Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce, True Comfort Food

bolognese sauce It’s January, mid winter and the weather still calls for some comfort food, and I say a nice pot of bolognese sauce simmering on the stove is comfort food at it’s finest!

Bolognese sauce is a meat based sauce that originated from Bologna, Italy. A classic bolognese usually consists of a mixture of meats, some pancetta, a soffrito of aromatic veggies, tomato, wine and milk or cream, it also requires many hours of simmering.

Over the years I found you can put together a darn good bolognese pretty quick and easy and in a little less than an hour.

mirepoix One thing for sure, and is a must when making your bolognese is that you want to include these veggies, a soffrito of finely chopped carrots, celery and onions and sometimes I include finely chopped mushrooms, I eliminate the pancetta all together.

If you want to speed things up instead of chopping the veggies by hand just pull out your food processor and pulse them until they turn into a small dice.

bolognese sauce For this quicker version I use only one meat and it’s usually a grass fed beef and when combined with everything else it creates a thick rich sauce with many layers of flavor, I can’t tell the difference if it was simmered for one or three hours, it’s that good!

pasta bolognese

Just about any pasta shape complements this meaty sauce, so just pick your favorite!

spaghetti squash bolognese

If you’re trying to watch your carb intake after all the holiday goodies, no problem, because it’s equally delicious on top of spaghetti squash, I actually love it that way.

You might want to double or triple the recipe because it freezes really well and it’s nice to have some tucked away in your freezer when comfort food is calling your name!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef, preferably grass fed or sirloin
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup mushrooms, finely diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes, (optional)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup of whole milk
  • 1 28 oz. can of ground tomatoes
  • a few fresh basil leaves for added flavor
  • 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil
Instructions
  1. Dice up your vegetables into a fine dice either by hand or pulsed in your food processor.
  2. In a heated heavy bottomed pan add the butter and olive oil.
  3. Add all the veggies and garlic and cook until soft.
  4. Toss in the ground meat and cook until browned.
  5. Deglaze with the wine and let it evaporate.
  6. Pour in the milk and let it cook for a minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes plus salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cook uncovered on a slow simmer stirring often.
  9. Should be done after 45 minutes or so.
  10. Serve with your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash.

 

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Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

cauliflower rice pilaf Who ever came up with the idea of ricing cauliflower was brilliant! It’s so versatile and healthy and if you’re trying to stay away from carbs it’s a nice substitute. Can I be honest, I like this recipe for cauliflower rice pilaf better than the real deal which you won’t even miss, plus you’ll feel really good about eating it.

riced cauliflower Let’s talk about cauliflower rice. In the past when it first became popular I made my own with a large head of fresh cauliflower that I riced in my own food processor, but it was a production, I made a mess and usually had cauliflower all over. Now it seems that you can find it riced and ready to go almost everywhere either fresh or frozen and that makes me very happy.

Can I just tell you in all honesty, I prefer the frozen over the fresh. I love the convenience of having it stashed away in my freezer to use whenever I feel like it, it won’t spoil and the taste and texture is the same. My favorite brand is the one shown above it’s delicious, and I love the consistency in the size of the “rice”.

cauliflower rice pilaf This cauliflower rice pilaf is a wonderful side dish to have along with fish, chicken or meats. It’s even great for lunch all week just on it’s own and you don’t even need to heat it up, I’ve eaten it straight out of the fridge like a salad. A bowl of this pilaf is very satisfying.

cauliflower rice pilaf

You can combine any veggies you like, but for me I found this combo to be excellent. Along with the cauliflower rice it has mushrooms, butternut squash, curly kale, red and yellow pepper, red onion, garlic, green onions, cranberries and some salty pecans.

I tried to give you approximate amounts so you could get some idea but I always go over, in my opinion the more veggies the better, so don’t be skimpy, enjoy, it’s all good!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Cauliflower Rice Pilaf
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. of fresh or frozen cauliflower rice ( I prefer frozen for convenience)
  • 1 small pack of cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper and yellow pepper, small dice
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced small (you'll have extra)
  • 4 thin green onions or 2 larger, cut in small slices
  • 1 packed cup of curly kale, cut into thin strips
  • ¼ cup of red onion, diced small
  • a handful of dried cranberries
  • a handful of salted pecans ( you could use unsalted but I prefer the salted)
  • 1 large clove, garlic grated on a micro-plane or diced very finely
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In two separate pans roast the sliced mushrooms and the small diced butternut squash, both drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 425 until moisture leaves the mushrooms and the squash gets lightly golden. Set aside and let them cool.
  2. In a large saute pan add the garlic clove, red onion,the kale and both peppers and saute in olive oil for just a couple of seconds to soften slightly, basically until the garlic turns golden, then scoop out and set aside so it can cool down.
  3. Add the cauliflower rice into the large saute pan with more olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook it until it's tender, do not overcook it! If it's frozen it just takes a few minutes. Let it cool down.
  4. Into a bowl add the cooked cauliflower rice, garlic, red onion, peppers and kale, mix well.
  5. Dump in the cooked mushrooms and also the butternut squash (you probably won't use it all).
  6. Toss into the bowl your green onions, parsley, cranberries and pecans, incorporating everything, mixing well adding more or less according to your liking.
  7. Taste for salt and pepper and drizzling more olive oil if necessary.

 

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Baked Crab Cakes with Meyer Lemon Aioli

baked crab cakes Have you ever gotten really excited about a recipe before? Well I sure have with these luscious baked crab cakes.

Before I go on I must confess this is the first time I attempted to make homemade crab cakes. I normally order them in restaurants but I’ve been disappointed so many times because they’re usually fried and somewhat greasy or you barely taste any crab at all because of the breading and fillers packed inside.

baked crab cakes Have no fear, these are the real deal! Jumbo lump crab cakes that are delicate and light with no breading or frying just baked to perfection in a very hot oven.

These are perfect for a special occasion like New Years Eve this weekend, a romantic dinner for two, a special birthday or anniversary dinner, a light and healthy main course or even served as appetizers. The best part is they’re so scrumptious and so easy to make!

jumbo lump crab for crab cakes You’ll need real jumbo lump crab meat so ask your fish monger where it’s located in the store. Many places sell it, It’s even available at Trader Joes but I happened to buy this at my Costco which always has it during the holidays. I added a little chopped red onion, red pepper, celery, parsley, basil and some spice for the other ingredients.

making crab cakes You must get a ring mold or a biscuit cutter like I used, or make your own with a can, it makes all the difference in looks and texture.

baked crab cakes What really makes these crab cakes so magical is the technique in which they’re cooked. I watched a You Tube of a chef in Napa and I just loved how he cooked them using high heat in the oven for just eight minutes.

The ingredients were a mix of a few different recipes I found on the web. I served them with a meyer lemon aioli that paired perfectly with all the flavors but a nice remoulade would work just as well.

baked crab cakes Don’t be afraid to make your own crab cakes, once you try these you’ll be hooked forever.

baked crab cake I can’t wait to make them again!

baked crab cakes

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Crab Cakes with Meyer Lemon Aioli
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Makes 4 generous crab cakes
  • ½ lb. of cooked jumbo lump crab
  • ¼ cup each, or even less ( you be the judge) of finely chopped celery, red onion, red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
  • ¼ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • zest of a ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of real mayo for the filling,plus extra for aioli
  • Old Bay seasoning to taste, or creole if you want it spicier
  • FOR THE AIOLI
  • 1 cup of good quality mayo
  • meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice, fresh. Mix well til you get a nice consistency, add some salt and pepper.
Instructions
  1. Pre- heat oven to 500 degrees
  2. Spray a small baking sheet or pie tin with olive oil spray, no parchment or foil.
  3. Take a mixing bowl then add the mayo, zest and old bay, mix well.
  4. Fold in the celery, red pepper, red onion, parsley and basil and panko.
  5. Gently fold in the lump crab meat and combine everything. At this point you can taste for seasoning as you like it, adding salt and pepper to taste or more spice.
  6. Place bowl into the freezer for 10 minutes or fridge for 20 minutes, no longer! This allows the panko to set up and hold everything together.
  7. Take a ring mold, the one I used was around 3" and fill it almost to the top, packing it down as your filling it.
  8. Gently push it out onto your greased baking sheet.
  9. Place them into the hot 500 degree oven for 8 minutes and do not touch or flip them over.
  10. Take them out after 8 minutes and let them sit on the baking sheet for a minute before removing.
  11. Swipe your platter or serving dish with some of the aioli then carefully take a fish spatula and lift the crab cake gently off the pan and actually flip it over with your hand so the deeper golden side that was on the bottom is now facing up.
  12. Garnish with more aioli, some parsley and a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning.

 

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Ice Cream Stuffed Panettone

ice cream stuffed panettone Here’s a fun way to transform a traditional panettone into a spectacular dessert with no baking required. Panettone is an Italian Christmas cake that has a sweet buttery dough filled candied fruits and nuts, just the smell alone when you open the box will drive you wild!

Today we’re going a little over the top and using the pannetone for an Italian version of an ice cream cake. Basically you’re going to hollow out your favorite panettone and then stuff it with some ice cream or gelato.

ice cream stuffed panettone I decided to do a mix of vanilla and chocolate this time, plus I added some frozen dark sweet cherries, because why not?

hollowed out panettone Leave the paper rim on for stability then either slice off the bottom or the top part right under the dome. Take a serrated knife and cut into the panettone leaving a border around the edges and bottom, scooping out the interior.

At this point you can brush the sides and bottom with some liqueur, but to me the panettone has so much flavor itself that it’s not necessary, but it certainly is an option.

ice cream stuffed panettone Make sure your ice cream is softened but not runny then just fill up the cavity to the top. I did the vanilla layer first, added some frozen cherries then ended with the chocolate layer.

ice cream stuffed panettone When the panettone is filled to the rim with the ice cream re-attach the lid or bottom back on then wrap the whole thing in  plastic wrap and stick it into the freezer. I find that overnight works best because you want the ice cream to really firm up so you can have nice clean wedges when cutting into it,  so what’s really nice is that this can be made one or even two days ahead.

ice cream stuffed panettone You can decorate the top anyway you want, I just melted some chocolate and made a quick frosting and added mini chocolate chips but you can be really creative and make it your own.

ice cream stuffed panettone

This is a pretty holiday dessert, nice and easy that will certainly wow your guests!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Ice Cream Stuffed Panettone
 
You can use any size or shape panettone just use the same principle that I did filling it to the brim with ice cream.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large panettone
  • 2 pints of gelato, one vanilla and one chocolate, softened (feel free to use any flavor of ice cream or gelato)
  • a handful of frozen dark cherries (optional) You can also add nuts or any frozen fruit you like
  • liqueur to brush the interior sides ( like amaretto) also optional, definitely not needed.
Instructions
  1. Take a sharp serrated knife and turn the panettone upside down and slice an inch off the bottom or if you prefer, make the slice on top right under the dome.You can leave the paper on for stability.
  2. Then cut around the inside of the bread to hollow it out leaving ½ inch base and sides ( save the bread pieces to munch on).
  3. Take your softened ice cream and fill the cavity to the top packing it down firmly, then re-attach the lid or bottom securely.
  4. Wrap the whole panettone in foil or plastic wrap and stick it into the freezer. Best if overnight or even 2 days before so that ice cream is nice and hard.
  5. Remove from the freezer, unwrap it, removing the paper that's attached to the panettone also, then place on a serving platter and decorate the top..
  6. Slice into wedges and serve, you can serve with whipped cream, maybe a chocolate sauce, or just as is.

 

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Homemade Cucidati a Sicilian Fig Cookie Tradition

cucidati fig cookies When I think of holiday baking the first cookie that comes to my mind is cucidati, a Sicilian fig cookie filled with a mixture of nuts, dates, figs, raisins, spices and a few different flavorings and all that goodness is wrapped in a tender buttery dough that’s baked, frosted and sprinkled.

In my family this is a cookie that has memories attached to it, just the smells alone evoke fond thoughts of a mother long gone who lovingly made these for her family throughout their childhood for special occasions and holidays.

