Tag Archives: vegetable

Those little "goodfellas": Brussels Sprouts and Hot Sausage Tortiglioni…

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

2 Servings

Brussels sprouts are not very popular in my country and they certainly weren’t on my family’s table. I don’t think I can recollect one time that I ate them in my house or anywhere else in Italy.

Things started changing a couple of years ago when I decided to host my first Thanksgiving’s dinner. During my “due diligence” period, in my quest for dishes traditionally served in the US for that holiday, I found out that Brussels sprouts were a must as a side dish, stir-fried or roasted, preferably with bacon or pancetta and even with raisins.

Little by little my acquaintance with these little guys turned into a beautiful friendship and now I’m totally in love with them for several different reasons.

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

First, their appearance – because no matter what they say, appearances still count! 🙂 Their vibrant green has the magical power to put me in a good mood and their shape reminds me of a mini peony bud, one of my favorite flowers. I wouldn’t mind arranging them in a vase. I’m sure they would look lovely on any table! 😉

Second, they are really good for our health: they are an excellent source of vitamins, essential minerals and fiber. Since I’m on a perennial diet, they are a winner in my book!

Third, these buds are super versatile. They complement meat or fish wonderfully, they can been thrown in any salad and they go beautifully with pasta.

Needless to say, pasta is always one of my first picks 🙂 especially on weeknights! “Dressing up” some pasta with healthy vegetables and a little flavor is very easy and requires very little time, with the additional benefit that your conscience is virtually clean because, after all, you are eating your veggies!

For this recipe, I decide to use some hot sausage to go with the Brussels sprouts. If you decide to cook it for your kids, you may replace it with some non-spicy sausage. Her Majesty is not into spicy food and your kid may not be either…

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup, Extravirgin olive oil
1 Carrot, finely chopped
1 Celery, finely chopped
1/3 Cup, finely chopped onion
2 Hot sausages (about 7 ounces), loose
About 10 ounces, small Brussels sprouts, rinsed and cut in halves
1/2 Cup, beef or vegetable stock
About 7 ounces, Tortiglioni
2Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
Salt

Directions:

In a non-stick medium pot, pour the olive oil and add the carrot, the celery and the onion (in Italian, we called this mixture “soffritto“) and cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent.

Add the sausage and some salt (to taste) and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp. Using a strainer, transfer the sausage mixture to a bowl to drain. Put the sausage mixture aside, and return the drained olive oil to the pot.

Add the Brussels sprouts, some salt (to taste) and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the stock is almost completely evaporated. Transfer the sausage mixture back to the pot, toss to coat and let the rest of the stock completely evaporate.

In the meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and put it in the pot with the Brussels sprouts and the sausage and toss to coat.

Put the pasta into the serving plates/bowls and dust the top of each plate with some Parmigiano cheese.

I dedicate these little green buds to all the people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Hopefully the leprechaun will love them! 😉

Talk to you soon!

F. Xx

Glass statuette and flower composition with Brussel sprout backdrop

Tomato green beans and the need to spice my diet up

Green beans and tomatoesSpring is a synonym of many things to me. One of those things is… diet. Yup, spring coincides with the opening of my dieting season. My season usually lasts about three months. Why? Because at the end of June, I will go to Italy for a summer vacation and face the judgment of the fiercest people on earth: my so-called friends and acquaintances. They will greet me with one eye and with the other eye they will weigh every single organ of my body to check if I gained weight during the last year.  😉

I know what you are thinking: I shouldn’t care but I do and, to be honest, I dare anyone to find a woman who deep inside doesn’t. Plus, Italian women are all about being skinny and in shape and I’m afraid I’m not different. Unfortunately, I do not belong to that category of women that lose weight just breast-feeding or chasing their kids (by the way, have you ever met one of those women in real life?) Shedding even a single pound requires a Gargantuan effort on my part and year after year it is getting harder and harder and the results less and less satisfying. I guess it is the aging factor along with the metabolism slow-down that I just cannot defeat. 😉

Anyway, a few days ago, I was about to eat the nth, very-sad looking plate of steamed green beans while I was asking myself what I did wrong to deserve such a punishment. Then I remembered a very simple yet tasty recipe for green beans that my mom used to make a few years ago. Of course, next thing I did was asking her to refresh my memory about the details of her recipe.

