Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: shellfish

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Thinking of grilling fish this weekend? Certain types of fish are trickier than others, but almost any type of seafood can be grilled — shellfish, whole fish, steaks and fillets. Meaty fish are ideal for grilling because they hold together well and are easy to handle. For salmon, use lower heat because salmon has a high fat content and the fat will melt and cause flare-ups if the heat is too high.

Delicate, flaky fish pose more of a challenge on the grill because they fall apart easily. A grill basket solves that problem because it encloses the fish on both sides. Just be sure to oil the grill basket or spray with nonstick spray to prevent the fish from sticking. If you do not have a basket, you can use a wide metal spatula for turning the fish.

Be sure to oil the grill grates well. Grilling times and temperatures will vary depending on the type of fish, its density or flakiness and its thickness. Meaty, dense fish (tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi, swordfish) will take longer to cook than lighter, flakier fish (cod, halibut). Start by cooking the fish over high heat, but if the fish is browning too fast, lower the heat to medium-high.

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Grilled Shrimp Pitas

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 6 pitas, about 6-inch diameter
  • 3 cups lettuce
  • Sliced red onion and plum tomatoes

Directions

For the Sauce

In a medium-size bowl, stir together yogurt, crumbled feta, cucumber and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Shrimp

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mint, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp, seal bag and shake to coat shrimp with marinade. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal grill with medium-hot coals. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Place shrimp in a grilling basket and grill for 3 minutes. Baste once with the remaining marinade. Turn shrimp and grill for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.

To serve, equally divide the lettuce, sauce and shrimp over each pita. Add onion and tomato.

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Grilled Hazelnut Salmon

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 six-ounce skinless salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
  • 1/3 cup finely ground hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut oil
  • 2 ½ cups arugula
  • 1 cup yellow or red tiny pear-shape or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 ounces Brie cheese, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Directions

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Brush one side of the  fillets evenly with the 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil. In a 9-inch pie plate stir together ground hazelnuts, flour and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Dip the oil brushed side of the salmon in the nut mixture; coat well.

For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Place fish, coated sides up, on the greased grill rack over the pan. Cover and grill for 14 to 18 minutes or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect cooking. Place fish, coated sides up, on greased grill rack over the burner that is turned off. Grill as directed.)

For the dressing

In a small bowl combine vinegar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; whisk in the 1/4 cup hazelnut oil. Reserve 1/4 cup of the dressing; set aside. In a large bowl toss arugula, tomatoes, cheese and chives with the remaining dressing. Divide evenly among serving plates.

Add a grilled salmon fillet to each plate. Drizzle salmon with reserved dressing.

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Tuna with Fruit Salsa

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Four 5 ounce tuna steaks, 1-inch thick
  • 2 fresh ripe peaches, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions

Lightly brush tuna steaks and peach halves with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat grill and oil the grates.

Grill tuna and peaches over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove peaches; set aside to cool. Coarsely chop peaches.

Turn tuna and cook 6 to 7 minutes more or until it flakes easily when tested with a fork. Transfer tuna to a platter; cover to keep warm.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl heat apricot preserves on 100 percent power (high) for 15 seconds. Stir in vinegar; gently fold in raspberries and chopped peaches.

Serve fruit salsa with tuna steaks and sprinkle with green onions.

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Mustard-Glazed Halibut Steaks

Save time and grill a vegetable or two alongside the fish.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Four 4-5 ounce halibut (or any white fish) steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons finely snipped fresh basil

Directions

Pat fish dry with paper towels.

In small saucepan heat butter, lemon juice, mustard and basil over low heat until butter is melted. Brush both sides of the fish steaks with the mustard mixture.

For a gas grill: cook fish steaks on greased rack over medium for 8 to 12 minutes or just until fish begins to flake easily when tested with a fork, turning once and brushing occasionally with additional mustard mixture.

For a charcoal grill: arrange preheated coals around a drip pan in a covered grill. Heat to medium and place fish on the greased grill rack over the drip pan. Cover and grill for 8 to 12 minutes or just until fish begins to flake easily when tested with a fork, turning once and brushing occasionally with the mustard mixture.

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Grilled Scallops With Salsa Verde

Choose scallops that are “dry” (not stored in liquid preservatives). Large sea scallops are better for the grill; small bay scallops could overcook before browning or fall through the grates. Make sure to coat them thoroughly in an oil based marinade before grilling, so they don’t stick to the grate.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 metal skewers
  • Salsa Verde, recipe below

Directions

Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Mix scallops with oil and season with salt and pepper. Thread scallops on 4 metal skewers and place them on the grill, flat side down. Grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Serve scallops with Salsa Verde.

