This Caponata eggplant appetizer originates from Sicily and is very popular. Serve it with bread or crackers as your holiday guests arrive.
Easy to make and if you follow my jam recipes for canning you can enjoy Caponata Sicilian Eggplant Appetizer all year long. Just keep the jars in the pantry, once opened refrigerate them.
4 cups cubed fresh eggplant, with the skin on
4 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
2 med onions, chopped
3-4 ribs of celery, cubed
1/4 cup capers, drained
2/3 cup pitted olives, green Sicilian are preferred
1 TBLS red wine vinegar
3-4 leaves sliced fresh basil
1 cup plum tomatoes, canned and rough chopped with their juice
Heat the oil in a pan large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Saute the celery and onion until nearly soft but not brown. Add the eggplant a saute a few minutes more. Add all the other ingredients and simmer on low uncovered for about 45 minutes until the excess juices are nearly gone. Serve at room temperature. It can be store in the refrigerator for about 4 days. You can also can at this point with the mixture hot and going into hot boiled mason jars.
Serve with a crusty Italian or French bread.
I made this Vegetable Appetizer Platter to pick on before a family meal or its great to serve while guests arrive for a holiday get together.
It contains; Stuffed Zucchini, Stuffed Mushrooms and fried Yellow Squash. The zucchini and mushroom recipes are listed in the pantry. Below is the fried squash recipe.
1/2 cup or so combination vegetable oil and olive oil
2 yellow squash, sliced 1/4″ slices
1 egg, beaten
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 TBLS grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
dash of garlic powder, not salt
In a large non stick frying pan heat the oil to med/hot.
Combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder and cheese in a 1 gallon bag. Egg wash the squash and place it in the bag. Shake the bag until the squash is coated. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel and serve warm. Serve as is or dip in your fav dressing.
This Mushrooms Sauteed with Marsala recipe is a great side dish.
I love it with steak, but it goes well with poultry too.
16oz pkg of fresh mushrooms, button or any type you like
1/2 cup Marsala wine
2 TBLS butter **
Dash of pepper
Clean the mushrooms. I say that because I like to rinse them and brush with a soft mushroom brush. I just can’t get over the grown in substance and not wash them. Some people like to just dust them off.
Slice them or leave them whole. Place the butter in a saute pan large enough to loosely fit the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms on a fairly high heat until the juices come out and then absorb again. Add the Marsala wine and saute for a minute or two as the wine sizzles and deglazes the pan. Add pepper to taste and serve warm.
** replace the butter with olive oil to make this more heath friendly.
My Mom would make these broccoli patties with leftover broccoli. It’s a great nutritious and easy side dish. Something different to do with broccoli and so tasty. Be creative and change the cheese to cheddar, change the bread crumbs to plain and add your own spice selection if you like.
1 large head fresh broccoli or 1LB bag frozen chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 TBLS butter
1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
1 TSP garlic powder (not salt)
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Wash and cut up the broccoli into small pieces. Steam, do not boil in water until very soft.
In a large bowl mix together the broccoli, butter and cheese. Then add all the other ingredients, except the oil. Mix thoroughly and form into 4 inch or so patties. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the patties on each side until very lightly brown. Serve warm.
Spaghetti squash is nutritious and can be a good substitute for pasta. By itself roasted spaghetti squash does not have much flavor so its important to use a sauce with it that has an abundance of flavor.
I like to make something similar to a Puttanesca sauce.
Rich with olives, capers, tomatoes and herbs.
1 whole spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
1/2 med onion, chopped fine
2 TSP anchovy paste
1/2 TSP hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in juice or 6 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup pitted mixed Kalamata & Italian green ( not Spanish)olives, sliced in half
2 TBLS drained capers
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375.
Drizzle a little of the olive oil on the cut side of the squash.
Bake the squash in a roasting pan cut side down for about 45-55 minutes, unit a knife inserts easily. Set aside.
In a heavy fry pan place the oil and cook the onion, garlic, anchovy paste and red pepper for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Pulse chop the tomatoes and their juice in a food processor or blender. Add to the frying pan and stir. Add the balance of ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Scrap the squash out of its skin and add it to the frying pan tomato mixture. Toss to mix.
Lightly grate Parmesan cheese over the top and serve.
This Broccoli Cranberry Slaw is a great summertime side dish. It easily compliments many dishes. Many supermarkets have the slaw mix already shredded and bagged, ready to go.
