Eggplant and Fennel Lasagna

Rainy day, lazy mood and some rogue veggies scattered in the fridge can only mean one thing. Order takeout! Kidding. I hardly ever order takeout, instead I’d rather channel my inner top chef and get creative. Keep Reading!

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Pesto with Gnocchi

Nothing says summer like bright green pesto with a salty hint of parmigiano-reggiano, the buttery texture of pine nuts, grassy extra virgin olive oil and a bite of fresh garlic. Over the years, I’ve spent a few summers in Aulla, a town in Northern Tuscany, where the sea meets the mountains.
Continue reading “Pesto with Gnocchi”

An Easter Menu

Easter Menu

TO START
Fritelle di Baccalà
Pickled Beet Eggs
Deviled Eggs

SOUP
Stracciatella (Italian Egg Drop Soup)

MAIN
Agnello al Forno (Oven Baked Lamb) with Potatoes

VEGETABLE
Piselli alla Fiorentina (Florentine Style Spring Peas)

DESSERT
Pastiera Napoletana (A Neapolitan Easter Cake)
Keep on reading!

Baccalà alla Napoletana: Neapolitan-Style Braised Salt Cod

Baccalà (in Italian) simply means salt cured cod. Cod preserved in this manner can last for years and years, and Campania, a region which includes the city of Naples, boasts the highest consumption of baccalà in all of Italy, so naturally, a Napoletana recipe must be good! Continue reading “Baccalà alla Napoletana: Neapolitan-Style Braised Salt Cod”

Porchetta Pork Tenderloin

If I didn’t have your attention at “porchetta”, then you’ve got to keep reading. Go ahead, drool over the photos and imagine this succulent and flavourful pork tenderloin disguised as a laboriously prepped porchetta coming out of your oven in 45 minutes or less. Keep Reading!

Paccheri al Forno

An Italian classic layered with love. This is a riff on Nonna’s infamous lasagna. I grew up on classic American lasagna made with cottage cheese, tomatoes, ground meat and Mueller’s lasagna noodles, the ones with the curly edges. It was good, but then, I had my first taste of Nonna’s lasagna and that’s it, American lasagna hit the back burner. Keep Reading!

Creamy Polenta and Mushrooms

We made it to my favorite season, yet I’m getting the feeling that Mother Nature has skipped over the best parts and headed straight to the cold weather! I’ve armed myself with my warmest hoodie sweatshirt, Smartwool socks and one of my favorite meals – polenta with mushrooms to break that chill! Keep Reading!

Take Polenta To The Next Level With Two New Recipes

I just had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments! Why not polenta? It’s such a versatile grain that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner! Commonly known as a boiled porridge made from cornmeal you would be surprised at the many things you can do with a pot of hot, creamy, cheesy, corn-studded polenta.

Keep Reading!

Spaghetti and “Beanballs”

Aha! A vegetarian meatball that holds itself together, this is good news!
Spaghetti and “Beanballs” makes for a great weeknight meal that can be made ahead and reheated to serve. I’m looking forward to noshing on this protein and fiber-rich dish after my run tonight.

An added benefit to these balls is that you can play with them—okay that was awful humor but really, change the type of beans, herbs and seasonings  to create new dishes! Think, black beans with a Latin flair e.g. green onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and mango or Mediterranean style with chopped kalamata olives, parsley, lemon juice and sumac—possibilities!

Raw "Beanballs", Cooked "Beanballs" and Spaghetti + "Beanballs"
Raw “Beanballs”, Cooked “Beanballs” and Spaghetti + “Beanballs”

Spaghetti and Beanballs
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cans of White Beans, drained
1 1/2-2 Roasted Red Peppers, diced
1 Yellow Onion, grated
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped Parsley
1 c. Panko Bread Crumbs (if you find the bean mixture to be too wet, add more breadcrumbs)
1  Egg
1 Tbsp. Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
Your favorite Marinara Sauce-25oz Jar
Parmesan Cheese for grating
Spaghetti Noodles

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a baking sheet.  If you have a food processor feel free to pulse the beans and roasted red peppers until finely chopped, otherwise in a flat-bottomed pan or skillet mash together the beans and roasted red peppers with a potato masher until you reach a chopped consistency.

Transfer this mixture to a medium-sized bowl and add the garlic, onion, bread crumbs, oregano, salt, pepper and egg.  Stir until combined.  Begin by taking about 2 Tablespoons of bean mixture and roll between your palms until a ‘ball’ shape is attained.  Line the beanballs on the prepared baking sheet, spaced evenly. Bake about 20 minutes or until the beanballs are golden in color and firm to the touch.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil to cook spaghetti noodles.

In a large skillet heat your fave marinara sauce over medium heat.  Add the beanballs to the skillet with the marinara and simmer until heated through 10-15 minutes.

When the noodles are al dente and ready to serve, dish out the spaghetti onto plates and top with the marinara and beanballs, then grate parmesan cheese atop and serve.

Rustic Cabbage Salad Scented with Orange Peel

I recently acquired a green cabbage which could quite easily be the same size as my very own head.  Thinking about what to do with a cabbage of this stature, my thoughts processed, cabbage rolls, stew, slaw….and then I remembered a fabulously, simple salad that a dear friend had made for me years ago. I believe it is Italian in origin with rustic roots and a taste that hits home.

Rustic Cabbage Salad Scented with Orange Peel

As the cold weather begins to settle in, cabbage is plentiful and the orange peel adds not only flavor but zest and brightness.  Eating the cabbage raw lends to a greater intake in vitamins and nutrients especially vitamins C and K.  In addition, this salad is a welcomed contrast to the darker, heartier vegetables of fall and winter.

Rustic Cabbage Salad Scented with Orange Peel

Half a head of Cabbage, shredded finely
Drizzle of good olive, to coat salad
Drizzle of good vinegar, to coat salad
Sea Salt, to season
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to season
Rind from (1) Orange, grated

Toss together, the shredded cabbage (red or green, but I don’t recommend mixing the two because the red bleeds into the green and it is not as beautiful!) Then add good olive oil and vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper and grated rind from an orange. Allow the flavors to meld before serving.

Remix: Born to hand CHIVE baby!

The following recipe is a spin-off from a class I took with the Grand Rapids Cooking School at the Uptown Kitchen in Grand Rapids, MI.  At the class we made a Garlic Chive and Almond Pesto which was shockingly green and highly addicting!  I remixed it fusion-style with Asian Chives (which are very garlicky) and Candlenuts.  Candlenuts frequent the sauces and sambals of Malay and Indonesian cooking, acting as a thickener and are known for their high oil content.  I find it interesting, that throughout various parts of the world the candlenut plant is medicinal, treating ailments with the bark, leaves and fruit.

Perhaps this Pesto Remix not only awakens the taste buds but awakens the body too!

Asian Chive and Candlenut Pesto

5oz Fresh Asian Chives (Kow Choi)
3oz Candlenuts
a few sprigs of Culantro
a few sprigs of Cilantro
150 ml Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
freshly, grated Parmesan

In a mortar with pestle or food processor/spice coffee grinder, finely chop the candlenuts, chive, culantro, and cilantro while steadily pouring in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with freshly grated parmesan.

I enjoyed this pesto on crusty baguette:

Asian Chive and Candlenut Pesto on Baguette

Slice open a baguette and butter both sides.  Smear each side with plenty of pesto.  Fire up the broiler and toast until bubbly and nicely browned!