Summertime, I love to make easy, delicious salads packed with flavor and fresh ingredients. My Orzo Caprese Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette is a family favorite. And the recipe is easily doubled to feed a large group.
Always use the freshest ingredients and fresh basil is the best, so easy to grow.
1 cup uncooked orzo
1 cup chopped tricolored cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
Prepare orzo according to package instructions. Drain and cool.
Make vinaigrette and set aside.
Add tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to orzo. Combine.
Toss with vinaigrette. And chill for 2 hours or over night.
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, mustard and fine sea salt, whisking until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 3 tablespoon olive oil in slow stream, whisking until the dressing is well blended.
I usually made a hearty Pot Pie in the cold winter months when the snow and wind blanket my home in wintery New England. However, this spring, I lightened up my Pot Pie by making an all-vegetable version, and I went crazy with a flaky puff pastry topping.
Puff pastry is easy to use, turning you a master pâtissier. It is magical how flat sheets of dough puff into golden pastry in the oven.
You can experiment with different veggies; I used a traditional mix. Have fun with your cooking!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (8-oz.) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed (about 2 ½ cups)
½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons greek yogurt
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, divided
1 [17.3-oz.] package), frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
6 ounces fresh English peas
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lower third position. Heat butter and
oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high until butter is melted
and foamy. Add mushrooms in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown and crispy on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Toss mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid releases and evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add carrots, leeks, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are just beginning to soften and leeks are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are fully coated and flour smells nutty and turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Add stock; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid starts to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream, yogurt, mustard, and 2 teaspoons of the thyme. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, roll pastry sheet out onto a lightly floured work surface into a 12-inch square. Cut evenly into 3 (4-inch-wide) strips. Cut each strip evenly into 6 triangles. Repeat with second puff pastry sheet. Stir together egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl.
3. Stir peas into warm vegetable mixture in skillet. Arrange pastry triangles in a circle pattern over mixture, leaving a slight (about ½-inch) overhang around skillet edges and slightly overlapping triangles. Brush pastry with egg mixture; sprinkle with flaky sea salt and remaining thyme.
4. Place a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil on oven rack; place skillet on sheet. Bake in preheated oven until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly around edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
New England winters are snowy and cold. January can be harsh with blizzards conditions blanking the landscape with large snow falls keeping the natives snug and safe our homes. Outside the wind howls and the snow drifts against my front door, inside I simmer homemade soup to warm my thoughts. Nothing tops a hot bowl of soup on a wintery day!
I love to make soup and one of my favorites is Tortellini and Escarole soup. It’s delicious and easy to make. And naturally good. Also, very important to me is that it freezes well.
If you prefer a vegetarian soup use vegetable stock instead of chicken and omit chicken sausage. I suggest unsalted vegetable stock not broth; stock is more flavorful!
Tortellini and Escarole Soup
3 Tablespoon olive oil 3 cloves garlic crushed 2 shallots, chopped 1 head of escarole, thoroughly washed and cut into bite-size pieces 1 box ( 32 oz.) organic low salt chicken broth or 1 box (32oz.) unsalted vegetable stock, I like Kitchen Basics 1 package cheese tortellini(9 oz) fresh or frozen tortellini
Parmesan cheese (optional)
3 chicken sausages, cooked and sliced into 2-inch pieces, optional
Cook garlic and shallots in olive oil on low for 5 just until shallots are translucent. Don’t brown garlic (it taste bitter if you do). Add escarole, stir, coating escarole with olive, and cook for another 5 minutes just until the escarole is wilted. Add chicken broth, tortellini, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. I sometimes add chicken sausage to the soup. Brown and thoroughly cook three chicken sausages, slice into 2-inch pieces and add to the soup. Simmer an additional 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over individual servings if you want. Serve with fresh Italian bread and a salad for a beautiful winter meal.
The soup made with sausage and chicken broth
The soup made with vegetable stock and not sausage.
Winters in New England are cold and harsh. When snow blankets my home and the wind rattles the windows, I crave comfort food that tastes delicious and is hearty. I don’t want excessive fat and calories, so I create recipes that fit my eating requirement! Soups, stews, and casseroles for healthy eating are a satisfying experience, and you won’t feel deprived. You can have a glass of wine with dinner or a small dessert if you cut unnecessary calories—no need to feel deprived. That will sabotage your new year diet or healthy eating intention.
Simply replacing meat with veggie crumbles in chili makes a significant difference without sacrificing taste. I also added butternut squash to this recipe as it pairs well with the beans and tomatoes. Additional I added baking cocoa for richness in taste and color.
