring, for about 15 minutes.

Pour in the wine and boil to evaporate it, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and tomatoes, crushing and stirring. Add just enough of the water to completely submerge the oxtail meat.

Wrap the cloves in cheesecloth and tie it closed with kitchen string, leaving about one foot of the string attached. Lower the purse into the stew and secure the string to a pot handle. Drop in the bay leaf and stir.

Lower the heat to minimum and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours.

Slice the remaining 5 celery stalks into 2 inch sticks. Add them to the stew and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Remove and discard the cloves and the bay leaf. Stir in the remaining 1 heaping tablespoon of parsley. Serve in soup bowls.

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Sausage, Escarole & White Bean Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 12 oz. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small head escarole, chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces, washed and lightly dried
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

Heat the oil in a heavy 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the sausage, raise the heat to medium high and cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula until lightly browned and broken into small (1-inch) pieces, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the escarole to the pot in batches; using tongs, toss with the sausage mixture to wilt the escarole and make room for more. When all the escarole is in, add the beans and chicken broth, cover the pot, and cook until the beans are heated through and the escarole is tender, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with the vinegar and salt.

Transfer to bowls and sprinkle each portion with some of the Parmigiano. Serve with toasted Italian country bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.

vegetable stew

Italian Vegetable Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant (about 12 oz), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 (26-ounce) container POMI chopped tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini (8 ounces each), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers or a combination, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded fresh basil

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add eggplant, onion and potatoes and sprinkle the vegetables lightly with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant and potatoes begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Push vegetables to one side of the pot; add 1 tablespoon oil and tomato paste. Cook paste, stirring frequently, until brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth and the chopped tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and gently simmer until the eggplant is soft and the potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Add zucchini, bell peppers and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pot from the heat and cover the pot. Let stand for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste; serve. Add crushed red pepper to taste, if desired.

Tuscan chicken

Tuscan Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 4 ounces baby spinach leaves

Directions

Heat oil in large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet. Add onion, garlic and fennel seed; cook and stir on medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender.

Stir in beans, tomatoes, red wine, basil, rosemary, salt, oregano and pepper. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 3 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet  and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in spinach. Cover and cook 5 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.

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The one dish meal, while an inventor cannot be named, probably began life during prehistoric times, when whatever foods were available were thrown into a pot and cooked for the tribe’s dinner. Soups and stews made with harvested vegetables and hunted game were most likely the first one dish meals. As cooking processes advanced from an open fire to microwaves and convection ovens, the one dish meal has survived and thrives for busy families.

One dish meals provide the cook with a way of feeding the family without a lot of fuss. Because only one dish or pot is used in the preparation, after meal cleanup is quick. One dish meals also allow for the combining of various leftovers into a new meal that is fresh and appealing to eat.

Types of one dish meals can range from simple soups to elaborate meals, such as Beef Stroganoff or Italian Lasagna. Many one dish meals are considered to be comfort foods with macaroni and cheese topping the list. Pot pies, another popular one dish meal, are most often made with chicken or turkey and vegetable leftovers from previous meals. The crock pot revolutionized one dish meals with the idea that a busy cook could have dinner waiting to be served when returning home from work.

Most one dish meals usually combine a protein, one or more vegetables and a starch such as pasta or rice. These meals can be oven baked or cooked on the top of the stove. Since most meals are prepared by simply combining ingredients, one dish meals are a good way to introduce children to cooking.

One dish meals can be made to feed a single person or a crowd. Many pot luck meals include numerous one dish meals meant to serve a number of people. Casserole dishes that can be warmed up in minutes are a popular way to introduce yourself to new neighbors or help a friend who is ill.

Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen small whole onions
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1 -14 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved

Directions

Remove skin from chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt and ground black pepper. In 12-inch skillet, cook chicken in hot oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown evenly. Remove chicken.

Add carrot and onions to skillet. Cook about 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add vermouth, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Return chicken to skillet. Pour broth over chicken; sprinkle with parsley, thyme, and rosemary.

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, adding mushrooms during last 10 minutes of cooking.

White Bean and Sausage Stew

6 to 8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste.

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the tomato paste and oregano to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When the beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with additional vinegar and olive oil.

 

 

Vegetable Beef Soup

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 pound beef stew meat (such as chuck) or lamb stew meat (shoulder or leg), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium beef broth or water
  • 1- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 small parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, leaves included, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 12 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 8 sprigs fresh basil, plus more leaves for garnish
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 ounces angel hair pasta (capellini), broken into small pieces (about 1/2 cup), or orzo, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and turmeric; stir to coat. Add meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and the meat is no longer pink, 4-5 minutes. Add broth (or water), tomatoes and their juice, parsnips, carrots, celery and saffron. Tie parsley and basil sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the meat is tender, 45-50 minutes.