Salsa Verde

This sauce is delicious with shellfish.

Ingredients

Makes About 1 Cup

  • Half a lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Directions

Squeeze juice from the half lemon after the peel is removed and set aside. Combine the lemon zest, shallot and garlic in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Let sit 5 minutes. Add oil, parsley, basil and chives. Stir in reserved lemon juice.


 

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There are two types of shellfish-crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans have segmented bodies with crust-like shells. Mollusks have shells encasing their soft bodies. Crustaceans can be identified by their unsymmetrical, elongated bodies and their eyes on stalks. Examples of crustaceans are shrimp, crab and lobster. Mollusks can be identified by their shells which are either closed or partially cover their soft bodies. Oysters, scallops, mussels and clams are examples of mollusks.

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Crabs
Edible crabs include Alaskan King Crab, Snow Crab, Dungeness Crab and Blue Crab. After steaming, grilling, or frying the crab, you crack open the outer shell of the legs and body and eat the meat inside. Crabs are classified in a subgroup of crustaceans called Brachyura and typically live near the shore of oceans around tide pools. All crabs characteristically feature “pinchers” (claws) on their two front legs. Crabs can be cooked in numerous ways, but boiling is perhaps the most common method of preparation.

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Lobster
Another popular edible crustacean, lobsters feature 10 legs and often have pinchers (clawed legs). Varieties include the American Lobster (also called the Maine Lobster), the European Lobster and the Spiny Lobster (which does not have pinchers). Lobsters can be found in the ocean near the coast and can live up to 50 years in the wild. Many people choose to buy just the lobster claws or the tails, which is where the majority of the meat is. However, serving a whole, bright red lobster makes an attractive presentation for a special occasion. To cook whole lobsters, they must be bought alive as they will quickly spoil once they are dead. One of the most common and easiest ways to cook whole lobster is to steam it.

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Shrimp
Shrimp live in freshwater and saltwater. Although more than 300 species of shrimp exist, the most common edible shrimp, include gulf shrimp and tiger shrimp. Farm raised shrimp are also increasingly common. Avoid shrimp that smells of anything other than salt water. If there is any hint of the aroma of ammonia, it’s a sign the shrimp are way past there prime. Truly fresh shrimp will have almost translucent flesh. Do not buy shrimp with black spots or rings (unless it’s black tiger shrimp) as this indicates the meat is starting to break down. Also avoid pink meat. Shrimp can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be boiled, steamed, grilled, sautéed, baked or deep-fried. They can also be cooked with or without the shell and with the vein or deveined.

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Oysters
Oysters are found all over the world’s coasts and oceans. Oyster varieties have different sizes, colors and flavors due to environmental conditions. Because oysters are filter feeders, they are sensitive to environmental pollution. They may pass these pollutants on to humans so eating oysters from reliable habitats is important. Buy oysters in winter months when the cold water in the oyster bed produces peak flavor. Look for undamaged shells that are shut tight. Ask the fishmonger to shuck fresh oysters, if possible. To do it yourself: scrub the outside and shuck them carefully with a sharp knife. Wear a heavy rubber glove to hold the oyster shell to avoid injury. Oysters are served raw, steamed, fried, poached, grilled and baked. Oyster dishes are usually accompanied by lemon juice, chili sauce or horseradish sauce. Serve raw oysters on the half-shell with cocktail sauce and crackers or baked florentine. Saute whole oysters, make oyster chowder or fry them with a light breading.

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Clams
The many species of clam are found all over the world’s oceans and coasts and range in size from a four-inch sand clams to the four-foot giant clams. Soft shell and hard shell clams live in the open in deep fresh and saltwater and burrowed in the tidal sands or muddy banks of coastal areas. Buy fresh clams in the shell. Store in an open bowl in the refrigerator. Wash the clams under running water to remove any sand before preparing them. Small hardshell clams should be handled in the same manner as mussels. Cook softshell clams before eating them. Wash them thoroughly under running water, as they always contain a lot of sand and mud. Clams are served in chowder and soups and in sauces. Steam, fry, bake and grill clams.

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Mussels
Mussels are fresh and saltwater filter feeder mollusks that are sensitive to environmental pollutants and are considered a species that indicates water quality. Mussels have two shells bound together with a ligament and can close and open it at will. Mussels use the ligament to attach to rocks or underwater piles but some species burrow in sand or mud. Store fresh mussels in an open bowl in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Rinse fresh mussels under slow running water. Discard any heavy mussels (that are filled with mud), any broken shells or any shells that are open. Take a sharp knife and carefully scrape off the “beard” from the edge of each mussels. Mussels are usually served steamed with sauces but they can also be roasted or served in soups and pasta. Steam the mussels 8 to 10 minutes until the shells pop open. Serve with a sauce made from butter, white wine and garlic.

