Meatless Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Tomatoes & Pignoli, Gluten-Free
Difficulty: Very Easy
After our holiday baking was over, we had pignoli left over so we came up with this delicious, healthy recipe to kickstart 2020. Our first recipe for the new year is a meatless Mediterranean dish. In spite of our husbands' carnivore appetites, this meatless dish satisfied them both...we were in heaven! This recipe delivers an exciting depth of flavor with a wonderful blending of ingredients. We think you and your family will love it.
3 pounds zucchini and yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise & sliced 1/2 inch thick
Kosher salt & pepper
1/3 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 Tablespoons EVOO
1 pound gluten-free pasta (we used Le Veneziane gluten-Free Farfalle)
12 oz cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Grated Pecorino Romano
After cutting the zucchini and summer squash, sprinkle with approximately 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels & wipe away residual salt. Set aside.
While squash is draining, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, lower flame to simmer until ready to cook pasta.
In a 12-inch non=stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO over high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add half the squash and cook until slightly charred, turning occasionally, approximately 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat if the skillet starts to overheat. Transfer to a large plate then repeat step 3 with the remaining half of squash and another tablespoon of EVOO. Transfer 2nd batch to plate and set aside.
Bring water to full boil and add salt then the pasta. Cook according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of cooked pasta water.
In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of EVOO. Add pignoli and toast lightly, then add red onion, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook approximately 1 minute until fragrant.
Drain pasta (reserve 1 cup of pasta water) then return pasta to the pot. Add the squash, tomatoes, pignoli mixture, vinegar, basil, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of EVOO. Mix well to combine.
Add enough reserved pasta water to keep moist consistency but not soupy. You may not need the whole cup. Lightly drizzle with EVOO and top with grated cheese.
Char the sliced squash
toast pignoli then add red onion, garlic and pepper flakes
Mix everything into the cooked pasta
Place on serving platter
Top with grated cheese & Enjoy
Note: If gluten is not an issue, use your favorite brand of pasta. If your family must have meat, feel free to add whatever they like.
This quick and easy sheet pan meal is a delicious Mediterranean dish that doesn't disappoint. Not only is it delicious with shrimp but you can substitute the shrimp with cooked rotisserie chicken too! I had all the ingredients on hand so no extra shopping was needed. I just had to defrost the shrimp in the morning and prep was unbelievably fast. If you're not watching carbs then serve this over pasta or rice. I served mine over red leaf lettuce while my husband had it over rice. We both loved it.😋 😋
1 lb large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails on or off (your preference)
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
a pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you like the heat)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved
2 Tablespoons lemon juice, divided
3 Tablespoons EVOO, divided 2 + 1
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/3 – 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
lemon wedges, optional
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Using a rimmed baking sheet, toss the shallots, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, olives, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, & 2 tablespoons of the EVOO.
Roast for 5 minutes, or until the shallots & garlic are starting to brown.
Add the shrimp and cook 5 minutes more, or until shrimp are done. *
Stir in the feta, parsley and the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and EVOO.
Toss gently and serve hot over a bed of lettuce for a delicious low carb meal.
Notes: * If substituting with cooked, rotisserie chicken, cook just to heat the chicken in step 4.
This is a light dish which will serve 2-3. Double the recipe for more servings.
Recipe adapted from Zenbelly.
Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes
Add the shrimp
For low carb serve hot over a bed of lettuce
If not watching carbs serve hot over rice or pasta
This summer we have an abundance of basil from both our hay bale gardens and have been making pesto like crazy. Not only is pesto delicious on pasta but it's just as delicious on fish, vegetables, chicken or just about anything! Last year our friend Jane grew tomatoes and basil in hay bales...we grew ours in traditional dirt. The difference was amazing...the hay bale crop far exceeded the traditional dirt crop and made us and Gary believers. Gary bought the bales at the local hardware store then quickly got to preparing them with fertilizer and water. After two weeks of daily watering, we planted our basil and tomatoes along with some other herbs and couldn't be happier with the results. If you never tried this method before, it's definitely worth the minimal effort.😋😋
Pesto Sauce Ingredients
3 Tablespoons Pignoli Nuts (Italian pine nuts)
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups fresh sweet Italian basil leaves, packed tightly (approximately 2 very large bunches)
8 Tablespoons EVOO, preferably Ligurian as it makes a big difference in taste
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
Pesto Sauce Directions
In a food processor add pignoli nuts, salt, and garlic cloves. Pulse into a smooth paste.
