Category Archives: Italian

Caprese Salad

Simple ingredients equal delicious results in this recipe.  Pasta, fresh basil, garlic and olive oil sound so simple, but together they are heaven.  This is a great dish to make ahead of time for a BBQ, pot-luck or even a super bowl party.  All I can say is GO BRONCOS!!!!  Keeping my fingers crossed they stay in this thing.  Every game is such a nail biter, don’t fail me now.  I’m even wearing my orange shirt and I hate orange.  It’s all for the sake of football.

Ingredients:

  • 16oz rotini pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 36 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 16 oz block mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 cup creamy balsamic dressing, I used Newmans Own

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Once cooked al dente, place in colander drain all water and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

2.  In large mixing bowl toss pasta, olive oil, salt, garlic, tomatoes, basil and cheese. Toss until evenly coated on all pasta.

3.  Finally,  drizzle creamy balsamic dressing onto pasta and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Cover and store in fridge until ready to serve.

* side note:  if it chills for a length of time, you may want to add a bit more dressing or olive oil.  The pasta tends to soak it up a bit.

Adapted from:  chef-in-training

White Bean, Spinach and Couscous Bake

P1050424-2

I was craving something vegetarian when I came across this delicious sounding recipe.  However, when I do choose to make anything vegetarian it has to be packed with flavor, so my husband forgets that the meat may be missing.  It is all about the art of distraction.   Flavor punch = Meat amnesia.  Also, with this recipe feel free to change up the type of cheese used.  I think next time I will try using feta. I think its creaminess would put this dish over the top.  Go ahead, challenge the meat-eaters with this dish and see if you can win them over.  Plus you get to learn to chiffonade.  I embedded a link on the word within this recipe in case your not sure on this cutting technique.  


Yield:  4 servings
 
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice couscous
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of fire roasted tomatoes, drained but juice reserved
  • 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced, plus additional 3 tablespoons basil for garnish, chiffonade
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 5 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375°.  Lightly spray a shallow baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2.  In large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute onion for 4 minutes, add garlic and saute for 3 more minutes or until onions are translucent.

3.  Add drained tomatoes and crush any remaining large chunks with the back of a fork.  Add white beans and cook for 5 minutes.  Next fold in spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes or until spinach begins to wilt.

4.  In a large sized mixing bowl, combine precooked couscous, reserved tomato juice, minced basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly. Fold bean/tomato mixture into the couscous mixture until well combined.

5.  Spread half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish.  Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese over mixture.  Top with the remaining couscous mixture and then sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cover dish with foil and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 2-3 more minutes.

6.  Dish into bowls, garnish with chiffonade basil and serve warm.

Adapted from:  beardandbonnet

Pizza Bites

 
When I think of delicious game day food, I always think pizza.  Well, why not make pizza into a snack size.  No, I’m not talking about Totinos pizza rolls, I am talking about fresh bite size pizza straight out of your own oven.   I came up with these as a game day snack for the Superbowl.  I used pepperoni, because my husband is meat fanatic, but you could also make them vegetarian.  Just adding fresh basil, black olive and a bit of green pepper would be wonderful.  So, go ahead and use this recipe as a base and add your favorite pizza toppings to them.  Enjoy some good food, good friends and good football.  Go Broncos!!  Oh wait, that’s right they lost to the ravens.   Maybe next year.  


Yields: 24 pizza bites

Ingredients:

  • 11-oz can pizza dough ( I used Pillsbury thin crust pizza dough)
  • marinara sauce (I used basil and garlic flavor)
  • pepperoni
  • shredded motzarella cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • basil leaves
  • 2 mini muffin pans
  • non-stick cooking spray

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Spray mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
2.  Lightly flour counter top and lay pizza dough out and roll until 1/4″ thick.
3.  Using the open side of a cup slightly larger around than each muffin.  Cut out circular pieces of dough.

