Recipe of the Month March: Roasted Pears

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Buon giorno!

Italians have long ended their meals with a simple fruit or fruit and cheese. They seem to like their sweets or “dolci” in the morning with an espresso. With our ROASTED PEARS, we take our fruit dessert to another level with little sweetness from the added Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts.

Not a drop of sugar is needed during the preparation of these pears, making them a very nutritious dessert when enjoyed with no added embellishment. The pears sweeten themselves through caramelization during roasting. A lovely slice of Gorgonzola would be enough to add for any Italian looking for a light finale.

The crema, very much like a French Crème Anglaise,  is a luscious liquid custard, made from egg yolks, and in this instance is laced with Bourbon. It is a beautiful accompaniment to the caramelized pear. It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.

The Candied Walnuts add some crunch and interest. The recipe makes about 8 oz so there are plenty of these leftover for use in salads, other desserts, or just for a snack. They are fabulous alone in a bowl with cocktails.

Even with the added crema and candied nuts, this remains a light and interesting finish to a meal.

Pear with creme finish 2 - best

These are such favorites at my house that roasted pears are usually always found in our frig for those moments when the craving for a sweet drives us crazy, but we don’t want to bust the diet. They are simply fantastic served over salad greens.

 

ROASTED PEARS

Serves: 4

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients

4 Bosc or Red Pears

Olive Oil

Instructions

Make sure your pears are clean and free of grocery stickers. Leave the skins on.

Slice off each end. Then slice in half vertically.

Using a spoon, gently scoop out the core.

Place the pears face down on a foil lined pan sprayed with Pam.

Brush each pear half with olive oil.

Pears1

Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until a fork slides through easily.

Cool .  They keep for days in a closed container refrigerated. I like to warm them a little in the microwave before serving.

BOURBON CREMA

Makes: about 2 cups

Prep: About 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 C. Whole Milk

1 C. Heavy Cream

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/2 C. Sugar

4 Large Egg Yolks

Pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. Bourbon

Instructions

Cook the Milk, Cream, and extract in a saucepan until bubbles form on the sides. Remove from heat and cool a little.

Creme 1

Place the sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a bowl. Whisk them together well.

Creme 3

Then add a little of the slightly cooled milk and cream to the yolk mixture and whisk quickly to blend so that egg yolks do not cook. Add a little more and whisk again.

Then add this all back to the remaining milk mixture in the pan and whisk.

Heat this, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, so that it makes a line that holds when you run your finger down the back of the spoon.

Creme 4

Remove from heat and add the Bourbon – Stir and let cool. Strain through a fine sieve to get any solids out.

Refrigerate this custard in a bowl or covered container.

The next day the custard should be much thicker. This will keep a few days in the refrigerator.

CANDIED WALNUTS

Makes: 8 oz.

Prep: 25 minutes

Ingredients

8 oz. Walnut halves or pieces

2 large Egg Whites

1/2 C. Sugar

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Pinch of Nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

2 Tsp. Vanilla extract

Instructions

Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, pepper, spices, and extract in a bowl.

Candied Walnuts 1

Add the walnuts and toss, coating well.

Spray a piece of foil to cover a sheet pan with Pam.

Pour the walnut mixture out on the foil, spreading into a single layer.

Candied Walnuts 2

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, turning with a spoon or spatula about half way through cooking.

Remove from oven and toss a little with a fork. The nuts will crisp as they cool.

Candied Walnuts finish

Once cooled, keep them in a covered container. They keep several weeks.

The ROASTED PEARS  are so easy and can be prepared ahead. The finished dessert is beautiful to serve and memorable.

SERVING IDEAS: Serve the roasted pears simply or with a slice of Gorgonzola or a creamy Blue Cheese. OR – Drizzle each pear with a little Bourbon on a plate and light it for a little flambe!

Pears 5

OR – if served with the Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts – drizzle with a little Dark Chocolate or Balsamic Glaze. The Bourbon Crema is also delicious with pound cake. The Candied Walnuts are wonderful on salads or with cocktails.

So many options! You will love this one!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Caprese Style Chicken with Beans

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Buon giorno!

The use of the term “Caprese” is often heard in the world of Italian food these days. What does it actually mean? Caprese refers to recipes and a cooking style coming from the island of Capri in Italy located in the Tyrrhenian Sea . This area is celebrated in song as well and is noted for its amazing and unique blue water color.

There are many great dishes coming from this island. However, in the US, when we think of Caprese Style, we relate most often to the use of tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella and good olive oil.

CAPRESE STYLE CHICKEN WITH BEANS is one of these dishes that combines these ingredients, and a few more, resulting in a rich, fresh tasting, and thoroughly delicious dish. It is easy and takes just a few minutes to prepare.

Andiamo!

CAPRESE STYLE CHICKEN WITH BEANS

Serves 4

Prep 15 minutes

Cook about 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 Tbsp. Olive Oil

8 Boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic finely chopped

10 Campari Tomatoes – quartered

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh Basil

2/3 Cup Dry White Wine

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Can (approx. 15.5 oz.) Cannellini Beans – drained

8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella slices or Ciliegine (little balls of fresh Mozzarella) – as pictured

More Fresh Basil

Balsamic Glaze (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Season the chicken with salt and peper – both sides and brown in the oil along with the garlic in an oven proof pan.

