Category Archives: Sides

Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

No, it’s not really lasagna but that’s what my mother called it. I wasn’t too crazy about vegetables when I was a kid so she thought she’d make it sound more appetizing. I didn’t like it very much then but I love it now. It’s a good side dish, especially with pasta and not bad on a sandwich.
Pre-heat the oven to 350o.
Slice the zucchini diagonally, season with salt and black pepper, and dredge in flour. Lightly fry it in the oil, drain on paper towels and let it cool.

Coat the bottom of a baking dish (we used a 12-inch oval) with some tomato sauce and add a layer of fried zucchini.Add some more sauce, dot it with ricotta and then a sprinkle of parmigiana.
Repeat for 2 more layers but for the top layer don’t put any ricotta – just sauce, parmigiana and sprinkle the breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes. Finish under the broiler for 5 minutes, until the parmigiana and breadcrumbs form a crust.

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A Simple Italian Salad

Ravello on the Amalfi Coast

 

 

A Simple Italian Salad

Try to stick to these simple ingredients. Don’t be tempted to add so-called “Italian” seasoning or garlic. This is a fresh tasting salad, and either of those would muddy the flavors.

Ingredients:
  • 1 orange
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
Start by peeling and sectioning the orange. Use a blood orange if you can get one. Cut each section into 2 or 3 pieces. It’s easier if you use a scissor. Place the sections in the salad bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil and the 2 kinds of vinegar. A good ratio is 2 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. Use a mix of ½ red wine vinegar and ½ balsamic. Let the oranges macerate for 20-30 minutes to flavor the dressing.

Add the Romaine and arugula, toss and serve.

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Olives and Oranges

Adapted from Diana Kochilas – My Greek Table

Olives and Oranges is a tasty and simple dish to prepare. It works as an hors d’oeuvre, appetizer, brochette or side dish.

Olives and Oranges

Keep the peel on the orange and cut into wedges. Cut each wedge into small triangular slices, about 1/8-inch thick.

In a heavy flat skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the olives and orange wedges to the pan and stir and combine. Add the garlic. Continue to shake the pan back and forth to gently stir the contents for about 5 minutes, until the olives are warmed through, the garlic soft and shiny, and the orange slices slightly wilted.
Stir in the oregano, transfer to a bowl and serve warm.

Olives and Oranges

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Goetta – a Cincinnati Breakfast

Goetta – a Cincinnati Breakfast

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

If you’re from the Cincinnati area you’ll know what this is and if not, you should try it. Goetta (ged-da, silent o, pronounce like feta) is a hearty breakfast side made of oats and meat that’s fried and goes great with eggs. It’s of German origin and I can’t think of anything to compare it to, so taste it and form your own opinion. It may not be Italian but it’s certainly cucina povera in that it started out as a tasty way of preparing a hearty breakfast when there isn’t enough meat to go around. Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

A couple of points to remember:  (1) you must use steel cut oats, not rolled or instant and (2) some people use ground beef with the pork sausage and others use ground pork, it’s up to you.

Add oats, salt, pepper, and bay leaf to the boiling water. Return to a boil, lower heat, stir and simmer until the oats are cooked and thick (1 to 1 ½  hours), stirring occasionally.

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Fry the onion in oil until soft and transparent. Remove the sausage skins and discard. Add the sausage meat, chopped meat,  and garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper. When it’s done, set aside the meat-onion mixture.

When the oats thicken, remove the bay leaf and add the meat-onion mixture and blend thoroughly. Cook for another ½ hour. If it’s thick enough for the spoon to stand up in, it’s done. If not, continue cooking. If it’s too dry, add a little water.Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Let it cool a bit and then pour it into a greased baking pan. It doesn’t matter if the pan is too big too big. Spread it to about a ½ inch thick layer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Goetta - a Cincinnati Breakfast

Turn the pan over and cut the goetta into serving sized pieces. I got 12 out of this recipe. Fry and serve as a side with eggs or anything else you’d like. You can freeze any left-over pieces but wrap them separately so they don’t stick together.

And it’s not just for breakfast.


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Potato Croquettes

Potato Croquettes

This is the first time I’ve ever made potato croquettes. They were pretty tasty but it wasn’t easy. Mashing the potatoes was hard work and breading and frying the croquettes was time-consuming and sloppy. Maybe it gets better with practice but the next time I want potato croquettes, I think I’ll just go to a Sicilian-run pizzeria and buy them.

 

Boil the potatoes in their skins for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain them and let cool 15 minutes then peel. Mash the potatoes and let them come to room temperature uncovered so they dry out.

