Italian Beet Green Gratin

June 21, 2010

Chef’s Notes: I bought a lovely bunch of beets at the Farmers Market this weekend and wanted to make something using the greens. Did you know beet greens are a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins A, C and B-6? That’s a powerful little veggie and in this recipe you get a full one cup per serving…and you almost don’t even know it’s there!

(No beet greens? You might be able to substitute fresh spinach for the beet greens.)

I served this over pasta with a salad on the side.

Italian Beet Green Gratin
4 servings

1 T. olive oil
1-2 clove garlic, minced
3/4# hot Italian sausage
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 C. beet greens, cleaned and removed from stem
1/2 C. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 C. cottage cheese
1/2 C. fresh shredded Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sausage and cook until sausage is no longer pink. Do not burn the garlic; reduce heat if needed. Add the mushrooms, turn heat down to medium-low, and cook until mushrooms are tender. Add the beet greens and basil; mix well. Remove pan from heat.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese. Combine everything and put into a lightly oiled baking dish. (I used a glass pie plate.) Bake for 30-45 minutes.

Calories 230
Fat 14.1
Carbohydrate 6.1
Protein 19.6

This is the original recipe.


Italian Wedding Soup

October 12, 2009

Chef’s Notes: This is one of my favorite soups. It’s so simple and so flavorful. Not much else to say about it. It’s just good food. 🙂 There are a lot of recipes available for Italian Wedding Soup; this is my personal variation on those recipes.

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup
Serves 4

The Meatballs
1 egg
1 tsp. minced onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 T. coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1 T. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch (1/16 tsp.) of salt
Fresh ground pepper, a turn or two of the pepper mill
Smidgen (1/32 tsp.) of nutmeg
1/2# ground beef
1/4 C. fresh bread crumbs (I toasted one slice of wheat bread and tore it into very tiny pieces)

In medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk egg. Add onion, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and mix thoroughly. Add beef and bread crumbs and combine all the ingredients with your hands. Break off small pieces of meat and form bite-size meatballs (about 20).

The Soup
6 C. crockpot chicken stock
2 C. water
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 oz. spaghetti (about the circumference of a quarter), broken into fourths
The Meatballs
1 egg
1 T. fresh grated Parmesan
4 C. fresh spinach, rinsed and stems removed

Place chicken stock and water in large cookpot and add salt. Heat over high heat until boiling. Remove the pot from the heat and turn the burner down to medium low. Stir spaghetti into the stock, then put meatballs in, one at a time with a spoon. Return pot to burner, cover, and cook for about one hour.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until frothy; stir in cheese. Very slowly drizzle the egg mixture into the soup and stir gently with a fork to form thin stands of egg. Add the spinach and cook just until the spinach wilts, only a minute or two.

Serve with additional Parmesan for garnish.

Just a side note: I actually have measuring spoons for “pinch,” “dash,” and “smidgen.” I picked them up at Goodwill but they are available for purchase online. How fun. 🙂

Ricotta-Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom-Alfredo Sauce

September 14, 2009

Chef’s Notes: This was a dish that was served at the Italian restaurant I once worked at. Their recipe is top secret (and they’ve got Mafia connections! 😉 ) so this is only a close approximation. This dish is very rich and satisfying…and is best enjoyed with Frank Sinatra on the stereo and goblets filled with wine.

Ricotta-Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom-Alfredo Sauce

Ricotta-Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom-Alfredo Sauce

Ricotta-Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom-Alfredo Sauce
Serves 4

4 boneless chicken breasts

1 T. olive oil
1/2 C. wine (red, white, or a splash of both)
1 T. minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

3/4 C. ricotta cheese
1/2 pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 T. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 C. unsalted butter
1 1/2 C. heavy cream
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 C. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 C. fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

Pound chicken breasts as thin as possible, at least to 1/4-inch thickness, and place in shallow glass dish. Combine all marinade ingredients except olive oil in food processor and process. Slowly pour in olive oil and continue to process until mixture is blended and frothy. Pour marinade over the chicken, turning to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade. Combine filling ingredients and spread evenly onto each chicken breast. Fold chicken, tucking in the ends as much as possible. Place filled chicken breasts onto baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

To prepare sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Stir in parsley and mushrooms.

Place chicken breasts on individual plates or serving platter. Cover with sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Tantalizing Tropical Pizza with Herbed Wheat Crust

September 6, 2009

Chef’s Notes: You could make a phone call and have a pizza at the door in thirty minutes. Or you could take the time to create this pizza that is bursting with herb flavor in every layer and features a tantalizing array of toppings – balsamic thyme chicken, maple bacon, minted pineapple, red bell pepper rings, and a gouda/provolone cheese blend. It’s worth every second.

