Tasty Italian Zucchini Bruschetta Recipe

Here is a fun twist to our standard bruschetta recipe by using zucchini instead of bread slices.  Creative, right?   zucchini bruchetta As you can see in the picture, we swap out the hearty Italian bread with delicious flavorful fresh zucchini slices.

This recipe is perfect for a nice change of pace, those who are trying to cut back when possible on carbs (yours truly), vegans, vegetarians and anyone else willing to give it a try!

Bruschetta is typically a mixture of fresh chopped/diced tomatoes tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper placed on top of some toasted Italian bread with a healthy drizzle of olive oil.  See picture here:Bruschetta/crustini

 

Different restaurants prepare bruschetta differently, some do it spot on while others I couldn’t believe they even called it bruschetta.  I once ate a place that put so many overpowering herbs like oregano into the tomato mixture and put so much the bread I told my husband, “This isn’t bruschetta, this is a heap of seasoned tomatoes on soggy wet breadt!”

However, in this recipe we keep it simple… very simple    You can even see how easy it is by watching the quick video I prepared for you.  Take a listen and watch while we swap the bread out with some zucchini slices… along with some other necessary and practical adjustments.

Zucchini Bruschetta

Share this recipe if you think someone you know might like it!

Recipe Ingredients

  • Fresh Zucchini
  • Tomato slices (campari are good size if you have them)
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Slice your zucchini into approximately 1/4 inch thick rounds and place in a baking dish
  3. Slice your tomatoes as well and cut to appropriate size to fit on top of zucchini rounds
  4. Place tomato slices on zucchini rounds
  5. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs
  6. Drizzle olive oil over each piece so it is decently coated
  7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs become crisp
  8. Remove from oven, top with fresh basil and serve.
http://www.simpleitaliancooking.com/blog/zucchini-bruschetta/

A few tips I’d like to add regarding this recipe:

  • Do not overcook the zucchini.  You want it to hold its shape and not be a slice of mush
  • Use extra virgin olive oil as this has more flavor than regular pure olive oil
  • Always try to use organic vegetables when available
  • If you have a garden, this just may be a recipe where all ingredients are right in your backyard!

Let me know what you think, and feel free to share with anyone who might be interested.  Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter on my homepage which I do my best to send out at least once a month!

Grazie e Ciao!

 

Liz

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How to Make Quick Homemade Organic Breadcrumbs

When I started making my own breadcrumbs, it wasn’t because I wanted to. It really came about because I couldn’t find any organic brands in the store (however you can order them online through Amazon or Vitacost).  I still use store bought when I need to for larger dishes and I have the time to plan and go shopping.

homemade breadcrumbsHowever, the below recipe has been used on many occasions when I’ve got all the ingredients out on the table and realize there are no breadcrumbs in the pantry.

When I don’t have any stale bread reserved for the task (I’m not a good planner when it comes to cooking), I grab about 4 slices, throw them in the toaster oven, wait, let them cool, then blend them up.  Still takes a little bit of time, but fast than running to the store.. and I get my organic breadcrumbs.

Taking the time to make your own homemade organic breadcrumbs is not hard or difficult, or even time consuming at all.  There are basically two ways and I’ll highlight the fastest one in this article (watch my video below).

The first method is to take bread and let it go stale over time.  You can do this by leaving it out in the open on a pan like a cookie sheet or something of the like.

Cover it with cloth to keep dust off and let it remain until it gets hard through and through.   Put it through a blender and there you have it.   The problem is this can take at least a few days depending on the type of bread.

