Tuesday, April 17, 2018

FOUR CHEESE STUFFED PASTA SHELLS

This is another classic Italian-American pasta dish. Jumbo shells are usually found in boxes, in the pasta aisle of your grocery store. My kids loved this dish growing up. You can also add some fresh chopped spinach to the cheese filling if you wish.


Tomato Sauce
2 T avocado oil or extra-light olive oil 
1 medium yellow onion, diced
½ t red pepper flakes 
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3 cans (28 oz) whole peeled Italian tomatoes 
3 T tomato paste
1 T freeze-dried or chopped fresh basil
½ cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Four Cheese Filling
16 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces, saving half for topping shells
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup minced Italian parsley
2 T minced fresh basil
¼ t grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb jumbo pasta shells
Chopped fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Grated cheese, for serving

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and sauté the onion and red pepper flakes for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and hand-crush them, removing any hard center cores.
Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.

To the saucepan add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, and wine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile in a bowl, mix together the Four Cheese Filling and set aside.
Next boil the pasta shells in a large pot of salted water, for about 8 minutes.
Gently remove the shells to a bowl with ice-cold water, then gently pour into a colander and let drain. Try not to tear the shells.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a tablespoon, spoon a generous amount of filling into each shell and set aside on a platter or pizza pan.

When the sauce is finished simmering, spoon a ladle or two into the bottom of a baking dish or two smaller baking dishes.
Arrange the shells in the baking dish and add a small piece of mozzarella on top of each.
Cover with parchment-lined aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes.
One baking dish can be frozen, if using two, before baking for another dinner.

To Serve:

Spoon a ladle of hot tomato sauce into each warm pasta bowl. Add 4 to 5 stuffed shells and sprinkle with grated cheese and garnish with basil.

Serves 4 to 6


Friday, April 6, 2018

SICILIAN SALAD

This healthy salad is sure to please everyone in your family. We love this with pizza.



Dressing
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour vinegar into a jar fitted with a tight lid or in a small bowl.
Add the olive oil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Shake the jar or whisk to combine.

Salad
Enough mixed salad greens or arugula for 4 servings
1 bulb fennel, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 few fennel fronds
1 navel orange, peeled and sections removed with a paring knife
1 red grapefruit, peeled and sections removed with a paring knife
½ cup pitted black Sicilian or Italian olives, coarsely chopped
½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
¼ cup drained capers
¼ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves, optional

Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.
Drizzle the salad dressing on top and toss again.

Serves 4

Monday, April 2, 2018

ZUCCHINI & FENNEL SALAD WITH SHAVED ASIAGO CHEESE

Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable. I have grilled it and added a vinaigrette. I've also cooked and baked it. Raw zucchini is also delicious and is so healthy. Zucchini and fennel are low in calories and high in potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.


4 medium-size zucchini, rinsed and ends cut off
1 large bulb fennel, rinsed
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
2 T champagne or white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Asiago cheese, shaved
Fennel fronds, minced

Using a mandoline on a thin setting, shave the zucchini, lengthwise, into a large bowl.
The zucchini will look like ribbons. If you don't have a mandoline, you can do this with a sharp knife.
Do the same with the fennel.

In a small bowl, add the zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic.
Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour vinaigrette over zucchini and fennel. Toss to combine.
Using tongs, place on a large serving platter and add some shaved asiago cheese and sprinkle with fennel fronds.
Season again with salt and pepper.


Serves 6