Add 2 eggs, the Parmigiano, 5 tbsps. flour and parsley. Taste and season with the salt and pepper. Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon and take some of the potato mixture and form it into a small canoe-shaped roll.

Roll the croquettes in the flour and shake off excess. Then dip the beaten egg. Drip off excess and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Let the breaded croquettes rest 20 minutes before frying.

Heat oil until a bit of the potato dropped into it sizzles. Fry the croquettes turning until they are evenly golden browned on all sides. This should make about 20 to 25 croquettes.

Drain and serve warm.


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Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I just got these at a local green market. Making stuffed zucchini flowers isn’t an exact science so I can’t give you exact ingredient measurements.
I got about 20 flowers and started by pulling out the pistil. It’s hard and takes up room that can be used for stuffing.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Pistils

I mixed 3 heaping tablespoons of ricotta with 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiana. I tasted it and it didn’t need any additional salt. I put 1 to 2 espresso spoons of stuffing into each flower depending on their size. The petals stick to the stuffing so there’s no need to tie them.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I rolled them in flour and then beat an egg with 2 tablespoons of cold water to thin it. I dipped them in the egg wash and then rolled them in the flour again.Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Fry them until they’re yellowish-gold, drain and serve. 

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Collard Greens Southern Style

Collard Greens Southern Style

I recently did a post on Collard Greens Italian Style. It’s only  fair that I do a traditional southern recipe. I got this from a couple I know whose families come from Georgia.

Collard Greens Southern Style

Collard Greens Southern Style

  • Place hock in a large pot and just cover with chicken stock, water or a combination of the two. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third.
  • While the hock is simmering, remove collard stems and roll leaves lengthwise like a cigar and slice into 1 inch pieces. Put cut leaves in a sink full of cold water and wash. Remove and drain.Collard Greens Southern Style
  • In a separate pan lightly sauté onion on a low heat in half of the fat or oil. Don’t brown.Collard Greens Southern Style
  • When the onion is soft and translucent add salt, vinegar, garlic, sugar, pepper and remaining bacon fat or olive oil to pan. Cook on a medium low heat for a few minutes then add to the pot with the hock.Collard Greens Southern Style
  • Turn heat to high and add greens, stir, cover and lower heat and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until tender.Collard Greens Southern Style

Collard Greens Southern Style


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Oatmeal

Oatmeal

 

 

Recipe for steel-cut oats –
Once you try this you may not go back to instant oatmeal. Steel-cut oats includes the whole oat kernel, cut up. These take longer to cook. Instead of cooking it for an hour or more, ignore the package directions and try it this way.

For 2 servings –
  • The night before – boil 2 cups of water with a little salt. Add one cup of oats (maybe with a handful of pomegranate seeds or dried currents), stir, turn off the heat and cover.
  • The next morning – add one cup of water (or ½ and ½ water and milk), stir, bring to a low boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

Oatmeal



Jalapenos

Jalapenos

Sun Dried and Brochette

Sun Dried Jalapenos

Hang the jalapenos someplace where there is good air flow. They don’t have to be in the sun to be sun dried.


Depending on the weather, after a couple of weeks when they become hard and red, they’re done. Cut off the stem end and place them in boiling water for 5 minutes.


Drain them, pat them dry and lightly press them to squeeze out as much water as you can. Let them continue to dry for 60 minutes and then place them in a jar. Fill the jar with olive oil, close tightly and shake. This will release some air bubbles. Add more oil and refrigerate. They’ll be ready to eat in a week.

Jalapeno Brochettes

Start by roasting the jalapenos on an open flame. First, they’ll blister and then blacken – keep turning until they’re done.


Scrape off the blackened skin with the back of a knife and cut off the stem end. Some specs of black might remain and that’s OK. Don’t be tempted to rinse them. You’ll wash off the flavor.


Slice them open and scrape out the veins and seeds.


 

Put them on a slice of bread, a few drops of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt – done.

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Roasted Turnip Slices

Horses and Figures in a Turnip Field by William Edward Millner

 

 

Roasted Turnip Slices

Roasted Turnip Slices

My favorite vegetable has always been fried potatoes.  Vegetables aren’t really something I’m crazy about especially if they’re braised, boiled or steamed. But roasted is another story. Roasting is almost as good as frying and roasted  turnip slices even look like French fries.

 

Roasted Turnip Slices

Roasted Turnip Slices

Preheat oven to 425o.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Peel the turnips, and cut into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches. Place into a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil to coat. Add the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder to the bowl and thoroughly mix with your hands.  Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
Bake in preheated oven until the done, about 20 minutes.

 


Roasted Turnip Slices

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