Tantalizing Tropical Pizza with Herbed Wheat Crust

Tantalizing Tropical Pizza with Herbed Wheat Crust

Tantalizing Tropical Pizza with Herbed Wheat Crust
10 slices

1 T. olive oil
2 T. onions, minced
2 T. bell pepper, minced
1 T. garlic, minced
2 medium very ripe tomatoes
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. fresh basil, minced
1 T. fresh oregano, minced
1 T. fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp. salt (more or less to taste)

1 pkg. yeast
1 C. warm water
1/2 C. canola oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 C. fresh herbs (such as basil, oregano, chives, thyme, rosemary, parsley), minced
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour

Balsamic Thyme Chicken
1 T. canola oil
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 T. thyme, torn into small pieces
1/2 C. white wine
2 T. balsamic vinegar

Maple Bacon
2 slices thick cut bacon
1 T. real maple syrup

Minted Pineapple
1/2 C. fresh or canned pineapple tidbits
1/2 T. fresh mint, torn into small pieces

Red Bell Pepper Rings
1 red bell pepper

Cheese Blend
1 C. smoked gouda cheese, grated
1 C. smoked provolone cheese, grated

Garlic-Butter for Crust
4 T. butter
1/2 T. garlic

1. Make the sauce. In a small sauce pan, sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the olive oil. Peel and core the tomatoes, then coarsely chop and add to sautéed vegetables. Cover the pan and cook over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, or until most of the tomato juice has cooked away (about 10 minutes). Turn the heat down to medium-low, stir in the tomato paste, basil, oregano, parsley, and salt, and heat through (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and cool completely. While sauce is cooling, continue with the remaining steps.

2. Make the dough. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Add oil, salt, sugar, the half cup of assorted fresh herbs, and mix thoroughly. Stir in 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Mix until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Spread remaining flour onto counter; turn dough out onto counter. Knead dough, working in the additional flour, about 5 minutes, until dough is “bouncy” and not sticky. Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with towel. Place in a warm draft-free place to rise, about one hour. While dough is rising, prepare the toppings.

3. Make the chicken. Dice the chicken in bite-sized pieces. Heat canola oil in small cast iron skillet. Add chicken and thyme. Cook until chicken is done, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and balsamic vinegar, turn heat to medium-high, and cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

4. Make the bacon. Put bacon slices in small cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat. When bacon is browned on one side, turn over and drizzle with maple syrup. Cook bacon on second side, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate. When cooled, crumble.

5. Toss the pineapple tidbits with fresh mint.

6. Cut the red bell pepper into 8 or 10 thin slices.

7. Mix the cheeses in a bowl.

8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

9. When the dough has doubled in size (after about an hour), punch lightly to remove air bubbles, then let rest for 5 minutes. Punch dough lightly again, then shape dough on an oiled 16-inch pizza pan. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, almost to the edges. Sprinkle cheese over sauce. Layer the toppings over the cheese – chicken, bacon, pineapple, and red pepper slices.

10. Place pizza on middle rack of oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned on bottom. When pizza is cooking, combine butter and garlic to make spread. After removing the pizza from the oven, spread the garlic butter on the outside edge of the crust. Cut the pizza into ten slices and serve.

No Noodle Lasagna

August 23, 2009

Chef’s Notes: You won’t even miss the noodles in this lasagna that is full of veggies and bursting with authentic Italian taste. I was shocked at how good this was. 🙂

No Noodle Lasagna | Fried Eggplant Sticks

No Noodle Lasagna | Fried Eggplant Sticks

No Noodle Lasagna
Serves 2 to 4

1 medium zucchini
1 hot Italian turkey sausage*
1 T. olive oil
1 T. minced garlic
2 T. onion, diced
2 T. bell pepper, diced
1/2 C. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 C. spaghetti sauce
2 tsp. fresh basil
1/2 C. cottage cheese*
1/4 package of frozen spinach, thawed
2 T. fresh grated Parmesan
4 oz. mozzarella cheese
1 T. fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Layer one: Cut zucchini in half, then cut lengthwise into strips about 1/4 inch thick.

Layer two: Squeeze excess moisture from spinach. In a small bowl, combine spinach, cottage cheese, and Parmesan cheese.

Layer three: Cook the Italian sausage in a cast iron skillet. Remove from skillet, and coarsely chop until it resembles ground hamburger. Add olive oil to skillet and saute garlic, onions, and peppers. Add mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes. Add spaghetti sauce, basil, and sausage and heat until just warmed through, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Layer four: Slice mozzarella cheese, and then coarsely chop with parsley until fine, but still coarser than shredded cheese.

Assemble: Layer half of zucchini slices in glass pie plate, or other small shallow baking dish. Spread half of cottage cheese mixture over zucchini. Cover with half of spaghetti sauce mixture. Sprinkle with the mozzarella/parsley mixture. Repeat layers.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

*You can use hot or sweet sausage, made from either pork or turkey – whatever you prefer.

*Make sure to use a cottage cheese with a dry consistency. (I like Michigan brand.) A cottage cheese with a moister consistency could make this runny because the zucchini is already adding quite a bit of moisture to the dish. As an alternative, use ricotta cheese.

This is the original recipe.

Pictured with Fried Eggplant Sticks.