It’s about wanting to keep up that tradition and then handing it down to generation after generation.

cucidati Italian fig cookies So for that reason when I make them I go big and it’s a family affair. We start early in the morning and it becomes a whole day of baking. I think the most we made in a one day was 600.

Every one brings their own containers to take their cookies home, many will be gifted out to other family members and friends who look forward to our baking lollapalooza.

I like finding different tins to put them in and I always layer the cookies between wax paper.

fig paste

We have it down to a science now and everyone has their own jobs to do that they’re comfortable with, from making the filling, rolling the cookies, watching the oven, frosting them and adding the sprinkles. I always prep the dough the night before so that job is out of the way, I make at least ten batches.

cucidati Italian fig cookies I line my dining room table with sheets of wax paper and by the time we’re finished every inch gets covered and then some!

cucidati Italian fig cookies The one rule we have is that no one takes any home until the frosting has completely hardened, otherwise they’ll just get ruined when you’re packing them up.

cucidati Italian fig cookies

We even made some with white on white for a more classic look, wouldn’t these would look nice set out at an Italian wedding?

cucidati Italian fig cookiescucidati Italian fig cookies The smell of them baking lasted for days in my house!

cucidati Italian fig cookies

Because of the overwhelming requests for this recipe, I’ve posted it below along with all my tips.

Happy Baking! 

CUCIDATI

The Dough
TIP: (My handed down family recipe used Crisco because that was very common then, but today all I use is butter in the dough and we like it so much better!)
 4 cups all-purpose flour
 2/3 cup sugar
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon salt
 8 ounces cold unsalted butter or 2 sticks, cut into pieces
 4 large eggs
Put flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse just to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse. Add eggs and pulse until dough forms a ball on the blade. Remove from processor and knead briefly on a lightly floured work surface until smooth. Shape dough into a log shape and wrap in plastic and put into fridge overnight or use after it chills well.

TIP:(It’s great to work with when it’s chilled, if you leave it on the counter which I’ve done in the past the butter warms up and rolling it is a nightmare of stickiness, so take out one batch at a time. You might have to whack it with the rolling pin to break it down a bit but believe me it works and rolls much better. Making the dough ahead is especially good when making large amounts like I do, plus it will free up your food processor for the filling.
The Filling
 One 12-ounce package dried Calimyrna or Mission figs, snip off the hard end of stem
 ½ cup of dates, remove pits
 1/2 cup un-blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
 1/3 cup apricot preserves or orange marmalade
 ½ cup plump golden raisins
 1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced ( you can find this on line if you can’t find it in the baking isle, or just used grated orange peel and more marmalade, but I love this addition)
 1/3 cup of honey if you want it sweeter
 1/4 cup dark rum or whiskey
 1 teaspoon cinnamon
 TIP: ( My advice is to taste as you go along maybe adding more or less of the ingredients, my favorite is using whisky)
Instructions for filling
Remove stems from figs and cut the figs into medium-size dice. Put figs and remaining filling ingredients into the food processor and pulse with the metal blade until finely chopped; if you want to do this the day before go right ahead, it gives the flavors a chance to meld together.
To assemble the cookies
Cut your log of dough into 12 pieces and try to roll it out into a 3” by 12” rectangle. Then take the fig filling and scoop it out or make a fig log right down the middle onto the rectangle of the dough and roll it up placing it seam side down.
Cut cookies into 1 1/2 inch pieces, you can cut them into a square or on an angle, then place the cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, till bottoms are nicely golden.
The Frosting
One whole bag of confectioners’ sugar mixed with milk to get the right consistency, sort of thick, not watery.
Non-perils for sprinkling

This recipe makes 4-5 dozen.
Make icing but don’t ice them until the cookies are completely cool from the oven,(important!) Spread a little icing onto each cookie, I like to use a pastry brush instead of dipping which gives me more control and it controls some of the sweetness because the filling is sweet also, then sprinkle the nonpareils on the top of the wet frosting but over a bowl otherwise you’ll see them all over your floor.

Pack them into tins only when frosting is completely hardened between wax paper layers, I repeat, let them dry completely!!

These can be made ahead of time to freeze but please do not frost then until you’re ready to serve. I don’t freeze mine I store then in the tins like I said between wax paper and keep the tins in a cool place, like my garage.
Happy Holiday Baking!

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Italian Christmas Tree Cake with Lemon Curd and Limoncello

Italian Christmas tree cake I know it’s definitely Christmas time when I start to see all the colorful boxes of panettone and pandoro sold in almost every store I walk into. Both breads are decadent and sweet and most Italians love to eat them for dessert and breakfast, as well as giving them out as gifts during the holidays.

The difference between the two is that panettone is studded with nuts and dried fruits and pandoro is plain, no fruit or nuts but rich in butter and egg like a fluffy brioche, golden in color and baked in a pretty star- shaped pan.

pandoro You can make pandoro into a Christmas tree shape by cutting the star-shaped loaf horizontally and then rotating the layers.

It’s fun to make, very festive and it doesn’t take long to put it together, it can be a fun project to do with your kids and the best part is, there’s no baking involved!

christmas tree cake Here I made an adult version by brushing the layers with limoncello. In the past I’ve used Amaretto, which is equally amazing, but feel free to eliminate the liqueur all together if you want, it’s not necessary.

Then there’s the mascarpone and whipped cream mix, together they create a nice stable consistency which will hold your cake together and give you that look of “snow”. I also folded in some good quality, store-bought lemon curd into the whipped cream mixture, I’ll just let you imagine how good it is, no words needed.

For a kids version think Nutella swiped onto the layers along with the whipped cream and mascarpone mixture.

Honestly the flavor possibilities are endless as well as the decorating part. You can put fresh berries on the star points to make it look like ornaments and if you don’t want fresh fruit you can use candied cherries, sprinkles, crushed candy canes, shaved chocolate, edible stars. The baking isle of your store will give you a ton of inspiration.

You can make a nice presentation for your holiday table by decorating your serving platter with some fake greenery and pine cones like I did, or just wander into a craft store to get your own awesome ideas.

christmas tree cake

The fun part is decorating the very top, I found an acrylic star ornament that I can reuse, I just cut off the string and popped it into the cake. Here again the possibilities are endless, you could even use one of your own decorated cookies, that would be a really nice touch.

christmas tree cakechristmas tree cake

I hope you give this a try and if you do I would love to see all your creations!

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5.0 from 4 reviews
Italian Christmas Tree Cake with Lemon Curd and Limoncello
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large Pandoro
  • ½ cup of Limoncello or other liqueur (optional)
  • 1 small jar of good quality store-bought lemon curd 10 oz. ( You won't use it all)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 2 heaping tablespoons, powdered sugar
  • edible stars, white pearl sprinkles or anything else you want to decorate with
  • A topper for your tree cake, I used a star ornament
  • platter decorations
Instructions
  1. Turn the Pandoro on it's side and carefully cut six slices horizontally.
  2. In a large mixing bowl add the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar, cream well beating with a mixer.
  3. Next add the heavy cream into the mascarpone mixture, beating well into stiff peaks, not soft and loose.
  4. Fold in lemon curd, start with a heaping tablespoon and keep adding more to taste and stiffness of the cream mixture, remember you don't want it runny.
  5. Place the largest slice onto your serving platter.
  6. Brush first layer with limoncello, if not using liqueur just brush the layer with a thin swipe of lemon curd.
  7. Spread cream mixture all over the top.
  8. Top with the next largest slice making sure to angle it so the points of the star do not align.
  9. Repeat with the limoncello and cream mixture on each layer and finally the top.
  10. At this point you can refrigerate it over night and decorate it closer to the time you will be serving it. I've done it hours before. Try not to serve it ice cold from the fridge, let it sit out a little.
  11. To cut remover layer by layer and cut into serving size, when you get towards the bottom you can cut into wedges.
  12. Remember, the skies the limit on flavor and decorating, make it your own!

 

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Ravioli, A Yearly Holiday Tradition

homemade ravioli This is the time of year I love making ravioli just before Thanksgiving, it’s tradition in my house. I remember as a kid white sheets on top of tables all over our house that were filled with ravioli made together by my mother and aunt. I have their recipe and I hold it near and dear to my heart.

They always made two different kinds of ravioli, meat and cheese and that’s what I make to this very day, and I have to say that their recipe never ever fails me.

Although I like to use different fillings and be adventurous now and then, when I’m with my family and cousins on my side it’s tradition that we use their special recipe which stirs up great memories for all of us.

I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years, many I have shared on this blog, like how to make ravioli for a crowd  (and not lose your mind!) It’s not as hard as you think especially if you have a few family members helping you make them ahead of time, plus it’s lots of fun and you’ll be creating wonderful memories together.

ravioli dough I’m all about being organized and having everything prepped. I like to make the dough the night before, for 400 ravioli that’s around ten batches of dough, if I’m making 200, five batches of dough. Sometimes I’ll get up early and make all the dough in the morning but I’m not much of an early bird I work better at night.

The dough must always be covered and resting at room temperature so if they were stored in the fridge overnight you have to take them out and let them warm up, the dough will be more pliable and easier to work with.

I always make my dough in the food processor, it’s so fast and works like a charm every time. Making the dough in a well is not for me, especially for large amounts, I was taught that way but I’m all about the food processor method now.

ravioli making tools They also rolled out their ravioli by hand with a rolling pin and crimped each and everyone with a fork, I did that too back in the day but times have changed.

As the years went by I graduated to a pretty red pasta machine and I also use ravioli forms, the forms allow the ravioli to come out uniform in size, and I rarely have any that breakage when boiling.

When I first started making ravioli they would be crazy looking, some were long rectangles, short rectangles, big squares, short squares, thick dough, thin dough, not enough filling, air pockets all over, and many would break open when boiling, thank goodness I found the right tools!

ravioli doughravioli attachment But now fast forward to 2016 I discovered something even better and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my pretty red crank style pasta roller, I’ll have to pass it down as a family heirloom because I now have a new and powerful friend, my Kitchen Aid pasta attachment!

Well it’s not really new, I bought it a couple of years ago but never used it, I think I was afraid it wouldn’t give me the same results as my oldie but goodie crank style. The brand new and never used attachment was sitting in a box in my pantry for so long that I had to Google how to  properly place it on the machine and use it.

You don’t realize how fatiguing it is to crank out 400 ravioli, when making so many we would take turns, but it’s a breeze with the pasta attachment because the machine does all the work for you, the power of that motor makes the most uniform dough, always consistent and smooth as silk, plus there’s a bonus, you’ll have both of your hands free and you won’t feel tired at all.

It’s amazing and I highly recommend it if you like to make a lot of fresh pasta, and I’m not being compensated to say it!

prepping ravioli  This past weekend I made 200 ravioli by myself and I wasn’t the least bit tired, I could have made another 100, no problem, the pasta attachment changed my life!

I prepped the fillings the night before because it’s a little time consuming and I like to get that out of the way. I made cheese, meat and butternut squash filling. I also love using piping bags for a more clean and efficient way of filling the ravioli forms, works like a charm and it’s much, much neater than using a spoon.

The forms have to be well floured all over including the zig zags before placing the dough on top, dusting them with flour will help them to seal and fall out of the forms without getting stuck.

making ravioli At this point you can also brush some water lightly all around the edges then the top layer of dough goes on. I use a small rolling pin and roll over all the zig zag lines and the surface of the dough, that will also help in getting the filling down into the holes.

homemade ravioli When it’s time to release the ravioli I turn the whole form upside down and grab a corner with my two fingers tugging a bit until the ravioli just fall out onto your work surface.

making raviolihomemade ravioli Then I’ll use a pasta crimper shown above, and score it through the zig zag lines which helps them come apart easy, one score usually does it.

homemade ravioli I always freeze mine by taking a cookie sheet, lining it with parchment paper and placing the ravioli single layer, never on top of each other or touching. When the pan is filled up I’ll put another piece of parchment on top then stick the whole pan in the freezer.

