This is my favorite way to prepare eggplant. The dish is light yet full of flavor.
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into 8 thin slices
Salt and black pepper to taste
11/4 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
11/2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
4 oz sliced mozzarella
Peel the eggplant and cut it in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 4 lengthwise slices.
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle each lightly with salt and pepper. Place them on a large baking sheet.
Roast in a 400-degree F oven for 20 minutes, turning the eggplant slices over halfway through cooking.
Place on paper towels to cool.
For the filling:
Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt, and pepper; mix well.
When the eggplant has cooled about 10 minutes, place 2-3 tablespoons of the filling mixture on each slice.
Spread it over the eggplant slice and then roll up into a cylinder. Repeat with all the eggplant slices.
Oil an 8-inch baking dish and coat the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce. Place the eggplant rolls in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the eggplant rolls. Top each roll with a piece of mozzarella cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and bake in a 400-degree F oven for 30 minutes.
Let the dish rest a few minutes before serving.
Broccoli Rabe Pasta
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch broccoli rabe
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 lb ziti pasta
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Trim off about 1-inch of the stems from the bottom and discard. Cut off the broccoli rabe florets and coarsely chop the leaves and remaining stems. Keep the stems and florets separate.
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and cook until al dente.
In a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté 1 minute.
Stir in the broccoli rabe stems, coating them with the oil. Cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining broccoli rabe florets and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and season with pepper.
When the pasta is ready, drain and place the pasta in a serving bowl. Top with the broccoli rabe and add the cheese. Mix well and serve.
Italian Garden Salad
Half a head of Romaine lettuce washed and torn into small pieces
1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 of a red onion, sliced thin
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup Italian Olives
Italian Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 1/2 tablespoons table salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oi
2 tablespoons seasoning mix
For the salad dressing:
Combine the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a small jar.
In a mixing bowl whisk the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix together. Whisk in the olive oil.
Combine the salad ingredients together in a salad bowl Add some of the dressing and mix well.
Taste the salad to see if it needs more dressing or salt and pepper. Reserve any leftover seasoning mix and dressing for another salad.
Fresh Pasta Noodles
Lasagna Cheese Filling
Fresh Pasta Noodles
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose or Italian (00) flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Mix the pasta in a food processor.
Place the eggs and oil in the bowl of the processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add flour and pulse until the dough just comes together.
The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. If the dough seems dry add a tablespoon or two of water. Pulse a few times and then scrape the dough onto a lightly floured board.
Use a pasta machine.
Cut the dough into quarters. Roll out one-quarter at a time, keeping the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic. Shape the dough into a flat rectangle.
Set the rollers of a hand-cranked or electric pasta machine at their widest opening. Run the dough once through the machine. Remove and lightly dust with flour. Fold the dough in thirds, like a book, pressing down with your fingers, and run through the machine again. Repeat this step at least two more times, dusting lightly with flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Now change the rollers of the pasta machine to the next decreasing setting and roll out the dough once without folding. Keep rolling the sheet through the machine on decreasing settings until you have rolled it through the last (thinnest) setting. Repeat with the remaining dough. Keep the rolled out pasta sheets covered with kitchen towels.
For lasagna noodles, cut the pasta strips into 8 pieces that are 4 x 10-inches. This is enough for 4 layers.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a large onion finely diced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
One 6 oz can tomato paste
6 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven or large saucepan. Add the onion and seasonings. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir and cook one minute. Fill the tomato paste can with water and pour into the sauce ingredients. Add the tomatoes. Stir. Bring to a soft boil, lower the heat, partially cover the pan and let the sauce simmer until thickened, about an hour.
Lasagna Cheese Filling
24 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
Mix all the ingredients, except the mozzarella cheese, together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.
Completing the Lasagna:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil an 11 x 8-inch glass baking dish.
Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and place a layer of noodles on top.
Spread one-third of the sliced mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and then one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture over the mozzarella; top with another 1 cup of sauce. Repeat the layers twice, then top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the top layer of pasta.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Grilled Italian Sausage
One of my favorite grilling sausages is made by Fortuna”s Sausage & Italian Market called TUSCANO made with provolone, hot peppers, sun-dried tomatoes. See link.