2 cups shredded broccoli stems
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 TSP celery seeds
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1-2 TBLS milk
Combine the ingredients together with one tablespoon of milk. Mix thoroughly.
Add the second tablespoon of milk if you like it a little less creamy.
Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.
This stuffed zucchini recipe can be made with many different ingredients.
I used mushrooms, onion, tomato and bread crumbs. Just about anything can be used; peppers of any kind, sausage, ham, beef, olives, capers etc…..
4 long thin zucchini
2 TBLS butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a small onion, chopped
4 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 plum tomato, chopped
dash of garlic powder, not salt
Salt & pepper to taste
1 TBLS grated Romano cheese
2 TBLS bread crumbs, any kind you like
Preheat oven to 350.
Wash the zucchini thoroughly. Leaving the stem in tact make a “V” shaped cut in them and remove the cut zucchini. Use a small melon baller to make a canal in the zucchini.
Chop the removed zucchini and add it to the stuffing. In a frying pan add the butter/oil and the onion. Saute for a few minutes and then add all the other ingredients, except the bread crumbs. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes or so. If you use salty ingredients you might not want to add salt. Add the bread crumbs, this will tighten up the stuffing from being too watery. Stuff the cooked mixture into the zucchini canal as pictured. Place in a covered baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until the zucchini are soft but not falling over and mushy.
If you have extra mushrooms and stuffing make stuffed mushrooms with it…
An assortment of tomatoes are in abundance in the summer months.
This Heirloom tomato recipe mixes all types of tomatoes.
I bought these from the local farmers market picked at their peak of flavor.
Fresh mozzarella is key also. It’s from my local market but the store brand BelGioioso is good too.
ingredients for Heirloom Tomato Mozzarella Salad
1 LB fresh mozzarella
1 LB Heirloom tomatoes, mixed types
2 TBLS extra virgin oil oil
4-6 fresh basil leaves, sliced
A bottle of Balsamic glaze, check the label to be sure it doesn’t have corn syrup
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Mix and assemble in a dish. Pour the olive oil over them and add the salt and pepper. Decorate with the Balsamic glaze and the basil. Serve just slightly chilled with a good crusty slice of Italian bread.
Add a glass of wine and opera music and you could drift off into Italy!!
It seems like all the garden tomatoes come out at one time. This Tomato Tart recipe is a great way to use many of them. I served it as an appetizer.
Be sure to use Roma or plum type tomatoes. Regular slicing tomatoes have too much water in them.
One 16oz pkg frozen Phyllo dough (use one of the two rolls in the pkg) defrosted according to the box directions
6-8 Ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thin
6-8 Basil leaves, sliced thin
1 TSP Dried Oregano
1 TSP Garlic powder (not salt)
1 TBLS Dried or fresh Parsley, minced
2/3 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBLS Butter, melted
3 TBLS Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Mix the butter and oil together. Unroll the phyllo dough and one sheet at a time brush the first 4 sheets with the butter/oil mixture stacking them on top of each other on the parchment paper lined pan. Keep a damp paper towel over the unused phyllo dough while you are putting together the sheets. Sprinkle the 5th sheet with about one third of the oregano, basil, garlic powder, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Repeat brushing each layer of dough and repeat the sprinkle of spices when about 2 sheets remain. On the top/last sheet repeat the butter/oil and place the tomatoes over the entire dough area. Sprinkle with the remaining spices and cheese.
Bake for 25-35 minutes until the dough is lightly brown and the middle of the underside of the tart is a little firm. Cool slightly before cutting into squares to serve.
This is a green bean with tomato and potato one pan wonder.
Quick and fresh vegetables all together. Great for a family meal.
1 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 LB fresh green beans, tips cut off
5 Plum tomatoes, rough diced
4 small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
2-3 fresh basil leaves, rough cut
Salt & pepper
In a saute pan large enough to cover and hold all the ingredients. Saute the garlic in the oil for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover and cook 4 minutes. Add the green beans and potatoes, stir and cover on a low simmer for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and add salt & pepper to taste.
A fresh stuffed artichoke is intimidating to some, not only how to eat them but also how to cook them. Hopefully I will explain and picture the basics so you will try both. There are a few ways to cook artichokes. This one is stuffed.
Another is Roman style which steams them whole with lemon and oil, not stuffed.