If you like five-alarm chili, add additional hot sauces. I freeze the chili in individual for a quick lunch or supper.
2 tbsp. olive oil 1/2 cup chopped onion 2 cloves minced garlic 1 package (20 oz.) cut butternut squash 1 can (14 1/2 oz. ) no salt added diced tomatoes 1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed 2 cans (15.5 oz) cannellini beans 1 can (15.5 oz.) garbanzos beans, drained and rinsed 1 box (32 oz.) unsalted vegetable stock 3 tbsp. tomato paste 2 tsp chili powder 2 tsp baking cocoa 1 teaspoon oregano leaves 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 package (12 oz) Morning Star Farms Veggie Crumbles
Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add butternut squash and cook for additional ten minutes.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
When I am short on time yet want to make a tasty, delicious meal, I turn to my repertoire of easy, quick delicious meals. Pasta is a go-to for me since I am of Italian heritage. My mother made fabulous meals every night for our family, and I was fortunate to have her as my gold standard.
When I cook, I remember sitting on the kitchen countertop as my mother worked her magic with a recipe. A pinch of this, a dash of that, combined with a few other ingredients, and she created a special dinner for her family.
My mother didn’t write her recipes down because when she cooked, it was a new adventure for her; she never made the recipe the same!
I inherited my love of cooking from my mother. And I get lost in the kitchen creating new recipes from old favorites, experimenting with different flavors and combinations. Every recipe isn’t a success; I’ve failed many times. With each failure, I’ve learned so much from the mistakes.
Have fun, experiment, add your spin when you cook!
1 package(9 oz.) Buitoni fresh Linguine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 pound porcini or baby portobello mushrooms halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (smaller mushrooms can be left halved)
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 heavy cream
1-ounce Pecorino Romano, finely grated (2/3 cup)
Porcini Butter Sauce Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium. Add oil, butter, and garlic. When butter melts and garlic sizzles, add mushrooms; season with salt. Cook, occasionally stirring, until mushrooms are tender and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds more. Add cream and stir until combined.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain. Add pasta water to the skillet with mushrooms. Bring it to a simmer, stirring until half evaporated. Add cream, stirring until combined, coating the mushrooms.
Toss over pasta. Add half of the cheese, tossing to combine. Serve topped with remaining cheese, pepper flakes, and a drizzle of oil.
Autumn has holds a special place in my heart. I was born in the fall, school starts in the fall (I loved school), and I mysteriously become energized, renewed with the changing of the leaves and the crisp fell of morning New England air. Along with the change in season, my cooking and baking use different ingredients and flavors.
I love hearty stews packed with veggies and flavor. I prefer to make my own soups and stews, and I can control the fat and salt content, making healthy dishes.
Kale can be tough, and lightly cooking before adding to a stew tenderizes the veggie. Colorful vegetables, fragrant fresh herbs, and a low salt vegetable broth make this a hearty, healthy option.
This recipe makes a large quantity of stew and freezes well. If I am not feeding a group, I like to freeze the stew in individual containers.
1 small bunch Tuscan or other kale, center ribs and stems removed Kosher salt ½ cup olive oil, divided, plus more for serving 2 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped 2 celery stalks, finely chopped 2 leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped 4 cloves garlic cloves, chopped ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 2 cans diced tomatoes, no salt 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 3 15-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed 4 sprigs thyme 1 sprig marjoram or oregano 1 bay leaf
1 cup Italian farro, rinsed
2 inch piece of Parmesan rind (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper Shaved Parmesan (for serving)
Working in batches cook kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, about 3 minutes per batch. Rinse to cool. Squeeze out excess water; roughly chop. Set aside.
Heat ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and leek; stir often until softened, 8–10 minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is evaporated and tomatoes begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, 10–15 minutes.
Add broth, beans, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, reserved greens, farro and partisan rind; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors meld and soup thickens slightly, 40–50 minutes. Discard sprigs and bay leaf.
DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly; chill until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Reheat before continuing. I also like to freeze in small containers for later.
Our family loves to celebrate July 4th! We gather on the idealic Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate our country’s birthday. A barbecue is a must as we make a traditional New England summer dinner, lobstahs, clams, corn on the cobb, potatoes, grilled vegetables and baked beans.
The clams are from our claiming expedition on Lake Tashmoo. Fresh caught and we cooked them on the grill in white wine, garlic and sea salt.
This years my helper with the baked beans was my granddaughter, Maddi. We make easy vegetarian beans by using canned beans to cut down the preparation time.
