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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.

sausage-beans-and-greens-24066-ss

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.

 


Essentially, a stew is any combination of two or more ingredients, cooked slowly in a liquid. Before the invention of pottery, ancient people were using turtle shells and large mollusk shells for stewing. Cooking became easier after the development of pottery and there have been many references to stew throughout history. The first actual recipe for a stew, a ragout, can be found in a 14th century French cookbook.

Every culture has its own version of stew. The traditional Irish stew consisted of mutton and root vegetables. After the Irish immigrated to North America, the Irish stew was made with better cuts of meats and Guinness stout. The benefits of stewing are numerous. In times of famine and hardship, it was a good way to make a substantial meal out of available ingredients with the cheapest cuts of meat. Stewing makes otherwise tough cuts edible, and also disguises their appearance in the gravy. How else could you serve an oxtail? Goulash has sweet paprika; Bourguignon has red wine, the New England Boiled Dinner is corned beef, onion and cabbage. But they are all stews.

Stewing is a great way to free you from the kitchen while dinner cooks. It is also a good way to make use of your crock pot. The longer, slower cooking allows all of the flavors to develop and mingle. In fact, many stew lovers would argue that the stew is better the second time it is heated up, which makes it a great meal, when you have a large crowd coming and you need to get all of your preparations done the day before. The very best part is that there is only one pot to clean after dinner.

Italian stew is usually a main dish and is often served in a bowl alongside bread. Some stews are served on top of polenta. Italian stew is usually one of two things: a meat with or without vegetables or a chunky sauce to pour over Italian pasta dishes. Common stews served in Italy include osso buco, stracotto, and spezzatino. These dishes are served year-round in Italy, becoming more common in wintertime, especially around Christmas. The sauce in Italian stew can range in texture from thin, watery broth to a thickness similar to mashed potatoes. Typical Italian stews are simply meat braised in broth or wine over low-heat. Italian stews can also contain any type of meat and/or vegetables and can be made on the stove, in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Vegetables used in this type of stew can be numerous, but, most often, include carrots, celery, and fennel. Potatoes, onion, and garlic are also common additions depending on the region of origin. Italian stew, sometimes, contains beef, but other meats are more typical, such as, chicken, pork, or veal. Rabbit is a popular stew meat in Northern Italy and sausage is a common stew meat in southern Italy. 

Many Italian stew recipes that are popular did not actually originate in Italy. Since the cuisine of Italy has been influenced by nearby cultures, typical stews in Italy, include some that originated in Hungary and Croatia. The Italian stew called jota containing beans, bacon, garlic, potatoes, and meat, originally came from Croatia. In countries other than Italy, particularly in the United States, some dishes labeled as Italian stew are simply pasta dishes with Italian flavors that have been converted into stews, generally by reducing the broth or thickening the sauce in the mixture and adding pasta.

Italian Sweet and Sour Eggplant Stew

This stew of eggplant and vegetables is usually prepared agrodolce meaning sweet and sour because of the addition of  sugar and vinegar. However, like so many traditional dishes, there seems to be an infinite number of variations. Usually the savory mixture contains tomatoes, capers, and olives along with the eggplant. In some areas of Italy, potatoes, fish, anchovies, pignoli nuts, raisins, bell peppers, asparagus or carrots might be included.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound eggplant, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, peel according to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 small red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 6 large black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or a sugar alternative
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves
  • 5 stems fresh parsley, leaves only
  • Salt to taste

 Directions:

In a large, deep skillet or Dutch Oven (large enough to hold the cut eggplant in a single layer), heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the pieces are golden brown and tender. Season with salt. Remove to a separate bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, potatoes and celery and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Add the tomatoes, capers, and olives. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the eggplant to the tomato mixture. Turn the heat to medium. Add the vinegar and sugar and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.

Chop the basil and parsley together. Stir them into the eggplant mixture.

Chicken Stew with Olives and Lemon

4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons each salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 and 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-in. cubes
  • 1 package thawed frozen artichoke hearts, quartered if large
  • 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup pitted medium green olives
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper.

Cut each chicken thigh into 2 or 3 chunks. Add chicken to the plastic bag, seal, and shake to coat.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken (discard excess flour) in a single layer and cook, turning once, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, capers, and lemon zest and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, and chicken and return to a simmer. Lower heat slightly to maintain simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes.

Add artichokes to the pan and stir. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, lemon juice to taste, and olives. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with lemon wedges on the side.