Meat ravioli usually take around a half hour to freeze, when they’re all frozen I’ll place them into freezer bags and they won’t stick together at all, you’ll be able to take out as many as needed.

butternut squash raviolibutternut squash ravioli Butternut squash as well as the cheese filling will take a good hour to freeze because of the softer and wetter filling.

homemade raviolihomemade ravioli Be sure to mark your bags!

Keep in mind you don’t have to make as many as I did, I don’t want to scare you off from doing this but if you’re going to embark on this adventure you might as well go big!

They taste at optimum freshness and flavor for at least four months in the freezer, so you have plenty of time to make them before a big event.

homemade ravioli

Like I said I have some other good tips and tricks in my archives here and here. In those posts and the other link above I”ll give you a visual on how I did it for a crowd, how much sauce to make for 400, the shallow disposable pans I used and of course pictures of the cooked ravioli.

I hope you give this a try someday, there’s nothing like homemade ravioli and just think of the fun memories you’ll be making!

Recipe is upon request, just send me an email.

You can also follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week and especially all through the holidays.

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Cranberry Amaretto Clafoutis

cranberry amaretto clafoutis The holidays are upon us and I have just the dessert to impress your guests, a Cranberry Amaretto Clafoutis.

A clafoutis has all the makings of a very elegant dessert yet it can be very rustic also. What’s a clafoutis? It’s a French dessert that’s custard and flan like, it can be filled with a variety of different fresh fruit and when baked the sweet batter gets nice and puffy all around the fruit tasting very light and pudding like.

cranberry amaretto clafoutis ingredients It may look decadent but it’s a fooler because it’s neither heavy or overly sweet and that’s what I love about it, and to top it off,  it’s super easy to make!

cranberry amaretto clafoutis Slivered almonds embed themselves into the sweet and puffy batter that’s flavored with sweet almond liqueur that pairs so well with the slightly tart cranberries, this is screaming put on the coffee guests are stopping by!

cranberry amaretto clafoutiscranberry amaretto clafoutis

Scoop some out and serve it alongside fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or as is, either way you’re going to love it, holiday cooking has officially begun!

Follow me on Instagram to see what I’m cooking up daily and through the holidays.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Cranberry Amaretto Clafoutis
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh whole cranberries
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups, whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons, melted butter and a little extra for buttering pan
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of amaretto or 1 teaspoon of almond extract, or 1 Tablespoon amaretto and ½ teaspoon of almond extract combined.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • confectioners sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F. then butter your baking dish or ovenproof skillet.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, eggs, melted butter, baking powder, salt, milk, vanilla, amaretto or almond extract and half a cup of the sugar. Beat on high speed with a hand mixer until well combined. Set aside and let it rest.
  3. Take remaining quarter cup of sugar and coat it all over the cranberries, toss it into the buttered skillet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  4. Give the batter one more whirl on high with the hand mixer after its been resting then pour it onto the cooked cranberries.
  5. Sprinkle with almonds then return to oven and bake another 35 minutes.
  6. It will be puffy when taken out of the oven but in a few minutes it will settle down then dust it with the powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream on the side.

 

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Butternut Squash Pizza with Sage Walnut Pesto

butternut squash pizza with sage pesto As promised I would like to announce the winner of the beautiful Lagostina Hammered Copper Pastaiola, and the winner is… DIANE KANTOR! Congratulations Diane, I will be contacting you by email to get your address so the company can ship it directly to you.

Can I just tell you something? I adore this pizza! It highlights roasted butternut squash on a bed of garlicky ricotta with touches of sage and walnut pesto floating around, the simple flavors of fall on top of crispy and crunchy pizza dough.

When making this pizza you’ll want to seek out a squash that has a long neck because that’s what you’ll be using to make those nice round slices which I think it adds so much to the presentation, don’t you?

sage and walnut pesto I was immediately drawn to the looks of this pizza when I saw a photo posted on none other than Pinterest but I wanted to add my own little twist with the sage and walnut pesto, I thought it would be extra delicious with little dollops all over the warm pizza, and guess what? I was right.

sage and walnut pesto I have so much sage still growing in my garden and this was another way to enjoy it, and as all fresh pesto’s it takes no time to whip it up. I also like using the sage pesto with other things like fish, chicken, pasta, root vegetables, swirled into mashed potatoes and risotto, the possibilities are endless and a little goes a long way and it just screams fall to me!

butternut squash pizza with sage pesto If you make your own pizza dough, I applaud you, I’m not that fond of working with yeast so I always buy my pizza dough, but fortunately for me I have an excellent source with excellent quality dough, so it makes my life easier.

butternut squash pizza with sage pesto

Serve this with a nice green salad and you’ll have a fantastic fall dinner!

(Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Butternut Squash Pizza with Sage Walnut Pesto
 
This recipe is adapted from Alexandra's Kitchen
Author:
Ingredients
  • SAGE AND WALNUT PESTO
  • 1 cup sage leaves
  • ¾ cup parsley
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • ¾ cup toasted walnuts
  • ½ cup of grated Parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • and a squeeze of lemon for brightness
  • PIZZA
  • 1 dough ball, homemade or store bought, enough for 1 pizza
  • 1 butternut squash, look for a long neck so you can cut it into round slices, reserve the bulb part for something else.
  • ricotta
  • 1 smashed garlic clove
  • shredded dry mozzarella
  • parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. FOR THE PESTO
  2. Place everything into a food processor, except for the olive oil, I used my mini processor.
  3. Pulse it, chopping the nuts and combining everything then start drizzling the oil down the tube until it has a loose consistency characteristic of pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. FOR THE PIZZA AND EARLIER IN THE DAY
  5. Cut the long neck off of a butternut squash, peel it with a vegetable peeler, then cut quarter inch round slices..
  6. Roast the slices in a hot 400 degree oven drizzled with olive oil, single layer until tender, set aside.
  7. I like to let my dough sit out for a couple of hours so it becomes nice and pliable.
  8. When ready to cook, heat oven to a hot 500 degrees, oil your pizza pan then sprinkle some corn meal or polenta on the bottom.
  9. Dust your fingers with a little flour then work your dough into the pan stretching it with your finger tips until it reaches the edges, then place it into the oven for 5 minutes, no longer! Then remove it.
  10. Dough might rise up but just punch it down.
  11. Quickly mix up some ricotta with the smashed garlic and a little salt and pepper, enough to swipe and cover the whole bottom of the dough with just a thin layer.
  12. Sprinkle a little mozzarella on top then add the butternut squash rounds filling the top.
  13. Add some grated parmesan on top of the squash, then brush olive oil onto the edges of the crust then do a quick drizzle on top.
  14. Place pizza into the oven until it reaches a deep golden brown on the crust edges and bottom.
  15. While still warm add dollops of the sage and walnut pesto.

 

 

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Shrimp, Pasta and Broccolini in Tomato Cream + A Pastaiola Giveaway

shrimp pasta and broccolini Happy National Pasta Day! Who doesn’t love pasta? It delicious, comforting, it comes in endless shapes and sizes and can be made countless ways with a variety of different sauces. It’s also crowd pleasing, a great party food, present at many family dinners and dinner for one. Many fond memories have been etched in our minds recalling favorite pasta dishes made by our dear loved ones hands.

So in honor of the day I made you a luxurious pasta dish that includes shrimp and broccolini in tomato cream sauce, and you won’t believe how quick you’ll get it to the table!

Lagostina Pastaiola  To further celebrate and to make you feel like an absolute pro in the kitchen, the generous team at Lagostina is giving away this gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, Hammered Copper Pastaiola pot to one lucky reader of mine.

Lagostina Pastaiola

Here are some of the features

·          Lagostina Martellata Tri-Ply Copper 6 qt. Covered Pastaiola features durable tri-ply construction for lasting utility plus thermal efficiency courtesy of a heat radiating, encapsulated aluminum core

·         Brushed 18/10 stainless steel interior will not react with food

·         Polished, hammered copper exterior looks striking on a stovetop and enhances heat conductivity

·         Compatible with most stove types, except induction

·         Oven safe up to 500º F

·         Polished, snug-fitting stainless steel lid helps prevent heat and moisture from escaping

·         Sturdy, riveted cast stainless steel side handles for confident handling

·         Flared edges for dripless pouring

·         Comes complete with a stainless steel pasta insert

·         Copper, aluminum and stainless steel

·         Hand wash

·         6 qt. capacity

Valued at 249.99

marinara in pastaiola First thing I did with my pastaiola was make a big pot of marinara, I normally keep a stash in my freezer and I was running low. I’m happy to say I was able to fit two gigantic cans of tomatoes both over five pounds each into the pot with no problem, so you’re going to love how deep it is! It will be perfect for making future stocks and seafood boils because of it’s deep size.

marinara in pastaiolashrimp and broccolini

This pasta dish comes together quickly once you have all your ingredients ready so when you begin to make the sauce get your water boiling!

Add some garlic and olive oil to a pan then toss in shrimp, (I had eight large) and steamed broccolini, when the shrimp is cooked remove and set aside.

tomato cream sauce Deglaze the pan with three cups of marinara, preferably homemade or a good quality store bought brand then splash in about a quarter cup of  heavy cream, stir and combine then it’s time to bring back the shrimp and broccolini.

boiling pasta Did you know there are over 600 known shapes of pasta? I love seeking out different and unique shapes, for this dish I used Festoni, it’s like a pappardelle with ruffled edges.

drained pasta Looks done to me, nice and al’dente, now It’s time to drain it and toss it into the creamy tomato sauce making sure everything gets coated well. ( I used 8 oz. here)

shrimp pasta and broccolini Silky, slurpy and luxurious!

shrimp pasta and broccolini

Happy Pasta!

CONTEST IS OVER AND CLOSED

 

( Disclosure: I received one pastaiola for review, and as always opinions are my very own)

 

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Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Roasted Garlic

braised short ribs Braised short ribs is what I call cold weather comfort food at it’s best. Meaty short ribs that braise in a hearty red wine, a little broth, roasted garlic and thyme. The meat becomes so tender and fall off the bone delicious, and the best part is you only do a minimal amount of work to get them ready then the oven takes over for a while.

In the meantime your house is guaranteed to smell amazing!

roasted garlic

I mentioned roasting garlic for this recipe, it’s a MUST, you have to do it because when your meat is done braising you’re going to smash the sweet mellow cloves right into the liquid and then strain everything so you have a nice smooth sauce that’s packed with so much flavor you can’t even imagine!

To save time I recommend roasting the garlic a couple of days ahead and storing it away in your fridge, I always make a little extra to use in other things like mashed potatoes, sauteed greens or simply smeared on crusty bread.

braised short ribs

You can serve this on top roasted garlic mashed potatoes, some thick eggy noodles or pappadelle pasta, or my favorite… creamy polenta, (too die for!) In fact the other day I posted a picture of  just that, a juicy, tender short rib on top of creamy polenta with a layer of  roasted garlic sauteed kale on my Instagram, check it out here.

