Meatless Vegetarian Pasta Sauce (Sugo Finto)

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Sugo Finto - "Fake Sauce" - uses celery, carrots and onion in a red wine tomato sauce to produce a rich, hearty flavor for pasta without meat. I learned this recipe at a Tuscan cooking class at Fattoria Corsignano near Siena, Italy. You won't miss the meat, I promise!

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Pasta Sauce, Meatless (Sugo Finto)
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Finely dice carrots, celery and onions.
  2. Sauté in olive oil until the onions are translucent and everything is well cooked and tender. Add a clove of diced garlic here if you like.
  3. Add red wine and stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and cook, uncovered, for 30-45 more minutes to allow the flavors to blend, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add more salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Serve warm, over al dente pasta, and sprinkle with fresh-grated Parmesan.
Recipe Notes

Fresh basil leaves are a good garnish. Crusty bread and red wine are good partners!

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Salsa Verde Recipe, Mexican Green Salsa Made with Tomatillos

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Fresh Mexican salsa verde is green salsa made with tomatillos instead of tomatoes. Make it hot or mild. Either way, it's tangy and goes good on chips, in tacos, over tamales or as a sauce for any meat. It's suitable for vegans and vegetarians, too.

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Salsa Verde, Mexican Green Salsa with Tomatillos Recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Peel, rinse and dry the tomatillos.
  2. Preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Dry-roast the tomatillos, peppers, unpeeled garlic cloves and onion pieces in the hot skillet, turning every 2 minutes with tongs to char on most of the surfaces. Do not allow to burn.
  4. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the stem from the peppers and slice in half. If desired, remove seeds and pith. Removing the seeds and pith reduces the spiciness and heat of the salsa verde. Leave the seeds and pith intact for a very hot salsa.
  6. Place the tomatillos, peppers and onions into the bowl of a food processor. Peel garlic and add to other ingredients. Pulse 2 to 4 times to chop.
  7. Add salt and cilantro to the food processor bowl.
  8. Pulse quickly 4 to 6 more times until a coarse puree forms.
  9. Transfer the salsa to a serving dish and serve immediately while still warm or refrigerate and serve chilled.
Recipe Notes

When buying, choose very firm tomatillos with the papery husk intact. They can range in size from very small, like cherry tomatoes, to extremely large, like beefsteak tomatoes. I tend toward the medium ones, but all of them will give you good results.

When you peel the satisfyingly crinkly paper covering off the tomatillos, your fingers and the tomatillos inside will be sticky, kind of like a tree-sap stickiness. But it rinses right off with water. Peel back the cover and yank the stem; the whole thing comes off at once. Then make this salsa. You won't regret it!

For raw vegan diets, skip the dry-roasting process. Salsa verde is good without the char as well.

Use any kind of chili pepper. Jalapenos are milder than serranos, but you can use poblanos, too.

Salsa verde will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days if sealed tightly.

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Rosemary Mozzarella Cubes Appetizer

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Another quick, easy, make-ahead appetizer to set on a buffet for holiday parties or any time. Goes great with wine.

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Mozzarella Cubes, Rosemary, Appetizer Recipe
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine cheese, rosemary, pepper, garlic and oil in a bowl.
  2. Toss to coat.
  3. Refrigerate for at least an hour up to 12 hours before serving. The longer it chills, the more intense the flavor.
  4. Stir again to coat and serve alongside crackers, pickles and other items on an appetizer tray.
Recipe Notes

Don't use fresh mozzarella for this; it's much better to use the low-moisture variety.

A fancy, flavorful, green olive oil is best to enhance the strong, Italian flavors of this recipe.

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Cold Summer Gazpacho Soup Recipe

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The best summer no-cook dish of all time: gazpacho, a chilled soup of fresh tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lime and tasty seasoning. Serve with a fresh baguette for a perfect lunch on a hot day.

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Soup, Gazpacho Recipe
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Put the tomatoes in a bowl.
  2. Peel and seed the cucumber. Finely dice the cucumber, celery, bell pepper and onion. Press or finely dice the garlic. Add everything to the bowl.
  3. Juice the lime. Stir in the lime juice, Sriracha sauce, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Roughly chop the cilantro. Place it in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture. Pulse until smooth. Add back to the bowl. Mix well. If you like the gazpacho completely smooth, blend all of it.
  5. Chill for at least two hours and up to two days. Serve with a garnish of sour cream, Greek yogurt, fresh chopped scallions or cucumber. Lay a piece of fresh baguette or garlic toast alongside.
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Meatloaf Recipe

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Savory delicious family-style meatloaf, perfect for Sunday dinner or any night of the week. Easy to make and serves 10-12 people, this recipe can be modified to serve more or less. Makes great leftovers and freezes well.

