Easy Peasy Pesto

August 30, 2012

Pesto is such a flavorful condiment, I honestly don’t know why I don’t make it more often.  The variations on this basic recipe are endless and the fact that there’s no cooking involved in preparing it, makes it perfect for whipping up on a hot summer day.  It’s so versatile it can be used on pasta, fish or even a burger.

Tell me, what do you like to serve your pesto on?

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Pesto spread on wheat buns for Portabello Paninis

Basil Pesto

printable recipe

  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and continue processing, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture forms a thick paste. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmigiano. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

A Meaty Marinara

August 24, 2012

The summer is winding down and it’s time to start thinking about cooler nights, college football and hearty meals to feed your family.  A good meat sauce is a great recipe to have in your back pocket.  It’s easy to make ahead of time and freeze in batches, so you can defrost it on a busy weeknight while boiling pasta. You can also throw together a lasagna, eggplant parm or another of your favorite Italian dishes once the marinara is done and bake that night, or put in the freezer to save for a night when you have less time to cook.

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Marinara over tortellini

Traditional Meat Sauce

printable recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (29-ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley leaves

Directions

Brown ground beef with minced garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Drain ground beef and set aside.

Place oil and onions in a saucepan and saute on high heat until soft. Add all cans of tomato products and chicken stock. Add all other ingredients and heat through. Once hot, add the browned ground beef and simmer on low heat for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta, top with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!

Arancini de Delizioso!

April 2, 2011

For Christmas last year, I decided to serve an Italian feast.  That it was…although we ate two and a half hours late.  But, in my family, that tends to happen.  We did have plenty of wine and appetizers, so we enjoyed a lot of great family time together!

The Arancini, or Italian Rice Balls, were an absolute hit!  I had enough leftover risotto to make another batch a few days later and threw them in a ziplock bag and into the freezer.  We’ve been enjoying them for months since — just toss into the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes and they’re just as delicious as the first time!

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Making Risotto mixture

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Stuff a Mozzarella cube inside

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Roll stuffed Risotto Balls in bread crumbs (Cooking in PJs, BTW)

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Gooey goodness!

Ingredients:

Printable Recipe

 

  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups Risotto with Mushrooms and Peas, recipe follows, cooled
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 cups dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 2 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt

Directions:

Pour enough oil in a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Stir the eggs, risotto, Parmesan, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs in a large bowl to combine. Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture for each, form the risotto mixture into 1 3/4-inch-diameter balls. Insert 1 cube of mozzarella into the center of each ball. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat.

Working in batches, add the rice balls to the hot ail and cook until brown and heated through, turning them as necessary, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rice balls to paper towels to drain. Season with salt. Let rest 2 minutes. Serve hot.

 Mushroom Risotto with Peas:

  • 8 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or short-grain white rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional

 

Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms. Set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Keep the broth warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white mushrooms and garlic. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the porcini mushrooms to a cutting board. Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan. Saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and let it toast for a few minutes. Add the wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 28 minutes (the rice will absorb 6 to 8 cups of broth). Stir in the peas. Mix in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

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