Archive for the 'Italian' Category

Linguine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives, and Lemon

I decided to make this pasta dish for dinner a few days ago after watching Giada De Laurentiis make it on her cooking show.  ‘Giada at Home’ is one of my favorite shows to watch on The Food Channel – I love how she uses simple, fresh ingredients, and most of the things she makes can be made in 30 minutes or less.  This particular recipe took only 20 minutes to make and it was delicious!  It’s a simple vegetarian pasta dish with a sauce that is very similar to pesto.  The sauce is filled with flavors that I love – basil, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, olives and lemon.  It’s the perfect meal to make on a busy weeknight, and the leftovers are excellent for lunch the next day too.  The linguine would also be great topped with grilled boneless skinless chicken.  I am already planning to make this again very soon!

Linguine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives, and Lemon

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine pasta
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chopped or julienned sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) medium green Italian olives, pitted
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.  Place the pasta in a large serving bowl.
  2. In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, garlic, oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Pulse until blended but still a little chunky.
  3. Add the Parmesan cheese to the pasta and toss well.  Pour the tomato mixture on top and toss until the pasta is coated.  If the sauce is dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves: 4-6

Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Pan-Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella

I came up with the idea to make these sandwiches after seeing grilled vegetable sandwiches featured on my sister’s cooking blog a few weeks ago.  Her sandwiches had grilled vegetables, ricotta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.  I don’t care for ricotta cheese, but basil pesto seemed like the perfect substitute to go with the grilled vegetables.  I also added some mozzarella cheese to give the sandwiches another layer of flavor.  For the vegetables, I used a colorful mixture of zucchini, yellow summer squash, and roasted red peppers, but you could also use eggplant or portabello mushrooms.  I served these sandwiches on fresh grilled ciabatta bread and they were delicious!  For a side dish, we had fresh strawberries and pineapple, and it was the perfect Spring dinner.

Pan-Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches with Basil Pesto and Mozzarella

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼ – inch thick slices
  • 2 yellow squashes, sliced lengthwise into ¼ – inch thick slices
  • 2 red peppers, roasted (for instructions, click here) or 2 roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 8-12 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Basil Pesto (recipe below)
  • Loaf of ciabatta bread

Directions

  1. Brush both sides of the sliced zucchini and yellow squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium- high heat and brush lightly with olive oil.
  3. Working in batches, grill the zucchini and squash until they are tender and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.
  4. Slice the loaf of ciabatta bread into 4 pieces and cut each piece in half lengthwise.  Lightly brush the bread with olive oil and then grill for 3-4 minutes until the bread is toasty.
  5. To assemble the sandwiches:  Spread a layer of pesto on each side of the sliced bread.  Top with mozzarella cheese, and then layer slices of the grilled zucchini, squash, and roasted red peppers on top.  Place the top half of the ciabatta bread on top of the grilled vegetables and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Basil Pesto

Yield: 1 cup pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup (approximately) extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt & pepper until finely chopped.
  2. With the food processor still running, gradually add enough oil to form a smooth and thick consistency.
  3. Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in ½ cup of Parmesan cheese.  Season the pesto with more salt and pepper, to taste.

Source:  Sandwiches inspired by Kristine’s Kitchen & Giada De Laurentiis;  Pesto recipe from the cookbook ‘Giada’s Family Dinners’

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart


If you are looking for an alternative to margherita pizza, this recipe is for you.   It has the same yummy toppings that you would find on a margherita pizza, but instead of a pizza, it’s a tart.  The crust consists of standard tart dough, with the addition of fresh minced basil and garlic mixed into it.  This gives the crust lots of flavor, making it extra delicious.  The toppings for the tart are simple- a little bit of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese (as well as a sprinkle of salt, pepper, & extra virgin olive oil for extra flavor).

One thing that’s nice about this tart is that you can make the tart dough ahead of time, roll it out, and assemble it in the tart pan.  Then you just wrap the prepared tart in plastic wrap and refrigerate it if you plan to use it that day, or freeze it if you are saving it for another day.  When you are ready to cook the tart, just pop it in the oven, and blind bake the crust, add the toppings, and then finish baking it.

When I most recently made this tart for Mother’s Day, I served slices of it as a side dish, but it can be a main course too (a salad or veggies would go well with it).  This tart would also make for an impressive appetizer.  Enjoy!

