Tag Archives: Italian

Eggplant Parm + NEWS!

Alright… I said I’d spill the beans a little more about my big blogging news, and I’m here to do just that! Plus give you a superb recipe for one of my favorite comfort foods, the lovely Eggplant Parm(esan). More on that later. For now, my news!

Drumroll please….

I AM STARTING A BRAND-NEW FOOD BLOG!!!! It will be live on Tuesday, and I am so, so beyond excited to show it to you! It’s been in the works for a long time now. First just in my head, then shopping around for website developers (yes, I used a real professional this time instead of just pretending I know anything about WordPress themes!), and my developer and I finally have this thing in almost working order!

My reasons? First of all, I feel like the name of this blog, Texan New Yorker is now only half true. Thanks to Matt’s job, I keep moving away from NYC! Yes, we moved again this summer… And since he works in such an incestuous industry where the companies keep buying and eating each other, another move at some point wouldn’t be terribly shocking. On the purely pragmatic side, I’m feeling that tying the name of my blog to geography is no longer an accurate move.

Secondly, when I started Texan New Yorker, I was sooooo green and naïve on the blogging scene. I’ve made rookie mistakes, missteps of all kinds, and I took it in a direction I’m no longer happy with. I feel like it’s become somewhat inauthentic and not resembling my own voice as I’d like. I was a newbie, and felt somewhat tentative to speak my own mind and truth for fear of offending others and being ostracized. I’ve been overly concerned about SEO, which is often a deterrent to making food one’s own way, and feeling like I can’t, say, blog something non-Thanksgiving-y in the middle of November. Which is silly and needs to stop. So it will, come Tuesday November 7th!

I’m so thrilled with how the new site is turning out, and I so hope you all will join me in this next adventure! I promise it will be incredibly delicious recipes and much more interesting chat. I’ll write even more about it on Tuesday.

For now, Eggplant Parmesan, a beautiful comfort food dish I only learned to like in adulthood. We just didn’t have much eggplant growing up so it kind of freaked me out at first, and since it is oh noes vegetarian, for a while I just plain refused to try it. Loser. You know when I first bit the bullet and sampled it? At the Olive Garden. I’m not particularly proud of that, but there you have it.

This homemade version is of course far superior to what I had at the Garden, which probably isn’t saying much, but fear not, it’s totally delicious by much higher standards as well. We loved it. I bet you will too. Enjoy!

Source: very slightly adapted from Crazy Good Italian by Mike Isabella

½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup plus 3 cups grated parmesan
2 tbs dried oregano
2 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
2 medium eggplants
2 cups olive oil (can use canola or vegetable oil if your olive oil is really expensive)
3 whole garlic cloves
1 (32 oz.) jar good quality marinara (I used Rao’s Homemade)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I did not use fresh, I wanted less water for better melting)
10 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced, plus extra torn for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Set up a breading station in three separate shallow bowls or pie plates: place the flour in the first, the eggs in the second, and in the third combine the panko, ¼ cup parmesan, oregano, salt, and chile flakes.
Slice off ½ an inch from the top and bottom of the eggplants and discard. Use a peeler to remove the skin if it bothers you (it does not bother me so I skipped this step). Slice the eggplants into ¾-inch-thick rounds.
Dredge each slice of eggplant in flour, then eggs, then panko mixture.
Heat the olive oil and garlic cloves in a large saute pan over medium heat. Let the garlic get golden brown while the oil heats up. Once the oil is ready to fry the eggplant, remove the garlic and discard. It was just there to flavor the oil.
Increase the heat to medium-high, test it for readiness with a pinch of panko mixture. Once it is ready, fry the breaded eggplant slices for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Cool on a paper-towel lined plate or cooling rack. Do this in batches. You don’t want to cool the oil temperature too much and prevent the eggplant from browning and crisping up.
Now to assembly: ladle ¾ cup marinara into an 8×8-inch square baking dish. Layer the eggplant, more marinara, mozzarella, parmesan, and basil. Repeat until you have three layers of eggplant. Top with remaining cheese.
Cover with foil and place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, removing the foil after 25 minutes. The sauce and cheese should be bubbling. Let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with torn basil.