My method of making quick breadcrumbs

  1. Use the bread of your choice. I use whatever I have on hand, sometimes its a baguette or sometimes its just sliced whole wheat bread.
  2. Bake in the oven or toaster oven until it is obviously dried out (not burnt).  I’d recommend about 350F if baking in an oven for about 10-15 minutes – you might have to flip it half way through. *see tip below*
  3. When finished, let cool so no moisture is in the bread
  4. Break into smaller pieces (if you can tear them and there is no crunch, they aren’t toasted enough) and add to a blender or processor like the Cuisinart one I talk about here.  I’ve used our NutriBullet as well as our VitaMix blender.
  5. When done, use for your recipe or store in air tight container

 

Quick Recipe Video:

Recipe Tips:

Here are some of my tips I think anyone would find helpful:

  1. If you have a toaster oven, I find that the toasting setting will dry it out enough, unlike a regular pop up toaster.   I toast on a low setting a few times so to not make the bread burn.
  2. Make sure you let the bread cool down before blending otherwise the moisture will cause the crumbs to clump
  3. Use organic bread and then you’ll end up with organic breadcrumbs
  4. Add in any salt and pepper to suit your tastes – even your own Italian herbs (dried of course)

Happy cooking!

Liz

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An Easy Recipe for Fried Zucchini Rounds

It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I started frying vegetables, (zucchini is one of my favorites as it doesn’t fall apart).  Frying vegetables is so easy it’s almost unreal.  Plus, it’s a great way to show kids (and picky spouses) that vegetables don’t have to be bland and boring!

So, here’s another one of my videos to show you how easy and simple it is to prepare and serve.

The Basics of Frying Vegetables

The ideal method for frying is to dip each piece in white flour, then in a milk and egg wash, then into the breadcrumbs to coat.  However, I have fried using simply flour, egg and breadcrumbs, or flour, milk and breadcrumbs, or some other variant with the ingredients with just as satisfying results.

Having said that, there are some reasons why I prefer and therefore recommend using all the initial ingredients I mentioned.

Recipe Tips

Fried Zucchini Rounds

First, by dipping the zucchini in the flour first, the egg mixture is able to uniformly adhere to the entire surface area.  For kicks, try to dip a zucchini round into the egg without dipping it in the flour first.  You will see the egg just doesn’t hold onto the vegetable like it should.

This presents a problem when you try to coat the rounds with the breadcrumbs b/c now the breadcrumbs don’t have something wet and sticky to hold onto.

Secondly, why an egg and milk mix?   Frankly, I think you can omit the egg without a problem, but the egg does provide a little more flavor and helps create a bit more puffed up texture.  My photos don’t show it all that much unfortunately, but it’s true.  As I said, if you don’t like eggs, or don’t want to use it for whatever reason don’t sweat it.

In regards to ratio, I added enough milk to cause the egg not to be too stretchy – I’m not making a fried egg here.   I made sure to beat it thoroughly with a fork and that’s all that was needed.

Thirdly, the type of breadcrumbs – although I have gotten in the habit of making my own breadcrumbs, I would recommend plain Panko breadcrumbs. Plain Panko usually don’t have the hydrogenated oils. Just compare the ingredients from a seasoned can with a non-seasoned one and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Whole wheat breadcrumbs or white bread?  I used in the video whole wheat breadcrumbs and they tasted great.   If I were baking these instead of frying, I’d prefer to not use the whole wheat but that’s just preference.

Fourth, why no salt and pepper?   Well, the breadcrumbs may already have that added in, and you just don’t need it.  But if you really want to, then add a pinch in with the breadcrumbs and mix well.

Okay, the important part….

Instructions

I’ve already given you the ingredients but here you go:  flour, egg and milk, breadcrumbs, oil for frying.

  1. Wash and slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds – no larger
  2. Pour some flour in a bowl or plate
  3. Beat 1 egg and some milk in a bowl (adjust for quantity)
  4. Pour some breadcrumbs in a bowl or plate
  5. Take each round and dip in the above order making sure to coat generously and set aside
  6. When done heat about an inch of olive oil in a medium saucepan over med-high heat
  7. When the oil is really hot use some tongs to place some rounds in the pan making sure not overcrowd them.  You’ll need to do this in batches.  In my video I do about 4 at a time – depends on size of pan.
  8. Let it fry for about 15 to 30 seconds then turn over and repeat.  When the coating is a nice golden brown, they are ready.  If they aren’t turning color fast, then the oil probably isn’t hot enough – you want to hear it sizzle!
  9. Transfer to a plate with a paper towel (the paper towel will help absorb the excess oil)

Serve and enjoy!