Now go grab a heavy pot and start braising!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Roasted Garlic
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 whole heads of garlic, cut in half
  • 6 large meaty short ribs
  • hearty red wine
  • beef or chicken broth
  • ¾ of a cup of tomato puree, finely diced tomatoes, marinara or a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste
  • cremini mushrooms, 12 oz. package, cut in half
  • 1 small pack of pearl onions, blanched and peeled
  • (optional, for a little spicy heat, a teaspoon of harissa or Calabrian chili paste, I used harrisa, but again not needed just optional)
  • fresh thyme
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley for garnish or chopped scallions
Instructions
  1. Roast the 4 heads of garlic the day before by cutting them in half, drizzling them with olive oil adding fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Wrap in heavy foil and roast 45 minutes to 1 hour at 400 degrees
  2. Season short ribs with salt and pepper all over.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pan like cast iron get it nice and hot then drizzle with olive oil and add in the ribs and start searing them.
  4. Let ribs get a deep golden brown all over, not moving them too often, letting the fat render out.
  5. Remove ribs and pour off all extra fat, leaving brown bits on the bottom.
  6. Add ribs back in and add your tomato ingredient and optional extra spice, let it cook a bit.
  7. Pour in the wine enough to cover almost half up the sides of the short ribs, let it bubble and cook down for a little while, it should reduce a little.
  8. Add in the broth, again enough to reach halfway up the sides of the short ribs.
  9. Add in one whole head of the roasted garlic, two halves.
  10. Throw in some fresh thyme.
  11. Cover with lid or heavy duty foil and place into a hot, preheated 300 degree oven, they will take around 2½ hours.
  12. Half way through add in the onions.
  13. In a skillet, saute your mushrooms on medium high heat, set aside.
  14. When short ribs are finished cooking, and have become tender and fall off the bone, remove them gently from the pan as well as the onions.
  15. Smash all the garlic that came out of the head with a fork into the gorgeous liquid, it will be chunky looking.
  16. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, pushing and scraping the bits to get all the juice extracted, discard all pulp from garlic, you are left with a smooth sauce.
  17. Place smooth sauce back into the pan, add the short ribs and onions back in, at this point you can skim more of the fat off if you like, I did.
  18. Add the sauteed mushrooms and some fresh thyme.
  19. Garnish with fresh parsley and chopped scallions.
  20. Serve over creamy polenta, egg noodles, pappadelle pasta or roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
  21. Delicious with sauteed greens on the side.
  22. Enjoy!

 

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Autumn Sformato, a Savory Italian Custard

autumn sformato I like to describe sformato as a little Italian souffle or Italian custard that can be made savory or sweet and often served in individual portions. They’re usually made in a ramekin then unmolded for a nice presentation and served with a sauce of some sort.

Here I made my favorite one, a savory version filled with a puree of butternut squash, creamy parmesan cheese and a few other ingredients that give it it’s dreamy texture.

I posted this some years ago but adjusted the recipe a little and wanted to share it with you again since it’s the perfect starter, side dish or light veggie entree for a nice autumn meal.

cooked squash

Squash is everywhere now and all you need to do is roast some up and scoop out the pulp!
squash puree and parmesan I love the combination of butternut squash and Parmesan Regggiano they compliment each other so well and are the base for this savory sformato.

autumn sformato When cooked and cooled down the sformato will unmold on to a plate very easy.

autumn sformato A parmesan cream sauce, some crispy sage, toasted pumpkin seeds and a swipe of balsamic glaze takes this over the top, and I mean over the top!

autumn sformatoautumn sformato

Each spoonful is beyond words, you have to make this!

Come see what I’m cooking up during the week, you can follow me on Instagram here.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Autumn Sformato
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash, roasted with pulp scraped out, should equal around 2 cups for 4 ramekins.
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and more for sauce and garnish
  • 2 tablespoons, mascarpone
  • ½ cup of half and half
  • salt and pepper too taste
  • SAUCE
  • 2 cups of half and half or heavy cream reduced down
  • a handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano to toss into the cream
  • balsamic glaze, pumpkin seeds, crispy sage and extra parm for garnish
Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 350. I recommend doing the squash the day before or early in the day.
  2. Cut your squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper then place cut side down on parchment and roast until a knife pierces all the way through easily. Times will vary depending on the size of squash.
  3. Scoop out the squash the puree it smooth in a food processor, your squash puree is now finished.
  4. Then into a bowl add the rest of the ingredients, 2 cups of squash puree, the egg, mascarpone, parm, half and half, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour mixture into a buttered ramekin.
  6. Place ramekins into a baking dish with water to come up halfway to the sides, place a sheet of tin foil on top.
  7. Bake at 375 for around 30 to 40 minutes or until custard is set and cooked without jiggling.
  8. Let it cool down and make the sauce.
  9. PARMESAN CREAM SAUCE
  10. Reduce half and half or heavy cream in a small saucepan, cook on low heat until it thickens then turn off heat and add the cheese.
  11. Unmold your sformato onto an individual plate, spoon some of the sauce on top.
  12. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds around and a swipe of balsamic glaze.
  13. Crisp up some sage leaves in brown butter for garnish.

 

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Fall Veggie and Ricotta Galette

fall veggie galette I love the rustic and free form look of a galette, it doesn’t have to be perfectly round or symmetrical, it’s stress free to make, and it always comes out looking pretty.

fall veggie galette There’s a colorful and flavorful mix of fall veggies inside this galette, it has a combo of cauliflower, butternut squash, onion and kale, this just may become one of your favorite fall dinners!

The roasted veggies get folded into a ricotta and parmesan mixture then baked together in perfect harmony.

fall veggie galette But can we talk about the crust now? It’s homemade, don’t use store bought please! If you have a food processor this will only take you five minutes to make, the crust is what makes this whole galette so amazing.

The hidden secret is polenta in the crust, you can also use a fine ground cornmeal as well and because of this polenta addition, it becomes a very sturdy, crunchy yet still very flaky crust, plus it holds and seals in the filling perfectly.

fall veggie galette

Feel free to play around with this recipe using different veggies of your choice, but don’t play around with the dough, trust me!

Follow me on Instagram, I’m always cooking up something different during the week.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Fall Veggie and Ricotta Galette
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • DOUGH (ADAPTED FROM EATING WELL)
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour, I use unbleached
  • ½ cup of polenta or fine yellow cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon, salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup of ice water
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • FILLING
  • 1 cup or so each of pre-roasted cauliflower and butternut squash, or other veggies of your choice
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • a handful of curly kale
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • a pinch of thyme
  • RICOTTA MIXTURE
  • 1 cup of ricotta, drained of moisture
  • 2 eggs beaten, one for the filling and another for brushing dough
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare your dough in a food processor by pulsing the flour, polenta salt and pepper together. Add the butter and process until combined. then while it's running add the ice water down the tube a little at a time until the dough starts to come together into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F
  3. For the filling, drizzle olive oil into a skillet add the onion and garlic and cook til it starts to soften an lightly brown, meanwhile toss in the chopped kale and saute til it starts to limp. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool down.
  4. In a bowl add ricotta, egg, grated cheese, thyme and salt and pepper to taste, mix til incorporated, then fold in the roasted veggies and the onion, garlic and kale saute.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge, let it sit for 10 minutes at room temp then on a sheet of parchment roll it out to about 14 inches in diameter, don't worry if it's not perfect, just take your time. Place it onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Spread the ricotta and veggie mixture onto the dough leaving a 2 inch border all around. Fold the edges up and pleat where needed to seal in good.
  7. Brush the crust with the remaining beaten egg, you won't use all of it.
  8. Sprinkle crust with grated cheese and ground pepper.
  9. Drizzle the top with olive oil.
  10. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and ricotta is set.

 

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Tomato Bread

tomato bread It may be the last days of summer but there are plenty of tomatoes still available and they still taste amazing. I see cherry tomatoes everywhere and they are just perfect for my tomato bread.

Even in the dead of winter you could still make this tomato bread because quite honestly somehow they taste pretty decent, either that or I’m just desperate.

tomato bread This bread is so fun to make, it’s SUPER easy and tastes off the charts and the bonus is the pretty presentation, so what’s not to like?

Take a skinny baguette, cut it in half lengthwise and make a trench right down the middle by pulling out some of the bread then you’ll be able to easily place your tomatoes in there securely.

I like using a skinny baguette but I was thinking you could use a wider one, why not? just make more trenches. You could even cut a large ciabatta loaf and dot the tomatoes all around in little trenches, use your imagination.

tomato bread Prepare a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle the bottom with olive oil, set your tomatoes stem side down then drizzle each piece of bread all over with olive oil including the tomatoes.

Take some shredded mozzarella and place it randomly all over the sliced baguette, less is more, then grind some black pepper all around.

Place them into a heated 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes or so, the bread will crisp, the mozzarella will be golden brown and the tomatoes will wrinkle and burst, and the best part is the juice will drip into the crusty bread, oh my!

tomato bread Garnish it with finely chopped basil of course because that’s a must, then I guarantee that after your first bite you will shout out the words OMG!

tomato bread

Here’s a “toast” literally, to the end of summer!

Want to see all the things I’m cooking up during the week? You can follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram here.

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Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana

spaghetti amatriciana This past weekend the Italian town of Amatrice would have held it’s 50th annual food festival celebrating it’s famous pasta dish, spaghetti all’ amatriciana. Food lovers from around the world are serving up this pasta dish to raise funds and bring awareness for all the victims of the devastating earthquake in Italy.

amatriciana sauce ingredientsThere are many different variations to this simple rustic dish but traditionally you will always find these four ingredients, tomatoes, ( preferably San Marzano) guanciale, pecorino cheese, peperoncino for some heat and a hearty pasta shape that can hold up to the sauce.

spaghetti amatriciana There are quite a few ways we can donate and help in the recovery, my friend Domenica Marchetti took the time and posted an extensive list on her website, Domenica Cooks. Here’s the link. As we all know, every little bit can help!

spaghetti amatriciana

Why not gather your friends and family together, make a donation and feed them this symbolic dish of spaghetti all’ amatriciana, it’s hearty, comforting and so delicious!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Spaghetti all' Amatriciana
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 oz. guanciale, ( pork jowl) cut into small strips. (if you can't find guanciale you can sub with pancetta)
  • 2 cups of crushed San marzano tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 peperoncino
  • grated Pecorino cheese
  • 8 oz. of bucatini type pasta, I used DeCecco #12
Instructions
  1. Get a large pot of salted water to boiling.
  2. In the meantime make your sauce.
  3. In a rimmed heavy bottom skillet add the guanciale and cook till it renders it's fat and becomes golden, be careful not to crisp it like bacon, it should be soft and golden.
  4. Remove excess fat then drizzle in some olive oil and add your crushed tomatoes and peperoncino.
  5. Put heat on medium high and let all flavors blend and cook down together.
  6. When pasta is done cooking take tongs and lift it directly from the pot of boiling water into the skillet with the sauce, you want a little water to cling.
  7. Toss the pasta several times in the sauce with the tongs.
  8. Turn off the heat and throw in a handful of pecorino, letting the cheese melt into the sauce, becoming nice and creamy.
  9. Plate it into your individual serving bowls and add more cheese on top.
  10. Enjoy!

 

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Savory Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake

zucchini ricotta cheesecake This savory zucchini cheesecake is perfect for this time of year when summer is winding down and zucchini is in abundance. This dish can be served for lunch, brunch or even a vegetarian option for dinner.

It’s made with three different kinds of cheese which you can vary according to your liking, plus it’s baked without a crust which gives it such a light and creamy result.

zucchini ricotta cheesecake

Along with the cheese you’ll taste a hint of garlic as well as the fresh taste of lemon throughout the filling, all of which compliments the zucchini so very well.

zucchini ricotta cheesecake ingredients I’ve made zucchini pies and tarts in the past usually dicing the vegetables, but for a little something different I sliced the zucchini lengthwise, I love how it looks when it’s finished baking!

zucchini ricotta cheesecake It’s very easy, just stick your slices in any which way you please.

zucchini ricotta cheesecake

You can’t go go wrong, it always comes out nice and pretty.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Savory Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 9 inch pan, either a tart pan, pie plate or even a springform pan, it doesn't matter as long as you brush it well with olive oil so nothing sticks
  • 3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise with a knife, not too thin or it will disapear in the ricotta, thick enough so it still can bend a bit, leaving the skin on so you can see the green sticking up from the ricotta, don't bury it.
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup, Pecorino Romano
  • ½ cup of grated mozzarella plus a little more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 garlic clove minced finely
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon each of chopped parsley and basil
  • olive oil for brushing and drizzling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Oil your pan well on the bottom and sides so nothing will stick.
  3. In a bowl add all ingredients and mix well until all is combined.
  4. Place mixture into your prepared pan.
  5. Take your zucchini slices and arrange them into the ricotta, you might have some leftover slices depending on how big your zucchini is.
  6. Place pan onto a rimmed baking sheet for easy in and out of the oven.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes then take it out and sprinkle more shredded mozzarella on top, it will give it a nice golden brown color.
  8. Place bake into the oven and bake for 15 to 30 more minutes, ovens and moisture in the ricotta will vary, just continue baking until golden on top and the ricotta is set, check it with the tip of a knife in the center to see if it comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool down to room temperature before cutting into it.
  10. Drizzle a little olive oil on top before serving.

