Category Archives: Italian

Lentil and Sausage Soup: No Fuss, Simply Satisfying

When I made this Lentil and Sausage Soup, it was delightfully easy and its flavor impressive. Surprised by numerous recipes calling for “just throw everything in the pot” once the sausage browned; I struggled a little with not layering the flavors, skeptical of great taste with so little effort.  Melding a few promising recipes into one, this soup proved worthy of a regular spot on the menu rotation. Nothing fancy, just down right delicious.

Lentils boast a beautiful range of autumn colors to choose from; I selected yellow for a bright, appetizing soup. Green and brown lentils are more common and equally as tasty, but tend to make soups look muddy or cloudy. Its humble ingredients will never outshine Lobster Bisque or Cream of Asparagus for culinary elegance, however, Lentil and Sausage Soup delivers a flavorful and satisfying meal without a lot of fuss.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Serves 6
2        tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1         lb  Italian sausage — removed from casings (link chicken sausage is great too)
1         medium  onion — chopped
2         stalks  celery — chopped
3         medium  carrots — chopped
1          orange  bell pepper — chopped
4         cloves  garlic — minced
1          teaspoon  sea salt
1          teaspoon  lemon pepper
1/2 – 1  teaspoon  red pepper flakes — or more, to taste
1          teaspoon  basil — or 1/4 cup fresh basil
1          teaspoon  oregano
1/2       teaspoon  thyme — or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2         cups  dry lentils
1          medium  zucchini — chopped
28       ounces  diced tomatoes — undrained
6          cups  chicken stock
1          piece  parmesan rind
2         tablespoons  fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, brown sausage in olive oil. Removed from pan and drain sausage on paper towels. In the same pot, saute the onion, celery, and bell pepper until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, salt and spices, cook until fragrant.

Mix in the remaining items, except the parsley, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

Stir in parsley and simmer about 10 minutes before serving. Remove Parmesan rind and serve with freshly grated Parmesan and crusty bread.

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Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe: One Last Stirring of the Pot

As our One-Pot Blogger Party ends, we conclude with a hearty pot of Tuscan White Bean Soup—with soup, there is always enough for everyone.  Thank you for joining me over the last three weeks in reviewing Emeril’s newest collection of recipes in Simmering Skillets and Other One Pot Wonders.  I am honored Savoring Today was chosen to be part of this project it has been a privilege.

Special thanks to William Morrow Cookbooks, of Harper Collins Publishers, The Secret Ingredient, Emeril, and his team for inviting such a terrific group of bloggers to the party. Their team has been supportive, encouraging, and delightful throughout. If you haven’t already, please visit the other 19 One-Pot Bloggers, I think you will enjoy their culinary adventures very much.

Now for the final stirring of the pot…

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe is one of the recipes we are allowed to share in full, so I couldn’t pass up making a pot at home too. In a house full of carnivores it was hard to imagine making bean soup without ham or smoked turkey, but I wanted to stay as close to the original as possible.  Uncertain as I was about the lemon component of this soup, it worked!  It subtly blended into the background of the broth brightening other savories as well as the broccoli just a bit.

With the absence of meat, it seemed only appropriate to serve it with Bacon Irish Soda Bread, which proved a worthy companion.  I highly recommend cannellini beans—a larger, plump white bean with a creamy texture—and as with any soup, homemade stock is ideal for the base.  I hope you’ve been saving your Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rinds (I have extra if you live close-by) it is a wonderful flavor boost. Of course, shaved Parmesan to top it off is good too!

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe

Emeril's Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe

This is a comforting, hearty soup with flavors reminiscent of northern Italy. We used baby lima beans because we just love their tender, creamy consistency, although in Italy it would likely be made with cannellini beans or great Northern beans. Use whichever beans you love or have on hand; just take note that the cooking time will vary slightly.

Yields 13 cups, about 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups small-diced onion
1 cup small-diced celery
1 cup small-diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds dried white beans (cannellini, baby lima, or great Northern), rinsed, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, about 1 × 3 inches
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1 ½ pounds broccoli rabe, tough stem ends trimmed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 ½ cups)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Heat the olive oil in an 8-quart soup pot or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, dried Italian herbs, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, beans, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to simmer gently and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 45 to 60 minutes.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of the beans from the pot to a small bowl and mash them with the back of a spoon. Return the mashed beans to the soup and add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and continue to cook, uncovered, until the broth thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining black pepper, the broccoli rabe, and rosemary sprig and continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove the Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and rosemary sprig and discard them. Serve the soup in wide, shallow bowls, garnished with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Click on the Photo for Order Info

Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders is now available!
Cajun Shrimp Stew,
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Meet Emeril at “Sizzling Skillets” book tour! Check Emeril’s Newsroom for details and cities.  Also, check out ‘EMERIL’S TABLE’ on the Hallmark Channel.  He describes it this way, “Food brings us all a little closer together and I hope that as we’re gathering around my table each day everyone will invite us in to their kitchens and be inspired to cook along.”  I couldn’t agree more!

