Category Archives: Italian

Chickpea and Pasta Soup with Sage and Rosemary

Chickpea_and_Pasta_Soup1 (1 of 1)Here’s another hearty and deliciously satisfying soup for fall. We’ve had a few nights of frost, but I still have some healthy sage and rosemary in the garden, as well as the other ingredients on hand in the pantry. I decided to make this comforting soup, and I have to say, it was wonderful. The fresh herbs and dash of nutmeg make it — I hope you’ll give this one a try!
4 oz very small pasta (I used ditalini)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large leeks, trimmed, sliced once lengthwise (white part only), then thinly sliced crosswise
1 large clove garlic, very finely grated or minced
6 cups beef or vegetable stock
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 ground black pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg (little less that 1/8 tsp)
1 16-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package instructions, minus two minutes of cooking time. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Add leeks and garlic, and cook 10 minutes. Stir constantly so nothing burns. Add 1 cup of the stock and deglaze pan for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the stock, sage, rosemary, salt, pepper, nutmeg, pasta and chickpeas. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired (I added another 1/2 tsp salt). Serve with healthy amounts of parmesan cheese and crusty country bread. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 6.

Oven-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Oven_Roasted_Chcken_with_Lemon1 (1 of 1)Last night was another night where I wanted to make something with herbs from my garden — in this case, rosemary. I’ve thought for a long time that rosemary and lemon were meant for each other. I was also in the mood for chicken, which goes very well with rosemary and lemon, so I decided to make this oven-roasted version of those ingredients — wonderful! The combination of flavors is bright and welcoming. I like to serve this with a wild rice pilaf — hope you’ll try this dish tonight!

1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on, trimmed of any fat
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup water
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 bay leaf

In a small bowl, combine garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, lemon zest, rosemary and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir into a paste. Place chicken thighs in a shallow dish and rub thoroughly with paste. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line an ovenproof dish with sliced lemons.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken thighs (skin-side down first) on both sides, 4 minutes per side. Arrange the chicken over the lemon slices in the ovenproof dish, skin-side up. Place dish in oven and roast 20 – 25 minutes, or until juices run clear when pierced.

In the meantime, add lemon juice, water, corn starch, salt and bay leaf to pan that the chicken browned in. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and stir until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Remove chicken from oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand 5 minutes. To serve, place a few of the lemon slices on each plate. Place chicken thigh over lemon slices on each plate and pour some of the sauce over each serving.

Serves 4.


Beef Sauce with Red Wine, Sage and Parsley over Cavatappi

Meat_Sauce_with_Sage1 (1 of 1)Once again, it was my overflowing herb garden that inspired me to make this dish — I used to think of sage as an herb you cook with only in winter. I’ve always grown it, but by the time I wanted to use it, it was gone with the first frost. Luckily, I’ve discovered that sage is wonderful year-round. In this simple meat sauce,  the sage (together with the meat browned in butter!) provides for a nice depth of flavor! I hope you’ll try this recipe tonight with your fresh herbs!

2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and very finely grated or minced
8 large sage leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
3/4 cup beef stock
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 lb (uncooked) cavatappi pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over high heat. Add beef and brown 5 minutes, stirring constantly to breaking up any clumps. Add onion, garlic, sage, and sprinkle with flour. Stir an additional 3 minutes. Stir in wine, beef stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat. Stir in parsley and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over pasta with a dollup of sour cream.

Serves 6.


Gnocchi with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Sage (Gnocchi mit Pfifferlingen und Salbei)

Gnocchi_mit_Pifferlingen_und_Salbei3 (1 of 1)Although this dish seems Italian, it has a strong German accent. The stars are the chanterelles (which are commonly used in Germany) and the sage (which I harvested from my herb garden out back). The crème fraîche in this recipe is also a key ingredient — it’s similar to sour cream, but not as sour. Try not to substitute. The sauce is simple and absolutely delicious! I hope you’ll give this a try!