Add the basil in small amounts then pulse after each addition, until all the basil has been added and the mixture is creamy & smooth. Slowly (slow is key here) add the EVOO until emulsified.
Add cheese and pulse to incorporate.
If too dry add additional EVOO slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time.
The other night we were so engrossed with updating this blog that we completely forgot about dinner! We realized it at 5:00 pm! After searching in the refrigerator we found country sausage, zucchini, and some leftover tomato sauce so we whipped up a really quick & tasty dinner. On nights when you are pressed for time, this recipe is not only quick & easy but also delicious, healthy & satisfying. There's a bonus too... it's low carb, keto-friendly, and gluten-free. You won't miss the pasta at all. Our family loves it with ricotta cheese on top...it's delicious! Give it a try and let us hear from you. 😋😋
2 cloves garlic (we use Dorot frozen cubes for consistency)
1 lb bulk Neese’s Sausage, hot or regular
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup pre-made tomato sauce (more or less depending on your preference)
salt & pepper to taste
ricotta (for topping)
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Wash unpeeled zucchini then dry well. Cut the end stem from one end of the zucchini then using the spiralizer thick ribbon blade, spiralize all the zucchini. Set aside.
In a large hot skillet place the bulk sausage and brown completely on all sides, crumbling the sausage as it cooks.
Add the garlic and continue cooking another minute. Stir well then add the butter combining well.
Add the zucchini spirals and mix with the sausage.
Cook until zucchini is soft or al dente then add a cup of pre-made tomato sauce and mix well. Heat until sauce is hot. Remove from heat.
Serve in a pasta dish and sprinkle with grated Pecorino Ramano cheese then top with a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese and enjoy.
Add Zucchini noodles after browning sausage meat
Add tomato sauce
Notes: Additional tomato sauce may be added depending on your preference. For those of you who must have pasta, just cook up a little gluten-free pasta (or regular pasta if gluten is not a health issue) and add the cooked pasta at the end to combine with the zoodles.
Move over Chicken Marsala...we're here to introduce you to our juicy Chicken Maderia that will elevate your dinner to a whole new level that's sure to please! Tender chicken breasts combined with mushrooms and asparagus in a wonderful creamy Madeira sauce topped with melted gooey mozzarella (or as our old family from Brooklyn would say, Mootzadell, dropping the last vowel of a word was very common because they were always in a hurry! In carrying on that tradition, we think we'll start to call it Mootz) 😂😂 Whichever way you pronounce it, this dish is delicious. Our family loves this chicken dish and we hope it will become a new favorite of yours. We're sure your family and friends will be asking for more just like ours do so you might want to make a double batch! 😋 😋
12 -15 thinly sliced chicken breasts, season with salt & pepper
2 bundles of asparagus, blanched
6 Tablespoons butter, divided
4 Tablespoons EVOO, divided
32 oz small button mushrooms, washed and dried thoroughly
4 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped plus extra for garnish
3 cups Madeira wine
3 cups beef stock or broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
salt & pepper to taste
Trim asparagus by snapping the ends off. Wash well and set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring salted water to a boil, enough to cover asparagus and boil for 3-4 minutes. Remove to a large bowl filled with ice water to stop color turning. Drain well then set aside.
In a large oven-proof skillet on medium-high heat melt half the butter & half the EVOO until hot. Add the whole mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until golden brown. Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes then add the garlic & parsley. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove the mushroom mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet on medium-high heat, add the remaining butter and EVOO. Once hot, place seasoned chicken breasts in a single layer and sear quickly about 2 minutes on each side, just to get golden brown. Do not overcook as the chicken will finish cooking when everything is combined. Remove chicken and drain in layers on paper towels. Set aside.