Tuscan Porterhouse with Rosemary-Balsamic Steak Sauce and Seared Radicchio #SundaySupper

Tuscan Porterhouse with Balsamic Rosemary Steak Sauce and Seared Radicchio

Ah, Italy. That romantic, boot-shaped European country known for a seemingly unfixable corrupt government, the inability to mass produce a decent car, and some of the most beautiful, delicious, well-crafted food in the entire world. Yep, it’s Sunday Supper, and our theme this week is Italian Feast!

Tuscan Porterhouse with Balsamic Rosemary Steak Sauce and Seared Radicchio

Though I’ve only been to Italy once, back in college when my foodie palate was … unsophisticated, to say the least … I have absolutely adored and relished getting to know real-deal Italian cuisine the past ten or so years. Italian food is all-around wonderfully superlative: it’s regionally diverse, skillfully crafted, maturely restrained, honest, and incredibly romantic.

Tuscan Porterhouse with Balsamic Rosemary Steak Sauce and Seared Radicchio

I had a difficult time deciding what to share for today’s post. Gelato, the best frozen treat ever? One of the many classic and delicious pasta dishes? A pizza from Naples? I went around and around in my head before deciding that a Tuscan porterhouse, also known as bistecca alla fiorentia, was my calling for today.

seared radicchio with gorgonzola

What a stunning meal. Thick juicy steak, doused in a sharp, tangy, earthy homemade steak sauce, and some of the best radicchio I’ve yet tasted as a side dish. So, we all know that radicchio is BITTER. It’s almost too much for me, but I found that searing it in the meat drippings then tossing with a lovely gorgonzola really tamed the almost-too-bitter part. So delicious and perfect. Enjoy!

Tuscan Porterhouse with Balsamic Rosemary Steak Sauce and Seared Radicchio

And do not forget to check out all the Italian Feast recipes from my Sunday Supper crew!

Source: adapted from Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay

2 tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 (16 oz.) porterhouse steak, about 1 ½ inches thick
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 small to medium head of radicchio, outer leaves peeled, quartered, cored, and thickly sliced lengthwise
2-4 oz. crumbled gorgonzola

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 tbs low-sugar ketchup
1 tbs prepared horseradish
1 tbs honey
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tbs olive oil
1 tbs red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Marinate the steak: whisk together 2 tbs olive oil, smashed garlic, and rosemary in a small baking dish just large enough to hold the steak. Add the steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours. Bring the steak to room temperature before cooking.
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Remove the steak from the marinade and brush off any pieces of garlic or rosemary. Season the steak generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Preheat a cast iron skillet over very high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Once it is very hot, add the steak to sear. Don’t touch it and let it sear very nicely on one side, then flip and let it sear on the other side. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the meat, then transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook to your desired doneness. Remove from the oven and transfer the steak to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
While the steak is in the oven, make the STEAK SAUCE: add the balsamic vinegar, garlic, and rosemary to a small saucepan. Boil over high heat until reduced by half. Let the mixture cool a bit, then add the remaining steak sauce ingredients. Whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Let the steak sauce cool to room temperature before using, for best results.
Once the steaks are out of the oven and resting, place that same cast iron skillet over medium heat. Do not wipe it out. Add the radicchio and toss it around with tongs to sear and wilt it. Once it has wilted to your desired preference, add the gorgonzola and let it slightly melt, for about 1 minute. Taste the radicchio and see if it needs any salt; season accordingly to taste.
Slice the steak and serve with the steak sauce drizzled over and the radicchio on the side.