 

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Garlic Grilled Tomatoes

garlic grilled tomatoes It’s late August when tomatoes are in abundance, and here’s yet another favorite way I like to serve them. It’s an old recipe adapted from BBQ King, Steven Raichlen’s, Garlic Grilled Tomatoes.

I think in his original recipe he stuck a sage leaf on top of each tomato half, which is wonderful as well but with that being said I must admit I prefer this other version better which uses fresh thyme and a little bit of parmesan. I just love the flavor combination and it’s a little more versatile to sit beside most anything you might be grilling, sage to me is a more heavier flavored herb.

This is the perfect side dish for any occasion, it truly is. The tomatoes become nice and juicy, you can taste the smokiness of the grill, they become slightly caramelized and the garlic and thyme flavors take it over the top!

garlic grilled tomatoes They’re so simple to make and when you stick them on the grill you can make a whole bunch at the same time. Keep these in your memory bank for your next party, possibly Labor Day weekend, you can make a huge platter full in no time.

garlic grilled tomatoes I suggest not eating them hot off the grill, they taste much better at room temperature when all the flavors have settled in.

garlic grilled tomatoes

I promise you’ll love them, especially now when tomatoes actually taste so fresh and ripe.

(Come follow me on Instagram where you can see what I cook up daily)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Garlic Grilled Tomatoes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • garlic, crushed
  • thyme
  • olive oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • No exact amounts because it depends on how many tomatoes you use, just figure about 1 teaspoon of the garlic, herb and cheese mixture on top.
Instructions
  1. Cut your tomatoes in half crosswise, season with salt and pepper and brush the cut side with olive oil.
  2. In a small frying pan add crushed garlic, olive oil and fresh thyme, cook til golden, take off the heat and add in grated parmesan cheese.
  3. Place your tomato halves cut side down on and oiled grill until you get grill marks,it won't take long. Turn them over gently with tongs or a small spatula then spoon the garlic cheese mixture on top and continue cooking.
  4. Place on a platter, drizzle with olive oil and eat at room temperature.

 

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It’s My 9th Birthday Today!

9th birthday

Nine years just flew by and I’m still having fun, thanks so much for all your support!

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Summer Farro Salad

summer farro salad Farro is a quick cooking grain that has a nutty and slightly chewy texture, it holds up really well in salads and pairs perfectly with grilled meats, poultry and fish. It’s hearty enough to eat alone and the leftovers are great for lunch the next day, so it’s a win win as far as I’m concerned!

summer farro salad I’ve made a springtime farro salad and posted it on my blog in the past and a few other salads using farro, but this is my version of a summertime farro salad. I’ve included in the ingredients the best that summer has to offer right now while the flavors are really at their peak, sweet corn, juicy tomatoes, aromatic basil and fresh zucchini squash.

I also added in some pearl sized mozzarella balls because I just love how they visually look in this salad, but if you can’t find them you can certainly chunk up a larger ball, the taste will still be the same.

summer farro salad This salad is so delicious you’ll want to make it for your next cookout, bring it to a picnic or just make it for your own mid week lunches.

summer farro salad On a hot summer day I can eat this alone for dinner and be totally satisfied!

summer farro salad

Go get some farro and make this before summer ends!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Summer Farro Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of uncooked farro
  • 1 8oz. container of fresh mozzarella pearl size, or chunked up from a larger ball, drained and patted dry
  • 1 small yellow squash and 1 small zucchini made into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 large ear of corn, cooked and kernels shucked
  • 1 container of rainbow colored cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • kalamata olives, a good handful
  • fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • DRESSING:
  • Whisk together ½ cup extra virgin olive oil and the juice of one lemon, salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the farro and three cups of water with a pinch of salt into a sauce pan, bring it to a boil then cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. water should be absorbed and farro tender but still chewy.
  2. Drain farro, then spread it out onto a rimmed baking sheet so it can cool down without continuing to cook.
  3. In a bowl add the sliced tomatoes, one grated garlic clove, some chopped basil and enough olive oil to coat. Let it sit for a little bit so juices can start flowing.
  4. Grab a bigger bowl and add all the ingredients, along with the tomatoes and gently toss together. Spoon some of the lemon and olive oil dressing all over and toss carefully, to taste.
  5. Spread salad mixture onto a nice platter adding as much chopped basil as you like, plus salt and pepper to taste.

 

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Plum Almond Cake

plum almond cake Every summer around this time of year I look forward to those tiny dark Italian plums that start to appear at the farm stands and markets, as soon as I see them I scoop them up to make a cake or a torte. Last year I made the Purple Plum Torte from the N.Y. Times Cookbook.

plum almond cake

This year I couldn’t wait to make the Plum Almond Cake from Williams Sonoma’s Rustic Italian by Domenica Marchetti, and I’m so glad I did, its my new favorite!

plum almond cake I could go on and on about how fabulous this recipe is but you’re just going to have to make it for yourself. I loved the texture of the crumb, there’s almond meal added in and it makes the texture and taste so amazing.

plum almond cake

There’s also almond flavoring throughout, but what seals the deal for me is the crunchy almond topping, so much flavor in each bite!

plum almond cake

The plums get all jammy as they bake and a pretty ruby red color appears, such a wonderful dessert, I hope you make it!

If you can’t find the small Italian plums I’m sure any variety would be just as good, in fact I think any stone fruit would work just fine.

Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.

Here’s a link to the original recipe, below is my adapted version.

4.8 from 5 reviews
Plum Almond Cake
 
Adapted from Williams -Sonoma's Rustic Italian by Domenica Marchetti
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • 1 cup, unbleached flour
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons, baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon, salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup, half and half
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon, pure almond extract
  • 9 Italian plums, halved and pitted
  • ¼ cup of sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8 inch springform pan then dust with flour and tap out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl combine the oil, egg, half and half, zest and juice, sugar and almond extract, blend together.
  4. Add the wet to the dry whisking until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, arrange plums on top of batter, cut side up.
  6. Mix together the 2 Tablespoons of sugar, almonds and butter, then dot the topping all over the cake.
  7. Bake for around 45 minutes, I put my pan on a rimmed baking sheet for easy in and out of the oven.
  8. I ended up baking mine a little more because the color wasn't deep enough and ovens do vary, just make sure the center comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you remove the ring and cut into it.

 

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Stuffed Peppers Italian Style with Sausage and Mozzarella

melrose peppers Normally when you see a recipe for stuffed peppers you’ll see the bell shaped variety being used but I look forward to this time of year because a very special pepper starts to show up in Italian markets around Chicagoland, they’re called Melrose Peppers. I’ve done posts on them in the past like this one.

They came to be called Melrose peppers because as the story goes, many years ago a family from Calabria, Italy eventually settled into a suburb of Chicago called Melrose Pk. They brought with them the seeds of this very special, delicious thinned skinned pepper.They quickly became popular among gardeners in the Italian community and then soon after that they started appearing in all the fruit and vegetable stands, and the rest is history.

stuffing peppers Even though I’m featuring and stuffing my favorite Melrose peppers for this recipe, you can honestly use any type of elongated pepper such as a cubanelle or the sweet and long red pepper variety.

All you’re going to do is cut off the top then take a knife and make a slit down one side but not all the way, you still want the pepper to remain in tact, then just scoop out the seeds.

Then buy the best Italian sausage available, mine always has fennel and red pepper flakes for a little heat. If you can buy it in bulk go ahead, if not just remove it from the casing. Place it into a bowl then add a good amount of shredded mozzarella and mix well, that’s your stuffing!

stuffed peppers Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then drizzle all over with olive oil and place your peppers onto it after you stuff them with the mixture.

stuffed peppers Then it’s a quick drizzle all over the top, add salt and pepper and place them into a 400 degree oven for about half an hour, depending on what type of pepper you’re using.

stuffed peppers You’re aiming for soft and tender and of course the sausage being fully cooked as well as seeing the cheese has melt.

stuffed peppersstuffed peppers When you’re ready to serve spoon some warm marinara over the top and onto the serving plate.

stuffed peppers The flavor combination is divine, this is stuffed peppers at it’s finest!

stuffed peppers

Add some crusty bread with a nice green salad and dinner is served!

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Hasselback Zucchini

hasselback zucchini Hasselback zucchini, who would have thought? It’s a brilliant idea and such a fun and delicious way to cook up your summer squash. It’s sliced in the hasselback fashion just like we’ve seen it done to potatoes, only minus the carbs. I recently featured this on my Instagram account but for those who haven’t seen it there, I thought I’d share it here on my blog.

hasselback zucchini Slice your zucchini accordion style being very careful not to cut all the way through, you don’t want it to break apart, you just want to be able to fan out nicely. There’s a very good technique using chopsticks on each side of the zucchini while you’re slicing it which will prevent that from happening, check out YouTube for a visual, it’s very easy and works well.

hasselback zucchini Once it’s cut, gently fan out the slices and stuff some cheese in there, I used slices of asiago cheese but just remember the slices have to be thin, there’s not much room to stick thick pieces into the slots, also try to use a semi-hard cheese, nothing too soft.

hasselback zucchini After you stuff each slice, place the zucchini onto a parchment lined baking sheet then drizzle them with olive oil, some salt and pepper and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

hasselback zucchini Place your hasselback zucchini into a hot 400 degree oven and roast until the cheese melts and the zucchini is tender but not mushy.

hasselback zucchini You could stop right at this point and enjoy it as is, and believe me it’s very good, but……

hasselback zucchini You might want to bathe them in some warm marinara sauce like I did, because honestly the sauce just enhances each and every bite even more.

It’s outrageous!

Happy Summer

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Tomato and Corn Pie, Italian Style

tomato and corn pie This is one of my favorite meals to make during the peek of summer because finally tomatoes actually taste like they’re suppose to taste, corn on the cob is also available and in abundance and so nice and sweet. This is what summer eating is all about to me.

tomatoes and corn Take these two essential ingredients, combine them into a pie that has caramelized onions, garden fresh basil, shredded asiago, mozzarella and romano cheese and the end result is a summer flavor explosion!

tomato and corn pie I love having big planks of corn throughout the pie, it provides a nice texture and taste with every bite.

tomato and corn pie No need for a pastry crust on top just let the tomatoes shine in all their brilliant glory, any variety will do.

tomato and corn pie

Make this as many times as you can this summer, serve it with a nice green salad. I promise you will be dreaming about this in the dead of winter!

Want to see what I’m cooking up during the week? You can follow me here on Instagram.

4.8 from 4 reviews
Tomato and Corn Pie, Italian Style
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 crust pastry dough, I used a good store bought one
  • 2 large onions sliced and then slowly caramelized until deep golden
  • tomatoes slices, any variety, enough to cover the top completely
  • 3 ears of fresh corn on the cob, cooked and cut into planks
  • shredded asiago, mozzarella enough to fully cover the bottom of the crust area
  • romano cheese
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Roll out your dough and place it into a pie pan
  2. Brush the crust with olive oil
  3. Sprinkle cracked black pepper all over.
  4. Prick the crust all over with a fork.
  5. Layer the bottom with the shredded mozzarella and the asiago, fully covering the bottom, then give it a good sprinkling of grated romano cheese.
  6. On top of the cheese scatter the caramelized onions all around and the fresh basil
  7. Place the fresh corn planks all around filling the top.
  8. Give a quick olive oil drizzle and more romano cheese on top of the corn planks.
  9. Arrange sliced tomatoes on top, sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried oregano.
  10. Do a final quick drizzle of olive oil all over.
  11. Bake in a pre-heated, 375 degree oven until the crust is crispy and a deep golden brown.
  12. Let it cool down before cutting into it.
  13. Garnish with more fresh basil.