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Scallops
Sea Scallops live on the ocean floor in groups and filter feed on plankton and other small organisms. Unlike most mollusks, sea scallops are relatively fast swimmers, opening and closing their fanned shell quickly to move around. The muscle that holds the two scallop shells together, called the abductor muscle, is the most popular edible part of the scallop. Choose sea scallops or bay scallops, both of which come shucked and ready to prepare. Strip off and discard the little strip of tendon that is attached to each scallop. Buy “dry” scallops, if possible. Refuse scallops that have been soaked in phosphates, which causes them to absorb water and lose flavor. Scallops are served sauteed, seared, baked, grilled, in soups and raw. Make serviche, an appetizer made with fresh bay scallops and marinated in citrus juices. Grill, roast or saute large scallops as an entrée. Bread scallops with a mixture of bread crumbs and basil.

Cooking Shellfish

Some Guidelines

Shellfish — shrimp, crabs, scallops, clams, mussels, oysters or lobster — becomes tough and dry when overcooked. To cook raw shellfish, shucked or in the shell, follow these basic guidelines:

  • Raw shrimp turn pink and firm. Depending on the size, it takes from 3 to 5 minutes to boil or steam 1 pound of medium size shrimp in the shell.
  • Shucked shellfish (clams, mussels and oysters without shells), become plump and opaque when cooked and the edges of the oysters start to curl. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests: boiling shucked oysters for 3 minutes, frying them in oil at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or baking them for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F.
  • Clams, mussels and oysters in the shell will open when cooked. The FDA suggests steaming oysters for 4 to 9 minutes or boiling them for 3 to 5 minutes after they open.
  • Scallops turn milky white or opaque and firm when cooked. Depending on the size, scallops take 3 to 4 minutes to cook thoroughly.
  • Boiled lobster turns bright red. Allow 5 to 6 minutes cooking time after the water comes back to a full boil.

Grilling Seafood

CUT WEIGHT ORTHICKNESS HEAT COOKING TIME(MINUTES PER POUND)
Dressed Fish 1 lb. Medium/Direct 10 to 15
2-2-1/2 lbs. Med/Indirect 20 to 30
Fillets or Steaks 1/4 to 1/2 in. High/Direct 3 to 5
1/2 to 1 in. High/Direct 5 to 10
Kabobs 1-in. cubes Medium/Direct 8 to 12
Scallops, Sea 1 lb. Medium/Direct 5 to 8
Shrimp, Medium 1 lb. Medium/Direct 5 to 8

Shrimp and Crab Boat Appetizers

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24 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound peeled and deveined cooked shrimp, chopped
  • 6 ounces) lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 24 Belgian endive leaves (3-4 heads) or small butter lettuce leaves

Directions

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, crab and celery. Add mayonnaise and mustard. Toss to coat. To serve, top each leaf with about 2 tablespoons shrimp mixture. Yield: 2 dozen.

Red Pepper Soup with Grilled Shellfish

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Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 pounds red bell peppers
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 10 leaves basil, chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the seafood:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 8 (U 16/20-count) shrimp
  • 8 (U 30-count) scallops
  • 8 ounces crabmeat, leg or lump

Directions

For the soup:

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, garlic and onion and saute until translucent.

Roast the peppers on an open flame until charred; place in a plastic bag to sweat; remove skin and seeds. Puree the peppers and add to onions and garlic. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock and water; bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add basil, thyme, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Puree the mixture with a hand immersion blender.

For the seafood:

Combine ingredients (olive oil through the chives) and mix well. Add seafood and marinate for 10 minutes prior to cooking. Cook seafood until done (about 5-6 minutes) on a grill or under the broiler. Use as a topping for the Red Pepper Soup and serve hot with crusty country bread.

Pistachio-Crusted Scallops

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add pistachios and cook, stirring often, until nuts are deeply toasted, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Chop pistachios. Place in a small bowl; toss with chives, tarragon and thyme.

Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat remaining butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add scallops; sear until crusty brown, about 2 minutes per side. Roll scallops in pistachio mixture and serve immediately.

Baked Italian Oysters

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8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 24 oysters on the half shell
  • 8 lemon wedges

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.
Place bread in a food processor and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form, (about 3/4 cup).

Heat a medium nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onions, parsley and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in fresh breadcrumbs, Italian breadcrumbs and the next 4 ingredients (Italian breadcrumbs through black pepper).

Place oysters on a jelly roll baking pan. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over oysters.
Bake the oysters for 7 minutes or until the edges of the oysters curl. Serve with lemon wedges.

