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Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

I’ve been waiting for some inspiration in the last year in order to bring you some new recipes on Gourm(eh), and I’ve finally admitted to myself the reason that it’s been a slow time in my culinary adventures. The truth is, it’s not very exciting to cook for oneself. One thing that I’ve really enjoyed, however, has been long-distance meal-planning with my significant other, especially because it’s so exciting to see that despite distance, food is still able to bring us together and we often send messages back-and-forth of ideas and questions about how best to prepare things, and what produce has been good lately at the market or grocery store. Yes I’ll admit, Hamilton is a bit ahead of Ottawa, but we’ve got some good things here too now! It’s not nearly as nice as a meal together, but it will do if it’s all we’ve got for now!

I’m telling you this because this recipe was inspired by his own a few weeks ago. A tomato sauce with beets! I had one pound of delicious ground beef from my CSA box, new young leeks, fresh oregano and beets, so I decided to attempt some meatballs with spaghetti and a spicy beet tomato sauce. The spicy sauce is well-balanced by the sweet beet base, and it goes very well with flavourful beef.

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Ingredients – 4 servings

Meatballs

1 lb ground beef, extra lean
2 young leeks, cleaned and minced
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (I like to pound mine in a mortar and pestle)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 egg
dash salt and pepper
olive oil

Spicy beet tomato sauce

1 onion, diced
2 young leeks, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 beet, diced into small pieces
1  good tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes (796 mL or 28 Oz)

Spaghetti or other pasta, enough for 4 (according to package)

Parmesan, for garnish

Directions

Mix all ingredients for meat balls except olive oil and egg in a bowl with hands until everything is well mixed, then add the egg. Form into small balls in the palm of your hands, and place on a plate drizzled with olive oil. Roll the meatball in the olive oil so it is coated, and repeat until you have made all the mixture into meatballs. Depending on the size, you should get 20-30 meatballs. Set aside in refrigerator while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, dice the onions first, and heat up the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the minced leek. Cook for a few more minutes and then add the garlic, chili flakes and basil. Stir until the onion is soft and everything is fragrant. Add the beet, and then the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, while you prepare the meatballs and the pasta.

For the meatballs, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat in another frying pan. Once the oil is hot, cook the meatballs, turning them carefully so all sides brown. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are cooked through (you should not see any pink inside).  Set on a paper-towel lined plate once cooked.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta to your liking. Pour a ladle-full of water into the beet sauce to make it a little saucier if you like. Serve the meatballs tossed in the sauce, over the pasta, with grated parmesan and enjoy!

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To continue with the squash theme of the season, I’m posting this recipe for this very delicious risotto that I invented with my roommate during a dinner party earlier this week. I found that using delicata squash in this risotto actually avoided the need for parmesan, making this recipe an easy one for those looking for dairy-free recipes, and a delicious option for those who just simply don’t have any in their fridges (as in my case).

With the autumn changing to winter, I find myself craving the warmth of dishes like this one. The key to making risotto ultra creamy is to stir it constantly while it cooks. It may feel tedious at the time, but it sure pays off in the end!

Ingredients – 6 servings

-1 onion, diced
-1 Tbsp butter or oil + extra for roasting squash
-1 1/2 cups arborio rice
-3 cups vegetable broth
-1 cup water + more if necessary
-1 cup dry white wine
-1 whole medium-large delicada squash, seeds removed and cut into quarters
-dash of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Clean and quarter the squash, then cover with a light coating of oil and a dash of salt. Place in a pyrex dish and bake, uncovered, approximately 30-35 minutes or until very soft and the edges begin to brown.

Place the broth and water in a covered pan and bring to a boil. Heat butter or oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Cook onions in pan for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add arborio rice and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until grains become lightly toasted. Add in wine and stir. Once most of the wine is absorbed, add a cup of broth, and continue stirring. Repeat once liquid is absorbed. Mash the delicata squash and add into rice. Stir. Continue adding broth all the way until it has been fully absorbed. Keep broth simmering while you are adding it. If you run out of broth before your rice is fully cooked, just add a bit more bouillon or water that you have preheated. By the end, all that stirring will result in an unbelievably smooth risotto.

If you like, keep a few pieces of squash separate untili the end to garnish the risotto with. You can add a pinch of parmesan or crushed hazelnuts to top this delicious meal off. Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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With the first frost approaching, I thought it would be likely this recipe would come in handy! Before moving to Montréal, we harvested all our tomatoes (even though it was just the end of August), and made pots and pots of sauce to put in the freezer. Our tomato harvest this year was phenomenal.

The oxheart variety we planted was particularly spectacular. You can see the tomatoes truly resembled a heart (with the ventricle and atrium larger on one side than the other!). Many of the oxheart tomatoes were over one pound, some almost two, and we couldn’t keep up with eating them as fast as they ripened.

Having too many tomatoes is definitely a blessing. And if you’re wondering what to do with yours, well, here’s a possibility!

Ingredients – 10-12 servings

-10-14 tomatoes (I measure the quantity by seeing how many fit into my big pot I’m going to make the sauce in, and then use all of them)
-2 onions, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-3 Tbsp olive oil + more for brushing
-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1.5 Tbsp dried
-1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried
-2 bay leaves
-1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional, but I find it makes cleaning up a lot easier). Slice tomatoes in half or quarters, brush with olive oil, a dash of salt, and roast in the oven for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until they begin to have brown spots on them and taste sweet.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions,then reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook them until they become translucent. Stir in the garlic, and cook for another minute or so but try not to let garlic brown.