Use this dish as a stand alone snack, appetizer or a side dish to some pasta or chicken dish.  If you have any left over, don’t toss them out. You can reheat in a toaster oven!

Until next time, grazie and Happy 4th of July!

Liz

SimpleItalianCooking

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Try some wedding soup for Easter

Well truth be told I was going to do a great recipe for Italian carrot cake for Easter, but it turned out awful (still not sure exactly what happened), so I had to ditch that idea.  :(

Instead I thought about my previous recipes and last year I did the Easter Bread recipe so this year I will bring back into the spotlight our Italian wedding soup.   I had created a video for this a few years ago and it is quite an easy recipe!  Much easier than you would think.

Since I’ve got a larger number of followers now, I thought, resending this recipe wouldn’t hurt and would be appreciated by my new subscribers!

It takes a total of 90 minutes, but most of it is unattended.  It is a very simple recipe with just a few ingredients most of us have:

Ingredients:

  • beef
  • egg
  • garlic
  • breadcrumbs
  • Romano (or Parmesan) cheese
  • parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • broth
  • orzo (small oval pasta noodles)

The idea of wedding soup (so they say) isn’t so much that it is for weddings – although it can be today, but the idea of the ingredients blending together in the soup like a marriage, so not really a “wedding” soup but a “marriage” soup.

Well, the romantic side of me can appreciate all the background and setting of the stage so to speak, but let’s get down to the point…. great simple Italian recipe that if I can make and enjoy… you can too!

Here’s a quick video you can watch:

Some people don’t use the pasta in the soup.  I personally like it to bulk it up a bit more, but the preference is yours. Also, if you like to make your meatballs with pork or veal you can do that too.  Basically the first 7 ingredients are what I use to make meatballs, so feel free to make your own adjustments.

Instructions:

  1. 1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot
  2. 2. Create your meatballs using the first 7 ingredients above – make them small about 1/2 inch in size
  3. 3. Lower them into the broth and cook over a light boil for about an hour
  4. 4. Cook the pasta separately, drain and set aside with a little bit of pasta water to prevent sticking
  5. 5. When meatballs are fully cooked through, serve in pasta bowls with the orzo
  6. 5. Top with extra Romano or Parmesan cheese

Don’t forget, presentation can really top the cake too – use some nice Italian pasta soup bowls and have a nice glass of wine (or whatever your preference) along with some classic Italian bread and fresh salad.

 

Enjoy and Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Buona Pasqua!

Liz

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It’s Spring… and I’m thinking about my herbs

Solomon in the Bible talked about ants… yes ants.  I can understand why.   Ants are great motivators when it comes to working hard and preparing, but in the case of this blog… gardening.   Ants are always working and gathering up their food to store in their ant holes so when the cold weather comes they are well stocked.

This behavior is what we should be modeling in our own lives cause we never know what is around the corner. However we do know 4 things – Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.   So we work our gardens in the Spring and Summer (and some Fall) and we aren’t so lost when winter and early spring come around.

Gardening is great for kids

I remember as a little girl my mom sectioning off a part of our large garden just for me.  I remember the sticks of wood that defined my area of about 4×5 along the left edge of the garden.  If you have kids, this is a great way to provide a way to show encouragement and help them see the benefits of hard work and the rewards that follow.

I can only dream of having a large garden like the one in my memories… maybe someday, but for now I’ll have to be content with my space saving techniques for my fairly small back yard.