Mussels Fra Diavlo

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups Fra Diavlo Sauce, recipes follow
  • 3 pounds medium mussels, scrubbed, de-bearded, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves

Fra Diavolo Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups Marinara Sauce
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • Kosher or sea salt

Directions

For the sauce:

Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan slightly over medium heat and saute the garlic and crushed red pepper until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 40 seconds. Add the Marinara Sauce, clam juice and salt to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat, about 15 minutes.

For the mussels:

Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and Fra Diavlo sauce, increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels and replace the lid. Cook over high heat 3 minutes. Remove the lid and stir once gently. Continue to cook until the mussels are completely open and firmly cooked, about 4 minutes more.

Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the mussels gently from the pot to a large bowl with a wire mesh skimmer. Return the pot to the heat and increase the heat to high. Boil for a minute or two, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Pour the sauce over the mussels and serve immediately.

Lobster Arrabbiata

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Ingredients

  • Two 1 1/2-pound lobsters
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small dry red chilies, crushed or 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, for garnish, optional

Directions

Bring 2 large, tall pots of water to a boil. One will be for the spaghetti, one for the lobsters. It is best if the lobster pot has a lid.

Place the lobsters in the boiling water headfirst and cover tightly with the lid. (If you happen to have lobsters of different weights, put the heaviest lobster in first and wait a minute to add the others.) Boil the lobster for about 7 minutes but no longer than 8 minutes. You want it to be slightly underdone. Transfer the lobsters to a bowl and separate the heads from the tails, reserving them both in the bowl. Remove the lobster legs from the body/head and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and lobster heads in a large 14-inch saute pan. Include any juices that have collected in the bowl. Roast the lobster heads in the oil for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack open the claws and remove the meat. Cut open the tails to remove the tail meat. Cut all of the meat into large, 2-inch pieces.

Remove the lobster heads from the pan and discard. Add the chilies and garlic to the olive oil and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and saute until they just begin to break down.

Cook the spaghetti in the second pot of boiling water along with 2 tablespoons of salt for 2 minutes less than indicated on the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the spaghetti.

Add the lobster meat, reserved lobster legs and pasta to the sauce and toss together for about a minute, adding pasta water as needed, top torn basil and serve.

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What goes great with pasta? Fish! Pasta makes an excellent companion for seafood for many reasons. Percatelli, a thick spaghetti, goes especially well with a spicy tomato sauce made with clams, mussels and shrimp. Fettuccine is superb served in the classic Southern Italian-style, topped with little neck clams in a red sauce flavored with hot crushed peppers. Thin spaghettini is delicious with a garlic sauce made with mussels, parsley and white wine. All these are easy supper dishes for chilly winter nights. They are substantial and restorative, yet easy on the digestion, because they are high in carbohydrates.

Today’s healthy pasta meals have roots that stretch back to ancient times. Thousands of years ago, people ground wheat, mixed it with water to make a wheat paste, dried it and then boiled it to go with meat. Today’s diners welcome pasta to their tables for its versatility and convenience, just as nutrition scientists now recognize pasta meals for their place in healthy diets. A healthy pasta meal features two key factors: what you pair with your pasta and how much pasta you put on your plate. Pay attention to serving portions in healthy pasta recipes, as a guideline to how much you should eat.

Pasta is an ideal partner for healthy ingredients such as vegetables, beans, herbs, fish, nuts and extra virgin olive oil and pasta’s versatility allows for almost endless preparations. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean way of eating reduces the risk of heart disease. It’s generally accepted that in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, people live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods.

Some of the most delicious seafood dishes in the world—from spaghetti with mussels to tagliolini with shrimp and radicchio—can be found in Italy. Regional recipes for salt-water fish—and sometimes for fresh-water fish from Italy’s many lakes, rivers and streams—are some of the most celebrated dishes in Italian cuisine.

It is well known that eating fresh fish is one of the healthiest ways to make sure you and your family are getting your daily supply of proteins and minerals; so serving fish and fish-based pastas are always a wise choice. Fish is relatively economical—especially when part of a pasta dish. Many fish pasta dishes are delicious, visually appealing and, yet, very easy and quick to prepare.

The secret to a perfect plate of pasta is often in its simplicity and in using a very small number of ingredients. Combine just a few really good—meaning fresh, locally produced ingredients, cook them quickly and you’ll always get great results. The few basic ingredients for some of the best Italian recipes are extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, tomatoes and often dry white wine and chili peppers. When these essentials of Italian cuisine are combined with beautiful fresh fish, you can be sure that a delicious dinner is waiting for you.

