Posts Tagged EVOO
I don’t know about you, but when I buy this stuff in a jar, it looks like cat food. That’s not the plan here. You should be able to identify the various ingredients in this great appetizer. This dish mixes the best tastes of summer with crushed red pepper and basil, among other things as you will see.
This dish is great on rice crackers, pita chips, bagel crisps or thinly sliced crusty bread.
The recipe calls for one large eggplant. If you use the Italian eggplant, they are generally a bit smaller so you’ll probably need two. The recipe also calls for pickled peppers. If you’re using pepperoncini or hot/sweet vinegar peppers, you should use about 3 or 4. If you’re using banana peppers, they are larger so you’ll probably need just two.
1 large eggplant
1 medium or large red onion
6 garlic cloves
3-4 pickled peppers (Pepperoncini, hot or sweet vinegar peppers)
1 medium red pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3 tbsp capers
6-8 fresh basil leaves, trimmed and cut in strips
1 tbsp crushed red pepper (more if you choose)
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Rice crackers, pita chips, bagel crisps or thin-sliced crusty bread (for serving)
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Roughly chop the pickled peppers and set aside for later.
Leaving the skin on, cut the eggplant into cubes. Roughly chop the onion, red pepper, and garlic. Put the ingredients into a bowl and add the crushed red pepper flakes and 3 tbsp of the olive oil, Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer to a baking sheet and scatter the lemon slices over the top. Place in the oven and cook for at least 25 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Then, transfer them to a food process and chop roughly. Don’t do this on an automatic setting. Do this more or less manually so that you don’t pureé the vegetables.
Transfer this back into a bowl, and add the capers, basil, pickled peppers and remaining 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. However, overnight results in a much better flavor.
Serve with rice crackers, pita chips, bagel crisps or crusty bread. A nice red wine goes well with this.
This is an incredible feast for very little money. Mussels are among the most economical shellfish, and they are delicious. If you pick them up at a supermarket, they are cleaned and debearded. All you need to do is rinse them in cold water prior to cooking (and be sure to discard any that are broken open). If you purchase them from a fish market, cleaning may be a bit more complicated, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
You need Fines Herbs for this recipe. You can buy them in a jar all prepared, or you can make some yourself. The recipe for them follows the main recipe.
2 lbs. Mussels (cleaned and/or rinsed)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion (chopped)
1 fresh lemon (seeds removed; cut in quarters)
2 Roma tomatoes (seeds removed and chopped)
8 cups water
1 cup white wine
1 cup clam juice
3 tbsp. fines herbs
3 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped; for garnish)
Loaf of Ciabatta bread (I like rosemary and olive oil), Italian bread, or garlic bread (you choose)
Use a nice, big pasta pan for this dish. Add olive oil, garlic and onions to pan. Cook for about 5 minutes. No more. The idea here is to add a bit of flavor, but not to overwhelm the flavor of the delicate mussels.
Add the water, salt, fines herbs, clam juice, tomatoes, lemons, and white wine. Heat for a bit, but do not bring to a boil. Add the cleaned mussels. I can’t give you a definitive time here. All you do is cook them until the mussels are opened. Serve in bowls with plenty of broth. That’s what the bread is for.
Great with white wine. If you’re not a white wine drinker, have some red. I’m not a believer in red for meats and red-sauce pastas; white for fish and chicken. You should be drinking what you like. The food police are not welcome on this blog, thank you very much.
I like this dish with an arugula salad. A simple arugula salad, which means just arugula and a simple Italian dressing. I’m going to give you the recipe for the Italian dressing below also.
Spoon the mussels into individual pasta dishes, throwing some chopped parsley on top for garnish. Don’t be shy with the broth. It’s delicious. That’s why there’s bread in the recipe.
Here is the recipe for Fines Herbs.
1 tbsp. chopped tarragon
1 tbsp. chopped chervil
1 tbsp. chopped chives
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tbsp. chopped marjoram
That’s it. A lot of recipes out there tell you the marjoram is optional. It isn’t in my book.
Simple Italian Dressing
This is a great dressing. I’m not a fan of heavy olive oil in my dressings. I like the light olive oils that are used for dressings and marinades. If I don’t have that on hand, I use canola oil.
McCormick makes an awesome Tuscan Seasoning. It’s a mix of black pepper, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, red pepper, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomato, red bell pepper and salt. Trust me. You don’t need to create this yourself. I keep a bottle on hand all the time. It’s one of those must-have things.
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for dressings and marinades; not the one for cooking)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp. Tuscan Seasoning
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Shake it up. It’s ready. If you’re a cheese-o-holic like me, you can put some shaved Parmesan or Asiago on your salad. If not, it’s fine without.