Add in all roasted tomatoes and any of the juices from the bottom of the pan if it is not burnt. Stir, and then add in bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and basil. Increase heat to medium-high and wait until it is simmering. Then stir, reduce heat to medium-low or low, letting it simmer away for 40 or so minutes. Taste, and add salt accordingly.

To store, place in containers and freeze. If you use jars, make sure to freeze this with them open and then close the lids after it is solid! The sauce itself stores around 5 days in the fridge without being frozen.

You can also alternate the herbs in this with parsley, herbs de provence, rosemary, and hot pepper flakes.

-Sitelle

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In grade 2, I had an amazing teacher. Ms. G was Italian, and had crazy long curly black hair that terrified us at first. But soon she won us over, and took us on a cooking adventure right from the beginning. We made a cookbook. Meatballs. Hand-rolled pasta. Breads. I can’t even remember all the details exactly, but the experience itself I cannot forget.

If I could have 5 wishes granted, one of mine in my top 5 would be that every child get the chance to cook and then eat regularly with a parent or loved-one. My close experiences with food beginning when I was very little have definitely contributed to my interests. Now, after my academic exploration of food in addition to the more casual personal one, I realize more (and realize how much more is unknown to me) than ever before the challenges of equity and access to food. If only every child had access… that’s what I’m asking, and aiming, for.

So in memory of my second-grade adventures, I’m posting a recipe for italian meatballs, although probably nothing near as good as Ms. G’s. But these were so good nonetheless. This recipe is from the Joy of Cooking, with a few variations.

Ingredients – dinner for 4

Meatballs

-1 lb lean ground beef
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 cup chopped parsley
-1/2 cup grated parmesan
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
-1 large egg, beaten (and a second if the mix seems dry)
-3 Tbsp (dry) red wine
-2 Tbsp tomato paste
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-2 Tbsp olive oil

Pasta

-350g fresh pasta (e.g. linguine)

Tomato sauce

-1 onion, minced
-1 clove garlic, finely minced
-1 tsp dried basil
-1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meat balls up to and including the dried oregano.  Mix well with your hands, and add an extra egg if it is difficult to shape into 2 Tbsp-sized balls.

Place the flour on a plate and roll the meatballs in the flour, and then heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat and brown all over.  Cover with a lid and let cook over medium-low for 10-15 minutes while you make the sauce and the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, sauté the onion in the oil in a frying pan for 3-4 minutes.  Add the herbs, salt and pepper, and garlic, and sauté for a further 2 minutes.  Add the canned tomatoes, and simmer down.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Transfer the meatballs to the sauce, and serve over the pasta with parmesan on top.

These meatballs freeze fabulously after being cooked, and can be frozen either with or without sauce and eaten on another day.

Bon appétit!

-Sitelle

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Mushroom Lasagna

Cheesy and tomotoey noodles baked to perfection.  How can one not love this dish?

The first time I made lasagna was two years ago, when Sitelle learned the horrifying fact that I had never before made lasagna.  I had been convinced that lasagna was this complicated, time-consuming recipe, way beyond my cooking skills.  Sitelle sat me down, and taught me lasagna’s secret: a little bit of time and more cheese than a being should naturally eat over a day, makes for a perfect dinner time after time.  And it turns out I was completely wrong – lasagna is about as difficult as making spaghetti when you use oven-ready noodles, and it is truly the dinner that just keeps on giving (I made a panful on Monday, and five days later, I am still reaping the benefits!)

This lasagna is delicious and so very versatile.  Feeling like a wholesome vegetarian meal – cut out the ground beef and add some more veggies.  Eggplant or swiss chard are always a tasty choice.  Craving the carnivorous life?  Cut out the veggies, and add some pork sausage or more ground beef.  For this version, I had been craving mushrooms – so this lasagna is stuffed with button, portabello, and cremini mushrooms.  Absolutely delicious and definitely worth the hour it takes to bubble away in the oven!

 

Mushroom Lasagna

(12 generous servings)

 

Ingredients:

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pound of lean ground beef

1 pound of mushrooms (I used a mix of cremini, button, and portabello), diced

1 red pepper, cubed

1 large zucchini (yellow is particularly tasty), chopped

2 tins chopped canned tomatoes

1 splash sherry

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons thyme

2 teaspoons basil

½ teaspoon crushed rosemary

½ teaspoon oregano

2 bay leaves

1 large bag of grated cheese, about a pound (my fave is a mix of  Romano, parmesan, mozzarella, and asagio)

1 pound of ricotta cheese

3 cups spinach

16 oven-ready lasagna noodles

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to temperature according to oven-ready noodles (usually 375).

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic until cooked thoroughly.  Drain off extra fat.  Add mushrooms, red pepper, and zucchni and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add canned tomatoes, sherry, brown sugar, and herbs and bring to a boil.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Let simmer for 20 minutes until sauce has mellowed.

In the bottom of a deep large pan, spread a thin layer of the sauce.  Cover the sauce with a first layer of noodles.  Layer with 1/3 of the remaining sauce and half the grated cheese on top.  Cover the cheese with a second layer of noodles.  Layer with 1/3 more sauce, all the spinach, and all the ricotta cheese. Cover the cheese with the third layer of noodles.  Layer with the remaining sauce and grated cheese.  Sprinkle extra Parmesan on top if desired.

Baked lasagna covered in aluminum foil for 45 minutes.  Uncover and let it cook for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is nice and bubbly and brown.  During this time, try not to give in to the delicious smells radiating through your house. Remove from oven and let the lasagna stand for another five minutes before you dig in!

–       Catherine

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