Tag Archives: Parmesan Cheese

{ Parmesan Roasted Asparagus }

What is a meal without the supporting cast?! Every good entree deserves a delicious side dish, and these parmesan roasted asparagus are one of my all-time favorites! They compliment any protein and taste delicious over rice and risotto. Recently, I have been cooking them in the oven using the broiler setting, but when the weather is nice I prefer to cook them out on the grill. Either way, they taste great!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the Asparagus } Turn the broiler setting of your oven on high.

Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and toss to coat. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet and put in oven. Cook for 8 minutes, turning the asparagus halfway through cooking process. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately!

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{ Eggplant Parmesan }

 

You know those “learn-to-love it” foods? The strange vegetables and odd aquatic animals that you refuse to eat throughout your childhood but eventually develop a tolerance and than passion for as you get older. I think it is safe to say that eggplant is one of these foods–along with brussel sprouts, olives, shell fish, and stinky cheeses (just to name a few!). And the way most come to love this waxy, purple sponge of a vegetable is through eggplant parmesan–people will give almost anything a chance if it is breaded, fried, and/or covered in cheese. And most likely, they will enjoy it!

If you have tried eggplant parmesan before and the texture still bothers you, do not stop reading and dismiss this recipe. I too have had some bad eggplant parm experiences, but I promise this one might just convert you. Oftentimes, I find that restaurants don’t slice the eggplant thin enough because they want to minimize the preparation and frying time. This shortcut compromises the entire dish, still leaving you with that mysterious itching sensation on the roof of your mouth. But my recipe calls for a very thin slices, which mask the spongy texture under breaded, salty, cheesy goodness!

I fry up an eggplant or two in the beginning of the week, leaving the disks in the fridge for a light snack or as an ingredient for a more complex meal (i.e. eggplant parm lasagna or sandwiches). Of course, I also use them for this easy eggplant parmesan dish!! Enjoy the recipe and give eggplant a chance!

{ Ingredients for Fried Eggplant }

  • 1-2 large, ripened eggplants (sliced about 1/4″ thick)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 cups of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 3 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Kosher Salt

{ To Make Fried Eggplant } Set up three bowls; one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs combined with the parmigiano reggiano cheeses.

Run the sliced eggplant disks through a standard breading proceduredredge in the flour (shaking off the excess), then through the egg wash, and then through the breadcrumbs.
Pour the vegetable oil into a large skillet until it reaches a 3/4″ thickness. Heat the the oil over a medium high flame until it is good and hot (test by flicking in pieces of breadcrumbs–they should sizzle, but not burn!). Fry the eggplant in batches for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it appears golden brown.

Remove the eggplant from the pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Allow eggplant to cool on a bed of lettuce leaves or paper towels (although the lettuce absorbs the grease much better!).

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce } 

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes.

NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes.

{ To Assemble the Eggplant Parmesan } Preheat the over to 350 degrees.

Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet, one layer thick. Spoon some of the simple tomato sauce onto the tops and then add a 1″ cube of fresh (or aged) mozzarella cheese on top of that.

Bake for 18-10 minutes, or until the cheese becomes bubbly and golden. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve!

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{ Turkey Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce }

Being that I am half Italian, my idea of comfort food is classic spaghetti and meatballs. When I am sick I crave my mother’s chicken noodle soup, and when I am away from home for long periods of time I crave her homemade pasta dishes. Unfortunately, I won’t be putting my mother’s meatball recipe on my blog anytime soon (as that is my trump card to winning over a man’s heart…aka top secret stuff), but I do highly recommend these turkey meatballs by Giada De Laurentiis. Not only are they significantly healthier than the average meatball, but they are also very easy to make and taste quite delicious (most people don’t even suspect that they are turkey meat!). For those of you that have her cookbook or have seen this recipe online, you will notice that she pairs the meatballs with a quick tomato sauce containing peas (the sauce seen in my photographs below). I gave this sauce a shot, but could not find anything enjoyable about it. I tried adding extra garlic, extra salt, even mushrooms…but there was just no remedy. So I have offered my own simple tomato sauce recipe to serve with the meatballs, which I use as the base for several pasta dishes. If you are looking for a lower carb meal, then serve the meatballs in a bowl with fresh lemon wedges and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Whether atop pasta or served alone, these meatballs are fantastic.

NOTE: If you wish to freeze the remaining meatballs, place them into a one gallon ziplock bag with a few ladles of tomato sauce. I find that the sauce helps to keep them moist.