In the same skillet on high, add the Maderia wine and boil until reduced by half, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the beef broth and boil for about 10 -12 minutes until reduced to half.
Reduce heat to medium. Stir in heavy cream and simmer until sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper to taste. (Sauce will not be real thick; however, you may add a small amount of flour to thicken)
Add chicken back to skillet coating both sides with sauce. Add the mushroom mixture and asparagus on top then sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella.
Broil on top rack in the oven just until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, garnish with parsley and serve.
Notes: For a large crowd, simply triple the recipe. This recipe is Gluten-Free & Keto-Friendly as long as you don’t add flour. Chicken Madeira is a delicious meal on its own but if you’re looking to stretch it, serve with pasta or rice to soak up the amazing Madeira sauce.
Italian Sausage & Peppers has been a favorite in our family for as long as we can remember. Typically our parents and grandparents used only green bell peppers but we always liked to use a mix of red, orange and yellow bells for taste and pop of color. For an easy weeknight dinner-this Classic Italian meal is delicious and if there are any leftovers you can combine with scrambled eggs for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch the next day! It’s so easy and quick to cook you’ll surely want to make this a regular item on your menu. Whether you serve it casually as a sandwich or over your favorite pasta you’re family or guests will love it. 😋😋
12 Italian Sausage links (mix sweet and hot together for a little heat)
2 Red Bell peppers, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch pieces
1 Yellow Bell peppers, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch pieces
1 Orange Bell Peppers, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch pieces
1 Green Bell pepper (Optional), sliced lengthwise into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, sliced thick
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 Tablespoon of dried oregano
2 Tablespoons EVOO
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large skillet (we use a 16-inch electric skillet with lid) heat 2 Tablespoons of EVOO on medium.
Place all sausages in a covered skillet and brown on all sides. (Cook sausages in 2 batches if using a smaller skillet).
Once browned add oregano, peppers, and onions and cook covered 7-10 minutes until vegetables are softened and slightly charred/browned. Stir regularly.
Add garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.
At this point, you can serve hot as is or add some Basic Tomato Sauce and serve over pasta or rice.
Notes: It’s important to cook the sausage & peppers in a covered skillet to keep in the juices and get the sausages tender. This recipe can be doubled or tripled for a large party gathering. It’s always a big hit and chances are there won’t be any leftovers!
8 Mahi-Mahi fillets (or fish fillets of your choice)- cut into 3 or 4-inch sections.
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 lime, sliced thin for garnish
5 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
5-6 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Capers (8 oz. jar)
1 cup EVOO
1½ tsp fresh thyme (more or less to taste)
In a medium bowl combine the EVOO, capers, basil, thyme, shallots, tomatoes, lemon juice, lime juice, onions, 1½ tsp salt & 1½ tsp pepper. Mix well, cover and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.
Position your oven rack at about 5 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler.
Place the fish fillets on a baking sheet then season with salt & pepper.
Broil fillets on first side approximately 2-3 minutes, being careful not to overcook as they cook quickly.
Remove from broiler and turn fillets over.
Top each fillet with a scoop of vegetable salsa.
Return to broiler and cook until fish is fully cooked through the middle. The fish should be opaque in color.
Garnish each dish with a slice of lime. Serve as is with a salad or over your favorite rice or pasta.
Avgolemono is a staple in Greek cooking used for sauces and soups. The only ingredients are eggs, lemon juice, and broth. I asked Marina, my wonderful tour guide in Athens, what her favorite Greek dish was and she was kind enough to share it with me. She enjoys this dish with either chicken or pork and since we had chicken tenders on hand we made the dish with chicken. The blended flavors worked so well together...mild, but extremely flavorful. Our husbands and nephew along with myself and Barbara really enjoyed this dish, which we served over Jasmine rice. This will definitely be a repeat meal for family and friends!😋😋
1/2 cup EVOO
2 lbs chicken tenders or pork (cut into 1″ pieces)
3 leeks, diced
3 spring onions (scallions), diced
3 carrots, diced
2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
celery leaves or parsley cut into pieces (we used Italian parsley)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
juice of 1 large lemon
1 extra large egg, room temperature
salt & pepper to taste
In a large skillet heat the EVOO over medium-high heat.