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart with Basil Garlic Crust

(print recipe)

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces
  • 4-5 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
  • Ripe cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
  • ¼ cup tomato-basil marinara sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. To make the dough, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely minced.  Add the flour and salt; pulse briefly to combine.  Add in the chunks of butter and pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.  Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate.  Add 1 more tablespoon and process for several seconds to see if the dough forms a ball.  If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water and process until a ball of dough forms.  Remove the dough, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. 2. When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 425° F.  Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 12-inch circle.  Lay the dough over a 9-inch round tart pan and press it into the sides.  Trim the excess dough as needed.  (I use this to reinforce the edges.)  Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads (pie weights).  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil or parchment and baking beads.  Return the empty tart shell to the oven to bake for 5 minutes more (crust should be lightly browned).  Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 375° F.  Note: If tart dough has puffed up during baking, prick it with a fork a few times.
  3. Spread a very thin layer of marinara sauce on the tart (The marinara sauce is optional- I like the extra flavor it provides, but since you only need a little sauce, I would only add it if you already have an open jar of leftover sauce in your fridge).
  4. Then layer the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell with the mozzarella.  Arrange the cherry tomato slices on top of the cheese in a single even layer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan and half of the minced fresh basil.
  5. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in places.  About halfway through baking, rotate the tart 180° and wick off any excess moisture that has collected on top with a towel if necessary.  Once you have removed the tart from the oven, sprinkle the remaining basil onto it.  Allow the tart to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe adapted from: Annie’s Eats Blog; Originally from Pink Parsley, Ezra Pound Cake and The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough


A few months ago I made pizza dough from scratch for the first time.  It tastes so much better than frozen pizza, and it’s so easy to make (healthier too)!  The dough is mixed in a food processor, and it takes less than 10 minutes to put together.  You do have to plan ahead though; once the dough is mixed up it needs to rise for 1.5-2 hours.

This recipe makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas, or 3 medium ones, so I always like to freeze the extra dough.  It’s definitely worth the added effort to have a delicious homemade pizza, and I really like being able to choose whichever toppings I like.

When I most recently made this pizza, I topped it with my favorite tomato basil pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, sliced prosciutto, kalamata olives, basil, and sliced red peppers.  It was a wonderful combination of ingredients, and I will for sure be making this pizza again!  Enjoy!

Pizza Dough

(print recipe)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 envelope (2 ¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surfaces & hands (all-purpose flour can be substituted, but the resulting crust will be less crisp)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

Directions

  1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
  2. Pulse the flour and salt in the work bowl of a large food processor fitted with a steel blade to combine.  Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube.  If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms.  Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.
  3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, rough ball.  Put the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Yield: 3 balls of pizza dough (enough for 3 medium sized pizzas, or 2 large pizzas)

When you are ready to assemble & cook the pizza:

  1. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
  2. After the dough has finished rising, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into three pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and cover it with a damp cloth.  Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.
  3. Working with one ball of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, roll the dough out into a circle.
  4. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet or pizza pan that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal.
  5. Lightly brush the dough round with olive oil.  Spread tomato sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border around the edge.  Sprinkle with cheese and toppings of your choice.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Slide the dough onto the heated pizza stone (I just put the cookie sheet or pizza pan directly onto the pizza stone). Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots, 8-12 minutes.
  7. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from: Cook’s Illustrated, ‘Italian Classics’ Cookbook

This is what the dough looks like before it has risen.

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

Orzo Stuffed Peppers


The other day I was flipping through one of my cookbooks (Giada’s Kitchen) and came across this recipe for stuffed peppers.  I happened to already have all of the ingredients in my fridge/pantry, so I decided to make it for dinner that night.  Like my other recipe for stuffed peppers, this recipe is very easy to make.  But these peppers are actually quite different from the other ones.  This recipe uses orzo (rice shaped pasta) instead of rice, it has canned tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, there is no meat like the other one, and some of the flavorings are different.  If I had to choose between the two recipes, I think I would prefer the other one, but this is definitely a good alternative, and it was fun to try something new!

Adapted from: Giada de Laurentiis (Giada’s Kitchen cookbook- pg. 132)

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

(print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian tomatoes
  • 3 zucchini, grated
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley or mint leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 6 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow, or green)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and break apart using a pair of kitchen shears or your finger tips. Add the zucchini, parsley or mint, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 4 minutes. The orzo should be only partially cooked. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the other vegetables. Stir the orzo into the vegetable mix to combine. Transfer the warm chicken broth to a 3-quart baking dish.
  4. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up.
  5. Place the peppers in the baking dish with the warm chicken broth. Spoon the orzo mixture into the peppers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the top of each pepper with cheese and continue baking until the cheese is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully transfer the orzo stuffed pepper to a serving plate.

Serves: 4-6

This is what the filling looks like before you stuff the peppers.

Bruschetta with Tomatoes & Basil

Bruschetta with Tomatoes & Basil


Bruschetta is one of my favorite appetizers.  It’s easy to make, and the flavors of basil, tomatoes, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil are so tasty.  This appetizer can be put together in minutes, and it’s the perfect thing to munch on before dinner.

Adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis

Bruschetta with Tomatoes & Basil

(print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (32-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 2-3 red tomatoes, diced (Roma tomatoes are a good choice)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 large baguettes, sliced ½ -inch thick (about 36 slices)
  • Extra basil, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add drained tomatoes, 1 cup basil leaves, olive oil and 2 cloves garlic. Pulse until smooth, but still somewhat chunky. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the tomato mixture from the food processor & stir in the chopped tomatoes.  Also stir in the rest of the basil that has been roughly chopped.
  4. On a baking sheet, line up baguette slices. Toast in oven for about 3 minutes or until light golden brown.  Working quickly, rub the remaining garlic on the toasted side of each slice. Spread one tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each piece of bread.
  5. Place bruschetta on a decorative platter and garnish with basil leaves, if desired.

Meatballs

As I’ve mentioned before, I love Italian food.  Spaghetti and meatballs are a classic Italian dish, and this recipe is wonderful.  I have made these meatballs many times and they are always so delicious.  The combination of turkey, beef, and pork in the meatballs gives them tons of flavor.  However, if you want to just use all beef or turkey in the meatballs, they will still turn out great.  You cannot go wrong with this recipe!

Adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis

Meatballs

(print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 6  ounces ground beef
  • 6 ounces ground turkey
  • 6 ounces ground pork
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Marinara sauce, 26-ounce jar
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions

  1. Sauté the onion in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the onion is cooked and slightly browned.
  2. Mix the first 7 ingredients (cooked onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, & pepper) in a large bowl to blend.  Then stir in the cheese and breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix in the beef, turkey, and pork. Using about 2 tablespoons of meat for each meatball shape the meat mixture into 1 ¼ to 1 ½ -inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.
  4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in same large nonstick skillet that was used to sauté the onions.  Working in 2 to 3 batches, add the meatballs and sauté until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a plate.
  5. Add the jar of marinara sauce to a large pot and heat, covered over medium-low heat.
  6. Then add the cooked meatballs to the sauce.  Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked through. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The meatball mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Re-warm over medium heat before continuing.)
  7. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions.  Serve with meatballs and marinara sauce with spaghetti and parmesan cheese.

Serves: 8 (The meatballs & sauce make great leftovers)

Step-by-step Instructions:

Step 1: 1. Sauté the onion in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the onion is cooked and slightly browned.

Step 2: 2. Mix the first 7 ingredients (cooked onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, & pepper) in a large bowl to blend. Then stir in the cheese and breadcrumbs.

Step 3: Mix in the beef, turkey, and pork. Using about 2 tablespoons of meat for each meatball shape the meat mixture into 1 ¼ to 1 ½ -inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.

Step 4: Heat the oil over medium-high heat in same large nonstick skillet that was used to sauté the onions. Working in 2 to 3 batches, add the meatballs and sauté until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a plate.

Steps 5 & 6: Add the jar of marinara sauce to a large pot and heat, covered over medium-low heat. Then add the cooked meatballs to the sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked through.

Step 7: Serve the meatballs and marinara sauce with spaghetti and parmesan cheese.

Puff Pastry Pizza

Puff Pastry Pizza with Tomato Sauce


Whenever my fridge gets full of random leftover ingredients, I make a “clean out the fridge” dinner, where I try to use up as many things from my fridge as possible.  Last week I had leftover homemade tomato sauce, 2 artichoke and roasted garlic sausages (Aidell’s brand), a block of parmesan cheese, 2 Roma tomatoes, a carrot, and some asparagus.  So I decided to make pizza with a side of steamed carrots & asparagus.

I had planned on making the pizza dough from scratch, but when I went to grab a packet of yeast out of the freezer, it had expired in 2007, so I threw it out.  I couldn’t find any more packets of yeast in my kitchen, but I did find a package of Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry dough in my freezer.  I pulled it out, looked at the box, and the box said to go to www.puffpastry.com for recipe ideas.  So I went to the website, and apparently there are hundreds of things you can make with frozen puff pastry dough.  I never would have thought to look there for recipes.  I found a recipe for pepperoni pizza and printed it out.

The pizza turned out great – the puff pastry crust was lighter and fluffier than regular pizza.  And it was the perfect way to use up some of the ingredients I had.

Adapted from: www.puffpastry.com

Puff Pastry Pizza

(print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough (such as Pepperidge Farm)
  • tomato sauce (jarred or homemade… whatever you have)
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of your choice: (I used 2 diced, cooked sausage links, 2 sliced tomatoes, some Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning)

Directions

  1. Thaw pastry dough at room temperature for 40 minutes.  Heat oven to 400’ F.
  2. Unfold dough onto lightly floured surface.  Roll into 15”x10” rectangle and place on a baking sheet.  Prick dough thoroughly with a fork.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. – Note: Do not under bake or your pizza will be too doughy.
  3. Spread tomato sauce over the dough, leaving a ½ inch edge.  Top with mozzarella cheese and toppings of your choice.  Bake 5-7 minutes or until cheese melts.
  4. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.

Serves: 4

Steamed carrots & asparagus are an easy and healthy side dish


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