1 1/2 lbs ready-to-cook gnocchi
1 lb fresh chanterelle mushrooms, (or 2 oz dried, soaked in 4 cups very hot water for 30 minutes), coarsely chopped
2 strips bacon (about 5 oz), finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup vegetable, beef or chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
8 large sage leaves, chopped
3/4 cup crème fraîche
Ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat bacon in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let sit on paper towels. With a paper towel, wipe up all but about 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings from the pan.

Reduce heat to medium, and add mushrooms and onions. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in stock and crème fraîche. Cook for a few minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in sage and some ground black pepper, and cook an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat and season with additional salt if desired. Serve over gnocchi and sprinkle portions with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

Italian Meatloaf

Italian_Meatloaf2 (1 of 1)Some of my readers may recall that I have a thing for meatloaf. Well, it’s been a while since my last meatloaf post, so here we go (again). This fantastic version comes from central Italy — its ingredients are simple, but make for a delicious meatloaf and sauce! Really easy to prepare — hope you’ll try it out!


Two thick slices bread, torn into pieces and soaked in about a cup of milk
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground pork
1/4 lb pancetta, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 chopped parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2  14-oz cans diced tomatoes with juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drain milk from bread, squeezing out excess liquid. Combine bread and next 8 ingredients (ground beef through black pepper) in a large bowl. Mix well with hands.

Coat lidded casserole with cooking spray. Add meat mixture to casserole and form into a Italian_Meatloaf1 (1 of 1)10-inch x 5-inch loaf. Combine tomatoes and wine, together with a pinch of additional salt in a bowl. Pour tomato mixture around loaf. Cover, place in oven and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 45 minutes. Remove casserole from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Slice meatloaf in casserole into 1-inch slices. Serve with hot pasta.

Serves 8.


Chicken Simmered with Black Olives and Rosemary

Chicken_with_Black_Olives_and_Rosemary1 (1 of 1)This is a simple-to-prepare chicken recipe. The list of ingredients is short (at least among my posts), but these ingredients combine very well into a delicious dish. A very important component is the anchovy paste — it does not add any sort of a fishy flavor, but rather an important “depth of flavor,” so don’t skip it! If you have whole anchovy filets, you can substitute 2 filets for the paste. A wonderful Mediterranean take on chicken, hope you’ll give it a try!

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Combine chicken with salt and pepper in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk flour into white wine and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or similar pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown on Chicken_with_Black_Olives_and_Rosemary2 (1 of 1)all sides, about 5 minutes. Stir in onion, rosemary and white wine/flour mixture. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add olives and anchovy paste to the chicken mixture; stir well. Cover pan and simmer gently another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in red wine vinegar. Season with additional salt, if desired. Serve with pasta,  white rice, or pane di casa.

Serves 4.


Milanese-Style Risotto with Saffron (Risotto alla Milanese)

Risotto_alla_Milanese2 (1 of 1)For a proper, creamy and delicious risotto, you must be patient — the key is to stir constantly and add liquid gradually, allowing it to absorb each time. When I first made risotto, I didn’t do it right, and the rice ended up gooey and uncooked (had to toss it). I was discouraged and didn’t make it again for several years. I finally tried again, preparing it correctly. I now think a good risotto is one of the simplest and most satisfying dishes to prepare!. Hope you try it!

1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 1/2 Tbsp hot water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish

In a small bowl, combine saffron with hot water. Let steep for at least 20 minutes.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pan) over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add rice and sauté 2 minutes.

Add wine and stir until absorbed. Stir in saffron mixture, and season with the salt and pepper. Add stock very gradually, one ladle at a time, allowing each to Risotto_alla_Milanese1 (1 of 1)be absorbed before proceeding to the next. Stir mixture constantly. This process is key to a rich, creamy risotto, and should take 20 minutes or so. Be patient!

Remove rice from heat. Stir in a couple additional tablespoons of chicken stock, as well as the parmesan cheese. Cover and let stand for about 3 minutes. Divide among 6 serving dishes. Grate plenty of parmesan cheese over each. Serve with crusty, country-style bread and nice glasses of white wine.

Serves 6.