Add the tomatoes, basil and wine. Cook about 15 minutes uncovered at a strong simmer.

Caprese Chicken 1

Add Mozzarella and beans.

Caprese Chicken 2

Place pan in oven and cook at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Garnish with fresh Basil.

Drizzle with Balsamic Glaze (optional but adds to the flavor!) and serve.

Serving suggestion for CAPRESE STYLE CHICKEN WITH BEANS  – Try a beautiful Northern Italian white like Donna Anita Roero Arneis with this dish.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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February: Mini Frittatas

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Buon giorno!

Here it is! if you are looking for a healthy snack or breakfast – quick and great for “on the go” – MINI FRITTATAS are your new best friend! It’s a no brainer really. So you like Frittatas – why not make small individual ones ahead so you can just grab one – or two when you are hungry or when you need something fast. This has really saved me in my pursuit of healthier eating at the start of the new year. Making them ahead and having them ready to eat cold or warmed in the microwave has made life so easy for me.

I have always loved Frittatas, coming from an Italian household. In our house, growing up, Frittata was a more involved undertaking – making a large one for the whole family and, of course especially at Easter, with the traditional partially fried and baked one inverted onto a platter and usually served cold or room temperature on the holiday table.

Having these little ones ready to go at any time in just the right size is a great assist to a busy life, especially when they contain all the ingredients I love: eggs, spinach, sweet tomatoes, and Parmigiano Reggiano. If I want a change I can always switch to a new green or something different like adding scallions, swiss chard, or even meat like ham or sausage.

Lately I have just kept them simple and healthy with the ingredients you see here. For example, notice the egg whites instead of all whole eggs. You can, of course, use whole eggs if you wish for a richer result.

For a fun make ahead Brunch item, you can’t beat these little wonders stacked on a platter. They are bright and colorful and will delight your guests — but you better make extra!

Have fun with these! Mix it up and try different ingredients. Check out the other Frittata ideas on LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE. You will love having these to grab quickly from your frig.

 

MINI FRITTATAS

Makes: about 9

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: about 15-20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

3 Whole large eggs

7 Large egg whites

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Salt and pepper to taste – for egg mixture

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped finely

2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach

10 Campari Tomatoes – chopped

Salt and pepper to taste – for vegetable mixture

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the eggs and egg whites in a large bowl and whisk together along with the basil, grated cheese, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a fry pan, add 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil, garlic, baby spinach, Campari Tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add this vegetable mixture to the egg mixture in the bowl.

Spray a muffin tin with Pam.

Ladle the frittata mixture into each muffin cup filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 degres for 15-20 minutes until firm. They will puff up but will go down some once they cool.

Now just turn the pan over and pop out the frittatas!

Either serve or refrigerate for later use or to grab on the go like I do!

Eat cold or warmed in the microwave.

My refrigerator is never without them!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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October:Bolognese Sauce

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Buon giorno!

One of my favorite regions of Italy is Emilia-Romagna – an area perhaps most prominent as a source for the most common and revered of Italian cooking ingredients. This is the land of Parma Ham, Balsamic Vinegar, tortellini, sfoglia, Parmigiano-Reggiano and on and on. It is no wonder that it is often called the “gastronomic heart” of Italy. Many of its signature recipes are rich in butter in lieu of olive oil and lean less on tomatoes. Strangely, you find fewer of Italy’s well known wines coming from this region.

Perhaps the most famous recipe of the region is Bolognese Sauce  – a sauce that has become one so notoriously ill-prepared in the US. So often, it is portrayed on menus as the real deal when the resulting sauce contains no more than tomato sauce and ground beef. Do NOT be fooled! These imposters do not even come close to the complexity of flavor in an authentic Bolognese Sauce which traditionally has very little tomato and includes a combination of meats, butter, and even milk or cream – all cooked “low and slow” – only to deliver the richest flavor one can imagine in a sauce for pasta.

Recipes for this sauce will vary in their use of bacon, pancetta, or sausage. This recipe calls for both Pancetta and sausage. You will notice that the authentic recipes for this sauce do not use tomatoes – but opt for tomato paste instead.

Traditionally, this sauce is served over Tagliatelle Pasta or Bucatini. In my view, this sauce is best served over homemade Tagliatelle!

When made properly, this sauce is one of Italy’s most memorable. In short, it is splendid!

BOLOGNESE SAUCE

Makes: sauce for about 1 lb. pasta

Prep: about 30 minutes

Cook: about 1 3/4 hours

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/4 lb. chopped Pancetta (or bacon)

1 onion, chopped small

1 Carrot or 5 baby Carrots, chopped small

1 Stalk Celery, chopped small

2 Cloves, fresh garlic, chopped finely

1/2 lb. Ground Pork

1/2 lb. Ground Beef

1/4 lb. Loose Sweet Italian Sausage meat

1 cup Dry White Wine – Dry Vermouth is good

1/4 Cup Tomato Paste

1 Cup Beef stock or broth

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

2 Tbsp. Butter

Salt if desired

Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley – chopped coarsely for garnish

Instructions

In a pot,cook the Pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, in the butter and oil until the vegetables are tender.

Bolognese Sauce 1

Then add all of the meats, browning them, while breaking them up with a fork.

Bolognese Sauce 2

Add the wine, scraping the bits from the pan bottom and cook a couple of minutes at medium high.

