Monday, April 30, 2007

Stuffed Shells with a Twist!

Stuffed with Flavor

This recipe was billed as a make ahead dish. You are supposed to prepare everything until it's ready to bake and then wrap it well and store it in the freezer. It's ready to bake when you are!

The idea appealed to me because I like to have meals ready for busy work nights. But the thing that got me to make this recipe is the ingredients... Artichokes, ground turkey breast and ricotta cheese. Yum, yum and more yum!

Plus it's really a healthy recipe. The artichokes provide the vegetable, the turkey breast is so lean and is packed with protein, the tomato sauce is a great source of lycopene and the pasta provides the carbs, which by the way are not all that bad for you. (As long as you eat them in moderation). Ok, I know the cheese is fattening, but it is also loaded with protein and I use the low fat version to keep things light.

I did change the recipe slightly, as noted and I substituted homemade marinara for the arrabbiata sauce. I also split the recipe between two pans; I baked one and froze the other.

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup) (I used shallots)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground turkey (I only used 1/2 pound)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped (I cooked mine according to package directions before chopping)
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
(I used low-fat)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (I used Pecorino Romano)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (I used 3 egg whites)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 2 Tlbs. of a combination of fresh Basil, Thyme and Rosemary )
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used 1/4 cup)
5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows (I used homemade Marinara sauce)
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces) (I only used about 1/2 - 3/4 cup low-fat mozzarella)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Note: If you don't like your pasta to get dry around the edges cover with foil until the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Arrabbiata Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.

Yield: approximately 6 cups

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Butter Cookies

Christmas Cookies in May? Sure, Why Not...

I love making cookies and freezing some of them. Sometimes I forget about cookies that I had made and froze, then when I'm foraging through my freezer, I find a sweet surprise!

These butter cookies are just that. I made these 2 days before Christmas and had a few extra, so I wrapped them really well and froze them. I forgot about them until the other day when I was looking for something else in the freezer. After almost 5 months in the freezer, they still tasted fabulous. I love that!

Since I never posted them during the holidays, I figured now is as good a time as ever.

Butter Cookies/ Thumbprint Cookies

3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
Confectioners sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease cookie sheets.
2. Cream butter.
3. Add eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Add sifted dry ingredients. Stir until well blended.
5. Roll tablespoons of dough into palm of hand until round. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
6. Bake at 400 degrees switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until bottoms are browned, about 10-12 minutes total.
7. Let cool and roll in confectioners sugar.

*Store cookies in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed paper or parchment, at room temperature for upto 1 week.
They also freeze really well. Wrap in foil and place in freezer bag for upto 4 months.

This cookie dough recipe can also be used to make
Thumb Print Cookies
Use the same dough as above.
In step 5 make an indentation with your thumb or the back of a 1/2 teaspoon.
Place 2 almond slices on the top of the cookie on the side of the indentation.
Bake same as above.
Let cool and add 1/2 teaspoon raspberry jam in the indentation.
Mix a tablespoon of confectioners sugar and about 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Coat the top of the cookies with confectioners sugar glaze.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Sometimes You Just Can't Beat Cake Mix!

I've made banana bread and banana muffins many times from scratch and they were delicious, but there is something to be said about the moist and feather light texture of the boxed mixes. I just can't get that lightness from scratch. Lord knows I've tried. Time and time again. The cake and muffin mixes also rise better than cakes and muffins from scratch.

The Pillsbury Loaf mixes are some of my favorites. The banana, pumpkin, cinnamon and pecan swirl are my top picks. The banana nut cupcake recipe was great, but I lightened it up a bit, so that I could eat them in for breakfast and call them "muffins".

Banana Nut Cupcakes with maple frosting
a Pillsbury Bake-Off Winning Recipe

Banana Nut Muffins
My changes are in red

1 (14oz.) package Pillsbury Banana Quick Bread & Muffin Mix
1 cup buttermilk*(I used fat-free buttermilk)
1 mashed banana (optional- my addition)
3 tablespoons Hungry Jack® Microwave Ready Regular Syrup (I used Eggo Lite Syrup- 35% less sugar than Eggo Original )
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon imitation banana flavor (optional-my addition)
2 eggs (I used 3 egg whites)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I only coarsely chopped mine)

Frosting (optional- I didn't frost mine)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons Hungry Jack® Microwave Ready Regular Syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon imitation maple flavor
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 400°F. Line 16 muffin cups with foil or paper baking cups. In large bowl, combine all cupcake ingredients except walnuts; stir 50 to 75 strokes with spoon until mix is moistened. Stir in 1/2 cup walnuts. (I sprinkled mine over the tops just before baking). Spoon batter evenly into lined muffin cups.

Bake at 400°F. for 16 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool 30 minutes or until completely cooled.