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Fettuccine with Artichokes and Shrimp

4 servings

Ingredients

Shrimp Broth

  • 3 cups water
  • Shells from 1 pound of shrimp
  • 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 slice lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pasta

  • 8 ounces whole wheat or whole grain fettuccine
  • 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and halved lengthwise
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound shrimp in shells, peeled and deveined (reserve shells for broth)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup Shrimp Broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 slices Italian country loaf bread or other hearty bread, toasted
  • Lemon halves, and or wedges

Directions

Shrimp Broth

In a large saucepan, combine water, the reserved shells from the 1 pound of shrimp, parsley, lemon and ground black pepper. Bring to boiling over high heat; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside until serving time.

Pasta

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

In a large skillet heat oil and cook garlic for 30 seconds. Add artichokes to the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and wine to the skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper, shrimp broth, lemon peel, salt, nutmeg and cooked pasta; heat through. Mix in the parsley.

To serve, place bread slices in 4 shallow soup bowls. Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls. Add additional shrimp broth, as desired. Squeeze lemon over pasta mixture.

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Salmon with Whole Wheat Spaghetti

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen (defrosted) skinless salmon fillets, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 medium yellow and/or red sweet bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup snipped fresh basil

Directions

Rinse salmon; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a 15x10x1-inch baking pan combine pepper pieces and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with half of the rosemary, the salt and black pepper. Toss to coat. Roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm.

Remove baking pan from oven. Combine wine and balsamic vinegar and stir into vegetable mixture. Add salmon pieces to the baking pan and turn to coat in the wine mixture. Return to the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes more or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.

To serve, divide pasta among four plates. Top pasta with vegetable mixture and sprinkle with basil. Place salmon on vegetables and sprinkle with remaining rosemary.

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Tuna Puttanesca

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces whole wheat or whole grain penne
  • 5 to 6 oz. can Italian tuna packed in oil, not drained
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced black and/or green olives 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • Small bunch fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

Pour tuna oil from the can into a saucepan and heat. Flake tuna and set aside.

Add garlic and onion to heated oil; saute until onion is soft. Add tuna, capers, olives, crushed red pepper and marinara sauce. Stir to combine and heat to a simmer; adjust salt to taste.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Add tuna mixture; toss gently. Sprinkle with basil.

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Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz whole wheat linguine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups homemade or store bought marinara sauce
  • 4 (6 oz.) cans chopped clams, undrained
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook linguine, stirring often, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a colander.

Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in red wine and boil until syrupy, about 4 minutes. Stir in marinara sauce and clams with their juice and heat until simmering, about 10 minutes.

Add cooked pasta and parsley to clam sauce in skillet. Toss to coat pasta thoroughly.

scallops-tomatoes-oh-1896038-l

Scallops and Pasta in Lemon Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 large scallops
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup plum tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 ounces whole grain thin spaghetti

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove scallops from the pan; keep warm.

Add the remaining olive oil, garlic and shallots to the skillet; cook 15 seconds. Add wine and the next 3 ingredients to the pan. Allow to simmer over low heat for about 3 minutes. Add parsley and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta and toss. Place pasta in serving bowls and top with scallops.

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Ciro’s Italian Village, Washington, D.C. (1930)
Photo courtesy of Bill Walsh, copy editor at The Washington Post.

In the early 1900’s the Italian Immigrants who came to America lacked a common language and a common interpretation of “Italian cuisine.”  In Italy they had  been sharecroppers and tenant farmers and had become accustomed to living on the foods they grew on their land. While there was no single style of cooking that typified the newly-arrived Italian, one foodstuff that all Italian immigrants had in common was pasta made from soft wheat flour, water, and salt. At the time, semolina pasta made with durum wheat (as we know it today), was a staple for only the Italian upper classes, however, that would change once the newcomers found housing and steady incomes in America.

As they began to form communities in America, the Calabrese settled with other Calabrese; Sicilians with other Sicilians, etc. They cooked the dishes they remembered from Italy, whenever possible, with ingredients close to those they knew from home. These Italian neighborhoods became the ‘Little Italy’ communities in the major cities of the United States. Among the better known are the North End in Boston, North Beach in San Francisco, The Hill in St. Louis, the Bella Vista neighborhood in Philadelphia, Federal Hill in Providence, and the Little Italy quarters of Chicago, Baltimore, and New York.

Commercial pasta production—on a mom-and-pop level—began with the first waves of immigrants. Many set up shops, some in the front parlors of their apartments, to sell their homemade products to neighbors.

Although many worked as laborers and longshoremen, Italians found that even with a $10.00 weekly wage, one could enjoy the semolina pasta and salume (cured meats) they had been unable to afford back home. Tenement living may have been crowded and unpleasant, but semolina pasta—even simply dressed with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes—gave them a sense of liberation from the oppressive poverty they had known in Italy.  (Source: Almost Italian: A Cookbook & History of Italian Food in America by Skip Lombardi and Holly Chase.)