Add the beef stock or broth, reserving a little of it to mix with the tomato paste to dilute it – Then add the paste and broth to the pot also.

Bolognese Sauce 3

Stir well and cover. Bring to bubbling and reduce the heat to low, covered, letting it simmer for 1 1/2 hours. For a denser sauce with less liquid, uncover the last 1/2 hour!

Now add the cream and let cook on medium-low for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and allow to melt in, stirring.

Taste for seasoning. Salt to taste – you may not need any!

Pour over cooked pasta: tagliatelle or bucatini (perciatelli) are traditional choices.

Garnish with fresh Italian parsley.

I like to serve Barbera d’Alba with Bolognese Sauce.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Pasta with Shrimp and Greens

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Buon giorno!

Pasta is a great energy food. Bikers, runners, and those who need to pack the carbs for a sports event have known this for years. Of course, Italians have always known there was something good and wholesome about it. When you add healthy ingredients which combine to offer great flavor it is a match made in — well you know where! PASTA WITH SHRIMP AND GREENS is an easy dish to prepare and has a freshness about it that should please everyone.

In the photo, I have used an artisan pasta made from tomato pesto. You certainly do not have to select artisan pasta. Any Spaghetti or Capellini of your choice would work perfectly. The sundried tomatoes bring a touch of sweetness to this that would be missed if not included. I was fortunate for this preparation to get some freshly dried ones at the Farmer’s Market and some fresh Georgia shrimp that came right off the boat the day before – ahhhh!

Warning – there will be no leftovers! Marone what a dish!

PASTA WITH SHRIMP AND GREENS

Serves: 2

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 15 minutes

Ingredients

8 oz. Spaghetti, Cappellini etc. prepared according to package directions – or pasta fresca!

1 Bunch Fresh Swiss Chard – Rainbow is nice! (you can also use spinach if you like)

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

2 Cloves fresh garlic chopped finely

1/2-2/3 Cup Sundried Tomatoes – chopped

1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil chopped

1 lb. Large Shrimp, cleaned and shelled

1/2 C. Dry White Wine

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Rinse your Swiss Chard and chop coarsely. Drop into a pot of boiling lightly salted water and cook for about 6 minutes. Drain well. Set aside.

In a pan, saute the garlic and sundried tomatoes for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Do not burn the garlic!

Add the shrimp, red pepper, basil, and Swiss Chard. Then add the wine. Toss in the pan and cook  over medium-medium high until the shrimp is just opaque – about 3-4 minutes – no more!

Add salt and pepper to taste and stir.

Pour over your cooked pasta and prepare for an amazing taste experience!

This PASTA WITH SHRIMP AND GREENS is one of those pasta dishes that is just perfect for patio dining or “date night” with a bottle of Falanghina – the Italian white just made for seafood!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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September:Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

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Buon giorno!

With fall upon us, we turn our attention to heartier dishes, vegetables, and flavors that remind us of home and comfort. Butternut Squash is one of the vegetables that seem to relate to this time of year. Its sweetness and richness upon roasting put us in that “zone” we think of as satisfying and just like Mama used to make. Risotto and Butternut Squash are one of those matches made in heaven, and Risotto Al Zucca is a signature dish of the Northern regions of Italy most notably Lombardia.

With ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO, we take this great authentic dish to another level by roasting the squash and enhancing the dish with a couple of different ingredients. Satisfying the “itch” for that great flavor combo, sweet and savory, this dish fills that need perfectly. Our savory flavors of the squash, sage, broth, onion, and parmigiano are matched with the sweetness of the roasted version of the squash and the addition of a finish or garnish of Balsamic Glaze, Candied Walnuts, and Ricotta.

BOOM! That, my friends, is an explosive combination which entertains your palate in a way I cannot clearly describe. This is a flavor load not to be believed.

This is a dish that served in a smaller amount as a first course sets the stage for a great fall menu of roasted meats perhaps. Regardless of how you follow this course – this starter will definitely inform the guests at your Italian table that they are in for a very special meal indeed!

However, if you prefer to make this dish the main event, it is hearty enough to stand up and out as a comforting entrée that ushers in the memories of fall meals past and the season of bountiful ingredients and flavors to come.

This dish will simply bring you boundless return!

…and now, a drum roll please…

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO

(with Candied Walnuts and Ricotta!!)

You can make your Candied Walnuts days ahead if you like and also roast the squash ahead of time.

Serves: 4 as entrée or 6 as a first course

Prep/Cook: about an hour

Candied Walnuts

This recipe makes about a cup although you will not use them all in this recipe. Save the rest for salads – yum!

In a pan, place 1 cup of walnut halves or pieces, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. Butter, and a dash of Cayenne Pepper. (2 dashes for more spice!)

Candied Walnuts 1

Heat and let the sugar melt in, while stirring constantly – takes just a couple of minutes.

Candied Walnuts 2

When melted and well covered, pour the walnuts onto parchment paper or wax paper and quickly spread the mixture out with a spatula. This hardens almost instantly. When cool, break into small pieces and store in a covered container.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Toss 3 cups cubed Butternut Squash with some Olive Oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Spread this out on a sheet pan and bake/roast at 400 degrees for about 15- 20 minutes until just fork tender, turning with a spoon about 1/2 way through. You can do this ahead also.

Set aside.

