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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

This flavor-packed dish is typically Italian and perfect for vegetarians. Although you can sneak some ham in there if you are a diehard carnivore, the wealth of flavors in here means you are not going to miss the meat at all. We are using spinach for the filling, as well as some creamy ingredients in the form of ricotta and parmesan cheeses, béchamel sauce, and an egg to help hold everything together. The only seasonings are nutmeg, salt and black pepper, since all the flavor comes from the pasta, spinach and cheeses.

This is very simple to make and it looks impressive when served. We like to garnish the finished cannelloni with a sprig of basil just to add more color to the plate, but you can use any kind of herb you want. It is going to be very hot when it comes out of the oven so let the dish sit on the countertop for 10 minutes, and perhaps use that time to toss some salad ingredients together, since that would be a great side dish, or you might prefer another type of side dish such as garlic bread or sliced tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a little extra-virgin olive oil.

Use fresh spinach if possible, for a fresher flavor. Bear in mind it holds on to a lot of water so once it is cool enough to handle you will need to wring the spinach several times to get all that water out. If you have time, let it sit in a colander over the sink for an hour before continuing with the recipe. That is also helpful in getting rid of the water. As for the cannelloni, you can either buy the readymade tubes (which is easier) or roll your own flat squares up. If you are new to cannelloni, use the tubes unless you especially want to make your own pasta, which is for more advanced home cooks! Continue reading

3-Ingredient Ham and Cheese Rollups

Start your Italian meal in style with our tasty take on antipasti. Although various types of Italian cheese and Italian cured meats are often served individually before an entrée in Italy, we have taken those components, added a little pesto and combined the three to make these rollups. The great thing about this recipe is you can make a huge batch of these in mere minutes, just by being organized, laying out your ingredients and making a lot at once. They are then perfect for an Italian-themed party.

You can use any kind of dried or cured meat to make these – chorizo, salami, Parma ham, Serrano ham, or even a mixture of these. People will be able to see which is which. As for the cheese, pretty much anything goes, so consider mozzarella, Cheddar (not Italian but still good!), cream cheese, ricotta, gorgonzola, or anything you want. Soft cheese is fine as long as it does not get too warm and begin to ooze out, and harder cheeses are also good; if you are using something like parmesan then cut it into lengths rather than using it grated or shredded which could be messy.

A little pesto sauce works well here, both to add another flavor to the appetizer and also to help the meat stay closed around the cheese. You will only need a tiny bit. If you do not want to use basil pesto, try red pesto, a little mayonnaise, black olive tapenade, or anything else which goes well with the meat and cheese flavors. Because they are rolled up, you can serve these little bites as finger food with cocktails or as an appetizer before the entrée. In either case, a couple per person is a good quantity. Make extra if you want (to be sure you do not run out) then cover and refrigerate them so you can enjoy them the next day. Continue reading

Mandarin and Apple Chicken Pasta Salad

This tasty chicken pasta salad is healthy and appealing. The main ingredients are pasta, chicken and mandarin orange segments, and then we are also using carrot, cucumber, red onion, red apple, and toasted almonds. The dressing features ginger, orange, garlic, onion soup mix, and more, for a full-flavored taste. Make it ahead then chill it for the flavors to mingle. The salad is served on a bed of lettuce, and you can choose from iceberg, baby spinach, arugula, or simply some mixed baby leaves.

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey, or you could even use shrimp or tofu as your protein for a change of pace. If you do not have leftover meat, it is easy enough to chop and stir-fry some chicken in oil, or even poach it in slowly simmering water until done. The first way yields golden brown chicken, while the second gives you soft chicken, so it is just down to personal preference. The almonds, apple and onion add a distinctive crunch which balances out nicely with all the softer ingredients used in this recipe.

We used pasta shells but if you prefer twists, penne, wheels, macaroni, or another shape, any of those would work. This recipe would also work with egg noodles but that is getting away from the Italian-ness of the dish, so we usually use pasta here to keep it more authentic. This dish is Italian-influenced rather than traditional Italian, but it is still really good, and well worth making because the pasta, chicken and mandarin are beautiful together. Go ahead and make any tweaks you want though. Continue reading

Shrimp and Artichoke Risotto

Here we are pairing shrimp and artichoke to make a delicious risotto. This is made in the authentic way, adding a little liquid to the rice until it has been absorbed and then adding more and so on until the rice is done. Although this is a bit more labor-intensive than, say, cooking macaroni and tossing it with a sauce, risotto is a classic, timeless Italian recipe, and one which is well worth making. It will take anywhere up to 30 minutes to cook the rice perfectly, depending which type you are using.

You can use fresh or thawed shrimp here. If you have frozen ones, put them in a bowl of cold water with some teaspoon of salt dissolved in there, and they will thaw quickly. You can then peel and devein them. We are using canned artichoke hearts but you can use a couple of fresh globe artichokes hearts if you prefer, or omit them, or switch them for asparagus or mushrooms, as you wish. Use risotto rice, preferably Arborio or Carnaroli, for making this, so you get that perfect creamy texture risotto is famous for. This is widely available in the store.

Whether you are new to making risotto or simply looking for a new risotto recipe, this one is really good, especially if you want to add some seafood to your meal. Enjoy this with a mixed baby leaf salad on the side, pairing that with a simple extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Some people like to have bread with risotto, which means lots of carbs but it is your choice. You can finish the cooked risotto with parsley, dill weed or any other herb you want, either chopping it and stirring it in with the shrimp or using it as a garnish. Continue reading

Creamy Mushroom Risotto

Are you brand new to making risotto? Perhaps you have avoided making this dish in the past because of having to ladle in the stock a ladle at a time and wait for it to absorb before adding more. Standing over a hot stove does not appeal to many people. However, this recipe is slightly different because it is simpler, and there are two stock additions rather than all that constant stirring. The result is going to be a rich-flavored, creamy risotto boasting all the authentic Italian flavors you want.

The first thing to do is sauté onion and mushrooms in some butter. Use forest fresh mushrooms or your favorite kind. These are the main ingredient so use the best quality mushrooms you can find. The garlic and parsley go in next, followed by the rice, and then you can add some of the stock. Keep the rice moving else it might stick. The stock will be absorbed by the rice, and then you can go ahead and add the rest in there. The final step is adding some cream, for a rich and luxurious finish. Scatter some fresh herbs over the finished risotto if you want.

Something else Italian chefs like to do, to fortify the mushroom flavor, is to add a few tablespoons of mushroom powder to the mixture. If you want to do this, do so when you add the second lot of stock. If you do not have mushroom powder, you can make it yourself by grinding up some dried mushrooms. This is optional but it does add a richer flavor to the risotto, so is worth doing if you really love that mushroom taste. Pair the finished risotto with a nice, crisp green salad and maybe a glass of white wine as well. Continue reading

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.

Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.

When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole


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