Sure, it has a few more calories than a mere steamed green bean dish, but at least it is something to look forward to eating either at lunch or dinner without feeling too guilty 😉

Ingredients:

1/2 cup, extravirgin olive oil
1 garlic clover
4 cups of green beans
10 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup, capers (optional)
red pepper flakes
salt

Directions:

Green beans and tomatoesCut the tomatoes in halves. If you decide to add the capers, remember to put them in a cup with some water at least 20 minutes before using them and then to rinse them under some tap water before putting them in the skillet.

Put the olive oil and the garlic in a large non-stick skillet and brown the garlic. When the oil has gotten the garlic flavor, throw the garlic away and add the tomatoes and some salt (to taste). Toss to coat and cook, on a very low heat, for about 5 minutes.

Add the green beans, the capers and some red pepper flakes  (to taste) and toss to coat. Cook on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20/30 minutes.

To those of you who are in my shoes, I wish you a very happy dieting! 🙂

Green Bean, Olive and Goat Cheese Quiche

6 Servings

I have a confession to make: I’m a party girl and any excuse is good for me to host one! That’s not because I’m this fabulous socialite, quite the opposite to be honest. I’m more on a bear hibernation status, except that mine is kind of perpertual. The reason I like to throw parties is for the inner pleasure of hosting: getting the house ready, picking and arranging the flowers (my mother taught me that the right flowers are one of the key components for a successful party), cooking my signature dishes and… enjoying some alcohol of course!

Stefano makes sure that our guests are offered a captivating selection of wines, often starting off with some bubbles to set the mood of the party. So people wind down, relax and enjoy chatting and eating.

Well, Halloween is around the corner and who said that only kids should have fun? Let’s just say that Halloween is the opening of my party season.

When I throw a party, I like to serve food that my guests don’t cook at home on a regular week day. That’s why a quiche is always appreciated. It’s a casual yet chic dish, it has a wonderful look, it’s very satisfying for the palate and goes beautifully with the right glass of wine.

As for the ingredients, you can put basically whatever you like in a quiche and have fun trying out different combinations. Quoting Chef Gusteau from the Disney movie Ratatouille, “your only limit is your soul”.

The following recipe of a green bean, olive and goat cheese quiche is just meant to be a suggestion to get you started. Oh, and just so you know personally I love single-portion quiches: they are the perfect size for one guest and they look great on the plate. That’s why, for this recipe, I used a 6-tart pan, with each individual well having a diameter of 4 ½ inches.

Ingredients:

1 ½ sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
8 oz fresh green beans
3 ½ Tbsp of extravirgin olive oil
1 leek
3 eggs
ž cup whole milk
ž heavy whipping cream
0.3 lb crumbled goat cheese
24 pitted seasoned kalamata olives
salt
ground black pepper
nutmeg

Directions:

Wash the green beans and cut off both ends. In a medium pot, heat some water until it boils, add the beans and keep boiling for 4 minutes. Strain the beans, rinse with iced water (to stop the cooking process and retain the green color) and cut them into ½ inch pieces. In a medium skillet, heat 2 ½ Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, add the beans, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add 2 Tbsp of water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside.

Cut off the green top of the leek and the root. Discard the outer layer. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse the two halves well under water, being careful to leave them intact. Place each half, with the flat side facing down, on a chopping board.

Slice the leeks thinly and evenly with your knife so that you end up with thin strips. In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, add the leek, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Add ½ cup of water and stir occasionally until the water evaporates. Set aside.

In a bowl, put 3 eggs, the whole milk, the heavy cream, add some salt and season with black pepper and nutmeg (to taste).

Whisk until you obtain a smooth mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the pan wells with butter.

Lay the sheets of pastry on a floured surface. If there is any crack in the pastry, press together to seal and roll over the sealed part so that you have a smooth sheet.

Cut each pastry sheet into four 5×5″ squares. Place the pastry squares in the tart wells, neatly shaping the pastry into tart shells. Cut off any excess pastry with a sharp knife.

Using a spoon, put some leek into each tart shell, spreading it out evenly. Then, add some beans, spreading them out evenly. Cut 4 olives in half and put them on top of the beans. With a spoon, add some goat cheese and finally pour the egg mixture.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, let the quiches cool down a little and serve while they are still warm. Enjoy!  🙂