Zuppa e Insalata (Soup and Salad)

ESCAROLE & BEAN SOUP WITH SAUSAGE MEATBALLS

This soup is my absolute favorite, and is always on my holiday buffet. I make it often during the year as well. The soup can be made ahead of time and frozen, without the pasta. Just defrost and reheat the soup and add pasta the day of the event. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:
1 ½ 1bs. Italian Pork Sausage
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Cup Onion, Chopped & 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Head of Escarole, Cleaned Well and Chopped
2 Cartons Chicken Stock (32 oz. size)
2 Cans Cannellini Beans, undrained
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Cup Ditalini Pasta
1 Cup of Roasted Chicken Chunks (Optional)
Parmesan Cheese, Grated

Directions:
Remove the casing from the sausage and form into small sausage balls. In a large skillet, sauté the sausage balls in 2 Tbsp. of olive oil for approx. 3-4 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the sauté pan with the sausage drippings. Saute for approx. 3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the chopped escarole and cook for approx. 3 minutes longer, until escarole is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste, chicken stock, and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer for approx. 10 minutes. Add the sausage balls and the ditalini pasta (or other small pasta), and cook until the pasta is done, approx. 10-12 minutes. The soup will be ready when the pasta is cooked through. If desired, add chunks of roasted chicken (I usually purchase a store bought roasted chicken and cut into small chunks). The addition of the chicken really adds to the heartiness of the dish. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

escarole soup

PASTA E FAGIOLI (PASTA & BEANS)

This pasta e fagioli recipe is a northern Italian version that incorporates pancetta and pureed cannellini beans for a thicker, creamier soup. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and semolina bread for dipping. This recipe is really delicious and a family favorite!

Ingredients:
3 15-oz. Cans Cannellini Beans
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 oz. Pancetta, Chopped
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 Tsp. Each, Dried Parsley, Rosemary & Oregano
5 Cups Beef Broth
½ Cup Canned Tomatoes, Crushed
½ Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
½ lb. Ditalini Pasta

Directions:
Take 2 cans of the cannellini beans, undrained, and place in a blender. Puree until smooth, and pour in a large bowl. Drain the liquid from the third can of cannellini beans and pour the beans in the bowl with the pureed beans. Separately, in a large skillet, heat ¼ cup of the olive oil and sauté the pancetta until lightly browned, approx. 4 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, and oregano. Saute an additional 1 minute. Place the pancetta along with the onion mixture in the blender and process until smooth. Return the blended ingredients to the pan, along with the beans. Add the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, along with the beef broth. Bring to a boil, add the canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes and ditalini pasta. Simmer for approx. 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

pasta and beans

EGGPLANT TOWER SALAD

This is one of my go-to recipes when I have a seated dinner party at the house. I like to plate the salads and place on the dining room table just before guests arrive. The table setting is always impressive.

Ingredients:
2 Cups Mixed Spring Lettuce Mix, Washed & Dried
2 Cups Arugula, Washed & Dried
1 Cup Large Black Kalamata Olives, Pitted
1 Cup Large Green Olives, Stuffed with Cheese
1 Cup Roasted Peppers, Sliced
¼ Cup Sundried Tomatoes, Sliced
¼ Cup Pignoli Nuts, Toasted
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Eggplant Tower:
1 Eggplant, Sliced
1 lb. Fresh Mozzarella, Sliced
3 Large Red Tomatoes, Sliced

Salad Dressing:
6 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Dried Oregano, 1/4 Tsp. Salt & 1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper

Directions:
Slice the eggplant into rounds, leaving the skin on. Slice the mozzarella and the tomatoes in the same size slices and set aside. Sprinkle the eggplant with a drizzle of olive oil and salt, and grill for approx. 2 minutes on each side, until grill marks appear and the eggplant has softened. Let cool. Build individual eggplant towers starting with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a slice of grilled eggplant, repeating the process again. Top with sliced, roasted peppers. Separately, in a large bowl, combine the spring lettuce and arugula. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss with the salad dressing and add salt and pepper to taste. Plate a portion of salad on individual serving plates and place the eggplant tower in the center of each salad dish.

salad

PISTACHIO CRUSTED CHICKEN SALAD

I am always looking for delicious salad alternatives. The texture of the pistachios along with the flavors of the chicken and honey balsamic dressing make this a very savory and satisfying meal. Feel free to modify this recipe by using different nut, cheese or fruit mixtures.