Italian Sausage Stew

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds pork, turkey or chicken Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 ounces) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounces) container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup short pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven heat oil and brown the sausage. Drain the sausage on paper towels. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, water, broth and wine. Bring to a boil, add pasta and browned sausage to the pan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Top each serving cheese. 8 servings.

White Bean Stew with Swiss Chard and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, large stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1-14 1/2 oz. can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • One 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Salt

Directions:

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until tender, 8 minutes. Drain the greens and gently press out excess water.

Return the saucepan to the stoves, add oil and heat on medium. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans and simmer over moderately high heat for 3 minutes. Add the chard and simmer over moderate heat until the flavors meld, 5 minutes. Season the stew with salt and thyme.

Tortellini Spinach Meatball Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 can (16 ounces) low sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the egg, spinach, bread crumbs, salt and

pepper. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 3/4-in. balls.

In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, brown meatballs in batches in the 1 tablespoon oil. Remove meatballs to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add onion to the pan and saute for 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots; saute 2 minutes longer. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes, basil and oregano. Add meatballs; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Return to a boil. Add tortellini; cook for 7-9 minutes or until tender, stirring several times. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. 6 servings

Resources:



The modern slow cooker was developed by Rival Industries with the trademarked name Crock Pot. This name is sometimes used informally to refer to any slow cooker. Rival purchased and refined the design of a bean-pot called the Beanery from Naxon Co. of Chicago.

In the early ’70s, the Rival Company, known for its “Juice-O-Mat,” “Ice-O-Mat,” and “Can-O-Mat” convenience appliances, resurrected the idea of slow cooking. The company acquired the rights to the “Beanery,” a primitive slow cooker, and gave the appliance a much-needed makeover. The Crock-Pot slow cooker was born.

The timing couldn’t have been better. During the energy crisis of the 1970s, Americans were encouraged to conserve electricity, and Crock-Pots operated at a very low wattage. In addition, many women were abandoning their traditional roles as homemakers and the Crock-Pot and its motto—”Cooks all day while the cook’s away”—fit their new lifestyle.

The slow cooker is a versatile appliance that’s just as suited to vegetarian foods as it is meat and poultry, everyday meals, and entertaining occasions. You can make hearty, healthy dishes for the whole family.  Simply add ingredients to the slow cooker, get on with your day, and come home to a kitchen filled with tempting aromas.

The slow cooker, which is essentially an electric pot with a stoneware insert, can do what no oven or stovetop burner can: cook food at consistently low and even temperatures for what might be as long as 10 or 12 hours. Dinner cooks while you’re out.

Flavor is one of the big advantages to meals you cook in the pot. You can get a deeply flavored meal at the end of an 8- or 10-hour slow simmer. Time-saving is another reason for the slow cooker’s popularity. Plus, they’re practical, since a slow cooker holds up to five quarts, you can definitely plan to have leftovers.

There is planning involved, however. The pot is perfect for cheaper cuts of meat that need long, gentle cooking to become tender: beef short ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, and lamb shanks. Fish and dairy products, however, don’t fare as well; both will break down during the cooking. Chicken can get mushy, so pay strict attention to cook times for chicken recipes.

Always put vegetables in first. Vege­tables take longer to cook than meat does, so for layering purposes, start with vegetables, then meat, and finally seasonings and small amounts of liquid. To prevent overcooking, fresh dairy products, pasta, or instant rice should be added during the last 30 minutes of cooking time, or as your recipe directs.

Judith Finlayson, author of Slow Cooker Comfort Food: 275 Soul-Satisfying Recipes and The Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Over 200 Delicious Recipes, answers some slow-cooker questions.

How do I prevent meat from drying out?

To prevent poultry from drying out, use chicken thighs—they have more fat and won’t dry out as quickly, says Finlayson. Cook thighs for about six hours and breasts for a maximum of five hours on low heat. Beef, depending on the cut, is much more forgiving, she says. For better results, use stewing beef, short ribs, or brisket as opposed to a rib steak or a sirloin.

How can I prevent flavors from becoming muddy?

“Start with a good recipe and quality ingredients and you will be a long way from having muddy flavors,” says Finlayson. For fresher flavors, add chopped herbs and vegetables with shorter cooking times about 10 minutes before the meal is ready.

How can I clean my slow cooker without lots of soaking and scrubbing?

Though the slow cooker’s insert can be heavy, cleaning shouldn’t be a problem. Slow cookers retain moisture which should prevent scorching on the bottom, says Finlayson. Difficulty cleaning may indicate a technical issue such as the heat being on too high for too long.

