Tomato Soup on “Meatless Monday”

I love all kinds of tomato soups, even the kind in the can!   Smooth and creamy tomato soup is fast and easy to make.  This soup can be “accessorized” with garnishes like my cheese bread croutons, creme fraiche, or even some baked bacon bits with chopped hard boiled eggs.  This is a versatile soup, it can be eaten piping hot or at room temperature.  Any way you like to eat your Tomato Soup,  here is a good, easy recipe to try.  Let’s Cook!

Tomato Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A fast, easy recipe for an all time favorite soup

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Ingredients

2 large cans, 12 oz plum tomatoes with juices (note, I used San Marzano)

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 celery stalks chopped

2 sweet onions

1 small red onion

4 garlic cloves

2 tsp  sugar

2 cups water

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

small piece of fresh hot pepper (optional)

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

thyme sprigs to taste

Sea salt course grain and fresh ground pepper to taste

heavy cream (optional)

Directions

-In a medium size soup pot, add the olive oil, garlic, and chopped onions, lightly brown the garlic with the onions stirring, careful not to burn the garlic. (If adding heat add in the hot pepper here).

-Add the chopped carrots, celery and the plum tomatoes with their juices.

-Add the water, sugar, salt, pepper, basil and thyme

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-Stir together, allow to simmer for at least 35-40 until all the vegetables (carrots and celery) are soft

-Using an immersion blender, or regular blender (in batches) blend until creamy and smooth

-Adjust salt

-If adding heavy cream stir in now

-Serve plain with Savory Cheese Bread croutons,  creme fraiche,  bacon and hardboiled egg or just with a sprig of fresh thyme

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

 

 

 

Cheese And Tomato Stuffed Eggplant

As promised last week, here is a stuffed eggplant recipe that was not only beautiful, but tasted great.  Eggplants, always so abundant in the summer months are probably one one the most versatile vegetables, they can be fried, grilled, puréed, sautéed and stuffed. Today, we will use this deep purple vegetable as a shell to hold a tomato and cheese filling . Let’s Cook!!

Cheese and Tomato Stuffed Eggplant

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Great as a side dish, appetizer or even as a main course

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Ingredients

4 Globe eggplants

1 Sweet onion

2 Garlic cloves

1.5 lbs of ripe tomatoes

3/4 lb Scamorze cheese

Fresh oregano

Parmesan Cheese

2tbls Extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling

Fresh Basil 
-Cut the Eggplant in half, with a knife carefully leaving 1/2″ border cut along the shape of the eggplant, with a spoon,scoop out the pulp leaving 1/2 along the bottom


-Cut the pulp into cubes place in a colander add salt and let sit for at least 1/2 hour

-Chop the garlic, add 2 tbls olive oil sauté until lightly brown on medium heat

-Chop the onion, add to the garlic and sauté until onion becomes translucent, add the eggplant mix well and continue sautéing until eggplant softens

-Chop the tomatoes into cubes or in quarters if using cherry tomatoes, add to the eggplant mixture

-Salt and pepper to taste, add fresh oregano, mix well

-Take the mixture of the heat, add the scamorze 


-Line a baking dish with parchment or foil, fill the Eggplant shells with the filling and place into the baking dish generously sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil

-Bake in 350F oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on oven) until eggplant shell is soft but still holding it’s shape and cheese is melted and golden


-Chop a handful of fresh basil and sprinkle on top

-Serve and enjoy

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

Meatless Monday… Chunky Lentil Stew

Another Meatless Monday, another Meatless Monday recipe. A nice, chunky lentil stew, I like to make a semi-Thai version lots of Cilantro, coconut milk to add creaminess, and  a little Curry powder for some flavor depth.  On a hot Summer day, this stew can be enjoyed at room temperature.  Try adding some avocado slices with basmati rice and you have a delicious meal.  Let’s Cook!!

Chunky Lentil Vegetable Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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A filling Lentil stew filled with flavor

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Ingredients

4 Carrots

1 large onion

2 Red peppers

1/2 Butternut squash

4 stalks of celery

2 scallions

1 1/2 Cup of dried lentils

1 Can of whole tomatoes

2 Cups of Vegetable broth

1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 cloves of garlic

Fresh hot pepper to taste

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 can of coconut milk

Curry powder to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a soup pot, add olive oil, chopped or crushed garlic lightly brown.  Add onions, scallions, hot pepper,curry powder continue to cook until onions become translucent, add lentils

Clean and chop all vegetables into bite sized cubes add to onion mixture, add tomatoes in their juice, broth, salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for about 45 minutes until lentils and vegetables are soft

Stir in coconut milk and cilantro

Serve with avocado slices and basmati rice

Buon Appetito!