And Artichoke Torta plus More Recipes for Italian Fest from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

As many times as I’ve visited New Orleans, and as special as that city is to me personally, you’d think at some point I would’ve known about their thriving Sicilian community. But, nope. Had to read that one in a book. Chef Donald Link, NOLA native and one of my favorite cookbook authors, published this dish in his second book, Down South, as a classic example of the flavors and types of dishes you find from the fine Sicilian people of New Orleans.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

It makes complete sense to me. The flavors are obviously and unmistakably Italian, but there’s a brash boldness to this dish that reminds you that the New Orleans spirit has definitely had its effect. It’s not the least bit subtle, but still quite balanced and intensely flavored. Matt and I raved over it.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

I originally intended to follow this recipe to the letter, which calls for roasting the chicken with the sauce poured over in a 9×13” casserole. Unfortunately, my baking dish happens to have rather low sides, and I realized that it wouldn’t hold all the sauce without spilling it all over my oven floor. I think we can all agree that it just sucks when that happens, so as a preventive measure, I used my larger lasagana pan. It worked perfectly fine, but my chicken did cook a bit faster than the recipe stated it would. However, the sauce thickened as it should have, so I’d probably do it this way again.

Braised Chicken with Salami and Olives

I hope y’all enjoy this one! It’s ideal for a cold winter night – rich and hearty, and those strong flavors are so warming.

Source: slightly adapted from Down South by Donald Link

1 (3 ½ – 4 lb.) whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 rosemary branch
1 ¼ cups diced salami
1 cup green olives, pitted and halved
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups chicken stock
4 fresh bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 375 F.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken in 2 batches until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large baking dish (I used a lasagna pan).
Add the onion to the skillet and cook in the rendered chicken fat, stirring, until brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, fennel, rosemary, salami, olives, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Pour in the wine and simmer to reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and cook about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock in batches and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves and lemon juice.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and roast in the oven until the chicken is just cooked through, about 1 hour. Use a meat thermometer to be sure. It should register 165 F when the chicken is done. Baste the chicken every 15-20 minutes with the sauce.
Discard the bay leaves and serve the chicken warm with plenty of sauce spooned over.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

“Is it legal for meatballs to taste this good?” – Matt

Let’s hope, because these meatballs may just be the meatballs that will ruin all the other meatballs for you. I don’t know how the crack culinary geniuses at Fine Cooking Magazine came up with this one, I’m seriously living in complete awe of their recipe development prowess, but I’m forever grateful that they did.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

And I’m forever thrilled to share it with you. This one is definitely going in my repertoire with the “Best Ever…” label firmly attached, something I’ll be pulling out to impress company. The slow cooker does most of the work, and you don’t even have to broil or brown the meatballs first (I told you they were geniuses!!).

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Dried herbs, usually a foodier-than-thou no-no, are much of what takes the flavor of both the meatballs and the sauce just soaring. This is one instance where I’m thinking fresh actually isn’t better. The dried herbs really stand out in the long cooking time. Also, porcini mushrooms – ‘nuff said there! Soaking the breadcrumbs in sweet vermouth really makes a difference too – don’t skip that step. Genius.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

I really can’t overstate how much we enjoyed these. I made them twice in one week – the first time because I hadn’t planned on blogging them, then a second time a few days later because I realized what a grave and unpardonable sin it would have been not to. I hope you all enjoy them as much as we did!

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2015


1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup sweet vermouth
1 ¼ lb. ground pork
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large egg
6 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 (15 oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
¼ cup tomato paste
½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Make the MEATBALLS: mix the breadcrumbs and vermouth in a large bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
Add the pork and sausage to the mixture, breaking the sausage up with your fingers as you go. Add the egg, cheese, sage, oregano, salt, and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Form into 12 meatballs.
To make the SAUCE, mix the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried porcini, oregano, thyme, fennel, pepper flakes, and salt in a 5-6 quart slow cooker until the tomato paste dissolves.
Nestle the meatballs into the sauce. It’s fine if they don’t all fit in a single layer. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. Once done, the meatballs can stay on the keep-warm setting for up to 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve, gently break the meatballs apart if necessary, and gently turn them all in the sauce. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce, and with extra Parmesan for garnish, if desired.

