No doubt about it once you try this feta-basil pesto you will be hook! The creamy, French sheep’s milk feta pushes this pesto into a whole new arena! Combined with the fresh, floral basil leaves, Italian Reggiano Parmeggiano, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic are a creation that’s just born to go together! Done in mere minutes in a food processor there’s no excuse not to make this delectable sauce bursting with flavor every chance you get!
Making fresh feta-basil pesto can’t be any easier then the convenience of your food processor! There’s no need whatsoever lugging out the ole mortar and pestle making a huge project out of something that literally take’s 2 minutes to make. No cooking, no baking, no washing, NO FUSS, just load up the food processor and pulse. Voilà, you have a gourmet sauce that turns around any dish you add it to into gourmet.
When the aroma from your fresh garden tomato sauce smells exactly like a tomato plucked right out of your garden on a sultry summer day you know you have the right recipe! With all the beautiful weather we have had this summer everyone has an abundance of produce coming out of their garden’s. What a better way to dive right in and try your hand at making your very own tomato sauce. And when you taste how delicious the puréed tomatoes are as a raw sauce you may just stop right there. After that first taste of the raw tomato sauce there might not be any left over to go to the next simmering step!
I was very excited when some friend’s of mine, Becky and Mike, offered up a large bag of their fresh garden plum tomatoes. I knew I wanted to make fresh garden tomato sauce with them right off the bat. This is a bit nastalgic for me because it reminds me of when my mother used to make fresh garden tomato sauce for us when I was young.
It’s really an easy process of peeling, seeding and then puréeing the tomatoes with some sautéed onions and garlic. The more tomatoes you have the longer it well take but it’s so worth it. The fact that you can freeze the sauce for a later date makes it all worth while! What I love about making this fresh garden tomato sauce, other then the fact that it smells utterly amazing, is it’s just as delicious eating it raw as cooked. In fact, when I make this I can’t decide which I like better so I continue on to make both cause it’s so darn simple to do that once you are in the process.
1 tbsp sea salt, LESS if you have a smaller amount of plum tomatoes
1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
5 lg fresh basil leaves
1 lg dried bay leaf
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup red wine – for the simmered sauce
1 tsp finely ground Italian seasoning
1 small Vadalia onion finely chopped
4 extra lg OR 6 medium size garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine to de-glaze the sautéed onions and garlic
Bring a large pot of water to a boil adding in 1 tbsp of salt
Core the stem side of all your tomatoes
Get a large bowl of ice water ready to put the tomatoes in after you blanch them
Add plum tomatoes to boiling water, 25-30 at a time and blanch for 30-45 seconds, it’s totally fine if it goes past 45 seconds cause it’s going to take you a minute or two to scoop the tomatoes out
Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and submerse into the ice water
Repeat until you have gone thru all your tomatoes
Begin to remove the loosened skins from the tomatoes then placing into another bowl as you go
Cut or tear tomatoes in half with your hands and remove most of the seeds putting pulp in one bowl and tomato flesh in another
Spoon off any excess water that rises to the top of the bowl with all the tomato flesh
Sauté chopped onion and garlic cloves til tranlucent
De-glaze onions and garlic with 1/4 cup white wine
Let the alcohol burn off and reduce slightly
Begin to purée tomatoes and sauteed onions in the food processor in batches
Add the puréed tomatoes/onions back into the large pan that you blanched the tomatoes in as you go along
When done puréeing add salt and pepper to taste and voilà there is your raw sauce
FOR RAW SAUCE: top pasta with raw sauce and sprinkle some fresh julienned basil, Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
FOR COOKED SAUCE: Put the pot of puréed tomatoes/onion back on the stove and add in the 5 extra lg fresh basil leaves, bay leaf, sugar, Italian spices, red wine and simmer for 1-2 hours…mangia mangia!!
Secret Meatball Recipe at Glenn’s New Haven Apizza
One of the most delicious meatballs you’ll ever have and the mammoth size will knock you for a loop! Glenn Proto, at New Haven Apizza & Bakery, right here in our very own Madison, CT, shared his mother, Annette’s, secret meatball recipe with me this week. The ingredients he use’s in his meatballs couldn’t get any fresher because he even grind’s his own meats for these meatballs. Freshly ground brisket, short ribs, 80/20 beef and Longhini sweet sausage are the main ingredients in his meatballs. Oh, but let’s not forget what he calls his “secret” to the meatballs, his addition of finely chopped pepperoni! Glenn says this is what give’s these authentic Italian meatball’s that extra special something!