They are truly a gourmet delight when prepared properly.
You can also use a crock pot for this recipe.
2 large fresh artichokes(the leaves will be tightly closed when fresh)
1 1/2 cups of Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 TBLS parsley, minced
2 TSP garlic powder, not salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix the bread crumbs, parsley, garlic powder and cheese together, set aside.
Wash the artichokes and cut off the stem at the base of the leaves (peel the stem and add it to the pot for cooking)and enough of the top to cut off the pointed ends of the first row of top leaves. Then with kitchen scissors trim just the tops of all the leaves. Rinse the inside leaves pulling them open while running them under water. Set the artichoke upright and sprinkle inside all the leaves and top with the bread crumb mixture. I use a grapefruit spoon as pictured, but any type will do.
Place the artichokes in a pot and pour some of the olive oil over each one. Fill the pot about 1/4 up the sides of the artichokes with water. Cover and simmer on low for 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the size of the artichoke. At this point you could use a crock pot.
They are done when the middle leaves pull out easily. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a lemon wedge if you like.
You eat them by pulling the leaves off and placing them in your mouth and scrapping the leave with your teeth as you pull them out of your mouth. Once all the leaves are off there is a center with a fuzzy top. Peel away the fuzz and what is left is called the heart. It is and well as the stem completely eatable and so tasty.
I’ve always enjoyed making and attending themed dinners. I recently had some visitors from Europe. I wanted to make them a very American meal. Something they wouldn’t be likely to have in their native country. The menu I planned is an American Coastal Dinner and all the recipes are listed in the pantry recipe list.
*New England Clam Chowder.
*Baked Maryland Style Crab Cakes on a Brioche bun for extra richness w/ Aoli sauce on the side.
*Creamy Apple Raisin Slaw.
*Baked Sweet Potato Waffle Fries(these I bought).
*Apple Pie a la mode for dessert.
There are many variations of Italian Cold Antipasto. The name alone says “before pasta”. What I have assembled is the traditional style I grew up with. Be creative and add your family favorites to the dish.
Half the attraction are the colors and textures when the dish is assembled making it a work of art!!
1LB fresh Mozzarella, sliced
1LB Italian Pannello or Provolone cheese, sliced
1 large jar roasted red peppers or mix with yellow or roast your own
1 box frozen artichoke hearts
6 fresh basil leaves
1/2LB Prosciutto, DiParma is the best
1/4LB Sicilian Salami
1/2LB assorted olives
10 Grape tomatoes
Small can Anchovies rolled with capers
Romaine lettuce leaves, enough to cover the platter
A good quality Balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil
Use a large platter that can accommodate all the ingredients. Defrost the artichoke hearts. Toss them with a little olive oil. Rinse the peppers if you use jarred and pat dry. Cut them into 1 inch slices. Roll the Prosciutto into logs. Lay the lettuce leaves to cover the platter. Assemble the platter as you like, mixing the colors and textures making the dish mouth watering good.
Slice the basil thin and sprinkle over the platter.
Serve with the dressing on the side and a good crusty Italian bread.
This Green Bean and Wax Bean Saute makes a colorful easy side dish to any meal. If you can’t find fresh wax/yellow beans use frozen as a second choice.
For Christmas add a few thin slices of red bell pepper for extra holiday color.
1/2 LB fresh green beans, ends nipped off
1/2 LB fresh yellow wax beans, ends nipped off
3 slices of Pancetta (Italian non smoked bacon) minced fine
3 TBLS butter
2 TBLS virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper to taste
Steam the beans until just soft. Set aside. In fry pan add the Pancetta and saute until the fat begins to melt. Add the butter, oil and shallot. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and toss. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
**Omit the butter and reduce the pancetta to make this health friendly
This Roasted Turkey and Sage Stuffing is a special edition post to the pantry.
Roasting a turkey is all about keeping it moist. Years ago you heard of people roasting in a paper bag. Now we have less flammable alternatives, like browning bags made for oven temps.
My recipe for both is basic and you can certainly add different spices as you please.
Turkey, any size, fresh or frozen, defrosted
One pkg Reynolds turkey size browning bags
Bell’s Seasoning (it’s the little yellow box with the turkey on it)
1/2 stick of butter
2 carrots peeled and cut into 3 pcs.
2 celery stalks, cut into 3 pcs.
