Italian · Recipes

Meatball Sandwiches

This is the ultimate comfort meal. Seriously. Eat this when you have had an absolutely miserable day and it is cold and wretched outside. No regrets.

You will need:

  • 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound italian sausage (mild)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Slices of provolone cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 6 hoagies buns
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step one: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap 2 cloves of garlic in aluminum foil and roast for 15 minutes.

Step two: mix beef, sausage (squeezed out of its casing), minced garlic, breadcrumbs, oregano and egg and form into meatballs.


Step three: cook meatballs in a large nonstick pan at medium heat – be sure to not overcook. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for an additional ten minutes.  Top with fresh grated Parmesan.


Step four: while meatballs are simmering, split hoagies and brush the insides with olive oil and the roasted garlic. Heat in the oven for about 7-8 minutes until desired texture.

Step five: place three meatballs in the hoagie and top with provolone. Put subs back in the oven to melt the cheese for an additional five minutes. Enjoy!

Italian · Recipes

Caprese Chicken

This was a delicious choice for the summer. I used fresh basil and tomatoes from my garden, and the result was a really simple, refreshing meal. I like to serve it with mashed potatoes. Using a good quality balsamic vinegar is also important – there are many types that are infused with flavors that would be interesting to try.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil, 2-3 tbs
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, good quality.
  • Fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half.
  • Mozzarella, fresh and thinly sliced. (you may substitute shredded)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step one:

Heat olive oil on medium heat. Salt and pepper the chicken liberally. Cook chicken for six minutes on each side, and then remove from heat.

Step two:

Saute garlic in the balsamic vinegar for several minutes, until softened. Add the basil and tomatoes and cook it down for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.

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Step three:

Add the chicken back in the pan, and thinly sliced mozzarella on top. Cook for 6-8 more minutes or until the mozzarella is melted, and serve. Enjoy!

Italian · Recipes

Homeade Marinara Sauce

There are many iterations and recipes about how to make a good Marinara sauce. Here is what I use – I prefer it because it is simple and a proven winner over the years.

You will need:

  • 1 28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes (certified DOP, if possible)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large basil sprig, fresh
  • pinch, crushed red pepper flakes

Step one:

Pour tomatoes in a bowl and crush with your (clean) hands or use a food processor. Pour 1 cup of water in the empty can and swish to get a little tomato juice. Save it for later.

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Step two:

In a large sauce pan or skillet, heat oil over medium – add garlic when it is ready. As soon as the garlic is sizzling (do not overcook), add the tomatoes. Then the reserved tomato water, the pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir.

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Step three:

Place the basil sprig (stem included) on the surface. Let it wilt and submerge into the sauce. Simmer until the sauce is thickened and oil on the surface is a deep orange, around 15 minutes.

Italian · Mediterranean · Recipes · Side dish

Orzo & Feta Salad

This is a very refreshing salad to bring to a party or serve at lunchtime. We used to have a grocery store that made an excellent version of this, and the recipe that follows is the inspiration. I also borrowed heavily from a version that Gia DeLaurentis makes. The beauty is you can add or sub in any ingredients you want. For example, there are versions with fresh tomatoes or garbanzo beans – whatever inspires you.

Recipe level: easy

Serves: 6

Time: 20 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 c. orzo
  • 4 c. Chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup feta
  • 1/2 cup sweet pepper, chopped fine
  • Sundried tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c pitted kalamata olives, quartered

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 c. Red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 c. Virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. Fresh mint

Step one:

Boil the chicken broth and add the orzo. Make sure to stir, because orzo can get starchy. Cook for about seven minutes and then drain and set aside.

Step two:

Assemble the dressing and then toss with drained orzo.

Step three:

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Italian · Recipes

Orecchiette and Sausage

This is a classic Italian winter dish. I really like to make it when it is cold outside, because the pasta is creamy and filling.  I also like to use spicy sausage instead of mild, or blend in a proportion of both. Broccoli rabe is the classic vegetable used in Italy, but regular broccoli or an alternate like kale or peas is also fine.  I’ve also seen a variation with cooked tomatoes that was especially delicious. In truth, rather than being a purist, I embrace my grandmother’s philosophy of cleaning out the vegetable drawer with what is on hand. There is a lot of variety to the dish, but what is below is closest to the classic version. This will feed around 5 to 6 people. Feel free to ramp up the butter and/or cheese if you want something more decadent.

Many non-Italians are not used to incorporating pasta water, but I highly recommend it, as it helps add creaminess to the overall dish. Also, make sure to salt your pasta water:) Fresh grated cheese really makes a huge difference. There are debates about which cheese is canon, but I personally prefer a blend of Asiago & Parmesan.

You will need:

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casings (or spicy, if you prefer)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 reserve pasta water
  • broccoli florets or kale
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago, Pecorino Romano, or Parmesan ( I personally use a blend of Asiago & Parmesan)

Step one:

Make sure to salt your water for the pasta with kosher salt. If you cannot find orecchiette, substitute small shells. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water to set aside.

Step two:

Once you have the pasta started, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan and add the sausage. Cook, breaking the meat up with a spoon, until the sausage starts to brown, 5-6 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Season the meat with salt & red pepper flakes. Remove the meat from pan. Add the reserve pasta water, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, broccoli, chicken broth. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broccoli is tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the butter until melted and simmer for a few minutes to reduce and concentrate the sauce. Add the sausage back in.

Step three:

Add the cooked and drained pasta and toss well.

Fresh grated cheese really makes a difference here. It is really worth the extra step and effort. However, if you have to substitute it’s not the end of the world. If you can’t find Asiago or Romano, it’s fine to substitute Parmigiano Reggiano.

Italian · Recipes

Homemade pasta

In the age of pasta machines and convenience, something gets lost in the translation. Making your own pasta is relatively easy, and you can find the same essential recipe all over the Internet – because sometimes you don’t need to improve a simple perfection. I’m not suggesting you make this on a school night, when there is a ton of chaos – but this is a lovely treat on the weekend or for a special occasion. This recipe makes about a pound of pasta.

Recipe level: easy

Time: hour total

You will need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil

Step one:

Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Add eggs and olive oil.

Stir with a fork. Once the dough becomes too thick, knead it on a clean work surface until you have a stiff ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least half an hour.

Step two:

Unwrap and cut the dough ball into fourths.

Wrap three portions of the ball back in plastic. Liberally sprinkle the portion with flour and roll until it is very thin. You should be able to see your hand.

Step three:

Fold over and slice thin strips with a knife. Shake out strands and dust with a bit more flour.

Step four:

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water for about three minutes. Remember fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried.

Enjoy!