Season the meat chunks with salt & freshly ground pepper.
Saute until nicely browned on both sides, do not overcook.
Remove the meat to a platter and keep warm.
Add the leeks, carrots, and onions to hot skillet & saute until nicely tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the wine and let it evaporate. Once evaporated, add the stock and simmer 3-5 minutes.
Add the parsley or celery leaves, stir, then add the meat. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, using a whisk, beat the egg until frothy. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice.
Ladle 1 cup of the skillet liquid little by little into the egg mixture, constantly whisking to temper the egg & prevent curdling.
Add the egg-lemon mixture to the skillet, stirring gently. Serve immediately over rice or pasta.
Barbara first made Penne Ala Vodka for her son’s engagement party using a recipe from a friend of a friend. It has undergone a few changes over the years before it became an all-time family favorite. As you may know, whenever possible we always make a gluten-free version of our recipes for Teresa’s husband Jack. We don’t want him to ever feel left out. This recipe was very easy to convert since you just replace regular penne pasta with Gluten-Free penne pasta. Thanks to great improvements in gluten-free products, having Celiac’s disease no longer means you have to miss out on delicious pasta meals.
This recipe is delicious and not your typical restaurant flavor. If you’re not a fan of a little heat, omit the cayenne but it’s really not a strong kick.
Prepare basic tomato sauce ahead of time (see recipe link below)
One of our best Sunday morning memories is of our mother frying meatballs for our Sunday dinner. There is something to be said for the wonderful aroma of meatballs frying along with the anticipation of the meal to follow, as it was usually shared with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It wasn't just a meal...it was an event! Sundays were always special in our home because we would get to spend time with our cousins who we had so much fun with. As soon as Mom started placing the cooked meatballs in the bowl we would sneak into the kitchen to grab them out of the bowl while they were still hot; a tradition that our children and husbands still carry on today! Most of our followers know my husband Jack has celiac disease and I've had to adapt all our recipes to gluten-free when cooking for him. Converting some recipes can be quite challenging; however, I used some really good GF Italian style bread crumbs to substitute for the Italian bread and Jack loves them! Without a doubt the best Italian style Gluten-Free meatballs ever! 😋😋
1 lb ground beef 80-85% lean/20-15% fat
1/2 cup whole milk
4 ounces Aleia’s Italian Bread Crumbs* (please see note below)
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 Extra-Large eggs
1 ½ large handfuls grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
EVOO (for frying)
Place ground meat in a medium size mixing bowl, break up with a fork and set aside.
In a small bowl, soak bread crumbs in 1/2 cup milk until completely absorbed (about 2-3 minutes). This should yield about 1 cup of bread crumbs. (If too loose add a little more bread crumbs. If too dry, add a little more milk).
Place bread crumbs on top of ground meat.
Add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to combine well.
Make a well in the center of the meat mixture and place all the eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and the parsley.
With a large fork scramble the eggs, cheese, and parsley in the well, then start to combine into the entire meat mixture. You can do this best with your hands that are scrupulously clean or with gloves…your preference.
Once well combined (don’t over mix) scoop out about 1/2 handful of meat mixture and roll into a ball and place on parchment or waxed paper. Continue making meatballs until all meat has been formed.
In a large skillet pour enough EVOO to half the size of your meatball. Let the oil get hot, then working in batches, brown all sides (Don’t overload, allow each meatball some breathing room).
When meatballs are browned and crisp remove to a paper towel lined bowl or tray. Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.
30 minutes before your tomato sauce is ready, place cooked meatballs in the tomato sauce and continue cooking the sauce.
Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!
Notes: These meatballs are delicious as a stand-alone meal with or without tomato sauce. Make them smaller and they become a delicious appetizer
* As a substitute for the breadcrumbs above, I have also used with great success UDI’sGluten-free white bread soaked in milk or Against the Grain gluten-free baguettes soaked in milk. Against the Grain is my preference; however, this brand is not available in the Wilmington, NC area.
Mixing breadcrumbs with ground beef, onions, and garlic