Optional: In small bowl, combine all frosting ingredients except powdered sugar and walnuts; beat at low speed until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until mixture is of spreading consistency. Frost cooled cupcakes. Immediately sprinkle with 1/4 cup walnuts. Store in refrigerator.

They're Supposed to Bring Good Luck?

Pot O' Soup or Pot O' Gold?

According to Giada DeLaurentiis, lentils are supposed to bring you good luck. So I made her lentil soup in hopes of finding that pot of gold.

I haven't experienced any luck yet, but hey the soup was good and I figure maybe the luck is on its way. Plus, lentils are good for you- they're loaded with protein and fiber.

Lentil Soup

by Giada DeLaurentiis

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped (I used 1 1/2 Leeks, coarsely chopped)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used Petite Diced Tomatoes)
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups) (I used 1 1/2 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth (I used 8 cups of Kitchen Basics Low-Sodium Chicken Stock and 3 cups of water with 2 packages of Low-Sodium HerbOx Chicken Bouillon)
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan (I used Pecorino Romano)

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

My First Taste of Arugula and Goat Cheese

Colorful and Interesting

Believe it or not, this salad was my first time ever using or tasting both arugula and goat cheese. The recipe appealed to me because of the combinations of bitter and sweet. Even though I had never tried arugula I had an idea of what it might taste like, just from hearing so many other people describing it. And the same with goat cheese.

The verdict: I loved the salad, but did not like the goat cheese. This surprised me, because I love all kinds of cheese. It was too harsh and kind of tasted like it was spoiled, even though it wasn't. The only thing I'm wondering about however, is if the brand and quality had anything to do with it. I have to admit, I grabbed one of those already crumbled, pre-packed deals. So I'm not sure if that is why I didn't like it. I will have to try the"real thing" in order to say if I like it or not.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

by Giada DeLaurentiis

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
6 cups fresh arugula
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mom's Carrot Cake

Moist, Tasty and Great Texture...
Just What You Would Expect From A Cake Made By Mom!

My Mom has been making this cake for years. I never asked her for the recipe until now. When she handed me an old cut out piece of cardboard, I was surprised to see where the recipe came from. It was from a box of Jack Frost Sugar.

I don't even know if this product still exists! Leave it to Mom though, it was tucked away in her favorite "junk drawer" along with many other cherished recipes torn from newspapers, magazines and the such. I guess you could say this is Mom's recipe box...Although you may find a few gadgets and other odd items in the mix. Nonetheless, it's a recipe worth posting because you never know, it could get lost someday in that make-shift recipe box!

The recipe also listed a cream cheese frosting which Mom does make on occasion. Through the years we all kind of cut down sugar and fat intake, so she sometimes just tops it with powdered sugar or even leaves it plain. It is delicious either way, but I will include the frosting recipe since we all need to indulge now and then!

Super Moist Carrot Cake
by Jack Frost Sugar

1 cup Jack Frost Granulated Sugar (Mom used 1/2 cup Domino's Sugar)
1 cup Jack Frost Brown Sugar (Mom used 1/2 cup Domino's Brown Sugar)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (Mom used more)
3 cups finely shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

In a large mixing bowl, combine fist seven ingredients. Add carrots, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beating for 2-3 minutes on medium. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9 inch* baking pan. Bake in a a 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool on rack. Frost with cream cheese frosting (if desired). Refrigerate till serving.
*2 9-inch baking pans can be used. Reduce baking time to 40 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Jack Frost Confectioners Sugar

In a large mixer bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla till light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners sugar, beating until smooth. Spread over cooled cake.(13x9 inch)
*To frost two 9-inch cakes, double the frosting recipe.

A Different Kind of Garlic Bread

Toasted Bread-How could you go wrong?
Besides from burning the bread that is.

I came very close to ruining this recipe by doing just that. Instead of grilling the bread, which is what the recipe says, I toasted mine in the oven on a baking sheet. That was fine, but the bread wasn't getting brown, so I put it under the broiler and set the timer for 3 minutes. Bad move. Just before the timer went off I started to smell something burning and pulled them out in the nick of time. Whew! That was close.

Anyway, the bruschetta turned out great. Contrary to some of the reviews on the recipe, I thought it could use a little more lemon flavor. If I make it again, I would probably add a little lemon zest with the parsley. But use your own judgment!

Lemon Parsley Bruschetta
by Giada DiLaurentiis

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used half a lemon)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 (3 1/2 by 1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic white bread, halved (I used a baguette)
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the bread until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. (I toasted the bread in a 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes and then browned the top under the broiler for about 2 1/2 minutes, be careful!)

Rub the cut sides of the toasts with the garlic. Generously brush the lemon mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Chicken Escarole with Mushroom Balsamic Cream Sauce

Good Stuff!