1 large onion, quartered
Wash the turkey and smooth the butter under the breast skin and all over the turkey skin too. Liberally sprinkle the sage and Bell’s seasoning all over the turkey. If you are going to stuff the turkey do it now. If you stuff the turkey then tie the legs together. You can add a meat thermometer to the breast area if you wish. Turkey needs to be 180 degrees when done. Prepare the oven bag according to the directions. Place the turkey in the bag.
Place the cut veggies all around the turkey. Close the bag as directed on the browning bag box. Roast according to the time and temperature indicated on the browning bag box and your size turkey. Once the turkey is done let it sit for about an hour before carving.
The Basic Stuffing;
2 Bags bread cubes, unseasoned
1 TBLS Bell’s Seasoning
1 TBLS ground sage
1 large onion, minced
3 stalks celery, cut fine
1 stick of butter
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 eggs, beaten
** you can add a few tablespoons of cooked ground sausage or chopped cooked mushrooms etc..**
Saute the veggies in the butter until soft but not brown. Place the broth in a pot and heat. Add the sauteed veggies, seasonings and the bread cubes to the pot. Mix together and then add the beaten egg. Mixing it thoroughly. Place stuffing in the turkey loosely or bake in a covered pan that has been greased. Bake in the covered pan for about 30 minutes at 350.
** change the butter in the stuffing to oil to make this health friendly
Want to make a tasty vegetable side a different way. Use a head of steamed cauliflower to mash instead of mashed potatoes. Mashed cauliflower is tasty and can be serve mashed or mashed then baked with a topping. Great for a holiday meal.
One head cauliflower steamed to soft
4 TBLS butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk or cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Mash or whip with a hand mixer all together adding the milk/cream to your desired consistency.
*Spread into a baking dish and dust the top with Italian breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese and bake 375 for 10-15 minutes.
*Add chopped chives to the mashed cauliflower.
*Add a few TBLS of sour cream when mashing.
**use low fat milk to make it more health friendly
I’ve made this Vegetable casserole dish a few times when the veggie’s are fresh from the garden. It serves a crowd and it’s a great compliment to any main course.
4 large sweet onions, sliced thin
2 heads of fennel (anise), stems removed, the bulb cut into thin slices and the feathery green tops reserved
3 small zucchini, cut on the diagonal
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 TBLS fresh oregano, chopped
1 TBLS fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
6 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced thick
2 small eggplants, the Japanese type will work
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 TSP salt
Pepper to taste
Place the onions and fennel in a large frying pan, add 1/2 of the salt, some pepper, vinegar and the water. Saute on high stirring a scraping the pan until they are soft and slightly browned. Place the cooked onions and fennel on the bottom of a large casserole dish. Line the top with the zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes, standing them up in a line alternating the colors as the picture shows. Mix the oil with the oregano, rosemary, garlic and balance of the salt. Pour over the casserole and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, until veggies are all tender. Garnish with the fennel-anise ferns when serving.
Stuffed mushrooms have so many variations. Here is one with Italian sausage. You can also use my crab cake recipe to stuff mushrooms.
8 (about 1.5-2 inch size) white button mushrooms, washed
2 TBLS butter
1 link Italian sausage
1 clove of garlic, minced
2/3 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 TBLS grated Romano cheese
2 TBLS olive oil
Wash and remove the stems from the mushrooms. Carve a little well in the cap to allow stuffing (I use a melon baller for this).
Chop all the stems and pieces and set aside. Remove the sausage from the casing and in a frying pan saute the sausage breaking it up into small pieces. Add the mushroom pieces and saute until the water from the mushrooms has dissipated. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Remove from the heat and add the bread crumbs, oil and cheese. Mix and stuff into the mushroom caps slightly mounded. Place a small piece of butter on top of each mushroom. Place them in a baking pan and bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until just soft.
This deviled egg recipe can be made in so many ways. I’m going to give you a base recipe and then suggestions for ingredients to mix in or use to decorate them.
6 hard boiled eggs, cooled
2 TBLS mayo or more if you like
dash of white pepper & salt
1/2 TSP dry mustard or a packet of Chinese mustard if you like spice
Peel cooled eggs (peeling under running cold water will make them easy to peel)and cut them in half. Place the yolk in a bowl with the balance of ingredients and mix until smooth. Mix in whatever you like and fill the whites with the yolk mixture and decorate. Serve chilled.