 

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Party and Picnic Timpano

timpano With the Fourth of July right around the corner and the many other celebrations that will be going on this summer, like graduations, family reunions, picnics, birthdays and loads of other get- togethers, I thought I would bring back the idea of making a timpano. What’s a timpano you might ask?

A timpano is a huge round drum or dome of delicious crust that is filled with pasta, meatballs, salami, cheeses and sauce, it is self contained, huge and feeds a crowd, It’s party food to the max and has a ton of WOW factor!

timpano Timpano was made famous by the movie Big Night, staring Stanley Tucci. The timpano, (which is the real star of the movie),was actually his moms recipe. I’ve been making it for special occasions and parties since the first time I saw the movie and bought his cookbook many years ago.

I love this scene in the movie, the first time we saw it, both my kids said “mom you got to make that! ” And I’ve been doing it ever since.

timpano pan The vessel you cook it in is VERY important so as to get the right shape, it looks like a big basin made out of old enamelware. I took a permanent magic marker and wrote my name on the back, this will be a family heirloom that will be past down to my kids with lots of happy memories attached.  This is the pan I use.

homemade marinara Since I’ve made it so many times I sort of simplified the sauce, Stanley’s family makes a meaty ragu, I just make my homemade marinara, it’s much lighter and not as heavy, besides there’s so much going on inside with all the other ingredients. The mini meatballs I just make ahead of time and bake them.

timpano ingredients As far as all the ingredients go everything can be prepped ahead of time which is a great time saver for a big party going on. Like I said I make my marinara, cook up my mini meatballs, pre -cook the pasta (very al’dente), cook my eggs and chop up my cheese and salami. Everything gets put into a ziplock and ready for assembly.

timpano ingredients Even the dough I make the night before so it’s all prepped and ready, just make sure it’s at room temperature before you start rolling it out.

You see it’s really not that daunting of a recipe to make, don’t let it scare you, it’s fairly simple, a little time consuming with the prep, but then that’s it! The day you put it together will be a breeze and no clean up.

rolling timpano dough For all the years I have been making timpano I can honestly say I have NEVER had any problems with the dough, it always comes out perfect!

rolled out timpano dough Just take your time rolling it so that it drapes way over the pan, you’re going to be filling it with some heavy stuff and you’ll need to be able to close it up with out any of the ingredients showing.

 Fill it to the brim!

timpano Sauce it one last time then wrap it up like a present and bake it.

baked timpano The smells are unbelievable!

cooked timpano But I have to stress a very important step, LET IT REST, a good 45 minutes to an hour, think turkey rest, otherwise you will cut into it and it will be a big saucy mess, you won’t be able to slice it into nice wedges. You know how lasagna is when you try and cut it piping hot? It’s a hot mess, you don’t want that.

I have taken this whole, baked piping hot timpano, wrapped it up in heavy towels and brought it to picnics and family reunions where it would be sitting for 2 hours and it was still hot when I cut into it, just remember if you transport it you need something to cut it on and a good serrated knife. Did I mention it feed a ton?

cut open timpano This is fun party food, people will be talking about it and craving it for your next gathering. It’s just some basic Italian essentials all wrapped up in a crusty drum where all the flavors meld together in perfect harmony with amazing results!

timpano wedge Try to stash a piece for your self the next day, leftovers are awesome.

slice of timpano

Stanley Tucci’s original timpano recipe is here but remember I replace his rich ragu with my lighter homemade marinara.

Otherwise follow his directions to the tee I should show you my own personal copy of this recipe, it’s filled with yellow highlighted marks all over.

Study the recipe well, once a good friend of mine made this for a very special occasion, she forgot one important step, covering it with foil, the top burned, she cried…

Go ahead now, make a timpano for your next party or picnic, no need to be intimidated.

Come see what I’m cooking up during the week on Instagram, you can follow me here.

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Summer Corn with Basil Butter

basil buttered corn I’m giving you a recipe today that will rock your world, two words … basil butter. You can slather it on just about anything, grilled veggies, fish, chicken, steak, burgers, eggs, pasta, polenta and mashed potatoes just to name a few, and it’s quick and easy to make!

basil butter In addition to the fresh basil there’s some garlic and lemon zest added into the butter, believe me you’ll want to make extra so you can stash it away in your freezer, it’s that good.

basil plant I love this time of year because I can walk out my back door and grab as much basil as I want, have I ever told you that basil is my favorite herb of all?

basil butter Besides making fresh basil pesto this is another great way to capture the flavors of summer. This is an old Fine Living recipe that never fails. You can shape it into a log by using plastic wrap tightening the ends as if it were a sausage, then refrigerate until firm so you can cut off coins making it easy to spread.

basil buttered corn

I love it smeared all over fresh corn on the cob, the combination basil, lemon zest and garlic is a match made in heaven!

If you like to see more of what I’m cooking up during the week you can follow me on Instagram here.

Basil Butter
 
Adapted from Fine Living
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet basil
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a bowl combine the butter, basil, garlic, lemon zest,salt and pepper.
  2. Mash with a spoon until very well combined, I like to keep turning it with a rubber spatula.
  3. Use immediately or wrap into a log and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Cut into coins to use on veggies, fish, chicken, burgers, steaks, pasta, polenta, potatoes, eggs or anything else you can think of.
  5. The butter keeps well in the fridge for 2 weeks or up to a month in the freezer.

 

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Pear Salad with Arugula, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola

pear salad To me summer is all about the salads, and do I have a good one to share with you today! It’s a combination of salty prosciutto, peppery arugula, creamy gorgonzola and sliced sweet pears, need I say more?

Abate pears The other day I discovered a new variety of pears called Abate ,( pronounced ah-BAH-tay) they have a unique shape, more oblong, taller and slimmer than the typical pears we’re use to. They originated in Italy and are said to be among the best in the world. I need to go back and get more before they disappear because I absolutely loved them.

They were perfect for this salad, not only were they sweet and juicy but they kept a nice firm shape when sliced. Of course any variety of pear will do for this salad, just make sure it’s not too overly ripe.

If you happen to come across some Abate pears, please give them a try!

pear salad I love salads that I can make or bring to a party, ones that I can arrange on a large platter with a pretty presentation, and this is one of them.

pear salad It looks pretty and it tastes even better, the flavor combination is out of this world good!

There’s no real recipe, just spread some arugula all over a platter, slice up some pears that have been cut in half lengthwise, cored and sliced. Arrange the pears all around, tuck in slices of prosciutto then crumble gorgonzola all over the top along with some toasted walnuts, that’s it!

Dress it right before serving, I used white balsamic and olive oil, a fifty fifty mix, just whisk it up add some salt and pepper and drizzle over the top, so delicious!

pear saladpear and prosciutto rolls

I call the above picture an Italian summer roll, something I saw Rachael Ray do but she didn’t add the gorgonzola. So using all the same flavors that were in the salad I made a roll out of it, here’s how:

Lay out a slice of proscuitto, add a small handful of arugula, one pear slice and a small chunk of gorgonzola then just roll it up, everything will stay together perfectly and it’s so easy to pick up and eat!

Either one of these would be great for Father’s Day this weekend, graduations or any of your upcoming summertime parties.

Want to see what else I’m cooking up during the week? You can follow me here on Instagram.

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Grilled Corn and Zucchini Summer Risotto

grilled corn and zucchini risotto This recipe is summer on a plate, it combines the classic creamy risotto with all the summertime flavors of garden fresh grilled corn and zucchini stirred right into it, and of course some fresh basil to enhance it all.

grilled corn and zucchiniIt’s really very simple to make especially when grilling veggies is at it’s peak this time of year, just set aside a couple of lightly grilled ears of corn as well as zucchini next time your doing some grilling. You’ll then be slicing the corn right off the cobs leaving some of those nice little planks as well as kernels, I just love those corn planks!
making risotto Have all your other ingredients prepped and ready to go, it’s time to start stirring!

grilled corn and zucchini risotto This is what I call the perfect one pot meal, classically creamy with the summertime freshness of the grilled corn and zucchini, and lets not forget the fresh basil!

grilled corn and zucchini risotto Are you ready to dig in?

Want to see what I’m cooking up during the week? You can follow me on Instagram here.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Grilled Corn and Zucchini Summer Risotto
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 ears of corn, grilled and then shucked leaving planks as well as kernels
  • 3 small zucchini, cut in half, grilled then diced
  • fresh basil
  • 1¼ cup arborio rice
  • 1 quart of a good quality boxed broth, low sodium, chicken or vegetable
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup of shredded parmesan
  • ¾ cup, white wine
  • 2 knobs of unsalted butter
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Simmer your broth on the stove in a separate pan.
  2. Take an additional pan with a heavy bottom,drizzle the bottom with olive oil then add in 1 knob of butter, cook until melted.
  3. Add in the onion and saute on medium until soft.
  4. Add in the rice, stirring until well coated, cooking for a minute or two.
  5. De-glaze with the wine, stirring until it has cooked in and evaporated.
  6. Start adding in the warmed broth, one cup at a time, continue to stir until absorbed.
  7. Repeat adding the broth and stirring until it gets absorbed all the time on medium heat.
  8. Rice should start to look creamy and when you taste it there should be a slightly al dente feel, you may have a little broth leftover.
  9. When finished add the other knob of butter, stir and combine.
  10. Add the cheese, stir and combine.
  11. Fold in your corn and zucchini, adding as much as you want leaving the planks to decorate the top, again you might have some of the veggies leftover, but that's a good thing!
  12. Take a handful of basil and cut it chiffonade style, then sprinkle it all over.
  13. Enjoy!

 

 

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Coffee Panna Cotta

coffee panna cotta Panna Cotta is a delicious Italian dessert, it’s served chilled and has a custard like consistency,  it’s ultra creamy and slightly sweet and you can infuse many different flavors into it. One of my favorite versions is coffee infused panna cotta, it’s the perfect finish to a lovely summertime meal.

coffee panna cotta The key to making the perfect coffee panna cotta with the utmost of flavor is to brew and use espresso, I repeat espresso, don’t bother trying to make it with regular coffee it won’t have any flavor at all, trust me.

coffee panna cotta I like to garnish mine with chocolate espresso beans, the more coffee flavor the better for me, but you could even use shaved chocolate, some chopped hazelnuts, a dollop of whipped cream, whatever you like.

coffee panna cotta Panna cotta is great for entertaining because you can make it the day before and have it chilling in your fridge and ready to serve to your guests when it’s dessert time.

Did I mention how easy it is to make? You only need a few simple ingredients which in turn will give you a very WOW presentation.

coffee panna cotta This recipe for panna cotta is one you don’t have to un-mold, so find your prettiest glasses to serve it in and they don’t have to be big ones either. Add a few cookies on the side and you’ll have the perfect summertime dessert!

You can follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week, here.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Coffee Panna Cotta
 
Recipe adapted from Jacques Pepin, Heart and Soul in the Kitchen
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 envelop of plain gelatin, like Knox
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup hot espresso
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ cups of half-and-half
Instructions
  1. In a very small bowl bloom the gelatin with the water. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve.
  2. Mix the sugar into the warm espresso in a medium bowl until dissolved. Add the gelatin mixture stirring well so it's not sticking to the bottom using a rubber spatula.
  3. Stir in all the half-and-half.
  4. Pour into four small glasses then refrigerate.
  5. Panna cotta should be set in around 2 hours or so.
  6. Garnish with chocolate espresso beans or a topping of your choice, right before you're ready to serve.

 

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Grilled Potato Salad

grilled potato salad Today I’m sharing this recipe for grilled potato salad because Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching and you just can’t have a BBQ without some kind of potato salad!

This is a little twist on traditional potato salad because no mayo is required and the potatoes are grilled which lends a nice, slightly smoky flavor to the salad.

grilled potatoes You can pretty much use any variety of potato but it’s important to know that you have to cook the potatoes first, you can’t just place raw potato slices directly onto the grill, it won’t turn out right.

