Big Flavors, Small Bites

Have you seen these sweet mini peppers in the stores? Colorful and bright, I couldn’t resist picking up a bag, they sat in my fridge for a couple of days while I was deciding what to do with them, I knew I wanted to keep them whole, I couldn’t bare to chop them up, so after searching the web I decided to stuff them.

This is the perfect appetizer or side dish with no fuss to put together and they look gorgeous on a platter! I roasted mine in a 400F. oven tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, until tender and slightly golden.

Next, I sliced them open on one side to make a pocket and stuffed them with a mixture of herbed goat cheese and mascarpone, put them back in the oven for a few seconds just to get the cheese warm and then drizzled a flavored lemon olive oil and herb dressing over the top. The sweetness of the peppers balances perfectly with the tangy creaminess from the cheese and the dressing just highlights the whole dish!

Really the possibilities are endless as to what you can stuff them with, think of all the different cheese you can use, mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola, feta, asiago, I could go on and on!

While my oven was still hot I decided to roast these tiny zucchini I found at Whole Foods as well as some onion and tomato slices, just as I did with the peppers above I drizzled my flavored lemon olive oil and herb dressing all over the top. This is the perfect side dish to accompany any meat of your choice, oh and they taste phenominal!

The dressing I used for both the peppers and zucchini were a mixture of minced fresh parsley and basil, a pinch of salt and black pepper all whisked together with lemon flavored olive oil, or as a substitute you can certainly use fresh lemon with olive oil.

This last dish has to be one of my favorite flavor combinations of late, ask my husband, I’ve been making it almost every other day, roasted asparagus, salty feta, and sweet roasted grape tomatoes, but what takes this over the top and I truly mean it, is this wonderful lemon olive oil from Olio2go, I covet this stuff! It enhances food to another level and worth every single penny in my opinion! Straight from the bottle drizzle over the warm roasted asparagus or any roasted vegetable, grilled chicken or fish, outstanding in salads. I can’t get enough of it, and a little goes a long way, it’s packed with flavor as the pulp of the lemons are actually pressed with the olives, a match made in heaven!

As stated above, you can certainly substitute fresh lemon with olive oil whisked together if you so desire. Hey, some people get excited over new shoes, me, I go for the olive oil!

Have a great week, and Buon Appetito!

Cooking with Quality Products

Recently I received an email from Olio2go, a company whose mission is to seek out the best quality products from all over Italy asking me if I’d like to review some of their artisanal products, after checking out their link of course I said yes!

One of the three products I received was Olio Verde Novello coming from Castelvetrano, Italy on the Island of Sicily, this olive oil was freshly pressed this passed October, and boy can you taste that freshness! It’s rich, fruity and slightly pungent all at the same time with hints of artichoke and lemon, I swear I could drink this stuff, oh and I love the shape of the bottle!
Did you know that high quality extra virgin olive oil is very stable when heated and it has a high smoking point? I didn’t!
The pappardelle comes from Pastificio Vicidomini, in Castel San Giorgio, near Naples, from a family owned business that has been making high quality pasta since 1812, now 6 generations strong this pasta is made with certified organic semolina and mountain water. There must be something to that mountain water because the flavor and the texture was superb!
The pretty jar of crispy asparagus comes from Villa Cappelli in Puglia perfect for an appetizer or placed into a salad.

For the pappardelle I decided to let the pasta shine through by tossing it with roasted shards of butternut squash. I call it shards because that’s what they ended up looking like after I shredded and roasted them up on my baking sheet.

I actually loved how all the jagged pieces looked when tossed among this amazing quality pasta.
I used a basil brown butter sauce and plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper to finish it off.

When I read that Olio Verde had hints of lemon and artichoke, I went out and bought 4 of the prettiest artichokes I could find, I trimmed them, cut them into quarters, scooped out the chokes, cooked them until tender, and then after they were cooled down I placed them into a pool of this liquid gold along with fresh parsley, lemon juice as well as the zest, red pepper and chopped garlic. One word… DIVINE!

I’m sorry but I just couldn’t get enough of this olive oil so I went ahead and made a savory baked ricotta, perfect when smeared on top crostini. Ricotta is such a blank canvas, it takes on flavors so well, so when it was finished baking I poured a generous drizzle of it right over the top which made every bite sublime!

I had 1 1/2 cups of ricotta sitting in my fridge so with that I mixed in 1 egg, 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese, 5 small cherry tomatoes cut lengthwise, a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped basil, 1 small minced garlic, zest of 1/2 a lemon, salt, pepper and 3 chopped olives.

Oil a shallow gratin dish, or a ramekin if you want to un-mold it, spread the mixture into the dish and bake 375F for around 20 minutes or until nicely golden on top.

Of course if you don’t have these particular products on hand you can make any of these recipes using your own favorite pastas and olive oils, but if your looking for an extra special treat, check out Olio2go!
Buon Appetito!