Following the First World War, pasta was an inexpensive choice at a time when food prices were rising in America. Recipes for spaghetti and tomato sauce started turning up in women’s magazines. American millers found a new use for flour, the consumption of which had decreased as the population moved to cities and began eating  more varied diets, which were not based on bread. The millers sponsored “eat more wheat” campaigns in the early 1920s and promoted macaroni. Pasta makers began using durum wheat, which they advertised as being higher in protein than soft wheat (it is, but not by much). Campbell’s, Heinz and other manufacturers brought out canned macaroni with tomato sauce, joining Franco-American, which in the 1890s had begun to sell canned spaghetti, stressing that it used a French recipe. Cooking pasta long enough to can it safely, institutionalized what was already a long-established practice, one for which Italians still deride Americans—over cooking pasta.  

Semolina Flour

It became acceptable and fashionable  to promote Italian food, even if the pasta was mush and the tomato sauce was full of sugar and salt. One typical recipe for tomato sauce omitted garlic and consisted of canned tomato soup with Worcestershire sauce added. In 1927 Kraft began marketing grated “Parmesan” cheese in a cardboard container with a perforated top and suggested that the cheese be served as a topping for spaghetti with tomato sauce. Spaghetti sales outnumbered those of egg noodles and ran a strong second in popularity to elbow macaroni, called simply macaroni, which was already conventional in salads.

spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

The promotional efforts worked and annual per capita consumption of pasta went from near zero in 1920 to 3¾  pounds by the end of the decade (as compared with fifty pounds in Italy). Restaurants accounted for much of this rise. Cafeterias, which became extremely popular in the twenties, served a great deal of spaghetti and tomato sauce. Italians all over the country opened “spaghetti houses” that served spaghetti and meatballs (purely an Italian American creation) to blue-collar workers. By the end of the twenties Italian restaurants had become the most popular ethnic restaurants in American cities, a lead they now hold nationwide. The Depression made spaghetti less an option than a necessity, and spaghetti and meatballs began appearing regularly on millions of American tables. ( Source: July 1986 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE)

In the mood for some real Italian spaghetti, try these recipes:

Spaghetti with Sausage and Simple Tomato Sauce                                                                                                                

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces hot Italian pork or turkey sausage links
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 (28-ounce) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Arrange sausage on a small baking sheet. Broil sausage 5 minutes on each side. Remove pan from oven (do not turn broiler off). Cut sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Broil sausage slices 2 minutes on each side or until browned.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
4. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add crushed red pepper and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and salt; cook 4 minutes or until slightly thick. Add sausage and cooked pasta to pan; toss well. Top with fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Sautéed Chicken with Pesto Spaghetti                                                                                                     

4 Servings

Ingredients:

Directions:

1. Make the pesto if using homemade.
2. Trim the chicken breasts. If very thick, slice in half lengthwise to create two thin cutlets. Dredge the chicken in the flour.
3. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat until melted.  Add in the chicken and sauté until browned on each side and almost cooked through – about 3 – 5 minutes per side. (Do not move them until you are ready to turn them – let them caramelize.) Place chicken on a plate and set aside.
4. Add the white wine to the pan and simmer for a few minutes to deglaze. Lower the heat. Add in the stock and simmer for a few minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and allow to simmer until cooked through.
5. Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large pasta pot.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions until ‘al dente’. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain pasta.
6. Return pasta to the pot in which it was cooked.  Remove chicken from the sauté pan to a plate. Pour the sauce from the sautéed chicken over the pasta.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the pesto and add the remaining to the pasta.  Stir to incorporate. If dry, add in as much pasta water as needed.
7. Arrange the pasta on a warmed serving plate.  Arrange the chicken over the pasta and top with the reserved pesto.

Spaghetti with Shrimp, Scallops, and Clams                                                                                                 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red chili, seeded and finely chopped or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 pound fresh clams, scrubbed and rinsed well 
  • 1/2 pound. fresh scallops, cut small
  • 1/2 pound fresh raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Directions:

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and sweat the garlic and chili for a few minutes until soft. Add the wine to the pan. Tap the clams on the work surface and discard any that do not close.  Add the clams and scallops to the pan and continue to sweat, taking care that the garlic and chili do not burn. As soon as the clams open (discard any that do not), remove the clams and scallops to a plate and set aside. Add the shrimp to the same pan and saute over medium-high heat for a few minutes until they turn lightly pink. Return the clams and scallops to the pan.  Season with salt and a little black pepper, and toss briefly to heat through.
2.  Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce with a tiny amount of the cooking water (just enough to keep the pasta moist). Stir well, transfer to a large serving bowl or individual pasta bowls, and sprinkle with lots of chopped parsley.