Risotto

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 chopped sweet onion

6 –7 Cups WARM Chicken Broth (can substitute vegetable broth)- you might not use it all

2 Tbsp. Chopped Sage

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago Cheese

2 Tbsp. Butter

The roasted butternut squash from instructions above

Several Candied Walnuts – instructions above

Chopped Fresh Sage for garnish

4 heaping Tablespoons of Whole Milk Ricotta, beaten a little with a spoon to make fluffy

Balsamic Glaze or reduction of Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

Heat the butter and olive oil in a wide shallow pan (best for risotto). Add the chopped onion and cook at medium – medium high for 5 minutes.

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Then add the rice – Cook another 5 minutes tossing to coat in the butter and oil.

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Begin to add the warm broth with a large ladle – one ladle at a time, letting the rice absorb each addition before adding the next. This process can take about 30 minutes or more.

Add the chopped sage during this process.

You know you are finished when the rice is tender to the bite and creamy.

When rice is finished cooking, turn off the heat. Add the grated cheese and the additional butter. Stir in.

Add the roasted squash and toss gently.

Beat the ricotta a little with the back of a spoon to make it fluffy. Add several dollops of this to the risotto or 1 to each individual serving, letting each guest stir it in.

Add the candied walnuts.

Garnish with additional fresh sage and drizzle with a little Balsamic Glaze.

Butternut Squash Risotto finish 3 with script- Copy

This ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO is so flavorful and rich, you will make it your go-to fall dish! This one is special!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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July:Frutti di Mare On the Grill

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Buon giorno!

There is no shortage of recipes for Frutti di Mare. Literally it means “fruits of the sea” – more to the point: seafood! The term and recipes are most closely associated with the Amalfi Coast and Bay of Naples, although you can find them from other regions sometimes given different names. the term, Frutti di Mare, is more often seen in recipes for spaghetti and linguine but the preparation is similar also to the Italian fish soup, Zuppa di Pesce.

In the featured recipe here, we are taking the traditional idea of Frutti di Mare and cooking it on the grill in packets – thus, FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL!  If you love seafoood, will be right at home with this one especially after you see the ease with which you can prepare it. The flavor is amazing and you will be transported immediately to the Italian coast with the resulting aroma. It is simply…divine!

Part of the fun of this recipe is choosing the seafood. It is totally up to you as to what you ultimately select. Choose your favorite shellfish items or even chunks of cod or haddock. It is your “oyster” – choose everything you love!

The key to this recipe is organization – having everything ready to go and distributing the ingredients into the assorted packages. This is sooo easy and everyone will love you for it! It is not only fun to serve but your guests and family will have a ball with it – each person focusing and plowing through his packet – noting with hoots and hollers about all of the favorite seafood items inside.

Although you can serve it any time of year, the recipe cries out for a balmy patio evening, a gentle breeze, and an amazing wine – perhaps a Rosato! But please don’t forget the Italian songs that will lull your guests so beautifully into thinking they are dining on a high patio overlooking the fabulous Amalfi Coast.

FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL

Serves: 4

Prep: About 30 minutes

Cook: About 20 minutes

Ingredients

4 Large Pieces of Foil – about 18 “

CHOOSE ANY ASSORTMENT OF FISH YOU LIKE BUT THIS IS WHAT I LIKE!

1/2 lb. Calamari (Squid) Tubes (tentacles also if you like) cut into rings

16 Large Fresh Shrimp, cleaned and shelled

12 Fresh Mussels, with outside of shells cleaned with a brush under running water

20 Small Clams  ( I like Littlenecks or Cockles for this dish but any will do!) – outer shells brushed under running water to clean

Clams-Risotto02_thumb

2  6-8 oz. Lobster Tails, each cut in half with meat loosened from the shell

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS

2-3 Italian Sausage Links – cut into rounds

2 Large Cloves Fresh Garlic, chopped finely

3-4 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes – cut up in small pieces – skins on (I like to microwave these for a couple of minutes first to begin the cooking process.)

1 Fennel Bulb, sliced thinly

4 Springs Fresh Tarragon

1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil – chopped

4 Slices Fresh Orange + 1 Squeeze of fresh juice per packet

Dash Red Pepper Flakes per packet

Pinch of Saffron per packet

Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper to taste

About 1/2 Cup Crushed San Marzano tomatoes per packet

Splash of Dry White wine per packet

Splash of Clam Juice per packet

Dash of Sambuca per packet (optional but a great addition!)

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil per packet

Instructions

DON’T  be discouraged by the number of ingredients here. This recipe comes together 1-2-3! Enlist your guest to help!

Get all of your ingredients ready and lined up to go.

Lay out the foil sheets and evenly distribute the seafood, sausage, potatoes, fennel, and garlic on the bottom half of each sheet.

You might want to curl the foil edges upward a bit so that liquid does not run out.

Then top these ingredients with the tomatoes next – followed by the herbs, orange, orange juice squeeze, red pepper, saffron, salt, pepper, wine, clam juice and Sambuca.

End with a nice drizzle of Extra Virgin.

Frutti di mare 1

Fold the top half of foil sheet over the bottom half with the ingredients on it and quickly roll up the edges around 3 sides tightly!

Place them on a platter and take them to the grill.

Frutti di mare 2

The grill should be very hot – around 450 degrees. Close the top of the grill and cook 20 minutes.

Remove the packets and give each guest one of them. Caution them to open carefully as the steam coming out is HOT! If any of the clams or mussels have not opened, return the packet to the grill for 4-5 minutes. Some of these  are stubborn! If still not open, discard them.