Disclosure: For my participation in The Secret Ingredient’s One-Pot Blogger Cooking Party, I received a copy of Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, a jar of Emeril’s Essence seasoning, and a set of Emeril – by zak! Table Art 7-piece. Once the party concludes, upon my successful completion, I will receive a $50 grocery reimbursement and a set of Emeril’s cookbooks.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
21st Century Housewife Hearth & Soul
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Mom Trends Food Friday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday


Grilled Sea Scallops With Pasta Rags and Homemade Pesto: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Each week as I review scores of recipes for Test Kitchen Tuesday, I am reminded of the endless possibilities in the culinary world—flavors, textures, temperatures, all waiting to be explored.  Like any great adventure, disappointment and thrill are part of the risk and reward.  Last week, the Tuscan Garlic Chicken Pasta was a disappointment. However, summer is the perfect time to make basil pesto and grill fish, so my hope is this week will be in the thrill category.  I will substitute cod in this dish as well as gluten-free pasta, since I already have it on hand. Though not as briny as scallops, cod should be a satisfactory choice—we shall see!

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, send a photo to savoringtoday@comcast.net, or include a link to your site with your comment.

Grilled Sea Scallops With Pasta Rags and Homemade Pesto

Source: Emeril Lagasse
Serves 4-6
1      pound  fresh pasta sheets
3      tablespoons  olive oil — plus
1      cup  olive oil
Salt — to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper — to taste
2      cups  fresh basil leaves – (packed)
1/2     cup  pine nuts — toasted
2       teaspoons  chopped garlic
1/4     cup  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
24     fresh sea scallops — cleaned
1       pint  tear or pear tomatoes, red or yellow
1       pound  fresh asparagus — blanched
1       pound  fresh chanterelle mushrooms — cleaned

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Tear the pasta into 1-inch pieces.  Drizzle a little olive oil into the water and add the pasta.  Cook until tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from the water and drain.

In a mixing bowl, toss the pasta with a tablespoon of the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In an electric blender, combine the basil, nuts, garlic and cheese.  Blend thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper.  With the blender running, slowly drizzle in 1 cup of the oil.  The mixture will be thick.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Preheat the grill.  Season the scallops with a tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the scallops on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until the scallops are firm to the touch.

In a sauté pan, over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mushrooms are wilted.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the pasta with the vegetables and pesto.  Mix well.  Add the cheese and mix well.  Readjust the seasonings if needed.  Mound the pasta in the center of each serving plate.  Lay the scallops over the pasta.  Garnish with parsley.

Tuscan Garlic Chicken Pasta: Test Kitchen Tuesday

This is one of those recipes I have had tucked away for a long time–anything with six cloves of garlic has promise, right.  Pasta dishes are ideal for a quick weeknight meal, use Tinkyada brown rice pasta and it’s gluten-free too. Basil is at its peak right now, available at most farmers markets—I anticipate that is what makes this dish really sing. We shall see!

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at savoringtoday@comcast.net so it can be included in this post, or include a link to your site with your comment.

Tuscan Garlic Chicken Pasta

Source: http://www.cookscountry.com/recipe.asp?recipeids=5444
Serves 4
6       garlic cloves — minced
1/4    teaspoon  red pepper flakes
6       tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
4       boneless, skinless chicken breasts — about 1 1/2 pounds
Salt and pepper
1        pound  penne pasta
1        bag  baby arugula — 5-ounce
1/2     cup  chopped fresh basil leaves
6        tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
1        cup  grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Meanwhile, combine garlic, pepper flakes, and oil in bowl and microwave until garlic is golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1 tablespoon oil from bowl with garlic mixture to large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until well browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice thin and set aside.

3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot. Stir in sliced chicken, arugula, basil, lemon juice, Parmesan, and remaining garlic mixture, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

NOTE: Microwaving the garlic, pepper flakes, and olive oil until fragrant blooms the flavors and infuses the oil.