Can I cook frozen meats in my slow cooker?

Cooking frozen meats in the slow cooker is an absolute no, says Finlayson. Harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses, flourish in moist environments at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Using frozen meat may cause food to remain at an unsafe temperature for too long.

Is it safe to leave the slow cooker on when I’m not home?

Leaving the slow cooker on is perfectly safe. In fact, it’s comparable to leaving a light bulb on while you’re out, says Finlayson.

Why does my food get overcooked, even on the low setting?

Slow cookers are all manufactured differently and they don’t all cook at the same pace, says Finlayson: “Know your slow cooker. Use quality recipes, and if you are consistently cooking faster or slower, adjust your time accordingly.” Keep in mind: There are no precise guidelines, and it may take a bit of trial and error to fix the issue.

Can I cut a slow cooker recipe in half?

If cutting a recipe in half, you should also reduce the size of your slow cooker so that the heat distributes evenly, says Finlayson. If you only own one slow cooker, make the whole recipe and freeze the leftovers or stick to soups and stews, since the size of the slow cooker isn’t as important as it is when cooking grains.

Chicken Cacciatore

Makes: 6 servings

Cook: 6 hrs to 7 hrs (low) or 3 to 3 1/2 hours (high)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 to4 pounds of meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks), skinned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced fresh cremini and/or button mushrooms
  • 1- 14 1/2 ounce can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped green bell pepper (1 large)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Pasta, cooked, optional

Directions

Place flour in a plastic bag. Add chicken pieces, a few at a time, shaking to coat. In an extra-large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, half at a time if necessary, in hot oil about 12 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally. Transfer chicken to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Add mushrooms to skillet; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to cooker. Add drained tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, carrots, wine, salt and pepper to mixture in cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Before serving, stir in basil, parsley and thyme.
Serve over pasta with salad on the side or skip the pasta and serve with Italian bread.
       

spinach-ricatta-lasagna_300                                                           

Slow-Cooker Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna With Romaine Salad  

Serves 6

Total Time: 4hr 15m

Ingredients

  • 2-10-ounce packages chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces)
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, see post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/
  • 6 regular lasagna noodles (not no-boil)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (6 ounces)

Salad

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 small head romaine lettuce, cut into strips (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

Directions

In a bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta, and ½ cup of the Parmesan. In a second bowl, mix together the marinara sauce and 1/2 cup water.

Spread 3/4 cup of the marinara mixture in the bottom of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Top with 2 noodles (breaking to fit), 3/4 cup of the remaining marinara mixture, half the spinach mixture, and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella; repeat.

Top with the remaining noodles, marinara mixture, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Cover and cook on low until the noodles are tender, 3 ½ to 4 hours.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the lettuce, cucumber, and onion. Toss to combine and serve with the lasagna.

Tip:  If your slow-cooker insert is broiler-safe, broil the cooked lasagna until the cheese is golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

Italian Meatball Stew                                                                                                                                                              

Total Time: 5 hrs 10 mins

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs extra lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry basil, crushed
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen Italian style vegetables, defrosted

Directions

In a large bowl combine beef, bread crumbs, eggs, milk, cheese, salt, pepper and garlic. Form into 2 inch balls. Place meatballs in bottom of crock pot.

Combine tomato paste, broth, seasoned salt, oregano and basil.  Pour mixture over meat. Cover.

Cook on low 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Stir in vegetables. Cover and cook on high 10-15 mins until mixture is hot.

Slow-Cooker Bean and Barley Soup                                                                                                                        Hearty Bean and Barley Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms, optional
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Put beans, water, tomatoes and their juices, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, barley, bay leaf, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, herb blend, pepper, and Porcini mushrooms (if using) in a slow cooker; cover and cook on LOW until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours.

Stir in the spinach, cheese, and vinegar, cover, and let the soup cook until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and drizzle each serving with olive oil.

Italian Smothered Steak

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. boneless beef round steak
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 jar (26 oz) tomato pasta sauce or homemade marinara sauce, see post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/
  • 1 package (9 oz) refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into slices (about 1 cup)

Directions

Cut beef into 6 serving-size pieces; sprinkle with salt and pepper. In 3- to 4-quart slow cooker, layer beef and onion. Pour pasta sauce over top.

Cover and cook on Low heat setting 8 to 9 hours.

About 20 minutes before serving, stir in tortellini and zucchini. Increase heat setting to High. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until tortellini are tender.



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