Despite the smaller size than what we had growing up, my enthusiasm is as big as it can get.  In all honestly I’ve been thinking of this garden since I emptied my container gardening tools at the beginning of last Fall.  This year, I’m doing a REAL garden.

This year I will attempt square foot gardening.   I’m going to follow the square foot gardening book and I’ve got pages and pages of notes I’ve taken from online sources about what to plant with other plants and herbs and what not to do, etc. etc.  It’s quite overwhelming to be frank.

So where does one start?   Naturally I decide to take the hard road and try to grow from seed.  I bought my organic seed packs at Walmart and I’ve got my bag of seed starting potting soil.

How do you know what to grow?

The best rule is… look at what you eat already.   Since I tend to enjoy Italian food the most I chose to go with the staples when it comes to herbs… basil, oregano and parsley.

Three Italian Herbs

Basil

frozen basil ice cubesBasil is great with pasta sauces, pizza (margarita pizza please!!!)  and rice dishes.  I know there are a zillion other uses, but these are my basic uses.

These are great to freeze in ice cubes as shown in the picture below.

Oregano

Oregano is great for pizza sauce as this truly is the secret ingredient.   All you have to do is take your basic sauce and add oregano and your kitchen now smells like a pizzeria.   Oregano also is great with meats and poultry (lemon and oregano dressing for grilled chicken is amazing!).

Oregano is also super easy to grow, and it’s really forgiving.   I figured I can’t go wrong with this one since I see it grow in the cracks in my in-laws cement patio.   My brother in law gave me some last year to transplant and so I shoved it into a pot and sure enough it survived without much attention.  When it started looking like it was dying i added water and it perked right up.   But his oregano was called “Spicy Oregano” and indeed it did have a nice little kick.  I recommend it to try if you like oregano.

Parsley

Gee, this is a great herb too and it is great for freshening your breath!   Parsley is also great to add to juices cause it helps remove metals from your system (not a doctor but just do some research on it’s properties).  One of my favorite recipes is my Italian breaded chicken breasts which uses chopped parsley as part of the breading.  Use plain breadcrumbs since you are adding your own seasonings.

There are two types of parsley that are most common – Curly and Italian.  Curly is what you get when you go to restaurants while Italian is a flat darker green and slightly more bitter tasting parsley.   Both are good but I recommend growing both b/c they have different uses.  I love just snacking on curly parsley, and it goes great in various salads.

So those are my three must haves.    I am going to try and grow Cilantro and Thai basil which are my two non-Italian favs.  Add them to freshly cooked rice along with some steamed vegetables and you’ve got a great little dish.

And always remember, don’t be shy like I am too often.   Plant more than you need because not everything is guaranteed to grow anyway.  If you have an over abundance that really is great because then  you have enough to freeze or dry for use during the winter and spring months.   I did this last year – both freezing my herbs and drying them.

My preference?   Except for the basil, I prefer dried herbs.  I use my Food Dehydrator and knock them out on a weekend and it works great.  I recommend getting one if you take your herb growing seriously.

I’ll try to post pictures as as I continue on my lovely journey.  I’m not great at gardening but I’m a glutton for punishment each year as I try new techniques and love every minute of it!

Till next time…  ciao!

Liz

SimpleItaliancooking.com

Posted in basil, Gardening, oregano, parsley | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Learn how to Make Roasted Garlic recipe

Italians love their garlic!  Well, actually so do the Greeks, the Spanish, the Thai and well… lots of cultures!

Garlic is such a versatile herb which can be used in a variety of ways in a variety of recipes.  It can be chopped, pureed, diced, sliced, smashed and… roasted.

This post will focus on roasted garlic – what is it exactly and how do you make it?

I was inspired to talk about this recipe the other week when I was at work speaking with a friend about what she was going to make for dinner. She mentioned garlic and I mentioned how I love roasted garlic.

To my surprise she asked, “What is that?”   It didn’t even dawn on me that others don’t know what this is… I tend to always assume everyone knows more than I do!  So I said, “You just gave me a great idea for a blog post!”

