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Dinner mashup: Polenta & meatballs

August 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Meatballs and polenta

We’re heading out of town so I’m trying to use all the produce before we leave. Last night’s dinner was supposed to be another batch of Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce but as we started prepping, I realized the eggplant had not survived. We’d already started the polenta using 1.25 bags of frozen corn kernels…so I looked in the freezer and luckily found a batch of meatballs. We made a fresh tomato salad with basil from the garden and pulled together a nice dinner that used what we already had.

The frozen corn polenta was not as sweet as the fresh corn polenta we made previously, but I must say this method requires a lot less stirring than dried/ground polenta and sure tastes better.

Read more…

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Categories: Italian

Spaghetti & Meatballs

August 19, 2014 1 comment

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It was my birthday recently and I told my friends I wanted spaghetti & meatballs. I found a recipe from our reliable friend Smitten Kitchen and as usual, the recipe was a keeper! I used 1/2 pork and 1/2 beef because Whole Foods doesn’t carry veal. I didn’t bother making fresh breadcrumbs–just a combination of Italian breadcrumbs I had laying around supplemented with panko. Our sauce (make sure to double the recipe) was thickened up with tomato paste and doctored up with extra spices. What resulted were some super tender delicious meatballs that got even better over the next week. Read more…

Categories: Italian, noodles, pasta

Mushroom Farrotto

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Mushroom farrotto

 

We love risotto around here (9 posts to date) but try to minimize white grains in an attempt to dodge our shared genetic predisposition for diabetes (which both of our fathers had/have). Lately, we’ve discovered that when we eat gluten free, we generally feel better. Though farro is a wheat grain, there really isn’t a reason for us to be strict about eating gluten free and hey–it is a whole grain!

This farrotto took a bit longer than I would prefer to spend on a weeknight (an overnight soak of the farro and an hour on the stove) but because the grains are so sturdy, it doesn’t require as much stirring and attention as a traditional risotto. I’ve been roasting a big batch of mushrooms for the week to stir into salads or quinoa pesto bowls but if you don’t have any lying around, you can roast the mushrooms as you’re preparing the farrotto. I also had 2 tablespoons of pesto left over and also stirred that in but there’s plenty of flavor without it. If you’re wondering what the non-farro grains are, I had a 1/4 cup of leftover cooked brown rice which I also threw in after 30 minutes so as not to waste it. Read more…

Categories: Italian, vegetarian Tags: , ,

Eggplant Lasagna Bolognese

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Eggplant Lasagna Bolognese

Eggplants are plentiful at the farmer’s market and I was craving lasagna but didn’t want to eat or make heavy pasta. I remembered an eggplant lasagna I’d winged a while back and figured it was time to improve upon the recipe. I had some time, so I made a batch of the tasty bolognese recipe from Smitten Kitchen the day before I wanted to assemble and bake. I tried a different method of oven-baking eggplant which I also prepped the day before–and what resulted was a light but hearty (as in it will fill you up but it won’t sit like a gut bomb) eggplant-based lasagna that is leagues better than what I did before.

When I got home from work, I just reheated the bolognese, layered my eggplant slices with cheese, sauce and grilled veggies (portobello mushrooms, roasted red/yellow peppers, summer squash). Next time, I need to remember to use my deeper lasagna pan instead of my Pyrex 9×11…it all barely fit.  Read more…

Categories: Italian Tags:

Pasta with chicken liver & porcini sauce

July 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Liver & porcini tagliatelle

I’ve always loved chicken liver. When my mom boiled or roasted a chicken, she would always set aside the heart, liver and lungs for me (gizzards require a lot more manipulation for me to enjoy). My husband (!), on the other hand, didn’t think he liked liver. He’s said that in the past about many things, including coconut, beets, and green beans. It turns out he just doesn’t like certain preparations (generally American/midwestern) of these items. Mounds does not equal all coconut, beets don’t only come from cans, green beans should never be cooked to a mush.

When Claire’s husband posted about this pasta several months ago, I knew it might be a challenge dish for Joel. But I also knew I’d like it. I finally made it earlier this week and he gave it the thumbs up to put into our meal rotation. That said, it is a rich dish that may be better suited for special occasions, but it takes only 30 minutes to pull together. So you can get fancy without spending much time–and your liver-hater might just love it too! Read more…

Categories: Italian, noodles, pasta Tags: , ,

Italian Wedding Soup

May 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Italian Wedding Soup

We’re getting married in ~6 weeks! Neither of us are Italian. Do Italians really serve this at weddings? Whatever, the soup is tasty and I wanted meatballs in this week’s soup. I found Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding Soup recipe and made a few adjustments based on what I had, could find at the store, and felt like eating.

On Sundays, I generally make a pot of soup that’s good for ~2 nights of weeknight dinner, 2 portions for the freezer and maybe a lunch or two. The other nights include chopped salad with a grilled protein, family dinners or meals out. This one is definitely going into our weekly soup rotation.

Even better, I’ve found my new meatball recipe. They’re quick and easy (they’re baked in the oven), crispy yet tender inside without being too mushy or too firm. You don’t even have to get your hands dirty–I used a 1 inch cookie scoop. I tested half where I rolled them into round balls and left the other half kind of rough. The unrolled balls had more nooks and crannies to crisp up in the oven for a better texture. Of course, when I threw them into the soup it didn’t make much of a difference at all, so why bother getting your hands dirty?

The surprising thing about this soup for me was the use of fresh dill. As a kid, I remember being mortified that my mom would pull over on the side of the road to pick fresh dill growing out of the concrete. “It’s free!” she would excitedly exclaim while I shrunk down in my seat hoping none of my classmates would pass by. I also remember not liking the taste and begging my mom not to use dill in her soups and fishballs. She told me it wouldn’t taste as good without the dill but always made me a special portion without dill. I might normally skip the dill out of habit but the reviews mentioned that the soup was dull without it. They were right and either I’ve grown up or my taste buds have. Read more…

Categories: food, Italian, soup Tags: ,

Meatballs w/Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce & Pappardelle

July 15, 2012 1 comment

Ad Hoc Meatballs w/Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce & Papperdelle

The weekend he proposed, we cooked a lot. On Friday, he made lobster rolls and discovered his abilities in the kitchen. He had originally planned on serving  meatballs from the ad hoc at home cookbook on Friday night as an appetizer but ran out of time. So on Saturday, we made the meatballs together with oven-roasted tomato sauce and homemade pappardelle. On Sunday, I had coincidentally planned on making the ad hoc fried chicken (before I even knew he planned on attacking the cookbook himself) but ended up making Ruhlman’s fried chicken instead.

Thomas Keller’s recipes are pretty fussy but these meatballs were surprisingly simple. We ground the meat ourselves, stuffed each ball with some mozzarella and roasted them in the oven until they were done. The most time-consuming items were the oven-roasted tomato sauce, which I found a little sweet and won’t make again, and the homemade pappardelle. I didn’t use Keller’s recipe for the pasta but I probably should have. I found a random food processor-friendly version online which didn’t have enough egg for my tastes. I will definitely make the meatballs again but next time I’ll simplify significantly with a simple marinara and pre-made pasta. Read more…

Categories: appetizers, food, Italian, meat, pasta Tags: ,