You can boil, bake or microwave the potatoes, I prefer microwaving them. I had three big potatoes, mine were russet and they took only four to five minutes each, you’re looking for an al’ dente feel where you’re able to make a nice clean slice, they’ll finish cooking the rest of the way on the grill.

grilled potato salad

After the potatoes are grilled place them onto a platter lined with arugula then add sliced radishes, grilled corn, slivers of red onion, cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh basil.

The dressing is simple, just whisk two parts lemon juice to two parts olive oil, one minced garlic clove, a squeeze of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

grilled potato salad

Drizzle the dressing all around keeping it nice and light, don’t worry about keeping it chilled because it taste great at room temperature, nice and easy.

Happy Memorial Day!

Here’s a couple other grilled potato recipes you might want try, grilled red potatoes and grilled potato and asparagus napoleon.

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Grilled Pizza with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Whipped Ricotta

pizza on the grill If you haven’t tried making grilled pizza yet I can honestly say you’re really missing out. Many people are intimidated by it, I was too when I first started making it a couple of years ago. I made many mistakes, especially when grilling the dough you have to get it just right in my opinion because it can make or break the whole pizza.

When grilled correctly the crust becomes crunchy with just the right amount of chew and the perfect platform for your toppings.

slow roasted heirloom tomatoes Speaking of toppings, for grilled pizza I wouldn’t use meat unless it’s been pre-cooked and sliced thin.

For me using veggies of any kind is the way to go, but again they should cooked and  prepped first. Pizza made on the grill goes really fast, you have no time to cook a meat on top, after you crisp up the crust you’re basically waiting for the cheese to melt. Usually  I’ll roast up some zucchini coins or thin slices of eggplant, mushrooms, peppers beforehand so I’m all ready when it comes to topping the pizza, you have to have all your toppings prepped and ready.

This time I decided I was going to use these beautiful heirloom tomatoes that I found which I had slow roasted a couple of days before. They’re basted with garlic and olive oil and slow roasted with fresh thyme or basil for four hours, I love having them tucked away in my fridge to use for appetizers or to top off a special dish or in this case grilled pizza, the flavor is out of this world.

This has now become my new favorite grilled pizza of all times!

ingredients for grilled pizza My ingredients were: One ball of pizza dough, ( I get mine from a good Italian store, but you can make your own of course), fontina cheese, fresh mozzarella, whipped ricotta, basil and the slow roasted tomatoes.

raw pizza dough I don’t like to grill one big pizza, I tried it many times but the crust never turns out the way it should. I like to cut my dough ball in half and make two pizzas. The dough needs to be at room temperature for best results otherwise it keeps springing back when your trying to spread it out and form it nice and even.

Brush both sides with olive oil, place them on a baking sheet and take them out to the grill.

making grilled pizza Heat your grill up nice and hot, burn up any bits, your grill grates should be impeccably clean, then take a paper towel soaked in oil and wipe it all over your grates.

I have a gas grill with three burners, all are lit but kept at medium heat. Now place your dough onto the grill, and don’t touch it!

making grilled pizza You’re going to see it start to bubble, that’s a good thing, let it bubble all around, now take your tongs, lift it and see how it’s doing, you can move it, turn it, but don’t flip it over!

You want to get it nice and crispy, only on one side for now.

making grilled pizza When it looks like this take it off and put it on your baking sheet cooked side up,it’s time to put the toppings on. Remember, the underside is still not cooked.

grilled pizza dough You can tell the dough is cooked in the photo above,  it’s not pale, it doesn’t look gummy or raw, it’s sort of crunchy and slightly hollow if you tap on it, and it’s sturdy enough to  stand up to your ingredients.

grilled pizza toppings I put the grated fontina down first, then cut and scattered my fresh mozzarella around, added the slow roasted tomatoes and fresh basil. The whipped ricotta goes on after the pizza is finished.

grilled pizza Go back out to your grill now and place the uncooked side down onto the grates, close the lid and let the cheese melt, keep checking so the crust doesn’t burn lifting it with your tongs, again you want it nice and crispy like the top with a firm feeling to it, not limp.

grilled pizza It only takes a few minutes so don’t walk away!

grilled pizza The bottom is now cooked and crispy, the cheese has melted, the tomatoes with the garlic oil have permeated the whole pizza and the basil just tops it all off.

But hold on we’re not done!

grilled pizza Time for the whipped ricotta, mix it up and place it in a zip bag, cut off the tip and squeeze fluffy dollops onto your pizza.

grilled pizza Just one bite and you’ll be smitten! There are no words…

grilled pizza

Here’s the link to make the slow roasted tomatoes and whipped ricotta, now get grilling!

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Fresh Strawberry Pie

fresh strawberry pie

It’s strawberry season, and one of my favorite ways to showcase them is in this fresh strawberry pie, it’s the perfect summer dessert!

fresh strawberry pie recipe card I have to admit I’ve been making this for years, it goes way back to the seventies, yes, the seventies’ when I was a young mother and wife. I would get so excited when I received my new batch of recipe cards from Betty Crocker, I would quickly file and categorize them into my lime green recipe box. Today that recipe card library is considered “vintage” or retro and I’ve even seen them show up on ebay every now and then.

When I look at those cards now I have to laugh at what use to be considered popular dishes back then, lots of saucy things, aspics, jello molds filled with everything under the sun even meat!

Times sure have changed but this recipe has always been a favorite, every time we had a summer cookout I would proudly serve this up for dessert and it was a hit each time, to this day I still make it at least a couple of times during the summer and you know what? It’s still a hit!

making fresh strawberry pie

The ingredients are classic and simple and still relevant for today,  fresh berries, a baked pie crust and a glaze made with the berries along with some sugar to sweeten and cornstarch to thicken it, that’s it!

fresh strawberry piefresh strawberry pie Serve it up nice and cold with fresh whipped cream floating on top, hello summertime!

fresh strawberry pie

You’ll be dreaming about this when there’s four feet on snow on the ground, I promise.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Fresh Strawberry Pie
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 9" baked pie shell, either homemade or store-bought, cooled
  • 7- 8 cups of fresh strawberries, stems cut off
  • FOR GLAZE
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • possible extra water
  • 2 drops of natural red food coloring, optional
  • whipped cream for serving
Instructions
  1. Blind bake your pie shell. prick it and place some parchment and pie weights on top so pastry doesn't shrink down on you, then set it aside to cool.
  2. Make your glaze by placing a heaping cup of strawberries into a small food processor or blender, process until it turns into a puree, then pour it into a measuring cup, it should measure 1¼ cups total, if not add some water.
  3. In a small sauce pan on medium heat add the sugar, cornstarch and berry puree and optional food coloring, stir until it thickens then let it bubble for 2 more minutes continuing to stir then take pan off the heat and let it cool down for 15 minutes.
  4. ASSEMBLY;
  5. Spread half of the glaze onto the bottom and sides of the cooked pie shell, then place fresh berries all around, cut side down filling the bottom, then take the rest and fill in the gaps on top of the berry base, piling them high, always cut side down for presentation.
  6. Spoon the remaining glaze all around and on top of the berries, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the glaze can set and it will be easier to cut.
  7. Be gentle when cutting it, then serve with fresh whipped cream.

 

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Pastina Timbale with Zucchini

pastina timbale with zucchini Before I get to this very fun and delicious recipe I would like to say I enjoyed all the comments on the Lagostina Round Grill Pan giveaway, lots of inspiration from everyone regarding their favorite things to grill.  So without further ado, the winner of the beautiful grill pan is…. LUCIA!!! Congratulations Lucia, I will be contacting you by email to get your address so the company can send the pan directly out to you.

So let’s get on with the recipe. This dish is great for entertaining and is such a fun way to serve little tiny pasta, or pastina as we call it in my family.

Even though you can make this in individual ramekins I prefer the more dramatic presentation using one large bowl, and it’s easier!

pastina timbale with zucchini This is my version of Michael Chiarello’s recipe for pastina timbale, he used a pound of diced Italian sausage folded into the pasta and sauce, I like using zucchini  instead of meat, it’s lighter and I think it pairs well with the delicate pastina. I like to saute it first, get it a nice deep golden brown then fold it into the mixture of pasta, cheese and a nice marinara flavored with garlic and basil, I always opt for homemade but if you can get a good store bought one go ahead, make your life easier!

This is perfect for a summer buffet because you don’t have to worry about it sitting out.

pastina timbale with zucchini Line a bowl with crispy and flavorful breadcrumbs then press the pasta mixture into your mold.

pastina timbale with zucchini Let it sit for fifteen minutes and then it’s time to un-mold.

pastina timbale with zucchini TA-DA! Isn’t she pretty?

pastina timbale with zucchini

And it tastes crazy good!

Proud Italian Cook is also on Instagram follow me to see what I’m cooking up during the week.

 

Pastina Timbale with Zucchini
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb of tiny pasta, I like the round shape
  • 4 medium zucchini, all seeds removed and then diced small
  • olive oil for sauteeing zucchini, crisping the breadcrumbs and for brushing
  • 1 cup of good bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced small or grated
  • ½ cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup of grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • a sprinkle or 2 of pepperoncino, (optional)
  • 3 full cups of prepared marinara sauce, garlic and basil flavored, homemade or an exceptional store bought
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil and parsley leaves for decorating
Instructions
  1. In a skillet drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil,add the garlic over medium heat till golden then pour in the breadcrumbs stirring until lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. remove from heat, let it cool then add ¼ cup each of parsley and the grated cheese, then drizzle 2 more tablespoons of oil, toss and mix.
  2. Brush a large round bowl with olive oil, mine was 8 inches.
  3. Press breadcrumb mixture along the sides and bottom of the bowl evenly. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and on high heat cook your diced zucchini until nice and golden, keep stirring and watching it only takes a few minutes, set aside.
  5. Boil your pasta according to package directions, don't overcook it,then drain.
  6. Heat your sauce at the same time.
  7. Get a different bowl then add the drained pasta, the sauce, the tablespoon of butter, the ½ cup of grated cheese and the additional ¼ cup of parsley, toss together then fold in the sauteed zucchini.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  9. Spoon mixture into breadcrumb lined bowl, evenly distribute it along the sides and bottom, pressing down lightly.
  10. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
  11. Un-mold onto a platter then decorate with basil and parsley leaves.
  12. Enjoy!

 

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Grilled Seafood Salad and a Giveaway

summer seafood salad This grilled seafood salad is one of my all time favorites for light casual summer eating, it’s a combination of shrimp, scallops and calamari which lay on top of mixed greens and crunchy vegetables, it’s all tossed in a lemon vinaigrette that’s spiked with a little limoncello, which gives the dressing that extra zing!

All the seafood can be grilled ahead of time and then the salad can be composed at the last minute so it’s perfect for entertaining. Add some crusty bread and a bottle of wine and I promise you’ll be in for a scrumptious treat!

Lagostina round grill panRecently the folks who work for Italian cookware brand, Lagostina contacted me again and this time they asked if I would like to try out their round grill pan and guess what?they generously offered to give one away to one of my lucky readers!

This pan is gorgeous, you can feel and see the quality as soon as you pull it out of the box, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

PRODUCT DETAILS

Reflecting the Italian passion for cooking, this elegant stainless-steel pan has a heat-retaining aluminum core, so your favorite foods caramelize beautifully as they grill to juicy perfection. High ridges sear foods with attractive grill marks while elevating them above fatty drippings.

·         11″ diam.

·         Tri-ply construction ensures rapid, even heating and retains heat flawlessly.

·         Combines a polished 18/10 stainless-steel exterior with an aluminum core and nonreactive stainless-steel interior.

·         Ergonomic cast-stainless steel handles provide a steady grip.

·         Inclined edges make it easy to pour off drippings.

·         Ideal for use on any cooktop, including induction.

·         Made in Italy.