This dish is actually my interpretation and combination of two different recipes- Chicken Escarole and Chicken with Wild Mushroom and Balsamic Cream Sauce. The first is a recipe I found on and the second is a Rachel Ray recipe. I made some changes to each recipe and then melded them together.

I did like the combination of the two recipes, but at the same time, I also wondered if there was too much going on in one plate. I guess I'll have to try the individual recipes to know for sure.
If you try it, let me know what you think!

Chicken Escarole with Mushroom Balsamic Cream Sauce

For Chicken:
2 chicken breast halves, butterflied and cut into two pieces (for a total of 4 cutlets)
1 egg
Head of escarole, cleaned and chopped
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
Garlic, crushed
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmesan or Romano cheese
Olive oil

Boil escarole in large pot until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water and dry with paper towels. Set aside.

Dip chicken cutlets in egg and then in flour. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, add chicken and cook until light golden brown on both sides. Set chicken aside.

In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute crushed garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chopped escarole and olives and cook for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

For Mushroom Cream Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoons butter
10 ounce box white mushrooms, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, a couple of sprigs, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half, (If you're a purest, use real cream)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add extra-virgin olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts, add the mushrooms and brown stirring occasionally for about 4 to 5 minutes. Once the mushrooms are brown season with salt and pepper then add the garlic, thyme and shallots.

Cook stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes or until the shallots are wilted. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook 2 minutes more.

Whisk in the stock, balsamic vinegar and the half-and-half. Turn the heat up to high and simmer for about 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the parsley.

Pour the sauce into a buttered casserole dish. Nestle the chicken in the sauce and top with the escarole mixture. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Serve with rice or pasta.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Another Unexpected Great Taste!

Super Tangy-Super Good!

This is another recipe I have been eyeing and finally decided to make. I very rarely cook butternut squash because the thought of mashed and mushy orange stuff on my plate just doesn't do it for me.

When I saw this recipe I just had a feeling it would be good. The butternut squash is roasted which naturally appealed to me, since I tend to roast most of my veggies. But the marinade is what changed the dish from good to super good!

The only mistake I made was to serve it with escarole chicken and a mushroom balsamic cream sauce (I will post this recipe soon). The flavors just didn't go together. I would suggest serving this with roasted chicken or pork or any entree that needs a little lift, because this recipe will definately give your taste buds a wake up call!!

Marinated Butternut Squash
recipe by GE Profile (go figure?)

2 butternut squash, 1-inch slices (I used one package of pre-cut butternut squash)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 medium red onion, sliced paper thin (I used 1 large shallot, sliced paper thin)
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (I omitted this)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, sliced paper thin
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (I used fresh parsely)
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Pre-Heat oven to 450 degrees. Season squash with salt and pepper, drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil, place on cookie sheet. (I lined mine with foil for easy clean-up).
2. Bake in oven until tender, about 18-20 minutes.
3. While squash is baking, stir together 4 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, onion, chile flakes, oregano, garlic and season with salt and pepper.
4. Remove squash from oven and pour marinade over squash. Allow to cool for 20 mins., sprinkle with mint leaves and serve.
Serves 8

Chef Tip: This dish can be made earlier in the day but should not be refrigerated.
(I had leftovers, so I had to refrigerate it. The next day I took it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. It was fine.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You Have To Give This One A Try!!!

Unexpectedly Delicious.

This was the first time I've ever made this recipe, so I didn't know what to expect. I just figured it was something different to do with escarole. I usually use escarole in soups and sometimes atop chicken breasts topped with cheese (which I will post a recipe for soon).

The last time I posted a recipe with escarole in it, I was surprised to learn that many people had never tried it and/or had never heard of it. So I'll give you a brief rundown on this leafy vegetable.

is a type of endive and a member of the chicory family. It has a slightly bitter taste, yet not as bitter as Belgian or curly endive. It has broad, crisp pale green leaves and can be cooked or eaten raw in a salad.

In this recipe, the escarole is cooked in a casserole and let me tell you, this is an awesome way to eat your greens. The breadcrumbs and olives meld with the subtle flavor of the escarole and the texture that it forms is something to sink your teeth into.

I'll let you be the judge, give it a try ASAP!

Escarole Casserole

recipe by Mariana's Gourmet

1 head escarole
2/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs (I used a little less-about 1/2 cup)
1 clove crushed garlic (I used 2 cloves)
1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced
2-3 slices prosciutto, chopped (I used 1 slice of Canadian bacon)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil

Boil escarole until tender. (I washed*, chopped and then cooked mine for about 15 minutes.) Drain, dry with paper towel and cut into pieces. Heat oil in pan, saute crushed garlic, prosciutto and escarole in olive oil. Add the seasoned bread crumbs, black olives and grated cheese. Blend well. Place in a buttered casserole dish and top with additional bread crumbs and butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

*To prepare the escarole, fill a clean sink or very large bowl with cold water. Cut the stem end off the escarole and chop the leaves into small pieces. Add the escarole to the water and move it around to shake off dirt. Let it sit for a few minutes and repeat until there is no dirt in the bottom of the bowl.