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

This cold winter is really making an aggressively menacing effort to sabotage my weight loss efforts. I’ve got nine more pounds to go, and those nine pounds may just have to wait until spring. I’m serious. It’s not that I don’t want to lose them, it’s not that I’m not cognizant of my dietary and exercising efforts; it’s more that the cave man part of my brain is taking over and telling me that I need tons of animal fats and carbs to store up energy for this stupid cold weather we’re having. And it’s pretty difficult to talk back to that very strong voice.

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

I try, of course. I tell it that I’m living in the 21st century, which means that I have access to all kinds of modern conveniences my cave man ancestors did not: winter coats, hats and gloves and scarves, indoor plumbing, indoor heating, any blanket I want, sweatshirts, long underwear…

It doesn’t matter. The inner voice persists, quite loudly sometimes. That’s why I am so thrilled that spaghetti squash is still in season. And that’s why I was even more thrilled to find that Kevin posted this recipe that includes a very hearty, meaty, cheesy lasagna type thing that nestles over spaghetti squash. I feel like Kevin is really looking out for both my inner cave man and my current waistline! Haha!

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

Spaghetti squash is low-carb, of course, but it’s also filling and nutritious. And while not a pasta replacement, it is quite tasty on its own. In this dish we’ll be tossing that cooked spaghetti squash with lots of cheesy goodness: ricotta, Fontina, and some basil for extra flavor. It’s then topped with a hearty, warm, stick-to-your-ribs Italian sausage and tomato sauce ragu, which is then topped with more Fontina and melted under the broiler.

Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

It’s PERFECT for cold winter nights, and it’s also pretty figure-friendly. You could sub in ground turkey for even fewer calories if you wanted, not to mention you could use low-fat ricotta and part-skim low moisture mozzarella for the Fontina.

And most importantly, this is really delicious. How could it not be? There’s just so much flavor here, and it’s so filling and satisfying without much guilt. And not nearly as time-consuming as actual lasagna, so score!! Enjoy this one guys! And try to stay warm!

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

{One Year Ago: Margarita Fish Tacos}
{Two Years Ago: Giant Cinnamon Rolls with Buttermilk Glaze}

Source: slightly adapted from Closet Cooking

2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 tbs olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casings
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs basil, chopped, divided
1 cup ricotta
6-8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded, divided

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a silpat. Brush the inner flesh of the spaghetti squash with 1 tbs olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast, skin side up, in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes. You know when it’s done when a sharp paring knife can be inserted into the flesh and removed with no resistance.
Meanwhile, make the ragu. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle in the remaining tbs olive oil. Add the sausage and crumble with a sturdy spoon. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and cook until tender, another 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, paprika, balsamic vinegar, plus salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes, to let the flavors marry and the tomato sauce thicken. Stir in the basil and turn the heat to very low.
Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and let cool just slightly. Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the spaghetti squash into a large bowl, taking care not to break or crack the spaghetti squash shells. Add the ricotta, remaining tbs basil, and a medium-sized handful of the shredded Fontina. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well, evenly coating the strands of squash with the cheese.
Nestle the cheesy spaghetti squash strands back in the spaghetti squash shells, using a spoon to make an indentation, or a “bowl” in the center of each. Spoon the sausage ragu evenly into the 4 boats, then top each with the remaining shredded Fontina.
Broil in the oven until the cheese has melted and turned a light golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Malt Ball Gelato

Malt Ball Gelato

Gelato. I think we’d all agree, it’s just plain some of the best stuff on planet earth. I discovered it about twelve years ago; I was in grad school and I did a study abroad for six weeks one summer in Austria. And though you might think of gelato being associated with Italy – its birthplace – don’t forget that all of Europe has embraced this creamy sweetness, and gelaterias exist all over.

malt balls

We had one by the little apartment building we were staying in, and I won’t say every day, but on most afternoons I would stop by and get a little cup of something (usually chocolate). This was still in my picky eating days, yet I adored this gelato stuff I’d just discovered. I found I sorely missed it once I returned home to the States, and it was a good month before I ate any American ice cream.

malt balls for gelato

So what made me adore gelato so much? How is it so different from our American ice cream? For starters, there’s less fat in gelato. Instead of an equal ratio of milk to cream, or even using more cream than milk, gelato uses more milk than cream. The other key difference is that gelato has less air incorporated into it during the churning process. In Europe they have specific gelato makers, which differ from ice cream makers in that they turn the custard slower, and they have devices that move the gelato in an up-and-down motion as well as it spinning around. It also churns for less time overall. And lastly, it is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream.