Place a bowl in the center of the table for discarded shells.

SO MUCH FUN!

When you see how easy FRUTTI DI MARE ON THE GRILL is to make – you’ll want to make this all summer long!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Baked Stuffed Haddock

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Buon giorno!

Italians love fish and serve it in all sorts of ways. Here is a beautiful BAKED STUFFED HADDOCK which is so rich and delicious that you would think it must be over the top in unhealthy ingredients. NOT! The preparation is simple and contains no butter despite the buttery flavor. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare and cooks in slightly less time than that.

The selection of fish is yours. If you cannot find haddock which I highly recommend for its “almost lobster” consistency, you will have success with Cod, Snapper, Flounder, or even Branzino. These are all choices that are generally moist. For me, the choice of haddock is just perfection!

This is a dish that almost makes you feel like there is sand under your toes with its “beachy” essence!

Let’s begin!

BAKED STUFFED HADDOCK

Serves: 2-3

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: about 25 minutes

Ingredients

3/4 lb. Haddock fillet ( or similar fish)

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/2 Onion – chopped

1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Chives

1 Clove Garlic chopped finely

2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil chopped

1/2 Tsp. Dried Oregano or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano

1 1/2 C. Fresh White Breadcrumbs

4 Whole Artichoke Hearts (canned is fine) – rinsed, drained, and chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice – divided

2 Tbsp. Clam Juice

1/4 C. Dry White Wine

1/2 C. Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese – grated

Old Bay Seasoning

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

Place Haddock fillet on greased foil in pan.

Drizzle with a little of the extra virgin olive oil.

In a pan, heat the olive oil along with the chopped onion and chives.

Add the garlic and toss in the pan about a minute.

Add artichoke hearts, oregano, and basil to the pan, tossing lightly at medium high.

Add the clam juice, white wine, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and fresh breadcrumbs, cooking 3 minutes more.

Remove from heat and add the grated cheese – mix.

Place stuffing on top of the fish and press lightly to make it adhere and stay on the fish.

Drizzle remaining 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice over the stuffing and drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Sprinkle the top of the stuffing with the Old Bay Seasoning.

Haddock 1

Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. I like to cook this on the top shelf of the oven for nice browning and toasting of the crumbs.

Even those who are, shall we say, “less enchanted” with fish have loved this BAKED STUFFED HADDOCK. Serve it with a dry white wine or a Rosato!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Blueberry Limoncello Crumble

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Buon giorno!

Let me rock your sweet tooth a bit with this little gem: Blueberry Limoncello Crumble. The hot days of summer just aren’t memorable enough without the sweet explosion of a plump baked blueberry popping in your mouth. This dessert is special – not only because it is wonderfully delicious but also because the resulting little cups of goodness are so easy and quick to make.

Every summer growing up, I can remember looking forward to the blueberries coming into season. They suddenly were incredibly sweet. Then the pies ensued – the cobblers – the pancakes – the muffins. That kind of memory is palpable and never quite goes away, all wrapped up in sights, smells, even words – the triggers that take us back decades to a simpler time, made real again by sweet aromas and tastes in our own kitchens. Here is one of those!

BLUEBERRY LIMONCELLO CRUMBLE

Serves: 4

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Ingredients

TOPPING

3 Large Lemon Biscotti – crushed to a coarse crumble – Make your own or buy them

To make your own RECIPE

1/3 Cup Sugar

4 Tbsp. Room Temperature butter cut in pieces

Instructions

Place above ingredients in a bowl and blend with fork or even better with your fingers.

Set aside.

FILLING

Ingredients

4 Cups Fresh Blueberries

2/3 Cup Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Dash Cinnamon

Dash Salt

2 Tbsp. Flour

1/3 Cup Limoncello

One Squeeze of a fresh lemon

Instructions

Spray 4 ramekins or souffle cups with Pam or butter them.

In a bowl, mix Blueberries, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, flour, salt. Then add the Limoncello and fresh lemon juice, gently folding in.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 1

Divide among the 4 ramekins.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 2

Top with the crumbled biscotti mixture.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 3

Place the ramekins on a foil lined pan to catch drippings.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you want the effect of spillover with the berries dripping over as you see in the photo above – bake about 5 minutes more.

 BLUEBERRY LIMONCELLO CRUMBLE is quite delicious – especially with a scoop of gelato! So easy – so good!

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble extra finish with script

PARLA COME MANGI!

 

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Key Lime Gelato

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Buon giorno!

Welcome to Margaritaville! Errr – Linda’s Italian Table with a lime twist?? Whatever! It is the warm weather season, and I, for one, am ready for a chilly dessert. This KEY LIME GELATO (with or without Macadamia Nuts – up to you) is just pie in a bowl!!

I suggest making extra because this stuff is gonna disappear fast! It is creamy and limey – made with Key Lime Juice which is bottled and easy to find usually in the baking section at your market. OR.. if you have extra time and access – get yourself some fresh key limes and squeeze your own juice! Either way – if you like the mild lime flavor of Key Limes or Key Lime Pie – marone, you are in for a treat here!

We added just 2-3 drops of green food coloring to give it a little nudge towards a tropical mode. You will NOT want to add more as a tiny bit of food coloring goes a long way, and it is NOT St. Partick’s Day! Besides – Key Limes, as you probably know, are more yellow than green.