Once we get past all the freshly ground meat that goes into Glenn’s meatballs the love doesn’t stop there, he then caramelizes red onions, adds in Ricotta fina (a special and costly ricotta from the very best Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven,CT, eggs, grated Romano cheese, Italian cubed up bread soaked in heavy cream, and fresh garlic and herbs! Wow, he doesn’t hold back on quality that’s for sure. What an incredible ingredient list for these most flavorful and succulent morsels. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “morsels” either because the size of these meatball’s are cray cray! It was a blast rolling the meat mixture into bigger then baseball size meatballs with Glenn and his son Dylan. Isn’t it wonderful how the tradition carries on as Dylan and his siblings grew up making these incredible meatballs just as Glenn did. And now, we can add some of this lovely tradition into our kitchen’s since Glenn was so kind as to share his family’s recipe with all of us. He believe’s traditions and recipe’s are meant to be shared so everyone can enjoy them!
Glenn’s Mammoth Size Meatballs – makes approx 10-12 Colossal Size…Can make them smaller to yield more meatballs!
2 1/2 lbs. of ground beef (.75 lbs ea. of ground brisket, short ribs and 80/20 ground beef)
1 1/4 lbs. Longhini sweet sausage
1/2 cup finely chopped pepperoni
2 cups Italian bread after soaked in heavy cream and squeezed slightly (1 lb. about 1 loaf of Italian bread, cubed and soaked in heavy cream)
2-3 cups heavy cream – to soak cubed up Italian bread
3 lg eggs
1 cup grated Romano cheese
3/4 cup ricotta (ricotta fina if you can get it)
3/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
1/3 heaping cup finely chopped fresh garlic
1/2 cup caramelized red onions (finely chop 2 med. size red onions and sauté on medium/high with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes and then twenty minutes on low with adding 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp finely ground pepper
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano
Pre-heat oven to 400º
Cube up the Italian loaf of bread to 3/4″ pieces
Add cubed up bread to 2 – 3 cups heavy cream – should be enough to have all the pieces get saturated and soak for approx 15 minutes
Add beef and sausage to a large bowl and combine with your hands
Add in the pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients in the list and combine with your hands – Don’t over mixed meat …just until combined
Begin to roll meat mixture into desired size meatballs dipping your hands in the left over the heavy cream to help smooth the edges of the meat while shaping them
Place the meatballs onto a cookie tray..they can be right next to each other
Note: the larger they are the longer you will bake them
Bake for 45-60 until the tops are crispy and brown …mangia, mangia!
Making Braciole for dinner or the holidays is one of those authentic comfort foods that’s so delicious it could easily become a tradition for you and your family, even if you are not Italian. Some of you may be asking yourself what is braciole? Well, it’s thinly sliced flank steak that’s rolled up and stuffed with Reggiano Parmigiano, Asiago, and fresh herbs. The braciole is sautéed in olive oil and garlic cloves and then simmered in a tomato-basil sauce for a couple of hours until tender and juicy. And I tell you it’s even better when re-heated the next day!
The Italians aren’t the only ones who have come up with this fun and creative idea of rolling up and stuffing thinly sliced beef then simmering or braising in a gravy until tender. There’s a German dish that I absolutely love that’s just as flavorful as braciole called beef rouladen. German beef rouladen is made up of thinly sliced top or bottom round stuffed with mustard, onions, bacon and pickles, then sautéed and braised in the oven with veggies in a beef and wine gravy until tender. It’s serve with sautéed red cabbage and spaetzle or potatoes and ooh is that scrumptious too! That will have to be another show I will put together for you!
