Posts tagged italian

Chicken Piccata

Here’s a fun dish to make. Really easy, yet still elegant. The only real chore to me is the meat pounding, but it reduces the cooking time tremendously, so it’s worth doing it. Other than that, it’s a great dish to make on a lazy afternoon.

The sauce is similar to the one I made using veal. Of course I made little changes. Again… what else is new? I just thought I’d use chicken this time, and then add pasta to make it a complete meal. Also, I’m sure you can use other veggie on the side but the asparagus makes for a great compliment, for some reason.

It is also good to note that although it’s fine to use any pasta you wish, I find that thinner strands (capellini, angel hair, thin sphagetti, etc.) work best. I don’t know, something about it being smothered with sauce makes it yummy. So anyway… get cooking, peeps!

Ingredients (2 servings):
1 large Boneless Chicken Breast (sliced into 2 thinner pieces)
1/2 lb Angel Hair or Capellini
Few Pieces of Asparagus, bottom chopped and discarded
1/2 cup Unbleached Flour, seasoned with Dried Herbs, Salt & Pepper
2-3 cup Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 tbs. Brined Capers, rinsed
3 tbs. Parsley, finely chopped
1 Lemon, halved
2 tbs. Butter

Slice the chicken breast across to make two thin fillets. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and pound them on a chopping board with a flat headed mallet until they’re thin. Be careful not to pound too hard lest the meat breaks.

Pour flour in a wide bowl, season with salt & pepper and whatever dried herbs you have (tarragon, thyme, basil, etc.). Dredge chicken pieces to lightly coat, shake excess flour and pan-fry in a thick bottomed pan with a little olive oil in medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Don’t overcook! Set aside, cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, boil water in a double boiler for the pasta and asparagus. Chop and discard the thick bottom part of the asparagus pieces, place the rest in the steamer basket and set aside.

Now, back in the pan. Add more oil and saute the minced garlic for a minute or so. Add about 3 tbs. of the excess seasoned flour and cook for a couple more minutes. Add a cup of stock to start and stir until bubbly and thickened. Add more stock as needed, until a stew-like consistency is achieved. You don’t want it too thick. Whisk in the butter until melted, then turn the heat off. Mix in the parsley and capers and squirt the juice of 1/2 lemon. Sauce is done!

Your water should be boiling by now. Add the thin pasta and some salt then quickly put the steamer basket with the asparagus on top. Close the lid and cook for about 3 minutes. Again, do not overcook! Set aside the asparagus. Drizzle a little EVOO on the pasta and toss to keep from sticking.

For plating, twirl some pasta on a plate and smother with sauce. Then place a piece of chicken on top and smother with more sauce. Finally, add some asparagus pieces on top. If you want, you can add a garnish of lemon zest, more parsley and a lemon wedge. Buon appetito!

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Spinach & Sausage Lasagna

Wow! I’ve made lasagna many times in the past but this one takes the cake, for sure. I guess, using really good quality marinara sauce makes a big difference. I used a store bought bottle made of san marzano tomatoes. Man, that stuff is expensive but so worth it! And the quality of the cheese is so pronounced. Be sure to use good artisan quality cheeses.

So, leave the Prego on the shelf already… and suck it up. You won’t regret it!

Ingredients (6-8 Servings)
12 sheets No-Boil Lasagna
1 5oz package Organic Baby Spinach
4 Italian Sausage Links, cooked and thinly sliced diagonally
2 24oz bottles All-Natural Marinara Sauce
2 cups Ricotta
2 cups Fresh Mozzarella, sliced into thin pieces
2 cups Provolone, Shredded
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan
1 cup EVOO

Soak the no-boil lasagna sheets in tap water and set aside. Preheat oven to 375F. Meanwhile, lightly coat a 9″x13″ baking dish with a little EVOO. Pour half a bottle of marinara sauce and spread to cover entire bottom of dish evenly.

Slather 1 cup of ricotta cheese on one side of four lasagna sheets and layer on the bottom of dish, cheese side up (may overlap a little). Pour half a bottle of marinara sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. Spread evenly half of the sausage slices and half the spinach, then a third of the mozzarella, provolone and parmesan. Repeat the process for a second layer.

Top with a final layer of lasagna sheets and the remaining sauce and cheese. Drizzle evenly with a little EVOO.

Cover with foil and pop in the oven for an hour. Remove foil and keep in the oven for another 10 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes before digging in.

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Aglio e Olio with Spinach

Here’s another one of those basic recipes that doesn’t take much to make. Just garlic, EVOO and spinach… and your lunch is good to go. It’s fantastic!

The spinach was added since I had some leftover from last week’s salad.