 4.  Place cut out dough in each prepared muffin pan.  1 piece of dough in each muffin.

5.  Then place 1 piece of pepperoni into each muffin, then add small amount marinara sauce into each muffin.

5.  Sprinkle each one with small amount of Italian seasoning and garlic powder.

6.  Top with a sprinkle of motzarella cheese.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until cheese and dough is slightly golden.

Enjoy!!! 
If your looking for some other great food ideas for the big game.  Here are a few of my favorite game day selections.
                                   
                                                             Avocado Deviled Eggs
 

Noodle-Less Turkey/Veggie Lasagna

I came across this recipe on a vegetarian website.  It sounded delicious with the spaghetti squash.  I can honestly say that it never occurred to me to use spaghetti squash instead of noodles in a dish.  And I am a big fan of spaghetti squash.  I did make some alterations in this recipe by adding the lean ground turkey.  I thought it would be a great way to pack in some protein without adding a bunch of fat.  My husband even said he liked this lasagna better than traditional noodle lasagna.  He also decided it was okay to have 2  pieces of sourdough bread as he put it, “without the noodles, I don’t have to feel guilty about the extra piece of bread.”  After dishing our plates, we did spice things up with some red pepper flakes and dash of Parmesan cheese.  So whether you are a vegetarian and leave the turkey out or cook it with the turkey you will not be disappointed.  Italian night has now taken on a vegetable theme.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (24oz) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 package lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 medium zucchini thinly sliced (I used the thin slice side of my cheese grater)
  • 3 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Italian Blend cheese
  • ground pepper
  • dried parsley flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °.  Spray casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place turkey in large skillet and cook until no pink remaining.  Add jar of spaghetti sauce and Italian seasoning.  Simmer 10 minutes.
  3. In a casserole dish, begin layering 1/3 zucchini, top with 1 cup spaghetti squash, 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and then 1 cup of turkey/sauce mixture.   Repeat this process until all ingredients are gone. Mine ended up being 3 layers.  When doing top layer use all remaining turkey/sauce mixture and finally top with another 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

4.  I used my fingers to crumble the ricotta into small pieces.

5.  Sprinkle with parsley flakes and fresh ground pepper.

6.   Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  There will be some water in the lasagna because of all the vegetables.  After it was done baking I just slightly tilted the pan to the side and used a spoon to scoop out most of the water.

Adapted from: greenlitebites

Italian Spaghetti Squash

This is a wonderful dish when your craving pasta, but are also watching your calories.  The flesh part of the spaghetti squash when removed, comes out in long strands, resembling the noodles from which its name comes from.  While eliminating calories by cutting out the pasta, you add a unique flavor and slight crispy crunch from the spaghetti squash.  These “noodles” are tossed with vegetables and feta cheese to bring this recipe to deliciousness.  You may add or substitute different vegetables, like zucchini or yellow squash if you prefer.  Serve this dish with a nice loaf of fresh warm bread  Considering all the carbs you cut by eliminating the pasta, you deserve it.

Servings:  4

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes (about 3 Roma tomatoes) chopped
  • 1 (2.25-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes if desired

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with spoon. Place spaghetti squash, cut-sides down, on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only little resistance.  Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add onion to skillet and saute until tender, approximately 2 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. 

3.  Stir in tomatoes and black olives, cook only until tomatoes are warm. Remove from heat, add feta and basil, toss well. 

4.  Using a fork, scrape out insides of spaghetti squash and place in large bowl.  Add sauteed vegetables to spaghetti squash and mix well.

5.  Place servings in individual bowls, salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a fresh basil leaf and/or red pepper flakes.

Zucchini Pizza Bites

These are a great way to satisfy a craving for pizza with a low carb twist.  Use them as an appetizer, healthy snack or main dish with a side salad.  You can easily change up the toppings to make them your own.  Try adding fresh basil, pepperoni, olives or mushrooms.  Go ahead and eat some pizza while leaving the guilt at the door.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini sliced on a diagonal (1/4″thick)
  • spray olive oil (I used a Misto)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup skim shredded motzzarella cheese
  • parmesean cheese for topping

Directions:

1.  Cut zucchini about 1/4 inch thick on a diagonal.  Place on cookie sheet.

2.  Spray zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle each piece with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Flip zucchini pieces over and repeat process.