Where to buy:

The Lagostina Round Grill Pan is available at Williams – Sonoma. For more information please visit the Lagostina website.

stove topped grilled seafood Quite honestly I don’t like grilling delicate seafood directly on top of the grates on my out door grill unless it’s on a plank or something to hold them secure, because with out fail something always falls between the grates and I have to try and pick it out before it burns, so I’ve always used an indoor grill pan for this grilled seafood salad.

I already own a heavy cast iron grill pan with a popular name that I thought I would use much more than I do, but it’s a pain to clean. I end up boiling water in it to loosen up the food that gets stuck between the grates then I have to take my time using a plastic scraper to try and remove it all, like I said it’s a pain!

stove topped grilled seafood Total opposite with the Lagostina grill pan, it was a pleasure to cook with, beautiful even cooking throughout, a nice wide surface, but my favorite feature was the clean up. I put it in my sink with a little hot sudsy water for just a few minutes and then wiped it clean, it makes me want to use it over and over again, and after it’s washed it retains it’s beautiful shine.

You can use it to sear steaks and chops and then finish it off right in the oven, you can pretty much use it for anything you want to grill.

summer grilled seafood salad Fresh, easy and pretty enough for a summer party, picnic or any get together of friends or family!

summer grilled seafood salad Arrange everything on a big platter with crusty bread all around and some of the grilled lemons and you’ll be sure to impress your guests.

Lagostina round grill pan

CONTEST RULES

The giveaway starts today Monday, April 25 2016 and will end on Saturday, (midnight central standard time) April 30, 2016

Leave one comment, telling me what your favorite thing is to grill, but you must have a valid email address so I can reach you, no anonymous comments will be accepted.

Facebook, Instagram and any subscriber of mine who would like to enter this giveaway must leave a comment here on my website.

Winner will be picked randomly and announced on Monday, May 2, 2016 and contacted by the email used in their submission.

The winner of this giveaway will receive one Lagostina Round Grill Pan.

You must be at least 18 years or older and a US resident.

Good Luck everyone! CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

Proud Italian Cook is on Instagram, follow me there to so see what else I’m cooking up daily.

4.9 from 71 reviews
Grilled Seafood Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Amounts will very according to your seafood preference, this is just an estimate on what I used for 4 servings.
  • SEAFOOD
  • 8 large shrimp, tails off
  • 8 oz. sea scallops
  • 1 lb. of calamari ( I leave the bodies whole and cut into rings later, it's easier
  • SEAFOOD MARINADE
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • the zest of 1 big lemon
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • drizzled olive oil to coat seafood
  • 2 lemons, cut into slices for grilling
  • SALAD
  • 2 fennel bulbs, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch of celery hearts with the leaves, chopped
  • 5 radishes, sliced thin
  • a handful of capers
  • assorted olives, sliced
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • For the greens I used a mix of water cress and arugula,(mostly arugula)
  • LEMON AND OLIVE OIL DRESSING
  • 1 part lemon juice ( with a splash of limoncello, optional) to 3 parts extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Make sure all seafood has been padded dry before you marinade them, you should have no added moisture.
  2. Place all seafood in a glass bowl with all the marinade ingredients, toss and let it sit for 40 minutes.
  3. Grill all your seafood, which can be grilled up to a day ahead, let it cool down then refrigerate them separately, if you're doing them ahead, not all mixed together. Either way seafood should not be warm or hot for this salad, room temp or cold.
  4. Whisk up your dressing and set aside.
  5. When you're ready to compose your salad slice the scallops into quarters or in half according to their size.
  6. Cut calamari bodies into rings.
  7. Leave shrimp whole and the calamari legs.
  8. In a separate large bowl toss all salad ingredients together except for the seafood, you can add more or less or any other ingredient you would like to add, there is no exact rule with a salad.
  9. Add and toss your dressing, less is more, don't drench it, taste as you go.
  10. Grab a huge platter, place salad on top, arrange all the seafood on top of the greens, add in some grilled lemons slices.
  11. Don't forget toasted or grilled crunchy bread, it's a must!

 

 

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Fuss Free Entertaining

luncheon ideas Sometimes you just don’t need hours of planning and prepping in advance or cooking 3 days ahead of time when entertaining, especially in the summer months when things are more relaxed and casual. Here’s a few things I like to make when having friends or family stop by either on short notice or even planned in advance.

I love to spread everything out buffet style, once it’s laid out you can enjoy yourself and not worry about getting up and down to serve things.

Most of the ingredients I always have on hand either in my pantry or fridge, the others I usually buy weekly anyway and a couple of things I like to keep handy in my freezer. There’s no mayo required in any of this so you don’t have to worry about anything spoiling either.

focaccia sandwich ingredients Have you seen those round or square pre-made focaccia breads? I get mine at a local Italian market, but I’ve seen them in the bakery section at many different grocery stores, they keep really nice in the freezer and are easy to defrost. I’ve seen them topped with many things like olives, onions, jalepenos and chedder, they all look so pretty and they make a great sandwich.

My two favorites that I personally get are the ones topped with artichoke hearts and the simple crushed tomato topping, they taste so good as is, so I like to keep my deli meats simple. You’ll want to cut them horizontally with a serrated knife, just take your time and they will split in half fine.

What adds to the flavor of the sandwich is this oil based pepper spread, it’s a staple in my fridge, a mild combination of finely chopped veggies some spices and vinegar, like a giardiniera but only finely chopped, it’s spreads really nice and it’s packed with flavor. If you can’t find it finely chopped you can just pulse a regular jar of giardiniera in your food processor a few times to make it more spreadable.

focaccia sandwich I prefer not over packing my sandwich full of meats and cheese, just a simple layer will do, you have a lot going on in flavors with the topping and the spread. I used prosciutto and sliced Asiago on the artichoke topped one and  a rosemary ham also with Asiago on the other.

focaccia sandwich You can cut your focaccia sandwiches according to what other things you’ll be serving, out of one eight inch focaccia, I had six to nine servings.

caprese salad Who doesn’t like a caprese salad, the more it sits the better it gets! Even though it’s not officially tomato season, I was lucky to find some beautiful heirlooms and they tasted wonderful, in fact I’m going back for more.

shrimp and endive platter This endive salad is made with two bunches of endive, a half pound of cooked shrimp, an avocado, a hint of lemon,radishes, green onions, fresh basil and a light drizzle of olive oil all chopped into bite size pieces and folded together and then spooned onto individual endive leaves and arranged on a platter. So simple and so light and a nice presentation to boot, I could eat this alone for lunch!

pasta salad This pasta salad is also light and fresh, there’s no mayo in here,the creaminess comes from goat cheese and it’s all tossed in a light vinaigrette.

pasta salad It’s an old recipe from Martha, you can take the basic concept and add or take away any ingredients you personally like, I added red pepper strips to mine, but it’s delicious and it can sit out on a buffet without worry.

luncheon party

Add in some fresh fruit and olives then tell your friends to bring dessert, cannolis in my case!

Pour a glass of wine, sit and enjoy the time with your guests.

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Mediterranean Zoodle Salad

mediterranean zoodle salad It’s zoodle time again, zucchini noodles that is, but this time I placed them into a cold salad with a nice Mediterranean flare. It’s light, fresh and healthy and you can eat this all summer long. It can be the perfect side dish to whatever you’re grilling, a refreshing light lunch or you can even pack it up for a picnic.

mediterranean zoodle salad I’m telling you, the flavors, the pretty colors and all the curly zucchini strands is a thing of beauty, no one will resist this salad!

mediterranean zoodle salad May I suggest one thing, don’t put this in a bowl, you’ll bury all the ingredients and you won’t be able to see all the pretty curly zoodles. By layering everything onto a nice platter you’ll be able to see all the components which is so much more appealing to the eyes.

mediterranean zoodle salad The other thing I’m going to suggest, ( I’m being bossy today) go out and buy some white balsamic vinegar, not white wine vinegar, white balsamic. I’m obsessed with it, find a good Italian brand and pair it with your best olive oil and use that as your salad dressing, it will take your salads over the top, trust me!

Of course red balsamic is amazing and has it’s place for many salads but for a light and intensely flavored, especially a summer salad like this, get the white.

mediterranean zoodle salad

I’m just going to list the ingredients I used below, not the amounts, it depends how much you’re making, how much zucchini noodles you have. I like to mix one yellow squash along with the green zucchini for added color. Use quality ingredients, good olives, good feta, it truly makes a difference, and don’t forget the white balsamic please!

(Proud Italian Cook is on Instagram, follow me there to see what else I’m cooking up daily)

5.0 from 3 reviews
Mediterranean Zoodle Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • A mix of yellow squash and zucchini zoodles, AKA Zucchini noodles
  • mini colored peppers, cut into rings, (the mini's are the perfect size)
  • garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • Persian cucumbers, if you can find them, they're small, cut into small rounds. If you can't find them remove the seeds of a regular one and cut into half moons.
  • multi colored cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • assorted pitted olives, green and black
  • red onion, cut into thin half moons
  • assorted greens, I used arugula, spinach and a little radicchio
  • a few green onions sliced
  • artichoke hearts, marinated in a jar and drained well
  • feta cheese
  • feel free to add some pine nuts if you like
  • DRESSING:
  • white balsamic and olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place everything into a large bowl, add the greens last, sprinkle salad with a little oregano, salt and pepper and a little bit of granulated garlic if you have it.
  2. Toss with the white balsamic and olive oil dressing then place everything onto a flat platter for presentation.
  3. DRESSING RATIO
  4. part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil

 

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Eggplant and Burrata Lasagna

eggplant burrata lasagna Lets just start out by talking about burrata cheese because it’s the key ingredient in this lasagna, no ricotta is required. Burrata is quite popular now but if you’re unfamiliar with it burrata is a basically a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell consists of fresh mozzarella but when you gently tear into the middle it’s filled with soft cream filled curds, it’s heavenly!

If you can get a hold of the imported burrata straight from Italy, please do so it’s such a treat, smear it on some crusty bread and you’ll be speechless! The good news is it’s also produced here in the U.S. and it’s pretty easy to find and that type is perfect for this recipe.

eggplant burrata lasagna You’ll also need some roasted tomatoes and roasted eggplant slices, marinara and lasagna sheets, the kind you have to boil. I never got on that no-boil band wagon, I’ve tried them a few times and didn’t like the taste or texture it’s just not the same in my opinion, so for this recipe boil your pasta please!

eggplant burrata lasagna Serving the lasagna in individual gratin dishes makes for a nice presentation and it’s so much more special that way, don’t you think? Prepped and ready to go into the oven, which by the way you can prepare ahead of time.

eggplant burrata lasagna

If you have a smaller size dish you can always cut your lasagna sheets to fit it, after it’s boiled it’s easy to cut. I used three sheets per serving.

eggplant burrata lasagna

This is so light and luxurious, the creamy burrata is the shining star that takes this over the top and the eggplant and roasted tomatoes add so much depth of flavor.

It’s a winner, make it for someone special.

(Follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.)

4.0 from 1 reviews
Eggplant and Burrata Lasagna
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Ingredients are for two servings, feel free to double or triple.
  • 3 balls of burrata
  • 1 medium eggplant cut into circles, roasted or pan sauteed in olive oil until golden crisp
  • 1 pint of colored cherry tomatoes, left whole, roasted in olive oil with fresh basil
  • 1 quart of marinara sauce, preferably homemade, (you'll have leftover)
  • 6 pasta sheets, three per serving, the kind you have to boil, cooked al'dente
  • fresh basil for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 individual gratin dishes with olive oil.
  2. Spoon marinara on the bottom of each.
  3. Place one sheet of lasagna down and spoon marinara on top then add three slices of cooked eggplant.
  4. Gently tear into the burrata and place pieces on top of eggplant.
  5. Scatter the roasted tomatoes on top with some shredded basil.
  6. Then repeat two more times. pasta sheet, marinara, eggplant, burrata, tomatoes and basil.
  7. Place gratin dishes on a rimmed baking sheet for easy in and out of oven.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes just until warmed and burrata has gently melted.
  9. Let it rest a few minutes before serving when sauce has stopped bubbling.
  10. Garnish with more shredded basil.

 

 

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