Now that I have you in the mood for some creativity in the kitchen …get to work! lol You will be very happy to expand that recipe repertoire of yours after making this wonderful Italian braciole for dinner. Make sure to serve up your sliced braciole with a dollop of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta to give it that unexpected extra flavor and creaminess. I will get working on the German beef rouladen show for you:)
1 cup red wine or white (I actually prefer to deglaze here with red)
1 lb rigatoni
Start sautéing the veggies for thetomato-basil sauce and use the same pan for sautéing the braciole logs
Slice or have your butcher slice the 2 lb piece of flank steak into 3 horizontal layers
Then cut those pieces in half so you now have 6 semi-equal pieces
Sprinkle 1 tbsp each of Reggiano and Asiago on each piece
Lay whole basil leaves or chop basil and parsley and sprinkle onto flank slices
Roll up starting at the small end
Cut approx 40″ of cotton string and tie a knot at one of the ends
Then keep wrapping string all around the length of the rolled up flank til you are at the other end
Now come back tucking under each row of string going across like shown in the video til you get to the end and tie off a knot with the original piece of string you started with
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil a large pan and a few large cloves of garlic kept whole for extra flavor and sauté 3 rolled up pieces of braciole at a time
Brown on all sides on medium/high heat about 3-4 minutes each side (remove the garlic coves when golden and smear on a baguette and dip into the tomato-basil sauce when you start to simmer with braciole…YUM!)
After browning the second batch of (3) braciole add back in the first 3 and de-glaze with red wine (I used white in the show but prefer to use red here)
Add in puréed tomatoes and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours
Take braciole rolls out and slice 3/8″-1/2″ thick
Serve with pasta (rigatoni) and a dollop of ricotta on top with a few slices of braciole and grated Reggiano…mangia, mangia.
The first holiday appetizer I have for you is my baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto that has a smear of a cream cheese, sweet onion and Parmesan spread on the Prosciutto. These Proscuitto wrapped Asparagus are one of my favorite appetizers and can be a topping to a salad or a pretty side vegetable to lunch or dinner. I first had these delicious little bundles at my sister-in-law’s, Anita’s house, twenty years ago. She is an amazing chef who’s always cooking up a storm. They can totally be made a day ahead, placed on a cookie tray and stored in the frig until you need them. The asparagus is blanched and shocked in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to keep that vibrant green color before they are wrapped with Proscuitto. You want to make sure you buy “Proscuitto di Parma” for this holiday appetizer because it’s the best and most delicate in flavor. There are other tasty Prosciutto’s out there but they won’t be as tender as the Parma and may get too salty or waxy after baking.
The second quick and easy, gourmet tidbit i have for you are my holiday crostinis with Gorgonzola, fresh chopped tomato, basil and garlic that bakes for seven minutes. These take the same amount of time as the asparagus-Prosciutto appetizer’s. How convenient is that? You can buy already crumbled Gorgonzola at the market in small plastic containers. A little chopping of cherry or grape tomatoes and basil and voilà! The crostinis are beyond simple to make and you can check out that recipe by the hyper-link.
The last wicked easy and delicious holiday appetizer I have for you is something a little sweet. It’s a dollop of goat cheese, fig jam, fresh chopped pear and a mint leave all in a pre-baked fillo shell. Yes, I said pre-baked!!! Can you believe that one? This one you serve at room temperature so all you need to do is thaw the pre-baked shells which takes all of two minutes. It just can’t get any easier than that.
You can totally be flexible with these perfect little holiday appetizer’s too. If you don’t like Gorgonzola switch it out with some cubed up fresh mozzarella to top the crostinis and tomato-basil mixture. As for the pre-baked phylo cups, you can always swap out the goat cheese for a slice of brie if that’s more your taste.
Wow! Zucchini spaghetti…who would have ever thought? A gluten free dish full of nutrients that taste’s amazing and looks as gorgeous as does is the perfect path to healthy eating! Bringing you this zucchini spaghetti simmering with tomato, basil and red wine at Jaynee’s has inspired me to put together future recipes and shows like this one.
Jaynee and I cook the zucchini spaghetti in this recipe so that it’s al dente. For those of you who might not know what Al dente means it’s an Italian term meaning to have some tooth or bite to it where the texture isn’t too soft. This is kind of ironic because that’s exactly how I like to cook my wheat pasta. I can’t think of anything worse than pasta that is fully cooked to a soft texture.