{ Ingredients for Meatballs }

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used extra lean)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grate Romano cheese
  • 1/4 fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

{ To Make the Meatballs } Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and cook for about 2 minutes, to render out some of the fat. Add the onion and continue to cook until pancetta is crisp and the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pancetta/onion mixture with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix with hands to combine.

Form the turkey mixture into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Place onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Now make the pasta and sauce.

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes. NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes, then add meatballs to sauce and continue to heat until warm throughout.

{ To Serve } Laddle tomato sauce over cooked out pasta (I use linguine) and top with 2-3 meatballs. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley over the dish, and enjoy!

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{ Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing and Parmesan Frico }

Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing, Almonds, Orange Segments, and Parmesan Frico

This week has been mildly depressing for me. Not only did I graduate from the best four years of my life (aka college—my four year paid vacation), but I also turned 22 years old. Twenty-two is a miserable birthday because it is the first birthday that doesn’t come with any special privileges. On your 16th birthday you look forward to driving, on your 18th you look forward to moving out of the house and going off to college, and on your 21st birthday you look forward to drinking…legally (for a female in Miami, this means you can now get into a club without dressing like a prostitute!). But here I am, turning 22 and I find myself regressing in life; I am leaving college, moving back home, and wearing all the alcohol that I legally consumed over the past year on my hips and thighs. The only thing that I have to look forward to this year is beginning the use of anti-aging products. For some reason this just doesn’t feel like something that I want to celebrate…weird.

So instead of going out and making a big fuss at a restaurant, I decided to celebrate with a homemade BBQ here at home with my family. And oddly, it turned out to be my favorite birthday yet. There was no hype, no pressure, and no disappointment. Just good times with the people that I love the most, doing exactly what I love the most—EATNG!

Of course, I had to have my hand in the cooking and tried out a few new recipes that are certainly blog worthy. The first recipe being one of Giadas’ for Spinach Salad with Citrus Dressing and Parmesan Frico. The dressing is very light and the citrus from the orange and lemon is refreshing. It makes for a perfect summer side or appetizer salad (I would add a protein like chicken if you were to serve it as an entrée salad).

The Parmesan frico is something that I have never made before, but it was super easy and added a great salty crunch to the salad. I prefer I over croutons any day, and it looked pretty impressive aesthetically on top of the salad. Giada suggests using almond slivers in the salad, but I like the more pungent flavor of walnuts and would substitute them next time I make this recipe.

Parmesan Frico Before Baking

To make the Parmesan Frico, grate about 1 ½ cups of good Parmesan cheese on a fine grater. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place teaspoon sized mounds of the cheese onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 3 inches apart from one another. Use the back of the spoon to then gently flatten the mounds into disks that are about 2-3 inches in diameter. Grate freshly ground black pepper over the tops of the cheese disks. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven, let cool completely, and then peel the crisps off the parchment paper and place on top of salad.

{ Ingredients for the Citrus Vinaigrette }

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 ½ teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

{ DirectionsWhisk together all ingredients in a small bowl or shake to combine in an airtight container.

Citrus Dressing

{ Ingredients for the Spinach Salad }

  • 1 package of baby spinach leaves
  • 2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds (or walnut pieces if you prefer)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced

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{ Pasta Puttanesca }

Pasta Puttanesca with Grated Parmesan Cheese

After having dinner at La Stalla (read post below), I met up with my girlfriend Jennifer to go out and celebrate St. Patty’s Day in the typical fashion of chugging Irish Car Bombs and drinking pints of green beer! And since Jen and I are always looking for an excuse to dress up themed (cowboy hats to country concerts, Santa hats at Christmas time, ect…), we used St. Patty’s Day as an excuse to rob party city of everything green and sparkly. In major cities, where there are large celebrations for St. Patty’s Day, girls decked out in green apparel like this are the norm. However, we found out that in small rural towns (such as the one we live in), people are not as crazed about drinking holidays and don’t feel the need to get dressed up…at all. I didn’t even see people wearing green tee shirts! That being said, you can imagine just how much Jen and I stuck out in the crowd with our glitter green top hats! We got dirty looks from girls who wanted the attention, and free drinks from the boys giving us the attention. Long story short, our St. Patty’s Day shot glass necklaces were rarely hanging from our necks and certainly put to use, and we ended up requiring a ride home (top-of-the-morning to you dad!) after just two short hours at the bar.