1 ½ lb Italian Rope Sausage
Brush the sausage with olive oil.
Heat the outdoor grill on high and then turn the burners off on one side of the grill or place coals on one side of a charcoal grill.
Lower heat is better and will prevent the meat from drying out. Oil the grill grates.
Keep the entire link whole – don’t cut it up or poke holes in it.
Coil the link over the indirect heat side of the grill and close the grill lid. After 15 minutes turn the sausage link over.
Use tongs to turn the links. Don’t pierce the link’s skin or the juices will flow out and cause the sausage to be dry. Cook for 15 minutes more. Check with a meat thermometer for 160 degrees F internal temperature to be sure the sausage is cooked all the way through. If not, continue to cook until the temperature is reached.
Note: to cook on a stovetop grill, heat the pan, lower the heat to low and oil the pan. Cook the sausage for about the same time as above or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
Italian Romaine Lettuce Salad
1 small head of Romaine lettuce, washed and dried
1 small red onion, cut into ring
Italian black olives to taste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Tear the lettuce leaves into small pieces.
Place the greens, olives, and onion in a medium salad bowl.
In a jar, combine the dressing ingredients. Shake well and pour over the greens. Toss and serve.
Homemade Italian Country Bread
2 teaspoons SAF (instant) yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the warm water in an electric mixing bowl. Add honey. Mix until the honey is dissolved.
Add the 4 cups of flour and salt and mix. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the flour.
Using the paddle attachment on number 2 speed, mix the dough until a dough forms that holds together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook and continue kneading for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is soft but supple.
Shape the dough into a ball. Spray the mixer bowl with olive oil cooking spray and place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 60 minutes.
Place a sheet of parchment paper in a 9 or 10-inch pan or shallow dish. Turn the dough out onto the parchment pan or dish. Gently shape the dough into a round and cover with greased plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes or more.
At the same time put a covered Cloche pan or Dutch Oven in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Do not grease or spray the Cloche pan or Dutch Oven.
After the dough has risen for 30 minutes and the oven temperature is at 500 degrees F, open the oven and take the lid off the cloche pan.
USE A THICK POTHOLDER BECAUSE THE LID IS VERY HOT!
Transfer the dough while on the parchment to the bottom of the hot cloche pan. Cover with the cloche lid.
Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and remove the cloche lid.
Bake 15 minutes more, or until the bread is crusty and brown. Remove the pan from the oven and place the bread on a wire cooling rack.
Italians started coming to Chicago from Italy during the 1850s and by the 1940’s there was a significant Italian population of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the city. There are some stories about U.S. soldiers of Italian descent returning from Europe after World War II and experimenting with different pizza recipes, and eventually creating a deep dish pizza. The only problem with these stories is that deep dish pizza was being sold in Chicago in the early 1940’s, before the end of the war. The one story that is probably true is about a man named Sewell who created the deep dish pizza in 1943 at his bar and grill, Pizzeria Uno. It was so popular that he soon opened another place called Pizzeria Due. Soon other restaurants were serving deep dish pizza and the dish became popular. Soon Chicago became known for creating it and everyone, not just Italians, adopted it as a ‘Chicago’ food. (source FoodReference.com)
Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
1 lb of your favorite pizza dough, at room temperature
16 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 oz cooked Italian sausage, sliced thin
12 oz jar Mancini Fried Peppers with sweet onions or equivalent amount of cooked onions and peppers
2 cups marinara sauce
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a deep dish pizza pan. (My pan is 10 ½ inches in diameter)
Turn the pizza dough out into the prepared pan and use the heel of your hand and your fingertips to press it into an even layer across the bottom of the pan, then about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
When the crust is done baking, remove the pan from the oven and keep the oven temperature on 350 degrees F.
Add the toppings in the following order:
On the bottom of the crust place an even layer of cheese slices. Then add the sausage slices in an even layer. Top it with another layer of cheese slices. Then add the cooked peppers and onions. Top with a final layer of cheese slices. Pour the sauce over the top and spread it into an even layer, making sure it is covering all of the cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the edges are golden and the filling is firm. Allow the pizza to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.