Tag Archives: Italian Food

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.

Stuffed Veal Scaloppine Simmered in a Red Wine-Tomato Sauce

Stuffed_Veal_Scallopini1 (1 of 1)Some people have issues with veal — I don’t. I’m not a big fan of sitting down to a veal shank (I may change my mind someday about that), but I love lean, thin cuts of veal (costoletta di vitello alla milanese, with  or without bone is one of my favorite dishes!). This dish is a bit more involved (say, Sunday afternoon) than some of my other posts, but it is well worth the effort — very delicious and elegant!. Once again, the ingredients a simple, and come together very well. Hope you give it a try!

12 veal scaloppine slices (about 1 1/2 lbs, no more than 1/4 inch thick), cut into roughly 4-inch x 4-inch squares, very lightly salted on both sides
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup yellow raisins, soaked in 3/4 cup hot red wine for 10 minutes; drained
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 oz thick prosciutto from butcher, diced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 oz pancetta, minced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 28-oz can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine pine nuts, raisins, cheese and black pepper.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the prosciutto, parsley and garlic. Pulse a few times until a paste forms (don’t over process). Add the paste to the pine nut mixture together with the egg. Combine well.

On a nice, clean spot on your counter, lay out the 12 scaloppine pieces. Place a good-sized spoonful of the prosciutto mixture on each piece of veal. Gently roll up each veal piece (stretch meat if necessary), and secure with three pieces of butcher’s twine.

In a large, shallow sauce pan (or something similar, that will easily fit all scallopini in a single layer), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute 2 minutes. Add onion and saute another 3 minutes. Remove pancetta and onion with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the stuffed scaloppine and brown on all sides (about 8 minutes). Remove and set aside.

Add tomato puree, red wine, beef stock and salt to the pan. Bring to a boil, while deglazing at the same time. Reduce heat to medium and cook about a minute. Add back the stuffed scaloppine, onions and pancetta. Gently ensure that the scallopini are well-covered in the sauce. Cover. Reduce heat to very low and simmer gently for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for an additional hour (very important step!). Remove butcher’s twine from scaloppine. Serve over orecchiette that have been tossed in a bit of olive oil and a hint of salt.

Serves 4.


Beef Braised in a Tomato and White Wine Sauce with Fennel Seeds and Saffron (Brasato di Manzo allo Zafferano)

Brasato_di_Manzo1 (1 of 1)This braise of beef hails from the Puglia region of Italy, and although hearty, I believe it’s prepared year-round there. Another simple and delicious Mediterranean dish, this recipe’s unique ingredients all come together during very nicely the braising process. Wonderful over freshly made soft polenta (recipe for future post)! I hope you’ll try this tonight (or next weekend)!

1/3 cup olive, plus 1 tsp
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp fennel seeds
2 1/2 lbs trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 14-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices, hand-squeezed into small bits in bowl
1 tsp sugar
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In small pan, heat 1/3 cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and gently cook for 2 minutes (don’t brown!). Add fennel seeds and cook another 1 minute. Combine olive oil mixture well with beef in a large bowl. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring wine to a boil in a small bowl. Remove from heat and add saffron. Stir, cover and let steep.

In a large Dutch oven, heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil over high heat. Add marinated beef, salt and pepper, and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add tomatoes and wine/saffron mixture to pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cooked down a bit,  deglazing about 5 minutes.  Add back beef. Increase heat to high and stir until beef mixture begins to boil. Cover and place in oven. Cook until beef is just about falling apart, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Stir in sugar. Serve over polenta and garnish with parmesan and parsley.

Serves 6.


Baked Mac and Cheese with Gruyère, Cabbage and Sage

Mac_n_Cheese1 (1 of 1)What could possibly be better than the combined flavors of garlic and sage! Add cheese and throw in some pasta, bake it, and you have heaven in a dish! This mac and cheese is delicious, and so easy to prepare. Serve with a green salad, and you have a meal. This recipe can easily be cooked in a single casserole, but I made it in individual ramekins, because I thought they’d be more photogenic. Anyway, I hope you’ll try this dish!

1/4 olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
6 sage leaves, torn into small pieces
10 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cups savoy cabbage, thinly sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup grated gruyère cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage; saute another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Strain pasta, reserving water. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl; set aside.

Bring reserved pasta water to a boil in a pot. Add potatoes and cook 7 minutes. Add cabbage and cook 1 more minute. Strain.

Combine potatoes and cabbage with pasta. Stir in 1/2 cup of the grated gruyère,  parmesan, salt and pepper.  Divide equally into 6 single-serving size ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup gruyère (or more!) over ramekins. Place into oven on a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, then broil for a couple of minutes until nicely browned. Serve.

Serves 6.

Risotto with Country Mushrooms (Risotto ai Funghi)

Risotto_ai_Funghi1 (1 of 1)You must have patience when preparing this dish, but it’s well worth the effort — this risotto is creamy and very flavorful! If you don’t take the time to gradually add the stock to the rice, you’ll end up with a crunchy risotto that’s far too al dente (trust me). This dish makes for a perfect, light evening meal — serve with fresh sourdough bread and a glass of white wine. I hope you’ll try this tonight!