Once we got home, I went scavenging for food and was bitterly disappointed that I had no leftover Puttanesca from dinner. Nothing other than more Puttanesca was going to satisfy drunk-food craving and so I set about to make my own from scratch (much to my mother’s dismay when she say the stove in the morning, with dried linguini caked onto the burners). I make this Puttanesca dish pretty frequently, because it is super easy and relatively inexpensive.

Puttanesca means “food of the whores” in Italian, because it was a staple dish among the poor made with cheap ingredients commonly stocked in the pantry. I choose to make my Puttanesca without anchovies, although they are commonly used in traditional Puttanesca dishes and can be added to my recipe. Tonight, I modified by recipe slightly by adding mushrooms and substituting arugala with baby spinach based on what I had available in my house. The dish turned out incredible, and certainly hit the spot.

If you want a little bit of protein, feel free to add some sliced chicken breast over top the dish! Otherwise, serve hot with Pecorino cheese and enjoy.

{ Ingredients }

  • 8 ounces linguini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted Spanish kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh arugala (or baby spinach)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the PastaBring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the parsley, olives, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes to skillet and sautee for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juices and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in arugala (or baby spinach) and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the skillet, combining with sauce. Top with grated cheese and additional red pepper flakes for spice.

**Tip: Do not rinse the pasta after draining it because the sauce does not stick as well to the noodle. The starch is necessary and binding so do not rinse it off.

Tossing the Linguini in with the Puttanesca Sauce

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{ Fusilli with Creamy Mushroom Pea Sauce }

Fusilli with Pancetta and Creamy Mushroom Pea Sauce

I am always talking about food. When I go out and get drunk, I make friends by talking to strangers about food. When I meet someone of a different ethnic background, I establish common ground by talking to them about their culture’s food. When I get together with my closest friends and family, we bond over meals discussing our most recent culinary endeavors. I really do live my life all things food, and I believe it is one thing that connects us all—I mean everyone needs to eat, right?

By having a basic fundamental understanding of several different types of cuisine, I find that I can relate to almost any person and/or culture. And when someone starts talking to me about food, forget it! I get all sorts of worked up into a passionate discussion, obnoxiously waving my hands around as I go off on a million words per minute tangent. I think my boss genuinely fears when customers at our restaurant ask me for recommendations because he knows that I won’t be working during the half hour that I spend detailing every dish on the menu. Of course, you can probably also imagine how excited I get when people ask me for recipes! I love sharing great food with people, and was beyond excited when I received request for an Italian recipe this past week. It felt great knowing that someone actually wanted to hear what I had to say, and wasn’t just directed to my blog via facebook out of boredom. So I went through my recipe binder and pulled out a favorite pasta dish of mine—Fusilli with Pancetta and Creamy Mushroom Pea Sauce. This recipe makes for an awesome main dish or even side dish for meats. It is super easy to make and requires very little ingredients, so you won’t be spending a fortune at the grocery store!

I got this recipe out of an Eating Well Magazine a few years back and it caught my eye because it was a creamy pasta dish that was relatively light on calories. I love a good cream sauce, but try to stay away from them because I know just how many pounds a plate of alfredo sauce can set you back in your diet. This pasta dish is satisfying like a regular cream sauce but is much lighter and therefore in my opinion much more enjoyable. It almost like a macaroni and cheese crossed with an alfredo…its divine. The mushrooms add a great earthy flavor to and the spice of the cracked black pepper is a must!! Of course, you can always substitute the frozen peas for fresh English shelled peas, but I keep it simple and just cook the frozen ones out with the pasta.

Just be very careful not to burn the garlic when cooking this dish, so constantly be stirring the ingredients (especially after you add the mushrooms) and make sure the heat isn’t too high. Also, remember when cleaning mushrooms not to run them directly under water. To properly clean a mushroom, dampen a paper towel and gently wipe off the mushrooms. If you run a mushroom under water, it will absorb too much water and not cook properly.

This recipe will make enough for about 4-5 people, based on a 2 cup serving size. Enjoy!

{ Ingredients }

  • 8 ounces pasta (I use Fusilli)
  • 3 cups frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups quartered crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

{ To Make Pasta }Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and peas and cook until tender. Strain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and cook prosciutto until it begins to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant (careful not to burn!), about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices and most of their liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir to coat. Add wine and let simmer for 1 minute. Add chicken broth, return to simmer and cook, stirring until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream and pepper.

Add the peas and pasta to the pan and stir to coat.

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