“Meatless Monday…Mixed bean, Leek, Carrot and Celery Soup with Baby Pasta

After a fun filled weekend of eating and drinking, its nice to enjoy a comforting soup that is filled with vegetables and protein.  This Bean Leek Soup is the perfect meal for a light and healthy  “Meatless Monday” lunch or dinner.

Mixed Bean, Leek, Carrot and Celery Soup with Baby Pasta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 large leeks cut lengthwise in half and chopped

2 cups chopped celery

3 cups chopped carrots

2 cloves of garlic chopped

2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil

1/2 mild hot pepper

6 cups of vegetable broth

2 cups of Cranberry or Pinto Beans canned, drained

2 cups of Cannellini Beans canned, drained (note….this is a rare exception  using canned beans, try to use  high quality beans)

3 Tbls chopped fresh mixed herbs, thyme, basil and flat leaf parsley

1/2 lb small pasta i.e. Ditalini Rigati

Parmesan Cheese to taste

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions

-Add olive oil, garlic and hot pepper lightly brown

-Add leeks, stirring into the garlic mixture, saute leeks until they start to soften and the flavors meldIMG_1090.JPG

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-When the leeks soften add the celery and carrotsIMG_1094.JPG

Add Both beans, sea salt to taste and fresh ground pepperIMG_1124.JPG

Add the broth and mixed herbsIMG_1125.JPG

-Bring mixture to boil, lower heat and simmer (low boil) for at least 45 minutes

-Bring a small pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook al dente…. at least 1 minute less than time indicated. (note- I do not boil the pasta in the soup broth since it will absorb the liquid ) Drain the pasta

-Remove 3 cups of the soup mixture and place in a mixing bowl, with an immersion blender, blend mixture until smooth and creamyIMG_1127.JPG

-Pour blended mixture back into the soup pot

-Add the pasta to the SoupIMG_1128.JPG

-Serve hot or tepid with Parmesan Cheesefullsizeoutput_26

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

 

Spring Fling, Russian Salad with Fresh Asparagus

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This dish takes asparagus and eggs to the next level.   Asparagus paired with a fresh vegetable, egg filled Russian Salad…. so tasty.  Mainly served as an appetizer, Russian salad, is a favorite here in Venice.  I thought it might be interesting served with seasonal asparagus.  Russian Salad also called Olivier Salad,  is a traditional Russian celebratory dish.  This salad  has become quite popular in Europe, there are many variations and each country has adopted their own version.  I  quite like the way the Venetians make their Insalata Russa.

Russian Salad with Fresh Spring Asparagus

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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This salad can be served year round,  alone or as a side to boiled shrimp or lobster.

Ingredients

10 carrots peeled and diced in 1/4″cubes (should yield approximately 3 cups)

2 large non starchy potatoes peeled and diced in 1/4″ cubes (should yield 3 cups)

2 cups of fresh peas shelled (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)

8 hard boiled eggs

1 cup of dill gherkins diced in 1/4″ cubes

1 1/2 to 2 cups of Mayonnaise  (high quality)

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

sea salt

salt and pepper to taste

2 large bunches of asparagus

Directions

-Peel and dice potatoes into 1/4″ size cubes,  slice the potatoes on the long side lay the potatoes flat on a cutting board and cut into cubesIMG_1031.JPG

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-Peel and cut the carrots along the length, lay the cut side down on a cutting board and cut again, then cut into 1/4′ cubesIMG_1033.JPG

-All items need to boil separately each has different cooking times

-In cold water add potatoes and course grain sea salt, bring to boil, after water comes to a boil time 10 minutes (note the potatoes need to retain their shape and NOT fall apart, so watch carefully, Please do not overcook them). Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the carrots and sea salt, bring to boil and time 8 minutes noting the same not to overcook the carrots.  Drain and let cool completely.

-In cold water add the peas and sea salt you will need to test the peas but if fresh 10 minutes,  if frozen much shorter, also be careful not to overcook. Drain and let cool completely

-In a pot large enough for the eggs, bring water to a boil, add the eggs carefully into the water boil for 10 minutes.  Let cool and peel

-Dice egg whites into 1/4″ cubes separately chop the yokes

-Dice the dill gherkins in 1/4″ cubes

-It is important that all items cool and dry before mixing together

-In a bowl add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper, mix well

-In a large mixing bowl add all of the cooked ingredients along with the dill gherkins, egg whites and yolks, mix in the mayonnaise, stir carefully , refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be made a day in advance.

-Cut the tough bottom end of the asparagus, with a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom rough outer layer, place the asparagus in cold water bring to boil.  Test for preferred doneness with a fork.  Carefully lift the asparagus out of the water let drain.

-With a pastry form in the center of a plate, fill with  Russian Salad, lay the asparagus alongside, lift the form and Voila!!  A Beautiful Spring Plate!!!

Buon Appetito !!

 

 

 

Easter Rice Pie with Ham

With only a few days until Easter,  I’ve decided to try and recreate a Savory Rice Pie my grandmother used to make when I was young.  My grandmother was from Molise Italy, I am sure  her recipe was  a variation of a traditional Easter recipe made in her childhood home.  I have created this Easter Pie from my memory of her recipe.    I hope you like it…..I think it’s pretty good!!!

Rice Pie with Ham and Ricotta Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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This Rice Pie can be served as an appetizer,  a luncheon entree or for dinner served hot or at room temperature

Ingredients

-1 puff pastry round large enough to come up the side of a 9″ springform pan

-1 cup of boiled ham ask the deli to cut 1/4″ slices and then you can cut that into 1/4″x1/4″ cubes

-2 cups of cooked, drained rice, arborio, vialone nanone or carnaroli rice, these three are high starch firm textured rices

-2 scallions diced finely

-1 cup of Ricotta Cheese

-4 large eggs

-1 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated

-1/4 cup Imported Pecorino Romano grated

-3/4 tsp marjoram

-Sea Salt fine grain and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 F

-In a nonstick pan add the olive oil, the scallions and the diced ham, saute until the scallions become translucent, add fresh ground pepper,  let coolIMG_1023.JPG

-Bring a pasta pot of water to boil and add sea salt and 1 cup of uncooked rice (should yield 2 cups) cook 12 minutes and drain.

-In a mixing bowl add the ricotta cheese,  the eggs, the parmesan and pecorino cheeses mix well IMG_1025.JPG

-Into the egg ricotta cheese mixture add the ham and scallions, the cooked rice, the marjoram and sea salt

-Drape the puff pastry into a 9″inch springform pan, I use parchment paper under my pastry.IMG_1024 2.JPG

-Pour the mixture into the puff pastry and fold the sides over the top of the fillingIMG_1026.JPG

-If you like you can use an egg wash and brush over the pastry before baking

-Bake in conventional oven approximately 35 minutes, in a convection oven 25 minutes.

-The pie will be golden brown and a knife inserted will come out clean

-When cool open the spring pan, and remove the side place carefully on a serving plate

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-Buon Appetito

 

 

 

 

It’s Fry- day…..Crispy Crunchy Salted Fried Zucchini

I know of few Italian Restaurants in America that do not serve fried zucchini as an appetizer option.  I guess we all love zucchini, served hot and crunchy,  dipped in either a aioli or tomato sauce.  Well here is a recipe for fried zucchini that you can make at home.  If you like, serve the zucchini with a  simple tomato sauce .  We like it as is, salted with lemon wedges!!

Crispy Crunchy Salted Fried Zucchini

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Its easy to make and everyone will love it

Ingredients

4-6 medium to small zucchini

2 eggs

1 cup of flour

2 cups of breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil

Finishing salt

Directions

-Slice the zucchini lengthwise, as thin as possible

-On parchment paper or aluminum foil, or a prep board add the flour and the breadcrumbs

-Heat the oil in a high sided heavy bottom wok, pot or pan until you drop a tiny piece of breading and it fries actively

-In a shallow bowl or dish beat the eggsIMG_0133

-Dip the zucchini in the flour, the egg and then the breadcrumbs…. you can press the crumbs to the zucchini making sure to coat the zucchini well….set aside until the oil is ready and you have breaded all the zucchini

-Carefully add the zucchini to the hot oil, try not to overcrowd the pan….fry until golden brown

-With a Slotted flat spoon carefully remove from oil and place on a platter lined with paper towel.

-Salt with a finishing sea saltIMG_0130

-Best served hot

Buon Appetito!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thyme-burgers for lunch!! or dinner…

A great lunch or dinner idea these yummy bunless burgers can be whipped up in minutes.  Mix the ingredients, skewer the burgers and throw them on a hot grill.  I love them served on a bed of leafy mixed greens with an heirloom tomato.  Instead of a plain burger give these a try……I bet you will love them too!!!