Spaghetti Al Farouk: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Simple Italy is a blog that I follow (yes, it does feed my inner Italian) and when this recipe arrived in my inbox this morning, I instantly found inspiration for Test Kitchen Tuesday.  I simply cannot wait to try this dish!  It is no secret that we love Italian food, but Spaghetti Al Farouk is not the usual Italian fare. Curry, ginger, and thyme hint of cuisine farther east of the Abruzzo coastline, which the story behind this dish bears out.

The recipe comes from the newly released cookbook by Domenica Marchetti, The Glorious Pasta of Italy (Chronicle Books, 2011), and though I haven’t had the pleasure of sifting through its pages, this recipe sure makes me want to as soon as possible. Domenica describes this dish in this way, “The platter that came to the table was alive with color—deep yellow from the curry and saffron, and bright orange and red from the shellfish, with splashes of glossy black from the mussel shells. The sauce was rich, spicy, and earthy; the seafood was briny and sweet.”

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at savoringtoday@comcast.net so it can be included in this post or include a link to your site with your comment

Spaghetti Al Farouk

Recipe Author: Domenica Marchetti
Source: Simple Italy
Serves: 4-6
2      tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1       tablespoon  unsalted butter
1       large  yellow onion — chopped
large pinch  saffron threads — pounded to a powder (see cook’s note)
1        tablespoon  curry powder — (preferably spicy)
1/2     teaspoon  ground ginger
1/4     teaspoon  minced fresh thyme
1        fresh bay leaf
1/2     teaspoon  kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4     cup/180 ml dry white wine
1        cup/240 ml heavy/double cream
1        pound/455 g dried spaghetti
12     mussels — well scrubbed and debearded if necessary (see cook’s note)
16      large  shrimp/prawns — peeled and deveined
6       ounces/170 g frozen shelled cooked langoustine tails– (see cook’s note)

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.

In a frying pan large enough to hold all of the seafood, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the onion, and stir to coat with the oil and butter. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until the onion is softened but not browned. Stir in the saffron, curry powder, ginger, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and a generous grind of pepper, taking care to incorporate all of the herbs and spices. Stir in the lemon juice, raise the heat to medium-high, and pour in the wine. Let the sauce simmer briskly for about 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cream. Bring the sauce back to a very gentle simmer. If the pasta water is not yet boiling, reduce the heat under the sauce to low and wait until the pasta water boils.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate the noodles, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until al dente. Once the pasta is in the water, proceed with finishing the sauce.

Add the mussels, shrimp/prawns, and langoustine tails to the simmering sauce, cover, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the mussels open, the shrimp/prawns are just cooked through, and the langoustine tails are heated through. Discard any mussels that failed to open.

Drain the pasta into a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup/240ml of the cooking water. If the frying pan is large enough to contain both the pasta and the sauce, add the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss the pasta and sauce to combine thoroughly, adding a splash or two of the cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce. If the frying pan is not large enough, return the pasta to the pot, add about two-thirds of the sauce, toss to combine thoroughly, and then top with the remaining sauce when serving. Transfer the dressed pasta to a warmed serving bowl or shallow individual bowls. If you are preparing individual servings, be sure to divide the seafood evenly among them. Serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Saffron

Beautiful red-gold saffron threads (zafferano) are the dried stigmas of the purple-striped flowers of the Crocus sativus plant. Saffron from Abruzzo’s Navelli plain is among the best in the world. The spice is sold in two forms, powder and threads. The powder dissolves more easily, but it is also more easily tampered with. To be sure you are getting pure saffron, buy the threads and gently pound them to a powder before using. I use a mortar and pestle for pounding, but you can also press down on the threads with a heavy object, such as the flat side of a meat pounder or mallet.

Cook’s note: Shellfish

Much of the shellfish available these days is farm raised and therefore contains less dirt and grit than shellfish harvested from the wild. To clean mussels, scrub their shells with a stiff brush under cold running water. Discard any that do not close tightly when handled. If the mussels have beards, the fibrous tufts they use to hold on to pilings and rocks, you need to remove them. Using a towel or just bare fingers, grasp the beard gently but firmly and yank it toward the shell’s hinge. This will remove the fibers without tearing the mussel meat.

Frozen langoustine tails lack the flavor of fresh ones, but they are much more readily available and they have a nice, meaty texture that captures the sauce and absorbs its flavor.

