Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

by Caitlin Saniga | photos by Joel Hawksley

Zucchini fritter with balsamic glaze and pistachio pesto

Mmm … this zucchini fritter was a treat. And I’m going to have attempt pistachio pesto at home.


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by Sarah Steimer

This open-face sandwich is my riff on the “Train to Tuscany” at Publican Quality Meats here in Chicago. I love Publican Quality and have been absolutely nuts about the place since my first visit a year ago. The store is one part market, one part butcher and one part cafe. I always leave so inspired and want to copy everything, from the sandwiches down to the table settings.


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by Sarah Steimer

Focaccia bread is so simple and so easy to tweak once you find a base recipe you like. You could even simplify it down to just Parmesan on the top and use it primarily for paninis.


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by Sarah Steimer

The texture of this pasta turned out beautifully. I served it with marinara sauce and tomato-basil sausage, but it would also be perfect just with sauteed garlic, olive oil and Parmesan.

The texture of this pasta turned out beautifully. I served it with marinara sauce and tomato-basil sausage, but it would also be perfect just with sauteed garlic, olive oil and Parmesan.

  • 3 cups packed spinach, steamed until just wilted then squeezed dry
  • 1 pound all-purpose flour (a little more than 3 1/2 cups)


    The spinach will turn the flour only a pale green. Once the liquids are added, you’ll have a better idea of the pasta’s true color.

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • water

Combine the spinach, flour and salt in a food processor using the sharp blade attachment (not the dough blade). Combine until there are no full pieces of spinach.

Add the full egg and egg yolks. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add enough water (I may have added around 1/4 cup) until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. You may need to stop the machine occasionally to scrape the sides. DO NOT add so much water that the dough is wet. It should only be very slightly sticky.

Like most people, I don't own a pasta-drying rack. Instead, I just used clean plastic hangers.

Like most people, I don’t own a pasta-drying rack. Instead, I just used clean plastic hangers.

Remove the dough from the machine and form into palm-sized, imperfect balls. Be careful not to work the dough too much, which can make it tough.

Follow your pasta maker’s instructions to flatten the dough and then cut into pasta. I went with (what I believe is) the fettuccine setting on my pasta maker.

Cook the pasta is boiling water for only about 3-4 minutes. If you are not using all or some of your pasta at once, hang it to dry and then store in an air-tight container in the pantry.

Makes about 4 servings of pasta.

My dried pasta - ready and waiting for the next time I can use it.

My dried pasta – ready and waiting for the next time I can use it.

Recipe adapted from: Korean American Mommy

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by Sarah Steimer

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do want to try creating more of my own recipes. This was the first such invention of 2013. I expect it started the way most of my original recipes will start: with pure laziness and whatever happens to be in the pantry/fridge.

One of my goals this year is to make more of my own recipes. This was the first such invention of 2013. I expect it started the way most of my original recipes will start: with total laziness and whatever happens to be in the pantry/fridge.

  • 5-6 lasagna noodles
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into about 1/4-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, divided
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan or Asiago

Break the lasagna noodles into (not too small) pieces. Cook until al dente. Strain and return to the pot, tossing with a couple teaspoons of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.

Heat a saute pan over medium-low heat and add about 2 teaspoons olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and parsnips. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the parsnips can be easily pierced with a fork. Occasionally add the broth as the vegetables cook to de-glaze the pan. Add the sun-dried tomatoes during the last few minutes of cooking time.

Whisk together the ricotta, egg yolk, parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper. Season with a pinch of salt.

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-by-8-inch cooking pan with olive oil. Loosely layer half of the noodles on the bottom. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella and evenly distribute half the onion, parsnip and tomato mixture. Dot with half of the ricotta mixture, working in 1-teaspoon increments. Repeat this layering with the second half of all ingredients and top with the shredded Parmesan or Asiago.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top has started to brown.

Makes about 4-6 servings.

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by Sarah Steimer

Kale on pizza is phenomenal. It gets super crispy and helps to highlight the spices you use. I've done a similar pizza using blue cheese in place of mozzarella as well - and it was also pretty fantastic.

Kale on pizza is phenomenal. It gets super crispy and helps to highlight the spices you use. I’ve done a similar pizza using blue cheese in place of mozzarella as well – and it was also pretty fantastic.

For the crust (makes two pizzas)

  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Whisk together the warm water and yeast until the yeast has dissolved. Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Whisk in the olive oil, honey and salt until all ingredients have dissolved.

Working with either a standing mixer, a food processor — both fitted with a dough attachment — or with a wooden spoon and your own two hands, add one cup of the whole wheat flour. Add the remaining wheat flour, followed by the all-purpose flour a little at a time, or until a stiff ball forms. You may not use all the flour.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 minutes.

Use olive oil to lightly grease a large bowl and roll the ball of dough in the bowl to coat the dough as well. Cover the bowl, with the dough inside, with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm area for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

TIP: I like to turn the oven on to its lowest setting and then turn it off for a few minutes before placing the dough in the oven to rise. The extra warmth helps the yeast.

For the sauce:

  • 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 8-ounce can tomato sauce (the rest can be placed in a baggie in the freezer)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (depends on how sweet you like your sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar (really almost any vinegar will do)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste and remove from the heat.

For the pizza

  • 3 large kale leaves, rinsed, ribs removed and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 slices uncooked bacon, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 small sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 (or more) sauce recipe
  • 1/2 pizza dough recipe

Add a few tablespoons of water to a small skillet. Add the kale and let steam with a lid on for about 3-5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Remove the kale and water from the pan.

Dry out the same pan and return to the stove over medium heat. Add the bacon to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent, about 3 more minutes.