I never started roasting garlic until about 5 or 6 years ago when I started my quest for simple Italian cooking.  It is super easy, healthy, and a great accompaniment to many dishes.

What is Roasted Garlic?

Roasted garlic is whole garlic cloves or bulbs that are roasted in an oven at a fairly high temperature.   The below images are the difference between a garlic “clove” vs. a “bulb”.  A bulb is what you see in the stores – a group of cloves bound together by the outer white papery skin.

Did you know you can take 1 single clove, bury it in the ground with the pointy end up, and it will grow into a bulb?  I have done this one year and it worked out except I forgot where I buried the cloves and I couldn’t easily differentiate between the tall weeds and the garlic stems.

How to Roast Garlic

Although others I’m sure have their preferences, I like mine as simplistic and mess free as possible. Here’s how:

  1. Take a whole bulb and slice off the top to expose most of the raw garlic heads
  2. If you can, try to create a little space between some of cloves by moving them around – but not to where it falls apart
  3. Place on top of a piece of parchment paper large enough to wrap it up
  4. Drizzle olive oil on the bulb trying to get the oil to drip into the cloves which you’ve wiggled apart
  5. Now wrap it up with the parchment and twist the top so it stays shut
  6. In an oven proof dish, bake for 45 minutes at 375F
  7. When finished, open the bulbs when slightly cooled and using a knife and fork (or hands), remove the garlic from it’s outer skin (don’t eat the skin)
  8. Eat and enjoy!

COOKING TIPS:

  • Garlic is potent and it will be noticeable.  If you have family that don’t like cooking smells (even if good ones), keep a window open or make sure to air it out when done.
  • I always wish I made more garlic.  It’s easy to think, “I won’t eat a whole bulb!”  but amazingly, when garlic is cooked like this, it is not filling and you end up wanting more.
  • Italian recipes that this side dish goes well with are meat recipes and pasta dishes
  • Accompany with a salad, and include a bunch of parsley on the side b/c parsley is a great at removing any garlic smells that might linger
  • If you do not have parchment paper, you can use foil
  • By using a wrapper, like parchment paper – it traps the steam and the cloves do not dry out.

Let me know how you roast your garlic!

Thanks for reading,

 

Liz

SimpleItalianCooking.com

 

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Italian Christmas recipes that are easy to make

Every holiday whether Christmas or any other, its the same question (among many of course), “What will be on the menu?”.   If you are taking part of the whole cooking and planning ritual, but don’t know what to make, I’ve listed a few items below to consider, especially if looking for a Italian theme.

Most of these if not all are pulled directly from my site www.simpleitaliancooking.com which has allowed me to post many simple Italian recipes over the years.

I’ve had some great food experiences with cooking holiday meals, and I’ve had some bad ones too… such as this past Thanksgiving where we had the most dry and rubbery Turkey ever, but that’s another post.

So what I’ve decided to do is list a few of my favorite recipes that I’ve used on special occasions – not just Christmas.

 

1.  Mediterranean Roasted Chicken Recipe

Easy recipe for chicken with olives prunes

image by elanaspantry.com

 

This recipe uses a whole chicken, basic ingredients such as green olives, prunes, olive oil, garlic, bay leaf, honey, etc. You’ll see the list by clicking the link above.   To sum up in one word… pure Mediterranean!

One of the biggest most common problems or annoyances I have with roasting chicken is that it always seems to smell better than it tastes.  I feel like it is very easy to have a bland tasting chicken, and that’s the last thing you want to serve for a special dinner (or any dinner).

This recipe’s ingredients not only complement each other, but ends up creating a sauce in the pan that can be used to pour on top of the served chicken pieces.   It is also the type of recipe that still tastes great if not even better when used as left overs.

