Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

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Savoy Cabbage Gratin

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 head savoy cabbage cored and thinly shredded
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon flour or arrowroot
1 teaspoon dried yellow mustard
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup shredded cheddar or swiss cheese

Directions
Butter a shallow baking dish (8 by 8 in.) and preheat oven to 400°F.

Place the shredded cabbage in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Mix. Pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the cabbage and mix well.

In a large measuring cup mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter, garlic, chopped thyme, mustard, and flour. Stir until thoroughly combined, add cream, stir and pour over the cabbage in the baking dish. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Pork Schnitzel

Leftover cutlets are great for sandwiches.

Ingredients

Pork
3 boneless pork loin chops (about 5 to 6 ounces each)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 cups plain panko crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

Sage Butter
2 cloves of garlic, grated
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions
Mix all the ingredients for the sage butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Set aside.

Cut the pork chops in half lengthwise to make 6 cutlets.
Place each cutlet between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and gently pounding them out with the flat side of a meat mallet until they are an even 1/8-inch thick.

Put the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs and milk in another shallow dish. Put the panko crumbs in a third dish. Lightly dredge each piece of pork in flour, then in the egg and finally into the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs onto the pork gently so they adhere.

Lay the breaded pork cutlets in a single layer on a plate lined with parchment and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or until ready to cook.

Heat the oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Gently lay the cutlets into the pan and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a serving platter. Melt the sage butter in the microwave and pour over the cutlets. Serve immediately.

Buttery Peas

ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
3 cups frozen peas
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion and salt. Cook until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and then the peas and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the peas defrost and are heated through about 3 minutes. Season with black pepper and serve immediately.


Chicken Parmigiana

4 servings

Marinara Sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil

Chicken

2 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved horizontally, and pounded 1/2 inch thick
Kosher salt
1 egg
¼ cup all-purpose flour (can be gluten-free or low carb)

Breadcrumb Mixture

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (can be gluten-free or low carb)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese

Pasta

8 oz ziti or penne pasta
Salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

For the sauce: Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and increase the heat to high and bring to simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil, cover the pot and keep warm.

For the chicken: Sprinkle each side of each cutlet with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
In one shallow dish place the flour. In another shallow dish, place the egg beaten with a tablespoon of water. In a third shallow dish combine the fresh breadcrumbs with the parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano and black pepper.
Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge cutlet in flour and shape off any loose flour. Dip the cutlet into the egg, allowing any excess to drip off. Coat all sides of the cutlets in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing gently so the crumbs adhere. Transfer cutlet to a large plate and repeat with the remaining cutlets.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the cutlets in the skillet and cook without moving them until the bottoms are crispy and golden brown, 1½ to 2 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn the cutlets and cook on the second side until golden brown, 1½ to 2 minutes. Cover the top of each cutlet with tomato sauce and sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over the cutlets. Broil until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to a serving platter and top with a little marinara sauce.

For the pasta: Fill a pasta cooking pot with water and bring to a boil Add 1 tablespoon salt. Add pasta and cook al dente. Drain the pasta and place in a pasta serving bowl. Add the cheese, mix and then add the sauce. Mix well and serve with the chicken.

Sautéed Green Beans

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half.
2 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

Directions

In a large, deep skillet with a cover, melt the butter and add the garlic and herbs. Stir and add the green beans. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender, about 15 minutes.


Somehow one never tires of pasta. So many possibilities!  There are as many pasta dishes as there are cooks. Spicy, subtle, herb-laced, or creamy sauced pastas that, also, vary from city to city, region to region and country to country. The pasta shapes also change: from long pastas, stout pastas, tubular pastas, pastas with pronounced ridges, others with nooks and crannies to fresh lasagna, homemade cannelloni, and ravioli.

When buying either fresh or dried pasta, look for a well made brand that uses the best ingredients, such as, semolina flour for dried pasta. The pasta should have a rough surface and not be too smooth, as smooth pasta will not hold onto the sauce. The noodles should be compact and heavy for their size in order to stay together when cooking. Remember to stay away from very inexpensive pasta, you will just be disappointed come dinnertime. The extra pennies for good pasta are worth it.

For fresh pasta look for the expiration date on the package and take a good look at the pasta. If the pasta feels heavy in the package and has good color and texture it is worth buying. Many Italian bakeries and and some higher end supermarkets also make fresh pasta. However, most importantly, remember not to overcook your pasta, the worlds greatest sauce or pasta cannot save mushy pasta.

Some Tips

Do Not Rinse:  One of the cardinal rules of pasta cooking is to never rinse cooked pasta once you’ve drained it. Why? Because rinsing pasta would strip it of some of its starchy outer coat, which in turn, would lessen its ability to cling to sauce. The starch on the pasta is essential for the proper binding of sauce to pasta. If your recipe says to rinse pasta after draining, skip this step.

To cool drained pasta for use in cold dishes, toss it with a touch of olive oil and spread it out on a large tray until it reaches room temperature–about 15 minutes.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when cooking pasta:

Start with a big pot.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil for every 3 oz. of pasta you intend to cook. The water should be at a full boil when you add the pasta.

Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water when the water comes to a boil (if you add it earlier, the water will take longer to boil).

Don’t add oil! The pasta won’t stick together unless you don’t stir it often enough as it cooks. (Adding oil to the water will create a slippery surface on the pasta and the sauce will not adhere very well)

Add the pasta all at once, stir with a long-handled spoon and keep stirring until it becomes supple and is entirely submerged in the water.

Keep the water boiling the whole time as the pasta cooks. (If the pasta water is not boiling, the outside of the pasta will be overcooked by the time the inside is al dente.)

To prevent sticking stir the pasta every minute or so.

As it gets close to the amount of time the package says the pasta should cook, check the the pasta by tasting a small piece and drain it when it’s al dente.  It should offer a little bite when tasted-there should still be a thin white dot at the center.

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta. Use as much of this reserved water as needed to thin out your sauce (this allows you to cut down on olive oil or butter). Also, because the pasta cooking water is rich in starch, it helps the sauce bind to the pasta and the heat in the reserved pasta cooking water will help your pasta stay hot longer.

Add a little sauce to the pasta cooking pot over very low heat. Return the drained pasta to the pot and while stirring add more sauce and some of the pasta cooking water. Cook for about a minute. Serve in warm pasta bowls with cheese or herbs for garnish.

Some Of My Family’s Favorite Pastas

Well, the number one, hands down, overall favorite is Linguine with Basil Pesto. However this recipe won’t be included here. For that recipe come back to this blog on Wednesday for the next installment on the Cuisine of Italy.

Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

6 servings

Ingredients:Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound lean Italian sausage, a combination of hot and sweet according to your taste, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • Freshly-grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

Wash broccoli rabe in several changes of cold water. Cut off the bottom tips on the stalks and cut each stalk into one inch lengths.

Heat oil and stir in garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sausages and saute until meat is brown. 

Boil a large pot of water, add salt and pasta. Add the broccoli rabe during the last two minutes of the pasta cooking time. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

Add the pasta water  to the cooked sausage and raise heat and cook until sauce is hot.

Drain orecchiette. Return the drained pasta to the sausage sauce in the skillet.

Using a wooden spoon, toss together for 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese.

Linguine with Clams

 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 smashed and peeled, and 2 thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 dozen littleneck clams
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal or flour
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 pound linguine pasta
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 Directions:

1 hour in advance of cooking, combine the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature. Rinse the clams and place them in a large bowl with cold water and the cornmeal or flour. The live clams open to ingest the cornmeal, thereby releasing any remaining sand. Let soak 10 minutes. Scrub each clam clean under cold running water to remove remaining softened dirt from the shells and return to soak in fresh cold water. If necessary, repeat the scrubbing process a couple of times until the clams are completely clean and the soaking water is free of sand. Drain and chill until ready to cook.

In a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, bring the wine to a boil. Add the cleaned clams, cover immediately, and steam until the clams are open, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Using tongs, remove the shellfish from the pan to a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid in the pan.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the linguine, and cook until tender but still firm. Set the timer for 2 minutes less than the package instructions specify. Drain the pasta and return the empty pasta pot to the stove. Add the seasoned oil and shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the clam cooking liquid. Add the drained pasta to the pan and heat for a minute. Toss well and pour into a large pasta serving bowl, add clams and sprinkle the parsley over the top.

Rigatoni with Marinara Sauce and Ricotta

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 (28-oz) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cup skim milk ricotta cheese, warmed in the microwave
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions:

Cook garlic and red-pepper flakes in the olive oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring for a minute. Add tomatoes and salt and simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of well salted boiling water, uncovered, until al dente, then drain in a colander.

Return pasta to the pot and add marinara sauce. Cook for a minute. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl, dollop with tablespoons of the warmed ricotta with and serve with the grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Note: Sauce can be made ahead.  Cool completely, cover and refrigerate up to 5 days or freeze in an airtight container for 2 months.

Chicken_Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

The chicken can be cooked the day before or early in the day of serving. Reheat while the pasta cooks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3-1/2-lb.) chicken, cut into eighths or use all chicken thighs
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
  • 1-1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (divided)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1/2 lb.mushrooms, halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (2 cups)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cups)
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 (28-oz.) container Pomi chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lb. spaghetti

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or plate. Season with 2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dip the chicken in the flour, making sure to coat it on all sides, then return it to the baking sheet.

Place a large (12- to 14-inch), straight-sided sauté pan (one that can hold all the chicken pieces in one layer) or a Dutch oven over high heat and add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken, skin side down in a single layer and sauté over high heat without moving it for about 4 minutes, or until browned on the first side. (If the pieces stick, that means they haven’t browned long enough. Let them cook a bit longer.) Turn the chicken over and repeat, lowering the heat to medium-low. Transfer the browned chicken to a clean baking sheet, trying to leave as much oil as possible in the pan.

Let the pan heat up for a minute over high heat. Add the vegetables and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, reduce the heat to medium and sauté until the vegetables are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the wine and the tomatoes and heat until simmering.  Add the chicken to the pan and cover the pan tightly with foil or a lid.  Place in the oven and cook or about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.

Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. Serve the chicken over the cooked pasta.

Fusilli Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach

Picture of Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pint container of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion or 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat fusilli pasta
  • 1 (9-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange tomatoes on a large parchment-lined sheet tray, cut-sides up. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Scatter 2 tablespoons Parmesan and 2 tablespoons basil evenly over top. Roast until bubbling, about 20 minutes; set aside.

In a skillet heat remaining olive oil and saute garlic, red pepper flakes and onion for 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook on low just until wilted. Remove from heat and stir in roasted tomatoes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and fusilli and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Add spinach tomato mixture, lemon juice, remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan and remaining basil. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



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