It is really exciting all the different things you can do with these creative veggie noodles! From Thai themes where raw zucchini noodles are dressed with a citrus dressing made from puréed mangoes, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and avocado’s to tahini sauce puréed with green onions, coconut meat, ginger and fresh lemons. Not only are these dressings packed with anti-oxidants and exotic flavors but the citrus partially cooks the zucchini getting results similar to ceviche. The citrus actually softens the texture of the vegetable giving you a softer mouth feel crunch rather than a harsh raw bite.
It couldn’t get any easier to make these spiral veggie noodles with the new-fangled devices available out there. I purchased my Spiralizer at William Sonoma Outlet in Westbrook on a 30% off sale with an additional 20% off if I gave them my email. Can’t go wrong there. Here is the Spiralizer Amazon link offering a great deal too! Can’t wait for you to venture off into veggie noodle land. You will be amazed how fun and delicious it is to make this recipe. Hope you enjoy the show and keep a look out for future veggie noodle recipes 🙂
Ingredients: Need “Spiralizer” or similar to make zucchini spaghetti
4 med/lg zucchini
1 small vadalia (sweet) onion chopped
OPTIONAL: 2 finely chopped garlic cloves – If you love garlic as I do
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes flavored with onion, garlic, celery and or green peppers OR your favorite can of peeled tomatoes in your cabinet (just need to add in 1/4 cup chopped peppers in addition to the onion/garlic above – chop up the whole peeled tomatoes as well to add in after you sauté veggies)
NOTE: If you use “whole peeled” tomatoes DO NOT use the juice too, tomatoes only, because the zucchini renders out a lot of water all on its own.
1/4 cup red wine
3 tbsn olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
S & P to taste
OPTIONAL: 1 small container of fresh ricotta to garnish at the end with the Parmesan
Spiralize all 4 zucchini and place in a lg bowl
Add chopped onion to 3 tbsp olive oil in a large fry pan on medium heat
Sauté for 5 minutes til soft
Add in Spiralized zucchini with 1/2 tsp salt and sauté 5 minutes on med/high heat- Make sure to stir a couple of times to help it from not sticking. Sautéing on med/high will help to evaporate some of that liquid rendering out of the zucchini while sautéing– (If you saute on low it will just simmer in all the water, you will then have to drain a little of the water out of the pan)
Add in tomatoes, red wine, s & p to taste and simmer 5 more minutes
Plate up and top with your favorite grated Parmesan cheese
OPTIONAL: Top with dollops of fresh ricotta and grated Parmesan
OK, I know you are probably saying “where’s the beef” but just give these light and flavorful turkey meatballs a chance. They are meaty, garlicky, cheesy, moist and melt in your mouth after simmering in mytomato-basil pasta sauce for 2 hrs. Wait until you try these gourmet turkey meatballs in tomato basil sauce on a crusty sub that’s baked with oozing mozzarella and a julienne of fresh basil …do I have your attention now? That’s what I’m talking about 🙂
Good ole meatball subs are just one of those all american comfort foods that I have always adored. Although, I think the word “sub” referring to a “sandwich” is represented differently through parts of the US. It threw me a little when I first moved to California because when I would asked for a “sub” they had no idea what I was talking about because they use the term “hoagie” there. Another little play on words which would totally crack me up when I living in California was asking for the location of their nearest package store and they would send me to a mailing facility!
Anyhow, I am excited for you to make these homemade turkey meatballs because even though they are made exactly like my 100% Angus meatballs these aren’t as heavy. I have been substituting out a lot of ground beef for turkey and it’s has really given me a new lease on cooking, a new avenue so to speak on the whole meat situation. To enjoy a meaty meal with the same herbs and spices but making it a lighter meal in the end.
I actually started making my lasagna with ground turkey instead of ground beef and it’s amazing! Once again using the turkey makes the lasagna a lighter dish then if it were made with beef. I brown the ground turkey and de-glaze it twice with a nice Cab (Cabernet) and by the time I’m done the color even looks like beef lol. My very picky daughter Bella, who loves my lasagna didn’t even know I had switched some time ago to turkey until I recently told her. She loves the taste of the lasagna so much that she’s totally OK with this…I call that a home run!
Enjoy watching my “how to ” video on making these homemade gourmet turkey meatballs in an Italian meatball sub. And if you need something sweet and refreshing, easy to make and out of this world check out my Pavlova recipe!