Why so great?   Because this recipe has two major things going for it… saltiness and sweetness.   The olives give it the saltiness which brings out more flavor and the honey and apple cider vinegar bring out a tangy sweetness that when all baked together creates a beautiful balance of flavors.

 

2. Anti-pasto with artichokes Recipe

food tray

 

Here is one of my very early recipes from 2009!! I can’t believe its been so long.  This recipe is great b/c not only is it easy, it can be made in advance earlier in the day.  You can use the measurements I provide or adjust to your own liking. Some people absolutely love garlic while others do not.   It is also a nice appetizer that can be served with fresh Italian bread.  Alternatively you can serve this as a side dish and will in fact compliment the above chicken recipe.

If you are serving this as an appetizer you can serve it alongside cheese and crackers, or a meat tray.

3. Stuffed Pasta Shells Recipe

stuffedshells

 

This is a great easy Italian recipe too!    It is so simple it will impress everyone…. and the other nicety about this recipe is that it too can be prepared ahead of time.   In fact, quite a bit of time in advance if you have a freezer to store it in.

Basically you make the inside mixture using the ricotta, spinach and seasonings.   Boil the shells a bit to soften them up then stuff them with the mixture, layer them in a pan with good Italian pasta sauce, and bake them in the oven till done.

Keep in mind its okay to have multiple main dishes.  In fact, this is typical in many cultures especially Italians.  So although you can definitely do this recipe alone, don’t be bashful to use it in addition to a meat dish such as the chicken recipe above.

4.  Ricotta Pie Recipe

ricotta-pie

 

A great Italian dessert!   This recipe I remember I was hesitant to try as I had never heard of a ricotta pie.   Short story made shorter, I loved it!

This recipe is fairly simple, but might be intimidating to anyone who isn’t used to baking at all as it does require whipping eggs into a froth like consistency.  In addition you’ll need a Springform pan, if you don’t have one make sure to get one because at some point later in life you will want one!  One of my readers said he made this for a church luncheon and it was completely demolished!

This pie has a nice creamy texture and if I had to give it basic description I’d say it is like an Italian cheesecake!   You’ll notice in the picture that I recommend strawberries, however any berries such as blueberries will do.

 

I wish you the best this Holiday and God Bless!

Liz

SimpleItaliancooking.com

Posted in Italian Christmas, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italian Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary Recipe

roasted-rosemary-redpotatoes

Ready for another easy and impressive Italian recipe?   This roasted red potatoes recipe is one of my favorites and I have a short video (shown below) to show how easy it is to make!   It uses 4 primary ingredients:

  • Red potatoes
  • Salt (& pepper)
  • Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • Dried rosemary (You can use fresh rosemary if you have it in your garden)

The steps for making this Italian favorite of mine couldn’t be easier, plus it’s a one pot dish recipe so we are talking about super easy clean up!

This recipe is for 2-3 people or 5 servings.  Adjust the ingredients as needed.

Food Prep Steps

First, chop the red potatoes into one inch pieces (I do find the red potatoes are best, but if you only have another kind of potato, then that is fine too).  If using organic potatoes you can leave the skin on – just give it a good scrubbing to remove any dirt.

Add about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in your baking dish.  You’ll see in my video I used my Cuisinart French Classic Tri-Ply Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan .  It was perfect for the approximate 2 – 2 1/2 lbs of potatoes I did, but if I were serving for more than myself and my husband, I would have used a standard 13×7 baking dish.

Add the potatoes into the pan, then add the olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemary.

Dried Rosemary

Dried Rosemary photo by Elisabeth Norris

Give it a good toss with your hands and make sure the potatoes are evenly coated.  There is no exact science to how much of each ingredient to use here.  In fact, this is probably my first video recipe I did where I didn’t actually have exact measurements.