Grease a baking sheet with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Stretch the dough out to about a 14-inch-by-10-inch shape (doesn’t need to be perfect), leaving the dough a little thicker toward the edge as a crust. Lightly brush with olive oil.

Bake the crust at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes, or until the crust starts to look golden.

Remove the crust from the oven and add the sauce, followed by the mozzarella, kale, bacon and onion. Grate the sweet potato over the top of the pizza. Sprinkle with the crushed red pepper.

Return the pizza to the oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the kale is crispy and the mozzarella has bubbled.

Makes 3-4 servings.

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by Sarah Steimer

I love gnocchi, but it can be pretty heavy in its traditional potato-flour form. This ricotta version is a lighter alternative for summer.

  • 2 1/2 cups ricotta
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • Pasta sauce
  • Parmesan

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg and 1 cup of the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until everything begins to stick. Begin kneading the dough with your hands and add the rest of the flour little by little, only until there is enough so the dough is smooth and elastic but not overly sticky.

Some gnocchi recipes call for you to roll each piece with the tongs of a fork to give it ridges. That’s a big, fat waste of time, if you ask me. Gnocchi does not need to be difficult! Especially not this recipe (three ingredients? Yes, please).

Roll the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Separate the dough into eight pieces. Roll out each piece into a long, even rope. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch segments and set aside. Repeat until all the dough is rolled and cut.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi all at once. Stir often and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the pieces float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with the pasta sauce of your choice and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Recipe adapted from : Katherine Martinelli

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by Sarah Steimer

If you don’t have a pasta roller or if you just don’t have enough time, you can purchase fresh sheets of pasta at some grocery or speciality stores.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yolk whisked with 1-2 tablespoons of water for egg wash
  • 6 small balls of mozzarella, cut in half OR quarter-sized pieces of mozzarella cut from a larger ball if you cannot find the small mozzarella balls
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (can pre-roast the tomatoes, but that is optional)
  • 12 basil leaves
  • pesto, for serving (need any ideas? Take a look back at our pesto guide!)
  • balsamic vinegar, for serving
  • shredded Parmesan, for serving

    Always lay everything out in advance so you aren’t racing all over the kitchen.

In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the dough blade or an electric mixer, fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flour and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue mixing. Drizzle in the olive oil. At this point the dough should begin to form into a ball. If this does not happen, add a little bit of water at a time until the dough begins to stick.

Once the dough has formed itself into a ball in the mixer, turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is elastic and smooth. Wrap with plastic wrap and let sit for at least a half hour.

When the dough is ready, separate it into about three even and rectangular pieces, flattening each with your hands. Feed the dough through a pasta machine about two or three times at its widest setting. Continue to move up the settings until the dough is rolled through as thin as possible. Cut out the ravioli shapes using a cookie cutter or a drinking glass. Continue will the rest of the dough until you have 24 pieces of ravioli.

I only used half of the small mozzarella balls because my cookie cutter did not make a very large round. If you have a larger cutter, use the full ball.

Place the pieces in sets of twos, making 12 pairs. Brush one side of one piece of dough with the egg wash. Arrange one half of the mozzarella ball, a cherry tomato and a basil leaf on the egg-washed side of the dough. Cover with another piece of dough and press closed using the tongs of a fork. Flip and press with the fork on the other side as well. Continue this until you have 12 filled raviolis.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Place about six of the raviolis in the water and let cook for about 10-12 minutes. Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon and cook the remaining pieces.

Serve with pesto, balsamic vinegar and shredded Parmesan.

The finished product!

Makes 12 pieces of ravioli, which serves 3-4.

Pasta recipe from: Tyler Florence via the Food Network

Filling recipe from: Proud Italian Cook

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by Sarah Steimer

I loved the Mediterranean taste of this pesto – although I do wonder how different the taste or texture would be if I actually found jarred, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes instead of just plain sun-dried toms.

  • 1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil OR I used about 2 cups worth of dry sun-dried tomatoes which I rehydrated in warm water for about a half hour
  • olive oil (only if you didn’t use oil-packed tomatoes)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a food processor, combine the sun-dried tomatoes (including the oil if you found the jarred version), garlic, salt and pepper, and basil. If

I used this pesto as a burger topping this time around. My friend Logan doesn’t like a sloppy tomato slice on his burgers all the time and thought this was an awesome substitute.

you did not get the jarred tomatoes, drizzle in olive oil as the machine mixes until you reach a desired consistency. Be sure to scrape the bowl down as you go.

Remove the mixture from the food processor and mix in the Parmesan by hand.

Recipe adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis via the Food Network

*Presto is our June guide that proves pesto goes way beyond basil. Find all of our Presto pesto recipes here.

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by Sarah Steimer

One of my best friends came to visit recently and she loves Italian food. I had this meatball recipe bookmarked for a while and this was the perfect chance to try it. AND I made homemade pasta to go with it, which Anna - a pasta pro herself - helped me with.

  • 1 1/2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pasta sauce

Place beans and roasted red peppers in a food processor and pulse until chopped, not pureed. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.

Using a wooden spoon, mix the onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper into the beans mixture until well combined.

I actually used mozzarella to top the meatballs, totally forgot to pick up Parmesan.

Coat the bottom of a glass cooking dish with olive or vegetable oil. Work the bean mixture into balls that are slightly larger than golf balls. Because of the consistency of the “meatballs,” it requires more of a pressing motion than a rolling motion to form the balls. Place “meatballs” on the prepared dish, allowing for about an inch in between each.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm to the touch and lightly golden brown. Remove from the pan and serve with pasta sauce and spaghetti, topping with shredded Parmesan if you so choose.

Makes about four servings.

Recipe adapted from: Cookin’ Canuck

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