 

Thyme Burgers

  • Servings: 3 med burgers
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1/2 lb ground veal or beef

1 galic clove pressed

1 egg

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese imported

1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs

1tbls fresh thyme chopped

pepper and salt mix (one of the grill mixes) to taste

Directions

-preheat gas grill on med low direct heat, if cooking indoors use a grill pan preheated

-mix the meat, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, thyme and salt/pepper, the mixture should hold a shapeIMG_0894

-form into long oval shape and insert a skewerIMG_0895

-grill until desired doneness carefully turning to brown on all sidesIMG_0896

-serve on a bed of mixed baby salad greens with a heirloom tomatoIMG_0897

would love to hear what you think!!

Buon Appetito

Tuna Croquettes, Polpette, Meatballs

These  Tuna Croquettes are a big hit whenever friends come over… served with a lovely ice cold glass of Prosecco.  They are also great served on top of a mixed baby green salad. Easy to make,  best served hot but great at room temperature too…  However you serve them, it is hard to eat just one!

Tuna Croquette, Polpette, Meatballs

In whatever language French, Italian or English these always a crowd pleaser

Ingredients

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1 cup of can tuna drained  (water or oil packed)

1 cup of ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 cup of Parmesan cheese grated

2 + cups of breadcrumbs

1 tbls chopped flat leaf parsley

1 clove of crushed garlic

sea salt and pepper to taste

vegetable oil

Directions

-in a mixing bowl add the tuna, ricotta,  Parmesan , egg ,garlic  salt, pepper and parsley mix well.  Add 1 cup of breadcrumbs mix well (note you might need more breadcrumbs based on moistness of the ricotta) .  IMG_0853

-form into desired shape, small balls,  ovals or sticks

-on parchment or foil add breadcrumbs and roll the tuna to coat the outer layer

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-in a high sided pot pour  or deep fryer add vegetable oil and heat, when ready, gently place 3 -4  meatballs at a time allowing them room to fry until they reach a golden brown.  The meatballs may need to be gently turned in the oil to ensure even cooking

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-with a slotted spoon lift them onto a plate with paper towel to drain,  salt freely with a finishing salt.

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-Serve alone as an appetizer or on a bed of baby greens

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Buon Appetito!!

Directions

Meatless Monday….Greens and Beans Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons

If you grew up in an Italian American home, you probably have eaten or are  familiar with “Greens and Beans”.  The greens, escarole or Swisschard  are cooked in a garlicky oil mixed with white beans.  I have taken this dish one step further making it into a soup, topping it with a garlic Parmesan crouton. It is a filling flavorful soup for lunch or dinner on a Meatless Monday!!

Greens and Beans Soup with Garlic Parmesan Croutons

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A soupy version of a favorite, Green’s and Beans

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs a of cleaned chopped Swisschard or Escarole

4 cups Cannellini Beans ( not dried)

1 hot pepper chopped (note- peppers have different heat this is to taste)

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

4 scallions finely diced

2 garlic cloves finely diced

6 cups of vegetable broth

sea salt

pepper

For the bread

1 loaf  of crusty bread Italian

2 cloves of crushed garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley chopped

3/4-1 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

-In a soup pot, add the olive oil, garlic, scallions and pepper sauté until garlic is lightly browned

-add the chopped greens, the beans and the brothIMG_0879

-add sea salt and pepper to taste

-bring to boil, and simmer for 35-45 minutes

Garlic Parmesan Croutons

-slice the bread in half or thirds depending on size

-in a prep bowl add olive oil and the crushed garlic stir

-with a pastry brush paint the bread with the oil mixture then dust with the parsleyIMG_0880

-Spread the Parmesan on the bread generously

-place the bread under the broiler until golden brown, let cool and cut into cubes

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-ladle the soup into bowls, add the Croutons and server

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Buon Appetito!!!

Split Pea Soup with Spring Onions and Thyme

Another favorite soup to welcome the season.  This Split pea soup  is a light vegetarian version, few ingredients,  easy to prepare and flavorful.  Great for lunch or dinner served with a sprig of fresh thyme… Spring is in the air!!!!

