Friday, July 29, 2016

PAELLA ITALIANA

This is my Italian version of the popular Spanish Paella using Italian sausages, instead of chorizo and Italian arborio rice instead of Spanish bomba rice. I used chicken, Italian sausages, mussels, clams, and calamari rings. Use whatever seafood you like. You can also make the paella with shellfish alone.



2 T (30 ml) extra-light olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless chicken breasts or 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
3 sweet or hot Italian sausage links
1 t smoked paprika
1 yellow onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T (15 ml) fresh oregano leaves or freeze-dried oregano
2 cups (500 ml) Arborio rice
4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock or broth
1 cup (250 ml) bottled clam juice
1 (14 oz /398 ml) can fire roasted diced tomatoes 
1 t crushed saffron threads
½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine
2 fresh or dried bay leaves

12 mussels, beards removed and scrubbed clean
16 small fresh Manilla or littleneck clams, scrubbed clean
1 lb (500 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ lb (125 g) squid (calamari) cut into circles
1 cup (125 ml) frozen peas, thawed
½ cup (125 ml) pimento stuffed green olives
¼ cup (60 ml) Italian parsley, chopped
1 roasted red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Lemon wedges, for serving
Crusty Italian bread, for serving

In a paella pan or large flat skillet, heat one tablespoon (15 ml) of the oil over medium heat.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook the chicken until lightly brown. 
Remove to the platter.
Add the Italian sausages and brown on all sides, for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove to the platter with the chicken and sprinkle all with the smoked paprika.

Lower the heat and add the other tablespoon (15 ml) of oil and sauté the onion and bell peppers for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the oregano and rice and cook for a minute or two.
Pour in the chicken stock, clam broth, tomatoes, and saffron. 
Stir to combine and turn off heat while slicing sausages.

Slice the Italian sausages into circles and add to the pan along with the chicken.
Add the wine and bay leaves.
Cover tightly and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove lid and tuck in the mussels and clams. 
Cover and cook another 7 to 8 minutes, or until mussel and clam shells have opened.
Add the shrimp and squid, cover and let cook another 5 minutes.
Remove lid and sprinkle with peas, olives, parsley, and roasted bell pepper slices.
Turn up heat for 30 seconds to let the rice stick and caramelize on the bottom of the pan.
Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

Serves 4



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FIGS WITH GOAT CHEESE, ROSEMARY, & PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA

Ernest Novello (his Americanized name) had a fig tree in his backyard in Richmond, Virginia. I believe it kept him close in heart to his Italian heritage. Figs are the fruit of the Ficus tree and are an excellent source of dietary fibre and potassium. They also contain prebiotics which helps support the pre-existing good bacteria in the gut. Don't eat too many at one time due to their laxative effect. Figs should not be washed until ready to eat. The variety I used is called Brown Turkey. 


6 Brown Turkey figs, stems cut off and figs cut in half, lengthwise
4 oz (125 g) log of goat cheese, room temperature
2 t (10 ml) fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 t (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
2 oz (60 g) Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Place the figs, cut side up, on a work surface.
In a small bowl, mix the minced rosemary leaves and black pepper with the goat cheese.
Using a small spoon, add a small amount on top of each cut side of the figs.

Tear small pieces of Prosciutto and place a little on top of the goat cheese.
Place figs on a serving platter and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

You can serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Let come to room temperature before serving.

Serves 4 to 6 as appetizers


Monday, July 25, 2016

CANNELLINI BEAN & SUN-DRIED TOMATO SALAD

This is a delicious side dish to take to a picnic or pot-luck dinner, as I did last night. The salad is best served at room temperature. A tomato-basil salad and roasted salmon would complement this side dish very well.  


3 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained completely
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and diced
3 cloves garlic, pushed through a garlic press
¼ cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1 T minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 T minced fresh oregano leaves
1 T minced fresh basil leaves
½ t red pepper flakes
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mixed lettuce leaves

Pour drained beans into a large bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the lettuce leaves.
Gently stir to combine.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Place mixed lettuce leaves on a platter, spoon bean mixture on top and serve.

Serves 10 to 12

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

SUMMER VEGETABLE TIAN

Here is a delicious way to enjoy zucchini and yellow squash. This makes an excellent side dish for any outdoor barbecue.


1 T (15 ml) extra-light olive oil or grape seed oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes, sliced into thin circles
2 medium zucchini, sliced into thin circles
2 medium yellow squash, sliced into thin circles
4 Roma or plum tomatoes, sliced into thin circles
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t (10 ml) fresh thyme leaves
2 t (10 ml) fresh rosemary leaves, minced
½ cup (125 ml) grated or diced fontina cheese
¼ cup (60 ml) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Heat 2 T of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. 
Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Spoon into the bottom of a gratin or shallow baking dish.

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) degrees.

Evenly arrange potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes in a circle around dish.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle on the thyme leaves, rosemary leaves, fontina and Parmigiano.
Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

Cover with foil and place on a baking dish or pizza pan.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.


Serves 4