By the way, I love those Good Seasons cruets for dressings. I don’t use the packets, but it’s worth buying the package just to get the cruet. Keeps well in the fridge for the next time.
I grew up in an Italian household, and every Sunday we had ‘macaroni and gravy.’ We never called it ‘pasta sauce.’ There’s also the false belief that you absolutely have to use fresh tomatoes. You do not. With canned tomatoes, someone else does all the hard work. This is not marinara; this is thick. It cooks slowly for about 8+ hours. So, here’s my original recipe for ‘gravy.’
4 tbsp. olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 can tomato puree
2 can crushed tomatoes
1 can whole tomatoes
4 cans tomato paste
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 sweet (Vidalia) onion, chopped
6 Italian sausages (I prefer hot; you can use sweet or hot, or a combination of both)
3 boneless country-style pork ribs
Homemade meatballs (recipe follows)
4 tbsp. dried oregano
4 tbsp. dried basil
2 tbsp. dried parsley
6 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt (I prefer sea salt)
1/2 cup ‘old’ red wine or 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Put olive oil in a very large sauce pan (and I’m not kidding about the size) over medium high heat. Add chopped garlic cloves and chopped onion. Sauté until transparent and/or slightly browned and you get the aroma. Add Italian sausages and boneless country-style pork ribs. Brown on all sides, turning intermittently. Add ‘old’ red wine or red wine vinegar. (I don’t know about you folks, but I can rarely down a bottle of red wine in a couple of days. However, it doesn’t have to go to waste. Set it aside. It will age and develop a bit of a ‘vinegar’ essence. I keep all my old red wine and routinely use it for cooking.)
Allow this concoction to simmer for about 15-20 minutes over low heat, then it’s time to add the canned tomatoes. Add all four cans plus one can of water. Start simmering over medium heat, but move it to low and simmer for about an hour. It’s important that you stir this continuously so that nothing gets stuck and burns on the bottom of the pan.After an hour, you’ll add the meatballs (recipe follows this) and simmer for another 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, add the first two cans of tomato paste. Again, you’ll add one can of water after. You can use the water to rinse all of the paste out of the two cans. Simmer for 20 minutes more, then add the last two cans of tomato paste, repeating the rinsing process. All in all, you’ll be adding two cans of water to four cans of paste. Then, please taste the gravy and adjust the seasonings. I’m giving you measurements for the seasonings (parsley, oregano, etc.), but you should add more to suit your flavor preference. There is no magic formula here.
Once the paste is added, you’re going to put the cover on and leave the gravy and meatballs on a low simmer for a few more hours. Again, it’s not necessary to simmer for the full 8 hours, but I made this at Christmas and basically let it simmer on low for the full 8 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns to the bottom. It’s worth it. As it cooks, the paste helps it to thicken. Remember, this is not marinara. Thick is better. I always buy an extra can of paste in the event that I want to add more. That’s a good policy.
By the way, it’s a good idea to taste your gravy several times during it’s creation. It’s never too late to adjust your seasonings.
Now, here are a couple of myth busters: It is not necessary to add sugar to your gravy. I never do. Some people insist this takes the acidity out of the tomatoes. Not necessary. The process of simmering will take care of that. And, when it’s time to cook your pasta, you absolutely should not put a teaspoon of olive oil in the water. A lot of people recommend this to prevent the pasta from sticking together. This doesn’t happen if your water is at a high rolling boil and you keep stirring it (or if making spaghetti, moving it around the pan with a spaghetti implement). Adding oil will prevent the gravy from sticking to the pasta. That’s not what you want. If using commercial pasta, I love Orichiette (often referred to as ‘pigs ears’), Cavitappi (often called ‘corkscrew’), Farfalle (or ‘bow ties’) or Medium Shells. On the ‘spaghetti’ side, I love Fusilli (the long version; not the short) and Linguine. They hold the gravy so well..
Meatballs can be made with ground beef, a combination of ground,beef and ground pork, turkey or chicken. For Christmas, I made mine with ground turkey.
1 lb. ground beef, pork, turkey or chicken or any combination of the four
3 tbsp. minced garlic (feel free to buy this in the jar)
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. thyme
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp ground parsley
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 large eggs (add more if needed)
This is an uncomplicated recipe. Simply mix all these things together in a big bowl. Yes, use your hands (but wash them first). Size is relative. I don’t like mine too small or too large. The ones in this photo are the right attitude.
Many people bake their meatballs in the over before putting them in the gravy. I only do this if I’m making them to be added to ready-made gravy for the kids. Otherwise, carefully put them in the gravy you’re making on the stove and allow them to cook slowly. Nothing special needs to be done. They will be absolutely delicious.
Cook’s Note: In the next few days, I’ll be putting up several recipes for home made pasta. Keep an eye out!