Pesto Genovese…Basil Pesto

This is one of the most important pasta recipes ever! Really….. I was reading last months issue of the Italian food magazine Sale e Pepe where there happened to be a dedication to Basil.   Among the basil related recipes was “THE” recipe for Pesto Genovese, this is the recipe recognized by the Consorzio del Pesto Genovese (yes there is a an actual consortium for pesto Genovese  and other Italian protected food types!).  I am so happy to have found, and to share this recipe with you  Pesto: The Magnificent  7 (ingredients). Let’s cook!

 

Pesto Genovese, Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: super easy
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In the original recipe they use a mortar and pestle, feel free to use either a food processor or blender, I tried both and got great results

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Ingredients

The Magnificent 7 

2 packed cups of basil leaves (just the leaves and the baby leaves work the best)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, if you can find oil from Riviera Ligure better yet!

6 Tbls parmesan reggiano

2 Tbls pecorino romano imported

2 garlic cloves

1 Tbls pignoli nuts

Sea Salt course grind

1 lb of pasta, linguine or trenette

Directions

With a mortar pestle, blender or food processor combine the above ingredients, mix or blend until creamy and ingredients are incorporated.  Set aside, if making ahead, cover or seal in an airtight container to keep the top layer from browningIMG_1333.JPG

-Add water to a pasta pot, bring to boil,  add the pasta cook to al dente indication on package….drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  In a pasta bowl, add the pasta and mix with the pesto, if necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy pasta.

Serve

Buon Appetito!

Mickey

 

 

Onion Soup with Two toppings, Savory Cheese Bread or Classic Toast Topping

Two things you need when making Onion Soup, lots of onions and lots of time . Today I am making a Onion Soup and serving it with two different  toppings.  The first, is the classic version, with it’s crusty, cheesy French bread, the second version is with a large savory, thyme scented gruyere cheese bread crouton.  Give them both a try.   Lets Cook!

Onion Soup with Two Toppings

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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The longer the onions cook and caramelize the deeper the flavor

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Ingredients

For the soup:

1/4 stick of butter

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs of yellow onions

1/2 lb scallions

1 tsp sugar

1 cup of dry white wine

6 cups of broth (vegetable or beef)

1 tbls flour

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the Savory Cheese Bread:

1 lb grated gruyere cheese

1 cup of all purpose flour

2 tbls baking powder

1 tsp salt

8 large eggs

1 tbls finely chopped fresh thyme

For the Classic

Loaf of Crusty Italian or French bread

Grated Gruyere Cheese approximately 1/4 lb per ramekin (to liking)

Directions

-Peel and slice all the onions and scallions as thin as possibleIMG_1309.JPG

-In a soup pot, add the butter, olive oil and on a low heat cook the onions for 20 minutes until they become soft stirring often you do not want the onions to brown, add the sugar and continue to cook on low heat for at least another 25-30 minutes.fullsizeoutput_48

When the onions start to caramelize (turn a golden brown) add the white wine, turning up the heat, add the flour, stirring until it is mixed and dissolved into the liquid

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-Add the broth, salt and pepper to taste, continue cooking on low heat for another 10-15 minutes

-Serve with French bread or Crouton topping; both recipes below

Gruyere French Bread

Spoon the soup into an ovenproof ramekins, cut the baguette into 1- 1 1/2 ” slices (for a crunchier version) lightly toast the bread on both sides, (softer version) place the sliced  bread directly onto the hot soup, grate the cheese directly onto the bread  place the ramekin under the broiler watching closely as you melt the cheese to golden brownIMG_1323.JPG

Savory Cheese Bread Crouton

-Butter a Jelly roll pan and cover with parchment paper

-In a bowl add cheese, eggs, baking powder, salt, thyme and flour, mix well

-Pour and spread mixture onto the jelly roll panIMG_1313

-Bake in pre-heated 350F oven for 20-25 minutes (convection) the bread should be golden brown and an inserted toothpick should come out clean

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-With a pastry ring, cut into large circular croutons, place onto hot soup

 

-Serve the Onion Soup with either the Savory Cheese Croutons or the Classic French Bread and Cheese

Buon Appetito!!

Mickey

 

Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Peppers, Oh My!

A classic pasta dish in Italy, loved by all, quick, easy and made with few ingredients, Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (Garlic, Olive oil and Hot Pepper).   It is hard to believe a plate so simple can be so full of flavor. For a different twist,  I added sweet peppers to the original recipe.  Nothing could be better to serve on a quiet Saturday night, open a bottle of red wine and your all set!  Lets cook!!