Malt Ball Gelato

The result is that gelato is denser and has a creamier mouthfeel. It just tastes more luxurious, more decadent, even though it’s actually lower calorie than ice cream. And at least to this American, it feels slightly exotic. International. So let’s Americanize it, shall we? Let’s class this gelato thing down! We’re putting malt balls in there – the quintessential movie theater treat for children. While we may outgrow the childhood movies, no adult truly loses their taste for the malt balls, I’m convinced.

Malt Ball Gelato

Which is probably why a bunch of otherwise mature and functional adults all loved this gelato! It’s the perfect gelato texture, but with that nostalgic flavor and crunch woven in. I loved it, and I feel quite certain you will too. Enjoy!

{One Year Ago: Homemade Cajun Seasoning}

Source: lightly adapted from The Scarpetta Cookbook by Scott Conant

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup plus 1 tbs granulated sugar
1 cup malted milk powder
1 tsp ground mace (sub in ground nutmeg if you can’t find mace)
6 large egg yolks
8 oz. chocolate covered malt candy (malt balls), cut in half and/or quartered

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cream, and ½ cup of the sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, about a minute or 2, then add the malted milk powder and mace. Whisk to combine. Let the mixture continue to heat up until you see bubbles forming at the edges of the pot. Shut off the heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar. Slowly pour about ½ cup of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking all the while. This will temper the eggs so they do not scramble on you. Now pour the egg mixture, slowly, into the saucepan, whisking continuously. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture has thickened somewhat and can coat the back of a spoon. This takes around 7-10 minutes.
Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean mixing bowl. Place this mixing bowl into an ice bath and let it come up to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate the custard until very cold.
Turn on your ice cream maker and pour the custard in. Churn the gelato about 5 minutes less than your ice cream maker instructs for ice cream. In the last few minutes it’s churning, add the reserved chopped malt balls to incorporate. Transfer the gelato to a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer for up to 2 hours to firm up somewhat before serving.

Beans and Greens Salad

Beans and Greens Salad

Happy Hump Day! What classic dish did I turn into dinner salad today? The simple Italian soup of Beans and Greens, a wonderful soup that shines with very few ingredients: escarole, broth, cannellini beans, and parmesan cheese. Pancetta optional. I’m happy to say these same ingredients (minus the broth, of course), absolutely shine in a salad too.

Beans and Greens Salad

I did not include pancetta in my salad, although you absolutely could if you wanted to. Escarole is a fantastic green to use for salads. It doesn’t need to be cooked or wilted, and the texture is just buttery. And, it’s more nutritious than lettuce, so I think we win all around today!

Beans and Greens Salad

Beans and Greens Salad

This salad is hearty and filling, nutritious and sooooo tasty. We always love it. The dressing is a tangy vinaigrette that adds some punch without obscuring the original flavors of the soup itself. I hope you love it! And stay tuned for tomorrow and Friday – I have some *amazing* classic-dishes-turned-dinner-salads coming up that you absolutely cannot miss!! Enjoy!

Beans and Greens Salad

{One Year Ago: Chocolate-Chipotle Braised Chicken Wings}
{Two Years Ago: Spicy Calamari Stew with Garlic Rubbed Ciabatta Toasts}

Source: adapted, ever so slightly, from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book by Rachael Ray

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced or run through a garlic press
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 large or 2 small heads of escarole, coarsely chopped
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Grated parmesan, plus a few shavings from a wedge (optional)

First, make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, mustard, garlic, and olive oil. Whisk well, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a large salad bowl, toss together the escarole, beans, and as much or as little grated parmesan as you like. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, a little at a time, and toss until dressed. Beware of overdressing the salad. Garnish with a few parmesan shavings if desired. Serve immediately.