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Meatloaf Recipe
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Tomato-Basil Glaze
Meatloaf
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Tomato-Basil Glaze
Meatloaf
Instructions
Tomato-Basil Glaze
  1. Combine all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half. Cover and keep warm.
Meatloaf Proper
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions in the oil for 3 to 5 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute another minute or so until the garlic is soft. Do not overcook. It's better to undercook a little so the cooking finishes in the oven. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Place all the meatloaf ingredients except the bacon in a large bowl.
  3. With your hands, combine everything well. Do not overwork; the meat should still look like ground meat, not a paste.
  4. Line a 9x13 baking pan with aluminum foil. Form a loaf with the meat approximately 7x11 inches in the pan, leaving at least an inch between the loaf and the pan on all sides for even cooking.
  5. Brush the loaf with half the glaze.
  6. Place the bacon strips in a single layer to cover the loaf.
  7. Place in a preheated 375 F oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature at the thickest part of the loaf is 160 F. Do not cook longer; overdone meatloaf is very tough.
  8. Remove from oven, cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the rest of the glaze on the side.
Recipe Notes

Substitute 1/2 cup ketchup for the tomato-basil soup in the glaze, then just heat the mixture through instead of reducing it.

Typical sides are mashed potatoes and green beans.

 

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Spicy Cajun New Orleans Shrimp Recipe

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This spicy Cajun shrimp recipe is easy to prepare and quick to cook. Use over rice, grits or even a salad for a fresh seafood treat. Don't like hot food? I give options to make them milder.

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Shrimp, Spicy Cajun New Orleans Recipe
Marinate shrimp in a spicy Cajun seasoning mix then quickly fry it up with onions and garlic for a wonderful New Orleans treat.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Fry bacon until crisp. Alternatively, place strips on rack on baking sheet and bake in preheated 375 F oven for about 30 minutes til crisp. Drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside.
  2. Mix shrimp with seasoning in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to marinate.
  3. Heat skillet on medium heat. Melt butter in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add onions. Saute for about 5 minutes until onions are tender and translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add marinated shrimp to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp begin to become firm and slightly pink, about 4 minutes. Add remainder of olive oil and saute for about 1 minute more to infuse the oil with the seasoning. Immediately remove from heat.
  5. Serve in a bowl over rice, grits or salad greens, drizzling the extra, infused oil around sides. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and sliced scallions on top.
Recipe Notes

I use Emeril Lagasse's Essence spice mixture. Use less seasoning for less spicy shrimp. For more spice, add cayenne pepper to taste. For no spice at all, use a seasoning mix without cayenne.

Do not overcook the shrimp. They turn hard and rubbery if overcooked.

Serve over rice or Asiago cheese grits. These shrimp are great over a green salad, too, even chilled.

 

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Guacamole Recipe

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Fresh, homemade guacamole straight from Mexico! Combine firm, ripe avocados with lime, red onion, cilantro, garlic and spicy jalapeño for a delicious appetizer. Dip with tortilla chips, or use fresh veggie chips to make this snack gluten free. Add a bottle of Corona with a lime wedge and you're all set!

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Guacamole Recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop the red onion, garlic, jalapeño and cilantro. Put in more or less garlic and jalapeño according to your taste. Place in a mortar with the salt. Grind everything together with a pestle into a coarse paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl.
  2. Cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds.
  3. Score the flesh of each while still in the skin. Scoop the flesh out with a spoon and add to the bowl with the paste. Squeeze the lime over the mixture and toss.
  4. If you like your guac chunky, use a potato masher or fork to mash the avocados. Stir to combine evenly with the paste. If you like it smooth, put everything into a food processor and process til no lumps remain.
  5. Serve with potato chips, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrot chips, or other dipping vehicle. You can also use guacamole as a spread or filling for pita sandwiches or a topping on a salad. Tomatoes are an excellent accompaniment to this dip.
Recipe Notes

It's best consumed fresh, but if you have to refrigerate it, press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole, squeezing out as much air as possible. Avocados turn an ugly brown when exposed to the slightest amount of air, so seal it as tightly as possible.

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Sundried Tomato Tapenade Recipe

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Recipe for a savory sundried tomato tapenade with garlic, olives and capers. A few minutes and a food processor yields this delicious antipasti appetizer that you can use for a bread spread, too.

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Sundried Tomato Tapenade Recipe
Spreadable, savory, tomato-ey dip, excellent for wine-tasting.
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
ounces
Ingredients
  • 1 12-ounce jar sundried tomatoes best is packed in olive oil with Italian or Mediterranean seasoning
  • 25 olives any type, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon capers drained
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
ounces
Ingredients
  • 1 12-ounce jar sundried tomatoes best is packed in olive oil with Italian or Mediterranean seasoning
  • 25 olives any type, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon capers drained
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
Instructions
  1. Pour oil off the tomatoes into a small bowl and reserve.
  2. Put everything into the food processor. Remove bay leaves, whole allspice or any other coarse seasoning that may have been in the tomatoes and shouldn't be ground up in the tapenade.
  3. Pulse for about 30 seconds until smooth and spreadable. Add reserved oil in small increments as needed to achieve a smooth texture.
  4. Serve immediately on toast or as a dip for crackers. Also makes a great bread spread for panini or other sandwiches.
Recipe Notes

Stores up to three days in the refrigerator tightly sealed.

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