A Few of my Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

roasted autumn veggiesBesides all the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving like stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberries, I like to throw in a few extras, sometimes it’s simply roasted seasonal vegetables.
roasted autumn veggies Different shaped squash, colorful carrots and vibrant greens are the perfect backdrop on a pretty platter, you can roast them ahead of time, reheat in a hot oven and finish them off with a good drizzle of balsamic glaze!

kale and brussel sprouts In my family we all like brussel sprouts in some form or another so I always try to have them on my Thanksgiving table, this year I’m doing a Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad. ( recipe below)kale and brussel sprout salad It’s fresh, crunchy, creamy, slightly sweet with a tiny bit of heat and laced with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon and Marcona almonds and plumped cranberries.

kale and brussel sprout salad I seriously could eat this for lunch everyday, it’s that good! Pull out a large bowl because you’ll be surprised how much it makes with just one bunch of kale and half a bag of brussel sprouts. I encourage you to double the recipe please!cipollini in thyme and parmesan cream Everyone needs a little decadence during the holidays and these Cipollini bathing in Creamy Parmesan and Thyme sauce are the perfect addition to your table, besides they’re small and a few on your plate won’t hurt you! Cipollini are the saucer shaped onions but you can certainly replace them with pearl onions which are even smaller.cipollini in thyme and parmesan cream Roast your onions ahead of time in a 400 degree oven until golden, then place them into a shallow baking dish. Meanwhile in a separate saucepan place 2 cups of cream and three sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper, when cream starts to come to a boil remove pan from the stove and stir in 3/4 cup of grated parmesan, add salt to taste, then spoon it over and around the onions. Sprinkle additional 1/4 cup of grated parmesan on top and place into the oven at 450 for 15 minutes or until the cream has thickened.creamy fennel Creamy Fennel with Parmesan and Thyme, another decadent treat! Prepare it the same way as the onions above, slightly roasting the fennel before hand. I used three bulbs thinly sliced.pumpkin gnocchi I usually make a side of pasta on Thanksgiving and either Butternut squash or Pumpkin Gnocchi is always a wonderful complement to the turkey dinner.butternut squash stuffed shells But my all time favorite are these Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta.  All the flavors of a butternut squash lasagne stuffed into individual pasta shells, one or two on your heavily loaded plate is plenty and there’s no hassle cutting into a big lasagne, what could be better than that?  Happy Cooking!

Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad
  • 1 bunch of Tuscan kale, chopped with stems removed
  • ½ lb. brussel sprouts, sliced thin or shredded in a food processor
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced thin
  • 1 cup of plump dried cranberries
  • ½ cup of Marcona almonds
  • ¾ cup coarsely shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 small smashed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  1. Place chopped kale, shredded sprouts, carrots, celery, dried cranberries and almonds into a large bowl, sprinkle cheese all around.
  2. Whisk olive oil, lemon, garlic, red pepper and Dijon together in a smaller separate bowl then toss with the kale and sprout mixture, adding more cheese and olive oil if needed. Cover and refrigerate or eat immediately.

Mushroom Marsala with Cipollini and Thyme

mushroom marsalaMy husband is the official taste tester around here so when I see him take a bite, close his eyes, move his head from side to side I know I’ve made something really good, that’s exactly what he did when he tasted this dish! We’re all familiar with Chicken Marsala, Veal Marsala and I even make Pork Chop Marsala, but in this dish there is no meat and you won’t miss it one bit because the star of the show that gets to soak up the creamy Marsala sauce is the pasta, along with some wonderful earthy mushrooms and those adorable saucer shaped cipollini!

DelverdeRecently I was asked to be a part of the La Cucina Italiana Blogger Ambassador panel which was very exciting for me since I have been an avid reader of their magazine for years, and I have the stacks of them to prove it! They also invited me to participate in The Dish your Blog with Delverde Recipe ChallengeThey sent me a sample of three different cuts of pasta and I was to choose one, then create a recipe with the cut of my choice. If I win I get to go to New York City and share my pasta recipe with the world! If I don’t win, guess what, you’re getting the recipe here anyway.

marsala sauceYou can use any mushrooms you so desire for this dish, the more of a variety the better, I hand picked some shitake and crimini so they would all be about the same size but if I would have found some good looking oyster mushrooms I would have added those too. The sauce consists of Marsala wine, garlic and thyme with mascarpone cheese to thicken it up. I also added cipollini, which are small saucer shaped onions, the Italian version of a pearl onion.