Annie's Note: Since the escarole shrinks when cooked, this recipe will only serve up to three people. So I suggest doubling the recipe if you are cooking for more.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Chicken Breasts with Fresh Marinara

Simple, yet delicious!

This is the chicken dish I mentioned in my previous post. Lidia Bastianich of Lidia's Italian Table made this simple but delicious chicken dish using her basic marinara sauce. The ingredients are few and simple, but must be fresh and of the best quality, since they are the main flavors in this dish.

Chicken with Fresh Marinara Sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced (I used a little less than a slice and cut it into small pieces and spread it on top of each breast)
4 large fresh basil leaves (I chopped mine)
Olive oil
Flour for dredging
Salt & pepper
Fresh marinara sauce (recipe in previous post)

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to to cover the bottom. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and lightly dredge in flour. Shake off excess. Add the chicken to the pan and cook the chicken until light golden brown on the bottom. Holding the chicken with tongs, drain the olive oil out of the pan. Add a bit more fresh olive oil and turn the chicken breasts over and add a basil leaf atop each breast, then top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Add some fresh marinara sauce to the pan and top each breast with a little sauce as well. Add a few ladle spoons of pasta water to the pan, lower the heat, cover and simmer the chicken for about 20-25 minutes until cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through.

Annie's Note: For a quicker version of this dish, you could use chicken cutlets instead of chicken breasts, just reduce the cooking time!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Angel Hair with Fresh Marinara Sauce

I think almost everyone knows how to make a marinara sauce, but everyone has his or her own spin on it. I watched an episode of Lidia's Italian Table recently all about Marinara Sauce and decided to try it her way. It was great!

According to Lidia Bastianich, the difference between marinara sauce and tomato sauce is this:

Marinara is a quick sauce, seasoned only with garlic, pepper and, if you like basil or oregano. The pieces of tomato are left chunky and the texture of the finished sauce is fairly loose.

Tomato sauce, on the other hand is a more complex affair, starting with pureed tomatoes and seasoned with onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf, and left to simmer until thickened and rich in flavor.

FYI: the recipe on her website was slightly different than the episode on TV, so I included the differences in red.

Marinara Sauce
Servings: Makes about 1 quart, enough to dress 6 servings of pasta

On the show I believe she made a double recipe because she was using the marinara for 3 different dishes: Spaghetti Marinara, Sea Bass with Olives, Capers and Marinara and Chicken Breasts with Mozzarella and Marinara (which I will post next)

Ingredients: ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup)
8 garlic cloves, peeled 16 garlic cloves (sliced)
3 pounds ripe fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded, or one 35 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), seeded and lightly crushed, with their liquid
2 - 35 ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) (I used Tutto Rosso Crushed), with their liquid

About 1 cup of water added to can or bowl to slosh out the remaining tomatoes and their juices
Crushed red pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces (4 whole branches into the sauce while it cooks, discard it and add more fresh torn basil
before serving.)

Ricotta cheese for topping and serving

Directions: Make this sauce with fresh tomatoes only when the juiciest, most flavorful ripe tomatoes are available. (Increase the amount of olive oil a little if you make the sauce with fresh tomatoes.) Otherwise, canned plum tomatoes make a delicious marinara sauce.

Heat the oil in a 2 to 3-quart non-reactive saucepan (use larger pan for double recipe) over medium heat. Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil (add in sliced garlic) and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Crush the tomatoes with your hands to break up into smaller pieces. Carefully slide the tomatoes and their liquid into the oil. Add in the water and remaining tomatoes and juices from the can. Add the 4 whole branches of basil. Bring to a boil and season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer and cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a whisk or spoon, until the sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Remove the cooked basil. Stir in the basil about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper if necessary.

Cook pasta (Lidia used Spaghetti, but I used Angel Hair) until al dente (soft on the outside with a bite to the inside). Heat a large pan and add a few ladles of marinara sauce to it. Drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil. Add the pasta to the marinara sauce to finish cooking and more fresh torn basil if desired. Lift the pasta with tongs and twist onto a serving dish to form a mound. Add a small amount of marinara on top and a dollop of ricotta cheese. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Twice Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

No Fry Zone!

This is a healthly alternative to the traditional eggplant parm we all know and love.
The eggplant slices are still dusted in flour, dipped in egg and dredged in breadcrumbs.
The difference is that they are then baked in the oven and then layered with cheese and marinara sauce as usual.

I posted this recipe last year- Check it out!