A twisty idea on a beverage: Try this gelato whirled in your blender with a little vodka or rum – Serve in a pretty martini or wine glass with a twist of Key Lime or mint.  Good stuff!

So – “put de lime in de coconut and turn yourself around” (sigh.. sometimes I just cannot resist)

Andiamo!

KEY LIME GELATO

(with or without Macadamia Nuts)

Makes: about a quart

Prep: about an hour total + freezing time

Ingredients

2 Cups Heavy Cream

1 Cup Whole Milk

6 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Sugar

Dash of Kosher Salt (important to bring out flavor)

1/3 Cup Key Lime Juice (do NOT use regular lime juice) – see above text for directions in finding it

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

2-3 Drops – no more! – green food coloring

1 Cup Very Coarsely chopped Macadamia Nuts (optional)

Instructions

Heat the cream and milk in a pan until bubbles form on the side. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Place egg yolks in a bowl along with the sugar and salt – Then beat until light in color. The mixture will thicken.(Just a couple of minutes)

Key Lime Gelato 1

Add a little of the heated milk and cream to the yolks while whisking at same time. Then add a little more – whisking still. Now you can add the yolks mixture to the pan – whisk – and put back on the heat at medium.

Cook, stirring constantly, so that it does not separate, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can make a little “road” through the coating with your finger.

Key Lime Gelato 2

This is a custard! Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.

Pour into a bowl.

Then add the vanilla extract, key lime juice, and food coloring. Stir in.

Key Lime Gelato 3

Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight is best. It will become thick.

Key Lime Gelato 4

When ready to make – pour mixture into your ice cream maker and follow your machine directions.

When it is finished or towards the end of the process – add the nuts if using. Incorporate. Note: I chill my Macadamias before adding so as not to raise the temperature of the gelato when added.

Key Lime Gelato 5

Freeze for several hours until ready to eat. Gelato is best eaten slightly soft. So if your gelato freezes hard – let it sit out for a bit to soften.

Key Lime Gelato 6

There it is! KEY LIME GELATO!  A little Italy in the tropics!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

 

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May: Saltimbocca Alla Sorrentina

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Buon giorno!

Sorrento is one of those towns that, once witnessed, becomes ingrained upon your psyche for ever more. My father, Attilio, spent the better part of his life whistling a song about this town to the point where we all wanted to reach for ear plugs. Did he not know another tune? Actually he did, but why resort to something inferior to whistling about paradise? He had it right. Once bitten by this place, and the Amalfi Coast in general, one is doomed forever to long for it. I call it the curse of Amalfi! Thus, as the song goes, “torna a surriento”.

Aside from the fragrant air, the sea, the people, the music – we must not overlook the food of this placeSALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA may be one of those dishes that is as unforgettable as Sorrento itself. The sauce alone for this recipe will have you whistling about Sorrento just as Attilio did. It is so delicious you might consider doubling the ingredients and serving it with pasta! The kicker here – is that it is very easy and quick to make. What’s not to love here?

This particular version of Saltimbocca calls for pork tenderloin. This choice of meat is lean and tender, requiring very little cooking time. For pork, I always recommend the superior humanely raised Heritage Pork Tenderloins from Circle B Ranch! You can also substitute veal or chicken if you like, but I think pork tenderloin is perfectly suited to this preparation.

Although you will see recipes using prosciutto, I like the salami. It adds a level of flavor slightly sharper and seems to give the dish more depth.

I also recommend FRESH mozzarella for this, as it is creamy and melts so perfectly rather than what I refer to as the more commercial “plastic stuff”. We are fortunate that so many markets now carry the fresh so widely.

Finally, the Campari Tomatoes: These very sweet fresh tomatoes, which are usually offered in a box in our produce sections, are an excellent choice for this dish. Most important, they are available almost all year which enables you to make this recipe, perfectly every time, with the same sweet flavor. When you taste the sauce, you will understand immediately why I chose them.

This is an elegant dish, worthy of the most important of occasions – but easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner with family. Try it out on the patio on a balmy summer evening. Bellissima!

Saltimbocca Alla Sorrentina  – a dish made in heaven? NO – but one equally ethereal perhaps – a dish made in Sorrento!

SALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA

Serves 4

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Ingredients

8 Thin slices Pork Tenderloin (about 1 1/2 lb)

Flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Cups Quartered Campari Tomatoes

3/4 Cup Dry Vermouth or Dry White Wine

1 1/2 Tsp. Oregano – dried

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 Ounces Salami – your choice: hard, Milano, Genoa etc.

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella – sliced

Fresh Basil Leaves for garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil with the butter (melt) in a pan.

Slice your tenderloin starting at a mid point on top of the tenderloin thinly.

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Dredge the slices in the seasoned flour.

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Brown the pork slices on each side in the oil and butter.

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Place them in a dish and keep warm.

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In the same pan, add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper, and wine – Cook about 5 minutes at a rapid simmer.

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Remove from heat and set aside.

Now place the slices of pork in a single layer in a baking dish or pan.

Top each pork slice with a slice or two of salami.

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Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Then place a slice of the fresh Mozzarella on top of the salami.

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Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. The cheese should be very soft and melted.

Remove from the oven and spoon the lovely sauce on top – or plate each piece and add the sauce to the individual portions.