mushroom marsala The pasta shape I chose was Delverde’s Mezzi Rigatoni, handmade flavor artisinal pasta half the size of traditional rigatoni. Short and stocky with a nice bite, it was the perfect match for the other bite size ingredients.

mushroom marsalaAll drenched in creamy Marsala sauce, who needs meat?
mushroom marsala 

Mushroom Marsala with Cipollini and Thyme
  • Assorted mushrooms, a dozen of each kind, hand picked to keep them on the smaller size
  • 8 cipollini, small
  • 1¾ cup Marsala wine
  • 1 heaping ¼ cup, mascarpone cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • fresh thyme and parsley
  • ½ lb. cooked Delverde Mezzi Rigatoni
  1. Pre boil cipollini for 2 minutes with skins on then submerge in ice bath for easy peeling.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees, then place all mushrooms and cipollini on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive, oil salt and pepper. Cook until caramelized around 10 minutes or so. Set aside.
  3. In the meantime make your sauce by placing the garlic, butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a sauce pan, saute until garlic turns golden then pour in the Marsala and the thyme from one or two branches, let the alcohol cook down for a few minutes then whisk in the mascarpone cheese, reduce heat and slowly let the sauce thicken.
  4. When the sauce thickens then add in your roasted and caramelized cipollini and mushrooms then toss in the cooked pasta, gently stirring to coat everything with the sauce.
  5. Garnish with parsley and more thyme.
  6. DISCLOSURE: This recipe is posted as an entry in the Delverde Dish Your Blog recipe contest to try to win a trip to NYC. Some entrants may have received free sample products in addition to the opportunity to compete for the prize.
  7. .


Roasted Salmon with Pan Seared Gnocchi

This is not so much a recipe, but by placing these components together you create a fabulous meal! If you read my blog regularly you know I love my roasted tomatoes, I make them simply by placing foil on a rimmed lined baking sheet then adding shaved garlic and a very generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper over my sweet cherry, grape or Campari tomatoes, roasting them in a 400-425 degree oven.  The tin foil holds all that juicy, tomatoey, oily goodness that comes out, for fear any would burn off!
 For added flavor in this dish, capers and olives were tossed into the juice.
I always roast my salmon at 450 for 15 minutes, take it out and let it rest.
Have you tried pan seared gnocchi yet? I urge you to try it! I had leftover ricotta gnocchi in my freezer and right from the frozen state you saute it in a pan with melted butter and a drizzle of olive oil, the outside gets golden and crispy and the middle is soft. I learned this technique from watching Chef Jonathan Waxman in a live demo. It was the perfect companion for my salmon along with some sauteed spinach.
Don’t waste the tomatoes! Toss them in fresh green beans with roasted cipollini onions, a delicious side!

Buon Appetito!


Balsamic Glazed Cipollini Onions, and a HUGE, HUGE Thanks!!

Before I get on to these cute little cipollini’s, I have to share some good news with all of you.

Last week I was contacted by a wonderful woman from the Chicago Tribune, saying that they wanted to feature me as “Blogger of the Week” on their “Chicago’s Best Blogs” website, and would I be interested!! Are you kidding me! Did you say, THE Chicago Tribune?? Needless to say I was in complete shock, I must have read the email 10 times before I responded, called every family member I have in a matter of 10 minutes, and I’ve been buzzing ever since.

I just want to say “Thank You” to the Chicago Tribune, I’m truly honored, and proud to display my badge!

And now on to these little gems!

Cipollini onions, pronounced “Cheep-oh-lee-nee” originated from Italy,but now you can find them all over the states. I’ve seen them in regular and specialty stores, and of course always at my Italian markets around here. Although they can be a little expensive at times, they’re worth the special treat. They have an intense sweet flavor that especially comes out when you roast them. Which is my favorite way to eat them.

Their flat and saucer shaped with a thin, paper like skin, just remove the skin and trim the ends.

When you roast these with balsamic, it becomes a rich, syrupy glaze that flavors and caramelizes the entire onion The taste is phenomenal!!

Place them in a hot oven around 400 degree’s, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh thyme and a good balsamic vinegar, roast them till tender and caramelized, if the glaze seems to be cooking down to fast, just lower the oven to 350.

Picture a nice grilled steak with these on the side, or some grilled chicken, chops, or even a roast. Either way, I’m sure you’re gonna love them!

Buon Appetito!!