Beef Ragu over Spaghetti Squash #SundaySupper

Beef ragu over spaghetti squash 091

Welcome to Sunday Supper!! The theme this week happens to be Squash Fest. Very open, and given the time of year, some of us are featuring fall vegetables while others have summer squash recipes. I chose one of my favorite kinds of squash, which is just coming in season where I’m at – the spaghetti squash!!

Beef Ragu over Spaghetti squash 123

Now, we should be very clear about one thing: spaghetti squash is not pasta, despite its name, despite the fact that it gets nicknamed “low-carb pasta” and despite that it’s often featured with traditional pasta sauces. I must warn you, if you serve the recipe I’m blogging today to your family and tell them they’re having pasta, you are on the fast track to some major unpopularity in your own home, my friend. Arguing that spaghetti squash tastes like pasta is like trying to convince someone that Taco Bell is real Mexican food – you’ve lost the argument before you even open your mouth.

Beef Ragu over spaghetti squash 103

But, I still adore spaghetti squash. I don’t ask it to be pasta, I just love it for what it is. Its flavor is very “blank slate” which means it soaks up a hearty meaty tomato sauce very nicely. And because this isn’t pasta, it is way lower calorie, which excuses the extra piece of garlic bread and extra glass of wine. Don’t you love my logic? 🙂

beef ragu over spaghetti squash 081

This is honestly one of my favorite meals, and I make it whenever spaghetti squash comes into season. I mean, of course I love me some pasta, and like I said, spaghetti squash could never replace it. But this squash stands proudly on its own merits, and I look forward to this meal all year long. Enjoy! And please be sure you check out my Sunday Supper gang – tons of fall and summer squash recipes today!

Beef Ragu over Spaghetti Squash 117

{One Year Ago: Cheddar Pecan Wafers, Naan Bread, Italian Prune Plum Crisp, Blackberry Pie Bars, Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches}
{Two Years Ago: Whole Wheat Ricotta Raspberry Scones}

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2009

1 small to medium spaghetti squash
1 tbs olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef (I used sirloin)
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1-2 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Garlic bread, for serving

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Oil or grease a 9×13″ baking dish. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Lay the squash halves cut side down in the baking dish and roast for 30-40 minutes, until a sharp paring knife can cut through the skin and into the flesh with no resistance. Turn the squash halves over and let them cool until you can handle them.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil, then add the beef. Crumble the beef with a spoon and cook until no traces of pink remain. Add the shallot and garlic and cook another 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated. Add the tomatoes, oregano, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup water and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using a fork, rake the squash flesh into strands and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with a pinch of salt and pepper, plus a small drizzle of olive oil.
Lower the heat on the ragu to low, toss in the basil and parmesan. Stir to combine.
To serve, mound some squash strands onto a dinner plate, then spoon some ragu over. Garnish with extra basil, if desired, and sprinkle on more parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 generous servings.

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Italian Vegetable Frittata

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Eggs and I have had a rather complicated relationship over the years. As a child, I liked scrambled eggs, but no other kinds – ever! Fast forward to college, where I majored in biology. Which meant taking labs. And labs meant conducting experiments, oftentimes on poor dead animals like fetal pigs and cats and frogs. And, chicken eggs.

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My junior year, we used a special microscope to peer into a chicken egg that was actually meant to you know, hatch a live chicken. The egg was in its infancy stage, so it looked like a regular egg you’d buy in a carton at the grocery store, only we could see a beating heart. First it looked like nothing, then you’d see a quick burst of blood that then dissipated back into itself, like tossing a pebble into a puddle.

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It freaked me the hell out. Probably shouldn’t have, but it was so weird to see this normal-looking egg, the likes of which I’d eaten my whole life, and all of a sudden there’s a bloody heartbeat in the middle of the yolk. And I mean a literal bloody heartbeat, not a British bloody heartbeat.