Stir in zucchini and cook, covered, until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add pasta and cook until soft, 6-10 minutes, depending on the type of pasta. Discard the parsley and cilantro sprigs. Season with salt (start with 1 teaspoon if you’re using beef broth; add more if you’re using water) and pepper. Serve sprinkled with parsley and/or basil leaves, if desired.

 

 

Oven Roasted Brisket and Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 lb. potatoes, quartered
  • 5 oz mushrooms, sliced (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 pounds lean beef brisket, trimmed, use the flat half
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Spread onion slices and garlic on bottom of a non-stick roasting pan; top with carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. Arrange beef over vegetables.

In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and sugar; stir to dissolve sugar.

Pour tomato mixture over brisket and vegetables; tightly cover with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Roast for 2 hours and then remove from the oven; uncover, stir and use pan juices to baste meat.

Return brisket to oven and roast for about 1 hour more, uncovered, basting every 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Serve meat and vegetables with sauce spooned over top.

Winter Vegetable Stew

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 cipollini onions (pearl onions can be substituted), peeled
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • One 1/2-ounce bundle of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano
  • One 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a Dutch Oven over medium heat and add onions; cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add stock and herbs; simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potatoes and fennel; cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add green beans and cook, covered, about 5 minutes more. Remove cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens, 10 to 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.

 


A casserole, from the French word for “saucepan”, is a large, deep dish or pot used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel. Casseroles usually consist of pieces of meat or fish, various chopped vegetables, a starchy binder, such as flour, potato or pasta, and, sometimes, a crunchy or cheesy topping. Liquids, such as stock, wine, beer, cider, or vegetable juice, may be added when the dish is assembled for baking. Casseroles are usually cooked slowly in the oven, often uncovered. They may be offered as a main course or a side dish, and may be served in the dish in which they were cooked.

Types of casserole entrees include ragouts, hotpots, cassoulets, tajines, moussakas, lasagnas, shepherd’s pie, gratins, rice or macaroni timballi, and carbonnades. A distinction can be made between casseroles and stews: stewing is a cooking process whereby heat is applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel (typically over a fire or on a stove), whereas casserole cooking is generally done in an oven where heat circulates all around the cooking vessel. Casseroles may be cooked covered or uncovered, while braised dishes are typically covered to prevent evaporation.

In 1866, Elmire Jolicoeur, a French Canadian immigrant, invented the precursor of the modern casserole in Berlin, New Hampshire. The casseroles, we know today, are a relatively modern invention. Early casserole recipes consisted of rice that was pounded and added to a savory mixture of meats such as chicken or sweetbreads. Some time around the 1870s, casseroles underwent a change and cooking in earthenware containers and the idea of  a one-dish meal became popular in America. By in the 1950s, new forms of lightweight metal and glassware appeared on the market and, by the 1970s, casseroles took on a less-than sophisticated image.

Southern Italy is the land of combinations, so casseroles fit in perfectly. While they certainly enjoy a piece of simple grilled fish with lemon juice drizzled on it, you will find other dishes, such as lasagna, eggplant parmesan, or baked codfish with bay leaves and fennel. The mixing of certain vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes to make a colorful Ciambotta, a mixed vegetable stew, cooked in four separate steps, is unique. The cooking of the southern Italians is, also, evolutionary. Take for example the Teglia (or tiella) Barese, a Pugliese casserole classic from Bari (mussels baked in a casserole with rice). This dish was not thought out or designed. It just happened through time.

The Arab people introduced rice into southern Italy, somewhere around the year 800. Additionally they occupied Spain and introduced it there (perhaps giving us a first look at paella), and probably inspiring the combination of rice and mussels. After cooking this dish many times, the cook added just a bit of vegetables because they were at hand or because the yield had to accommodate one more mouth. The cheese, always at arm’s length, soon found its way into the dish. The addition of potatoes and tomatoes dates this version of the Tiella, to after the mid-1500’s or so, because potatoes were not known in Italy before then. They came from the new world along with tomatoes, chocolate, corn and turkey. After the Tiella made its way this far, it became a classic dish. Similar Casseroles were conceived, ingredient by ingredient, probably by necessity or availability, and eventually they became standards.

Baked Ciambotta (Mixed Vegetable Stew)

Good as a side for Roast Pork

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, about 1 lb.
  • 1 lb. large, firm russet-type potato
  • 4 bell peppers, red and green mixed
  • 1 lb. fresh ripe, firm tomatoes chopped, or use 14 1/2 oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed, for sauteeing
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed almost to paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Trim off the stem and leaves from the eggplant, peel if you prefer and cut it crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. If young and very fresh there is no need to salt the slices (otherwise see below).

Peel the potatoes and cut them crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices. Core the peppers and discard the seeds, cut them in 1/4 inch slices lengthwise. Peel and core the tomatoes, and chop them.