INGREDIENTS for Homemade Turkey Meatballs In An Italian Meatball Sub – (Makes 21 Small Meatballs):
1 lb. ground turkey
1 extra-large egg (rule of thumb …1 egg per 1 lb. of meat)
1/2-3/4 cup after soaked in milk – (1/2 loaf of 2 day old Italian bread soaked in 1 cup milk)
Break up a 1/2 loaf of 2 day old Italian bread and place into a large bowl as shown in photo
Pour 1 cup milk over bread and let it absorb for 10 minutes
Wash, spin, dry and finely chop parsley, set aside
Discard outer crusts from soaking Italian bread
Begin to break soaking bread pieces apart with your fingers…if you feel any gooey pieces throw those away (if it sat out for a couple of days it won’t get gooey)…the bread should just fall apart easily
Take 1/2-3/4’s cup of this soaking bread and add to a large mixing bowl
NOTE: with turkey being as moist as it is you should squeeze a little more of the milk out (you don’t do this with beef because it’s drier)
To this bowl add in Parmesan, chopped parsley, garlic clove thru garlic press, salt and pepper and 1 egg
Whisk til just combined
Add in 1 lb. of ground turkey and begin to mix gently with your hands…DON’T over work the meatballs you don’t want it to look fully combined like a meatloaf
Using a cookie scooper begin to shape and roll mixture with your hands – they will be small about 1 1/2″…have a small bowl of water to the side to keep hands damp not wet (this makes it easier to rolls meatballs)
Spray cookie tray with Pam canola oil and give a drizzle of olive oil for flavor
Place 21 shaped meatballs onto the cookie tray and spray the tops of the meatballs
Place them into the oven for 17 minutes
Take out the turkey meatballs and set aside in a bowl, meanwhile add 1/2 cup red wine the cookie sheet (as long as the cookie sheet has 1″ sides) and scrape browned left over turkey meatball bits and pour this along with meatballs into tomato basil sauce
Add turkey meatballs and wine with bits to my Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hrs.
Spoon tomato sauce onto baguette(s), then add turkey meatballs and top with mozzarella
Bake in a 400º oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted, then add a julienne of fresh basil and slice up for several servings or keep whole…good luck and make sure to have plenty of napkins!
Pasta sauce is such an essential part of any kitchen that I want to share with you my basic pasta sauce that I use for so many things. What I don’t use right away I freeze in small pint-like containers for futures uses. A basic slow cooked pasta sauce can be used for virtually anything from plain pasta’s to lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, vodka sauce, sausage and peppers, curry sauces and the list goes on.
When making an authentic slow cooked pasta sauce it’s important that one of the base layers of flavors come from some kind of meat like sausages, pork chops, meatballs or braciole, thin cut flank steaks rolled and stuffed with herbs and parmesan and then sauteed like the sausages. This method is something my family has been doing for generations. I happen to love the homemade fennel sausages from Liuzzi Cheese, an Italian delicatessen located in North Haven, CT. If you haven’t been there yet you really should check it out especially for their homemade cheeses like ricotta, mozzarella, and my favorite scamorza. Scamorza is an Italian cow’s milk cheese similar to mozzarella but dryer and a little saltier with better melting qualities…my kids love it! Liuzzi also has homemade pasta’s and their own delicious line of canned tomatoes and olive oils.
Even though they have been far and few in between having those few warm days has inspired me to bring out one of my spring recipes for fresh basil pesto butter logs which I love because it’s so versatile. Really simple to do and when you combine the pesto and butter to form the log you keep it in the freezer like the Challah bread croutons taking the pesto butter log out to slice off what you need and then back into the freezer. How easy is that? Try a slice of pesto butter on grilled filet mignon served on a bed of perfectly mashed potatoes and red onion,sautéed chicken breast and spinach, on a piece of Sea bass or put a slice of pesto butter inside a turkey or beef burger when you are forming the patty. Cook it on the grill or stove top and when you bite into it lovely garlicky pesto oozes out! Another creative thing to do when you are cooking pasta sauce and you want to add in some basil flavor just throw in a slice from your pesto butter log!
1 1/2 sticks of a quality butter – room temperature