Below are a list of ingredients you can mix into the yolk mixture or decorate the tops.
Sliced olives (pictured)
Minced smoked salmon
Fresh chopped parsley
And anything else you desire!
The summer usually means you get so much of one vegetable all at once you run out of things to do with them. Here is a tasty appetizer, side dish or snack to use up all those cucumbers. Cucumber Hummus Appetizer is a great cook out take along since its not sensitive to the summer heat.
Cucumbers, peeled leaving a dark green stripe and sliced 1 ” thick
Container of prepared hummus, (10oz size covers 3 cucumbers)any flavor you like
A bunch of fresh dill
Sliced olive rings or small pieces of roasted peppers
Peel the cucumber leaving a stripe. Cut the cucumbers into 1 ” thick slices and using a melon ball scoop or the end of a potato peeler, scoop out an indentation of the seeded area of the cucumber. Fill with the hummus and garnish with a dill fern and olive or pepper piece on top too.
You’ve probably noticed I’ve been posting a lot of salads. With the summer here they are light and easy to prepare. You can buy the shrimp already cooked or buy them raw and boil them for a few minutes, removing the shell and back vein.
Here is my take on shrimp salad.
2 LBS shrimp, cooked and shelled, chilled
1/2 cup scallion, chopped fine including some of the dark green stem
3 TBLS dill, chopped
1 cup mayo
1 TBLS white wine vinegar
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 TSP Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish
Mix all ingredients except shrimp & parsley. Mix the dressing with chilled shrimp. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve over salad greens, in a croissant, stuffed into a cored whole tomato/avocado, or on anything that you like.
**reduce the mayo or use fat free to make this health friendly
Crab Louis is a very old dish dating back to the early 1900’s. It’s a great flavorful salad for the summer and easy to put together. Be sure to use a good grade of chilled crab like backfin or lump. It makes all the difference. Garish however you like or leave it plain. I like it served in an avocado. This recipe will serve 4.
1 cup mayo
1/4 cup ketchup based chili sauce
1/4 cup snipped chives
6 large green olives, sliced
1 TBLS capers
2 TSP lemon juice
1 TSP Worcester sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Mix together and keep chilled.
Two avocado’s, sliced in half, pit and skin removed
1 LB crab meat, backfin or lump, the chilled refrigerated type
Sliced hard boiled egg
Gently mix half the dressing with the crab meat. Place the avocado halves in a plate, you might want to take a thin slice off the side facing the plate so they don’t tilt over. Place 1/4 of the crab in the pit cavity of each avocado half and garnish with the balance of ingredients. Pour the remaining dressing over the crab and garnish. Serve slightly chilled.
This is so much better than the canned beans. Just in time for the fourth of July cookouts. Using a crock pot makes this so much easier than the oven process.
Just remember to soak the beans the night before.
2 cups dry navy beans, soaked the night before in 4 cups of water
1/2 LB bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine
3 TBLS molasses
1 TSP salt
1/4 TSP pepper
1/2 TSP dry mustard
1 TBLS Worcester sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
Drain and reserve the water from the beans. Place all the ingredients in the crock pot. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 of the reserved water. Mix well and cover. Cook in the crock pot on high for 2-3 hours adding more of the reserved water if it becomes too dry.
This Cheese and veggie antipasto salad dish is made with easy things you can have in your pantry-refrigerator and quick to make for a before dinner appetizer or a meal in itself.
8 oz fresh mozzarella, if you don’t have fresh available the Bel Gioioso brand is available in most markets and even some Wal-Marts
6 oz-8 oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
6 oz-8 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup country mix pitted olives(assorted)
3-4 fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Assorted salad greens
Cut the mozzarella into slices and place on a plate. Arrange all the other ingredients around the cheese. Sprinkle with the oil and salt-pepper. Serve with crusty Italian bread or bread sticks.
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes is a delicious side dish that you can also make with leftover mashed.
5 large red skin or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 to 5 TBLS milk
3 TBLS butter
2 TSP dried parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + a little more for the top
3 TBLS Italian flavored bread crumbs
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven 350.
Boil the potatoes until tender, drain them. Add enough milk to make them creamy but not too loose, add butter and blend until creamy. Add the parsley, cheese and egg and blend. Spread the potatoes in a baking dish so that its about 2″ deep. Sprinkle the top with bread crumb and a little Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until top is lightly browned.