Put just enough oil in a large frying pan to barely cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, saute the eggplant slices until they are nicely browned on both sides turning once. Add more oil as needed. Remove them to a large casserole that will eventually hold everything.  

Alternately, you can grill the eggplant slices instead of sauteeing. Brush slices with olive oil and grill on a stove top grill until browned and soft.

Brown the potato slices and put them into the casserole with the eggplant. Cook the peppers until they are lightly brown, and add to the casserole.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Scatter on the chopped tomatoes, the garlic, salt and pepper and mix well but carefully.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbling. Serve hot on its own, or use as a contorno, side dish, for roasted or grilled meat, fowl or big fish.

NOTE: To remove excess water from eggplant or remove bitterness in older ones, sprinkle both sides of the slices liberally with salt. Place in a non-reactive colander overlapping each other. Place a bowl or a dish inside the colander on top of the eggplant slices, and place a 1 or 2 pound weight on it. Let stand for about 1 hour. Rinse slices quickly under cold running water and pat dry.

Braised Beef Braciola Stuffed with Basil and Mozzarella

This is an easier version of the Italian-American classic. The traditional dish uses small slices of  beef round, but in this recipe,  a whole flank steak is used because it’s easier to stuff and roll one large cut and flank steak has great flavor. 

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • One 2 lb. flank steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded skim mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 12 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • One 28-oz. container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered

Directions:

Set the flank steak on a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice the steak lengthwise down the middle (about 1/4 inch) and cut toward the edge without cutting all the way through the meat. Repeat with the other side and open it up like a book. Using a meat mallet, flatten the meat so it is about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle both sides of the meat with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

For the stuffing, put the mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, bread crumbs, and basil in a food processor and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the stuffing evenly over the beef, leaving a one inch border all around, and roll it up lengthwise, jelly roll–style, enclosing the stuffing. Secure with kitchen twine in five or six places.

 

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering. Add the beef and cook until it browns and releases easily from the pan, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until browned, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to a large plate.

Add the onion to the pan and lower the heat to medium. Sprinkle onion with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the onion wilts completely and turns a light brown, about 8 minutes. Add the red wine and cook, stirring, until almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and tuck the meat and mushrooms into the broth. Cover and cook, turning the meat occasionally, until the meat becomes tender and cuts easily with a paring knife, about 1-1/2 hours. Set the meat on a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Thinly slice and serve topped with the reheated sauce and vegetables. Serve with Sautéed Broccoli Raab and a Potato Gratin or pasta.

Braised Italian Chicken with Green Beans, Tomatoes & Olives

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and each cut into 3 uniform pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 – 14-1/2-oz. can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup pitted Italian olives

Directions:

Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Spread the flour on a plate, and lightly dredge the chicken in the flour. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering hot. Cook the chicken in two or three batches (to avoid crowding the pot) until well browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer each batch to a plate as it finishes.

Return the chicken to the pot, add the green beans, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the red wine and cook until it almost completely evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a steady simmer. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add the olives, and continue simmering with the lid ajar until the chicken and green beans are very tender, about 5 minutes more. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Garlic bread.

Braised Red Snapper Puttanesca

Black sea bass makes a good substitute for snapper in this recipe, if red snapper is not available in your area.

Serves 4

  • 4 – 5-oz. skinless red snapper fillets (about 3/4 inch thick)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 – 14-1/2-oz. cans petite-diced low sodium tomatoes
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise (about 3 oz.)
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Season the snapper all over with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juice, anchovies, olives, 2 tablespoons of the basil, capers, and pepper flakes to the pan. Bring the sauce to a brisk simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are tender and the juices have reduced to a saucy consistency, about 8 minutes.

Nestle the snapper fillets into the sauce, spooning some on top to keep the fish moist. Tightly cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil and braise in the oven until the fish is almost cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness.

With a slotted spatula, transfer the snapper to 4 shallow serving bowls. If the sauce seems too thin, simmer over medium-high heat until thickened to your liking. Stir the remaining  basil, the oregano and vinegar into the sauce and spoon it over the fish. Serve with polenta or couscous.

 

Italian Sausage Rigatoni Bake

For a vegetarian entree replace the sausage with 1 large (1 cup) red bell pepper, cut into strips and 1 large (1 cup) yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 each sweet and hot Italian sausages (any type meat), sliced thin
  • 12 oz. rigatoni pasta (whole grain if possible)
  • 2 cups prepared marinara sauce, see post for recipe: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/
  • 2 medium-size ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn coarsely
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 12 oz. skim mozzarella (6 slices and dice the remainder)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 x 2–inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the sausages and cook, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl lined with paper towels. Remove paper after a few minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well and add to the sausage bowl along with the marinara sauce, tomatoes, basil, oregano, pepper flakes, diced mozzarella, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cover the top with the mozzarella slices.

Bake until the cheese is melted and the pasta is heated through, about 20 minutes.



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