For those who are petrified of using too much or too less, here is approximately what I used (remember if you are making more then increase these measurements!):

  • Salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Rosemary – 1 Tablespoons
  • Olive Oil – 3 Tablespoons

Note – if you don’t use enough olive oil to coat the potatoes they will not crisp up – and that is what you are aiming for.  You can see in the picture above some of mine have a really nice roasted skin on them – ideally you want all of them to be like that, however you have to make sure that to make all of them nice and brown you aren’t accidentally burning ones that for whatever reason have browned first.

Baking Instructions:

Bake the potatoes at 375F, or go to 400F if you want to speed it up just a little bit but make sure not to burn it!

Ready to go in oven

Ready to go in oven

Bake for about 30 minutes, then using a spatula or whatever you have, turn the potatoes so that the undersides can get roasted too.   It’s not an exact science like I said, so if you miss a few don’t worry about it.

Also, just take the whole pan out when you do this, don’t try to do it in the oven and be lazy like me – it’s easier to just take it out, set on top of the stove and then give the potatoes a stir.  My original video shows this but it made it too long so you don’t see this step in the video.

Then bake again for another 20-25 minutes.   The key is to keep your eye on it – when it gets nice an crispy looking it’s ready.  Not all of the potatoes have to have a crispy skin on them – but you definitely want the bulk of them to.

You will really begin to smell that rosemary and you will get hungrier as the aromatic minutes pass by!

 A few flavorful notes:

You will see that in the video I mention you can use black pepper along with the salt, however we don’t in our household.  This is not a flavor preference, but black pepper does not sit well with us so we rarely ever use it.  If you fit in this category try using white pepper.  We often use white pepper, but honestly this recipe isn’t lacking anything if you choose not to use it.

whole garlic cloves

whole garlic cloves

Garlic!  You can take some cloves of garlic and leave them whole or crush them and toss them in the pan – get them coated with the oil too.   If you are having guests and aren’t sure if they will like the garlic, then it’s best to leave it out.  Either way is fine.

If making this dish for a large party such as for Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday, you will obviously need to up the quantities I mention above.   Don’t even bother trying to measure, just sprinkle on the seasonings.    Don’t be shy!  This is one of the easiest Italian recipes to make!

Let me know if you like this recipe!  I hope you enjoy it!

Ciao!

Liz

www.simpletialiancooking.com

 

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Easy recipe for making delicious Italian meatballs

I remember as a child my mother making homemade Italian meatballs and cooking them in her homemade Italian sauce.  To this day her meatballs are better than any I’ve had at any restaurant.Italian Meatballs

Her version of meatballs is a little different than mine however.   Mine is a little different because I add in Romano Cheese and tend to use a leaner meat rendering the finished product less greasy.

I learned about adding the cheese from my mother in law.  So in the end everyone has slight variations on how to cook Italian meatballs, and some may argue which way is better, I tend to believe whichever way you like it is the right way – perhaps not authentic, but right for you.

The total process for preparation was around 15 minutes if even, and then about 10 minutes to partially fry the meatballs and 20 minutes to finish them off in the oven.   The recipe will produce about 10-12 medium size meatballs.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

  • 1 pound ground beef (organic and grass fed is my preferred choice)
  • 1/2 Cup of grated Romano cheese
  • 1 – 1 1/2 Cups of bread crumbs (I use plain Panko and crush them by either placing in a plastic zip lock and using a roller pin or I place in a small blender like a NutriBullet )
  • 2-3 finely chopped cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients evenly
  2. Form into meatballs
  3. Heat frying pan with olive oil so it is well coated on medium-high heat
  4. Add the meatballs a few at a time
  5. Let them brown and then move around to brown all sides (about 5 to 8 minutes total – don’t let them burn)
  6. When ready, remove to an oven safe dish and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until fully cooked through.  You don’t want any red meat at all.

TIPS:

  • The larger the frying pan the more meatballs you can fry and that saves time (I use my 5.5qt Cuisinart saute pan which I bought at Amazon)
  • Make sure all ingredients are evenly mixed before forming the balls to ensure an even flavor
  • You can use regular olive oil rather than extra-virgin for frying
  • Make enough to place in a freezer safe container to freeze and use for another day
  • When making Italian sauce, add some meatballs in to help flavor the sauce

 

Enjoy the recipe!