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium red pepper, cut into small dice
3 large cans (28 ounces each) vegetarian baked beans
3/4 c. barbecue sauce. I used 1/2 cup Stubbs Orignal BQ sauce and 1/4 cup Stubbs Spicy BQ sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. distilled or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
Add onions and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer.
Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.
Traditional Pasta e Fagioli is made with a pork product such as pancetta, ham or pigs’ feet(old-time Italian) but growing up my mother always made meatless Pasta e Fagioli on Fridays. I have fond memories of eating Pasta Fagioli on crisp fall nights before rushing off to a Friday night football game or for lunch on a snowy winter day.
My mother’s version of Pasta e Fagioli, I like to call Pasta e Fagioli meets Boston Baked Beans, She used canned baked beans as the base. I have no idea why one time she decided to substitute baked beans, no problem we loved her recipe. Over the years I have added my own touches to my mother’s Pasta e Fagioli to make it an easy totally vegetarian meal.
Pasta e Fagioli
1 cup chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 (16 oz) cans vegetarian baked beans, Bushes
1 can (8 oz) no salt Tomato Sauce, Hunts
1 can (15.5 oz) Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained, Goya
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup dried ditalini pasta
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Parmesan Cheese, optional
1. In large pot cook shallots, garlic and olive over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Sir in wine, baked beans, garbanzo beans, vegetable broth, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil: reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
3. Cook, pasta al dente(firm but not hard), drain. Stir cooked pasta, basil, oregano into bean mixture. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Pasta e Fagioli should be thick like stew not soupy. Add more broth if thick and cook a little longer if too thin.
In New England where I have lived for over thirty years, winter is long, cold and snowy. I make hearty Stews and Soups that are easy and flavorful. Beans are a staple for many of my recipes as growing up in an Italian American family, my mother cooked with different beans for variety and taste. If you haven’t tried escarole in stews and soups I highly recommend this versatile lettuce. Bitter when eaten uncook but once cooked the taste is wonderful.
We are now a family of two as my children are grown and no longer living with us. I freeze my stews and soups in individual servings for a quick lunch or dinner.
1 head of garlic, cloves separated
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion chopped
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
2 bay leaves
2 cups dried navy beans, soaked overnight, drained
2-ounce parmesan cheese rind*
4 large sprigs basil, plus leaves for serving
1 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted, torn, plus 2 tablespoons brine
1 head of escarole, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 1-inch-thick slices country-style bread
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Slice 1 garlic clove in half crosswise and set aside; chop the remaining garlic cloves. Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add onion and fennel and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring often until onion is translucent and fennel and onion are browned around the edges, 8–10 minutes. Add lemon zest, rosemary, and ¾ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until rosemary is very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, beans, and 8 cups water and bring to a simmer.
Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer stew until beans are creamy and tender all the way through, 60–70 minutes. Add basil sprigs, olives and brine to stew, then add escarole in batches, letting wilt slightly before adding more; simmer just until escarole is tender, about 3 minutes. (If stew is too thick, add more water to reach desired consistency.) Stir in lemon juice; taste and season with more salt if needed. Pluck out bay leaves; cover the pot and keep stew warm over low while you make the toast. Heat broiler. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. oil total over both sides of bread and place on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil until bread is golden and toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Let cool slightly, then rub with the cut sides of reserved garlic clove.
To serve, slice toast in half and divide among shallow bowls; ladle stew over. Top with parmesan cheese, basil leaves, and more red pepper flakes and drizzle with oil. Do Ahead: Stew can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.
*If you prefer a vegan stew omit the parmesan rine.
Don’t you just love the name of this brand of beans?
A good bowl of hot soup on a cold winter day, what better way to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Add a crisp salad, fresh bread and a glass of wine perfect for celebrating the changing rotation of the earth. I always felt there was something mystical about a solstice reminding me four times a year that the earth and life are transient, ever-changing and by embracing this fact life is perfectly imperfect.
My recipe for Butternut Squash soup with a touch of apple captures the essence of the winter season with just a touch of aromatic spices that don’t overpower the squash and apple. I use store purchased cut and cleaned butternut squash when I make a small batch of soup; making the work and clean up easier.
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 celery rib, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 carrot, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 Tbsp butter
1 package(20 oz.) butternut squash
1 tart granny smith apple, peeled, cored, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat a large thick-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and let it foam up and recede. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté for 5 minutes. Lower the heat if the vegetables begin to brown.
2. Add the butternut squash, apple, and broth Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the squash and carrots have softened.
3. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup, or work in batches and purée the soup in a standing blender.
4. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. Add salt and pepper to taste.