Garnish with fresh Basil Leaves – whole or chopped.

As the Neapolitans sing it – “Vide’o mare quant’è bello…”

My parting thought: My immediate choice for a wine pairing with SALTIMBOCCA ALLA SORRENTINA is Dolcetto. It has a lighter sense and somehow I feel a more delicate red is called for with this lovely dish. However, for those who look for a little more “heft” – the regional Aglianico of Campania is good choice as well as a Barbera d’Asti or even a Toscana.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

 

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Venetian Sole

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Buon giorno!

Usually you will find some lore or history with the regional signature dishes. There is almost always a “back story”. VENETIAN SOLE is no different. It is sometimes referred to as ‘’”marinated sole” because most of the old recipes call for marinating the fish after cooking for a couple days. Today’s recipe has most of the elements of the original – except that you will not have to marinate it.

Italians have always been quite observant of the religious feast days, and through centuries have celebrated them with specific dishes. The original dish was a traditional one served on a feast day – the evening of the Feast of the Holy Redeemer followed by fireworks.

For those who love fish and are familiar with Dover Sole, you know how wonderful this fish can be. It is a true gift from the sea. It’s buttery flavor is like no other. However, not everyone can get it, and it can be expensive. I would suggest, if you cannot get the Sole, to substitute with another similar fish in texture and thickness. Sole fillets (the French spelling) are very thin and light. They are well suited to pan frying. As a substitute, you might try a similar white fish like Tilapia or even flounder which is a little thicker and denser usually. This is not a recipe for thick fish like swordfish, etc.

The Venetians usually pan fry the fish, and then marinate it in a vinegar and spice dressing for a couple of days – kind of pickling the fish. Only then it is time to eat it, and it is served cold. This recipe will follow the original in pan frying.  Instead of marinating, we will then use the same ingredients as with the marinade to make a simple sweet sauce to pour over the fish using the same pan. From there, we will take it to the table warm and …well… devour!

This preparation includes a sweet and slightly piquant sauce using White Balsamic Vinegar which, as it cooks down, brings the sweetness. The savory and buttery fish with the sweet sauce is very reminiscent of the original and creates an interesting dish overall which is balanced and complex in flavor.

The resulting dish is light and lovely! It is a delicious version of the original recipe which is unique and elegant to serve.

VENETIAN SOLE

Serves 2-3

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients

4 Sole Fillets (or similar white fish) – patted dry with paper towels

1/3 Cup Flour seasoned with salt and pepper

6 Tbsp. Butter – divided in half

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Medium Onion, sliced very thinly

1/4 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 Cup White Wine – dry (dry Vermouth is fine also)

1 Tsp. Lemon Zest

Pinch of Cinnamon

3 Whole Cloves

3 Tbsp. Pignoli (pine nuts)

3 Tbsp. Golden Raisins

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

I recommend getting all ingredients ready before you begin for a very smooth process.

Dredge the fish fillets in the seasoned flour and set aside.

Sole 1

Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in the pan along with 1 Tbsp. oil at medium heat. Let the butter begin to brown slightly.

Add the fillets to the pan in batches, a couple at a time and cook at reduced heat for a couple of minutes each side.

Sole 2

Sole 3

Remove to a plate and keep warm.

When all fillets are cooked – keep them in a warm oven while you proceed with the sauce.

In the same pan, add the remaining 3 Tbsp. Butter and melt. Add the sliced onions and remaining ingredients except for salt, pepper, and parsley. and cook until onions are tender – about 8-10 minutes.

Sole 4

Add Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the cloves, if you like.

Pour the pan ingredients immediately over the top of the fish. Garnish and serve.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE

 

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April:Creamed Spinach Italian Style

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Buon giorno!

Lately when I dine at a “fancy” steakhouse, the menu usually offers the obligatory Creamed Spinach as a traditional side to my choice of steak. This side dish is priced on the menu between $8-$12. depending… Wow – let’s hear it for Popeye’s favorite food! Who knew it would demand such a premium? I am about to save you a few bucks – you’re welcome! In addition, many recipes for this involve a number of steps and a sometimes involved process. I think I have an alternative that is easy, takes just a few quick minutes and does not cost anywhere near the usual menu price. Here it is: CREAMED SPINACH, ITALIAN STYLE. This one is so easy – you won’t believe it.

I have to agree though that this seems to be an ideal side dish for a grilled steak or chop. The restaurants have a point there. However, usually you find it with the spinach so pulverized that the substance you are served resembles a green goo. I tend to leave my spinach leaves whole for this dish. Not only does it make the process simpler, but it tastes less like baby food and more like a delicious leafy green. Go ahead and try this – and see why I have given up ordering it in restaurants and prefer to make my own at home.

What makes it even remotely Italian? As always, it is all about the ingredients: fresh spinach, fresh garlic, mascarpone cheese, and Parmigiano-Reggiano – Yum and done!

CREAMED SPINACH, ITALIAN STYLE

Serves: 4

Prep and cook: 15 minutes

Ingredients

20 Oz. Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves (approx. 2 boxes in your produce dept.)

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Clove Fresh Garlic, sliced into thirds

1/2 Cup Mascarpone Cheese

1/3 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste (Remember that a little salt – enhances the flavor of almost everything!)

Instructions

Heat olive oil in shallow pan. Add Garlic slices and cook just a minute to infuse. Remove the garlic!