Ingredients (2 servings):
1/2 lb. Spaghetti (Linguine or penne works great, too)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
Red Pepper Flakes
A handful of Baby Spinach Leaves (or other greens you have)
Grated Parmesan (or Parma, for a vegan alternative)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, sweat garlic with EVOO and red pepper flakes in low heat until flavor is fully released, 10 minutes or less. Be sure to not burn the garlic, so keep watch.

When pasta is cooked, drain and quickly combine with garlic and oil mixture and spinach and toss well. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and finish with a drizzle of fresh EVOO.

If I had a lemon, I would’ve squirted a little juice on it, too. Maybe next time.

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Cairn Salad

It’s meatless Monday. Yay! I just got a couple heirlooms from the store and I couldn’t wait to try them.  Oh man, they are good!!!!

These are really meant to be enjoyed raw and fresh. So I thought I’d do a little Caprese action and throw in some basil and mozzarella. I just sprinkled a little bit of sea salt and fresh pepper on the tomato slices and drizzled them with EVOO and a good quality balsamic. Good to go!

Ok, so I got carried away and made a mini cairn out of it. Hey, food’s suppose to be fun, right?

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Every single time I do calzone, I am never satisfied with the crust. Even though the Pillsbury dough in a can is fine when used with regular pizzas. That is, until I discovered the thin crust version. Ahhh, yes!!! Now, it’s nice and crisp. I realized that the regular dough was just a little too thick and it was making the calzone sorta bready.

But, not anymore!

Oh, I don’t have anything against making dough from scratch, mind you. I think, it’s all fine and dandy. It’s just that I don’t see a big enough difference to warrant going through the hassle. Maybe my palate just isn’t that sophisticated. I don’t know. Plus, the Pillsbury dough is such a mighty time saver. Not to mention mighty tasty, too!

So, how’s this for your next dinner?

Ingredients (4 servings):
1 Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough
1 cup Thinly-Sliced Mushrooms
2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced
1 21g pkg. Fresh Basil
1.5 cups Low-Fat Shredded Mozzarella
1 cup Low-Fat Ricotta
1/2 cup Parmesan
12-15 pcs. Low-Fat Salame
1 cup Marinara Sauce (or Pesto)
1/4 cup EVOO

Preheat oven to 500F. (Yes, I know the label says 400F. Trust me, you need it this high if you want your crust crispy.)

Lay pizza dough on a large non-stick baking sheet and brush evenly with EVOO. In the center of the dough, top with tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, salame and the cheeses. Fold the dough over to cover the fillings, securing the edges by crimping.

Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

Slice into serving pieces and serve each on a platter smothered with marinara sauce. Garnish with basil leaves.

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Fusilli Florentine

Ok, I omitted the cream and all the bad stuff. Ha! Now, it’s good… and good for you!

This is actually quite similar to something I had made before. I remember wanting to try it again at some point. But instead of arugula, I was going to use spinach. And so, I did! Also this time, I opted to not boil the oil and sauté the garlic. So, the EVOO is almost like a finishing ingredient. Everything is fresh and barely cooked. Except for the fusilli and my leftover chicken, of course.

Speaking of chicken, if you have leftover meat of some kind, it would be perfectly fine to throw it in there, as well. Just dice it first, if it isn’t already.

So, there you go. Delicious dinner in a snap! I actually liked this better than the first one I had made. But if you’re a fan of arugula, feel free to substitute.

Ingredients (2-3 servings):
1/2 lb. Fusilli
3 cups Baby Spinach
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Chicken Breast Filet, cooked and diced (optional)
1/4 cup EVOO
Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
Grated Parmesan, to taste

Cook fusilli to al dente in a pot. When done, drain the water and turn heat down to low. In the same pot with the fusilli, add EVOO, spinach and garlic. And if you have leftover meat, dice it and throw it in there, too. Season with salt and pepper flakes. Toss until spinach leaves are wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Serve with parmesan.

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Capellini Pomodoro with Shrimp

This is both my lunch and dinner for today. A yummy no-brainer dish you can whip up in about 10 minutes. Very simple! Take a look at the photo. Now, aren’t you hungry yet? I know, I am!

So, no excuses now, ya hear?

Capellini (or Angel Hair)
Uncooked Shrimp
Tomatoes, diced
Fresh Basil, chopped
Garlic Cloves, minced
Olive Oil
Parmesan, grated or shredded
Salt & Pepper

Cook pasta to al dente, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-low heated skillet, sweat garlic in oil for a few minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add tomatoes, shrimp, salt & pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, until shrimp is fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook shrimp. Turn off heat and fold in pasta and parmesan. Serve immediately.

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