Grilled Vegetable Salad

grilled vegetable salad Here’s a fresh and healthy side dish to serve along anything you’re about to throw on your grill this weekend. It’s a combination of grilled veggies and a salad all in one! I actually recreated this from a salad I had at a restaurant recently.

grilling vegetables It couldn’t be easier to make, just grill up your favorite veggies, go for a variety of colors, the more color the better, it adds to a pretty presentation. I even used some mini eggplant I found called Indian eggplant, which I thought gave it a nice visual and something different.

grilled vegetables All the vegetables can be grilled ahead of time and set aside until you’re ready to plate everything together.

grilled vegetable salad Crisp romaine lettuce is dressed with a rich, slightly sweet aged balsamic vinaigrette. I also added sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and creamy avocado into the mix.

Feel free to crumble some creamy goat cheese or feta on top with a sprinkling of pine nuts for more bling!

grilled vegetable salad This is great for entertaining with ease and the presentation is gorgeous sitting on your platter!

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Ingredients

  • red, yellow and orange bell peppers
  • eggplant
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • asparagus
  • artichoke hearts, grilled or canned, drained of any liquid
  • sun dried tomatoes ( soft and tender)
  • sliced avocado
  • crumbled feta or goat cheese and pine nuts, (optional)
  • FOR BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
  • 1/4 cup of a good aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced finely
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare and slice all your veggies, place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill them all ahead of time until tender with nice grill marks, set aside.
  2. Whisk all your balsamic vinaigrette ingredients together until well incorporated.
  3. Right before you're ready to eat place chopped romaine, sun dried tomatoes into a bowl and dress with the vinaigrette, place onto your platter.
  4. Take the same bowl, toss in all your grilled veggies and carefully drizzle balsamic vinaigrette all over them, not too much, a little goes a long way, taste to your liking.
  5. Carefully arrange the veggies on top of the lettuce mixture with slices of avocado all around the perimeter.
  6. Add cheese and nuts if so desired.
http://www.prouditaliancook.com/2014/04/grilled-vegetable-salad.html

 

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Pork and Cabbage Involtini with a Spring Vegetable Side

pork and cabbage involtini Even though it’s officially spring the weather is always fluctuating here so it often dictates what we eat. When it’s sunny and warm my first choice is to go out and grill something, but when it’s cool, rainy and dreary there’s no doubt dinner will be inside simmering on my stove.

pork and cabbage involtini That’s how this cabbage dish came about. You might think of stuffed cabbage/ involtini as only a hearty winter dish filled with meat and rice, but actually this version minus the rice and some breadcrumbs was light and super delicious, perfect for a cool spring evening!

This recipe comes courtesy of Debi Mazar and her Tuscan born husband Gabriele Corcos via their cooking show, Extra Virgin, one of the few shows I watch on The Cooking Channel. The original recipe is here, I adapted it slightly.

Little bundles of ground pork seasoned with scallions, garlic, romano cheese and parsley wrapped tightly with a tender leaf of savoy cabbage simmering in a flavorful garlic and basil marinara sauce. This is good, really good!

spring vegetables I thought a nice medley of spring green vegetables would complement the involtini and I was right, it was all that I needed to complete the meal.

I used a mixture of asparagus, artichoke hearts, and fava beans roasted together with olive oil and shaved garlic. FYI, Trader Joe’s has precooked frozen fava beans for a short time, I still had to peel the outer skins off but they were really good.

pork and cabbage involtini with spring veggies Rain or shine you’re going to love this!

Pork and Cabbage Involtini with a Spring Vegetable Side

Ingredients

  • INVOLTINI
  • 1 head savoy cabbage
  • 1 pound good ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 scallions, sliced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup grated romano cheese
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • SAUCE
  • 1 quart of homemade marinara or an outstanding store bought one for convenience,
  • I make mine with crushed whole canned tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, olive oil, chopped garlic and fresh basil.

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Carefully separate the best 12 leaves from your savoy cabbage
  3. Rinse, then add them in batches, to the boiling water for 2 minutes
  4. Remove leaves and quickly rinse under cold water, then pat dry
  5. Mix together the pork, scallions, eggs, garlic, romano cheese and parsley in a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper.
  6. Lay a leaf of cabbage on a cutting board, trim the thick stem at the bottom and place 2 generous tablespoons of the pork mixture in the middle.Roll up the leaf, tucking in the sides.
  7. Place seem side down on a plate until all leaves are completed.
  8. If your marinara is premade just pour some into the bottom of a heavy skillet with sides and lid.
  9. If you need to make your own, pour 1/4 cup of olive oil on bottom of the pan add 4 or 5 cloves of chopped garlic, let it sizzle a little then pour in your 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of salt, then add in some torn fresh basil leaves.
  10. Place the involtini on top of the sauce, nestle them in seam side down and turn heat to a low simmer, spooning some sauce on each bundle.
  11. Place a lid on top and cook until meat is cooked through and cabbage is tender.
  12. Garnish with fresh basil and grated romano cheese.
http://www.prouditaliancook.com/2014/04/pork-cabbage-involtini-spring-vegetable-side.html

 

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Making Easter Lamb Cake

Easter lamb cake Walk into any Italian bakery at Easter time and you will see lamb cakes, they’ve been a yearly tradition in many households since the late 194o’s and 50′s. They’re used as an eatable centerpiece for your Easter table or to give as a gift during the season.