Add the spinach leaves to the pan while the oil is very hot at medium high heat.

Creamed Spinach 1

Stir them until just wilted. I like to use tongs which make it easy to flip the leaves.

Now add the mascarpone and reduce the heat. When it begins to melt in, add the grated cheese.

Creamed Spinach 2

Heat through and stir to combine as the cheese melts in.

Taste for seasoning and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with some of the grated cheese sprinkled on top.

TIP: You will want to serve this CREAMED SPINACH, ITALIAN STYLE fairly soon after making it while its consistency is thick –  as it releases liquid if it sits awhile. It is so easy and quick – you can make it just before dining without much fuss.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Strawberries and Ricotta

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Strawberries and Ricotta finish with script

Buon giorno!

Dessert is not a dirty word. You heard it here first. Dessert also does not have to be heavy or high in calories to fill that “sweet void” you feel after a meal. Finally, a good dessert does not have to be chocolate. An old Tuscan sweet – STRAWBERRIES AND RICOTTA is one dessert that does not take a back seat to any. It is light and satisfies your need for a that special something you need to complete a lovely meal. Whether it is  Valentine’s Day, a special meal, or a Saturday night treat, this dessert will complete your menu. It doesn’t hurt to serve it in a fancy glass to make it extra special.

The one thing to remember with this one is to serve it immediately after you prepare it, so that liquid does not form and make it all less appetizing. The best thing about it is that it is so easy. Hand it to the Tuscans for keeping it simple.

So sit back and relax. The dessert is taken care of. You can go ahead and worry about something else!

STRAWBERRIES AND RICOTTA

Serves: 4

Prep: about 20 minutes + time to “marinate” the berries

Ingredients

8 oz. Fresh Ripe Strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and sliced

2 1/2 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 C. Rum, Limoncello, or Vin Santo

1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk Ricotta

2 Additional Tbsp. Sugar

2 Egg Whites – whipped until stiff

Fresh Basil and Extra Whole Strawberries for garnish

Instructions

Add the sugar and your choice of Rum, Limoncello, or Vin Santo to the sliced strawberries. Toss, cover, and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours.

Berries 1

In the meantime, drain the ricotta of any extra liquid by pressing through a strainer. (Sometimes there is no liquid to drain)

When ready to serve, drain the berries and discard the soaking liquid, (Rum, Limoncello, or Vin Santo),add them along with the additional sugar to the ricotta and combine.

Berries 2

Fold in the whipped egg whites.

Berries 3

Spoon into glasses, garnish and serve immediately or within a few minutes. Do not let this sit in refrigerator for hours as it will begin to liquefy.

STRAWBERRIES AND RICOTTA is light and..well.. rather heavenly!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Polenta With Gorgonzola

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Buon giorno!

Most Italians are familiar with the custom of eating polenta on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, or for Carnevale. (Mardi Gras) However, the most well known preparation is with sauce and little meatballs or even Braciole. This is considered the Southern Italian method.

Northern Italy is also known for their polenta, using more butter and cream than the south. They often serve it with the game that is so prevalent in the woods of the North. POLENTA WITH GORGONZOLA is one such northern recipe. It hails from the Northern region of Lombardia. This is a smooth and creamy version and, even with the sharper cheese, is still a mild dish with subtle hints from the cheese. It is a wonderful dish to serve as a first course or as a side to game, poultry, sausage, or grilled meats. It is simply a beautiful preparation which polenta lovers must have in their arsenal.

Long considered peasant food, polenta is now considered a refined dish, offered in so many ways, by the most accomplished chefs and finest restaurants. These days, the instant polenta, is so good that it is no longer necessary to stir for hours with the “paiolo” – a long handled Italian paddle like tool. I remember, as a child, engaging in the long stirring process by standing on a chair taking my turn at the “paiolo”.

Fast forward to today, I have paired this cheesy polenta with mushrooms, sauteed quickly with butter, vinegar, and a touch of sugar, a kind of quick and easy agrodolce. The idea here is to add a touch of acidity and sweetness to counter the butter and cheese. This coupling results in excellent balance.

POLENTA WITH GORGONZOLA

Serves: 4

Prep: about 30 minutes

Ingredients

8 oz. Sliced Mushrooms – Wild or Button

2 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

Pinch Sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Package Instant Polenta (approx.9.2 oz.)

4 oz. Gorgonzola Dolce chopped – very mild and creamy (If you like sharper flavor, try Gorgonzola Mountain or a good Blue Cheese)

3 Tbsp. Butter

3/4 C. Heavy Cream, warmed

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped Fresh Basil for garnish

Extra crumbled Gorgonzola for garnish (important to accent the flavor)

Instructions

Saute the mushrooms in the butter, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper until caramelized and tender. Set aside.

Polenta and gorganzola 1

Make your polenta just before serving for best results.

Prepare the polenta according to package directions. Remove from heat.

When polenta is ready and piping hot, stir in the gorgonzola and butter until melted in.

Polenta and gorganzola 2

Then add the warmed cream and stir in quickly until incorporated. It should be very creamy.

Place in bowls and top with a few mushrooms on each serving.

Garnish with chopped basil and crumbled gorgonzola.

POLENTA WITH GORGONZOLA is best paired, in my view, with a light red wine like a Barbera or Valpolicella – both from the North of Italy where this polenta dish is traditionally served.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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