Note
How to clean clams:
Scrub the clams well under cold running water to wash away any grit. Put the clams in a large bowl of salted water making sure they are well covered with water (but do not cover the bowl). Soak in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or even overnight – any grit or sand will be left behind in the bottom of the bowl when you remove the clams. Pick out the clams by hand and rinse in plenty of fresh cold water.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti With Artichokes And Ricotta                                                                                                       

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and as soon as it starts to sizzle, add the artichokes and lemon juice. Add 1/4 cup water, cover the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, whisk the ricotta, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of hot pasta water together in a large pasta bowl until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley.

Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the pasta. Add it to the pasta bowl with the ricotta and toss to coat the pasta. If necessary, add a little hot pasta water to attain a creamy consistency. Add the artichokes and toss again. Serve immediately with generous amounts of grated Parmesan.

Spaghetti With Fresh Veggies                                                                                                                     

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 16 thin stalks fresh asparagus (or any fresh green vegetable in season)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 medium plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and chopped (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter*
  • 3/4 pound of spaghetti 
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fat free half

Directions:

Trim asparagus. Remove tips; set aside. Bias-slice asparagus stalks into 1 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and cook about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add asparagus stalks, wine, and salt. Cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Add asparagus tips; cook uncovered, for 1 minutes. Add butter; stir till melted.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta. Return to pan and toss with asparagus mixture, half and half and basil.

Note: The butter is used in this recipe to bind the sauce. Margarine might not be an effective substitute.


When I think back to when I was growing up, I remember that we did not eat any differently during  the summer months than we did during the winter months.  When it was hot and my mother did not like the heat, she often fixed the meal ingredients as much as she could in the morning.  Still, there was the cooking to do to put it all together during those hot evenings.  The meals were not lighter, nor did they vary in content. It was never too hot for Sunday’s pasta dinner or veal scaloppine with mashed potatoes during the week.  Salad was always served along side the dinner entree.  Occasionally my father would grill steaks or sausage on a hot summer night because that was the time of year one could grill in NJ. Many a time, though, I did not feel like eating those meals in the heat.

As times have changed and society has gotten away from big, formal dinners due to hectic lifestyles and the growth of a multitude of convenience foods, meals of the present generation are more spur of the moment. The old conventions of what constitutes a meal has also relaxed, and if, we want a grilled cheese sandwich or a salad for dinner, we just do it. When it is hot, as it has been much earlier than usual this year, salad for dinner seems just right. I have put together a collection of some salad recipes than can be a great dinner meal on their own or paired with a grilled protein of your choice.

Avocado, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad                                                                     

Add grilled shrimp for a complete meal.

4 servings

  • 4 small plum tomatoes, halved

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped

  • 6 oz small buffalo mozzarella balls, torn in half

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

  • Basil leaves, roughly chopped

  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, pitted, skinned, and quartered

Directions

Position a rack 5-6 inches from the source of heat and preheat the broiler. Arrange the tomatoes, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the garlic and scallions. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the tomatoes.

Broil the tomatoes for 4–5 minutes, or until they just begin to soften and the garlic is golden brown.
Place the hot tomatoes, garlic, scallions, and all cooking juices in a bowl.  Add the mozzarella, remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, vinegar, capers, and basil and toss gently.

Place 2 avocado quarters on each of 4 plates. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the avocados and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Penne and Vegetable Salad

4–6 servings

  • 1 lb. penne

  • 3 cups broccoli florets

  • 2 cups asparagus tips

  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed

  • 2 large carrots, cut into julienne

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil or oregano

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook the penne in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, according to the package instructions, until al dente.

Meanwhile, steam or microwave the broccoli and asparagus for 4 minutes. Add the snow peas and carrots and steam about 3 minutes more, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a large bowl, then gradually whisk in the oil. Drain the pasta well and add to the bowl. Toss in the vegetables and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Zucchini and Mint Salad

Add grilled chicken breast for a complete meal.

Serves 4

  • 8 zucchini, halved lengthwise

  • 4 sprigs fresh mint leaves, chopped

  • About 2/3 cup croutons, see recipe below

  • About ½ cup toasted almonds

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Juice of 3 lemons

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Lay the zucchini on a baking sheet, skin side up, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until the zucchini are golden brown on the flat, fleshy side. Let the zucchini cool slightly and then slice into half moons. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F and make croutons.