Heading to the table -- dining outside makes it that much better!

Green Beans Genova-Style: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Since the Veal Scaloppine Bolognese from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy was so good last week, why not try another recipe from her cookbook this week. Green Beans Genova-Style sounds like an ideal side dish for grilled meats with its savory accents of anchovy, garlic, and lemon.  Some folks avoid anchovies because of a bad pizza experience they had once, but these flavor-enhancing gems are worth another try.  Anchovies are used in a variety of stews, sauces, dressings, and side dishes to enhance the meaty or savory flavor of a dish. For some cooks, they are the secret ingredient in their most distinct dishes.

Genova is in the Liguria region of Italy, famous for their beloved pesto and focaccia bread.  I can still remember the warm focaccia bread, crisp with olive oil that we had for a snack during our tour of Cinque Terre.  Pesto never tasted so good as when we enjoyed it in their seaside villages.  From the same Italian region that brought us pesto and focaccia, we will trust they may know a thing or two about enhancing this staple of summer vegetables.

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are feeling especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at savoringtoday@comcast.net so it can be included in this post or include a link to your site with your comment.

Green Beans Genova-Style

Source: Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, p 108 — 2009 by Tutti a Tavola, LLC
Serves 6
1 1/2   pounds  green beans — fresh
2          tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
2          tablespoons  butter
2          cloves  garlic — sliced
1/4      whole  lemon — sliced in thin 1/4″ moon slices
6          small  anchovy fillets — minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2      teaspoon  kosher salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and prepare a large bowl with ice and water to chill the beans after you cook them.  Trim both ends of the beans and remove the strings, if needed. Toss all the beans into the boiling water, and cook until tender but not mushy, about 7 minutes. Lift the beans from the cooking water, and drop them into the ice bath to set their color.

When cool, drain the beans, and dry them on towels. One by one, split the beans open along the seam with a paring knife, and separate each into two long halves, with the small seeds exposed. Open all the beans this way.

Pour the olive oil into the pan, drop in the butter, and set over med-high heat. When the butter is melted, scatter in the garlic slices and get them sizzling, scatter the lemon slices, and drop in the chopped anchovies. Cook and stir for a couple of minutes, until the anchovies melt into the oil then toss all the split beans into the pan.

Season with salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing the beans continuously in the flavorful oil, until they’re thoroughly coated and hot. Serve immediately.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania

Alfredo Sauce: A Classic Canvas

Cedar Plank Grilled Chicken over Alfredo Sauce and Penne

Butter, cream, cheese, are all part of this beloved classic sauce.  The interpretations can vary widely, somewhere between bland and flat to overly salty and processed tasting due to fillers in place of real cream.  I avoid ordering Alfredo in restaurants for that reason, never knowing which side of the spectrum to expect.  I like this recipe for its accents of garlic, lemon, and mix of Parmesan and Romano cheeses.  Remarkably easy to prepare at home, this simple sauce creates the perfect canvas for all sorts of enhancements like Cedar Plank Grilled Chicken (as shown), Blackened Salmon,  sautéed shrimp, or roasted vegetables.

Gluten-Free Option: Use any favorite gluten-free pasta as a substitute for wheat pasta, or try Tinkyada brand if you are uncertain which to use.

Alfredo Sauce

Serves 4
6        tablespoons  butter
1        whole  shallot — minced
2        cloves  garlic — minced
1/2     cup  Romano cheese — shredded
1         cup  Parmigiano-Reggiano — shredded
1/2     cup dry white wine
1         tablespoon  lemon juice — freshly squeezed
1         cup  heavy cream
1/2     teaspoon  black pepper — freshly ground
1/4     cup  parsley — chopped fine
1         pound  pasta or gluten-free rice pasta
sea salt — to taste

Cook the pasta in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender; add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add wine and lemon juice and cook until reduced by half.  Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer or low-boil. Cook until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with pepper, to taste. Remove from the heat. (It is best to salt after adding the cheese to avoid over salting.)

Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in, set over medium-high heat along with 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid (reserve the other 1/4 cup to thin sauce, if needed). Add the butter-cream mixture, half of the Parmesan, all the Romano, and toss to combine thoroughly. (Thin with pasta water if desired.) Salt to taste.

Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Note: Grilled chicken, sautéed shrimp, blackened salmon, or roasted vegetables can be served on top of the pasta or combined with the sauce just before tossing with the pasta.

Posted on the following Blog Hops:
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday