Special Occasion Side Dish

special occasion side dish

I wanted to do an update on a side dish that I’ve been making for years, in fact I did a post on this way back in 2008. It’s an old family recipe and it would be a wonderful side dish to your Easter table this Sunday, it goes great with ham, pork, lamb or any roast you might be having.

I’ve also made it many times as a side next to a baked pasta of some sort, like lasagna, stuffed shells, manicotti, you get the picture, it goes pretty much with everything!

It’s the combination of veggies that make it taste so good, there’s Italian flat beans, yellow beans, artichoke hearts, asparagus and believe it or not lima beans, yes lima beans, they seriously make the dish along with some crispy fried bacon bits and garlic flavored olive oil.

You can use a combination of fresh and frozen vegetables, it all works!

Happy Easter

Special Occasion Side Dish
Make this for a special occasion, your guests will thank you!
  • ½ lb of fresh Italian flat beans or green beans of your choice, steamed
  • ½ lb of fresh yellow beans, steamed
  • 1 lb of fresh asparagus, steamed
  • 1 small bag of frozen lima beans, defrosted
  • 1 bag of frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • ½ lb of meaty bacon cut into small chunks
  • garlic flavored olive oil, ( a must)
  • extra olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In the dead of winter I have made this using all frozen vegetables but I prefer the combination of fresh and frozen.
  2. In a deep saute pan, cook up your bacon until nice and crispy, if there's too much fat in the pan, drain it off but leave the crispy bits and add in some of that garlic olive oil.
  3. Toss in all the vegetables and then it's pretty much taste as you go to your liking, more garlic olive oil, regular olive oil, salt and pepper, there's no set measurements with the flavorings, it's all according to taste!





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Easter Italian Rice Pie with Rum Soaked Raisins

Easter Italian rice pie Italian Rice Pie or Torta di Riso is a traditional Easter dessert, it’s a sweet pie and there are many versions of it, each family has their own. Mine is filled with creamy ricotta and mascarpone cheese, flavors of vanilla and orange, cooked arborio rice and rum soaked raisins. The dough is traditionally made with a pasta frolla but I’ve seen it made with just about everything, a typical shortcrust pie dough, either homemade or storebought, puff pastry and even made without a crust. I prefer phyllo dough for mine because I love the crispy crunchy texture it brings to the pie plus it goes so well with the creamy inside, and did I mention, it’s easy!

Easter italian rice pie ingredients The filling comes together quickly if you use your food processor, you just dump every thing in and give it a whirl!

The makings of an Easter Italian rice pie The only thing that needs to be made ahead of time is the rice, I cooked it the day before and refrigerated it and the raisins need ample time to soak in some warmed up rum, you want them nice and plump!

The food processor makes the filling nice and smooth, then all you have to do is stir in the rice and raisins.

I love how free form phyllo is, and it’s so forgiving, no matter how it looks before you bake it, it always comes out beautiful!

Easter Italian rice pie Isn’t she pretty?

Easter Italian rice pie You have to be patient when it comes out of the oven, let it come to room temperature then sprinkle powdered sugar all over.

Now she looks even prettier!

Easter Italian rice pieEaster Italian rice pie It’s creamy, custard like with a nice texture from the cooked rice, it’s crunchy, flaky and I have to admit, the rum soaked raisins make it! I should have added a little more…

Easter Italian rice pie Buona Pasqua!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easter Italian Rice Pie with Rum Soaked Raisins
A traditional Easter rice pie made with phyllo and rum soaked raisins.
  • 2 cups of well drained dense fresh ricotta cheese
  • ⅓ cup mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 5 eggs
  • 1½ cups of cooked arborio rice
  • ½ to ¾ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup of rum liquor
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ tablespoons orange zest
  • 6 or 7 sheets of phyllo
  • ½ stick of melted unsalted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Cook the rice the day before or early in the day by placing 1 cup of dry arborio into 4 cups of milk, cook until tender with a little bite, then drain off all the leftover milk, cool down and refrigerate.
  3. Place golden raisins in a small bowl, pour rum on top, heat in microwave until warm not boiling then take out and let them sit for about an hour, then strain off extra rum.
  4. In food processor blend together the powdered sugar, ricotta, mascarpone, eggs, vanilla and zest until smooth, pour into a bowl and stir in the rice and raisins. ( you'll have some rice leftover).
  5. With the melted butter lightly brush a 10 inch x 1½ deep pie dish.
  6. Start layering your phyllo sheets over the bottom and up the sides leaving an over hang all around. Each phyllo layer needs to be brushed with the melted butter.
  7. When layering is complete pour the filling mixture into the pie dish on top of phyllo.
  8. Fold up the sides that hung over, you don't have to completely cover the top, it looks nice if you can peek through.
  9. Bake 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar when it comes to room temperature.
  11. For leftover pie, refrigerate, but then bring it to room temp when you want to eat it again for optimal flavor.


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Springtime Pasta

springtime pasta Today I can officially say that spring has arrived, I’m so happy to be done with winter and heavy comfort foods, it’s time to lighten up! Today I’m sharing with you a fresh and fabulous pasta dish, it’s nice and light to welcome in the season, and it’s easy to make.

springtime pasta ingredientsSpring vegetables are making their way into the stores right now so feel free to incorporate some of your own favorites into this dish. I chose pencil thin asparagus, a variety of gorgeous colored baby carrots, artichoke hearts, zucchini and fava beans.

The carrot and zucchini ribbons were made with a simple vegetable peeler, you could substitute fresh baby peas instead of the fava beans if you like, and replace the fresh for frozen artichoke hearts if you don’t want to do all that prep work.

The light fresh tomato sauce is what ties everything together, it’s simply roasted cherry tomatoes with a bit of garlic and olive oil. The roasting process makes the tomatoes burst and ooze juice that happily gets to mingle with the garlic. Now who wouldn’t want to toss their pasta into that?

fettuccine For this recipe I chose a nice fettuccine, I think the curly strands look pretty with the zucchini and carrot ribbons.

springtime pasta Freshly grated shards of Parmigiano Reggiano tossed in and on top of the pasta enhances all the flavors above and beyond.

springtime pasta Wouldn’t you like to twirl your fork into this goodness?

springtime pasta Happy Spring!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Springtime Pasta
A fresh and lightened up springtime pasta dish
  • 12 ounces of dry fettuccine, cooked al dente
  • 2 pints of various colored cherry tomatoes, sliced length wise
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed finely
  • 1 or 2 medium zucchini, made into ribbons
  • 1 bunch of colored carrots, made into ribbons
  • 1 bunch of pencil thin asparagus, each piece cut into three sections
  • ½ cup of fava beans prepped and peeled, can substitute peas
  • 1 cup of quartered artichoke hearts
  • Parmigiano Reggiano shards, a generous amount to taste
  • olive oil
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place cherry tomato halves and garlic into a glass pan or a baking sheet lined with foil, add salt and pepper and roast until tomatoes burst and start to shrivel and caramelize, about 25 minutes.
  3. Make sure juice does not burn off ,as it's important to remember all oven temps vary, so keep watching. When tomatoes are done, set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan add a good drizzle of olive oil and add the zucchini and carrot ribbons, just sauteing until they start to limp.
  5. Add in the artichoke hearts, favas, and asparagus, toss gently and saute for a minute.
  6. Add the roasted tomatoes and all the juice, then toss in gently all the cooked pasta.
  7. Garnish with lots of Parmigiano Reggiano.


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