I’ve always wanted to make my own Easter lamb cake but I never had the molds that I remembered from my childhood, plus I didn’t think I could ever pull it off anyway!

vintage lamb cake molds In comes my friend Janet who’s been making these cakes every Easter since 1947, she makes them for her family and also gives them away as gifts. So I asked her if I could hang out with her one day and watch/help her make one, and she kindly said yes.

I was especially excited because she had the vintage mold that I remembered as a child, it was well used and still in perfect working order. She told me all the ladies back in the 40′s and 50′s made lamb cakes and as a child her mother and grandmother taught her how to make them and to keep up the tradition.

vintage GH cook book She pulled out some older vintage recipes for making lamb cakes, like this one published in 1953 in a Good Housekeeping cake book.

lamb cake recipe Over the years Janet has perfected her own recipe for lamb cake which is a nice sturdy sour cream pound cake flavored with vanilla and other extracts of your choice, we also added some rum to ours.

mixing cake batter Watching Janet whip up the batter was like watching a pro in action, I swear she could do this in her sleep!

greased and floured lamb cake mold I was in charge of buttering and flouring the mold, she instructed me to get into every nook and cranny, using my clean fingers to get in there. She stressed how important it was so as not to have your cake stick.  She said I did good!

filling lamb cake mold with batter Janet recommends placing your mold on a baking sheet for easy in and out of the oven. Pour your batter only in one side of the mold, always the face side down, never fill both sides of the mold, never, and make sure you don’t fill past the rim, you’ll have problems when you release it.  Another tip she had was to take a spoon and carefully place batter into the ears, face and neck, if it sinks down add a little add more, none of those areas should be lacking any batter.

Janet also likes to reinforce the ears by adding a toothpick in each, the ears are tiny and you don’t want them to break off, some people put a toothpick or skewer in the neck also, but she never had a problem with it.  Make sure your edges are all clean, take a paper towel to wipe them off. Now attach the empty back of the mold and you’re ready to bake!

baking a lamb cake Janet told me not to worry if you see the mold spit open a little towards the end of the baking time, it’s normal as the cake rises inside. She even stood it upright and baked it like that for the last few minutes.

Easter lamb cake If you’re going to frost it right away the cake has to be completely cooled down, do it in the standing position after you get it out of the mold, so have a cup of coffee like we did and be patient!

If you want to bake your lambs ahead of time feel free to freeze them at this point, before you decorate them, just make sure they’re cooled down and wrapped well for the freezer.

 

mixing frosting Now the fun part begins, it’s time to decorate the little lamby! Janet whipped up the frosting in no time as she was telling me in disgust just how terrible store bought frosting is and why people just don’t make there own because it’s so easy. I totally agree!

Her frosting consisted of 1 stick of unsalted butter, powdered sugar, half and half and vanilla, no recipe, just until you get the right texture, you’ll know, she said.

decorating an Easter lamb cake You can decorate your lamb anyway you want to, be creative!

applying coconut on a lamb cakeTake your frosting and cover the lamb completely with it, all over, except where your eyes and nose will be placed. You don’t have to be perfect because the flaked coconut sticks very well and will cover any flaws. Remember, no coconut on the eye nose area.

decorating an Easter lamb cake The eyes where made with 2 plumped up raisins that she squished down to form an oval shape. To prepare the nose she dabbed a little red food coloring on the tip and then placed half of a maraschino cherry on top.

decorating an Easter lamb cake Tie a pretty ribbon of your choice around the neck, Janet said she use to put tiny bells on the ribbon but can’t find them so much anymore.

decorating an Easter lamb cake We used paper grass to place all around the lamb to finish it off, Janet doesn’t like using the other kind because it flies around too much. Add eggs and jellybeans for additional color and whimsey all around.

Easter lamb cake Thank you Janet for a fun day of baking, I feel like a pro now and have the confidence to make my own so much so that when I got home I went on Ebay, saw a vintage lamb mold and put a bid on it, wish me luck!

For those of you who would like to try this on your own, here’s a mold similar to the one I used. A perfect addition to your Easter table!

Making Easter Lamb Cake

Ingredients

  • FOR CAKE
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons rum extract, optional
  • FOR THE FROSTING
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 heaping teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar and half and half or milk to make the right consistency
  • FOR DECORATING
  • 1 bag of flaked coconut
  • 2 raisins
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • red food color
  • piece of ribbon
  • paper Easter basket grass
  • assorted jellybeans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. generously butter and flour lamb mold.
  2. Beat butter, add sugar and extracts and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour with baking soda until well incorporated.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time alternating with the sour cream until batter comes together.
  5. Pour batter into prepared face side of the lamb mold, facing down on a baking sheet.
  6. Fill to the rim wiping up the edges clean.
  7. Reinforce the ears by placing a toothpick horizontally in each ear.
  8. Carefully place lid on and bake for 1 hour, but check for doneness 10 minutes before.
  9. FYI, you will have leftover batter with this recipe, enough to make a small cake.
  10. For Decorating, make the frosting with the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, half and half and a pinch of salt, mixing until you get a nice semi firm frosting.
  11. Add raisins for eyes, a cherry for nose and tie a ribbon around the neck.
  12. Cover platter with Easter grass and jellybeans.
http://www.prouditaliancook.com/2014/04/making-easter-lamb-cake.html

 

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