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So, eggs and I broke up for a while. Despite liking the taste of scrambled eggs, I couldn’t bring myself to eat them after what I’d witnessed. It was just too weird. This persisted for several years. It wasn’t until Matt and I were dating that I agreed to try them again. See, I met him while he was a mid-twenty-something grad student, and scrambled eggs were one of the few things he knew he could make competently. So when I initially said I disliked them, he panicked a little, then regrouped and convinced me to try them. And I agreed. Because it was the beginning of the relationship, the part where we agree to do and try things we dislike, just for our new love.

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Good news though – I rekindled that old fondness for scrambled eggs, and decided to get over my squeamishness. And then the whole thing snowballed. Before you know it, I was eating poached eggs, and fried eggs, and baked eggs. Like frittatas. Something I never grew up eating, or even knowing about, for that matter…

Now I make them often. And this one I made with zucchini! And parmesan. And it was fluffy, light and delicious. Quite perfect, really. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Sweet Corn Sorghum Ice Pops}

Source: slightly adapted from The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown

3 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. (about 3 thin) zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
10 large eggs
3 tbs chopped fresh basil
2 tbs dried oregano
6 tbs half-and-half
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 425 F.
Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and tilt the pan to coat evenly. Add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, until the onion is softened a bit. Add the garlic, zucchini, and bell pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes, or until the veggies soften and the liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the basil, oregano, and half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat on the skillet to medium and pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Do not stir. Cook about 4 minutes, or until you just start seeing the sides begin to set. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the frittata evenly, then transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the top is browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Run a spatula around the sides of the skillet and under the bottom to release it. Cut into wedges and serve.

Tortellini Salad with Roasted Peppers, Tomatoes, and Eggplant

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Happy Secret Recipe Club reveal day!!! Always a fun day for me. This month I was assigned…. Feast on the Cheap!

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Feast on the Cheap is a wonderful food blog actually run by two people: “a mother-daughter duo starring a professional caterer and a fledgling foodie.” Mary Anne is the mom and her daughter is Mariel. Both have impressive and distinguished careers, Mary Anne as a nurse and a professional caterer, and Mariel as a professional writer for a number of well-known publications. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through their blog this month!

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I have been jonesing for eggplant lately, so I went through their recipe index specifically hoping to find something eggplant, and I scored big with this pasta salad. Mary Anne created this recipe, and made the brilliant decision to use tortellini for the pasta, which is just beyond delicious. The eggplant is sweated and roasted, so there is no trace of bitterness – just flavor. This salad comes together and just sings. So much flavor, and such terrific textures from the roasted veggies and the chewy, cheesy tortellini.

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As I write this, I’m growing impatient for tomorrow at noon to roll around, simply so I can eat the leftovers for lunch! And I *just* ate dinner, y’all – not even hungry. That’s how good this is.

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I highly urge you to try it very soon, while eggplant and fresh tomatoes are looking lovely for their season. I also highly urge you to check out Feast on the Cheap! It’s definitely going in my reader. Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Strawberry Mascarpone Sherbet, Blueberry Crumble, Golden Sheet Cake with Raspberry Butter Cream Frosting}
{Two Years Ago: Classic Barbecue Chicken}

Source: slightly adapted from Feast on the Cheap

1 medium eggplant (about ½ lb.) cut into ½ inch dice, peeled if desired
Kosher salt, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste
Olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
3 medium tomatoes, (about ¾ lb.) cored, seeded, and cut into ½ inch dice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp brown sugar
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
½ cup fresh basil, roughly torn
1 lb. cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

“Sweat” the diced eggplant: spread the eggplant on a cookie rack lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to stand for 20 minutes. Blot dry with fresh paper towels. Transfer to a cookie sheet and toss with about 2 tsp of olive oil. Spread evenly into a single layer and sprinkle lightly with the dried oregano, as much or as little as you prefer. Cover with aluminum foil.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place the foil covered eggplant in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside, after you remove the aluminum foil.
While the eggplant is roasting, preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then saute the shallot until soft. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the brown sugar, crushed pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Saute another 5-10 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and have rendered their juices. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Add the cooked tortellini to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Now add all the veggies to the pasta: the eggplant, the tomato mixture, and the roasted peppers. Add the basil and the cheese and toss thoroughly and gently to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.