Ingredients:
Chicken:
2 Chicken Breasts, Pounded Thin
½ Cup Flour for Dredging
½ Tsp. Salt & ½ Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Egg, Beaten & 1 Tbsp. Water
½ Cup Pistachios, Crushed & ¼ Cup Breadcrumbs, Seasoned
¼ Cup Butter & 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (for skillet)
Salad:
2 Cups Spring Lettuce Mix, Washed & Dried
1 Cup Arugula, Washed & Dried
½ Cup Feta Cheese, Crumbled
¼ Cup Dried Cranberries
¼ Cup Pistachios, Salted & Shelled
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Dressing:
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Honey
¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ Tsp. Salt & ½ Tsp. Black Pepper
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:
Chicken:
Combine the flour, salt and pepper in one bowl, the beaten egg and water in a second bowl, and the crushed pistachios and breadcrumbs in a third bowl. Dredge the pounded chicken in the flour, then the egg wash, then in the pistachio mixture and set aside. In a sauté pan, combine the olive oil and butter and bring to a medium heat. Test the oil to make sure it is ready for frying (sprinkle some of the breadcrumbs on the oil and make sure the oil sizzles). When ready, place the pistachio crusted chicken cutlets in the oil in batches, turning over when lightly browned (approx. 1-2 minutes per side). Remove the chicken from the sauté pan and place the cutlets on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle each warm chicken cutlet lightly with salt.
Salad:
Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl (or individual bowls). Plate the salad with the sliced pistachio crusted chicken.
Dressing:
In a small bowl, combine the dijon mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Add the extra virgin olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until well combined. Drizzle the salad dressing over the top of the salad and chicken, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve additional honey balsamic dressing on the side.

DSC03241

MIXED GREEN SALAD WITH RICOTTA SALATA

This is a delicious and beautiful salad…combining mixed greens with a salty, shaved ricotta salata, a sweet candied cashew and a chewy dried cranberry. Top this with a honey balsamic dressing, and you have a perfect salad. Any combination of fruit and nuts can be substituted based upon your preference.

Ingredients:
Salad:
2 Cups Spring Lettuce Mix, Washed & Dried
½ Cup Ricotta Salata Cheese, Shaved (Vegetable Peeler)
¼ Cup Dried Cranberries
¼ Cup Candied Cashews (purchased)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Dressing:
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Honey
¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ Tsp. Salt & ½ Tsp. Black Pepper
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:
To prepare the dressing, combine the dijon mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add the extra virgin olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until well combined. Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, or on individual plates. Drizzle the salad dressing over the top of the salad and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve additional honey balsamic dressing on the side.

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AUNT MILLIE’S ARUGULA SALAD

Aunt Millie brought this salad to Grandma’s house many years ago. There were several ingredients that I had never incorporated into a salad, but are truly delicious together. Give this one a try!

Ingredients:
4 Cups Arugula, Washed & Dried
½ Red Onion, Thinly Sliced
1 Cup Dried Apricots, Cut into Small Pieces
1 Cup Walnuts
2 Tbsp. Butter & 1 Tbsp. Dried Cumin

Salad Dressing:
6 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Dried Oregano
¼ Tsp. Salt & ¼ Tsp. Black Pepper

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the arugula, red onions and dried apricots. Separately, in a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the walnuts and dried cumin. Saute for approx. 2 minutes, until the walnuts are toasted and covered with the cumin/butter mixture. Let cool. Add the cooled walnuts to the salad. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss the salad with the salad dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

A

CHICKEN CUTLET MILANESE WITH MIXED GREEN SALAD (see Blog for detailed instructions)

The combination of a well seasoned and cooked chicken cutlet, along with a deliciously flavored mixed green salad makes a wonderful weeknight meal. This is also a nice light meal to serve at a dinner party.

Ingredients:
Chicken Cutlet:
4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Breading Ingredients for Chicken Cutlets:
1 Cup Flour & 1 Tbsp. Salt
3 Eggs, Beaten & 2 Tbsp. Water
1 ½ Cups Seasoned Breadcrumbs & ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Salad Ingredients:
2 Cups Iceberg Lettuce (Sliced)
2 Cups Arugula Lettuce
½ Red Onion, Sliced Thin
2 Tomatoes, Seeded & Sliced Thin
½ English Cucumber, Seeded & Sliced Thin
¼ Cup Dried Cranberries
¼ Cup Cashews, Salted
1 Apple, Diced (I used a Fuji Apple)
½ Cup Gorgonzola Cheese, Crumbled

Salad Dressing:
Salt (Approx. 1 Tbsp)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Approx. ½ Cup)
White Wine Vinegar (Approx. ¼ Cup)

Directions:
Remove the boneless chicken breasts from the package and cut off any excess fat. Line a cutting board with plastic wrap, top with chicken breasts, and cover with another layer of plastic wrap. Flatten the chicken breasts with a meat mallet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. To bread the cutlets, place the flour and salt in the first bowl, the beaten eggs and water in the second bowl, and the seasoned breadcrumbs with grated parmesan cheese in a third bowl. Dredge each side of the pounded chicken breast into the flour first, then the egg mixture, and lastly the bread crumb mixture. Place the breaded cutlets on a baking sheet, prepared for pan frying. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of olive oil to a medium heat/simmer . Test the oil to make sure it is ready for frying (sprinkle some of the breadcrumbs on the oil and make sure the oil sizzles). When ready, place the breaded chicken cutlets in the oil in batches, turning over when lightly browned (approx. 2 minutes per side). Remove the chicken from the sauté pan and place the cutlets on a wire rack over a baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle each warm chicken cutlet lightly with salt. (The chicken can be kept warm in the oven on a low temperature if desired, until the salad has been prepared and is ready to serve). Meanwhile, place all salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the mixed greens with salt, then drizzle the salad with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and finish with good White Wine Vinegar. Adjust the seasonings as desired to your taste. Mix the salad well and serve over the warm chicken cutlet Milanese.

mila

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