1 cup (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced
1 lb fresh “exotic” mushrooms, sliced (I used half shiitake, half oyster)
2 1/2  tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups uncooked arborio rice
1/2 dry white wine
6 cups chick stock
2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a small bowl, cover mushrooms with boiling water. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms, reserving soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add garlic and saute 3 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms, and turn heat up to medium-high. Saute 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in porcini mushrooms, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until soft, Risotto_ai_Funghi2 (1 of 1)about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir 1 1/2 tsp salt into the stock. Now, this is where your patience kicks in — add stock to rice mixture, one ladle at a time, stirring each time until it has been absorbed. About half-way through, stir in the reserved mushroom liquid. Continue stirring in stock. This entire process should take about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in the mushrooms, parmesan and 1 Tbsp of the chopped parsley. Cover and let stand a few minutes. Serve, topping with additional parmesan and parsley.

Serves 4.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Rosemary and White Wine (Involtini di Pollo)

Involtini_di_Pollo1 (1 of 1)This is an incredibly easy dish to prepare, yet the end results make it look like you slaved in the kitchen all day! Unlike my typical blog post, this recipe has very few ingredients, which in my mind, is key to Mediterranean cooking — fresh, simple ingredients that go very well together! Delicious. Hope you’ll give this one a try tonight!

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
3 Tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
8 slices prosciutto
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp sherry
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp sour cream

Combine garlic, rosemary, 1/2 Tbsp of the olive oil, salt and black pepper in a small bowl.

In a large, shallow dish, rub chicken thighs evenly with the rosemary mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 1/2 hour.

Lay the prosciutto slices on a flat surface. Roll each thigh in one slice of prosciutto; secure each Involtini_di_Pollo2 (1 of 1)involtino with two pieces of butcher’s twine.

Heat 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the involtini and brown on all sides, about 13 minutes. Add wine and bring to a simmer. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Remove involtini, remove strings (gently), cover loosely with foil and set aside. Bring the cooking juices to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken broth, sherry and sour cream and whisk until smooth. Cook sauce down until thickened. Season with additional salt and black pepper, if desired. Serve involtini with sauce drizzled over them. I like to serve this dish with boiled new red potatoes and a small green side salad.

Serves 4.

Neapolitan Tomato and Pork “Soup” with Rosemary and Red Wine

Tomato_and_Pork_Soup1 (1 of 1)In Italian, this dish is called “zuppa” (soup), but to me, it’s more like a thick stew (maybe that’s because of how I prepare it). This dish hails from Naples, Italy, and is so simple and delicious — the flavors of the pancetta, salt pork, rosemary, tomato and wine come together very nicely! Some may find salt pork to be too fatty, but I think you could omit it and just add a bit of olive oil to the pan before adding the pancetta mixture, and still have fantastic results. I hope you’ll try this dish!

4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1 oz salt pork, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 1/2 lbs lean ground pork
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups red wine
1 28-oz can tomato puree
Olive oil
Crusty bread, sliced
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Combine pancetta, salt pork, rosemary and garlic on a cutting board — chop together with a sharp knife to create a paste.

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta mixture and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the onions and red pepper flakes;  cook for another 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the ground pork and the salt. Brown for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to break meat up.

Add 1 cup of the wine to the pork mixture and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the wine and the tomato puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour, uncovered. Remove from heat and season with additional salt, if desired.

Heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the slices of bread and cook until nicely browned on both sides.

To serve, place a slice of bread in each bowl;  pour some soup over bread and garnish with parsley (you may want to do this at the table so your guests can see the crisp, yummy slice of bread before it’s hidden by the soup!).

Serves 4.

Italian-Style Saffroned Lentil Soup (Minestra di Lenticchie e Zafferano)

Saffroned_Lentil_Soup1 (1 of 1)I have a “go-to” lentil soup recipe that I’ve been making for several years. It’s a typical lentil soup with carrots, thyme, etc., and it’s very good. I wanted to try a different version; I found this Italian lentil soup recipe, and it’s delicious! I think the toasted saffron steeped in warmed Cognac are what make this dish. I hope you’ll try it!

1 lb Italian or French (de Puy) lentils, rinsed and soaked in cold water for 1/2 hour
1/4 tsp saffron threads
3 Tbsp Congnac, warmed
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus a bit of additional for toasting the baguette slices
3 oz pancetta, diced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
6 cups cold water
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 baguette, thinly (1/2 inch) sliced on the diagonal
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

Lightly toast the saffron in a small, heavy skillet over high heat, then stir into 2 Tbsp of the warmed Cognac in a small bowl. Set aside to steep.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and saute for 5 minutes, stirring in the garlic the last 30 seconds. Add bay leaf, water, lentils, saffron/cognac mixture, tomatoes and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove from heat and stir in the red wine vinegar. Season with additional salt, if desired (I added another tsp salt, and thought that was good). Let soup sit for a bit, uncovered.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a small metal bowl the cream, remaining 1 Tbsp Cognac and ground cloves until thick. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add baguette slices and lightly brown on both sides.

Ladle soup into bowls. Place a dollop of cream mixture over each and garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Serves 6.