3.  Broil zucchini for about 4 minutes, flipping over half way through.

4.  Top each piece with 1 teaspoon marinara sauce and cheese.  Broil for 1 more minute.

 

5.  Sprinkle with parmesean cheese and enjoy.

Adapted from: skinnytaste

Zucchini Linguine

So, as summer is coming to a close and fall is around the corner, I thought I would give you one more summer vegetable recipe.  Because after this, it tis the season for pumpkin and spice.  Fall, a beautiful time of year, crisp morning air, the changing of the leaves and everything pumpkin.  Ah.. I can smell the nutmeg in the air.  Okay, okay sorry for the tangent, I’ll get back to the recipe.  I love pasta, but hate how I feel guilty afterwards.  Usually, they are filled with heavy meats and cream sauces, like alfredo.  This recipe however; is a wonderful blend of linguine and fresh vegetables, using a small amount of cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt to get you a light tasty sauce.  Plus, using shredded zucchini in the mixture gives you more volume in the pasta without using as much actual pasta.  Voila, a yummy, not so bad for you pasta dish.  Enjoy and start getting excited for fall recipes, soups and more.

 
Ingredients:
  • 1 (8 ounce) package linguine pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 zucchini cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 yellow squash cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if desired)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:

1.  Bring large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to box directions.  Keep pasta al dente, drain and set aside.

2.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Saute garlic in skillet until starts to turn slightly brown 1-2 minutes.  Stir in grated zucchini, saute for another 2 minutes.

3.  Add rest of zucchini and yellow squash.  Cook for another 4 minutes. Then remove from heat.
4.  Add cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt and basil to zucchini/squash mixture.  Mix well.
5.  Add pasta to skillet with zucchini mixture and toss well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add red pepper flakes if desired.  Mix well and serve.

To mix this recipe up a bit, you could always use whole wheat past, spaghetti noodles or different vegetables, like tomato.  Give this recipe a try, you won’t be disappointed.  Let me know what combinations you tried and worked well.

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls

Who doesn’t love lasagna, but all the fat that goes with it, not so much.  Well, I found a little gem in this recipe.  I tweaked it a little bit from it’s original state, but none the less, delicious.  For a little background, my husband and I go back in forth about if you really feel satisfied eating a vegetarian diet.  I’ll tell you what, after making this dinner, sans hamburger, he thought it might be possible. While cleaning up after dinner, I told him I would eat the leftovers for dinner the next night since he was going to be out at a business dinner, and he said if that were the case he would just have to, “eat the leftovers for breakfast.”  So, to all my meat lover friends, coming from a cook with a carnivore husband, vegetarian lasagna is a good thing.  It is also now considered a breakfast food.  Plus, they look so cute.  It’s a great dish for dinner parties and each roll is about a serving size. 

Ingredients:

  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
  • 15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 26 oz marinara sauce (I like Victoria all natural marinara sauce)
  • 1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook lasagna noodles as directed by box. 

Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in medium bowl.  Mix well.   Place 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce in bottom of 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of parchment paper on counter and lay lasagna noodles out individually.  Pat noodles dry with paper towel.  Take 1/3 cup spinach/ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle using fingertips.  Make sure the spinach mixture is pressed all the way to the edge of the noodles.  Carefully roll each noodle and place seam side down into the baking dish.  Repeat this with each remaining noodle. 
Place small amount of marinara over the noodle rolls and top each one with a sprinkle of the mozzarella cheese.  Place foil over dish and bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

To serve, ladle small amount of leftover marina on serving plate and place lasagna roll on top. 

adapted from:  skinnytaste.com