In a bowl, mix the zucchini, mint sprigs, croutons, and almonds. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, toss, and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange on a serving platter and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Homemade Croutons                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 oz. (about 2 cups) bread cubes; (Italian or French bread), diced into 3/4-inch cubes.
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Toss bread cubes with garlic and olive oil to coat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until just golden brown. Halfway through the baking time, give the pan a shake to make sure the croutons toast evenly. Remove from oven and completely cool croutons. Store in an airtight container.

Shellfish Salad with Oranges and Fennel

Serves 8

Orange paired with anise-scented fennel is a traditional Sicilian flavor combination. This recipe adds shrimp and scallops, but you can use any fish you like in this recipe. Thinly sliced celery is a nice alternative if your market does not have fennel.

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup fresh orange juice

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground coarse black pepper

  • Salt

  • 3 navel oranges

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, cored, trimmed, and thinly sliced lengthwise

  • 2 cups dry white wine

  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 lb. sea scallops, foot muscle remove and cut in half

  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fennel leaves for garnish

Directions

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and the citrus juices. Whisk in the pepper and the salt to taste, Set aside.

Working with 1 orange at a time, cut a thin slice off the top and bottom to reveal the flesh, Stand the orange upright and remove the peel in wide strips, cutting downward and following the contour of the fruit. Holding the orange, cut along both sides of each segment to release the segments from the membrane. Using the knife tip, pry out any seeds from the segments. Squeeze the membrane over the bowl to collect extra juice that you can add it to the vinaigrette at serving time.

Place the fennel in a bowl, add half of the vinaigrette, and toss to coat evenly. Divide the fennel evenly among 8 salad plates, forming a bed on each one, or arrange the fennel in a bed on a large platter.

In a saucepan, bring the wine to a simmer over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook gently until they turn pink and are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Do not overcook or they will be tough. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Add the scallops to the pan and simmer gently until just opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Transfer with the slotted spoon to the bowl holding the shrimp. Drizzle about one-third of the remaining vinaigrette over the seafood and toss to coat evenly.

Place the orange segments evenly over the fennel. Then distribute the warm seafood evenly over the oranges. Add the orange juice from the bowl to the remaining vinaigrette and drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad. Top with the parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Artichoke Salad

Makes 4 servings

 Add grilled salmon fillets for a complete meal.

  • 1 lemon

  • 1-10 oz.package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted

  • 1 large bunch of arugula

  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

Add the juice and rind of the lemon to a small saucepan and place the artichoke hearts in the pan with enough cold water to just cover the artichoke hearts.
Add a pinch of salt to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook the artichokes for 5 minutes. Drain well and let cool.

Divide the arugula and artichokes among 4 plates. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Salad of Roasted Peppers, Olives and Fontina – Piedmont Style

4 Servings

The cuisine of Piedmont includes numerous, interesting cooked vegetable salads that are served as appetizers.  This dish is often served as a first course, but you can add a grilled beef tenderloin steak or sirloin steak to complete the meal.

  • 1 each large, yellow, red and orange bell peppers

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

  • Salt

  • Freshly milled white pepper

  • 2 tablespoons sliced, pitted imported green olives

  • ¼ pound fontina, cut into long, thin strips

Directions

Arrange the peppers on a grill rack above a charcoal fire, or 2 to 3 inches under a preheated broiler, or in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F.
Roast them until they are charred all over and tender inside, turning them frequently to insure they blacken evenly. Set aside to cool.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, using your fingertips, peel off the skins. Cut the peppers in half and remove and discard the stems, ribs, and seeds. (Do not do this under running water; it will wash away some of the smoky flavor.) Cut the peppers lengthwise into ½-inch-wide strips and place in a bowl. Add the oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, olives, and cheese and toss gently to mix well. Serve at room temperature.

Cannellini Beans and Tuna                                                                                                  

Serves 8 or more

  • 2 cups (1 pound) dried cannellini (white kidney) or Great Northern beans

  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

  • 1 sprig fresh sage

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 (6-ounce) can Italian-style tuna fish packed in oil, drained and flaked

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Rinse the beans and place in a bowl of cold water to cover. Set aside for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 275°F. Drain the beans and place them in an ovenproof casserole. Stud the onion halves with the whole cloves and bury them in the casserole with the garlic, thyme, and sage. Add enough cold water to cover by ½ inch and cover the casserole.

Place casserole over low heat and bring contents to a simmer. Remove from the heat and place in oven. Bake until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes to be sure that the liquid is simmering and is still above the level of the beans, adding boiling water if necessary.) Season with the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Set aside, uncovered, until cooled.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
When ready to serve, remove the onion, garlic, and herbs. Fold in the oil and drained tuna. Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with parsley.



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