Split Pea Soup with Spring Onions and Fresh Thyme

  • Servings: 2-4
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A Fresh, light Springtime favorite

Ingredients

-1 cup of split peas

-2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-1 garlic clove

-2 large carrots

-3 celery stalks

-4 spring onions

-2 scallions

-7 cups broth, vegetable or chicken

-course grind sea salt

-fresh ground pepper

-6 sprigs of fresh thyme

Directions

-In a deep soup pot add the olive oil, finely chop the spring onions, garlic and the scallions and add to the oil.  Saute on medium/low heat until the onions are translucent about 3-5 minutes careful not to burn.IMG_0837

-Dice the celery and carrotsIMG_0835

-add the chopped celery, carrots and the split peas to the onions

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Add the broth, sea salt, pepper and thyme cook simmer on a medium/low heat. (Note- unsoaked peas can take 1-2 hours to cook you need to watch the and maintain the broth level, if you presoak the peas cooking time is around 45 minutes.)    Cook the soup until the peas are soft to the bite.IMG_0843

-remove approximately 2 cups and blend with a immersion blender, mix the creamed soup back into the pot

-serve with a drizzle of olive oilIMG_0846

As always I look forward to your feedback!

Buon Appetito!!

Welcome Spring… with a Mango, Avocado Shrimp Layered Salad !!

I saw this beautiful ripe mango at the market and just had to buy it.  Since today is the first day of Spring , I thought it might be nice to make a sweet and savory salad with my mango.  Certain fruits go so well with seafood, mango being one of them so I decided to do a Shrimp Salad and Layer it with Guacamole and Mango…… Hope you try it!!!!!

Layered Shrimp Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

-10  (1/2lb) med/large shrimp shelled and deveined

-2 Stalks of Celery finely chopped

-1 scallion

-1 tbls mayonnaise

-1 tbls plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

-2 dashes of Tabasco

-1/2 tsp of Dijon mustard

-1/2 lemon

-dash of balsamic vinegar

-1 tsp lemon juice

-1/2 Mango chopped

-1/2 Hass Avocado chopped

-2 medium plum tomatoes chopped

-lime juice

-1small garlic clove pressed

-cilantro chopped

-1/4 chopped red hot pepper (optional)

-sea salt and pepper

-extra virgin olive oil

Directions

-Peel and devein the shrimp. In a pot large enough to hold the shrimp,  cut a lemon in half then cut of the end , add the lemon to a pot filled wth cold water, add sea salt and bring to boil.

-When the water boils add the shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes they will turn white when cooked. Drain

-Finely chop the celery and the scallions, cut the shrimp into bite size piecesimg_0815

-For the Shrimp dressing add the yogurt,mayonnaise,mustard,Tabasco, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, in a bowl mix with the shrimp

-peeel and chop the avocado, chop the tomatoes, add garlic, lime sea salt pepper cilantro and hot pepper (optional) mix well.

-Peel and chop the Mango into  small even size pieces

-Assemble, on a serving plate, using a large pastry ring layer half of the shrimp salad, pressing it into the form, next your guacamole and last the Mango.  Carefully lift the ring exposing your 3 layers.  You can carefully dribble on some olive oil. E’ Voila!!

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Thyme lemon simply grilled shrimp

Here is another great alternative for a meatless meal.   This thyme, lemon  grilled shrimp , is easy to make, healthy and light.   Great for appetizer, lunch or dinner , on top of a big mixed green salad or as a stand alone main course this dish takes no time at all and is well worth it.  If you don’t have a grill use a grill pan on your stove, you will get the same results.

Thyme lemon simply grilled Shrimp

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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Easy, healthy appetizer or entree, light and fresh

Ingredients

-3 dozen fresh or frozen whole shrimp (note-I prefer the medium size for their tenderness)

-the juice of 2 fresh lemons

-3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

-3 garlic cloves crushed

-sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions

-Devein the shrimp, rinse and place in a colanderIMG_0772

-Heat the grill

-In a bowl add the juice of 2 lemons, the crushed garlic, sea salt, pepper add the olive oil stir with a small whisk add the thyme.IMG_0774

-place the shrimp one by one on metal or wood skewers 7 or 8 per (note-if using wood skewers, soak them in water so they don’t burn while grilling)IMG_0773

-In a shallow dish long enough to hold the skewers, add the marinade, let sit at least 20 minutes

-on a medium/low direct heat grill, place the skewers and grill  3-5 minutes per side…when the shrimp turn white they are cooked. Save the marinade in the dish to brush on the shrimp while  cooking.IMG_0776

Serve along side or on top of a mixed green saladIMG_0779

Buon Appetito!!