Linguini with Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino and Sweet Peppers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Simple yet flavorful,  this pasta dish is always a big hit

Ingredients

1 lb imported linguine or spaghetti

3 cups of mixed sweet peppers, red and yellow finely diced

6 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed

6 tbls extra virgin olive oil

1 hot pepper chopped *heat index as you prefer, note this is a spicy, snappy dish

2 tbls fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped

3/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions

    -Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil while you prepare the sauce

    -Add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper in a wok style skillet large enough to finish off your linguine, on low heat lightly brown the garlic

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  • When the garlic is lightly brown, add the sweet peppers, stirring on a medium heat until the peppers start to break down and soften, add salt and freshly ground pepper
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    -Add the parsley, at this point you can take the sauce off the heat while you wait for your linguine

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    -Add sea salt to the boiling water then add your package of linguine

    -Cook your linguine 1 minute less than package indicates, you will finish it off with the pepper sauce

    -With a spaghetti fork, lift the linguine out of its water, draining as you lift, and mix into the pepper sauce, on a lively heat continue mixing.  Once the linguine is in the pan, add the parmesan cheese, mix well, then serve

Buon Appetito

Mickey

 

 

“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 !!

 

 

 

Meatless Monday, Creamy Potato Leek Soup

It is hard to believe it’s Monday again and time to share another “Meatless Alternative” for Meatless Monday.  Today’s recipe choice is another seasonal favorite…a comfort food for Spring,  a creamy, hearty dish that is really light and healthy.   My version of this recipe is made without heavy cream or butter,  if you like,  feel free to add them!

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A creamy, hearty light and healthy dish for Spring

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Ingredients

3 large leeks

4 large potatoes (try not to use “new potatoes” they will not be as creamy)

6 Cups of Vegetable or Chicken Broth

2 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large garlic clove

Thyme to taste

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Butter or heavy cream (optional)

Directions

-Cut the leeks in half along the length, wash well  (leeks have a tendency to be very dirty on the inside) and slice into 1/4 inch slicesfullsizeoutput_12

-Peel the potatoes and cut into small piecesfullsizeoutput_14.jpeg

-Smash the garlic clove with a knife, in a medium size soup pot add olive oil and  lightly brown the garlic on a low heat

-Add the leeks saute with the garlic fullsizeoutput_13.jpeg

– When the leeks start wilting and get slightly golden, add the potatoes, the broth, salt, pepper and the thyme bring these ingredients to a boil.  Turn heat down and cook until the potatoes are very soft,  between 30-45 minutes.

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-Off the heat, with an immersion blender (or in a blender) blend the soup until all ingredients are blended and creamy.  If you want to add butter or heavy cream to taste (optional)IMG_0992.JPG

-Serve hot or  at room temperature with croutons and/ or Parmesan Cheese

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Buon Appetito!!

Directions

 

 

Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

Spring is here and what better way to welcome the season than with Farm Fresh Spring Peas.  If you are able to find peas at the Farmers Market buy them, shell them and put them in the freezer, no need to precook the peas.  I am still using mine from last year!  (No need to worry if you cannot find fresh, frozen peas will work too).  Peas are  easily used in so many dishes, let’s start with this,  Pasta made with a creamed fresh pea sauce.  This dish will be a great addition to your Easter menu.

Pasta with Creamed Fresh Spring Peas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Shell pasta captures the peas inside their shape, so every bite has peas with some creamy sauce

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This dish works  well as an Easter first course

Ingredients

4-5 cups of Fresh shelled Peas (frozen works too)

1 sweet yellow onion finely diced

3 tbls extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups vegetable broth

3/4 cups fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

2 Tbls unsalted butter

1/4 cup of fresh cream

Parmesan cheese to taste

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 1/4 lb Artisan Pasta in a shape that will capture the peas (Rigatoni, Shells, Penne,  if you use a fettuccine or fresh long pasta note that it will need more liquid for the sauce)

Directions

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-In a high sided pan add the olive oil and the chopped onion, on low heat saute until onion becomes transparent careful not to burn or brown the onionIMG_0957

-Add the peas,  white wine,  the vegetable broth, salt and pepper toss in the parsley.

-On medium heat, cook the peas ( fresh) for at least 30 minutes, pay attention to the liquid, it will reduce, add water if the liquid reduces too much and peas are not cooked. Taste the peas they should be tender to the bite….continue cooking until the peas are tender adjusting the liquid as necessary.IMG_0959

-Off the heat, in a mixing bowl add 2 cups of the cooked peas, add the cream and with an immersion blender mix until blended. (note- if you do not have an immersion blender, use a normal blender)

-Add the creamed peas back into the solid peas and let sit off  heat while  pasta is cookingIMG_0962

-In a pasta pot, fill with water and bring to boil add sea salt, then pasta.

-Cook pasta as indicated on package 1 minute less (see Pasta 101).

-Reheat the pea sauce add the butterIMG_0965

-Using a large slotted spoon, draining each spoonful, add the pasta to the pea sauce, on a lively heat mix the pasta with the sauce (remember you are still finishing off the pasta) If necessary, add liquid from the pasta water ….the sauce should be creamy not dry.  Add the parmesan cheese.  Mix well and serve.fullsizeoutput_10

Buon Appetito!!