Liz

 

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Making Fresh Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce

There are three ways to make and/or prepare an Italian tomato sauce, all of which I have used.  This blog post focuses on homemade fresh Italian pasta sauce using fresh tomatoes right from the garden!

1. Buy a jar of prepared sauce and serve.  This method is my least favorite, but it is easy and worth it if you find a sauce you really like.

As with any prepackaged food, be careful of the sodium content.

Raos Vodka Sauce (image source

2. Make your own sauce using store bought cans of tomatoes.  This is my most common method of making sauce.  I make a large batch and freeze most of it.   cento-sanmarzano

You can grab my recipe here:  http://www.simpleitaliancooking.com/recipes/italian_marinara_sauce_recipe.htm

3. Lastly, make your own sauce using fresh tomatoes – nothing is prepackaged or processed.  This is my favorite method for a real fresh Italian sauce and can truly only be made towards the mid or end of summer when and if you are growing your own tomatoes.  This year I didn’t have enough tomatoes (another blog), but my mother-in-law had some great big ones that I used  – some are shown below.

tomatoes

 

I’ll show you the steps by photos (sorry didn’t do video), and you’ll see that it isn’t very hard at all.   A bit time consuming and not something you want to do if you are in a rush.    I’m not going to give you any quantities either to really follow b/c I don’t know how many tomatoes you have.  I used about 5 or 6 tomatoes and 4 of them are shown above.

Ingredients Needed

  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh garlic chopped (I sliced mine this time)
  • Fresh onion chopped
  • Fresh basil (preferred)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Food mill

Instructions to Make a Fresh Italian Tomato Pasta Sauce:

1. Chop all your tomatoes and place in a sauce pan.  I use my Cuisinart French Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan which you can get at Amazon .

chopped tomatoes

2. Cook at medium heat until the tomatoes have fully cooked down and the majority of the water is evaporated.

This is one of those times when you’ll know when you see it.  Although it drove me bonkers when my mother in law said those words to me as all I could imagine was burnt tomatoes in my pan and saying, well she said till no water is left.

 

Tomatoes cooked down

What this actually means is that the consistency looks like a tomato sauce, not watery.   The tomatoes will get very soft and it is super easy to pierce them.  In fact, the tomatoes will actually just fall apart.  If you ever cooked stewed tomatoes you will know what I mean.

3. Next, pull out your food mill and place over a large empty bowl as shown below.

We use a stainless steel one which is heavy duty and I know will last us a very long time. You can find many different sizes and kinds of stainless steel food mills online, like at Amazon.

The one we have shown below is a Cuisipro Deluxe Food Mill, and although it cost us a pretty penny, I know we’ll have it for ages.stainless steal food mill

 

 

 

4. Add in the tomatoes and work it until the skins are fully removed and dry and the juice is in the bowl

 

finished with food mill

 

5. Once done with the food mill, saute some garlic and onion in the extra virgin olive oil for about 3 or 4 minutes until translucent

 

6.  Add in your fresh tomatoes and simmer for about 30-45 minutes until you have the consistency you want and flavor has cooked throughfresh homemade sauce

 

 

 

7.  Tear the basil into pieces and add into the sauce. You can see in my photos above that the sauce has cooked down some.   It took some time, but it was the best batch.  I ended up not freezing any of it as we used it up throughout the week.finished sauce

 

 

 

 

This type of Italian tomato sauce is not a heavy sauce, rather it is lighter and works well with thin pasta such as angel hair or capellini.

As for recommendations for side dishes, geez, go with fresh Italian bread and a nice salad!   For dessert what else but gelato!

Let me know your tips and tricks for making your own Italian sauce!  I’d love to hear from you.

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